A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 NBA POY Watch 3/21

with 14 comments

My weekly MVP rankings.

Player (last week’s rank)

1. Derrick Rose (1)

Rose remains in the top spot. All the good narratives point in his direction, and I’m not seeing a reason to de-value his role on the Bulls. Short of a player/team falloff, I’d imagine the only danger for him in my head is if I get more fixated on Howard.

2. Dirk Nowitzki (2)

Stays at the 2nd spot for now, but if this current snag continues for the Mavericks he’ll fall further. I’m still shaking my head. The Mavs go 18-1, I finally decide Dirk’s candidacy can no longer be denied, and then they go 3-5.

3. Dwight Howard (3)

The guy on my mind. It won’t take much for him to slip past Dirk for the 2 spot, and I could see myself having a last minute change of heart which bumps him that one notch over Rose.

4. LeBron James (4)

The Heat look to be back on track, but at this point it’s hard to see LeBron as a true threat to win the MVP. There are certainly enough games left for the Heat to have the possibility of the East’s 1 seed, and if that were to happen, LeBron probably starts getting serious buzz again.

5. Kevin Durant (5)

That loss to the Raptors isn’t great, but you have to be encouraged by the preceding win streak which saw them finally beat down another great team (the Heat).

6. Dwyane Wade (6)

Wade remains stable. Not seriously considering as a threat to move up or down right now.

7. Manu Ginobili (8)

Y’know, the Spurs do feel suspect as far as title favorites go, but good lord, even with a few horrendous games, their record laps the field, and Ginobili is the one leading the way pretty much no matter how you look at it.

8. Paul Pierce (7)

On the other hand, as much as it would take something incredible for me to have huge doubts in the Celtics right now, they disappoint in a few games, and now it’s looking like they won’t finish with the top seed in the East.

9. Kobe Bryant (9)

I’m letting the lamppost illuminate folks.

10. Chris Paul (NR)

Paul was lurking in that invisible eleven spot, Nash’s fall let’s him rise up.

Falling Off

Steve Nash – He gets hurt, the Suns lose, he slips off the list again. Still some time left though, the Suns have a shot to make the playoffs in the tough West, and if they do, Nash’s role in that is significantly more impressive than a #10 or #11 slot demands.

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Written by Matt Johnson

March 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

14 Responses

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  1. Unless Rose really goes on a run during this home stretch, this is going to be a really tight MVP race, especially relative to the last two years. As far as the POY goes, do you see Kobe making a run for it if the Lakers once again return to the Finals?

    Bob

    March 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

  2. Definitely close than previous years, although right now Rose seems like he’d get the majority of votes. I won’t be shocked though if there’s a push for Howard even if Rose doesn’t fall off which could make it so that no one gets the majority.

    Stoked to get a POY question.

    If Kobe plays like he did against Utah & Phoenix last year come playoff, and the Lakers 3-peat, he probably does get my nod for POY. I have him so low right now because of what I think he’s actually contributed to his team, but I’m not really one for holding coasting in the regular season against established superstars who tear it up in the post-season.

    Matt Johnson

    March 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm

  3. The media’s really fallen off the Dirk-wagon lately, I’d hope that he goes for a push as well. The closer the race the more exciting it gets. As for Lebron, Durant’s been a bit human post-All Star break, and James has been on a hot streak. A push for the scoring title right at the end might give him some props in the voting.

    Bob

    March 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    • Well, I do maintain that a big chunk of Dirk’s problem as candidate was that people just crossed him off the list when he got hurt – which I don’t think is a good reason.

      This last losing stretch by the Mavs though essentially kills the small chance he had left. It will take something very striking for him to win this thing, or probably even to finish 2nd.

      Matt Johnson

      March 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

  4. Doc, does your POY standings go through the playoffs?

    Also what would Dwight need to do to take the top spot?

    Props to putting Rose atop the standings. I’m not sure if he’s my MVP, but I appreciate anybody who puts him as their MVP. Too many people give him hate because he hasn’t done anything legendary yet. I don’t buy that type of bias.

    Ronnymac2

    March 22, 2011 at 2:10 am

    • Cheers ronny,

      Yes, the POY standings will go through the playoffs. Still thinking about how I’ll do it. I’m inclined to give an update after all series in a round are complete.

      I’m honestly not sure what it will take for Dwight to reach #1. If Rose and the Bulls stumble, he could easily fall below Dwight. If Dwight finishes the season with consistent huge production and the Magic look like they really have themselves together, that might do the trick even if Rose doesn’t stumble.

      Thanks for the props on Rose. I did feel that early on there was a general sneering at his candidacy, typically coming from people advocating for LeBron. With LeBron seemingly out of the way people seem to have stopped saying Rose shouldn’t win…and jumped straight to talking about him as a historically weak winner lol. I don’t really disagree, but their bitterness is a little annoying and a little amusing.

