Links: Who Walks Away With The MVP?

by April 11, 2008

by Lang Whitaker

Last season, the Dallas Mavericks ran away with the NBA’s regular season. They were coming off a crushing NBA Finals loss, and the team regrouped and really dominated all season long, finishing a remarkable 67-15. Dirk posted a subpar (for him) statistical season but still won the MVP, which seemed to be decided by the All-Star Break. This led to the amazingly surreal moment of Dirk being handed the MVP trophy just weeks after his Mavericks were destroyed in the first round of the Playoffs.

This year, however, things done changed. The MVP race is wide open, and at least four guys can make a legitimate claim to the award. I think.

The thing is, the award qualifications are about as vague as can be. All my ballot says is…

“You have been chosen by the National Basketball Association to serve on a committee to vote for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award Presented by Kia for the 2007-08 season. The winner of this award receives the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, named after the first Commissioner of the NBA.”

And then it asks for a first-, second- and third-place vote.

So, I’m interpreting this my own way. And I’m going to vote for…

Well, I still don’t know. Seriously, I’ve been thinking about this non-stop the last week and I can’t decide.

What I do know is that I’m not voting for Kevin Garnett or for LeBron James. KG’s been incredible all season, of course, but I’m still not convinced he’s even the most valuable player on the Celtics. Anyone catch that game a few weeks back against the Spurs? As the clock ticked down at the end, with the Celts behind by one, Boston got the ball to KG, wide open near the baseline for a shot to win it. And he passed it to Cassell. See it here at the 1:40 mark…

Bowen’s running at KG, but still. I have no problem with a guy passing the ball in a key situation if he’s doubled or well-covered, but that was a shot your best player is supposed to take. And KG didn’t take it. As important as he’s been all season to the Celts, it’s impossible for me to say he’s been any more valuable than Paul Pierce has been. So I’m not voting for KG. Nothing personal, big fella.

As for Bron, at midseason I was ready to give him the trophy. He’s playing the best basketball of his life, and his stats are nothing short of ridiculous (he’s basically averaging 30, 8 apg and 8 rpg). But the Cavs have too many nights when they just don’t come to play. I don’t know for certain that it’s a reflection of LeBron’s leadership, but like it or not, to me, it’s a reflection on Bron’s leadership. LeBron might have the most value of any player in the NBA (he’s still just 23 years old, and he’s going to be amazing for many years to come), but I don’t think he’s been the most valuable player in the NBA this season.

Which leaves me with Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. CP3 has pulled off the improbable, making his Hornets the best team in the toughest division in the hardest Conference. And he doesn’t shoot every time he touches the ball — he really leads the Hornets, on and off the court. Without Chris Paul, there’s no way the Hornets would even be a Playoff team.

Thing is, I’m not sure the same is true for Kobe. Yes, Kobe is the best player on the Lakers and yes, he’s playing the best all-around basketball he’s played in years. But he’s also got a lot of talented players around him. I know Bynum’s been injured and Gasol hasn’t played the entire year, but Odom is a helluva player, and Luke Walton and Derek Fisher are both quality, quality players.

And I’m not looking at previous seasons. Charles Barkley went on a rant last night about the MVP award, saying it shouldn’t have anything to do with lifetime achievement. I agree 2,000 percent with The Chuckster on that. I’m not taking anything previous into consideration at all. Also, I’m not stuck on stats here. I know Kobe averaged more points per game than CP3, and I know CP3 averages more assists per game than Kobe ever has in his life (even while playing a video game, I’d assume). But these two guys have been the most valuable in the NBA this year.

Who’s been the most valuable? I still don’t know. Basically, I’m trying to look past the numbers and find true value. I’m wondering if it’ll be more obvious tonight when the Lakers and Hornets square off. Either way, better believe I’m DVRing that one.

So…that’s where I stand. Your input is more than welcome. You know the drill…