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Should Have Been: LeBron James or Dwight Howard
Granted, Derrick Rose has not actually won the award yet, but the general consensus around the league appears to be that you're more likely to see the Mayor of Cleveland declare "LeBron James day" in the city than for Rose not to win the award.
For the record, I think Rose is very deserving of the award. The Bulls have secured the top seed in the league and Rose has become the unquestioned leader of the team. But one question I have is: Is his win a manifestation of the LeBron James-hate brigade, or would he have won regardless of the controversial "Decision" broadcast that turned the entire voting poll against James this year?
When critics defend Rose they will acknowledge that his statistics are technically not better than James', and they won't argue that he is as dominant a force as Dwight Howard. But they say that he led his team to the East's top seed despite injuries to two "All-Star Caliber" bigs, while the Heat wound up only the second seed, and Howard's Magic were fourth.
These things are true, but in defense of Howard and James, both players had to make bigger adjustments and sacrifices to their games throughout the regular season than Rose did. James was playing for a different team, in a new role with half the country rooting for him to fail. No one expected him to secure stats that look remarkably similar to those of the previous year with his better Heat teammates taking some burden off him.
He came into the league with the most pressure to preform and did so admirably as the Heat led the East in road wins, despite every game having a playoff atmosphere. It was a testament to James' great play.
As for Howard, he started the season with one team and would end the season with a totally different team. Yet, he has proven time-and-time again that he can make the team a playoff contender and top defensive team just by his mere presence. Not too many teams can have their supporting cast change early in the season, yet still maintain their defensive identity despite the turnover. That equates to a valuable player in my book.
Additionally, there is a question over whether the Bulls success derives more from Tom Thibodeau's system or Rose's play. If you put Deron Williams on the Bulls instead of Derrick Rose could they win 60-games under Thibs defensive philosophy? Maybe.
Can you put any other center in the league on the Magic and have a No. 4 seed considering the struggles of everyone on the team? Unlikely. If you take James off and replace him with any other small forward in the game, could they get the same intangibles they get from James? No.
So while I acknowledge that I agree with the pick of Rose, I don't think it is as open and shut as has been reported.