Monday, 16 April 2007

My 2007 NBA MVP Winner

Yesterday I looked at the "Other" Awards in the NBA, and today it's time for the MVP. The prevailing theory everywhere seems to be that this is a two-horse race between Dirk Nowitski and Steve Nash, but I'm not sure I subscribe to that theory.

We'll get to that later, but first another note. Two guys may very well have made this list (almost certainly would have) had they not gotten injured. One is Dwyane Wade. He was actually my MVP of the first half, and I still think he's been the best player when he's played, but the injury drops him from consideration. The second is Yao Ming, who was extremely good, but again gets knocked out because of injury.

Which leaves my top 7. Apologies to Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Chris Bosh, and Amare Stoudemire, who just missed the cut.

(7) Carlos Boozer - Utah Jazz

Boozer finished 4th in the NBA in rebounding, and has just been an efficient and effective post player for the surprising Jazz. In scoring 21 points and grabbing 11.8 rebounds per game, the raw numbers are there. But he's also shooting nearly 56% from the field, getting to the line over 5 times a game, and getting 3 assists per contest. Boozer has been one of the big reasons for the rise of the Jazz this year.

(6) Kevin Garnett - Minnesota Timberwolves

As usual, KG quietly gets the job done. He's still the best rebounder in the NBA, and he compliments that with a versatile offensive game, great passing skills, and very good all-around defense. He is perhaps the most unselfish player in the League, giving 100% every night for a team that has basically been run into the ground by Kevin McHale. At age 30 he is still one of the premier players in the NBA and places #6 on my ballot.

(5) LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers

It is telling that LeBron finishes 5th here, and in many respects had a very disappointing season. There was all the talk early on about how it didn't really look like he was trying all that hard, and I'm not sure that was unwarranted. In any regard, he simply didn't progress this year the way we all thought and hoped he would. His shooting percentages are all done, including (most notably) his FT percentage, which seems to have forced him to shoot more jumpers. His rebounding and assists numbers are also slightly down, which isn't what everyone expected from the King. A strong playoff performance (like last year) will go a long way towards making everyone forget this regular season, but let's not get too carried away. He was pretty darn good.

(4) Steve Nash - Phoenix Suns

I suspect this is the placement that will make people unhappy, but that's ok. I actually do think Nash has been better this year than his 2 MVP years, I just think he didn't really deserve the MVP the last couple of seasons. He's a great player, and a great PG, I just think there are guys more valuable than him. The number of assists per game is gaudy, but also aided by the fact that his supporting cast is superb and the pace the Suns play at gives them a lot more possessions. Still, he is a great passer, great shooter (maybe the best in the NBA), and he handles the ball extremely well, especially with the offhand. Putting Nash at 4 isn't a slight to him, it's just recognizing that there are some really good players that are just a little better than him.

(3) Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Lakers

His PPG average is down about 4 points, but Kobe has been better this year than he was last year. He is taking a lot less shots per game and as a result has been a more efficient scorer. He gets to the line about 10 times per game, which is good because he is a very good FT shooter. Another aspect of him toning down the shots some this year is that he got his teammates more involved, which upped his APG to 5.4. Even with him handling the ball so much, he still has a pretty low turnover rate, which just adds to his effectiveness.

(2) Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs

Obviously Duncan isn't flashy, but he's just a great player. He averaged 20 and 10 like he has done every year of his career except one (last year, when he was bothered by foot injuries), but his impact goes beyond that. He shot 55% this year, which is superb for someone shooting 14 shots per game like he does. He's also one of the best interior defenders in the NBA, as he once again anchored one of the best defenses in the League. He's not going to wow you, but with the efficient offensive game and great defensive work, he's #2 on my MVP ballot.

(1) Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks

Dirk continued his rapid ascent to superstardom with his best year to date, a year that is good enough to win him NBA numbers. As of now he's a 50-40-90 guy... he shoots 50.1% from the field, 41.9% from downtown, and 90.3% from the FT line. And he's a 7-footer. And that's not all. He also averaged 9 RPG, and posted a career high in APG with 3.4. He's not the best defensive player around, but he's the best all-around player in the NBA, and one that is deserving of winning the MVP.