Here is your longshot MVP pick, folks. Yes, LeBron James and Kevin Durant should be favored against all comers, but if one wants to gamble on a plausible, unlikely choice, I like Iggy's chances. In other words: Among fool's bets, Iguodala for MVP is wisest.
Right now, I've spied him on various sites at 125:1 odds. I do not gamble on basketball outcomes, nor do I endorse that you waste your money in that particular direction. I do have an interest in under-considered possibilities, though, which is why I'm fixating on the 2012 Nuggets.
Currently, Denver is projected by ESPN's John Hollinger to win 59 games. Bradford Doolittle (of ESPN and Basketball Prospectus) has Denver at 51.1 victories. The Nuggets have a deep team and stand to win more than their star power might indicate. This does not mean that Denver is title-bound; it merely means that depth should secure victories against bad teams on back-to-backs. The Laker fans caterwauling over low regular-season projections should take solace in win totals not equaling team quality.
Like fans, media members are not always so discerning about the difference between win totals and team quality. Media members also like to give a vast amount of credit to a great team's best player, even if said player is merely good. This is how Tony Parker gets to be top five among MVP vote-getters.
So if, as some statistical projections suggest, the Nuggets are to be good next season, somebody has to get the credit. This gives Andre Iguodala a narrative advantage over other candidates. If Denver thrives, he can be a 2005 Steve Nash, the new addition who fomented an unselfish, fun, winning style. In MVP races, story sometimes trumps logic. It's how Michael Jordan lost a few MVP battles, and how LeBron James stands to lose a few in the future.
Another factor might help Iggy's candidacy: The Nuggets should be fantastic for his numbers. Iguodala is a devastating force in transition. When the high-flying wing gets to the rim, he converts at an absurd 75 percent rate (via Hoopdata). In the half court peat bog that was Philadelphia's offense, Iguodala often got grounded, and defaulted to his unreliable jumper. He will have more freedom of movement in the Colorado mountains.
Not only does transition basketball mesh well with Andre Iguodala's athletic style, a fast pace should inflate whatever numbers he produces. Last season, the slow-down Sixers were 24th in pace factor. The Nuggets, in contrast, played at the second-fastest pace in the league. For those new to the concept of pace factor: A fast team uses less shotclock, so it gets more possessions, creating more opportunities for points, rebounds, and assists.
None of this is to say Andre Iguodala should ever, under nearly any circumstances, deserve an MVP award. I am simply trying to guess the whims of a sport that recently selected Luol Deng to an All Star game. Andre Iguodala has a chance to be part of a "surprising," enjoyable story out West.
Don't be shocked if we all get a little too caught up in the enthusiasm.