Check out Part I of my look at this year’s MVP candidates.

#6 Tim Duncan
If you’re bemused that I have Tim Duncan this high up the rankings despite his numbers being at a career-low and the brilliant play of Manu, just get one thing in your head: Tim Duncan has been an MVP candidate every year he has been in this league. I would be willing, taking into account his lower numbers and Ginobili’s brilliance, to ignore Tim as an MVP candidate but how can I when the Spurs stand a very good chance to finish #1 out West? I just can’t. And besides, he’s still averaging 20pts, 11 rebs and 2blks so you can hardly say he’s struggling. I’ve seen a bunch of Spurs games this season and what still amazes me about Tim Duncan is how he’s mastered the fundamentals and his technique to the point where he can get blocks and rebounds without barely jumping. He changes the game defensively just as much as Camby or Dwight – he just doesn’t end up with as many emphatic blocks that end up on the highlight reels. He’s so reliable, so dependable, that he’s one of the few guys in the league I’m genuinely afraid of when they have the ball in the final minutes of a close game. Lebron is one, Kobe is another, Wade was a couple of years back. I just finished watching the Detroit v Spurs game, and down the stretch when they went to Timmy I just knew he was going to score. There was nothing you could do about it. That is an MVP, and when you consider he’s a reigning champion with a team that is looking just as dangerous this year, it’s impossible to have Timmy any higher on this list.

For Duncan to win MVP… The Spurs need to out-muscle their Western Conference rivals over the remaining 15 games and finish with the #1 spot. Kobe and the Lakers would need to drop off (which is possible, judging by Gasol’s ankle injury today) and so would Lebron and the Cavs. But that’s only half of it. Duncan would need to have a string of brilliant individual performances over the next few weeks – I’m talking some 30 point, 15 rebound efforts. You don’t fall under the MVP spotlight unless you pull those massive kind of games, and that is why we haven’t heard the words “Duncan” and “MVP” in the same sentence very often this season.

#5 Deron Williams
It amazes me that despite all the Chris Paul vs Deron Williams debate this year and how difficult it has been for people to decide who’s better, CP3 has become a top MVP candidate while DW seems to have been left by the wayside. Up till last week the Race to the MVP dude didn’t even have him in his top 10! This is ridiculous! Any one who has followed the Jazz or seen Deron play knows that he’s just as good as CP3. In fact, I think he’s a better scorer, a superior one-on-one defender (especially against bigger point guards), and has more of a killer “take over” mentality coming down the stretch. Yet he hasn’t been taken seriously in MVP discussions – his teammate Carlos Boozer even gets mentioned more. Well let me tell you something. Carlos Boozer would not be Carlos Boozer if it wasn’t for Deron Williams. He is the engine of that Jazz team. Today he poured in 32 and 8 against the Celtics (in Boston) and the Jazz absolutely smashed them. Before that he’d had 9 straight double-doubles including a 25-15 effort against Nash and the Suns (Jazz won), a 17 and 20 game against Kidd and the Mavs (Jazz won) and a solid 14 and 14 against Billups and the Pistons (Jazz won). They are huge games against the best point guards in the league. Chris Paul might be getting all the attention for becoming the first player in over a decade to go 20-10 in a season, but check the numbers, Deron is averaging 19.2 and 10 and the way he’s playing I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with 20-10 any way. The Jazz are only a couple of games behind the Hornets in the standings, and having won 22 of their last 27 they are simply in better form. I’m telling you, don’t let DW slide off your MVP radar. CP3 might be getting a lot more love, but if the Jazz end up with more wins come the end of the season, it will be very confusing as to why Paul should be any more deserving of the MVP.

For Deron to win MVP… The Jazz have an absolute nightmare finish to the season. These are their last six games: Spurs, @Hornets, @Mavs, Nuggets, Rockets, @Spurs. If Deron Williams leads the Jazz to victories in all six of those games, if he has a few huge scoring outings, and if he completely shuts down CP3 in the Hornets game, then he is your MVP. It’s as simple as that.

#4 Kevin Garnett
A lot of people’s preseason tip for MVP, and very quickly we learnt why. KG lit such a huge fire underneath the Celtics at the start of this season that it’s still burning strong, and they’re still the best team in the league. Back in the Celtics first game I wrote about how intense KG was and how it almost scared me. That intensity never faded. Me and my house mate (the Ray Allen fan) even joked that the real reason KG got injured was from straining his “intense” muscle. I don’t exactly know what an “intense” muscle is, but I do know that Kevin Garnett has one. A big one. Muscle jokes aside, the real question that will decide Kevin’s MVP fate is this: did his injury force him to miss too many games to be named an MVP? Right now Big Kev has played 54 games, and assuming decent health, he will end up with around 70 for the season. Can you win an MVP award having played 70 games? Well of course you bloody well can. Again this comes down to the stupid unspoken rules that have cropped up over the past few years. How does missing 12-15 games make KG any less valuable? It doesn’t. It arguably even made him more valuable because the Celtics looked a little shaky in his absence, and when he returned they looked scary again and won 10 games in a row. The best argument for KG for MVP is the fact that the Boston Celtics have become a defensive machine – this is almost entirely due to KG’s presence and the tone he sets. Lets replace KG with someone similarly good, say Carlos Boozer. Sure the Celtics would still win a lot of games, but do you think they’d still be the best defensive team in the league? No way.

For KG to win MVP… He needs to turn in a few more big games like he was having earlier in the season, just to refresh people’s memories as to why he was the clear MVP of the first half of the season. The Celtics will end up with the league’s best record, so wins won’t really matter. Unfortunately for Kev, I think the Celts lead on the rest of the league might be one reason he isn’t forced to play MVP-level basketball over the next 10-15 games. He’ll be looking ahead to the playoffs, maybe even resting himself. Contrast that to Kobe, CP3 and DW who are all fighting for their lives out West. It’s ironic, but having to care for his recovering “intense” muscle might be what puts KG out of the MVP race.

Top 3 coming tomorrow…
Ok so everyone knows who they are… but in what order?

Comment posted by
at 3/16/2008 8:17:17 PM

You watched Detroit v Spurs? were you suffering insomnia and was prescribed the only known cure?

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