Sunday , Jan , 13 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Picking An Early Season Western Conference MVP: Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, Tim Duncan, Stephen Jackson, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul or Brandon Roy?

Last week, I posted on early candidates for Eastern Conference MVP. Kevin Garnett edged Dwight Howard and Chauncey Billups; however, LeBron James now warrants consideration for his recent play.

The competition is tighter on the left coast. The Western Conference has several worthy candidates-some you know; some you‘re probably getting to know through League Pass and NBATV …

Picking An Early Season Western Conference MVP: Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, Tim Duncan, Stephen Jackson, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul or Brandon Roy?

We’re hitting the midway point of the NBA season, which is the perfect time to start debating end-of-year individual honors.

Last week, I posted on early candidates for Eastern Conference MVP. Kevin Garnett edged Dwight Howard and Chauncey Billups; however, LeBron James now warrants consideration for his recent play.

The competition is tighter on the left coast. The Western Conference has several worthy candidates-some you know; some you‘re probably getting to know through League Pass and NBATV.

Of course, the conversation is perfect for the HoopsVibe masses. As always, read the post, form your opinion, and get at us in the comment box below. Your pick will be pitted against Garnett (our early-season Eastern Conference winner) in a future post to determine a mid-season league MVP, so keep an eye out for that.

Candidate: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers.

  • Why: Less is more. A toned-down, mellower Bryant has helped L.A. to a 25-11 start. The most optimistic purple-and-gold fan would have considered this impossible in October.  Remember, the vibe surrounding training camp?

Candidate: Baron Davis, Golden State Warriors.

  • Why: In the past, Davis teased us with flashes of skill. But injuries and poor conditioning always set him back. Not this year, though. The stocky table-setter is averaging 22 points and 8 dimes per game. Best of all, the Warriors have rebounded from a slow start to continue the ‘We Believe’ legacy.

Candidate: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs.

  • Why: 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal per game. The Spurs are 24-11. Business as usual for Duncan and San Antonio.

Candidate: Stephen Jackson, Golden State Warriors.

  • Why: Don Nelson has been calling Jackson an elite player. This isn’t propaganda. The Warriors are 20-10 with Jackson and 0-6 without him. The forward is a terrific scorer and defender. 

Candidate: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns.

  • Why: Same argument as Jackson. Subtract Nash from the Suns and seven seconds to shoot regresses into a dysfunctional mess bound for the draft lottery in New Jersey. Simply put, he makes Phoenix go.

Candidate: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks.

  • Why: Dallas, after some early struggles, has won 14-of-17 games. Nowitzki has recently rounded into form, leading the Mavericks in scoring and contributing on the glass, too. Just a hunch, but after last season I’m guessing the German isn’t worried about repeating as MVP.

Candidate: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets.

  • Why: This year, Paul has emerged as a top point guard. The tiny table-setter has led the Hornets to a 25-12 record, while dropping 22 points and 11 dimes per night. Oh yeah, he’s also reignited the famous Paul or Williams debate.

Candidate: Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers.

  • Why: Rip City is back. And Roy is the main reason for Portland’s basketball renaissance. The Blazers have won 16-of-18 behind his fine play at point guard. The second year star can do it all: score, pass, defend, and lead.

Winner: Bryant.

Why: Of course, his individual numbers are brilliant. Forget statistics. Bryant wins our early MVP because he’s preserved under tough circumstances-even if he’s partially responsible for creating those circumstances.

Think back to last summer‘s circus. There was the cell phone tape. Then there was the interview with Stephen A Smith. After that there was the bizarre trade request while vacationing in Europe. Phil Jackson initiated more than one intervention.

Driving these events was the Lakers’ underachieving ways and unnamed team sources publicly blaming Bryant for Shaquille O’Neal leaving. Talk about dysfunctional.

Bryant has blocked out the negative ‘pub’ and been the main cog in L.A.’s turnaround. By combining individual and team success, he’s finally reached his true potential. So Bryant’s the winner of our early season Western Conference MVP.

Who is your early season Western Conference MVP? Get at us in the comment box below with your vote and keep an eye out for a future post determining the mid-season MVP. Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA blog.