The first round of the NBA playoffs is well underway with a number of teams already on the verge of advancing to the next round like the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder which all have 3-0 series leads.
Another team potentially on the verge of a sweep is the Los Angeles Lakers. With two straight wins in the first two games, the Lakers are firing on all cylinders and appear to be back to form as legitimate NBA title contenders in the Western Conference.
With the playoffs nearing the second round, David Thrope of ESPN.com has ranked players from one to 10 in Post-Season MVP Rankings. There have been plenty dominant players over the course of the first round like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Paul Pierce, but two Lakers superstars have topped the charts at one and two.
After posting a historic triple-double in Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets, Andrew Bynum showed that his emergence as a legitimate superstar in the NBA wasn’t limited to the regular season. Bynum followed up that impressive Game 1 showing with a 27-point performance in Game 2. These two dominant displays of his abilities in the frontcourt has the All-Star center at number one.
It could be argued that Bynum may have been snubbed for the NBA’s Most Improved Player with the Orlando Magic’s Ryan Anderson winning that award on Fri. May 4. Bynum’s improvement and ability to stay healthy this season has been a huge step forward and it continues throughout the playoffs.
Just below Bynum is Kobe Bryant at number two. In Game 1, Kobe took somewhat of a backseat in terms of the spotlight to Bynum, but still managed to score a game-high 31 points in order to lead the Lakers to victory. Kobe followed up that solid performance by lighting the Nuggets for 38 points in Game 2 and once again helping the Lakers get the win.
Here is a quick look at Thrope’s rankings for the Post-Season MVP:
- Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers
- Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
- LeBron James, Miami Heat
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
- Nick Young, Los Angeles Clippers
- Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
- Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
- Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s hard to argue with the top five players here as they have been on their game throughout the first round of the playoffs thus far. The last five on the other hand are debatable with Nick Young making it on the list and Chris Paul getting snubbed.
As for Kobe and Bynum, they have no doubt been the best players on the 16 teams competing in both conferences. During the first two games against the Nuggets, Bynum has averaged 18.5 ppg, 11 rpg and an incredible 6 bpg. Besides the rebounds and blocks, Kobe isn’t far off as he has made up for it in the scoring category with 34.5 ppg and 2 spg.
Game 3 between the Lakers and Nuggets will take place tonight with Kobe and company traveling to the Mile High City. If the Lakers can get the win tonight at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets may very well be done with little chance of getting back in this series down 0-3.
Hopefully Kobe and Bynum can keep up this incredible production on both end of the floor and cruise into the second round to face the Thunder or the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.