Dwight Howard Certainly Deserves Defensive MVP, but Not League MVP

Bryan Toporek@@btoporekFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic blocks the shot by Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter during the game on January 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

When ESPN's Bill Simmons Tweeted about "the dumbest sports column of 2010" earlier this week, I have to admit, I had to go see the train wreck for myself.

The subject: "Media should take off its LeBron James blinders and start giving Dwight Howard some MVP love."

Wow. Simmons wasn't lying.

I'm as big of a D-Howard fan as anyone. If he's not the most physically impressive player in the NBA, he's in the Top Three. I've even anchored my fantasy basketball team around Howard (and kissed free throws bye-bye in the process).

But there is no way, under any objective measure, that Dwight Howard should be getting some "MVP love."

Defensive MVP love, yes.

League MVP?  No.

The MVP-for-Dwight article, which came from the Orlando Sentinel , pointed out:

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"[Howard] currently is the NBA leader in rebounding and blocked shots and will likely finish this season as the first player in league history to lead the league in both categories more than once. Let me repeat that: The first player in NBA HISTORY TO LEAD THE LEAGUE IN BLOCKED SHOTS AND REBOUNDING MORE THAN ONCE!"

That's great. In fact, that sounds like a sure-fire, back-to-back defensive MVP, with no questions asked. (His coach, Stan Van Gundy, is already lobbying for Dwight  to win the award back-to-back.)

I'd buy that. But MVP?

An MVP can't routinely disappear in the fourth quarter of close games.

But that's not Dwight's fault! He demands the ball, and the guards just ignore him and jack up threes!

I can't argue there. But that's just the point: Dwight needs his teammates to get him going down low; LeBron James can single-handedly take over a close game and will his team to win.

If LeBron isn't the landslide, run-away favorite for MVP, I clearly don't understand basketball.

Let's take a look at two anonymous players, side-by-side:

Player A:  28.4 pts, 7.6 rebs, 7.2 asts, 1.6 3FG, 1.7 stl, 1.1 blk

Player B:  30.0 pts, 7.1 rebs, 8.5 asts, 1.8 3FG, 1.6 stl, 1.0 blk

Player A was LeBron James last year, the first year he won the MVP. Player B is LeBron this year.

As you can see, he's only improved on his points, assists, and three-point field goals since last year.

Now compare LeBron's 30.0 pts, 7.1 rebs, 8.5 asts, 1.8 3FG, 1.6 stl, 1.0 blk averages to Howard's current season averages of 18.8 pts, 13.5 rebs, 1.6 asts, 1.0 stl, and 2.8 blk.

Rebounds and blocks are clearly in Dwight's favor; everything else is overwhelmingly LeBron.

D-Howard has improved his offensive game this year, and he's unquestionably a force to be reckoned with, God forbid he get the ball under the basket.

But rebounds and blocks don't make an MVP, just a defensive MVP. And that's the only kind of serious MVP love Dwight should be getting this year.  

That's because there's a guy in Cleveland who's got as tight of a stranglehold on the MVP as Dwight should on the D-MVP.

Even Dwight's coach knows it:  "It's over. LeBron's going to get the award," Van Gundy said.

Sorry, Orlando fans. Your boy's gotta compete against LeBron. And LeBron's having one of the greatest single seasons in NBA history.  

When Dwight starts dropping 25-20-4 for an entire season, and not just a five-game spurt, then this conversation becomes a lot more legitimate.

Until then?  Take comfort in the fact that Dwight's the first player since the NBA started recording blocks in the 1970s to lead the league back-to-back in rebounds and blocks.

Back-to-back D-MVP's isn't such a bad consolation prize, is it?