      Matt Johnson

      March 22, 2011 at 2:19 am

      • Matt: Well I do regard him as a relatively weak winner (hopefully without bitterness). 25 / 4 / 8 at average efficiency at a 2.7 a/to ratio? Meh. Having said that, he does quite a few things well and nothing poorly. It’s absolutely debatable to what extent he’s the source of improvement, and to what extent Thibs is.

        Ronny: It’s less the “lack of legendary” but more that he hasn’t “paid his dues” in the traditional NBA MVP, which is after all, all about narratives. Having said that, as a player I believe Rose has yet to show his best play.

        Ravenred

        March 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      • I don’t have much interest in going after any candidate’s case or reading about over-rated MVPs. Rose is going to win it – fait acompli after tonight’s win in Atlanta. Instead let me make the case for why Dwight Howard should be MVP…

        The Magic rely on him for everything now. He has the rebounding role of two men. He’s the defensive anchor of the third best defense, playing like David Robinson. And he’s started to look like the Admiral on the offensive end –

        Dwight Howard 2011 – .62% TS, .27% USG, 13% ORB
        David Robinson CAR – .58% TS, .26% USG, 11% ORB

        There’s a general consensus that Howard is the best and most valuable defensive player in the NBA. And he’s scoring like no center has since Yao, Shaq, Zo and Robinson. How is that not enough to be MVP?

        Greyberger

        March 22, 2011 at 11:10 pm

      • Greyberger,

        I’ll be honest: I don’t have a strong argument for why Howard isn’t the MVP, and this is why I’m spending so much time thinking about him right now.

        And before anyone asks: No, not having a good counterargument is not a good enough reason to embrace something. With my top 3 candidates, the only really killer argument between them is that it’s awful tough to buy ranking Dirk ahead of Rose given Dirk’s missed time and the fact that Rose’s team has the superior record.

        So I feel solid about Rose over Dirk right now, but I’d be completely fine with others have Howard 1, 2, or 3.

        Matt Johnson

        March 22, 2011 at 11:38 pm

  5. I think Rose has this.

    Howard has never gotten as much love as he should in MVP voting. If back to back 59 W seasons couldn’t get him higher than 5th and 4th, I have a hard time seeing him compete for the top spot with the Magic on pace for 52 and a 4th seed.

    Dirk never had a shot unfortunately. Too many memories of 07 and his weakest year in ppg/rpg stats in a while. Wouldn’t have cut it even if they kept at their pace.

    Think LBJ’s ship has sailed. All along I’ve thought he’d need to land near 65 Ws to have a shot, with Wade on his team and the last two MVPs. Miami would have to go 12-0 just to hit 60 at this point. Still if Miami makes a run at #1 I wouldn’t *completley* count him out

    The only guy I could see making Rose sweat is Kobe if the Lakers continue on their tear and get to 60 Ws. I thought his MVP votes the last two years were a bit too high, getting 2nd over Wade and Dwight in 09 and 3rd last year over Dwight. It’s a sign he has voting support. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up in 2nd or 3rd.

    julienrodger

    March 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  6. As for the self deprication about the Dirk article, I’m backtracking just as hard on the Perry Jones III should go #1 article. He’s a headcase who’s predicted to go as a hail mary at #5 or #6 at this point

    Though I do think Dirk up to that point was the MVP. But yeah the Mavs have fallen off which is usually what happens when a team’s SRS doesn’t match up with their record. The Mavs SRS indicated more of a 50-55 W team which is more line with their talent level

    julienrodger

    March 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    • Mavs always out-perform the number of wins you’d expect from point margin / efficiency margin / schedule-adjusted margin. At least they have in the Kidd-Carlisle era. It’s weird. They’ve had a lot of veterans and a deep bench over that period so it makes sense for them to slack off when they’re way ahead, give up early when way behind, and win more close games than you’d expect by looking at the whole 48 minutes.

      Don’t know if it means they’re better than SRS indicates, or if I should expect the trend to continue next year. Certainly doesn’t seem to help them in the playoffs!

      Greyberger

      March 22, 2011 at 11:17 pm

  7. OK, sweet. Very cool. I’ll definitely keep an eye on the standings.

    For me, I think it’s coming down to Rose vs. Howard. Dwight’s production looks different this year. He already has the rep of being the best defensive player by far, and with a noticeably improved post game and higher scoring stats, the voters may attach a “Wow, his offensive game is catching up- he must be the best!” feeling when they vote. The only thing holding him back, as JR said, is the decrease in wins from last year. I reject that, simply because a player shouldn’t be judged for the award based on what happened last year, but whatever. The reality is that that does come into play with the voters.

    Julien- Bynum’s improved consistency is getting a lot of press right now. L.A.’s second half surge probably won’t be fully attributed to Kobe, especially since he isn’t doing anything historic and his raw stats are nothing eye-popping this year.

    Ronnymac2

    March 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm

  8. […] 2011 NBA POY Watch 3/21 (asubstituteforwar.com) […]


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