With teams already into their last 20 odd games this season, I thought it a prime time to start the discussion on who will… rather who should be of the MVP for the regular season. But instead of just coming out and saying LeBron James, I would like to take a different route and have discussion on the MVPs at each of the standard five positions on a starting line-up.
This is quite the task in the current NBA where we have teams with players who have the ability to play from point to power forward. Speaking to a few people one of the hardest choices came at the small forward and power forward positions, mostly due to the want of having both LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the same starting five. So after a few sacrifices and disagreements with myself I’ve put together this list of players I believe are the best in the NBA at their respective positions (as to their roster write ups) thus making them the Third Quarter starting line-up MVPs.
M.V.P. is and abbreviation for Most Valuable Player, so the MVPs I’ve ultimately picked are 9 times out of 10 the player who has brought the most value to their team in winning games for them, players who without the team would most likely have considerably less W’s.
LA Clipper, Chris Paul. Soon as the league blocked the one side of LA and opened the gates to the Clippers acquisitions of Paul Lob City became more than just the other team that shared the Staples Centre. Since his time in New Orleans for the Hornets, Paul has always been in the conversation for best point guard in the NBA, but without enough support on the roster he became an after-thought. Then he was given new life as a Clipper with a player like Blake Griffin always looking for that alley-hoop pass to thunder down. Since joining forces, these two have made the Clippers more than just co-tenants to the Lakers in LA but a dominant factor in the Western Conference. Paul by his own right has done more than just dish but is also able to create shots for himself with his amazing trickery and ability to get to the hoop in a flash. His importance was ever so visible during a slump for the Clippers this season with him sidelined due to injury. But as soon as he was back Lob City quickly got back into the thick of things winning game after game with their floor general captain back at the helm.
LA Laker, Kobe Bryant. There is no denying what Dwayne Wade does with LeBron James for the Miami Heat or how James Harden has rocked in Houston for the Rockets but with the trying times the Lakers have been going through, Bryant has reinvented himself into whatever the team needs… I GOTS! Kobe Bryant is a notorious ball hogger who seems to believe that his shot is always the best shot. It also helps his argument how he always manages to sink the hardest shot regularly. Now in an off-season extravaganza that afforded the Lakers a starting line-up to the sounds of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest (MWP), Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard hard times were surely not in the script, at least not “might not make playoffs” hard, hard times. But this is exactly what the Lakers found themselves in; Bryant though would not have any of it! He stopped taking 25+ shots a game and found the sweetest touch with dimes. Bryant willed the Laker from way below .500 to the 8th position in the west on his ability to PASS. Bryant proved his value and status as maybe one of the best Lakers of all time by taking a star studded line-up, from point to centre, and putting it on his back to be a factor in the playoff teams’ conversation.
Miami Heat, LeBron James. This was the easiest of the five positions to choose and simply because James is out-and-out a better basketball player than Kevin Durant is right now. James is not only the most valuable player in Miami but also in the league. The issue with James is that he makes greatness look too damn easy. It’s like there is always more he can do. There is no day that goes by in the NBA where his name is not mentioned. I mean you don’t hear crazy rumours or chatter about Michael Jordan wanting to play Kevin Durant, or anyone question him on why he isn’t in the dunk contest or any other matter. I won’t even go into all the records the man is and was a part of already this season. In the case of LeBron James it’s like what those wack rappers say about how “haters gon hate when you on top”, only difference is – King James is far from wack. Yes Kevin Durant is getting better. Yes he is Oklahoma City Thunder and they wouldn’t be a factor is he wasn’t there. Yes he is becoming more than just a scorer. Yes, yes, yes. But LeBron James is ALSO getting better, which is actually scary.
San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan. Honestly this was a tricky one, as most team now in the NBA have developed their small forwards to play at power forward in smaller quicker line-ups. That’s all fine and well but Tim Duncan is old and grey on a veteran ran team and is still a factor in the NBA. He won’t go out for back to back 20-20 games but he still has the moves and plays the post so well and efficiently. Under the great coaching of Popovich, the Spurs are one of the most traditional and classic basketball teams in the league and they still get W’s! I mean they are the leaders in the Western Conference. They recently beat a much faster, if not one of the fastest teams in the west, the Thunder. And as much as he cannot run up and down the court, there’s no player whose experience shines brighter than he in that position. Tim Duncan is one of the cogs the run the Spurs wagon. This was also evident during this time where Tony Parker has been out due to injury, the Spurs just keep ticking on. That in large part is due to the presence of future (maybe not so far from now) hall of famer Tim Duncan.
Memphis Grizzlies, Marc Gasol. Now here was the hardest of the lot. The centre position has really fallen away to me in the NBA. There aren’t that many 7 foot plus big man out there who get deep into the nitty-gritty down the paint and fight. Not many have the flair and finesse of the post moves that can fool defenders in a flash. The presence in the paint that makes small guards think twice, three times about driving. Or the ability to pull up from mid-range and swoosh when open. Gasol is about as traditional has centres get. He has great hands catching the ball easily over and around others under the bucket. He has the post moves and skill to back up and deceive the best of defenders. He dishes out the basketball from the post for open shooters. He can even step back and shoot the mid-range at times. Players account for him on defense as he is simply the big and mobile. He may not be the best at each of these aspects individually, but he has the best combination of them all. And with there no longer being a Rudy Gay to take up most the possessions on the Grizzlies team, he is stepping up and putting it down for the Memphis side that currently lays 4th in the west.
Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Marc Gasol, that’s my starting five MVPs in the third quarter of the season. What’s yours?
Written And Compiled By: Lebohang Ramollo (@RA_Mollo)