The absence of a clear MVP candidate during one of the most exciting and interesting regular seasons in recent NBA history means the MVP panel of writers and broadcasters have a tough choice to make.
There is no discernible protocol for selecting an NBA MVP. In fact, it seems like different arguments are given almost every year for how to do it. So we figured we’d take a different route.
Instead of electing our winner this year, we’re going to eliminate the contenders first, and then elect a winner simply by process of elimination. Handy!
So without further ado, here are four (and a half) players that should not win the NBA MVP.
The Dallas Mavericks lone star since, well, since Michael Finley (I’m not counting two-time MVP Steve Nash because he wasn’t playing under the SSOL system in Dallas) has carried this franchise through the last decade. They’ve never been able to get over the championship hump since the refereeing Dwyane Wade‘s Miami Heat in 2007 came back from 0-2. The Golden State Warriors debacle, Jason Kidd trade, and all subsequent trades (think Shawn Marion) Mark Cuban has tried to get Dirk help, haven’t worked.
He’s been All NBA every year since 2000-2001 (4-1st teams, 4-2nd, 2-3rd), and his field goal percentage in crunch time is significantly higher than most everyone else on this list. The Mavericks are certainly worse off without him, and that makes him extremely valuable. So why isn’t he the MVP? Defense and the Maverick’s record.
It’s astonishing they’re the 3 seed (due mainly to Rick Carlisle’s defensive game planning and Dirk), but you can’t give Dirk the MVP when his stats are lower across the board, and his team isn’t a 1 or 2 seed (more on this later).
Oh, Kobe. 5 rings, and only one MVP award. MJ and Russell had 5 each! I won’t even mention Kareem’s 6. So why no love for Kobe when it’s MVP voting time? Well, Pau Gasol certainly changes matters since he’s one of the most talented big men in the modern game. Plus, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and Crazy Ron Artest. Before that was Shaquille O’Neal and in between these two championship periods was Kobe jacking up 30 shots a game for subpar Laker squads. So he’s had some things holding him back, and this year isn’t any different.
The Los Angeles Lakers only won 57 games this year, tied with Nowitki’s Dallas squad, and then there were the Abbott column and Ryan Russillo podcast mentioning his less-than-stellar production at the end of games. Also, his offensive production has been steadily falling each year since his ball-hogging days between Shaq and Pau, without his field goal percentage getting better. It’s enough to warrant another year without his second MVP award.
These two form 1.5 players since they’re essentially the leader of the same team. LeBron is better, but Wade seems to have the mental toughness LeBron lacks (witness the Cleveland Cavaliers early exits the last two years after the best regular season record in the league). James has the stats, and Wade has the leadership, but with both players cancel each other out, and with Chicago’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference, there’s no way voters can make an argument for either of them.
They could split the award, but everyone’s afraid Chris Bosh would start to take more than his allotted amount of Paxil.
Statistically, this is Dwight Howard’s best year yet, and a lot of people are hyping him to win MVP for the first time. He’ll probably win his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award too, so then why did the Orlando Magic finish with the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference at 50-32? How is their squad merely a stepping stone for the Chicago, Miami and Boston teams that everyone has in their Eastern Conference Finals?
Because Howard lacks the fire!
The MVP should go to the player who wills his team to win even when they’re having an off night. A player that says “this is my year” and nobody is beating us. Howard’s lack of what Nietzsche calls the Will to Power is holding them back. He doesn’t command the ball in high pressure situations, and his free throw shooting is so abysmal, teams are just as likely to foul him down the stretch. Plus: did I mention they’re 4th in the East.
In the modern history of the MVP award (after the 1979-80 season which was the advent of the 3 point field goal), only two players have won the MVP on a team that finished out of the top 2 spots in their respective conference. Moses Malone in the 1981-82 season for a 6th-seeded Houston Rockets team that was third in their division (he also averaged an astounding 31 ppg and almost 15 rebs against Kareem and others and won the MVP again for the champion Philadelphia 76ers the year after), and Michael Jordan on the 3rd-seeded Chicago Bulls in 1987-88, when he averaged 35 ppg AND won DPOY!
Dwight Howard is having a great year, on paper, but his team is still struggling, and if you watch Magic games late in the 4th quarter when the score is close, Jameer Nelson usually ends up taking the last shots. He’s not “the guy” for that team offensively. And they’re a 4th seed! Dwight Howard is not having a good enough year even statistically (see M. Malone and MJ) to warrant making that list.
So who does that leave? If you’re following all the NBA MVP speculation, or read the mid-season awards piece and subsequent comments you’ll know a lot of people were upset about Derrick Rose not being named the first half MVP. Maybe he should have been, but I stand by the earlier pronouncement that Amar’e Stoudamire was the first-half MVP; even now when he’s not even his team’s MVP.
Derrick Rose is and will be your 2010-11 NBA MVP.
It’s not because he’s statistically better, or his team blew every other team out of the water (although they did finish with the league’s best record at 62-20).
No, the reason Derrick Rose is the MVP is simply because the aforementioned players had various peccadillo’s that eliminated them, and Rose is the best player on the best team in this year’s regular season.
There’s a tradition of ambivalence concerning these NBA MVP awards, and more often than not special advantages are given to the player on the superior team. Or in the case of Nowitzki and Karl Malone, some voters think it’s “their time.” Whether this is right when electing the “most “valuable player,” is for another column, but for now, Derrick Rose is the NBA’s 2010-2011 Regular Season MVP. For good or ill.