We’ve been waiting all season for LeBron James to pull a Kevin Durant and go for 40 or more points, and the wait has ended.
Did LeBron’s 42 against Dallas last night earn him some love in these rankings? Well, sort of.
IMHO, James is the best player in the NBA. But “best” player does not equate to Most Valuable, as the operative word when determining that award is “valuable.” A year ago, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe felt that Carmelo Anthony’s leadership of the New York Knicks, who had their best season in more than a decade, made him the most “valuable” player in the Association. Washburn was the only person who felt that way, which kept LeBron from being a unanimous choice for MVP. ‘
As we approach the final 24 hours before the trade deadline (If I see one more Kyle Lowry-to-the-Knicks tweet, I am going to put my fist through my computer), the rumormongers have taken over the Internet. Many of the very same journalists who are given award ballots at the end of the season will be busy today and tomorrow throwing sh-t against the wall and wondering if it will stick. The basketball journalism business has become so rumor driven, it is painful to watch.
The most “valuable” NBA writers are the ones who write and tweet for the benefit of their readers, not the ones who try to please their editors by racking up click counts with garbage reporting. If there was only one NBA journalist I followed on Twitter, it would be David Aldridge of Turner Sports, because he’s an informative, impartial professional who every writer/broadcaster should strive to emulate.
Aldridge is the Kevin Durant of NBA journalists.
So who is the LeBron?
Well, I could probably list a dozen folks who are worthy, but instead I am going to place the “valuable” moniker on Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe, who was awarded first place in two categories by the Professional Basketball Writers Association over All-Star Weekend in the category of game story and feature story. (My bud Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com won best column for his piece on Jason Collins).
Holmes did a wonderful three-part series on Brad Stevens to capture the feature story award, and he turned a routine Celtics-Clippers game story into a masterpiece of writing.
We need more guys like Holmes in this business. In the journalism world, they are invaluable.
But enough of my rant on valuable and invaluable. You are here to see what has changed in the latest edition of my Wednesday MVP rankings, and I will deliver. Your comments, as always, are welcome.
|1||KEVIN DURANT, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: How nice must it be to have President Obama fawning over you the way Barack Obama did in his interview with Charles Barkley on TNT. But one thing, POTUS: Durant is not a 6-11 shooting guard, as you stated. In sneakers, he is 7 feet tall. The Thunder would never say so, but my USA Basketball peeps have told me what he measures.||1|
|2||LeBRON JAMES, F, MIAMI: Ok, nice job with the 42, ‘Bron. But when are we going to see that first triple-double? Oh, and by the way, the fellow above you in these rankings has gone for 40 or more points eight times, and he’s had no fewer than 36 in his last four. We await the epic Heat-Thunder showdown Thursday night with bated breath.||2|
|3||BLAKE GRIFFIN, F, L.A. CLIPPERS: Best part of the All-Star game was watching this guy in the first quarter throwing down eight dunks. Not to disparage what Kyrie Irving did down the stretch to win the MVP award, but this guy is a thrill a minute. Has scored 35 or more in seven of his last eight, which is just sick. I might even buy a Kia, that’s how much I enjoy fawning over him.||3|
|4||AL JEFFERSON, C, CHARLOTTE: Where would Michael Jordan’s team be without this guy? That’s where we get into the “valuable” part of the equation mentioned in my lead-in. He just keeps pouring it on, his latest personification of greatness coming Tuesday night as he came out of the break with 32 and 12 against Andre Drummond and the Pistons.||4|
|5||GORAN DRAGIC, G, PHOENIX: He is single-handedly earning Coach of the Year award for Jeff Hornacek. OK, maybe not single-handedly (Props to Gerald Green for his 35 against the Nuggets on Tuesday). I said it before and I’ll say it again — the Slovenian PG deserved to be Kobe’s replacement in the All-Star game ahead of Anthony Davis, but I understand why the suddenly bald new commish gave the spot to Anthony Davis, since the game was in NOLA.||6|
|6||PAUL GEORGE, G-F, INDIANA: If Larry Bird is somehow able to trade for Rajon Rondo (A scenario I outlined Tuesday in a speculative column, which means it does not qualify as a rumor), his PPG will jump by a half-dozen. Oh, and the Pacers will become watchable. The new commish really needs this team to become more watchable, because as good as they are, they are about as exciting to watch as paint drying.||5|
|7||DWIGHT HOWARD, C, ROCKETS: No, he doesn’t score as much as James Harden. And yes, you can make the argument that the bearded one belongs in this spot. Heck, Scott Brooks chose Harden to be Kobe’s replacement in the starting lineup, and that says a heck of a lot. But the big fella has been shooting .658 (!) in February while averaging 25.8 points and 12.8 rebounds as the Rockets have been building their seven-game winning streak.||10|
|8||JAMES HARDEN, G, HOUSTON: Things I forgot to do in Vegas: Drop a Benjamin on these guys to win a title. The bearded one has been averaging 25.4 points per game in February, 0.4 less than Dwight. He has been steady as a rock throughout the season for the Rockets, who should probably hold on to Omer Asik no matter how unhappy he is. Bonafide big men aren’t easy to find, and stupid trades do not help you win championships. Daryl Morey should know that better than anyone (with the exception of Sam Presti).||–|
|9||LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE, F, PORTLAND: He’ll be sidelined at least a week with a strained groin, which makes me wonder aloud whether he’ll still be Top 10-worthy a week from now. Blazers are fading after being the darlings of the NBA for 3 months, losing six of nine. LMA shooting just 41 percent over their last 10.||8|
|10||DIRK NOWITZKI, F, DALLAS: First time the original stretch 4 (is that accurate?) has appeared in the rankings this season. Shooting .563 in the Mavs’ last 10 games and .548 in the month of February. And say what you will about Monta Ellis, but the Mavs wouldn’t be positioned for a playoff spot (they are almost as much of a collective shocker as the Suns) without the face of their franchise coming on stronger and stronger as the season has progressed.||–|
DROPPED OUT: John Wall (7), Tony Parker (9).
Feb. 12 Edition: Like a Frozen Block of Ice
Feb. 5 Edition: The Benefits of Riding Solo
Jan. 29 Edition: Is The Race Over?
Jan. 22 Edition: KD Rocks the Hard Rock
Jan. 15 Edition: Where Will Adam Silver Be Hated First?
Jan. 8 Edition: Vegas Baby, Vegas
Jan. 1 Edition: Good Riddance, 2013
Dec. 25 Edition: LBJ and Wi Tu Lo
Dec. 18 Edition: Aldridge Moves to No. 1
Dec. 11 Edition: Still Limited Love for LeBron
Dec. 4 Edition: Paul George Back at No. 1
Nov. 27 Edition: Viva Tony Parker
Nov. 20 Edition: Durant takes over No. 1 spot.
Nov. 13 Edition: Paul George is No. 1.
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.