A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2011 POY Watch – End Conference Finals

with 6 comments

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)

1A. Dirk Nowitzki (4)

It’s been a joy to watch Dirk this year. He would without question be my Offensive Player of the Year. He plays so damn smart, with such an unreal touch. The Mavs are in the finals, with not a ton of talent around Dirk. I know that fit matters, and the Mavs have fantastic fit, but Dirk deserves some credit for helping to build that fit to.

1B. LeBron James (3)

And then there’s LeBron. I talked once before about how much I hate ties in rankings…when I last ranked a tie. Again though it seems appropriate right now as an in flux ranking to have a tie on top.

What LeBron did to Chicago was unreal. Tier 1 level offense, with world class defense. He is the best player in the game, and at this point I’m expecting him to take the crown over Dirk when all is said and done. But as they say, that’s why they play the game.

3. Dwight Howard (1)

I figured he wouldn’t stay at #1 with him having so much vacation time. Nothing’s said in stone though, Dirk & LeBron could still fall back if they play poorly enough in the Finals, and Wade could most certainly keep moving up.

4. Dwyane Wade (6)

This is a little tricky. Wade didn’t exactly blow our minds consistently during the Chicago series, although people over state the issue. He had same fantastic moments, and his issue just seemed to be that he was tired. You also really can’t say that Rose outplayed him. So I’m left with the reality that I’ve never wavered in considering Wade a better player than Rose, and Wade’s Heat is now clearly superior to Rose’s Bulls. There really isn’t a strong argument left for Rose.

5. Derrick Rose (2)

So Rose’s drop to 5 is pretty definite. The only real question is whether he should also fall behind the Durantula. That’s tough, and I haven’t firmly made up my mind to be honest.

A key fact though that people need to keep in mind: Though Chicago and OKC exited the playoffs at about the same time, it’s wrong to look at the two teams as if they had comparable seasons. The Bulls really had a fantastic season that it seems simply ended when they faced the most talented team in the league coming into their own. The Thunder were a 4 seed who got one round deeper due to a fluke (8 seed beating a 1 seed), and still only beat that fluky team with the help of home court advantage.

6. Kevin Durant (5)

Dropping Durant seems unfair. I don’t think less of him for the loss to the Mavericks, but that’s how rankings work. James and Wade were lower before in these lists because their team wasn’t making the most of its talent, and now that isn’t true.

Still, I hope Durant takes the Thunder’s loss to the Maverick’s to heart, and sees how to become a more aggressive and more aware player like Dirk.

7. Chris Paul (7)

No change with Paul. Getting the 7 spot with a fractured season like he had shows how amazing the guy is.

8. Zach Randolph (8)

Also leaving Zach in place.

9. Chris Bosh (NR)

Bosh is a man who has taken a lot of crap. He took it in Toronto, and then it exploded when he signed on as the perceived 3rd wheel in Miami. It don’t think it’s fair, especially this year. His volume stats had to go down on the Heat. He’s making that sacrifice for the team, and this team would certainly not be in the Finals right now if Bosh didn’t embrace this role.

Is Bosh truly a top 10 player in the game? I don’t know about that, but then I also don’t know about Randolph or Westbrook being on that level. Circumstances have a lot to do with these later spots, and it’s tough for me to really think of anyone else besides the guys above whose team has benefited more from a player’s presence than Bosh.

10. Russell Westbrook (9)

The Conference Semis just did more to highlight what we already knew about Russell. He’s flawed, but not all the Thunder’s issues should be blamed on him. The Thunder relied upon him quite a bit, and they got to a good place.

6 Responses

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  1. I’m actually doubtful you’ll be able to split them by the end of the series, result notwithstanding. Dirk’s ability to turn it on when required (even in an overall poor performance) is outstanding, and although James hasn’t been quite as dominant offensively, he’s proved he’s arrived as a two-way terror in the playoffs.

    Apropos of nothing, I would also like to propose an official comic for ASFW from (predictably) XKCD…



    May 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm

  2. Still, I hope Durant takes the Thunder’s loss to the Maverick’s to heart, and sees how to become a more aggressive and more aware player like Dirk.

    is this sarcasm?
    what sort of humor would you call a line like that??
    imho durant is the thunder´s star, so it´s up to him to take the blame, yet if you don´t play pg for the thunder getting the ball fed, esp. constantly, ain´t gonna happen, so was your line a slight on russel westbrook??
    i wonder, i wonder…


    May 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    • Really hard to understand you my man. Presuming I’m understanding you, here’s how I’d respond:

      I’m not saying Durant needs to become the Thunder’s primary on-ball player. Dirk isn’t that for the Mavs after all.

      However, there are times when Durant just stands around for an entire possession. That ain’t good. Beyond that, watch Dirk when he goes to work. He maneuvers and twists around the defense, not with super-athleticism but skill. When the defense actually attempts to rapidly close on him he can typically either turn it into a set of free throws are a pass to an open teammate. If they’re more hesitant he ends up with a high percentage shot. It’s beautiful to watch.

      Matt Johnson

      May 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      • The ability to “work” a defense single-handedly is maybe one way to put it. Durant doesn’t do that, which isn’t to say he doesn’t take on the defence or read future play well (because he does). But the ability to jink, stutter-step, pause (all without the ball), set up the screen with the rise of an eyebrow, watch the unfavourable switch and move to where your presence creates the biggest amount of uncertainty is experience-based. Young Dirk didn’t have that, and even middle-aged Dirk didn’t show that sort of Reggie Miller slash Michael Jordan slash Larry Birdesque degree of craft.


        May 31, 2011 at 6:19 am

  3. […] 2011 POY Watch – End Conference Finals (asubstituteforwar.com) […]

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