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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part VIII

The eighth edition of the Blogger MVP/RoY rankings has just been published at TWolvesBlog.

Here are links to my posts about the previous seven editions:

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part I

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part II

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part III

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part IV

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part V

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part VI

MVP/RoY Rankings, Part VII

Here is my complete ballot for the eighth edition exactly as I submitted it (MVP and RoY votes are scored on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and 5-4-3-2-1 basis respectively, so Bryant is my top MVP pick and Durant is my top RoY pick):


10-Kobe Bryant: This has come down to a two-man race and I give the edge to Kobe based on his slightly more complete game; he is a better defender, outside shooter and free throw shooter than LeBron.
9-LeBron James: LeBron is having a fantastic season, better than the ones posted by several previous MVPs, including the last three winners of the award--but Kobe has been just a little bit better. Also, if one of the criteria is that a candidate's team win 50 games, LeBron is likely to come up short in this regard.
8-Chris Paul: The more I watch Paul, the more impressed I am with him. One downside for him until recently was that Deron Williams consistently ate his lunch head to head but Paul outplayed DWill in their last matchup.
7-Dwight Howard: He has been the most physically dominant big man this season, as shown by his field goal percentage, rebounding and shot blocking.
6-Kevin Garnett: He deserves credit as the primary factor in the Celtics' turnaround but his numbers and impact don't quite measure up to the four guys in front of him on this list.
5-Tim Duncan: As much as I respect Duncan and have praised him in various articles, I may be guilty of underrating his impact. He is the best player on a team that is contending for the best record in the Western Conference. Still, it seemed like he and the Spurs were on cruise control for part of the season, while Kobe and the players listed ahead of Duncan have more consistently put forth MVP level performances.
4-Dirk Nowitzki: His field goal percentage is lower but most of his other numbers are pretty close to what they were last year when he won the MVP. Of course, the field of candidates is deeper this year and his team is not going to win 67 games.
3-Amare Stoudemire: The Suns are still finding their sea legs but Amare's scoring has increased since Shaq arrived.
2-Steve Nash: As I mentioned in my comments for the last poll, he is within striking distance of putting up another .500-.400-.900 shooting season, a feat that he accomplished in '06 and narrowly missed in '07
1-Tracy McGrady: Most people predicted doom for the Rockets after Yao got hurt but T-Mac is showing once again that when he is healthy he is one of the very top players in the NBA..


5-Kevin Durant: He shot .492 from the field in the first four games of March. His overall production still warrants putting him in the top spot, even though he is not yet as good as some "experts" expected him to be.
4-Al Horford: He is nearly averaging a double double for a team that still has a shot at a playoff berth.
3-Luis Scola: He has played a key role in Houston's big winning streak.
2-Jamario Moon: He has been a steady contributor to a solid playoff caliber team.
1-Carl Landry: He has been huge during Houston's winning streak, particularly since Yao got hurt.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:20 AM



At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 7:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seriously don't know why you even bother to accept their invitation. They might be well-known sports fans in the blogosphere, but that's what just most of them (if not all) are. Your outputs are professional and I have seen nothing from them that is near your level. You have profounded fair and square why Kobe is the MVP, and with the chosen sentences they put up below Kobe's name in the latest edition, it is clear that it is so much value-laden. I'd say, create your own MVP/ROY rankings separately from them, and we would still be reading.

I'm not a fanboy frustrated that they can't give Kobe the recognition, I'm an unbiased reader frustrated that they don't give respect (most of them) and credit to where it is due.

With all due respect to them...

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 9:32:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Paul is averaging 21 and 11
Williams is 19 and 10
Both teams have similiar records. Everyone says Paul is better...I dont see how. Ive heard people say Paul is the MVP and best point guard in the league. The hype of certain players in so ignorant. What makes him better than Williams? Nothing does. I dont have a problem with Paul on the list but him and Williams can easily be interchanged. And as good as Paul is, hes not better than Baron Davis either. If you take each player off of their teams they would all dropped below the 8th spot.

