Roundtable: Most valuable players

Two rounds of the playoffs are nearly complete. Who have been the postseason's most valuable players so far? Our experts weigh in.


Henry Abbott, TrueHoop

1. LeBron James, Cleveland
He had one mediocre game, and it was almost like the world stopped. That's how you know the bar is high.

2. Dwight Howard, Orlando
The Magic have hardly broken a sweat so far, and while Jameer Nelson has been amazing, I'll submit that Howard is the irreplaceable one.

3. Rajon Rondo, Boston
The timing of this conversation helps his candidacy, but Rondo has been good throughout. The Celtics are overperforming, and Rondo's playoff production thus far, as determined by player efficiency rating, puts him ahead of Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, etc.


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com

1. LeBron James
When the Cavs win, you can usually find every reason why in his stat line. He's encumbered by the team, plus four decades of Cleveland futility.

2. Amare Stoudemire
Unstoppable off the dribble or from 20 feet in with the jumper. And now with the added bonus of rebounds, too.

3. Kobe Bryant
His return to form has the Lakers returning to championship contention. Most obvious link since candy and cavities.


Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop

1. LeBron James, Cleveland

The Cavs are being tested by an aggressive Celtics defense. The only player on the team playing anywhere near the top end of his range is James. He's averaging 30.9 points per game (63.7 true shooting percentage) and his postseason player efficiency rating of 32.00 is actually higher than his regular-season mark.

2. Pau Gasol, Lakers

Gasol's aggressiveness was the most appealing feature of the Lakers' Game 4 win, and he's been consistently stellar throughout the postseason. The length of the Lakers' front line is often regarded as the team's most valuable collective asset, but when we talk about length we're really talking about Gasol. He's scoring efficiently, dominating on the glass, blocking shots, moving the ball incredibly well and generally executing every task to perfection.

3. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, Orlando

Nelson has Orlando's offense humming to perfection, while Howard is the fulcrum of a defense that's radically difficult to score against. The Magic's inside-out game is a juggernaut -- second only to Phoenix. Howard and Nelson are steering it.


Chris Broussard, ESPN The Magazine

1. Rajon Rondo, Boston
The Celtics' point guard is dominating the Cleveland series and the Celtics are even with a superior team, even though Paul Pierce isn't giving Boston much.

2. LeBron James, Cleveland
LeBron is doing it all for Cleveland -- 30.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 7.4 apg, 2.1 bpg. Second to Rondo only because as the Cavs' leader, he hasn't gotten them to play with a sense of urgency every game.

3. Steve Nash, Phoenix
Director of the most surprising team in the playoffs thus far.

Honorable Mention: Jameer Nelson, Kobe Bryant.


John Hollinger, ESPN.com

1. Jameer Nelson, Orlando

With Dwight Howard saddled by fouls, Nelson single-handedly destroyed Charlotte and Atlanta in consecutive series and further boosted Central Floridians' claims that the Magic would have won the title with a healthy Nelson last year.

2. LeBron James, Cleveland
Despite his team's ups and downs, it's hard to ignore how good James has been day-to-day, already submitting two epic performances in his nine playoff games with Game 3 against Boston and Game 4 against Chicago.

3. Rajon Rondo, Boston
Had a solid first round and then kicked it up another notch to put the Celtics in a surprising 2-2 tie with Cleveland. In addition to the epic 29-18-13 triple-double on Sunday, he's one of the best defenders in the game, and except for one quarter of Game 1, has completely locked up Mo Williams.


Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com

1. Steve Nash, Phoenix
A killer one-eyed closeout performance, looking like a boxer in Round 15 back when they went 15 rounds. Hasn't let up in a single game (he is excused for sitting out the fourth quarter of the Goran Dragic game) through both rounds, but upped his old-aged brilliance to Gretzky-esque levels in the sweep of the Spurs.

2. Rajon Rondo, Boston

I agree with Kendrick Perkins: He's become the best player on the Celtics. And despite his age clash with the Big Three, it's clear Garnett's intensity has been contagious in fostering Rondo's growth.

3. LeBron James, Cleveland

He put the Cavs on his back in Game 3, and I have no doubt his arsenal is far from empty going into Games 5, 6 and 7 of the Boston series. I could see something Palace-esque coming Tuesday night and/or Thursday.


Marc Stein, ESPN.com

1. Rajon Rondo, Boston
There wouldn't be any second-round drama if not for this guy, who isn't just tormenting Cleveland at both ends but also backing up my claim from last year's playoffs that he's got more triple-double potential than anyone not named LeBron.

2. Jameer Nelson, Orlando
Most consistent force on the runaway best team in the playoffs so far. There has to be a Magician on this list and it has to be Nelson, who is hushing all the Hedo-was-their-real-linchpin talk. At least so far.

3. Steve Nash, Phoenix
The way he started and finished the San Antonio series and how the rest of the Suns are responding to his leadership edged Nash into the last spot on this ballot in spite of the usual ridiculous numbers from LeBron James (30.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 7.4 apg, 2.1 bpg).


David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.

1. Jameer Nelson, Orlando
From Game 1 of the playoffs, he has been "the guy" for Orlando. His shooting, passing and scoring have all been at the elite level. More importantly, he's been the driving force in the locker room and on the court, as the "owner" of all that is good in Orlando.

2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
Bryant's mentality through these playoffs has been perfect. He's producing for the Lakers at an elite level and working behind the scenes to keep everyone together while challenging and motivating his teammates to improve their play.

3. Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
Amare is, simply put, still the King of Finishing. The playoffs, especially in the closing games, have shown how important it is to have a bucket-getter like him. He's making plays that only a handful of guys in the world can make.

Also see: Most disappointing players | Most disappointing teams