Stephen Jackson for MVP? Closer Than You Think

Jonathan SlotterCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2009

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 19:   Stephen Jackson #1 of the Golden State Warriors controls the ball against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers on March 19, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 114-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Stephen Jackson will garner votes for MVP this year, pending the Warriors aren’t hit with massive injuries. Are you calling me crazy? Well, let's check some things out.

MVPs are the leaders of their respective teams. They make the key plays, play the stingiest defense, and create opportunities for their teammates throughout the season, while carrying the offensive load.

Let's look at Jackson’s last year and compare it with the likes of Kobe, LeBron, Dwyane, and others.

                         Points/ Rebounds/ Assists/ Steals/ Minutes/ FT %/ FG %/ 3P%

Stephen Jackson:   20.7/5.1/6.5/1.5/39.6/.826/.414/.338

LeBron James:       28.4/7.6/7.2/1.69/37.7/.780/.489/ .344

Dwyane Wade:     30.2/5.0/7.5/2.19/38.6/.765/.495/.317

Kobe Bryant:         26.8/5.2/4.9/1.46/36.1/.856/.467/.351

Chris Paul:             22.8/5.5/11.0/2.77/38.5/.868/.503/.364

If you look closely there are four people who averaged 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds, and Kobe Bryant is the odd man out. Now, I know Jackson’s stats last season weren’t that close to these four MVP-caliber seasons.

But let's take a step forward, shall we?

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Next season should be a better year for the Warriors. Jackson’s field goal percentage ought to be better along with assists and rebounds.

Why is that, you ask?

His assists will go up because he has more weapons on the offensive end. Even though they did lead the league in points last season, they will have had this time to gel and knock shots down more consistently.

The addition of Stephen Curry, the return of Monta Ellis, and the Warriors being healthy should keep double teams off of Jackson so he can shoot a better percentage and have more weapons around him to rack up some more assists.

Rebounds will go up because the Warriors can’t play defense worse than they did last season.  More shots made equals fewer rebounds. Coupled with this, the Warriors led the league in blocks, so they probably had the least amount of defensive rebounds in the league percentage-wise. With an improved team, fewer shots will be made thus there will be more opportunity for rebounds.

Now, I don’t foresee Jackson’s points going up, but I do feel a 21/7/7 line is within reach. If he had stats like that, on a playoff team, don’t you think that would be enough to put him in the discussion for MVP?

Also noteworthy is his defense and ability to hit big shots and play big in big games.  In his lone healthy game against the Lakers he tallied 24 points, nine assists, and six rebounds.

But that wasn’t what was big in his game—it was on the other end where he guarded Kobe Bryant for 36 minutes. Kobe had 30 points, but was 9-22 from the field and was given some questionable free throws.

In a game against "King James," Jackson had 24 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds. He guarded the King for 41 minutes and held him to 10-24 shooting—another poor outing for his opponent.

Probably his second best game last season, behind his triple-double against the Suns, was against the Celtics.

The Celtics had lost only two games all year, and Stephen Jackson single-handedly led the Warriors to the win. He recorded 28 points and seven rebounds with Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis out. Also, he held Paul Pierce to 21 points.

He clearly plays best in big games against the league's biggest stars, playing 45 minutes of defense and offense to carry the load for the Warriors.

Let's do a little more research. With Shaq moving to Cleveland, LeBron’s points and rebounds are probably going to go down. His assists will probably increase by one per game. If LeBron averages 25/8/5.5, is that really a big difference from Jackson’s 21/7/7?

Kobe will also probably score less with Ron Ron in town. Also, he is learning to trust his teammates. Look for him to average about 25 points per game next season, too. Is his 25/5/4 really better than 21/7/7?

Stephen Jackson will most definitely not win the MVP next year. However, if the Warriors improve and get to the playoffs as a six seed, perhaps he can get in talks like Dwyane Wade did last year for just putting up gaudy numbers. Regardless, he should get some votes and some recognition, and hopefully will make his first appearance in the All-Star game.

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