I promised when I was slamming the MVP award that I’d be back at the end of the season with my ballot. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the MVP for a couple of months now, and in reality, the decision for MVP is no easier now than it was back in early March. But I’ve got some of my fellow TrashTalkers to help me out so hopefully we’ll make some sense of it all. Or no sense at all.
The Draft Dude
5. Tim Duncan is here for two reasons. One is that I needed a fifth vote. And secondly, just so I get remind everyone that Tim Duncan is still Tim Duncan, and therefore the best player in the NBA.
4. Kevin Garnett – KG undoubtedly brought something that very few players could bring to any team. A defensive label. Not just a player who can play defence, but a player whose sole presence makes everyone else play defence. A vivid example of this is my experience with the Boston Celtics on the Xbox 360 game NBA 2k8. The first team I played it was with the Celts, and Kendrick Perkins did not play a minute. Now, after 60 odd games have passed since I first played that game, KP doesn’t come off. He still sucks in the game, but in real life he’s a defensive beast. This is because of Kevin Garnett.
3. Lebron James – The Cavs are 0 wins from without Lebron; proving at least statistically what we all knew. The Cavs suck. And Lebron is superhuman. Really, if a sub-par Dwayne Wade is known as ‘The Flash’, Dwight Howard known as ‘Superman’, Brendan Fevola known as ‘Mr. Incrediblue’ and all Lebron James is known as is ‘The L-Train’ then someone should speak to the GRTT (though a little out of their jurisdiction) and get Lebron a new nickname. Or at the very least, officially rename the Cavs the Lebronland Cavaliers.
2. Kobe Bryant – The Los Angeles Lakers are set to finish atop of the strongest conference in the history of the NBA. Surely that means he’s a top 2 finisher on my MVP ballot. Kobe showed he can do it all, against anyone, anytime. The Lakers are once again the pin-up team of the Western Conference, and if it wasn’t for the ridiculous season of my number 1 candidate Kobe would be an MVP lock. Sooner or later though, the NBA will have to bring out an “MVP Over The Last 5 Seasons” award, just so Kobe Bryant gets what he deserves and the planet’s equilibrium re-established itself.
1. Chris Paul - It really comes down to what defines an MVP (Ric Bucher has you covered in this regard.) For me, the MVP = Which ‘x’ player, if taken out from ‘y’ team would effect the team most. Then you cross-multiply and find the value of x. Well, in this case, x has three answers, so my instinct kicks into gear and it tells me Chris Paul is the way to go. Why? Because if Kobe and LeBron weren’t playing their team would lose. But if Chris Paul weren’t playing, his teammates would all suck and the Hornets would lose. Plus, other than maybe Magic Johnson, I can’t think of anyone in the last 7 minutes of a tight game that could win it from so many different stand points. Not even Kobe. Not even LeBron.
The Knicks Fan
5. Sean May – Considering he did not play a game for the year, it is quite impressive that Charlotte ‘large man’ (local colloquialism for ‘big man’ in Charlotte) May had his most productive season yet. The 13th pick from the 2005 draft worked hard to prove doubters wrong this season, and almost pulled off the incredible. “It’s hard to get results with team mates that are continuously injured” May rebutted to critics of the ‘Cats and their playoff elimination in game 6 of the regular season. Impossible to look past his effort this season for this particular voter however.
4. Walt Frazier – By far the most productive Knick in 07-08. Recorded the least turnovers, missed free throws, missed three pointers, missed field goals and turnovers for the blue and orange under head coach Isiah Thomas. Donnie Walsh will need to keep this in mind during what is sure to be a busy off season in Gotham City.
3. Chris Webber – After joining the ‘hold out crew’ (See ‘Pavlovic, Varejao, Boykins yet to sign’) C-Webb was caught up in a contract war which was finally won by the Warriors. Oakland’s finest then, single-handedly convinced embattled coach Don Nelson to start him over the very active and productive Andris Biedrins (10.3ppg, 9.7rpb. 1.2bpg). Webber responded with a season high 9pts (Feb 19th) to cement his spot in the rotation. The only chance he misses out on the MVP will have to do with his missing a game in March due to ‘family issues’. One game should not be the reason to rob this man of what he deserves though. The MLE he received provides little consolation for what he may miss out on.
2. Devean George – For 3.7ppg, 2.6rpg as well as 0.7apg, there is no surprise the Dallas Mavericks quickly rescinded their proposed trade with the Nets (See ‘George & fillers for J. Kidd’). After this near franchise ending catastrophe George has responded like a true MVP candidate, raising his assists 0.2pg as well as his blocks 0.1pg. Once considered a threat to miss the playoffs, thanks to the surging Nuggets and Warriors, George stepped up with 5.1ppg in April, guiding the Mavs to the post season once again. It makes me wonder what could have been, had Dallas actually signed the dotted line to ship out it’s heart and soul. Rod Thorn, close, but no cigar.
