Most valuable performers in sports

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Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time /nfl/lists/Top-10-Super-Bowl-Best-Plays http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/02/06/raiders_20110206194820831_136_102.JPG
Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars /nfl/lists/Top-10-Surprise-Super-Bowl-Stars http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/26/012611-NFL-Giants-David-Tyree-PI_20110126165618240_136_102.JPG
Schrager: Top 10 players searching for Super Bowl rings /nfl/lists/Top-10-players-searching-for-Super-Bowl-rings http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/05/05/050510-Gimme-A-Ring-SW-PI_20100505112551_136_102.JPG
Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games /nfl/lists/Top_10_worst_Super_Bowl_games http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/24/012411-NFL-bills-AM-G1_20110124231547604_136_102.JPG
categoryName categoryId galleryId galleryTitle mediaId imageTitle imageURL league description shortDescription attribution large thumbnail
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31460352 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ricky+Stenhouse+Jr.+ NFL

With steely focus - and aggressive driving down to the last lap - Stenhouse rose above the Nationwide Series crowd once more. In the season finale, with the championship on the line, he refused to take the conservative route and was fighting for position to the end. The ploy worked as he netted his second consecutive Nationwide Series championship.

Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G5_20121203094300624_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G5_20121203094300624_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31460355 Kyle Busch Kyle+Busch NFL

Certainly, November was a bit bittersweet for Busch. After all, he led laps in every race and appeared to be heading for a victory week after week, but he did not snare that trophy. Still, with finishes of third, third and fourth in the final races, he certainly gave his team a boost as it looks to 2013.

Jennifer Stewart - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G4_20121203094301627_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G4_20121203094301627_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31460354 Clint Bowyer Clint+Bowyer NFL

Bowyer flexed his muscle in the Chase and, if not for being crashed by Jeff Gordon with just one race to go, would have been in the championship mix entering the season finale. Still, he surged to his career-best finish of second overall after putting Michael Waltrip Racing into the top five in points for the first time in the team's existence.

Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G3_20121203094301626_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G3_20121203094301626_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31460353 Paul Wolfe Paul+Wolfe NFL

Wolfe, pictured with his wife Aleia, took Penske Racing to new heights. Gambling on pit strategy, making what some would consider risky calls up to the final moments, Wolfe led driver Keselowski and team owner Roger Penske - and himself - to a debut Sprint Cup title for all.

John Gurzinski - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G2_20121203094300625_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G2_20121203094300625_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31460356 Brad Keselowski Brad+Keselowski NFL

What can be more valuable than taking NASCAR's top prize? While others found setbacks and felt the pressure of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, Keselowski ramped up his performance at each return visit to a track. He combined strategy with sheer talent in the final segment to snare his first Sprint Cup title.

Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G1_20121203094300623_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NASCAR-monthly-performers-OB-G1_20121203094300623_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31458484 Cody Zeller, Indiana Cody+Zeller%2C+Indiana NFL

For starters, he's the best player on the nation's top-ranked team. He entered the season considered by many as the frontrunner for player of the year, and has done little to change that perception. He leads the unbeaten Hoosiers in scoring at 15 points per game, makes better than 60 percent of his shots (putting him in the top 15 in the nation) and averages more than 7 rebounds per game.

Darron Cummings - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G5_20121203214759861_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G5_20121203214759861_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31458480 C.J. McCollum, Lehigh C.J.+McCollum%2C+Lehigh NFL

In March of this year, McCollum led his Mountain Hawks to one of the biggest stunners in NCAA Tournament  history, scoring 30 points as 15-seed Lehigh took down second-seeded Duke — in North Carolina. So what in the world could he do for an encore this season? How about lead the nation in scoring through the season's first month with 25.9 points per game? He's also among the leaders in 3-point shooting. And Lehigh is off to a strong start.

Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G4_20121203214758858_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G4_20121203214758858_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31458482 Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Michael+Carter-Williams%2C+Syracuse NFL

Last season, Carter-Williams averaged 10 minutes, 2.1 assists and 2.7 points per game as a freshman. This season? He's certainly grown up. Carter-Williams leads the nation with 9 assists per game and chips in 11 points per game for the No. 4 team in the nation, to boot. Oh yeah, he's also second in the nation in steals. It's scary to think what he would what he would do as a junior . . . almost as scary as believing he'll be back for his junior season.

Rich Barnes - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G3_20121203214758859_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G3_20121203214758859_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31458483 Mason Plumlee, Duke Mason+Plumlee%2C+Duke NFL

Indiana's Cody Zeller gets more pub, but it could be argued Plumlee has had the best season of any big man thus far. First off, there's the fact that the Blue Devils, ranked No. 2 right behind the Hoosiers, are unbeaten with wins over Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State — all Final Four teams last season. Then you add the stats: top 10 in the nation in double-doubles and shooting percentage, top 15 in rebounding.

Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G2_20121203214758860_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G2_20121203214758860_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31458481 Trey Burke, Michigan Trey+Burke%2C+Michigan NFL

The nation's No. 3 team is led by the best backcourt in the nation in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Burke. And while Hardaway grabs more rebounds and their scoring is almost the same, it's Burke who makes the offense go with 7 assists a game — some of those coming in transition thanks to his leading the team in steals. If you need a floor general and distributor, there may not be a better one in the nation.

Brad Penner - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G1_20121203214758857_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-best-CBK-players-of-November-TV-G1_20121203214758857_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461797 Kobe Bryant Kobe+Bryant NFL

At the age of 34 and in his 17th NBA season, Bryant is still making buckets. Lots of them. He's leading the league in scoring and making nearly half his shots while taking on more playmaking responsibilities for the Lakers in the absence of injured point guard Steve Nash. His value is diminished by LA's disappointing 8-9 start, however, so Lakers fans should stop the MVP chants for now.

Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Kobe-Bryant-SG-G5_20121203210207741_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Kobe-Bryant-SG-G5_20121203210207741_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461798 Tim Duncan Tim+Duncan NFL

A two-time MVP and four-time NBA champion, Duncan seemed to be gracefully but inevitably winding down a great career. But in his 16th NBA season, remarkably, he's playing like a superstar again. Averaging 18.9 points and 10.1 rebounds, he's led the Spurs to a 14-4 start. His career resurgence means San Antonio has to be considered a legit contender. Again.

Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Tim-Duncan-SG-G4_20121203210207740_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Tim-Duncan-SG-G4_20121203210207740_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31459767 Carmelo Anthony Carmelo+Anthony NFL

Anthony was starting to earn a reputation as a ballhog, bad teammate and coach killer in his first two seasons with the Knicks. But he's shown a new dedication to defense, rebounding and team chemistry so far this season. Thanks largely to 'Melo, who's also second in the league in scoring, New York has gone 12-4 despite the absence of injured forward Amar'e Stoudemire.

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Carmelo-Anthony-SG-G3_20121203210207739_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Carmelo-Anthony-SG-G3_20121203210207739_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31459766 Kevin Durant Kevin+Durant NFL

With three NBA scoring titles already on his resume at the age of 24, Durant keep improving his all-around game. Averaging career highs in rebounds and assists, Oklahoma City's precocious forward has helped the Thunder survive trading away star guard James Harden to the Houston Rockets.
 

Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Kevin-Durant-SG-G2_20121203210207738_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Kevin-Durant-SG-G2_20121203210207738_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461796 LeBron James LeBron+James NFL

LeBron won everything imaginable last season – MVP, Finals MVP and Olympic gold medal – and he's been every bit as valuable for the Miami Heat so far this season. He's averaging 24.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists while leading the Heat to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
 

Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Lebron-James-SG-G1_20121203210208742_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NBA-Lebron-James-SG-G1_20121203210208742_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461716 Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings Adrian+Peterson%2C+RB%2C+Vikings NFL

It's hard to believe Peterson suffered a major knee injury in 2011. The Vikings phenom turned up the heat in November, rushing for 461 yards and three touchdowns in just three games. He has amassed 1,446 yards so far in 2012 and still has four games left to play. Unbelievable.

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G5_20121203175019799_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G5_20121203175019799_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461717 JJ Watt, DE, Texans JJ+Watt%2C+DE%2C+Texans NFL

Watt is revolutionizing the defensive end position with every passing game. He came up with 5 sacks over November and has 15 1/2 on the season. With his long arms, he's also a terror to knock down throws, as he has 15 passes defensed on the season. Watt's presence has lessened the loss of LB Brian Cushing and is a big reason why the Texans are 11-1 and have clinched another playoff berth.

Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G4_20121203175019800_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G4_20121203175019800_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461718 Aldon Smith, LB, 49ers Aldon+Smith%2C+LB%2C+49ers NFL

Smith appears to be unblockable. The second-year outside linebacker racked up 8 1/2 sacks in three November games, including an amazing 5 1/2 in one outstanding effort against the Bears at home. He leads the league in sacks with 17 1/2 and has a good shot of breaking Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2.

Cary Edmondson - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G3_20121203175019803_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G3_20121203175019803_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461720 Tim Jennings, CB, Bears Tim+Jennings%2C+CB%2C+Bears NFL

Jennings has been a mainstay of another dominant defense in Chicago. His play at cornerback is a big reason why the Bears are constant threat to create turnovers. He picked off two passes against the Texans on Nov. 11, leads the NFL in interceptions with 8 and has kept his team in the thick of the NFC playoff race.

Dennis Wierzbicki - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G2_20121203175019802_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G2_20121203175019802_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 1180 Most Valuable Performers in sports 31461719 Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos Peyton+Manning%2C+QB%2C+Broncos NFL

November was an oustanding month for Manning, who keeps proving the Broncos made the right choice by bringing him in. Manning threw 9 TD passes and amassed 1,147 passing yards as Denver has run off a seven-game winning streak. The Broncos also wrapped up the AFC West title in the process. See you in the postseason, Peyton.

Chris Humphreys - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G1_20121203175019801_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/03/120312-NFL-valuable-performers-TV-G1_20121203175019801_107_80.JPG
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