By Paul Forrester
March 17, 2010
NBA Awards Races

Carmelo Anthony is among the select few to merit serious consideration for MVP honors, but the Nuggets' high-scoring forward has yet to show up on the Awards Watch. Until now.

What took us so long to add him? Because for all his dominance as a scorer, Anthony doesn't regularly bring the same intensity on the defensive end. And for as integral as he is to the team's title hopes, Denver is 8-5 without him in the lineup. And while he should be credited for much of the Nuggets' success, so should Chauncey Billups.

But with three double-doubles in Denver's last four games, and a No. 3 ranking among the league's top scorers, 'Melo has shown his worth. While he may need to polish a few edges, he is almost in the same realm as the likes of LeBron James and the Kobe Bryant. And with that, how could he not be included in the MVP conversation?

(All stats and records are through March 16.)

League MVP
LeBron James
F, Cleveland Cavaliers   
Previous Ranking: 1
29.9 7.2 8.6 50.2
Cavs coach Mike Brown has involved James in his coaching decisions so much -- from lineups to substitutions to strategies -- that beat writer Brian Windhorst has described LBJ as a virtual assistant coach. After leading Cleveland to its fourth 50-win season in the last five years, could James be eligible for coaching honors, too?
Kobe Bryant
G, Los Angeles Lakers   
Previous Ranking: 2
27.7 5.4 4.9 45.8
Most players don't hit six game-winners in a career, let alone in one season. But thanks to his clutch buckets, the Lakers are closing in on home-court advantage through at least the West portion of the playoffs.
Kevin Durant
F, Oklahoma City Thunder   
Previous Ranking: 4
29.8 7.5 2.8 48.0
After Durant broke a franchise mark held by former Sonic Spencer Haywood for the most 30-point games in a season, it's hard not to feel bad for the Seattle fans. Durant could own most of the franchise's records by the time he's done, and Seattle fans will have gotten to cherish his feats for only one season.
Dwight Howard
C, Orlando Magic   
Previous Ranking: 5
18.7 13.2 2.7 61.1
Howard continues to show he has more skills than many give him credit for. He dished out five assists against the Wizards this week, and his average in March is 2.4, his most in any month this season. His scoring, assists, blocks and shooting are all up since the All-Star break.
Carmelo Anthony
F, Denver Nuggets   
Previous Ranking: --
28.8 6.5 3.4 46.4
After posting eight games with at least 40 points, after getting the best of LeBron and the Cavaliers last month in Cleveland and after prompting the Lakers (so says one scout) to acquire Ron Artest to counter him in the playoffs, Anthony's role in making the Nuggets one of the few legit contenders for the crown is undeniable.
Rookie of the Year
Spotlight: If Evans has enough swag to prompt Sacramento Democrats and Republicans to agree that he should be the Rookie of the Year, then he'll have no problem convincing writers of the same, especially after recording his first triple-double a few days after his political pep rally. 1. Tyreke Evans, Kings (PR: 1)
2. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (PR: 2)
3. Stephen Curry, Warriors (PR: 3)
4. Darren Collison, Hornets (PR: 4)
5. Marcus Thornton, Hornets (PR: 5)
Sixth Man Award
Spotlight: Crawford has been asked to do one thing: score. And unlike Landry now, he has been doing so for a team playing meaningful games all season, like those in March. With the Hawks looking to sew up the third seed, Crawford has shot 50 percent from three-point range this month. 1. Jamal Crawford, Hawks (PR: 2)
2. Carl Landry, Kings (PR: 1)
3. J.R. Smith, Nuggets (PR: 5)
4. Anderson Varejao,Cavaliers (PR: 4)
5. Marcus Thornton, Hornets (PR: --)
Coach of the Year
Spotlight: A Thunder blog recently looked back at the preseason predictions of multiple NBA scribes and found the consensus was 32 wins. That was nine wins ago, which says as much about the job Brooks has done as it does the predictive powers of NBA "experts." 1. Scott Brooks, Thunder (PR: 1)
2. Scott Skiles, Bucks (PR: 3)
3. Gregg Popovich, Spurs (PR: --)
4. Nate McMillan, Trail Blazers (PR: 2)
5. Mike Brown, Cavaliers (PR: 5)
Defensive Player of the Year
Spotlight: Howard may tally more than his fair share of goaltending calls, as a recent study presented at MIT's sports analytics conference claims, but in averaging a league-leading 2.74 blocks per game, he has helped Orlando craft the league's stingiest defense in the paint. 1. Dwight Howard, Magic (PR: 1)
2. Andrew Bogut, Bucks (PR: 3)
3. Josh Smith, Hawks (PR: 2)
4. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers (PR: 5)
5. Rajon Rondo, Celtics (PR: --)
Most Improved Player
Spotlight: Only Dwight Howard (10.2) and LeBron James (10.1) are taking more free throws per game than Durant (9.9). But Durant is converting 88 percent of his attempts, which essentially means he's generating almost nine free points a night without so much as a hand in his face. 1. Kevin Durant, Thunder (PR: 1)
2. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies (PR: 2)
3. Andrew Bogut, Bucks (PR: 3)
4. Aaron Brooks, Rockets (PR: 5)
5. Carl Landry, Kings (PR: 4)

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