3/17/09

THE MVP



So I'm already expecting to get a lot of controversy from this post, but that's probably why I'm posting it...to get YOU readers looking at things from another perspective.

Tiger Woods yesterday made the comment, that has been all over analysts' minds this season...Dwyane Wade merits MVP talk, but it still only comes down to Kobe and Lebron. Seriously?!!?...that's just cockamamie. For one thing, Woods should be paying more attention to Phil Mickelson climbing closer and closer to take his Number 1 world rank, than trying to be an NBA analyst, but I digress.

Maybe you've noticed that Dwyane Wade is on a MONSTER TEAR right now with his last five games averaging 34.6 points, 8.6 assists, 6.4 rebounds, a whopping, 3.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks, all on 48% shooting. As impressive as these stats were, they included a 50 point near triple double game win against the Utah Jazz. And, two games before that a much publicized 48 point performance which included a steal and buzzer beating 3 all in the final seconds.

Guess what though? You'd probably be surprised to hear that he's been playing at this level ever since the All Star break. Since the break he's averaged 35.7 points, 9.85 assists, 5.78 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 2.78 steals. Wade also has his team winning at a slightly better mark of 57% compared to 54% before the break.
Unfortunately, it has taken those huge performances by Dwyane Wade to even get people to look at South Florida's team. This is seriously a travesty, and representative of how centered the NBA is around Kobe and Lebron.

Now I'll admit both the Lakers and Cavs share the best record in the league and that's obviously a huge testament to what both James and Bryant do for their teams. With that said, I think Wade is doing so much more. After last year's knee injury, which made him miss over a third of the season, Wade completely disappeared from the conversation about the "NBA's Elite". Even though we are only 3 years removed from Finals MVP and playoff championship averages of about 28/6/6.

Also in the conversation, it's important to talk about what Wade is doing for his team. Last year without Wade the Heat were the worst team in the NBA with a record of 15-67. In already 66 games this season (not missing a single one) Wade has helped the Heat double their record, giving them the 5th seed in the playoffs. Especially with a roster that has talent far from stellar. Haslem and Beasley are poor undersized PFs, Rookie PG Mario Chalmers is still extremely inexperienced and has Wade handling the ball most of the time, but to top it all off there was not a single legitimate Center until the always-injured and declining Jermaine O'Neal was brought in. Come on, who is Joel Anthony and why has he been starting 28 games? Get the pictures? To top it off, can you name how many other players are averaging over 14 points for the Heat? If you came up with 0, you were correct.

To end this discussion, I could talk about Wade leading the league in points with 29.9ppg with Lebron and Kobe (number 2 and 3 respectively), or how Wade, in his 6 years (rookie and injury year included), in the league has already overtaken Alonzo Mourning's 11 seasons as the Heat's all time leader scorer, however, I need to take it back to the argument of why he would be MVP over Kobe and Lebron. One could immediately argue that the talent surrounding Kobe is the best of the three. Take him away from the team, and I believe you still have a team that could probably compete for a playoff spot. Doing the same for Lebron and Wade would not lead to the same results. Kobe has more talented players around him, no doubt. The critical question is, what about the Cavs versus the Heat? The difference here all comes down to the Cavs experience from recently being in the finals, and their veteran guys who get a significant amount of minutes. The average age of the Cavs is 27.5 versus the Heat's 26.2. Combined, Wade, Cook, Beasley, Chalmers, Haslem, Quinn only have 13 years of NBA experience while Lebron, Williams, West, Varejao, Ilguaskas, Gibson have 30 years of combined experience. Taking away Wade and his leadership would not only drastically hurt the Heat, but leave the rookies and 2nd year players lost on the hardwood.

Now I'm not saying D-Wade should emphatically be named MVP, but there are a long list of legitimate reasons of why that the award should fall his way. Even Wade himself is being too modest by just being happy to be in the discussion. The truth is, even though it's all coming down to how the end of the season goes for all 3 players, if Wade continues the stellar play he has had after the all star break, this NBA season, and even during the Olympics, the award for MVP should rightfully be his.

