On Thursday night, the Celtics will get their final regular-season look at the Chicago Bulls, the likely No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and a potential playoff opponent for the C's. In doing so, they may be getting their last regular-season look at this year's NBA MVP — Derrick Rose.
Somewhere along the line, as the Bulls leapfrogged both the Celtics and Heat for the top spot in the East, it was generally assumed by most that Rose was the league's most valuable player.
To his credit, Rose has put up some gaudy numbers this season. He's averaging over 25 points per game, he's handing out just under eight assists per contest, and he's hit big shot after big shot as the Bulls have racked up close to 60 wins.
A young star in the waiting prior to this season, Rose has emerged as a legitimate superstar this season. As is sometimes the case, basketball fans and the media alike have christened the breakout star on the breakout team the front-runner for MVP.
However, Rose may not be the runaway everyone thinks he is. Take Dwight Howard for example. While his head coach Stan Van Gundy may, by all accounts be a blowhard, he was certainly on to something when he spoke recently about how Rose may not be the clear-cut favorite. Instead, he said, maybe Howard is truly the league's most valuable player. And why not? Howard is an endangered species in the NBA in that he's a center that can change the game on both ends of the court. He looks like he's finally putting together a respectable offensive game, and no one is a bigger threat on defense in the paint than he is. Factor in that the Magic overhauled their roster midseason, and Howard's importance to Orlando is that much more important.
It also can't be an MVP decision without mention of LeBron James. Does James have a better supporting cast in Miami? Of course he does. However, his numbers haven't suffered much from the move. Also, is there a better judge of his value than a look at Cleveland in the standings? A year after winning 61 games last year with James, the Cavs have 61 losses without him, and they still have four games to play.
There are plenty of other candidates around the league. Dirk Nowitzki may be quitely having the best season of his career for an upstart Dallas team. Kevin Durant is assuming the role of the NBA's best scorer in Oklahoma City. And in Los Angeles, the Lakers are right on San Antonio's trail, thanks in large part to Kobe Bryant.
Tuesday, April 5: Which potential first-round opponent would give the Celtics the most problems?
Who should win the NBA MVP this season? Share your thoughts below.
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