Posted by: Nate | April 18, 2008

2008 NBA MVP: My Vote

After one of the most interesting and exciting seasons of NBA basketball from start to finish in a decade, at least, the playoffs are almost upon us. This season was so exciting that the Western Conference seeds (all eight) were still undecided with a couple of games to go. There were still nine teams in contention for a spot until the very end, and the team that finished 9th, the Golden State Warriors, won 48 (!!!!!) games. Not only was the race tight out West all year, but the East has two legit title contenders in Boston and Detroit and Orlando and Cleveland are both teams that could be surprisingly good if the right people catch fire. This season was so good that I actually watched more than a handful of games this season, which is usually tough given that the season kicks off right after baseball season is ending, competes with football season, the holidays and march madness, and then the start of the next baseball season. Despite all that, it was compelling enough for me to watch a bunch of games this year, and on the basis of that, I’m going to pretend I earned a vote.

If I were to have said vote, the choice would clearly come down to 4 players who have been playing at an outrageous level personally and have also taken their teams to higher places, making them the most valuable players on their teams, and in the league. Starting from the bottom:

4. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers

I know, I know, what an idiot this guy is putting the likely MVP in 4th place. Here’s the thing though, not only is this my vote, but this season was essentially like most other Kobe seasons. There is nothing about his 2007-2008 season that is markedly better than many of his other seasons. For instance, this year he averaged 28.3ppg, 6.3rpg and 5.4apg, which are phenomenal numbers of course. However, in 2005-2006 he averaged 35.4ppg, 5.3rpg and 4.5apg to go along with nearly 2 steals per game. He didn’t win the MVP that year (although he probably had a great argument for it) and I don’t think he should win this year for a couple of reasons.

Clearly, he is one of the best players in the game, if not the best right now but that isn’t what this award is all about. This award is all about value and there are several other players who have had equivalently brilliant statistical seasons who are also more valuable to their respective teams. With the way the young Lakers stepped up this season, coupled with the Gasol heist from Memphis at the deadline this is a very good team with the best record in the Western Conference. Is it right to give Kobe all the credit for that? I don’t think so, and I think the only way that he wins the MVP this season is if the voters want to “make up” for shafting him in ’05-’06 or give it to him because he’s never won before and he is such a good player.

I’m not trying to knock Kobe’s skills here, or call him a bad person, I’m just trying to point out that not only were there more valuable players than him this year, but he personally has been more valuable to this team in the past, so what makes this the year that says he is MVP? I’m not seeing it.

3. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers

Seeing as LeBron is probably right on Kobe’s heels for best player in the NBA and will likely go down in history as one of the best, if not the best, players ever it seems crazy to have him at number 3. Even as I am typing this I’m having some difficulty justifying it – but I have my reasons.

First of all, in the case for Lebron, there may not be another team who needs their stud like Cleveland. This is a horrid team without him, and he single-handedly carried them to the NBA finals. His numbers are astounding (30ppg, 8rpg, 7apg) and he is only 24 years old! Great credentials for his value right there, and I would be shocked if LeBron doesn’t win the MVP at least twice in the next several seasons as he seems to improve every year.

My problem though, is two-fold and because of that I just can’t put him higher than third. For starters, I think the next two players did even more to put their teams on the map and carry even more value than even LeBron despite less flashy stats. Cleveland also finished 4th in the East, and these next two players took their teams to 2nd in the (very tough) Western Conference and Best Record in the NBA and I can’t help but attribute that additional success to them, thus increasing their value.

2. Kevin Garnett – Boston Celtics

It’s hard to articulate what exactly he means to this team, and better yet, this city but I will try and sum it up the best I can. The Celtics were one of the worst teams in the NBA last year and then were devastated by falling to 5th in the lottery after their impressive tank job the season before. Neither of the two college saviors, Durant or Oden, would be coming to Boston and basketball in this town was on life support. After years of near misses, futility, Danny Ainge and “rebuilding” most people were at the end of their rope.

And then KG came to town and it’s like the whole world turned on it’s head. Not only did he save the jobs of Ainge and Doc Rivers, but he totally revamped this team and this town. We hustle, play defense, make the extra pass, support our teammates and carry ourselves in a winning manner. He brought a psychotic intensity to this team from day one and totally altered the sporting landscape around him. We are the best team in the NBA only a year removed from stinking out the joint, free agents see Boston as a title destination and take pay cuts or reduced roles to come play here. We matter again – and that is all thanks to KG.

Oh, he also averaged 19ppg, 9rpg, 3.4apg, to go along with 1 steal and 1 block as well as providing a presence in the paint Kendrick Perkins could have never brought with him.

To sum it up, I was at the early March Celtics-Pistons game with my brother and they were playing those pump up clips on the Jumbotron during the 4th quarter and KG comes on just starts going nuts. I looked at my brother and asked him if he thought KG was insane at all and he looks back at me and nods, saying:

“At least he’s on our team.”

1. Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets

So what can top a potentially crazy guy who single-handedly in the course of one season rejuvenated basketball in a city with more proud bball history than anyone else and lead them to the best record in the NBA?

A guy who takes a completely obscure, small-market team that no one was talking about and vaults them into 2nd place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, makes the All-Star team, plays so well he makes one of his teammates look like an All-Star (David West) and plays the point guard position as good as anyone in the NBA has for a season in a long time. At the age of 22.

His line for this season stands at: 21.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 11.6apg, 2.7spg, which are just absurd numbers for such a young player and point guard. Not only can he score when he needs to, but he is always getting his teammates very easy buckets from either the half-court set or in transition. The offense runs through him, and there is no way anyone would have even cared about this team had he not been on it. They would have been just another doormat in the NBA for better teams to beat up on and rest their starters against(like Miami and Memphis).

Not only did he lead the team on the court statistically, as a 22 year old he was the vocal and emotional leader of the team too, wearing his heart on his sleeve every game and cranking up his game in the second half of the year when the playoff race got heated out West and people realized the Hornets were for real (22ppg, 4rpg, 13apg[!!]). Oh and he also shot nearly 49% from the floor and 85% from the line, so at the end of the game he’s the guy you want having the ball every time because he’ll either make the shot, the free throws or create easy opportunities for someone else.

KG, not so much. I’d rather he be the one on the receiving end of the easy bucket than taking or setting up the winning shot for the C’s.

I just can’t see anyone else being more valuable to their team than Paul, who took them from mediocre-awful nobodies to a force out West to be reckoned with, and did it quietly and humbly.



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  5. Kobe

  6. hm.. nice.

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