NBA 2013: Year of the Small Forward!
As the half way point of the 2012-13 NBA season approaches we've been on the receiving end of great basketball. With such a high amount of team success going on we all know the NBA is no stranger to noticing individual play at a high level. We've seen MVP type production from many positions in the NBA so far, and it would be criminal of me not to mention such names like Chris Paul, and Tony Parker who continue to be overlooked on the voting end. However this season much like the Chinese new year is focused on one type of animal, it's the year of the small forward.
What we've seen from this talent heavy position this season has been sensational. We have the young gun in Paul George who is making a big time name for himself in Indiana for the Pacers, Rudy Gay who despite the mid-season trade from Memphis to Toronto has been sensational, to the continued big time play from savvy vets such as Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Luol Deng.
But of course there are those few players who have taken the NBA by storm: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony who in my opinion are the top three players in the NBA. I'd even go as far as to say the world due to the high level of production from all three MVP candidates. This high level of play started from their gold medal run in the Olympics, in which we saw all three of them play at a high level. And to the benefit of their teams, they have carried that into this season.
Lebron James is doing a lot of what we expected, and yet a lot of what we didn't expect from the defending NBA Finals champ/MVP. LBJ is posting yet another MVP worthy stat line of 27.3 PPG, 6.9 APG, 8.2 RPG, and a PER of 31.46 (leads the NBA). Now that kind of stat line is to be expected from the King, but to shoot career highs from the field (.565%), and more specifically from 3-pt land (.424%) has NBA analyst starting the MJ comparisons mid-season. On top of that James reached a feat that has never been touched in NBA history, finishing a 6-game streak of scoring 30 pts or more while shooting 60% or more from the field. Lebron has led his Miami Heat to the number one seed in the Eastern conference with a record of 36-14. LBJ is certainly entering his prime, and with that said it's amazing to see that a 3-time NBA MVP gets better each season.
OKC's prize jewel Kevin Durant is not too far behind, as he has been having such a fine season himself. With his stat line of 29.2 PPG (Leads NBA), 4.4 APG, 7.4 APG, and a PER of 29.22. KD has improved his all-around game a great deal. As always KD has been efficient from the field shooting .519%, and .427% from 3-pt land. However due to an off-season trade that sent his former Sixth Man of The Year James Harden to Houston, he has had more responsibilities outside of scoring but he has adapted to any and all changes that have come his way. Having led his Thunder to one of the top five records in the NBA so far at 39-14, and continuing to be the force he is he has contributed greatly to the collective success we have seen from small forwards this season.
And finally New York's own Carmelo Anthony, who has crashed the MVP party this season. Melo has done something that defenders probably feared he would, improved his offensive game even more. Tough luck for the Eastern conference as this man was already a cold-blooded scorer to begin with. Melo's mid-season stat line is at 28.6 PPG (2nd in the NBA), 2.7 APG, 6.5 RPG, and a PER of 23.85. Carmelo has also been efficient from the field with a .447 FG%, and going .405% from down 3-pt land. However we've also seen Melo do more off the ball work especially on the defense boards, and getting his teammates more involved which has been a big part of his game so far. The Knicks have benefited greatly from the play of their leader, and Anthony's leadership has them sitting at 32-18 second in the Eastern conference.
What we've seen from these elite players has them at the top of the MVP ladder, and it will be interesting to see how they attack the second half of the NBA season. I hope you all enjoy the second half play of these special players, as well as the other talented athletes that call the NBA home. I hope you enjoy All-star weekend, and get ready for more great NBA action!