A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 POY Watch – End Regular Season

with 7 comments

The playoffs have begun, and now we will start to get into why I so stubbornly called this the “POY Watch” instead of the “MVP Watch”. By far the most meaningful award we could have for a player is one that factors in regular and post-season. That award doesn’t exist, so I say we make one up.

For those interested, during last off-season I ran a project over on RealGM I called the Retro POY project where we determined the player having the best season for all seasons back to ’54-55, the first year of the shot clock era. My post on this blog introducing the project and summarizing key findings is here.

During the playoffs, I’m going to jettison the weekly format of the regular season and instead do a round-by-round format. At the conclusion of all series for a given round, I will make an updated POY Watch. So that means there will be four more POY Watches after this one.

Without further ado, here are my rankings based on the whole regular season and nothing but the regular season.

Player (last week’s rank)

1. Dwight Howard (1B)

2. Derrick Rose (1A)

This choice was gone over in detail in my post My choice for MVP: Howard over Rose just barely.

3. LeBron James (3)

Finished solidly in the 3rd spot without really being a part of the debate in my head for the #1 spot really at any point in the season. As with the case for everyone here though, if he plays well enough leading his team through the playoffs, there’s nothing standing in his way.

4. Dirk Nowitzki (4)

Slides no more further than the 4th spot, and earns my vote for the second forward spot on the All-NBA 1st team.

5. Kevin Durant (5)

Durant’s Thunder are becoming a chic pick to make some serious noise in the playoffs. Should they do so, you have to wonder if Durant will become harder and harder to keep this far down.

6. Dwyane Wade (6)

At the start of the year, while I would have predicted that LeBron would emerge as the new Heat’s MVP, I was far from certain about it. LeBron did indeed emerge as team MVP, and that makes it all the more clear that we should expect LeBron to star should the Heat shine in the playoffs. Given Wade’s playoff track record though, I don’t think there’s anything that I would put out of the range of possible playoff performances for the man.

7. Kobe Bryant (7)

8. Pau Gasol (8)

The Laker earned these spots by leading a team that sure looks like it’s ready to erupt come playoff time. I’m frankly expecting some major rearrangement in the ranking because of these two coming up.

9. Chris Paul (9)

As I’ve said before, the limited usage on a weak offensive team combined with the known injury makes it too hard for me to rank Paul too high right now. Of course, I am writing this after Paul’s first playoff game where he blew our collective mind. Should he continue to play like that en route to an upset of the Lakers, that would render all concerns from the regular season obsolete in a hurry.

10. Manu Ginobili (10)

Finishes in that last spot. Another guy whose likely to have his ranking change one way or another. The 10 spot is pretty susceptible anyway to getting bumped, and when you add in that Spurs will likely either win the whole shebang or be looked at as exposed, that’ll just crack the door open a bit more.

Written by Matt Johnson

April 20, 2011 at 1:21 am

7 Responses

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  1. Question: Say the Spurs get tossed out of the battle royal by the Grizz, with Manu’s injury being a major factor. Could a player whose team didn’t make the playoffs climb above Manu? I was thinking Steve Nash considering his value was greater to PHX than any single Spur player was to the overrated Texas team.


    April 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    • It’s an excellent question. Several questions actually.

      I really don’t like the idea of giving a non-playoff guy the nod over a playoff guy because the playoff guy was injured in the playoffs. What if both guys were injured at that same time, then you’d be giving the non-playoff guy the edge simply because his team did worse. Doesn’t make any sense.

      On the other hand more generally, if my opinion of a guy’s changes negatively enough during the post-season, I have no qualms about lifting the non-playoff guy above him.

      At this point I’d say it’s unlikely I’d lift Nash ahead, but not impossible.

      The really tough thing about Nash this year is how he faded down the stretch. Look at Nash’s scoring after the all-star break. His volume & efficiency fell off a cliff. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a while, but in the end it’s tough for me to justify his whole season ahead of others.

      Drove me nuts too to have Westbrook on my All-NBA team ahead of Nash (largely influenced by this). Zero question in my mind that even now, a healthy Nash is the more impactful player.

      Matt Johnson

      April 22, 2011 at 11:00 am

  2. […]  Dwight Howard. See my 2011 POY Watch – End Regular Season post for […]

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