Im not indicting Paul to endorse Williams. Williams doesnt get his just due and a lot of it is due to people hyping one player and being blind to the other.

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 11:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


By participating in the poll, I have a larger platform to present my choices and therefore reach a wider audience.

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 12:00:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I do think that Paul is the best point guard in the NBA but I don't think that he is the MVP--Kobe and LeBron are a step ahead of everyone else, with Kobe half a step ahead of LeBron.

Paul and D-Will are more consistent than Baron. I love Baron's game when he's on, but his focus drifts (he's also injury prone).

As you know, I rank players by skills. D-Will's main edge over Paul is size/strength but Paul has explosive quickness--it is almost impossible for one defender to stay in front of him. Paul has much quicker hands defensively, as shown by all those steals. They both have improved their shooting but I would take Paul in this department. I think that Paul is more of a creative passer, while D-Will functions in a system; D-Will is good at what he does, but Paul can create passing angles with his dribbling skills. Not that rebounding is the most important point guard skill, but Paul has an edge here, too. I also tend to think that Paul has, to a degree, "made" the players around him, while D-Will is playing with guys who were already very good (most notably Boozer).

That said, you may be right that D-Will is underappreciated. I wouldn't take him over Paul but perhaps he deserves more consideration for the lower part of the top 10. As I've said before, though, the top five is where it's at this year. Actually, there is a top two, then three guys grouped closely together, then a pool of 10 players, of whom we can only list five in this poll. D-Will and Manu are two guys who would be in that 11-15 area, a location that I don't consider that different from 6-10 this year.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 9:05:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

DWill has also made Boozer better. He is playing better in Utah than he did in Cleveland and Im sure it has to do with Williams. Williams also got to West Finals where he killed Tony Parker. Everything that you have noted from creating passing angles to steals to being a creative passer Ive seen Williams do just as well as Paul. Its basically what your taste is because there are no real differences with the two players.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You make some valid points. It is interesting that both Boozer and Hughes seem to play better without LeBron than with him.

Until this season, I rated DWill ahead of Paul, but I do think that Paul has moved past him with his play this season.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

paul is mvp if his team finish higher than kobe if kobe team is higher than he mvp. deron willmas up there with paul clearly i think paul carried a team more than willams boozer avg 18 a game in 04-05 without willams and he was in his second year with lebron and he averaged 15 and 11 the year before he averaged 10 and 7 this year he averages 21 and 11 willams made him 3 points better lebron 5 points better if he stayed in cleveland he would be just as good if not better. hughes is inconsistent he was when he was with the warriors and was in cleveland one game he looks great next game you dont know he on the court he had one great year in washington which was a contract year him and lebron didnt fit because he was too inconsistent lebron elevates the players around him more than anybody in the league paul kobe willams none of them do better than lebron with that thats why his numbers are so great all around. now he does have the ball alot got to work on outside jumper get better on free throws but i dont think he was the problem with the hughes and boozer thing really wasnt a issue at all boozer took more money and hughes was inconsistent.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:47:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The top West teams are only separated by a small margin, so it does not make sense to say that the MVP race should be entirely decided by won-loss record. If NO wins 60 games and the Lakers win 59 that does not make CP3 more valuable than Kobe. Now, if we were talking about two players whose stats and skill sets were very similar and one player's team had 10 more wins, that could be the tiebreaker.

The fact is that Kobe has a more complete skill set than CP3, for reasons that I have listed here on many occasions. The MVP race is between Kobe and LeBron, with CP3 a distant third.

As for whether or not LeBron makes players better, I think that he clearly does, though I prefer to say that great players put other players in position to do what they do well. LeBron draws double teams, so his shooters get open shots. LeBron does not "make" Daniel Gibson better but LeBron helps him to get wide open shots.