Now I leave you with video documenting his top 10 plays of the year.

Double L

3 comments:

Izzy said...

Let me play devil's advocate here for a second. I'm leaning toward Wade being the MVP, but maybe not for the reasons you are describing. You claim that he brought a 15 win team to a 40+ win team this season. If we use that baseline of logic to decide the MVP, why shouldn't have KG and Ray Allen been co-MVPs last year?

Lets take a second and think about the argument, "Wade has a bad team." Kobe also had a bad team before Bynum developed and the Lakers were in the midst of chaos. Kobe averaged north of 33ppg, I believe he averaged close to MJ's 35ppg that season, but he was not the MVP. Kobe had 4 straight 50+ point games that year. Take Kobe away from those Laker teams and they are headed to a 25% chance lottery seat. In fact, he was not even second in the MVP voting. I just don't buy that argument because that argument was not compelling enough to get Kobe the MVP a couple years back in the 2006-2007 seasons. To further that argument, the only player in recent history that line of reasoning worked for was KG in 2003-2004, and you would have to go all the way back to Wes Unseld in the 1968 season to make the arguments that he 1) improved the team from last year 2) he was the best player on an average team. It is also important to note that Unseld was a rookie the year he won the MVP. In short, those criteria should not be used to judge the MVP. All of the MVPs of the past have been on teams of championship calibur, no matter how disappointing their postseason may be (see Dirk Nowitski). It will no doubt be interesting to see how it all turns out. I think Lebron will end up winning it out because of how much the Cavs are overachieving. Just remember, it is a regular season award, nothing more.

Double L said...

To respond to some of your claims...

1. You claim that he brought a 15 win team to a 40+ win team this season. If we use that baseline of logic to decide the MVP, why shouldn't have KG and Ray Allen been co-MVPs last year?

Wade is single handedly doing it by himself. That was not a metric of the teams turnaround, but what he alone has done for his team. And at the same time putting up huge numbers...which with the Celtics, all their numbers dropped with the exception of Paul Pierce.

2. Take Kobe away from those Lakers teams (05-06) and they are headed to a 25% chance lottery seat. In fact, he was not even second in the MVP voting.

Well, first that leads to the question what does the MVP award mean. The best player on the best team, the most valuable to their team, the best player in the league etc...In my personal opinion Kobe should have been a top candidate, but if you look at who won that year, and the year before, it was Steve Nash. A player that was instrumental in turning the suns from a losing team into a title contender. Dwyane Wade does much of the same. Even in 05-06 the Suns only had the 4th best record in the league, so it's clear it has very little to do with best record, as long as your team has a pretty good record.

3. All of the MVPs of the past have been on teams of championship calibur, no matter how disappointing their postseason may be (see Dirk Nowitski).

I think another important thread for the MVP winners is their league wide dominance, made apparent in their statistics (i.e. Nash's league high assists, Iverson's steals, Shaq's scoring, Garnett's rebounding...)

Anonymous said...

If LeBron James doesnt win the award for Most Valuable Player, that award must mean something else.

HIS TEAM HAS THE BEST RECORD IN THE NBA. And look at the natural talent around him. The highest draft pick in their starting lineup besides him is Big Z, who was the 20th pick when he was ten years younger. And they're winning the league. The best team.

Sure Dwyane has some ridiculous highlights, but if you watch them play as a team, is he really making them that much better? He just doesn't have that team awareness that LeBron has, where he knows exactly what he needs to do and does that and nothing more. Wade's flashiness almost seems excessive and like it distances him from his teammates.

So instead of citing historical examples and picking random stats as the main determining factor, just look at the obvious answer: LeBron has single-handedly turned a group of average NBA players into the best team in the entire league. Does he have the most value? Of course.