2011 NBA POY Watch 11/15
Ordered by current ranking, here’s the top 10 with last week’s ranking in parens.
1. Chris Paul (1)
Unreal. This Hornets club has to be one of the most surprising 8-0 teams in NBA history. Paul clearly deserves a ton of credit. He’s playing spectacular, and is the team’s star in really all senses. The teams been extraordinary enough that I’d like to also give a shout out to rookie coach Monty Williams. What a way to start a career. The fact that it’s all being done with defense as the focus, and with Paul not playing huge minutes is stunning.
I’m still not a believer – I can’t quite picture this team being fitted for rings – but credit where credit is due, at this point it’s unfair to treat this like something could be due simply to luck.
2. Pau Gasol (2)
The Lakers end the week coming down to earth with 2 losses. Gasol’s not seeing any drop here, but that’s largely because other guys have stumbled as well. Last week I could see a case for Gasol over Paul, but now there is a major gap.
3. Rajon Rondo (7)
The jaw dropping assist numbers continue for Rondo had racks up huge minutes for the Celtics. He still can’t shoot, but it’s clearly not stopping him from being a very effective floor general. There’s still talk about how Rondo can’t be an MVP candidate when he has the Big 3 on his team, but it’s just so clear how roles have changed. Rondo is the backbone of this team, and this team looks easily the best of any team in the East.
4. Dirk Nowitzki (6)
4 seems too high for Dirk considering that his scoring has fallen off quite a bit from previous years, but he’s still clearly the star of his team, he’s still doing all his Dirk-things very well, and Dallas is looking quite good right now.
5. Steve Nash (NR)
Nash crashes the party. It’s true his team is only 5-4, but they’ve played a brutal schedule, and they definitely seemed to be gaining momentum even before that record setting performance gainst the Lakers. Really though, what’s at the forefront of my mind is that this is a team of Nash and scraps. How one sees Nash’s career is really quite the acid test. I don’t think there’s any superstar who is considered more suspect than Nash, but meanwhile there are few if any superstars in history who have had such dramatic turnover in their teammates as Nash has had. We’ve seen Stoudemire, Marion, D’Antoni, and whoever be used as “the real reason the Suns are good”, but they leave and struggle, while Nash and his team stay fine.
The Suns are now 2nd in the league offensive efficiency continuing what is quite possibly the greatest offensive dynasty in history even with so little supporting talent (I’m looking at you South Beach). Knock the man for his defense, just be sure you appreciate what we’re seeing offense.
6. Dwight Howard (4)
Howard someone who I just feel so comfortable considering an MVP candidate, it’s hard to stop thinking that way – but he slides out of the top 5 this week. The Magic aren’t playing well, and Dwight’s lack of playing time certainly isn’t because they don’t need him out there – it’s because the man is racking up fouls like never before, despite the fact that getting in foul trouble was already one of the big knocks on the guy.
7. Carmelo Anthony (8)
Playing the superstar on a modestly successful club. I have learned to be skeptical of Melo over the 7 years he’s been in this league, and that’s frankly making it harder for him to rise. However, there’s not a lot to complain about at the moment to he does rise 1 spot.
8. Paul Millsap (NR)
Oh, I know I’m getting carried away. Everyone knows Deron Williams is the star of the Jazz right? Well, I do expect that Deron will eventually become the stronger MVP candidate over the course of the season, but what we see right now with Millsap certainly isn’t just luck. Millsap’s performance against Miami was the performance for the years so far (shout out to Kevin Love, but it’s better when you do it to LeBron), and he leads the team in scoring while also leading them in all-in-one stat you can think of.
9. Manu Ginobili (NR)
Well, now that the Spurs have become essentially the #2 team in the league (for the moment), it’s just too hard to leave Ginobili off. We are definitely seeing the Spurs in transition, and if feels a bit more like a 4 semi-star system now that Richard Jefferson is actually fitting in. However, that transition is clearly geared toward Ginobili as the first option. There’s never been much of a doubt that Ginobili has some fantastic impact when he’s healthy and in the game, we’ll have to if he can really take the mantle of team’s star and run with it consistently.
10. Kobe Bryant (3)
While Gasol essentially got off with a warning, Kobe’s not so lucky. Look, when you’re conserving minutes, when you do play by any metric it says you’re not playing the best of anyone on your team, it’s not easy to be an MVP candidate. This is not meant as a statement of what Kobe can and cannot do going forward on the big stage – but if Kobe continues to play the regular season like this, he’s only going to keep getting mentioned if the Lakers achieve dominance something more like what we had been seeing with the Lakers, until the two game slide hit.
Dwyane Wade (5) & LeBron James (9)
Okay, this is not meant as a reactionary statement of “the failed experiment”. The season is young, we knew the Heat might need some time to gell, and while the Heat are only 6-4, they’re still a very strong 6-4 no matter how you look at it – but there are real problems here and they include some simply bad games from these two, and the fact that their frustration seems to be showing.
Many questioned whether the Heat’s egos could get along, but I had faith in them. I thought the fact that they had played together before, and that they knew they’d have to adapt to each other would guide them through. I’m not going to do a mea culpa, I still think that can happen, but I’m disappointed to see chinks in the armor so soon.
Monta Ellis (10)
Easy come, easy go.