A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 NBA POY Watch 12/18

with 4 comments

My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

Way, way out in front.

2. Deron Williams (2)

That loss to New Orleans was bizarre, but it’s still just one game.  Day in and day out, among the inarguably good teams, no one is carrying their team more.

3. Manu Ginobili (3)

Two game winners in one week.  Not bad.

4. Derrick Rose (5)

5. Russell Westbrook (4)

With Kevin Durant rounding into form, it’s hard to keep Westbrook above Rose at this point.  Of course, the Bulls just lost Joakim Noah to injury so we’ll see how that turns out.

6. Chris Paul (6)

The good news:  The Hornets win a couple games this week including a huge win over the Jazz.

The bad news:  Still just 2-2 this week, and the win over the Jazz certainly wasn’t due to Paul taking over.

7. Kevin Garnett (8)

It seems like it may prove foolish to anoint any particular Celtic as an MVP candidate given how strong the rest of the team is.  Regardless, no team looks better right now primarily because of the defense that is Garnett’s forte.

8. Pau Gasol (9)

9. Kobe Bryant (10)

Lakers are streaking again, and so the dynamic duo rise as others fall.

10. LeBron James (NR)

I’d say the Heat are officially an elite team at this point and so LeBron slips onto the list.

Falling Off

Dwight Howard – Another week, more losses for the Magic followed by a desperate trade.  Howard is 19th in Win Shares after being 3rd last year.  Way down the list in adjusted +/- after being 1st last year.  Yet I’m still seeing Howard in people’s top 5.  It’s funny how hard it is to kill his candidacy in most people’s minds.



Written by Matt Johnson

December 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I’m not saying Dirk is a bad choice, but I do question why he was off the radar last year (7th in final voting) but way out in front now, when the biggest changes in Dallas are defense and chemistry.

    I also think the superteams are getting shortchanged to a degree. D-Will may literally be more valuable for Utah in raw wins, but it’s easier to raise a weaker team…and I think the difference between a team like Utah and Boston is fairly extreme, despite a relatively small gap in the standings.


    December 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

  2. ElGee!

    That’s an interesting question. I think one key part of the answer is how the top vote getters from last year have fallen off.

    -LeBron & Wade have of course moved to the same team, and neither has looked as impressive as last year as the Heat have a worse record that the Cavs of the last 2 years.

    -Durant’s started slow and had teammate Westbrook steal his Thunder.

    -Kobe, my pre-season pick for the MVP, has had his minutes reduced as the team relies more on his teammate.

    -Howard, his team is struggling to the point where it just got blown up.

    -Melo, well Melo should never have been ahead of Dirk on anyone’s season end list. Ever. But still his scoring is way down from last year.

    I do think the most valuable players this year are down significantly from the past few years.

    With all that said though, Dirk’s efficiency and +/- are through the roof, and being the one clear superstar on really any of the elite teams is not nothing.

    Re: Superteams. To be honest I’m really struggling with them in this context. I look at somebody like Garnett and have my doubts about his ability to carry a D-Will type load, and every time another Celtic seems to carry the team I struggle keeping him as high as I do.

    I’ve got Ginobili higher, but have similar issues with him.

    Also with the Heat, I’m really struggling. If you stick closely enough to +/- stats, Bosh looks like the MVP, and like in Gasol’s case, that narrative makes perfect sense (LeBron & Wade can replace each other). Even if you go like I have favoring LeBron or Wade because they have been more impressive, it’s hard to imagine considering one of their impacts to really rival what Dirk has in Dallas.

    Matt Johnson

    December 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm

  3. Agree on KG rising up the list

    I’d put Steve Nash on here despite the weak team, he’s clearly doing all he can, similar to Wade the last couple years. It’s clear variables outside of his control are punishing him here. I don’t think there’s 5 players I’d rather have than Nash at this point. I’d definitely take him over Russell Westbrook. Overall Westbrook is the only objection I’ve have to this list – If Wade and Lebron get punished for playing with each other, I think Westbrook getting #2 attention beside Durant has to be considered as well


    December 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

  4. Yeah, you can see my struggles with Nash in my other posts. Depending on the team, I could easily taking him in the top 5 of a single-season re-draft. I do keep in my mind though that he’s a player on a sub .500 team who has only played a smidge over 60% of his team’s minutes. Makes me reluctant to rank him too highly here.

    Westbrook seems clearly bound for a fall if Durant keeps up what he’s been doing.

    Matt Johnson

    December 25, 2010 at 9:56 pm

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