The latest on the NBA MVP debate – here’s David Friedman from 20 Second Timeout…
The NBA does not define any criteria for its MVP voters to use but some informal guidelines have emerged over the years: the MVP’s team usually wins at least 50 games and–regardless of what else he does well–the MVP usually averages more than 20 ppg. Two-time MVP Steve Nash is the notable exception to the latter “rule” and he was the first MVP since Bill Walton in 1977-78 who did not average at least 20 ppg; Magic Johnson is best remembered as a playmaker but the only three full seasons in which he averaged at least 20 ppg are the only three years that he won the MVP.
Eight teams are currently on pace to win at least 50 games (several others also have a realistic chance to do so). Cleveland is not one of those teams, though the Cavs could reach 50 wins if they play very well in the second half of the season.
LeBron James leads the league in scoring and ranks in the top ten in assists, so the main thing that could hold him back from winning his first MVP is his team’s record.
Kevin Garnett’s Celtics look like they are going to breeze past 50 wins. His individual numbers are lower across the board than they have been in years and it does not look like he will average 20 ppg but Boston’s success–and Minnesota’s struggles–testify to Garnett’s impact. When Boston got off to the fast start I thought that the MVP was Garnett’s to lose but because his numbers are not dominant and he has never been the kind of player who carries his team down the stretch in close games I’m not sure any more if he is a lock to win his second MVP.
Kobe Bryant has been widely acknowledged as the league’s best player for several years. He finished third in last year’s MVP voting despite his team’s mediocre record simply because he is so dominant. Right now the Lakers are on pace for more than 50 wins, though injuries to Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza may wreck this season the way that a wave of injuries capsized the Lakers around this time last season–but if the Lakers do manage to win 50 games (or even get close to that number) I don’t see how the voters can in good conscience not vote for Kobe, because the only reason he does not already own at least two MVPs is that he had a poor supporting cast the past couple years.
Dwight Howard is the most physically imposing post player in the NBA right now but the Magic are an up and down team and he has yet to prove that he can score consistently with back to the basket moves (as opposed to catching lobs or gobbling up offensive rebounds).
Chris Paul is rapidly emerging as the best point guard in the NBA but unless the Hornets run away with the best record in the West I don’t think that he will win this year’s MVP. Everyone forgets about Tim Duncan until playoff time, so I at least want to mention his name, even though his stats–like Garnett’s are down this season.
I think that Kobe should win the MVP, with LeBron, Garnett and Howard finishing behind him. Although KG’s declining numbers are probably leaving the door open for others, if Boston finishes with the best record in the NBA I still think that he will win the award. If the Cavs really hit their stride and LeBron keeps putting up gaudy numbers then he will have a great chance to win the MVP. Barring injury or something very unusual, the MVP race this year looks like it will come down to those three players, with Paul and Howard rounding out the top five.
It’s fantastic to have such great writers offering their input on who’s going to win the NBA MVP – stay tuned for more this week from other writers…