A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 NBA POY Watch 2/14

with 5 comments

My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

Still my guy for now. One note: People are bringing up Dirk’s missed time. Consider though that the Mavs have 36 games with Dirk. They’ve been *that* good with Dirk that despite them falling apart for an extended period of time without him, they still have the #2 seed in the West ahead of the Lakers.

2. LeBron James (3)

Oh, still rising…but not enough to get to the top yet. If you’d like to hear me give John Hollinger the what-for on the subject, check out this piece:


3. Derrick Rose (2)

The danger of Rose riding a wave of unexpected team success to youngest ever MVP status now seem completely averted. Everyone feels better, myself included, but I think it’s good when something like the Rose candidacy comes along to make us think through our opinions.

4. Kevin Durant (4)

My optimism about Durant having a good shot at leaping up to the #1 spot is fading. The Thunder seem on pace for a 2nd round playoff appearance, but that’s it. Having looked at how they stack up against other elite teams when they actually play them, it seems clear they just aren’t on that level yet:


5. Dwight Howard (6)

The Magic are thrashing about trying to get into the groove they were the last couple years, but Howard remains a force everyone is afraid of. He was in fine form today as the Magic gave the Lakers a beating.

6. Dwyane Wade (8)

Clearly behind his new teammate LeBron, and yet, not by that match. He continues to rise as well.

7. Manu Ginobili (5)

Going through another of my moods where I can’t believe I have Manu as I do. This will be followed by me again marveling at how much better the Spurs’ record is than anyone else’s, and how the Spurs probably don’t win any titles in the past decade without Ginobili, who is now their lead.

8. Chris Paul (7)

Hornets are fading back to obscurity with their mediocre offense, and I’m still wondering if they’d be better off with Paul playing his old big volume style.

9. Kobe Bryant (9)

Loss today aside, Kobe’s been looking good as of late. In Los Angeles many are worried about the Lakers not being as good as people think they should be, but it’s hard for me to take that too seriously.

10. Paul Pierce (10)

1 point today, and his team beats the Heat. To say his spot here is up for grabs would be an understatement – but no one is else right is making the push necessary to dislodge him this week.

Written by Matt Johnson

February 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

5 Responses

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  1. I suppose one question is going to be whether Dirk’s mediocre basic stats are going to blind voters to his overall value (lowest PPG in eight years, lowest rebounding in 12).


    February 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

  2. I have Dirk #1 as well, Mavs have the league’s 3rd best record and it’s all too obvious he’s not playing with much.

    For the first time I’m starting to believe LBJ could win though, the tide is going his way and I don’t see Dirk beating him or Rose. If it comes down to him and Rose, it’s pretty hard to vote Rose… Lebron looks like he’ll have the better record while being the superior player at essentially every part of the game than Rose

    Julien Rodger

    February 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

  3. Honestly, the wave of media talk I’m feeling right now makes me think LeBron’s going to take this. I’m surprised by this, and a little encouraged even though I disagree with the specifics.

    I had thought there’d be some serious backlash against LeBron in the MVP race this year. Partly because of the move to South Beach, but mostly because of last year’s playoffs.

    Now I did leave myself the caveat that there could always be really weak competition, and there is. However at this point, I think LeBron would have a solid shot even against strong competition.

    I really think the big thing is the Cavs’ falloff. Were they flirting with getting the 8th seed right now (which in the East only means winning at a 35 game pace), I think there’d be a different attitude. The Cavs’ fall has just been so dramatic that it completely silenced the “can’t win the big one” meme.

    I still think though, that if the Heat don’t win the title this year, there’s an excellent chance that the monkey climbs back on LeBron’s back with a vengeance.

    Matt Johnson

    February 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm

  4. This year is shaping up as almost a “last chance” kind of thing for Lebron. If he pulls an MVP and Finals MVP this year, along with his first title, I think he effectively puts himself back in the running for top player of all time. As you said though, this really is it; if he can’t get over the hump this year, then its just going to become really tough to recover.


    February 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  5. Well, at this point I’m hesitant to make really long range statements about LeBron’s legacy. I had thought I had more of a feel for the general perception of LeBron, that people would always have in the back of their mind that he gave up when it was too hard – but the story of the Cavs is so dang potent I feel like that issue is forever much weaker than it could have been.

    I do think that if LeBron & Miami disappoint come playoff time, it’s going to be very difficult for LeBron to win the MVP next year even if he doesn’t win it this year – and even harder than that if he wins it and people are looking at him as a 3-time MVP playoff disappointment.

    However, as soon as LeBron does lead the team to a title, he probably gets out of jail free. And if a championship happens once in the near future, no reason it can’t happen many times.

    It won’t be easy to reach GOAT status, but LeBron is still younger than Jordan was win he won his first title. He’s got time.

    Matt Johnson

    February 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

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