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March 8, 2009
MVP+ and MVP-

MVP+ and MVP-

Every team in the NBA has now played 41 games. The fun question to ask at this point of the season is, “If the second half of the season unfolded like the first, what would the playoff match-ups be?” What is more fun to ask? “Who would be the league’s MVP??”

If we take a look back in history and see the past MVP award winners, there is an obvious trend…
(oh come on, this is soft toss)? The trend of course is MVPs are on winning teams.

07-08 Kobe and the Lakers: Lost in the NBA Finals
06-07 Dirk and the Mavs: Finished the season as the #1 seed in the West only to go down to #8 Warriors
04-05 + 05-06 Steve Nash and the Suns: the Suns made it to the Western Conference Finals in 05 and in 06
03-04 KG and the T-Wolves: KG led the Wolves to the Western Conference Finals
01-02 + 02-03 Tim Duncan and the Spurs: Spurs made the Semifinals in 02 and won the Finals in 03 (Duncan = Finals MVP)
00-01 AI and the 76ers: Lost in the NBA Finals
99-00 Shaq and the Lakers: Lakers won the Finals (Shaq = Finals MVP)
98-99 Karl Malone and the Jazz: Lost in the semifinals
97-98 Jordan and the Bulls: Bulls won the Finals (Jordan = MVP)
96-97 Malone and the Jazz: Malone led the Jazz to the finals
95-96 Jordan and the Bulls: You can take a wild guess as to what happened this year

So how does one win the coveted MVP award? Be a phenomenal player on a great team; this player makes a great team even better.
How many times in history have we seen an amazing player on a crappy team win the MVP? Not often, which is why it’s time we changed things.

I am not saying that Commish Stern and the NBA should change the unwritten rules of how a player becomes the league’s MVP. How many titles would the Bulls have won without Jordan? Would the Jazz have even reached the Finals those two years in the late 90s without Malone? Would the Spurs really have won without Duncan? No chance. These guys made their teams that much better and took them (sorry for using this phrase) to the next level.

I think we should just rename that MVP award to the MVP+ award. Jordan, Duncan, Nash, Malone, Shaq, Kobe, all MVP+ winners. This then leaves us room for the NEW award: MVP-.

Criteria for the new MVP- award: be an awesome player on a crappy team. Just think: if the laughing stocks of the NBA didn’t have their star, how bad could these teams really be?? This hypothetical might even be too scary for historical revisionists.
Here are my candidates for the new MVP- Award for 2009 (at the halfway point, of course):

MVP- Candidate #1

Kevin Durant :: MVP- Candidate #1

Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) – OKCT is the worst team in their division, the second worst team in the Western Conference, and the third worst team in the league (as of 1/28). That’s not exactly uplifting, promising, or hopeful. The silver lining in the dark clouds looming over Oklahoma? They are young, they have three guys that are learning how to play as a trio (Westbrook, Green, and Durant), and they have a couple of feel-good wins this year (Pistons, Jazz… ok, not exactly power-house teams but these wins have to count for something). The real reason Thunder fans should be pumped? K-E-V-I-N  D-U-R-A-N-T. Durant is averaging 24 pts, 6 boards, and 3 assists. Durant is shooting 46% from the field and 43% from long distance. Durant’s PER rating is 19.92– which puts him 3rd in the league against other SF (only behind Lebron and Granger). He is finally back to playing the SF position instead of the SG position during the better part of his rookie season. I am not going to make excuses for Durant during his rookie year, but he went from playing a versatile SF for a loooooong time to being thrown into the back-court in his first games in the NBA. With Green filling the shoes of shooting guard and allowing Durant to transition back to SF, he is back to form. His 3-pt% is up from about 30% to 43% (rookie season as SG to now). Durant has stepped up his defense: he’s got 33 blocks this season, 9th in the league against other SF. He seems to still have a good attitude despite the fact that he is living out the storyline to Major League. The only difference? His franchise actually up and moved.

MVP- Candidate #2

Al Jefferson :: MVP- Candidate #2

Al Jefferson (Minnesota Timberwolves) – The dude is a monster. A large part of me wishes we (the Celts) would have held on to this kid, but of course, that would have meant no KG and probably no championship. Onward… His numbers: 22.6 pts, 10.6 rebs, 1.6 blks, and shooting 49% from the field. Whoa. If you’ve seen him play, you know he has damn good footwork as a bigman in the paint. His post moves are some of the best in the league. Jefferson is quick, and makes good decision. He has got some bread-n-butter shots within his arsenal (the hook, a soft corner jumper), he’s got POWER, but most of all, he’s got soft hands. The dude’s got a nice touch. Al’s team doesn’t have much of a chance for the playoffs because of their terrible start, but since the New Year, the TW have been 10-2. Yup, 10-2. If they keep winning and Dallas keeps sucking, they have a chance at that #8 spot. Who is leading the way? Big Al, of course.

Number 33 Represents

Number 33 Represents

Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers) – Yeah the Pacers are pretty bad this season. Despite some big wins this year (Celts, Hawks, Rockets, Lakers, Suns), they’re still 17-28. Ugh. Danny Granger has been playing very well, though, even if he is surrounded by JV-squad like guys. His 08-09 stats are fantastic: 26 pts, 5 boards, and a 21.45 Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Fellow NBA Without Cable author “bluecollarguychuckhayes” said it well in his last post about why Granger deserves to be an All-Star:

He’s top 5 in the league in scoring (at 26 ppg), shooting 40% on his
threes, and chipping in 5 boards and 3.5 assists per game. Let’s put it
this way: that’s Ray Allen’s career year, and Ray Allen’s made 8 All-Star teams.

Bluecollarguychuckhayes’ All-Star-Candidacy explanation can also serve as reasons why he deserves the MVP- award.

These MVP- candidates are arguable more important to their sad-state-of-affairs teams because they are keeping the sinking boat from fully going under.

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