This NBA’s MVP vote this season reminded of the 2002 Heisman trophy. Carson Palmer of USC won the award that year and the vote wasn’t close. But was he the best player that year? Arguments could have been made for the runner up and third place finisher that year (Brad Banks and Larry Johnson if you’re curious), but ehh, the voters made the right choice. Palmer was the best player on one of the best teams and finished with a showcase game when he lit up Notre Dame. (Side Note: I was at that USC v. Notre Dame game.) His numbers weren’t eye popping and when he won the award there was backlash. People either defending the vote or attacked it. Eventually everyone came to a feeling of ambivalence—a strong ‘whatever-feeling’ settled.
Derrick Rose is really good. He was also the best player on the team with the best record. Is that reason enough to win the MVP? No. Is he the best point guard? Nope. Chris Paul is. Paul’s shooting percentages are higher than Rose’s. So are his assists and steals per game. Yes, Rose scores more points but Paul’s offensive rating is higher. Rounding up for each player, let’s look at it like this: Paul contributes at least 36 points per game for the Hornets (15.8 ppg + 9.8 apg) while Rose contributes at least 41 points (25 ppg +7.7 apg). I say at least since there is no way to tell if an assist was for a three-pointer or if it led to an And 1. But, overall Chris Paul’s advanced statistics make him out to be a better player. But the MVP award isn’t about being the best at a player’s position. It’s about the value a player provides—however you define that. If you want to argue for Paul, Dwight Howard or Lebron James I’ll listen. But like the 2002 Heisman trophy, people are upset right now or defending the vote. But, it’s just ‘whatever.’ Rose is probably the right choice. More after the jump…
At times during the season, Chris Paul failed to provide the needed value for the Hornets to win. There were times when he vanished, times when he would actually hide in the corner of the court. I understand the importance of getting the entire team involved on offense, but when a team struggles on offense as much as the Hornets did, especially from the shooting guard and small forward position, Paul should have been trying to score. If you offered me Rose for Paul in a straight up trade, I would say no. But for the Hornets this season, a scoring point guard like Rose would have had more value—this wouldn’t even be an argument if the Hornets had a shooting guard who was simply average. Look at games 1 and 4 of the first round series with the Lakers. Paul got to the rim without any problem and seemingly couldn’t miss a jumper. Performances like those make the games where he only takes one or two shots in the fourth quarter so hard. Overall, Paul is a better player than Rose and he had a great season, but he could have provided more value to the team.
What is absolutely insane though is that he finished 13th in voting. Blake Griffin and Tony Parker all finished higher than him. What?!? Griffin, who led his team to a total of 32 wins, was assisted on 67% of his baskets. Not to mention that the Clippers finished nine spots below the Hornets in defensive efficiency. Parker…I’m not even getting started on him.
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm says the award is for the fans and that writers represent the fans. The fans love Rose so let him win. The fans love Griffin so put him on the list. But that’s why the fans have a vote. He goes on to question the value of the MVP award. Why does it have any importance anyway? Existential concerns over intrinsic value aside, the MVP award matters because, more or less, it crowns the top NBA player for that season. Any award which tries to accomplish that goal has tremendous worth placed on it. Letting the fans decide the MVP vote does not mean the most valuable player will win (China would be voting Yao Ming every year). If that’s the case then it’s unfair to every player (and anyone who takes this seriously) to have the award called the MVP. Let writers choose the MVP and keep the fan vote out. The MVP award matters for a player’s legacy. Whether fans liked a player or not matters but it takes a backseat to individual (and team) awards a player wins. Because of this, writers should not vote for someone because that who their readers like.
Let the fans have their own vote and pick whomever they want. There could be a nice trophy and a fun press conference. Let’s even do it in New Orleans and everyone can go get beignets after. Call it the NBA Fan MVP Award. But leave the fan influence out of the real MVP vote. I don’t only want the best player on the best team winning year after year.
Tomorrow I’ll have a look into the Hornets future for you and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @nolajake. But for now I’ll leave you with this…