A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 NBA POY Watch 12/11

with 2 comments

My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

Another week and the streak continues.  We now have 3 teams with records far better than the rest of the league, and only 1 of those teams is let by a superstar.  Easy choice.

2. Deron Williams (2)

The Jazz haven’t pulled away from the 2nd tier of teams record-wise, but there’s little to dislike about the club.  Their losses are coming against great teams that they fight hard, and it’s pretty much a given that in each of those games Deron will play like a champion.

3. Manu Ginobili (5)

This feels sketchy.  It’s hard for me to imagine Ginobili maintains this lofty position, but it’s too hard to put anyone else ahead of him right now, and so he rises as others fall.

4. Russell Westbrook (6)

I could say the same thing about Russell as I said for Ginobili, but for different reasons.  Kevin Durant looks like he’s getting back into form.  It’s going to be hard for Westbrook to keep being considered the MVP of the team.  Exciting time to be a fan of the Thunder though.

5. Derrick Rose (7)

Rose has been tracking along with Westbrook, but without a Durant-level teammate  next to him it seems quite likely Rose will continue to rise in the MVP race.  The team is doing well with Rose as the focus, can’t knock that, but I’m still a little leery of anointing offensive stars on sub-par offensive teams.

6. Chris Paul (3)

So highly did I rate Paul that it took 3 weeks of the Hornets playing terrible for his fall to begin in earnest.  Interestingly, advanced stats still show Paul as the best player in the game right now (PER, WS, APM).  I can’t swallow the reasoning though that Paul shouldn’t get downranked because of his disappointing teammates.  Paul playing less minutes in previous years was fine when the Hornets were winning.  Similarly him scoring less than in previous years was fine in that state of things.  The Hornets are losing now, badly, and Paul went 12 games in a row without scoring 20 points until yesterday.  And yesterday the Hornets had a blowout loss against the lottery-bound 76ers.  This is not someone contributing MVP level impact right now.

7. Dwight Howard (4)

The Magic have slipped to 2nd tier status with a 4 game losing streak, and at this point good like finding a stat that indicates Howard is an MVP level player.  He’s not in the top 5 of PER or Win Shares, his +/- is weak, and he isn’t even leading the league in blocks or rebounds which has been his signature the past few years.  Yet he still gets high ranking on many MVP lists, I’m guessing because he was the only one of the pre-season favorites to not have a really obvious reason for knocking him down.

8. Kevin Garnett (NR)

If the playoffs ended today and you asked me who I’d pick to win the championship, I’d go with the Celtics in a heartbeat.  But who is the MVP candidate on the Celtics?  Obviously it’s tougher to answer that than it is with most teams.  I sided with Rajon Rondo earlier in the season, but it seems clear now that the Celtics that the team can dominate with or without him at the point.  Maybe the team is so strong you could say the same about all of their players, but Garnett stands out as a guy who is not so easy to replace.  He’s clearly playing his best ball since ’07-08, and the Celtics once again have the dominant defense in all the land.  Of the Celtics core, it’s hard to imagine giving anyone more credit for that than KG.

Truly, as we see the Heat’s initial struggles and remember how the Big 3 of the Celtics gelled immediately, one has to take one’s hat off to Garnett who was able to blend into the Big 3 so much better than the Miami superstars.

9. Pau Gasol (8)

10. Kobe Bryant (9)

The dynamic duo slide down one more slot this week.  Gasol still struggling, Kobe still not being committed to superstar-like minutes like Gasol is.  Any more struggles and the pair might fall off the chart.

Falling Off

Steve Nash – As predicted, his team loses, Nash falls off.  But hey, at least he goes down swinging, leading a strong offense and scoring in the 20s frequently.

A note on 2 others

LeBron James & Amar’e Stoudemire were on my mind this week as their teams are on great win streaks.  I didn’t purposefully leave them off of course, just ran out of spots.  However, the reason I’m not more impressed with them is that their win streaks have come largely against a weak schedule.  If they continue to win, they’ll certainly enter the chart soon.

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2 Responses

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  1. Agree Dirk is the clear #1, his shooting % is terrifying and the Mavs season is starting to look like 07 where they had these winning streaks deep into the teens which made you go ‘what?’ when looking at their roster outside of Dirk. Like 07 their point differential seems to indicate the Mavs are merely great instead of dominant, but you have to award the players for getting Ws in the regular season

    Paul and the Hornets slide is confusing me. Not only did the Hornets score 23 points in the first half against a bad Sixers team, but they had 4 (!) total assists in the entire game, 3 of them by Paul. That is a disaster. For the 3rd year in a row the Hornets chemistry and energy level is a mess to me and I’m starting to wonder whether blame should be put on Paul or his ball dominant style or if it really is just his teammates. I certainly don’t trust Bellineli, Ariza, and Okafor team and effort wise, and you never want to rifle through coaches as fast as these Hornets (Monty was their 3rd in less than a year). I can’t help but feel this wouldn’t happen with Steve Nash at the helm

    I have Lebron in the top 10 now, I have him putting up as impressive stats as Rose and Westbrook on a similarly elite team. I don’t expect him to win but he’s still performing at a nearly league best level

    Dr Mufasa

    December 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm

  2. Dear lord, the loss to the 76ers was obviously terrible, but I hadn’t pondered the assist total specifically. 4 assists in a game? Unreal. I just checked on b-r.com, and indeed that the lowest assists a team has done in a game since those pathetic post-Jordan Bulls. In their entire 25 year data base, it’s the second worst game, and it’s not even a tie.

    I’m inclined to agree with you, this is terrible, and I have to question where Paul’s head is at. His trade talk this summer was not a good sign, neither was/is his tendency to seem like a follower of LeBron. Yeah, I don’t think Nash would let this happen.

    LeBron’s coming over the horizon for me, but still the Heat record is in the think of big second tier, and he’s got hellatalent around him. He’ll almost certainly make some appearances soon, but he’s got a ways to go before he’s on my MVP shortlist.

    mathjohnson

    December 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm


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