1. Larry Hughes – Always the MVP, however not for his own team. Hughes is a superstar who delivers wins for whichever club he plays against. Once considered a decent starter for his own team, Hughes shot to superstardom for the other team with a series of huge games in the 07-08 season. Hughes holds this seasons record for most 1/9 FG games in the league (3). Had a season high 0/6FG vs. Boston, leading the Celts to a solid road victory. Playoff teams throughout the Eastern Conference were devastated to hear they would be without his services in the post season, as the Bulls head back to the lottery.
The Frustrated Suns Fan
5. D J Strawberry – “Who?” I hear you ask… Daryl Strawberry’s son. That’s who. Quite simply, DJ Strawberry is the greatest rookie to come out of last year’s draft. He works tirelessly on the bench, game after game, fetching drinks, cleaning sweat, and changing Shaq’s jock strap just praying for a glimpse of the hard wood. After all this effort he is rewarded with a DNP-CD game after game. DJ averages almost 3 DNP-CD’s per week due to D’Anotnio’s reluctance to utilize the outstanding talent on his bench. DJ Strawberry’s value on the bench makes life better for the whole team, and that is what a true MVP should do. Mark my words, DJ Strawberry is going to do a reverse Dirk. Go missing all season, and then come out in the playoffs and lead his team to victory. [editor’s note: this was written before Bill Simmons put DJ at 335th in his MVP rankings]
4. Chris Paul – CP3 has had an amazing season. His ability to run an offense reminds me of a young Steve Nash. Especially when you consider that his defense sucks. This is CP3’s only real downfall, he can’t stop players scoring over/under/around him! What about the 3 steals a game I hear you ask…? He only manages to get that high a rate of steals by ignoring his man, clogging up the passing lanes and taking gambles which occasionally pay off, but when they don’t pay off it is obvious as his man runs wild. This is the reason he is so far down my list of MVP candidates. I know that I look like a complete hypocrite for ignoring Amare’s inability to play defense, and then criticizing Paul for the exact same reason, but I don’t care. Amare plays for the Suns. That makes him awesome.
3. Amare Stoudemire – Amare has kept the Suns in the race, despite a sub-par season from Nash and the shake up of the team mid season. Also he has the 3rd highest PER, I have no idea how they calculate it, or what it means, but it sounds impressive. I am a firm believer that defense is something you have to do while waiting to go back on offense and Amare represents this school of thought. His value is in the entertainment of fans everywhere. Without fans, the game would not exist, therefore in order to keep your fans coming, you have to be entertaining. Amare’s games are pretty much a highlight reel of one man’s destruction of another team’s defense. This keeps the game exciting, keeps the fans coming, and keeps money in the game. And for this, Amare is the Most Valuable Player.
2. LeBron James – LeBron has carried his team, and I use that term very loosely, all season long. They look only to him the same way that LA looked to Kobe for the last couple of years. And just like Kobe deserved to be MVP in those years, LeBron deserves to be MVP this year. I like to take a leaf out of Hollinger’s book and make up a seemingly useless stat to explain my position. I call it the PHR or Player Hatred Rating. It is calculated by taking the Hatred for a player by all non-supporters, and subtracting the hatred of the supporters (this figure is usually negative, therefore gets added to the total). For instance, Non Spurs supporters Hate Tim Duncan a lot, and Spurs supporters love him (negative hate) so the end result is a high PHR rating. By comparison Boris Diaw is usually loved by the opposition (for all the turnovers he gives them), and hated by his own supporters (especially me), and therefore has a low PHR. For Lebron, all we have to do is ask RobD to replay game 5 from last year’s Detroit series to see pure hatred. And just ask any Cavs fan (though you have more chance of catching a leprechaun) if they love LeBron, and you will get unbridled passion and usually several quotes which would not be out of the ordinary in Brokeback Mountain. Enough Said.
1. Kobe Bryant – There are many different ways that you can define “Valuable”. In Kobe’s case it comes through in many different ways. As a player, Kobe has always been valuable, the ability to score from anywhere with anyone on him at any time is frustrating when watching your team getting taken apart by the Mamba. However, Kobe’s skill has not been as required this season as it has been for the last two. Which brings me to his other value, and that is off the basketball court. Firstly, he has pressured the LA powers to surround him with actual basketball players instead of the preschoolers he had last season. Fisher came across, and Odum and Bynum realized that they could actually play ball. He managed to instill enough confidence in his bench guys that they are now the most lethal bench in the league. You see him waving towels on the bench just as much as he’s pounding the opposition on the court. And speaking about pounding, tell me Kobe’s microcosm of a season isn’t a direct mirror to his little mishap in Colorado? In the Gasol trade Kobe got exactly what he wanted, while completely screwing the other party, who somehow ended up believing the deal was “consensual”. The Memphis Grizzlies are that girl from Colorado. One of them got a big one that went limp after about an hour, the other got Kobe’s wang.
