It is time to ask the rhetorical question: Is the MVP race over?
Has Kevin Durant wrapped this thing up already by guiding the Oklahoma City Thunder to the highest win total in the NBA (30 games over .500) despite the absence of Russell Westbrook?
It was about this time a year ago that LeBron James started creating the separation that would ultimately make him the near-unanimous choice (Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe was the only voter who cast a ballot for someone else, choosing Carmelo Anthony), and the 27-game winning streak that accompanied James’ domination solidified it as a one-horse race.
And right now, Durant is about as solid of a pick as the snow piled up outside our corporate headquarters. Well, OK, it is not snow anymore. It is ice that merely looks like snow, and it is going to take a week-long thaw (which unfortunately is not in the forecast) to turn that stuff into mush.
Would a similar thaw by Durant open the door for someone else?
Is Durant even capable of a thaw? Or is he as stuck in his ways as Mother Nature is here in New York.
We’ll keep the intro short and sweet this week to go along with the shortest and sweetest month of the NBA season — February. This is the month of the All-Star game and the trade deadline, and if those two things don’t get your blood pumping, nothing will.
So without further ado, onto the rankings.
|1||KEVIN DURANT, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: Dropped 36 on the Blazers last night, and there wasn’t a person in the house who could legitimately say that LaMarcus Aldridge is in the same league as this particular fellow. Has twice as many 30-point games as anyone in the league, and he has guided the Thunder to a 19-7 record since Westbrook started going deep into his fashion collection. He also dropped 41 on the Knicks, and it would have been 46 if he hadn’t managed to miss five FTs.||1|
|2||LeBRON JAMES, F, MIAMI: A loss in Utah? Are you kidding us? Well, this type of thing tends to happen to the Heat until they decide to flip the proverbial switch. Can Erik Spoelstra get them to do that as he did a year ago, asks Peter May in this column. Meantime, we all await LBJ’s first triple-double of the season. Yes, he is overdue.||2|
|3||BLAKE GRIFFIN, F, L.A. CLIPPERS: If we were giving out penalty points as we so often do in this weekly feature, that Miami loss at Utah would have vaulted Blake into second place. But we have decided to look at Miami’s six-game road trip as a whole once it has finished, so until then we’ll just say that Blake is gaining ground like Usain Bolt after getting a slow jump out of the blocks. FYI: Clippers were better without Chris Paul than they were with him.||3|
|4||AL JEFFERSON, C, CHARLOTTE: Yes, this is a big jump — the biggest we’ve given any player while publishing these rankings every week. But have you seen what this guy has done for Michael Jordan’s team? In the past five games he has gone for 40 once and 30 twice, and his defense is a big reason why Steve Clifford has the Bobcats up to fourth in team defense. May turn out to be the best free agent signing of last summer.||10|
|5||PAUL GEORGE, G-F, INDIANA: If he wins the dunk contest, maybe that’ll put him on folks’ radars as one of the elite players in the league. But let’s face the facts — although he is the face of this franchise, the Pacers would not be atop the Eastern Conference standings all season long if not for the contributions of Lance Stephenson and George Hill. Remember, those two guards were the keys to whether Indiana won or lost during last season’s playoffs.||4|
|6||GORAN DRAGIC, G, PHOENIX: Deserved to get Kobe Bryant’s All-Star spot over Anthony Davis, who is putting up great numbers but has not led his team from Tankapalooza expectations into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race as Dragic has. Shooting a ridiculous 58 percent this month — even after going 4-for-12 against the Heat on Tuesday night. Of the five NBA guards making at least half their shots, his .508 is second to Dwyane Wade’s .548.||8|
|7||JOHN WALL, G, WASHINGTON: You scoffed at him during his first couple of seasons in the league, judging him unworthy of being a No. 1 overall pick, didn’t you? Well, somehow he has morphed into a team leader who gets the job done every night, and the Wizards — with Bradley Beal getting better and better every night, and Nene and Marcin Gortat anchoring a nice front line — have become a sleeper team in the East.||7|
|8||LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE, F, PORTLAND: We now move into the penalty phase of these rankings, and no one gets punished harder than Portland’s power forward after he went 5-for-22 (!) against the Thunder in Tuesday night’s loss. Once can’t help but wonder if the amount of minutes Portland’s starters have logged (they are the only team to use the same lineup in every game) is starting to take a toll.||6|
|9||TONY PARKER, G, SAN ANTONIO: Penalty phase of the rankings, Part II. Four points against Washington, nine points against Charlotte, then 11 points in a loss to the John Loyer-led Pistons. MVP’s don’t have prolonged slumps like that. And they also have better results against good teams, which the Spurs have failed to do (33-4 against the dregs, 4-11 against elite teams).||5|
|10||DWIGHT HOWARD, C, ROCKETS: Made a big deal out of the fact that he doesn’t have to yell for the ball anymore. Think Kobe heard him? The Daryl Morey express is coming hard, with a six-game winning streak leaving them only two games behind the Spurs in the Southwest Division, and Howard had shot .735 from the line over that stretch.||-|
DROPPED OUT: Stephen Curry(9).
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.