Ah, it's sports fans' favorite time of the year. The NCAA Tournament is in full swing, Major League Baseball is wrapping up spring training, college football has begun spring practice and the NBA playoffs are about to being.
With the NBA playoffs beginning in three weeks, it is the time to start heavily considering the awards for the 2010-11 season. As opposed to MLB and the NFL, the national media seems to pick an MVP mid-season and promote and pump up that player throughout the last 30-something games of the season.
So, I thought I would do NBA fans a service and compare two players, both on winning teams, of similar caliber and position anonymously, and see if one player stands out based solely on statistics alone.
Player A Player B
PPG 24.9 PPG 22.2
RPG 4.2 RPG 4.6
APG 7.8 APG 8.1
SPG 1.1 SPG 1.8
FG% .444 FG% .444
FT% .847 FT% .841
3P% .340 3P% .329
Both Player A and B were All-Stars this season, and both player’s respective teams are locks to make the NBA playoffs.
Both players certainly are having excellent years as shown in their statistics. But is one player significantly better than the other? On statistics alone it would seem not.
Then why is Derrick Rose getting all the publicity for MVP while Russell Westbrook has gotten little to no fanfare past the first 15 games of the season?
Well, it has to do with many factors. Westbrook plays in the shadow of Kevin Durant. Rose is the Chicago Bulls offense.They rely on him to score the basketball because they sure are not getting any help from that empty hole at the shooting guard position. Westbrook and the Thunder are 46-24, while the Bulls are an Eastern Conference best 51-19.
But still, why is Westbrook not at least mentioned when the national media is building up Rose's case based on simple statistics that are mentioned above? The MVP is not an award based solely on stats, it is each person's idea of what "most valuable" means. I don’t want to be cliché’ and say that the market which the two play in separates them, but its very likely.
One could argue that LeBron James played in Cleveland, a not overly large basketball market, and still received plenty of accolades while with the Cavaliers. So I don’t know that there really is a true answer.
Whatever the reason, it seems to be a huge disservice to a player who has continued to make huge strides each season. I can assure you that Westbrook has taken note of the fact that despite putting up similar number to Rose, he is not considered by the general national media to be the superstar Rose is.
That’s okay with Oklahoma City Thunder fans. We know he cannot compete nationally with Rose, Kobe, Howard. Heck, he is second fiddle to Durant on his own team. I merely use Westbrook as an example of a player with similar statistics. Thunder fans just want to see him continue to dunk with a purpose, play inspired and help lead the Thunder through the playoffs.
Just in case you were wondering Player A is Rose, Player B is Westbrook.
Derrick Rose is certainly deserving of the MVP award, but let's hold off on crowing him until the season is over. Candidacy's built upon simple stats do no tell the whole story.