Sheridan’s MVP Rankings: Like a Frozen Block of Ice

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itsoverIt 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 LAC_Griffin_Blake 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 Charlotte Bobcats 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  Phoenix Suns 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 WAS_Wall_ John 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 Portland Trail Blazers media day 2013 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 Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Six 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).

MORE RANKINGS: Rookies | Most Improved | Sixth Man | Power Rankings


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 Follow him on Twitter.

Lillard, Aldridge and Blazers defiantly winning with their brand of basketball

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AldridgeLillardSH1Portland is a unique, interesting and unconventional city to say the least. That unique and unconventional nature extends to their basketball team, where the Portland Trail Blazers are winning games at a high rate doing things their own way.

While the league is trending toward discouraging players from long two-point shots, Portland embraces it. Portland plays their starters more than anyone else, hit more threes than anyone else and lead the league in free throw shooting. Is their defense lacking? Sure, but the surprising Blazers have the fifth best record in the league at the 50-game point in the season. And they’re not here to apologize for the way they play.

Sheridan’s MVP Rankings, Feb. 5 Edition: The Benefits of Riding Solo

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Rodeo Ride BullSometimes the best way to evaluate the Most Valuable Player is to watch him ride solo for a while.

Yes, stats count. So does his performance in close games, his output against the better teams, his showdowns with fellow candidates and his overall leadership. However, a true indicator can be how the player performs when he has to go it alone.

This season, we have all marveled at Kevin Durant. The perennial MVP candidate has been truly spectacular. But what has elevated him above LeBron James – who pretty much has had a chokehold on this award for the last five years – has been his performance without All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook.

This week’s table is dotted with other names who fit that description, such as Blake Griffin, Goran Dragic and Al Jefferson.

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Tweet of the Night: NBA Players React to Super Bowl

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Seahawks1There could only be one reason for a single game NBA schedule on a Sunday in February: the Super Bowl.

So, like every other American and plenty around the world, NBA players were more than happy to spend a rare day off watching the biggest event of the year.

The Seattle Seahawks absolutely thumped the Denver Broncos 43-8 in the most lopsided Super Bowl in league history. Peyton Manning threw for only 280 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in his second consecutive Super Bowl defeat. 

Tweet of the Day: Players React to Selection of All-Star Reserves

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2014 NBA All-Star Game LogoFinally.

After much anticipation, and to some chagrin, the NBA’s coaches have submitted their list of reserves for the forthcoming 2014 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, LA.

Many of the All-Star reserve selections are expected, though there were a few selections (and snubs) that were unconventional, though deserving.

In the Eastern Conference, Chris Bosh [Miami Heat], DeMar DeRozan [Toronto Raptors], Paul Millsap [Atlanta Hawks], John Wall [Washington Wizards], Joe Johnson [Brooklyn Nets], Roy Hibbert [Indiana Pacers] and Joakim Noah [Chicago Bulls] all join the team as reserves.

Out west, Dirk Nowitzki [Dallas Mavericks], LaMarcus Aldridge [Portland Trail Blazers], James Harden [Houston Rockets], Dwight Howard [Houston], Damian Lillard [Portland], Tony Parker [San Antonio Spurs] and Chris Paul [Los Angeles Clippers] are all joining the Western Conference roster.

This year marks the first time Millsap, DeRozan, Wall and Lillard have been selected to the NBA All-Star game in their respective careers.

With the announcement of the All-Star Reserves Thursday evening, many players took to Twitter to voice their appreciation, congratulations and displeasure with the selections.

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