Who is the Most Valuable Player?

2

January 24, 2013 by Brandon Keller

MVP Carmelo Anthony Chris Paul LeBron James Kevin Durant

Most Valuable Player. No three words have conjured more passionate debate since Jesus told some of his homies “I am God”. The ambiguity of the term is astonishing, and after naming an NBA player MVP for 56 years we are no closer to discovering what a MVP truly is than we are to finding a cure for Frankie Muniz. Is it the best player on the best team (Durant or CP3)? The best player in the league (LeBron)? The best player on an overachieving team (Melo)? The answer has never really been made clear.

For me, I think MVP is exactly what it is: the Most Valuable Player. Take that player off of their respective team and how good would that team be? With that in mind, let’s take Melo, CP3, LeBron and Durant off of their squads and see how much worse the team would be without them.
*italics means player is currently injured
*Team record is with MVP candidate playing

Candidate 1: Knicks minus Carmelo Anthony

Team record: 22-10

Starters
Carmelo MVPPG: Raymond Felton
SG: Jason Kidd
SF: Iman Shumpart
PF: Amare Stoudemire
C: Tyson Chandler

Bench
J.R. Smith
Pablo Prigioni
Ronnie Brewer
Steve Novak
Rasheed Wallace
Marcus Camby
Kurt Thomas

Man would this team going to have trouble getting the ball through the bucket. With Amare showing about as much explosiveness as a mild case of diarrhea, the leading scorer would be J.R. Smith off the bench with 16.7 ppg. Having said that, if Amare has anything left in the tank you could build a team around his scoring and the shutdown defense of Shumpart and Chandler. It was just two years ago in the first half of the season that the Knicks did just that behind the pick and roll offense of Felton and Amare. Combine that with a solid bench, and while this would by no means be a legit title contender, I can see them at around .500, which is good enough for a playoff berth in the miraculously mediocre East.

Projected Record: 17-15 (5 win difference)

The Verdict: The Knicks need Melo’s scoring like DeMarcus Cousins needs a shrink, but solid defense and the selfless play of Chandler, Kidd, Felton and Prigioni should be enough to make them a fringe playoff team.

Candidate 2: Clippers minus Chris Paul

Team Record: 29-10

Starters
Chris Paul MVPPG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Chauncey Billups
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Blake Griffin
C: DeAndre Jordan

Bench
Jamal Crawford
Matt Barnes
Grant Hill
Lamar Odom
Ronny Turiaf
Willie Greene

This is a rock solid team. Obviously not the Championship contender that Chris Paul’s basketball bravado transforms them into, but still this squad would be a playoff team to be reckoned with. They can play some great defense behind the frenetic activity of Bledsoe and Barnes and the shot blocking of DeAndre Jordan. Jamal Crawford can still get buckets off the bench and don’t forget they still have Blake Griffin, the second best PF in the game. The obscene depth of the Clip Show really works against CP3 here, because isn’t that really what makes them different from last year? Play a fun little exercise here and compare CP3′s season to that of another elite point guard, hiding the player’s names to eliminate any bias:

Player A: 19.8 pts, 9.1 ast, 2.5 stl, 2.1 to, 47.8 FG%, 37.1 3P%, 86.1 FT%
Player B: 16.6 pts, 9.7 ast, 2.6 stl, 2.2 to, 47.3 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 89.7 FT%

Pretty close, right? I would give the edge to Player A because he scored more points AND shot a higher percentage from the field and downtown.

Both players are Chris Paul. Player A was last year’s version, while player B is this year. How can you give the MVP to a guy who is having a slightly worse year than last year?

Projected Record: 23-16 (6 win difference)

The Verdict: CP3 is having a typically brilliant season, but it appears the difference in the team making the jump from playoff team to Championship contender is more a function of a bench deeper than a Simon Cowell V-Neck then Chris Paul having a career year.

