Wednesday, April 9

I can't wait to have this debate like six more times

Bran Wright in the PD today:

The MVP isn't designed to go to the best player in the league. Semantics alone dictate that.

I really can't understand how being the best doesn't make you the most valuable. Aren't players evaluated and paid for their production? Is quality of play not a synonym for a player's value? That's a weird thing to wri(ght).

There are going to be hundreds of nonsense articles written over the next few weeks wherein an exceedingly clever sportswriter picks a player for MVP and defends that decision. In many of these pieces, the writer knows their reasons are dumb, so they spend most of the column defending their own defense, which is generally not a good sign.

I don't see why sportswriters can't just look at how well a player played, and then name the best one the MVP. For some reason many (most) scribes seem loath to do this. I think that you can make a very strong case for LeBron, Kobe, Paul, or even Garnett as league MVP based on their performances this season. I could be swayed by logical performance-based arguments for any of them (Dave, no need to trouble yourself - I'm fine if Kobe wins). However, there are two arguments I flatly reject as criteria for MVP selection.

1) Kobe has been the best player in years and deserves to finally win one.
This is utter nonsense. If you think he had the best season and was the most valuable in the league in 2007-08, then by all means vote for him. But don't cast a ballot for Kobe as a proxy for a Lifetime Achievement Award. Don't do this. Any article mentioning his exploits in past seasons has already lost me.

2) Player X (usually Paul) is most valuable because he was on the best team
I find this endlessly frustrating. Yes, it's a team game, and yes, winning is the object, but this is an individual award, not to mention that individual play and team success are, last I checked, positively correlated. In an article on, random guy Dan Labbe argues for Paul because he plays on a team that "no one could have ever imagined would be on top of the toughest and most competitive conference," whereas Kobe is on a team that is "good." (New Orleans is only 1.5 games up on the Lakers as I write this). How that makes Paul a more valuable player than Kobe, I cannot fathom. Ditto for LeBron - playing on a shaky team does not make him any less valuable as a player than either of those two guys.

Again, if you want to make a case for Paul or Kobe, you can do that based on their performances this year. I would applaud the selection of any of the three I've mentioned here and my point here is not to argue for or against any of the front-runners. But please, don't adjust your evaluation based on the other guys they play with, and don't give Kobe some sort of pity award. Give the MVP to the best player. Just once, I want to see a writer break it down that way: this guy played the best, so I picked him as MVP. That would be refreshing. I would feel refreshed.


dave said...

I agree 100% with this. The simple fact of the matter is that there is no criteria for the MVP. No one knows what an MVP is. I personally think the award is a joke. I think if people really looked at the four players you mentioned, they could limit it down to two. Lebron and kobe. Garnett has two other all stars on his team and this is probably his worst statistical year since I can remember (as you know I'm not a fan of evaluating a player based solely on stats). The celtics have remained pretty healthy with the exception of short term injuries to Ray Allen, and a medium term injury to Garnett.

Chris Paul has been blessed above everyone else. His team has been healthy for the most part. If one of the starters gets hurt, New Orleans bench is to weak to compensate. I don't think Paul would even be in the conversation if that happened.

Lebron should be MVP because he is having the best statistical year probably since the Magic Johnson years (I'm not sure). He is doing all he can to keep a very average team at best at a respectable level in the eastern conference standings. Despite what people say his defense has improved since last year. I think playing with Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant last summer helped with that. I would not be opposed to Lebron winning the MVP. I would be opposed to Paul or Garnett (even though I like both players).

Kobe should win MVP because the Lakers have probably suffered more injuries than any other team in the league. The Lakers started strong with Bynum in the lineup and even when he got hurt they stayed at the top of the very competitive western conference. Kobe knows exactly what his team needs at a given moment. If they need him to score, he will, if they need him to defend the best player, he will make that player's life a living hell. And like you said the hornets are only 1 and 1/2 games ahead I think.

Nick said...

There is little in sports that is so hotly debated yet has no significance. I usually just come up with a short list of candidates who I will be alright with winning. This year my short list is LBJ, Kobe, and Paul. Let's not talk about this anymore, it's Skip Bayless' job.