A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 POY Watch – End 1st Round

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The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.

Player (last rank)

1. Dwight Howard (1)

What’s that you say? The Magic lost in the first round to the lightly regarded Hawks, shouldn’t he drop? Well, dude played great though. I’m not going to drop him just because his team disappoints. I’ll admit though that this does leave him out of sight and out of mind while others have a chance to up their rep. Excellent chance he ends up slipping a bit by the end of June.

2. Derrick Rose (2)

The first round of the playoffs was interesting partly because of the inevitable comparisons between what Rose does and what other stars do at their best. I’m with people who consider a healthy Chris Paul superior to Rose, but that’s not the Paul who competed all season long.

3. LeBron James (3)

Phase 1 complete, now it gets serious. If LeBron and the Heat lose the next series to the Celtics, it will be utterly devastating. If they win on the other hand in an impressive fashion, their confidence and chemistry will likely go through the roof.

4. Dirk Nowitzki (4)

You’ll notice that there isn’t a ton of movement so far. I do tend to be cautious about overreacting to the first round, but Nowitzki is in danger of sliding down below both Durant and Wade right now.

5. Kevin Durant (5)

The best player of the first round. Bar none. Dude’s playing so well right now it’s scary. That’s huge coming off his playoff disappointment last year.

6. Dwyane Wade (6)

Basically in the same boat as LeBron. Of note though is that while LeBron was clearly the more valuable of the two players during the regular season, I won’t hesitate to reverse that order if it’s Wade who takes the team on his back in the playoffs.

7. Chris Paul (9)

Paul was fantastic in round 1. Granted it was against the Lakers who often let point guards blow up on them, but if we just look at the first round, I’m not sure I’d put Howard ahead of Paul, which points to some of the weirdness of trying to rank this stuff. Had Paul managed to lead the Hornets past the Lakers, my ranking would be total chaos right now trying to find a coherent way to order Paul in with everyone else. As is, I’ll give him a boost, but I’m not going to way his playoffs that strongly.

8. Kobe Bryant (7)

9. Pau Gasol (8)

Neither Laker played great in the first round. Neither one has had a terribly impressive MVP/POY campaign here, but the playoffs are still young, and a lot can change.

10. Manu Ginobili (10)

Keeping Ginobili at the 10 spot for now, but with the Spurs getting upset, he’ll almost certainly fall of this list by post-season’s end. The leader of the team that upset the Spurs, Zach Randolph, is foremost on the front of my mind right now. Quite possibly a Celtic jumps him after this round if they beat the Heat. Russell Westbrook for the Thunder lurks, and even Luol Deng looms on the horizon.

Written by Matt Johnson

May 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

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