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Top 5 2008 NBA MVP Hopefuls

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Upon looking down the entire NBA roster, I realized one thing; gone are the days when a few players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul Jabaar ruled the league with little or no viable competition to speak of. Nowadays though, there are so many quality players in the NBA that any one of 20-30 players could win the MVP this coming year. While some may say that the Kobe Bryants, Tim Duncans and Steve Nashes are the definite front runners, many young up and comers are just as valuable to their respective teams as the aforementioned superstars. The following is a list of 5 players who are not at the top of the pecking order for the MVP, but whose teams would suffer tremendously without them.

1. Chris Paul – This thrid-year point guard is extremely valuable to his team. The 2008 season has been the Hornets best start in a very, very long time. And much of their success is due to Chris Paul’s performances thus far. While averaging almost 20 points and 10 assists a game, Chris Paul has led the Hornest to a 12-7 record. And that is in the West where wins are very difficult to come by. To take the Chirs Paul for MVP argument even further, just take a look at the Hornets’ record when Chris Paul is not in the lineup. It is pretty pathetic.

2. Shawn Marion – When you play on the same team as Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash, the spotlight will very rarely, if ever, be shined on you. That’s why the Matrix never gets the respect he deserves. But, Shawn Marion is a more rounded player than both Nash and Stoudemire. He can score points, get blocks and rebounds and his defense is absolutely tireless day in and day out. Simply put, he does it all. And without his well-rounded game, the Suns would not be as good as they are. They definitely would not be in the hunt for the NBA title.

2. Deron Williams – When John Stockton left the Jazz hard on the heels of Karl Malone, Utah’s basketball fans were in a state of mourning. But, then came the Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer era. They are not as good as Karl Malone and John Stockton yet, but they are getting there. In my opinion, they are the best point guard/power forward duo in the NBA right now. Deron Williams showed great poise last year in the playoffs where the Jazz fell to the eventual champs, the Spurs. This year Williams is averaging 20 points and 9 assists per game. But aside from his numbers, it is his attitude and swagger that make Williams such an important asset. Now, even though they are relatively young, the Utah Jazz feel they can play with anyone. And they are proving that this year.

Marcus Camby – If you were to play with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony every night, you would think that your job is relatively easy, right? Wrong! Though Melo and AI are amazing scorers, they have a rather large aversion to playing defense and doing the grunt work. That is why Marcus Camby, a perennial defensive player of the year candidate is so influential for the Nuggets. Without him they would still score over a hundred a night, but they would give up double that. I know that is a bit hyperbolic, but you get my point. Camby is underrated and absolutely intregal to Denver’s success.

5. Last but not least – Stephen Jackson. Now, I know a lot of people write Jackson off as a hoodlum who only fights with fans and shoots at fellow strip joint patrons, but seriously, Stephen Jackson is a great asset. This year, the Warriors started the season 0-6. Then, when Stephen Jackson’s suspension was up, the Warriors started to look like the team that surprised everyone last year by beating the Mavs. They were explosive, talented and strong on both ends of the floor. And while the obvious team leader is Baron Davis, Jackson provides the little things that gets his team over the hump. Like all of the other Warriors, he can score. But besides that he is a great defensive player. He can guard the point, the 2 spot and even small forwards. Name one other player in the NBA who can do that. Who? Kobe? Lebron? Bruce Bowen? That is some pretty good company to be in. The ability to score and defend are both great qualities to have. But the best thing about Stephen Jackson is his energy. Teams that play with emotion and energy can often beat teams with a lot more talent. Stephen Jackson is definitely the reason for the Warriors’ change of luck as of late.

I doubt that any of these players have a shot at the MVP this year. But the voters should definitely focus on players who are well-rounded and invaluable to their teams. If so, these five wold be in the running.

Nishan Wilde is VP of Sales for Robbins Sports and Athletics, an online resource for Basketball Hoops, Stopwatches and Punching Bags.