It was an exciting first half to the NBA season. Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and the reining MVP LeBron James all saw time on the top of the ladder. Going into the second half of the season, those guys are the four favorites for MVP, but you can’t count out Tony Parker and James Harden.
The Spurs are heading into the All-Star break with the best record in the league, and while Tim Duncan is receiving most of the praise, Tony Parker is driving the car. Parker accepted all leadership duties for the Spurs and is playing at a higher level than he’s played at all season.
The bottom half of the West will be interesting to watch in the second half of the season. With a group of teams fighting to clinch playoff berths, Houston is the team I believe will make the biggest improvement in the remaining games. James Harden has been playing at a high level all season long and with the Rockets missing the playoffs completely last season, Harden has them in position for contention. With the numbers he’s putting up, it’s hard not to give him a chance at winning the MVP award.
Out East, there haven’t been many surprises this season, but the one guy who has flown under the MVP radar is Paul George for the Pacers. George is filling the void left by Danny Granger‘s injury and has the Pacers sitting in the third spot in the East. Depending on what they can do moving forward, Paul George is worthy of some consideration.
With that, here is our top 10 for volume six of the MVP Ladder.
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10. DAVID LEE – Last week: 18.0 ppg, 7.7 apg, 14.2 rpg
Vol. 5 rank: 8
There isn’t much separating David Lee and Zach Randolph in the MVP race. Randolph was able to get off to a great start, leading the NBA in double-doubles through the majority of the first half of the season. However, Lee has now surpassed him in double-doubles and while Randolph has struggled these past few weeks, Lee has stayed the course all season long.
Consistency is a key factor on the MVP Ladder and it doesn’t get much more consistent than David Lee. He and Zach Randolph share similar roles on their respective teams, however with Rudy Gay gone to Toronto, Randolph is now the top scoring option for Memphis. It will be interesting to see how the trade affects Randolph individually, as well as the Western Conference standings. Currently, Lee’s Warriors are only half a game behind Randolph’s Grizzlies. With a head-to-head battle scheduled tonight — the Warriors are coming off of their two worst games of the year — a win would allow them to pass Memphis for the fifth spot in the West right before the midseason mark.
9. STEPHEN CURRY – Last week: 23.0 ppg, 6.5 apg, 1.5 rpg
Vol. 5 rank: 7
After sitting out against Cleveland and Dallas last week with an ankle injury, Curry returned against Phoenix on Saturday and scored 29 points on 11-for-20 shooting. Most notably, he shot 6-for-10 from long range and dished out eight assists. But then he turned it right around and stunk it up in his next two. First in that blowout loss against Houston, Curry shot 3-for-12 and finished with only seven points. Then against Oklahoma City, he posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists, but shot a dismal 5-for-20 from the field.
Now isn’t the time for Curry to start playing inconsistently. The Warriors are in a tight race in the Western Conference, and while they currently sit in the sixth spot, Houston (who just blew them out by 30) and Portland aren’t far behind. With a showdown at Memphis coming up, it’s a critical time for the Warriors. It’s very important for them to pick it up to make sure all their hard work this season doesn’t go up in flames. They’ve done so much to get themselves where they are. Now they have to do what they can to cement themselves as one of the top five teams in the West.