He averaged 27 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.2 assists in January, which would be incredible for anyone else but pretty much routine for LeBron in his 10th NBA season. His bid for a fourth MVP may have actually been damaged by Miami’s pedestrian 8-5 record in the first month of 2013.
While the No. 11 Buckeyes have had an up-and-down season with four losses to ranked teams, Thomas has kept them in the hunt. The 6-foot-7 junior leads the team in scoring, rebounds and 3's and has scored in double figures in every game, including five straight of 20 or more this month.
Olynyk was a beast in January as the Zags rose to No. 7 in the nation. The 7-footer, who leads Gonzaga in scoring and free-throw percentage, became the first Zag with back-to-back 30-point games since Adam Morrison earlier this month. And he had perhaps his best game in a win against BYU, scoring 26 on 9-for-9 shooting and 8-for-8 from the line. There's no ignoring this guy anymore.
The 6-foot-5 combo guard can score everywhere on the court for the second-ranked Jayhawks. The redshirt freshman is among the leaders in the Big 12 after scoring 33 (just two off Danny Manning's KU freshman record) in the Jayhawks' Big 12-opening 97-89 overtime victory against Iowa State. He had six 3-pointers, the fifth a bank shot that tied the game and forced overtime. The sixth came 11 seconds into overtime, starting an 11-0 game-clinching run for the Jayhawks.
While teammate Cody Zeller has gotten more headlines, Oladipo has led the Hoosiers in steals and has emerged as a top defender, while shooting 66 percent from the field including 54 percent on 3's. He had his first 20-point games of the season in January during wins over ranked Big Ten rivals Minnesota and Michigan State, helping the Hoosiers climb back up the rankings to No. 3.
Despite being in a shooting slump for most of the month, Michigan point guard Trey Burke has guided the Wolverines to the top ranking for the first time since the '91-92 season. Burke leads the team in scoring, assists and steals, making him the frontrunner in the race for the Wooden Award.
Although Crabtree’s name has been tangled up in some issues off the field, the Niners standout receiver has been a menace on it. Crabtree’s 9-catch, 199-yard performance against the Packers will live in San Francisco’s sports lore for years. He’s become Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target and does his most damage after the catch.
Think Torrey Smith had a breakout regular season? His postseason has been just as dazzling. The second-year receiver hauled in 2 touchdowns against the Broncos and was a major factor against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Two-and-a-half months ago, Kaepernick was roaming the Niners’ sideline with a clipboard and headset. Fast forward 2 ½ months and the former WAC player of the year is playing in the Super Bowl. Credit the read-option and pistol formations all you want, but Kaepernick has been piloting this offense with a laser-like focus. Oh yeah, he invented Kaepernicking, too. What can’t this kid do?
Seems like so long ago when people were speculating Lewis would be sidelined for the season with a torn triceps. That was only in October. Since then, Lewis worked towards being active in the postseason, announced his retirement and has wreaked havoc on opposing offenses in the playoffs. His 44 tackles leads all players in the 2012 postseason.
Who could forget Julio’s 2 TD performance in the NFC Championship Game? Well, if you’re a Falcons fan it was all for naught. Jones played like a freak on Championship Sunday – in a good way – and was almost single-handedly responsible for a Falcons victory. It wasn’t enough and the show must go on.
The 2012 rookie of the year keeps getting better. He averaged 25.8 points and 5.4 assists in January, including a 40-point performance at Boston on Jan. 22. That started a three-game stretch in which Irving scored at least 30 and the Cavs won each time.
After a slow start this season, Parker has been better than ever for the Spurs. The French point guard averaged 21.9 points and 7.9 assists in January while shooting 56.3 percent from the field. He led San Antonio to nine straight wins to finish the month, lifting his team to the NBA’s best record.
The much-maligned power forward averaged 19.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in January as the Bulls went 12-4, the best record of any Eastern Conference team. Boozer deserves credit for helping Chicago stay in the thick of the playoff race without superstar guard Derrick Rose.
He started the month third in the scoring race but surged past Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony by averaging 31.9 points in January. That included a 52-point eruption in Dallas, 42 against the Lakers and 41 vs. the Suns. Now he seems likely to win his fourth straight scoring title and possibly his first MVP.