A long-held criticism of individual accolades in the NBA has been that scoring is overly emphasized. It's a tricky subject, because obviously scoring matters. You don't win games without scoring; points have definite, verifiable value. But not all points (or scorers) are created equally; context, usually in the form of efficiency, role and supporting cast, matters.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that despite scoring less than 20 points per game, Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala are very important, as will be noted in this week's edition of the SBNation.com NBA MVP Power Rankings. Enjoy!
All stats are through Tuesday's action and via Basketball-Reference.com.
|1.||LeBron James||Heat||29.0 points on .623 TS%, 8.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists||1|
|Dwyane Wade's return has sucked away some of the assists LeBron had been racking up in Flash's absence, but the Chosen One is still putting up unprecedented numbers. This campaign is statistically in the conversation for greatest individual season of the modern era.|
|2.||Kevin Durant||Thunder||27.3 points on .595 TS%, 8.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists||3|
|Durant flipped back ahead of Kobe Bryant for No. 2 on a strong week with continued exemplary efficiency marks. Scoring this much while shooting this efficiently has traditionally been accomplished only by true big men (Karl Malone, Charles Barkley), Adrian Dantley or Michael Jordan. Or, this season, LeBron. This could end up being a hard runner-up bid to swallow for KD.|
|3.||Kobe Bryant||Lakers||29.3 points on .536 TS%, 5.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists||2|
|On offense this season, Kobe plays quite a bit like late-Aughts LeBron. Hmm, I wonder why.|
|4.||Derrick Rose||Bulls||22.7 points on .559 TS%, 7.9 assists||4|
|Chicago continues to plug away with Rose running the show completely. Watching Rose and Tom Thibodeau lead the Bulls has been extraordinarily rewarding; this is a coach-point guard pair that seems to truly have faith in one another. It's beautiful, and the Bulls are better for it.|
|5.||Chris Paul||Clippers||18.5 points on .604 TS%, 8.4 assists, 2.4 steals||8|
|Chris Paul's ability to hit shots -- something he's shown the ability to do time after time after time -- will become even more important in Chauncey Billups' absence as the Clippers' backcourt loses a whole grip of offensive firepower.|
|6.||Dwight Howard||Magic||20.9 points on .559 TS%, 15.1 rebounds, 2.2 blocks||4|
|Howard's erratic shooting efficiency has bounced back up; where it is now -- a .559 True Shooting -- should be the low end, though, not the peak. Trade questions will only heat up from here, and how decisively the Magic move once the seemingly inevitable negotiations enter the public consciousness matters.|
|7.||Kevin Love||Timberwolves||25.0 points on .578 TS%, 13.6 rebounds||5|
|Love drops two spots not because the Wolves won without him -- beating the Kings at home is not exactly earth-shattering -- but because the SBNation.com NBA MVP Power Rankings abide by that universal code of combatant conduct: nothing in the face, nothing below the belt. (Luis Scola will never touch these Rankings for that reason; the statute of limitations on CP3's Julius Hodge pop has elapsed.)|
|8.||Andre Iguodala||Sixers||12.8 points on .529 TS%, 6.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists||Unranked|
|Iguodala is the best wing defender in the NBA right now, edging LeBron, Luol Deng and, in my opinion, Tony Allen. Philadelphia has the league's top defense largely because 'Dala allows almost no breathing room for his cover on an almost nightly basis. That's valuable.|
|9.||LaMarcus Aldridge||Blazers||23.7 points on .560 TS%, 8.6||7|
|Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus (with an assist from Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge) took a deeper look at LMA's consistency, riffing on our post on the volatility of the league's top scorers. The consensus: Aldridge is getting more consistent as a scorer every year, and it's been a huge boon to the Blazers.|
|10.||Russell Westbrook||Thunder||22.3 points on .532 TS%, 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals||10|
|Westbrook continues to provide an exceptional ballast for Durant in Oklahoma City as the Thunder remain in the race of the league's best overall record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Part of OKC's winning equation is that the team is so deep. But a bigger reason is that the club is so flippin' good at the top with Durant, Westbrook and James Harden.|