The Fantasy Dude
5. Deron Williams – Going to go with someone a little different for my 5th spot. Was weighing up D.Howard and Duncan as well but on both teams it could be argued they are not most valuable. Manu and Turk have been big this year and big in late game situations. Manu even carried the Spurs when Duncan was out and is arguably the Spurs MVP this season. But Deron has been very nice this year and Utah “quietly” have 54 wins. He gets everybody involved on the court and has the ability to come up big in the last 3 minutes of close games. I think he might have been overlooked a little this season with all the PG love going to Chris Paul.
4. LeBron James – I know people ask well how bad the Cavs would be without him, they would be “Miami-like bad”. The fact is though they are not brilliant with him. They are a .556 team with him. Don’t think I could award the MVP to a team that wins 45-46 games. It’s just not enough in my opinion in a season where there are several 50+ win teams. They are in the “Easy East” too which should pad the wins. The individual stats are unquestionably great at around 30, 8 and 7 but without the winning I can’t bring myself to put him in front of anyone in my top 3.
3. Kevin Garnett – KG is no doubt the heart and soul of that Boston Celtics team and arguably the whole city of Boston this year. Although his individual numbers are down, his leadership and winning has been unmatched. He has missed 12 games though which is a little discouraging, some of it may not be his fault as he was forcibly rested late in the season but he did miss many games with the abdominal strain. Can the MVP play 85% of the season? I say yes, but it doesn’t help. KG’s lock down defense will have him also in high contention for defensive player of the year. But Kobe played great defense this year also… this is really hard. I’ll say it like this: (KG’s productivity + leadership) < (Kobe’s productivity + leadership). KG has had a bit of help too let’s not forget; Allen and Pierce are leaders in their own rights.
2. Chris Paul - Speaking of things that are quite incredible, did anyone see the Hornets contending for the top seed out west this year? Or even competing for the 6th seed? Chris Paul has become so good so quick. Paul has been doing everything on court to get Hornet’s winning games. The reason he is behind Kobe is I believe he is not as much of a spoken leader as Kobe in this point of his career. No question about his stats though and the wins.
1. Kobe Bryant – It’s quite incredible that after the extremely shaky offseason the Lakers and Kobe had with all the trade talks etc. that Kobe could come out from the word go (opening game 45 points) and be the perfect team leader this season. He has had big production, but at the same time got his teammates involved immensely. Getting them involved not just with passing but through leadership, motivation and encouragement that is clearly seen during any Lakers game this season. Easy for people to say their success is because of Bynum (35 games played), Gasol (27 games with L.A) and Odom but Kobe has remained constant through all 82 games. Add all that to them being top of the Wild, Wild West… that is something special.
5. Deron Williams – This selection probably surprises a few people, and there’s too many intangible reasons why I like DW to prove he’s a top 5 candidate to all of you. But let me put it this way. If I’m being completely honest right now (and setting aside my Detroit goggles), my top 4 championship contendors in no specific order are Boston, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Utah. KG and Kobe are squarely in the MVP race, the Spurs have two guys (Duncan and Manu) who are probably in the top 6-8, but the Jazz seemingly are getting no MVP love. I don’t see how they can end up a top 4 title contender without having a legit MVP candidate, and Boozer fans, sorry, but its clearly Deron. More than any other MVP candidate, DW’s efforts have been diminished by Chris Paul’s amazing season, quite simply, because they’re both point guards and they both came out of the same draft class. Deron’s 19pts, 10 assist average is better than what Nash was putting up during his two MVP seasons, and unlike Nash, he plays defense. He doesn’t just play defense, he can shut you down. I’ve seen him play brilliant against Chauncey a couple of times the past year. Add to that his flat-out scoring ability and his record in the clutch, and you can start to see why I think Deron is, individually, a more complete player than Chris Paul.
4. Kevin Garnett - KG may become the most overlooked MVP candidate ever. I can’t think of a player in recent years that was traded to another team and instantly turned them into the best team in the league – by far – and improved everyone around him offensively and defensively. Nash going to Phoenix a few years back comes close, but those Suns were still defensively awful, whereas the Celts are #1 in the league. KG loses points for missing a small portion of the season, but for me, his biggest obstacle to winning the MVP lies in his team mates – Pierce and Allen. I rate Pierce as an MVP candidate himself (KG also said he thought Pierce should be the league MVP), so I can hardly say Kevin is the rightful MVP when he’s playing alongside one every game. There were just too many games where Pierce or Allen made big shots down the stretch and carried the Celtics to wins. That’s not so much a knock against Kev as it is a luxury for him. Either way, it means he ain’t no MVP.
