Most Valuable Player: LeBron James
There are only two legitimate candidates for MVP this year: Lebron James and Kevin Durant. Durant and James have led their teams to identical 46-18 records thus far, with James appearing in 62 games to Durant’s 64. Both players are shattering their career highs in field goal percentage by more than two percent and are in the midst of their best seasons. While it would be easy to overvalue James’ supporting cast, Chris Bosh and an oft-injured Dwyane Wade are pretty much a wash against James Harden, block leader Serge Ibaka, and a much improved Russell Westbrook. Furthermore, James has continued to deliver even when asked to play any position from point guard to power forward. Look for him to win his third MVP, putting him in the company of Moses Malone and the widely regarded top six all-time of Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyson Chandler
Ever since Chandler’s emergence as a defensive force throughout Dallas’ championship run last year, the media has taken notice and has hyped him up to the point that he just may win his first DPOY award. If he does, it would be well-deserved as the Mavs have looked like a different team without Chandler, though Dirk Nowitzki’s lack of conditioning early on could have something to do with it as well. Still, Chandler infused some semblance of a defensive mentality into his team under Mike D’Antoni and proceeded to simply dominate at that end of the floor with a more defensive-minded coach in Mike Woodson. The combination of Dwight Howard missing games and having won the award for three consecutive years certainly helps Chandler’s case. Tony Allen also deserves mention as he is the best perimeter defender in basketball by a pretty fair margin. However, perimeter players rarely win this award and his 26.4 minutes per game average gives him pretty much no chance of doing so.