Who is going to win the 2010-11 NBA MVP?

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard scores during the third quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago on December 1, 2010. The Magic won 107-78. UPI/Brian Kersey

About this time every year, the MVP discussion really heats up. This season, it seems like it’s a two-man race between LeBron James and Derrick Rose, but I think there are a few other players that deserve consideration.

Using the same methodology that I used for my All-Star picks, let’s narrow down the league MVP candidates and see who should be on the short list.

I like to use the NBA’s Efficiency statistic, which rolls points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, missed shots and missed free throws into one number for comparison purposes. It’s not perfect, but no statistic is. I take a player’s per game efficiency (adjusted for team pace, because a player should not be penalized because his team plays at a slow pace) and multiply by his team’s winning percentage to calculate his Adjusted Efficiency. This is a number that takes both performance and team success into account.

Let’s take a look…

1 Lebron James 28.3 0.672 19.0
2 Pau Gasol 26.1 0.708 18.5
3 Dwight Howard 28.3 0.625 17.7
4 Dirk Nowitzki 23.7 0.730 17.3
5 Kevin Garnett 22.1 0.754 16.6
6 Dwyane Wade 24.6 0.672 16.5
7 Derrick Rose 23.1 0.710 16.4
8 Rajon Rondo 20.8 0.754 15.7
9 Kevin Durant 24.9 0.629 15.7
10 Tim Duncan 19.3 0.810 15.6
11 Kobe Bryant 21.9 0.708 15.5
12 Joakim Noah 21.8 0.710 15.4
13 Paul Pierce 20.2 0.754 15.2
14 Manu Ginobili 18.2 0.810 14.7
15 Tony Parker 18.2 0.810 14.7
16 Carlos Boozer 20.7 0.710 14.7
17 Lamar Odom 20.2 0.708 14.3
18 Russell Westbrook 22.7 0.629 14.3
19 Al Horford 24.7 0.578 14.3
20 Lamarcus Aldridge 24.3 0.578 14.0

Keep in mind that EFF is tilted in favor of big men, because rebounds are more common than assists and it’s easier to shoot when you’re closer to the basket. Case in point — Pau Gasol. I don’t think anyone considers him an MVP candidate this year.

LeBron still leads the way with a healthy margin, but he does have the #6 player on his team (Dwyane Wade) which offsets the win percentage a little bit. If anything, the Heat should have more wins that they do, so that’s not going to work in LeBron’s favor when the votes are cast.

Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki have solid win percentages despite not having a sidekick in the Top 20. That’s pretty impressive. Derrick Rose has two sidekicks (Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer), but they only played 76 games combined.

To me, this should be a four- or five-man race: LeBron, Howard, Rose, Nowitzki and perhaps Kobe Bryant, who should be in the conversation just about every season. I don’t think the Heat have lived up to (unreasonable?) expectations, so I doubt LeBron is going to win his third-straight MVP after turning into a villain and coming up small in the clutch over the last few weeks. Rose has had to deal with injuries to both Boozer and Noah and has led the Bulls to a much improved record this season. He’s also arguably the best point guard in the league, no offense to Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Chicago is a team on the rise and voters tend to favor that over a team that probably isn’t going anywhere (Orlando, Dallas).

So while a case could be made for LeBron, Howard, Nowitzki and Kobe, Rose will probably win it in the end, and deservedly so.

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