2011 POY Watch – End Conference Finals
The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.
Player (last rank)
1A. Dirk Nowitzki (4)
It’s been a joy to watch Dirk this year. He would without question be my Offensive Player of the Year. He plays so damn smart, with such an unreal touch. The Mavs are in the finals, with not a ton of talent around Dirk. I know that fit matters, and the Mavs have fantastic fit, but Dirk deserves some credit for helping to build that fit to.
1B. LeBron James (3)
And then there’s LeBron. I talked once before about how much I hate ties in rankings…when I last ranked a tie. Again though it seems appropriate right now as an in flux ranking to have a tie on top.
What LeBron did to Chicago was unreal. Tier 1 level offense, with world class defense. He is the best player in the game, and at this point I’m expecting him to take the crown over Dirk when all is said and done. But as they say, that’s why they play the game.
3. Dwight Howard (1)
I figured he wouldn’t stay at #1 with him having so much vacation time. Nothing’s said in stone though, Dirk & LeBron could still fall back if they play poorly enough in the Finals, and Wade could most certainly keep moving up.
4. Dwyane Wade (6)
This is a little tricky. Wade didn’t exactly blow our minds consistently during the Chicago series, although people over state the issue. He had same fantastic moments, and his issue just seemed to be that he was tired. You also really can’t say that Rose outplayed him. So I’m left with the reality that I’ve never wavered in considering Wade a better player than Rose, and Wade’s Heat is now clearly superior to Rose’s Bulls. There really isn’t a strong argument left for Rose.
5. Derrick Rose (2)
So Rose’s drop to 5 is pretty definite. The only real question is whether he should also fall behind the Durantula. That’s tough, and I haven’t firmly made up my mind to be honest.
A key fact though that people need to keep in mind: Though Chicago and OKC exited the playoffs at about the same time, it’s wrong to look at the two teams as if they had comparable seasons. The Bulls really had a fantastic season that it seems simply ended when they faced the most talented team in the league coming into their own. The Thunder were a 4 seed who got one round deeper due to a fluke (8 seed beating a 1 seed), and still only beat that fluky team with the help of home court advantage.
6. Kevin Durant (5)
Dropping Durant seems unfair. I don’t think less of him for the loss to the Mavericks, but that’s how rankings work. James and Wade were lower before in these lists because their team wasn’t making the most of its talent, and now that isn’t true.
Still, I hope Durant takes the Thunder’s loss to the Maverick’s to heart, and sees how to become a more aggressive and more aware player like Dirk.
7. Chris Paul (7)
No change with Paul. Getting the 7 spot with a fractured season like he had shows how amazing the guy is.
8. Zach Randolph (8)
Also leaving Zach in place.
9. Chris Bosh (NR)
Bosh is a man who has taken a lot of crap. He took it in Toronto, and then it exploded when he signed on as the perceived 3rd wheel in Miami. It don’t think it’s fair, especially this year. His volume stats had to go down on the Heat. He’s making that sacrifice for the team, and this team would certainly not be in the Finals right now if Bosh didn’t embrace this role.
Is Bosh truly a top 10 player in the game? I don’t know about that, but then I also don’t know about Randolph or Westbrook being on that level. Circumstances have a lot to do with these later spots, and it’s tough for me to really think of anyone else besides the guys above whose team has benefited more from a player’s presence than Bosh.
10. Russell Westbrook (9)
The Conference Semis just did more to highlight what we already knew about Russell. He’s flawed, but not all the Thunder’s issues should be blamed on him. The Thunder relied upon him quite a bit, and they got to a good place.