Last week, LeBron James reminded us all why he’s a three-time MVP winner and the most dominant player in the NBA. Becoming the youngest player to 20,000 points, while locking in 5,000 career assists (ironically in the same game) was an indication of what makes him so great. The key to LeBron’s success has been his unmatched versatility. Kevin Durant scored a career-high last week and is having arguably the best month of his career, but it still wasn’t enough to eclipse LeBron for the top spot on the ladder. KD has been on a tear and the Thunder have the best record in the NBA. Had last week been just another week for LeBron, KD would be sitting in the top spot. However that milestone is a reminder that although KD has been the better scorer, he’s still got a way to go to get on LeBron’s level.
With the All-Star teams now set for action, some of our MVP candidates were snubbed while others were well deserving of their selections. While guys like David Lee and James Harden were rewarded for the great seasons they’ve been having, it came as a surprise to everyone that Stephen Curry didn’t make the cut. After writing about why he deserved to make the team, we were convinced Curry would be suiting up in Houston for All-Star Sunday. Unfortunately, the coaches didn’t realize that he’s been one of the more valuable players in the entire league this season.
He’s been a familiar face on our MVP ladder in recent weeks and has anchored the biggest turnaround from last season for any team in the NBA. If some extra love on the MVP ladder can make Curry feel a little bit better about his ridiculous All-Star snub, we’re happy to help.
Here are our rankings for Volume 5 of our NBA MVP Ladder.
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10. JAMES HARDEN – Last week: 19.5 ppg/5.5 apg/6.0 rpg
Vol. 4 rank: 5
It was a rough week for James Harden’s Rockets. After winning four straight to start off the month, they lost their next seven. Harden didn’t exactly have his hottest week of the season last week, either. He had 23 points against the Clippers, shooting 8-for-20 from the field, then he went 5-for-23 against the Mavericks scoring only 17, and 5-for-19 against the Pacers on Friday while scoring only 17 points.
Despite having a rough week, Harden is still playing MVP-caliber basketball. He’s averaging about 26/5/5 on the season, and the Rockets are currently right at .500. If Harden can continue putting up big-time scoring numbers and climb the Rockets into safe playoff territory, he’ll find himself in the MVP conversation at the end of the year. Although he got a bit of a reality check this week – learning that it’s not always easy being your team’s best player – James Harden has done a remarkable job adjusting to a leadership role on his new team, and couldn’t be more deserving of his first All-Star selection.
9. KOBE BRYANT – Last week: 25.5 ppg/4.5 apg/3.0 rpg
Vol. 4 rank: 8
Things haven’t gotten any better in Laker land, and with the trade deadline approaching, the drama continues to get more and more intense. Kobe’s been doing the best he can to try and turn things around by getting Dwight Howard his touches and defending the best player on the opposing team, but he’s taking himself out of rhythm by doing that. After playing well in convincing back-to-back wins against Cleveland and Milwaukee at the beginning of last week, Kobe went back into a funk. He struggled against Miami, shooting 8-for-25 from the field, and then against Toronto, scoring 26 points on 10-for-32 shooting.
With the Lakers inching closer and closer to falling out of playoff contention as opposed to making forward progress, Kobe finds himself at the bottom of the ladder. They’re currently 2-12 in the month of January and unless Kobe can find a way to get them some wins, and fast, he’ll continue to fall.