3. Lebron James – Lebron will get all the oohs and ahhs of averaging a million points, a thousand rebounds and a thousand assists, but his MVP campaign collapsed at the foundations after the Cavs lost all hope of hitting 50 wins. I’m not one of those people that subscribe to the theory you need 50 wins to be an MVP, but the Cavs are not even close. Lebron needed to lead them to a 10-2 record over the last 12 games, not the 5-7 record they’re going to end up with. I still think Lebron is more dangerous as an individual than any player in the league, and more capable of dragging a lousy roster to victory than even Kobe or Paul. But to me he’s stuck in that MJ 1984-1987 phase where despite his superhuman efforts, there is just too little talent around him to make him MVP worthy. The fact that a month ago Lebron had a strong case for MVP means he’s simply better than MJ was at that stage. You can quote me on that.
2. Kobe Bryant - Any one who reads my blog knows I’m not a Kobe-hater. My 5000 word outpouring on Kobe Bryant Blog Day can attest to that. I’ve been really close to having Kobe as my #1 MVP these past few weeks, really close, but he never pulled out the performance I was waiting for. But recently I realised something. I’m not going to see that performance, the way the Lakers are playing, the way Kobe is playing right now. He shouldn’t need to explode for 40 or 50, he doesn’t need to have 30-8-8 like Lebron for his team to win, and the Lakers are playing too well to need his last second heroics. So how is it his fault? What more is he supposed to do? The answer to that is nothing. He just happened to play like an MVP the same season Chris Paul had the best point-guard season in 20 years. I think Kobe was robbed of the MVP the last two seasons, but I’m not letting that affect me any more than I’d let his pre-season bitchings affect me. I will say this though: unlike the last two seasons, if Kobe wins the MVP ahead of the guy I think should be #1 (CP3), I will have no qualms. I doubt anyone seriously could. Having said that, if you’re a Laker fan you might want to prey that Kobe doesn’t win it. Why? Because Mr. Bryant has a habit of responding to adversity and answering his critics. If Chris Paul is hoisting that MVP trophy come early May, you can bet your ass Kobe is watching from somewhere, grinding his teeth, swearing to himself that there’s no way his Lakers fail to win that title. No way.
1. Chris Paul - My reasons for picking Chris Paul for MVP are no different to what they were a week ago or a month ago. But here they are again. A) He’s more valuable to his team than any one in the league. It’s almost getting towards Nash in Phoenix a la 2005-2007 levels – his team is so lost without him they look like they’ve just been zapped with that memory wiper from Men In Black. B) In less than one season, he’s gone from being the 5th best point guard in the league to the 1st best point guard in the league. He jump-stepped a two-time MVP and two Finals MVPs… and he made it look really easy. C) Individually, his season can only be described as “historic”. In my life I have not seen a player average 21 points and 11 assists over a season. I have not seen a player lead the league in assists and steals, while being able to score 30 points every week. D) I have not seen a player lead a team so well at 22 years of age. He’s a born leader, he’s tenacious, he’s confident. I love his quote after the Hornets gut-wrenching loss to the Lakers a few days ago when it seemed their whole season was crashing down, their hopes of a #1 seed ruined: “I think we will win our last three games, so if that means we’ll win the West, I guess so”. You make it sound so simple Chris. But has this last week of the season doomed CP3’s MVP chances? Of course not. You don’t judge the MVP based on standings (they could end up equal with the Lakers anyway so that point is moot) or on a single game, whether its November or April. If you wanna start picking out single games, how bout the Lakers v Cavs game where Lebron roasted Kobe? The very fact we’re comparing CP3 and Kobe should set MVP alarm bells ringing: Kobe has been in the league 11 years, is a three-time champion, and widely regarded as the second best shooting guard of all time. Chris Paul hasn’t been in the league three years yet, and is leading a team who has never been to the playoffs. My logic tells me that it’s an undisputed fact – Paul is more valuable right now. The most valuable.
TrashTalk‘s Consensus Ballot
Using a complex mathematical formula that involved adding numbers, the final MVP vote tallies were as follows:
Kobe Bryant – 18 votes
Chris Paul – 16 votes
Lebron James – 12 votes
Kevin Garnett – 7 votes
Larry Hughes – 5 votes
Congrats to Kobe Bryant on being voted TrashTalk’s MVP winner for 2007-2008. Now all that remains to be seen is what the real voters say. Hopefully the actual votes end up being similar to what we came up with. Except for Larry Hughes. Hopefully he doesn’t get any votes, or I will never ever mention the word “MVP” again.
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[…] robd wrote an interesting post today on The TrashTalk MVP BallotHere’s a quick excerptA vivid example of this is my experience with the Boston Celtics on the Xbox 360 game NBA 2k8. The first team I played it was with the Celts, and Kendrick Perkins did not play a minute. Now, after 60 odd games have passed since I first … […]