5 Steve Nash – G, Phoenix Suns
Coming off a letdown season where the Suns missed the playoffs and the aging point guard continued to look more and more like an alien with each passing day, Steve Nash came out strong in 09-10, posting two 20-assist games as Phoenix started off 8-1 to open the season. The Suns would finish the regular season as the highest scoring team for the fifth straight year, earning the Western Conference 3rd seed behind Nash’s league-leading 11 assists per game. Nash went on to average 18 and 10 over the Suns surprising run to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the Lakers in six.
4 Dwight Howard – C, Orlando Magic
After making his first trip to the finals the year before, Dwight Howard seemed hell bent on making a return to the Promised Land and taking home the trophy. Howard played in every single game and led the NBA in rebounds and blocks per game, and overall field goal percentage in 2009-10. He was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row and led Orlando to the second best regular season record in the league. Things came undone in the playoffs however, when Howard fell out of love with Stan Van Gundy and his ultimate dad-mustache and Orlando fell to Boston in the Conference Finals.
3 Kevin Durant – F, Oklahoma City Thunder
In just his third season in the NBA and in spite of having the body mass of a 7-foot tall thirteen year old, Kevin Durant truly came into his own in the 2009-10 season. At 21, Durant became the youngest player in league history to lead the league with a ridiculous 30.1 points per game and led the Thunder to their first playoff appearance since they left Seattle for Oklahoma City. Durant finished the year as an All-Star, a member of the All-NBA First Team, and the runner-up for the league MVP, but his Thunder would fall in the first round to the eventual champion Lakers.
2 Kobe Bryant – G, Los Angeles Lakers
Back on top after winning the championship in 08-09, Kobe continued to fuel Los Angeles in 2009-10, hitting six game-winning shots over the course of the year, surpassing Jerry West to become the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history, and beating the new Super Mario Bros. for Wii in an astonishing 2 days. The Lakers earned the Western Conference 1st seed behind Bryant’s 27 points per game, and dispatched OKC, Utah, Phoenix, and Boston on their way to a second straight championship and Kobe’s second straight NBA Finals MVP.
1 LeBron James – F/G, Cleveland Cavaliers
Coming off an MVP season the year before, LBJ got even better in 09-10, leading the Cavs to a league best regular season record of 61-21. LeBron was second in the league in points per game with 29.7, adding 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per. The Cavs stellar regular season didn’t translate into playoff success though, as they were ousted in the 2nd round and LeBron’s massive stat compilation turned out to be nothing more than his parting gift to Cleveland. And say what you will about King James betraying the city, but it’s pretty safe to say even the Mayor of Cleveland would skip town for Miami if given the chance.