The MVP at the halfway point

by January 28, 2008
12

By Sam Rubenstein

We are a little bit more than halfway through the NBA season, right about the time when every columnist who has a vote, stands up on their pedestal and gives their personal reasoning why they would take Player X, and then they make their case for the player in question. I do no such thing.

This is not one man sitting around and deciding who he thinks in his expert opinion, he knows who is MVP. The one thing that has become crystal clear over the past few years is that we will never agree on what the MVP is. Does it celebrate one individual carrying a bad team to mediocrity? Is it the biggest winner on the best team? The last few years have turned the world into chaos. It used to be simple, the MVP was the dominant force in the game, one who could not be denied and had a championship on lock until he ran into Jordan or Shaq in their primes – and then you’d say well, Shaq or MJ should have been the MVP anyways.

Another problem of recent times is the dilution of talent through over-expansion. The NBA will never retract teams, because that would deprive tens of thousands of fans from paying for tickets every night, not to mention all of the T-shirt vendors and concession stand workers, and the arena maintenance crews would be out of work. More teams is good for business, but it thins out talent distribution, so the individual megastar has to carry inferior teammates more often.

Therefore, the whole MVP discussion has become skewed. There are so few teams you would consider to be loaded with talent, and those are the teams that have produced MVPs in recent years. The Mavs, the Suns, the T-Wolves in that one year with Spree and Cassell, and before that the Spurs. People always seem to feel the need to stand up and trumpet a guy who carries a bad team on his back beyond its capabilities. If you honestly look at the results, the only player ever to pull that off in the eyes of the voters is Allen Iverson.

Now, the voting process is everybody submits their ballot, makes the arguments to justify, and so forth. I have been giving out the MVP of the night, called Player of the D.A.Y., for every calendar day of NBA action this season. Each Player of the D.A.Y. trophy is one MVP vote. Think of me as Herschel Walker, I’m 85 different people, each with one vote. That’s right, I’ve given out 85 of these so far because it’s one every day, and I included weekends. Sometimes (many times) they come in bunches in a “make-up” post, but they are all accounted for.

My criteria is clear. Best performance in the most “meaningful” game of that night. Who was the #1 guy in the NBA on each and every given night. That means I weed out the flashy numbers put up by losers, as well as the solo artist on a bad team. A lot of people are just handing the award over to KG already because of how he’s transformed the mentality of a losing organization into something that resembles a winner. Well, he hasn’t had to put the team on his back and carry them… yet. Let’s call him the exception that proves the rule. Yes, that will do. Cause KG hasn’t won one of these since the Celtics home opener. Big Baby has the same number of these votes as KG. Hmmmmmm… I guess that makes Boston the “Team of the Year.” Not as exciting.

Enough pre-qualifying. Let’s get down to business. The merits that make up the MVP is a discussion that will play out all year long. These are just the numbers. And I didn’t count the games from over the weekend. I’ll add those on for the second half count.

LeBron James 7
Brandon Roy 4
Chris Paul 4
Kobe Bryant 4
Allen Iverson 3
Baron Davis 3
Josh Howard 3
Yao Ming 3
Emeka Okafor 2
Jason Richardson 2
Jose Calderon 2
LaMarcus Aldridge 2
Manu Ginobili 2
Mehmet Okur 2
Michael Redd 2
Al Jefferson 1
Amare Stoudemire 1
Andrei Kirilenko 1
Carlos Boozer 1
Carmelo Anthony 1
Caron Butler 1
Chauncey Billups 1
Chris Bosh 1
Deron Williams 1
Dirk Nowitzki 1
Dwight Howard 1
Eddy Curry 1
Fabricio Oberto 1
Gerald Wallace 1
Glen Davis 1
Grant Hill 1
Hedo Turkoglu 1
Jamaal Tinsley 1
Jason Terry 1
Joe Johnson 1
John Salmons 1
Josh Smith 1
Kevin Durant 1
Kevin Garnett 1
Lamar Odom 1
Linas Kleiza 1
Paul Pierce 1
Rajon Rondo 1
Rashard Lewis 1
Raymond Felton 1
Ryan Gomes 1
Sebastian Telfair 1
Shaquille O’Neal 1
Steve Nash 1
Tim Duncan 1
TJ Ford 1
Tracy McGrady 1
Travis Outlaw 1
Tyrus Thomas 1
Tyson Chandler 1

Biggest surprises: Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer with only one each, while Memo has two. I guess that’s because you can’t separate the PG from the PF. Nash and Amare with only one each… Ginobili with more than Duncan… Dwight Howard with only one, I feel like he’s gotten the honorable mention 10 times. I suppose you could say that is a critical flaw having Okafor with more D.A.Y. votes than Dwight, but I stand by the top of the list: LeBron is MVP, followed by Roy, Paul, and Kobe.

The real voters are going to give it to KG at the end of the year.