With April drawing near in the NBA, the MVP discussion is beginning to take its form for this passing season. The voting process, and what determines an MVP (maybe I should say who), is rather chameleon-esque, with a seemingly different flavor with each individual season. Do not get me wrong, the following "formulas" for determining the MVP I am going to describe are not necessarily my opinion and I mean to only describe them in an objective fashion.
Last year, the Dallas Mavericks won 67 games, and had a great regular season, no one can argue that. Dirk Nowitzki was also the MVP of the NBA last year. So according to the logic of the voters last year, the best player on the best team should win the MVP award. Check, I got it.
The two years previous, the NBA MVP was Steve Nash, who went to the Phoenix Suns and completely altered the dynamic of the Sun's franchise. The explanation for his winning the MVP was his ability to make others around him better, and changing the fabric of a franchise and making it competitive. I would say making it a winner, but the Suns haven't won a championship, so that would be a stretch. OK, I got that too, moving on.
So how will the MVP be chosen this year? I have to ask.... If you apply the Dirk Nowitzki method, voting the best player on the best team, then you focus your attention to the Boston Celtics, who at the moment have a 56-15 record, and tonight play the New Orleans Hornets, the only team they haven't beaten this season. You could go with the Dirk method, and say KG is the MVP. Now you only have the best team to choose from, remember? So, before you go too far in one direction (and I know what direction you will go ), look at the way the Celtics play the game. They are all about team team team, and suit up for each other night in and night out. Yes, Kevin Garnett is a huge part of that, but is Paul Pierce not supposed to get any credit for this season just because he is not a newcomer and dealt with them being literally a Developmental league team for the last three to four years? You could make a legitimate argument that Paul Pierce is the best player on the Celtics, with his improved defense this season, outstanding passing, and his overall commitment to team basketball. I'm not trying to say that Paul Pierce should get the MVP over KG if this is how the voting is going to go, but at the very least Paul Pierce should win another MVP. Most valuable professional, I mean, because at any time Paul Pierce could have said I want out, and made a fuss like most stars his caliber do when they wish to be traded from a bad franchise. I give Kudos wrapped in a big gift basket to Paul Pierce for sticking with the Celtics through the good times and the bad times.
Let's say the commitee wants to take the Nash route instead, however. This would mean that more variables would be added to the equation, no doubt. You could look at how much help a player has around him, the perception as to how that one player effects the players around him, for the good or bad, and how good would the team in question be WITHOUT your MVP candidate. Well, let's start the comparison machine up again and go back to Garnett. KG came to the Celtics and brought an energy that has not been seen or felt in Beantown since the days of Larry Bird in the 80's. Garnett lays it all out on the floor everytime he plays, and is the one player who holds others accountable when they don't hold up their end of the bargain when contributing to the team winning. His positive and self-confident attitude brought a swagger back to the Celtics that became absolutely infectious, and is a key reason why the Celtics are where they are at this point in the season. He also brings outstanding, all-NBA first team level defense, and along with Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers, have isolated the Celtics as BY FAR the best defensive team in the NBA. The Celtics are having a truly special season, leading in almost every defensive category, and have lost only two games by twelve points or more. To boot, they have a 24-5 record against the superior western conference for the season. Now, to the detriment of Kevin Garnett when using the Nash method, the Celtics have a 7-2 record with KG out of the lineup. That is one major stat that can and probably will hurt his chances in the MVP voting.
The next candidate we look at with the Nash method is New Orleans Hornets point guard Chis "CP3" Paul, who averages 21 points per game, 11 assists per game, and his assist to turnover ratio is 4.5, another outstanding stat. No one expected the New Orleans Hornets to make the jump from a team that didn't even make the playoffs last year, to a team that is the potential number 1 seed in the so dubbed "wild wild west". Paul is without question the best player on the Hornets, and does not have nearly as much around him as the likes of other MVP candidates Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, or Dwight Howard even! Tyson Chandler is a fine defensive player, but not a great big man by any stretch. David West is indeed a 17-foot assasin, as CP3 likes to call him, but he is by no means a star either. Despite his age, Paul has a very good shot at being the MVP for this season for his consistently spectacular play. Quite frankly, the New Orleans Hornets without Chris Paul are not much of a team, and to me that is what shows true value as a player. Chris Paul is so special because he knows the game so well, and his teammates he knows better than that. When, where and how to get his teammates the basketball is what Chris Paul excels at. He also averages 2.7 steals a game, so he is no slouch on the defensive end either. I don't know what kind of Wheaties Byron Scott feeds his point guards, but whatever it is, it's working. Just ask CP3 and Jason Kidd.
Other candidates for the MVP are Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and with a very slim shot at it, Dwight Howard. Howard is not going to win it, but is worth mentioning with his great play in the post this season. Lebron James has crazy good stats for the year, but his team is currently 40-32, so in my mind he won't get any consideration for that reason along with one other. Lebron is only 23 years of age, so the voters will figure he will get another shot at it down the road.
The only other player I believe that has a real shot at winning the MVP for this season is Kobe Bryant. In his 11 year career, Kobe has (surprisingly) never won an MVP award. That certainly works in Kobe's favor, as does his usual outstanding season. Averaging 30+ points, Kobe has had to carry a heavier load due to injuries to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. My only objection is this... Kobe always puts up great numbers and has great seasons, but since Pau Gasol is there that means Kobe should get the award now? That is the only difference between now and when Kobe was a great player before. He has more help than before. Does that mean he should win the MVP? I just don't think so. The fact that Kobe has not won an MVP award yet in his career makes him a stronger consideration for it this year, maybe even a frontrunner, which is a sad thought because there are players who are going to get overlooked for their seasons just because of Kobe's MVP status, or should I say, lack there of.
The MVP voting has never made sense to me, mainly because there is no consistent model in which the voting for the award is based. Most Valuable Player to me means the player who means the most to his team, and without that player the team is significantly affected for the worse. A player that greatly improves the production and effectiveness of his teammates and works within the framework of winning basketball is the guy I want to win MVP. To me, what Chris Paul has done as the leader of the New Orleans Hornets is truly remarkable. For that team to make a jump that big and that fast, you got to look at the trigger of such a turnaround. For the Celtics, who have had an incredible turnaround themsleves, it is KG, but not just KG. Ray Allen, Eddie House, James Posey, Sam Cassell, Tom Thibodeau, and Glen Davis are all new players and/or coaches on that Celtics team that have contributed to the Celtics winning cause. For the Hornets, it's Chris Paul, and Chris Paul only. His maturity as a player from last year to this year is the difference between a team that didn't make the playoffs a year ago, to a team that is at the top of one of the most competitive conference races in the history of the NBA. So with all that said, my final judgement: CP3-MVP.