Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Thursday Debate: Midseason NBA MVP

We are about at the midway point of the NBA season, which means it's time for the ultimately worthless midseason awards. I'm going to focus on the MVP race, because I think it's the most interesting, and ultimately that is what matters.

Let's start off with apologies to guys like Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Chauncey Billups, Dirk Nowitzki, and Carlos Boozer, who just miss the cut. Here are the top 5, in inverse order:

5. Dwight Howard (Orlando) - He has taken his game to a completely new level this season on both sides of the ball. With 2.6 blocks per game, he is a threat defensively at the basket. Offensively, he has developed an efficient, and explosive post game, using his incredible quickness in the post. Plus, at age 22 he is the best rebounder alive, using his instincts and athleticism to grab nearly 15 rebounds per game.

4. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles) - People often refer to Kobe as the best player in the world, but I'm not sure that's the case anymore. He seems to have lost a little bit of the athleticism after the knee surgery. But people don't give him enough credit for his craftiness and smarts scoring the basketball. While a guy like LeBron James relies on his athleticism sometimes to score, Kobe scores in a number of ways. He is quick on the post, great with fadeaways, and just crafty when he gets the ball down low. The shooting percentage is down a little bit, and he is not getting to the FT line as much as he has in past years (again, a sign that he may have lost a little explosiveness and is not going to the basket as much), but he's still obviously one of the 2 most dangerous offensive players in the NBA.

3. Kevin Garnett (Boston) - Looking at the Celtics record is enough to see the impact that KG has had. The counting stats are down a bit this year, but there are reasons for that. He is not playing quite as many minutes, and he is simply deferring to teammates more. With talented guys around him, KG does not have to force things... of course, he has adapted his game seamlessly, showing the unselfishness of his game. He is taking only good shots... he is shooting the ball 4 less times per game than he was last year, and his shooting percentage has skyrocketed from 47.6% to 55.1%. Add in the world-class defense, and KG is #3 on my MVP list.

2. Chris Paul (New Orleans) - Yes, the most underappreciated player in the NBA. People need to see how good Chris Paul is. It's difficult to appreciate how good he has been in leading the Hornets to their blistering 32-12 start. He scores efficiently (48% shooting, 35% 3's, 89% FT), and is a fantastic passer, doling out over 10 assists per game. For being 6'0, he is a great rebounder, snagging 4 per game. Defensively, he might have the quickest hands of anyone in the NBA, getting 2.6 steals per game. He is the premier PG in the NBA.

1. LeBron James (Cleveland) - The best, most athletic player in the NBA. To say that LeBron James is the most athletic player in the game hardly does him justice... it really is like a man among boys, at times. He is the quickest player in the league off the dribble, one of the fastest up the court, and the highest leaper. Oh yeah, and he's the best and strongest finisher at the hoop in the NBA, with a greater skill of getting 3-point plays. Add in the fact that he's a great passer and is becoming a great defender, and it's hard not to see him deserving this award every year for a while. He may not be a consistent outside shooter yet (and maybe never will be), but he more than makes up for that by being so incredibly outstanding in every other facet of the game.

Your thoughts? Who is your first half MVP?

Who is the Midseason NBA MVP?
LeBron James
Chris Paul
Kevin Garnett
Kobe Bryant
Dwight Howard