In a world where Sarah Palin is considered a viable presidential candidate, and the series Two and a Half Men is a top rated television show; it falls upon our shoulders here at Limited Playmakers to bring some much needed sanity to the world. With this in mind, I am unveiling LP’s first ever NBA MVP Rankings for the 2010-2011 season. I do so with humility and a prayer in my heart. May God bless the United States of America.
1. Deron Williams: As many of you know, Maurice Brooks ranks what he believes are the top ten MVP candidates in his weekly column “NBA Awards Watch” on espn.com. In his most recent post Deron Williams is ranked eighth. The reason he gives for his lack of respect to Williams is: “A case could be made that D-Will has been the best guard in the West, but he might need help making the All-Star team. He is currently fifth in fan voting.”
I do not understand the correlation between All-Star voting and MVP voting. Not to mention the argument is ridiculous because Deron Williams will be an All-Star this year, fan voting or not. Fan voting for the All-Star team has nothing to do with how valuable a player is to his team. If All-Star voting had any bearing on the MVP race, Yao Ming would always be in the MVP discussion. Yao will be voted in as the starting center for the Western Conference squad this year, and he will accomplish this feat after playing in just 5 games this season for the Houston Rockets.
What makes Brooks’ ranking of D-Will even more bizarre is who he ranked number one. Derrick Rose tops Brooks’ list of MVP candidates. Rose has been playing out of his mind, has inserted himself into the best point guard in the league debate, and has accomplished all of this with Carlos “Vajayjay” Boozer as his second option. I am a giant Rose fan (see who ranks #2 on this list), but Williams, to this point, has the slight edge on who has been more valuable to his team.
Take a look at how these two ballers compare statistically:
Derrick Rose: FG%:.456 FT%:.798 STL:1.1 RPG:4.5 AST:8.1 PTS:24.3 PER: 22.9
Deron Williams: FG%.458 FT%.849 STL:1.1 RPG:3.7 AST:9.3 PTS:21.8 PER: 22.9
These two floor-leaders are putting up nearly identical numbers. How Brooks can rank one of these guys number one, and then place the other at number eight, is more mind boggling than the Seattle Seahawks beating the New Orleans Saints last weekend.
There is also no way Brooks could pick one over the other based on their respective team’s record:
Chicago Bulls: 26-13
Utah Jazz: 27-13
They both play on teams with about the same amount of talent. In fact, Rose is basically playing with the team Williams led to 54 wins last year (Boozer, Korver & Brewer are all former Jazz-men). The only exception being Rose has a deeper bench (anyone ever heard of Brian Scalabrine) and a better starting center (Noah is currently out with an injury) than Williams (Okur has not played a game this season).
I would concede the fact that D-Will has the better coach if Brooks had not ranked Tom Thibodeau (#2) ahead of Jerry Sloan (tied at #5 with Erik Spoelstra. Once again showing every basketball fan the level of respect Sloan has been given throughout his career. Sloan: In the Hall of Fame. Spoelstra: Coaching 3 future Hall of Famers. The disrespect perpetrated throughout the league on behalf of Jerry Sloan has officially become laughable).
So why do I have D-Will ranked ahead of D-Rose (even their nicknames are similar) when everything looks pretty damn equal? D-Will plays in the Western Conference. It is as simple as that. The Western Conference is a much tougher conference to play in than the Eastern Conference. The Eastern Conference has just six teams over .500 (Celtics, Heat, Magic, Hawks, Bulls, Knicks). The Western Conference has eight teams over .500 (Lakers, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Spurs, Mavericks, Jazz, Hornets), and four other teams right on the verge of .500, who no one in the bottom half of the East would want to see in the first round (Grizzlies, Warriors, Suns, Rockets). Once you get past the Eastern Conference’s top six teams; there is no team the eighth seed in the Western Conference would not sweep in a seven game series.
