One year after Miami’s Lebron James won his 2nd MVP award in the last 3 seasons en rout to winning his first NBA Title, James shows no signs of slowing down.
Lebron’s individual numbers are unbelievable as usual as the Heat have predictably gotten out to a great start, putting those two losses to the NY Knicks aside.
But while LBJ continues his onslaught of the statistical record books there have been a bevy of other NBA stars that have stepped their games up in the early going like OKC’s Kevin Durant, NY’s Carmelo Anthony, and a suddenly spry Tim Duncan.
While all of those players are already household names, there are a few up-and-coming young stars like Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, Golden State’s Steph Curry, and Philly’s Jrue Holiday that deserve mention so far.
Check out our initial NBA MVP Rankings for December 2012…
20.8 ppg, 8.7 ast, 4.7 reb, 2 stl, .365 3PT%
Team Record – 19-4
Playing on a team with 3 time scoring champion Kevin Durant will always take potential POY votes away from Westbrook but he undoubtedly belongs on the list as one of the best players in the Association. Russell is having arguably his best NBA season in his short career, especially from the distribution standpoint, averaging a career high in assists. While his FG%(.415) is suspect, he is one of the few players that can be downright unguardable when he’s on his game. Russell is the only player in the Association to average 20 points and dish out more than 8 assists per game.
18.4 ppg, 8.9 ast, 3.9 reb, 1.5 stl, .451 FG%, .333 3PT%
Team Record – 12-11
While the Sixers are trying to stay afloat until free agent acquisition Andrew Bynum can finally get on the floor they have been treated to the maturation of 3rd year PG Jrue Holiday, who has been playing at an All Star level. The once highly touted HS player is still only 22 years old and ranks 3rd in the league in assists behind only Rondo and CP3. Prior to his recent foot injury, Jrue has already notched 7 double-doubles, including scoring 20 or more points 8 times in 23 games.
24.8 ppg, 5.4 reb, 4.4 ast, 1.9 stl, .341 3PT%
Team Record – 11-11
The change of scenery from OKC to Houston has definitely done wonders for his game as “The Beard” currently ranks 5th in the Association in scoring behind only Kobe, Durant, Lebron and Melo. Harden has scored in double figures in every game but one and has topped 20 points in a game 13 times, including a few monsterous 45 point and 37 point outbursts. Alongside Jeremy Lin, it looks like the Rockets have their backcourt of the future.
19 ppg, 6.1 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.5 stl, 1 blk, .329 3PT%
Team Record – 15-6
While big man Zach Randolph(17.6 ppg and 12.6 reb) also deserves some of the credit for the Grizzlies’ fast start, it is Gay that has upped his game to All Star caliber play in the early going. The former Lottery pick has scored in double figures in every game , including 9 games of 20 or more. Rudy is one of the game’s best scorers from the forward position as well as highlight reel dunkers. The Grizzlies will need more consistency from Gay if they are to overtake San Antonio in the Southwest Division.
12.9 ppg, 12.7 ast, 5.3 reb, 2.1 stl, .511 FG%
Team Record 12-11
The Celtics are struggling in the early going but it certainly isn’t Rondo’s fault as he’s leading the league in assists(by a wide margin), ranks Top 5 in steals and double-doubles with 14, including one masterful triple-double vs Philadelphia. He’s upped his shooting percentage to more than 50%, something almost unheard os for a guard. Rajon was on pace to match John Stockton’s consecutive games of 10 or more asssist mark until he decided to take on the Nets Kris Humphries and get himself ejected from a game on Nov 28th.
16 ppg, 9.3 ast, 3.5 reb, 2.6 stl, .472 FG%, .338 3PT%, .885 FT%
Team Record – 17-6
A big reason for the Clippers reeling off 9 straight victories has been the leadership of CP3 along with the continued improvement of Blake Griffin coming back from injury. Paul leads the Association in steals, ranks 2nd in assists, and Top 5 in FT%. He has been amazingly consistent, scoring in double figures in 21 of 23 games, including notching 10 double-doubles. Look for CP3 to climb if the Clippers can keep winning.
29.3 ppg, 5.3 reb, 4.9 ast, 1.6 stl, .474 FG%, .382 3PT%, ..864 FT%
Team Record – 10-14
Everyone keeps waiting for the now 34 year old Kobe to slow down, but it just never happens. Bryant is having one of his best all around seasons, leading the Association in scoring and registering career high shooting percentages. Kobe has notched a league high 13 games over 30 points, including 3 40+ point outbursts. Unfortunately “The Mamba” isn’t getting much help with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol nursing injuries and Dwight Howard failing miserable from the FT line.
27.5 ppg, 8.4 reb, 4.2 ast, 1.6 stl, 1.3 blk, .515 FG%, ..439 3PT%, .897 FT%
Team Record – 19-4
It seems almost unthinkable to place “The Durantula” 3rd in our initial rankings considering he is again in the running for a 4th consecutive scoring crown, is setting career highs in rebounding, and along with Lebron James, he is the only player to be in the Top 20 in 6 different statistical categories. KD has scored 20 or more in 21 of 23 games and is averaging a ridiculous 34 ppg over the Thunder’s league high 10 game winning streak.
27.9 ppg, 6.4 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, .473 FG%, .455 3PT%, .808 FT%
Team Record – 18-5
Anyone who has watched a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, or on TV for that matter, has heard the chants of “MVP, MVP” whenever Melo goes to the free throw line this season. Those cheers are finally warranted after Carmelo has helped lead the Knicks to the Eastern Conference’s best record so far. He has showed a renewed vigor on the defensive side of the ball to match his nearly unguardable offensive game, especially when he’s shooting the lights out at a 46+% 3 point clip. It will be interesting to see how, and if, Melo adjusts to playing once again alongside Amare Stoudemire once Stat returns from injury around Christmas.
25.4 ppg, 8.6 reb, 6.7 ast, 1.3 stl, .541 FG%, .424 3PT%
Team Record – 15-6
In a stacked MVP field at the top early on, reigning 2012 MVP Lebron once again gets the nod as he continues to put up marvelous numbers along with keeping the Heat as one of the favorites to win another NBA Title. Lebron has recorded at least 20 points in 21 consecutive games to start the season, the longest streak of his career and just the third different player since the 2000-01 season with a streak that long to start a season. James also has ten games this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, two more than any other player. The only chink in his armor appears to be at the charity stripe where he’s averaging a career worst .675FT%.