Last year around this time, the time of the year where the NBA season is down to just a few days, teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, and players are making their final push for individual awards, my mind was hungry and I started munching on some food for thought. Essentially, this is what I noshed on: I wanted a way to create a more accurate picture as to who the MVP of the season was, and how commanding that MVP win was. If you want to check out the long version, just check out my piece from last year (Part One and Part Two), but here is the meat and potatoes concerning what I said about the MVP Award:
In 2011, Derrick Rose received a commanding 113 of the 121 first place votes. Did he deserve the MVP? Debatable, but I say yes. Did he deserve 113 of the 121 first place votes? I’m extremely skeptical. 50 years from now someone might be looking at www.basketball-reference.com on their laptop or TV or iPad or whatever the hell crazy ass technology will be around then, and they’ll see Derrick Rose won the 2011 MVP award in a landslide and think, “Whoa, he was just way better than everyone else that year.” In reality, that wasn’t the case. I was there. I watch wayyyyyy too much basketball on League Pass and I could tell you the MVP win shouldn’t have been that decisive… And this is coming from someone who would’ve given Derrick Rose a first place vote if I actually had a vote that counted. Just to put Rose’s victory in perspective, LeBron James earned 109 first place votes for his 2009 MVP season where he averaged 28 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game for a 66 win Cavaliers team that was far less talented than Rose’s 62 win Bulls team. That is where the whole MVP discussion hits a snag. Plenty of players deserve credit for being the MVP and in the end there can only be one MVP. But there could be a better way of deciding the MVP.
This is where my bright idea comes into play. What if we decided on the MVP by dishing out shares? Need me to explain? What if instead of sports writers and experts voting on their top 5 MVP candidates, they instead used their collective knowledge and assigned 121 MVP shares (it works out as one for every voter) to as many players as they feel necessary? This would show the true value of every MVP award.
Not a terrible concept, right? Sure, it’s radical, and it definitely will never ever happen, but if you haven’t caught on yet, I like coming up with radical ideas that will never happen. It’s fun for me. So since it was so much fun for me to do this last year, I figured I might as well do it again, especially since I’ll be appealing to a much larger audience than I did last time around. Maybe, just maybe, one of the higher ups in the NBA will read this, like the idea, make a push to put it in place, and I’ll become a millionaire because I was the creator of it. At the very least, this is a way for everyone to open up their minds a little bit.
First things first, you need to know how I define the MVP Award. I have five criteria on my MVP checklist:
1: How valuable is this player to his team in the landscape of the league? To answer, this question, you need to attempt to evaluate how many wins a player is worth to his team. Put more simply, what is this player’s role on their team, how well do they fit this role, and how important is that role?
2: To piggyback on the previous point, how successful was his team? It needs to be taken into consideration whether an MVP is good enough to get his team to the playoffs.
3: Statistically, how great was the player’s season? Was it one of his career best? Was it one of the NBA’s best? Was it historically good?
4: How good are they under pressure?
5: To steal an idea from Bill Simmons’s The Book of Basketball: In a giant pickup game with every player available and two knowledgeable fans forced to pick five-man teams, with their lives depending on the game’s outcome, what would be the order of the players picked, based on this season alone?
That’s it. That’s how it goes down. Using that criteria, I rank the MVP candidates and then assign them X amount of imaginary shares (This process is hardly scientific; basically I just throw numbers out there until they look right and I don’t sound like too much of an idiot when it’s all finished). Before we get to the players who are actually receiving MVP shares for the 2012-13 season, check out the honorable mention of this very elite end of the season list.
Paul George- 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 42% FG
Not only should Paul George get a look or two as an honorable mention candidate for MVP of the league, but he should be right atop the rankings for players contending for the titles of Most Improved Player, Best Player Under 23 Years Old, Best “Two First Names” Person, and Entity Most Responsible For Danny Granger Eventually Not Playing Another Game For Indiana. Keep all of that in mind. Also, I know the All-Star game is viewed as a glorified pick-up game, but in the 4th quarter of a close All-Star Game things stop being polite and start getting real. Back in February when things tightened up in Houston, Paul George was not just getting 4th quarter minutes, but thriving in those minutes. He was completely unafraid by the big stage. That was telling.
Luol Deng- 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 43% FG
I don’t know if you guys have heard this… it’s not really getting a ton of media coverage this year… Derrick Rose hasn’t played this season. Not a single game. Still, the pugnacious Bulls finished 45-37 without Derrick Rose, which becomes an even more impressive feat when you consider that this team is far from a juggernaut. They don’t have a lot of depth, they’ve been ravaged with injuries, and they don’t have an overwhelming amount of size, speed, or athleticism on the roster. They don’t even have a consistent go to scorer (Unless you want to count Nate Robinson. I like to think of him more as a go to shooter than go to scorer). You can chalk Chicago’s surprising success up to great coaching, gritty defense (a result of the great coaching), and the play of Luol Deng.
Deng is the definition of “workhorse,” and played tremendous and fearless basketball when the Bulls ended Miami’s streak a few weeks back. LeBron always comes across as the best player on the floor, but on that night Deng was a close second. He went toe-to-toe with the best player in the world, and the Bulls came out on top.
Ty Lawson- 16.7 points, 6.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 46% FG/Danilo Gallinari- 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 42% FG/Kenneth Faried- 11.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 55% FG/Andre Iguodala- 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.7 steals, 45% FG
Watching the Nuggets play is like watching what I assume it’s like to watch a group of longtime factory workers at a car plant. They have one goal: build that car. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, or what job each guy is doing. One guy doesn’t stand out more than the next guy. Everybody just puts their head down, focuses on their respective task, and at the end of the day they end up putting together an absolutely brilliant product. That’s what the Nuggets do. Collectively, they at times look like an offensive machine despite not having a single All-Star, or even a player who scores more than 17 points per game. They succeed by running every single opportunity they can, sharing the ball with each other like they’re playing in an old man’s league, and attacking the basket relentlessly. Even though teams never want to play that style against the Nuggets, they almost always get sucked in. That’s why a four man honorable mention vote is necessary. You can’t completely say that any one of those four guys stands out more than the other. But by the sum of their parts, the Nuggets are a very scary team out west.
Tyson Chandler- 10.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 64% FG
Last year I tossed Tyson Chandler a couple of MVP shares simply because on a team that was largely disinterested in playing defense, he made sure that games didn’t completely resemble something you’d see in an old school And 1 mixtape. Even though the Knicks defensive numbers are down across the board this season, Chandler remains an important cog in the Knicks ability to play small ball.
Deron Williams- 18.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 44% FG
Before the All-Star break Deron Williams wouldn’t have been able to sniff an MVP share even if it was doused in Icy Hot and strung up right in front of his face. Through the first 50 games of the season Williams’ numbers were pedestrian (16.7 points, 7.6 assists, 41% FG) based on what we were used to from him, and the Nets much anticipated move to Brooklyn seemed to fizzle out relatively quickly, mainly because Williams and Joe Johnson, both of whom among the most bland “star” players in the league, were in the middle of down seasons. But since mid-February Deron Williams broke out of his funk, his numbers are up since then (22.9 points, 8.0 assists, 48% FG), and he’s playing tremendous basketball for the Nets.
Andrew Bynum- 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 games played, 184 pin average
Got ya! I had to make sure you were still paying attention. Come back tomorrow to see who’s actually going to be receiving my imaginary MVP shares.