A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 NBA POY Watch 2/7

with 2 comments

My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (2)

The new #1 is the old #1. Dirk is the easily the guy whose year is most screaming “valuable” to me. I get if you are hesitant to rank him so highly given his missed time, but I try to be pragmatic about these things. 4th best record in the league *despite* falling apart without Dirk – and the top 3 have much more talented ensembles than the Mavs do.

2. Derrick Rose (1)

Ah, that’s better right? No one feels right about the idea that Rose could become the youngest MVP in history, so this makes every breath a sigh of relief.

Of course, the current record is held by Wes Unseld. Let’s not assume a level of reverence to this thing that has never existed historically.

3. LeBron James (6)

Okay, LeBon leaps 3 spots this week, but don’t think that’s indicative of his season skyrocketing in my mind. His candidacy is once again getting a little stronger week by week, but he only jumps so quickly because of others’ fall…

4. Kevin Durant (7)

…which is why Durant also jumps so much this week.  I remain more optimistic with Durant’s chances to take that next leap in my mind this season than with LeBron’s. The Thunder are putting up a very solid season, but they still don’t feel elite to me. If that changes, and Durant’s cume performance keeps going up, my vote could swing to him fairly easily.

5. Manu Ginobili (5)

So two guys fall below Manu, and two rise above him in the same week, that makes sense right? Nah, I can’t say it does. I continually struggle with how to place Ginobili against players who have larger roles on teams with much worse records.

6. Dwight Howard (3)

7. Chris Paul (4)

Their teams keep slipping, down to about a 50-32 pace now. 50 wins typically means you don’t get in the MVP picture unless you’re doing some utterly insane as an individual. I look at these two guys, and I just don’t feel that thunderstruck by their performance.

8. Dwyane Wade (8)

Could’ve easily slid Wade above the falling duo as well, but let’s face it, being the 2nd best player on the 3rd best team in the league doesn’t sound that strong either as far as MVP candidacy goes.

9. Kobe Bryant (10)

Kobe’s hovering. As I raise him one spot, I’ll also note that he still has a massively negative adjusted +/-. Obviously that’s a stat I follow closely, but it’s also not something I feel so much confidence in that I’ll take it literally when it shows something so far from expected. The result is a compromise that I look at as unstable, but I don’t know if anything’s on the horizon to resolve matters.

10. Paul Pierce (NR)

I’ve resisted letting Pierce be the 3rd Celtic to have place on this list as the basketball gods seem to be using the Celtics to smack me around a bit. “Oh you think so & so is the reason they’re so good, watch THIS.” Still, while I fully expect that the Celtics would be quite good without Pierce, it seems silly to take that criteria so seriously as to insist that the Celtics don’t have anyone worthy of Top 10 status.

Falling Off

Deron Williams – The Jazz stumble, Deron grumbles and then tumbles down my list.


Written by Matt Johnson

February 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Basketball

2 Responses

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  1. What are your thoughts on this Hollinger piece on what the MVP award is and what it should be?

    If LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were on separate teams, we’d be having a two-way LeBron-Wade MVP debate, and nobody else would be in the discussion. Heck, nobody else would even be near the discussion. Anyone caught trying to slip in a Dirk Nowitzki or a Derrick Rose would be laughed out of the room.

    “But they’re not,” you say, and actually that’s part of my point.

    Unfortunately, the MVP voting public has developed an awful sickness. Ever since the indefensible 2001 selection of Allen Iverson, the bizarre idea has taken hold that, somehow, the best way to measure a player’s MVP worthiness is by estimating how awful the team would be without him.

    Because the Heat have both LeBron and Wade, this argument goes, we can’t wail and moan about how horrible the team might be in the absence of either one, and thus, by the same convoluted logic, we can’t consider either the MVP. But we can freely consider Nowitzki, because his backup is Brian Cardinal.

    How absurd. So instead we’re subjected to hearing about how bad the Mavs have been in Nowitzki’s absence, or how Rose’s Bulls managed to play well despite injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, or how Amare Stoudemire brought the magic of .500 basketball back to the Garden.

    . . .

    Of course, MVP voting has never been awash in intellectual honesty — or go back to 2006 and give me a better reason that Steve Nash had more votes than Chauncey Billups.


    February 8, 2011 at 9:06 am

  2. I’m actually planning to write an article on the Iverson MVP model this week, so I’ll push that off for now.

    Re: Nash vs Billups ’06 and intellectual honesty. I don’t see what the issue is.

    Billups was part of an ensemble cast, at least in the minds of voters. No Spur is going to win the MVP this year for the same reason.

    As far as Nash, I feel like you and I must have had this conversation before. I’ve always maintained that a big factor for Nash was the fact that for the meat of the season, the ’06 Suns actually played like a 60+ win team. Their record was worse than that because of their initial “feeling out” period to start the season, and further injuries at the end. So literally, in voters minds, there was a feeling that Nash could have Kurt Thomas & Boris Diaw instead of Amare Stoudemire & Joe Johnson, and still lead an absolute elite team. Understandably impressive.

    Personally, I did knock him some for not-so-great parts of the year even with the excuses, and so while I had him ahead of Billups without much debate, he was not my choice for MVP.

    Matt Johnson

    February 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

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