However, Davis and Beal are the only ones who have an agnostic’s chance in Kansas of overtaking No. 6 pick Damian Lillard in Portland, who is the runaway leader beyond his production. He plays the toughest position in the game and has his team firmly in the West’s playoff race.
Davis and Beal can’t win it. Lillard can only lose it.
PRESEASON PICK: Lillard. Hey, we got one.
SNOTTY REMARK: All along, Royce White’s devious plan has been to win this award next year.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: With all due respect to Carmelo Anthony, just because he is having the best all-around season of his career does not mean we can start etching his name on the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It says here he is a clear fourth behind LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant.
James could easily win his fourth MVP in five years, a run of dominance only Bill Russell has achieved. He is the only player leading his team in points, rebounds and assists; his shooting is at a career high; and he defends superbly at multiple positions. Working against him is Miami’s midseason malaise, for which he must assume some responsibility.
Paul has had better seasons, probably because he never has had better teammates. But he has kept his customary spots among the top five in assists and steals, defends like the devil and scores when necessary. He also has infused the entire Clippers roster with his insatiable desire to compete.
I believe the current leader is Durant. He is the best player on the best team, always a plus. As mentioned above, he is working on a historic shooting season. He has shown commitment and results in improving his playmaking, rebounding and defense. And he has added a snarl that suggests this year’s NBA Finals will be different. Also, don’t overlook the fact that he is due, having twice finished second.
PRESEASON PICK: Durant. That makes us 2-of-7, or considerably better than what Jan Vesely shoots from the line.
SNOTTY REMARK: In a poll of players, James Harden, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin voted for Leslie Alexander as Most Valuable Payer.
TRIVIA: Two players in NBA history have finished second in MVP voting four times. Who are they? Answer below.
THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum, who has not played this season and has said he would not return until after the All-Star break, nevertheless received 111,902 votes from fans.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, asking Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford about his recent ankle injury during Saturday’s game:
“Is your foot all right? If you want to keep it that way, don’t come guard me.”
LINE OF THE WEEK: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City at Dallas, Jan. 18: 50 minutes, 13-31 FGs, 5-9 3-pointers, 21-21 FTs, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals, four turnovers, 52 points in a 117-114 overtime win. Durant had a league season high and career high. His 21 trips to the line had Mavericks forward Shawn Marion complaining that they were playing “five on eight.”
LINE OF THE WEAK: Ty Lawson, Denver at Oklahoma City, Jan. 16: 20 minutes, 1-4 FGs, 0-1 3-pointers, 0-0 FTs, one rebound, one assist, four turnovers, three fouls, two points in a 117-97 loss. Oh, yeah, and counterpart Russell Westbrook ran wild for 32 points in 28 minutes. Not exactly floor generalship.