By Dennis Berry
There is little question to whom is the best basketball player in the world right now.
At the age of 27 he has already won three NBA MVP awards – 2009, 2010, and 2012. Last season he finally broke through and won a NBA Championship. He was also named the MVP of the 2012 NBA Finals. He is entering the prime of his career and many expect his stellar play to continue.
Just like Michael Jordan in the 1990’s, James has a chance to win more titles and MVP’s. He is without a doubt the favorite to repeat as MVP this coming season. Although, that is not a given. The NBA is full of superstar plays that could make a run as the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Here are eight players that can challenge James for the 2013 MVP award.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
For many, Rajon Rondo may not come to mind when you think about MVP candidates. The truth is...he should. Although the Celtics have tried to move him the past two summers, he is a very valuable piece of their team. He has become the Celtics' leader on the floor and drives the Celtics' offensive attacks. He may only average 10.8 points a game for his career but he creates many scoring chances for his teammates. Last year he averaged a career high 11.7 assists a game. The 2012 playoffs is when Rondo really showed what he could do when he averaged 17.3 points, 11.9 assists, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.4 steals a game. He also had four triple-double games alone last year in the playoffs.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
There is little doubt that Kevin Love is one of the best young players in the game. Last season was the best of his four seasons in the NBA. He averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds a game. The experience he gained playing for the USA Olympic team has made him an even better player. The Timberwolves are everybody’s sleeper pick in the West. If they do make the playoffs, then Love will get plenty of votes for MVP.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
For years the Spurs were Tim Duncan’s team. He was the focus point on offense and anchored the defense. Last year you could see that start to change as Tony Parker took over control of the team. He had an outstanding season averaging 18.3 points and 7.7 assists a game. His great play continued in the playoffs when he averaged 20.1 points and 6.8 assists in 14 games. If Parker can lead the Spurs to another 50+ win season and put up similar numbers, he will get plenty of votes when it comes time to vote.
Chris Paul, Los Angele Clippers
Fans of the Clippers have plenty to look forward to. They advanced to the second round of the playoffs. They have all their key players back from that team and have added more veteran depth. Plus Chris Paul is still a Clipper. Paul is one of the best, if not the best, point guards in the NBA. If Paul can duplicate what he did last season – 19.8 points, 9.1 assists, and 2.5 steals – and the Clippers finish with 50+ wins, Paul will prove to be a MVP contender.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
The stage is set for Williams to have a great season as the Nets move to Brooklyn. The front office went out and got him help on offense. They resigned Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace in the offseason. Then they traded for Joe Johnson from Atlanta. Lopez has averaged 17.4 points in four seasons, Wallace averaged 13.5 points in 12 seasons, and Johnson has averaged 17.8 in 11 seasons. There is a lot of hype surrounding the Nets this season and if they back it up, it will be because Williams had a big year.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Last season started out slowly for Anthony. The Knicks struggled early and then Anthony missed time from a strained groin. Then “Linsanity” happened and Anthony struggled after returning from injury. After that, Anthony began to get it going offensively at the end of March. He averaged 29.8 points a game in April and 27.8 points in the Knicks' first round series against Miami. His strong play carried over to the Olympics when he averaged 16.3 points while shooting over 50% from the floor. If he can keep his stellar play from the summer in the 2012-13 season and the Knicks turn into a contender, he will get plenty of attention in the MVP race.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
It will take a big season by Bryant and the Lakers for him to win his second MVP award. First the Lakers are going to have to live up to the hype surrounding them. With the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, there is plenty of it. So, Los Angeles will have to finish with the best record in the NBA. If they can do that, then Bryant would have to probably average around 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. If that all happens, then Bryant will have a good shot at his second MVP.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
This is the most likely player that can win the MVP besides James. Last season Druarn averaged 28 points a game, winning his third straight scoring title. He also led the Thunder to their first of what should be multiple NBA Final appearances. He also led the USA Olympic team in scoring over the summer. While James is the best player in the game, there is no question that Durant is the next great player. He is a great offensive player, that only needs to improve his defense and passing skills to become an unstoppable force. If Durant leads the league in scoring again and the Thunder finish at the top in the Western Conference, he could win his first MVP award.
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