D-Will is not the runaway MVP of the league this year, but if it comes down to a choice between him and D-Rose (my bet is neither wins the award come the end of the season); Williams gets my vote by the slightest of margins.
2. Derrick Rose: D-Rose ranks right behind Blake Griffin as the player I want to see live more than anyone else this season. The dude can do everything on a basketball court. I don’t know if we have ever seen a point guard throw-down with the ferocity D-Rose displays while dunking a basketball. He beat out Rajon Rondo for a spot on Team USA over the summer (anyone who beats a member of the Celtics in anything will always get major props from Long Ball Larry). In the words of Kobe Bryant, “I can tell when a player truly wants to be better and does what it takes to improve. It was a quality I had when I was growing up. I admire that about him. I could really see it from last year to this year. He’s got a long-range ball now. He can pop behind the pick and shoot the jumper. He can pull up off the dribble and shoot it, and him getting to the rim goes unquestioned. He’s putting the time in the gym, and I certainly respect that.”
3. Amar’e Stoudemire: I have never enjoyed watching Amar’e play basketball until this year. Hell, I have never enjoyed watching the New York Knicks play basketball until this year. Amar’e has single handedly made the Knicks relevant again. He is second in the league in scoring, and fourth in the league in blocks. The best basketball game of the year, so far, happened at the Garden when the Knicks played the Celtics. I am hopeful we will get to see a Knicks-Celtics playoff series this year. I just blew my load thinking about it. Amar’e is my early favorite to win the MVP award at the end of the season (unless everyone bitches out and picks Lebron James), and as long as he continues to play the way he has been playing; I have no problem with Amar’e holding the MVP trophy.
4. Dirk Nowitzki: Everyone knows Dirk is a bitch, but it is hard to dismiss how valuable he is to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs just got owned by the Spurs, and have won just two games since he went down with injury. I hate Dirk Diggler. The last time he won the MVP award, his team was bounced out of the playoffs by the eighth seeded Warriors (one of the all-time coolest moments in NBA history). Just days after the Mavericks debacle, Dirk accepted the MVP award in an awkward press conference with David Stern (one of the all-time coolest moments in NBA history). It is hard to explain why Dirk is so good at basketball. He looks like a 7-foot child molester who has been released from the pen on work release. The problem is, once he returns from injury, I expect the Mavericks to start wreaking havoc on the league once again.
5. Dwayne Wade/Lebron James. Lebron James is not the MVP of the league this season, but I have no problem with him and Wade sharing the award as Co-MVP’s. What these two are doing down in Miami is mind-boggling. If we forget their recent loss to Blake Griffin (second coolest game of the year), this team has been on fire. I have never seen a team turn it on, at will, like the Miami Heat. It is like they are just playing with the opposing team during the first half. Come the third quarter, the Wade-Lebron combo (yes, I have their names in the correct order) takes the game over and destroys the other team’s will to compete. The Heat have been the best team in the league, and as long as these two are healthy, I have no idea how anyone beats them in a seven game series. That last sentence could be the most depressing thing I have ever written in my life. F*#! me.
Honorable mention: I am not going to allow myself to write about the NBA for the rest of the year, without mentioning Blake Griffin. Blake Griffin is already the best power forward in the league (I don’t even feel like this statement is much of an exaggeration). The Clippers have won eight of their last eleven games, including the aforementioned game against the Heatles. Griffin has turned Clippers games into Must See TV. If Griffin can turn the Clippers into a .500 team (it’s not as crazy as you think), and get his team battling for the eighth seed in the west (this is as crazy as you think); than not only should Griffin win Rookie of the Year, but he should also win the MVP award. Griffin is going to pass Shaq for the most consecutive 20-10 games in NBA history, HIS ROOKIE YEAR!!! Shaq accomplished this feat after playing in the league for nearly a decade. A while ago the Sports Guy went out on a limb when he said Kevin Durant will be considered greater than Lebron James when his career is over. I am not even going out on a limb when I say Blake Griffin will be considered greater than both when all is said and done.