Sorting out the NBA MVP race

The most valuable player award given out every year in the NBA usually has a clear-cut winner about two months before the season even comes to an end. This year, however, the race is wide open. Within the first two weeks every analyst from L.A. to New York had Elton Brand as the front-runner. As the season progressed others began to shine.

Kobe Bryant had a record-setting 81-point game, Steve Nash continues to lead the Suns with MVP-caliber play, LeBron James has begun winning games in the fourth quarter for his team and don’t forget about Dirk Nowitski, Chauncey Billups, Elton Brand and the dark horse Dwyane Wade. So the question is who is the MVP?

Bryant leads the league with a little more than 35 points per game, five rebounds per game and almost five assists per game. In past seasons his points per game alone could have won him the award. Now the expectation is domination in many categories to get an MVP honor. Also, the MVP has to make the players around them better, not make up for them by scoring all the points.

Bryant’s team hovers perilously at the .500 mark and could dip down and out of the playoffs if the Lakers star has an off night. Bryant will not win the MVP because he is like the kid on the playground who wouldn’t share the swing set. Selfish players are not MVPs.

LeBron James is barely allowed to drink alcoholic beverages, but he has definitely made a case down the stretch for MVP. After averaging almost 32 points per game, close to seven assists per game and seven rebounds per game, James has every right to be examined for the award. He has come into his role as “the chosen one” and led the Cavaliers into the postseason.

However, without years of experience he has been unable to close out during the end of games. Missing wide-open shots at the buzzer and sometimes giving up the ball in clutch times, James has not proved himself as the clear-cut MVP. LeBron will get his share of MVPs in his career but 2006 isn’t his year.

Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons has made some splashes in the MVP pool. He has been able to take control of the team and really take it to the next level of elite. Billups averages around 18.8 points a game, 8.7 assists and barely turns over the ball with a ratio of 4.1 assists to every turnover. Billups has all the tools but is not as impressive as some candidates who have taken a very poor team and made it a contender. Billups plays on a very good team and it is a question of whether he would have as much success on another team or not. Chauncey won’t be the MVP winner this year; he isn’t as indispensable as other candidates.

Dirty Dirk Nowitski has been playing great and has the Mavs in the playoffs. He averages 26.5 points per game, nine rebounds per game and is a threat both on the drive as well as behind the three-point arc. His game is as dirty as the mop on his head. He confuses defenders who try and play him tight because he powers them on the inside and then rattles them when he steps back and nails a three. Nowitski’s individual numbers aren’t as impressive as the other candidates and he doesn’t play on the multi-category stat level as the others. Not this year for the big forward.

Dwyane Wade’s game is as hot as the heat of a Miami beach. He flies acrobatically to the hoop getting shots to fall with a simple flick of his wrist. Wade creates some of the most exciting plays of the last five years. He is averaging about 27.5 points per game, 6.8 assists per game, 5.8 rebounds per game and 1.9 steals per game. His numbers have been great and he brings an amazing amount of competitiveness to the Heat.

Wade and Shaquille O’Neal are a great one-two punch and are going to be tough in the playoffs. Although Wade is the statistical commander of the MVP race he doesn’t bring the players around him to another level. While Wade will not win MVP this year, he and LeBron James will be battling for it in the future.

Last year’s MVP winner Steve Nash beat out Shaquille O’Neal in a David-versus-Goliath type of win. This year Nash has been doing even better. The thing that separates him from the other candidates is he betters himself along with those around him. He can take credit in getting seven underachieving players career years. Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and James Jones in particular, were cast-offs of other teams and considered a waste of roster spots, but have finally found a home in Phoenix.

There were many who doubted that the Suns would have success without star center Amare Stoudemire, but Nash has proven them all wrong. Nash leads the league in assists with 10.8 per game, and has also achieved career highs of 19.8 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. Nash has created a “team first” ideal in the locker room and everyone has caught on. The shaggy-haired Nash has been turning nobodies into somebodys and that cannot be said for any other candidates.


Steve Nash deserves the MVP more than the other candidates because he has been the guiding force that has helped the Suns get to the postseason and helped develop players who have been considered worthless. Nash is the MVP, he is indispensable and the team would fall apart without him.