Candidate 3: Heat minus LeBron James

Team record: 26-12

Starters
LeBron James MVPPG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwayne Wade
SF: Shane Battier
PF: Udonis Haslem
C: Chris Bosh

Bench
Ray Allen
Norris Cole
Rashard Lewis
Joel Anthony
Mike Miller

I would really enjoy watching this squad pound the hardwood. They have two great scorers in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh who can run a pretty mean pick and roll together and Ray Allen off the bench to do his brand of abuse on the poor unsuspecting nets hanging from NBA rims. However, when it comes to defense might as well call this team Monday through Sunday because they would be weak . Based on what we have seen this year, Wade, Battier and Haslem all look a step slow. Any team with size down-low would abuse the Bosh/Haslem combo on the block, and without the terrifying athleticism of LeBron they would have to abandon the over-helping/trapping style that makes them so dangerous. Offensively this squad can hang with anyone, but defensively they would be a headache.

Projected Record: 20-18 (6 win difference)

The Verdict: The fact that the Heat are heavily underachieving this year really hurts LeBron’s MVP case. While he is clearly the best player in the game, the Heat as a whole have not performed as well as they should thus far, and that really hurts his MVP chances.

Candidate 4: Thunder minus Kevin Durant

Team record: 33-9

Starters
Durant MVPPG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Thabo Sefolosha
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Kendrick Perkins

Bench
Nick Collison
Eric Maynor
Hasheem Thabeet
Reggie Jackson
Jeremy Lamb
Perry Jones III

A core of Westbrook and Ibaka is nothing to sneeze at. Westbrook would be fine jacking up a few more shots to try to make up for Durant’s absence and Ibaka could score close to 20 points a game if need be. However, that is not enough to make up for the brilliance of Durant. This team is paper thin without him, especially at SG and SF, and who would score when Westbrook is on the bench? They have a nice starting five and the scoring prowess of Russ West would keep them competitve, but this is a fringe playoff team without the Durantula.

Projected Record: 24-18 (9 win difference)

The Verdict: OKC’s impressive record makes Durant the early favorite. He is the best scorer in the game and rapidly improving in all facets. OKC is very thin at SF, making him all the more valuable

Conclusion

1. Kevin Durant (9 win difference)
2. LeBron James (6 win difference)
2. Chris Paul (6 win difference)
4. Carmelo Anthony (5 win difference)

Durant is currently the leader in the clubhouse on the strength of the Thunder’s early dominance and the all around maturation of his game. However, LeBron is still far and away the best player in the game, and if the Heat surge in the second half this award should be his for the taking.

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2 thoughts on “Who is the Most Valuable Player?

  1. SwishMaster McDirty says:

    I dont think your MVP criterion is all encompassing enough—you said, “Take that player off of their respective team and how good would that team be.” If that were the case, it seems that D-Rose shouldnt have won the MVP. The Bulls are currently 4th in the east, only 3 games back from the Heat without Rose. On the other hand, there is no denying how much better they would be with him in the line-up. What about Rondo? The Celtics are 1 game under .500 this season with Rondo but without him I think they are fighting with Charlotte and Washington in the the cellar. I feel the same way about Kobe. The lakers suck right now but take Kobe off the team and I think there is a major 30 point hole that other lakers are not capable of filling. I think teams like OKC or NY have the bench and the starters that could fill that void if called upon. I really wish they had a WAR (wins above replacement) stat in basketball like they do in baseball. It’s tough because basketball players dont typically get days off like baseball players but i think it would be a surprising stat. Guys like Tony Parker would definitely have a high WAR….and Dirk..talk about flipping a team around! The mavs are nothing without the german. Then there are situations like the clippers. tehy were winning WITHOUT chris paul and actually lost the one game he decided to come back. Sans cp3 there is no way the clippers are winning a championship but i think the overall team depth gets them close. So, tthere are players that are integral to their teams success (however many wins that may be), and ones that are great players on great teams. Without them the team is still good….but how good. Tim Duncan MVP, Tom Thibodeau MVC, Dwight Howard signing with chi town in the offseason after they amnesty Boozer. teams wont score more than 70 a night.

  2. Josh Schueler says:

    Where’s the breakdown on Kobe.. Cheers! :p

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