Still, as a thought exercise, cite me one player whose stats have been better playing with LeBron than they were when he did not play with LeBron. Hughes performed better elsewhere, Z's best numbers were earlier, Boozer's best numbers came in Utah. Yes, there are valid reasons in each instance but that is not my question. The question is whether or not there is even one example of a player whose numbers are better with LeBron than without him. The reason I ask is because people try to say that Kobe does not make players better but Smush Parker and Kwame Brown are marginal players who not only played their best with Kobe but were starters on a playoff teams.

At Thursday, March 13, 2008 12:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

skill set has nuthing to do with mvp if your team win 55 games plus and if your the most valuable player on your team and in the league meaning if they take you off your team would plummett. no mvp winner has won mvp in 25 years unless they win that much. kobe was more valuable than nash but didnt have the team wins to win the award thats why lebron cant win it this year distant third for you maybe but not mvp voters in the media. it makes no sense to give the award to a guy who won 45 and 42 games when another guy team won 55 and 67 like nowitzki and dirk did you have to have both only kobe and chris paul has both if hornets win 60 and kobe 59 it goes to paul kobe has more around him than paul does is why he would be mvp if kobe finsh ahead of paul then he get it.

lebron makes the players look
better than they are who was boobie gibson before the playoffs and this year hughes had a contract year with washington he had one great year lamar odom has only played great when pau gasol got there in la and when he was in miami in 04 and caron butler better in washington then la. z was good way before lebron and when he was younger and had better feet that is not valid comparison, and boozer was in his second year and that was lebron first and he averaged 15 and 11 and the year before averaged 10 and 7 so he was better with lebron and players get better with more years in the league thats what boozer did he would of with lebron as well. big z had identical statiscal year in 04-05 with lebron so what you said isnt true lebron has and does make players better kobe has not till this year and is doing a good job this year just becasue your a major kobe fan and everybody doesnt say kobe does eveything great doesnt mean you try to tear down another player like leborn kobe flaws or the media dislikeing kobe is not lebron james fault or any other player this year the media has been fair to kobe you liveing in the past fam.

At Thursday, March 13, 2008 5:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I rank players by skill set. You are correct that the MVP voters do not consistently do so but I have been consistently applying the same standard, with the only exception being that if there is a dominant big man on a winning team then he should get consideration even if his overall skill set is not as diverse as someone like Kobe or LeBron (that is why I would have picked Shaq over Nash in '05 and that is why I have Dwight Howard as a top five candidate this season).

Your insistence on basing the MVP award entirely on won/loss record is absurd. You are saying that a season-long award should be given out on the basis of one game, in the event that the race stays as close as it is now--not to mention the fact that you are placing CP3 ahead of LeBron, which also makes no sense. Paul is a great player but I'd no more take him over Kobe or LeBron than I'd take Nash over Kobe the past several years. Kobe can guard three positions and must be double-teamed; his skill set, size and versatility make him much tougher for an opponent to deal with than Paul is.

Gibson does not count regarding the question that I asked. I asked about players who have played with LeBron and played without him. Gibson has only played with LeBron. Z's feet are better now; he was always hurt years back. He made the All-Star team once prior to LeBron joining the team and once since LeBron has joined. His numbers are not better with LeBron and have been declining in recent seasons.

If you are going to say that Boozer got better with LeBron then you have to say the same about Caron with Kobe. Caron averaged a career-high (at the time) in scoring playing with Kobe. Boozer's numbers have skyrocketed in Utah. This is the double standard I am talking about. Obviously, Butler and Boozer were both young players whose numbers were going to improve no matter what--but you want to give credit to LeBron for "improving" Boozer while at the same time not give credit to Kobe for "improving" Caron. Anyone who talks about Caron getting better without Kobe has to say the exact same thing about Boozer in Utah.

Kobe was the leading playmaker on three championship teams. He made plenty of players better, including Shaq, though I prefer to say that great players put other players in a position to be successful (in that sense, Shaq also made Kobe better).

I'm not trying to tear down LeBron. Don't even go there. I've said that Kobe and LeBron are almost in a dead heat, but that I give a slight edge to Kobe. The point of my question is that you can look at stats and make them say whatever you want. The fact is that you did not cite one player who has played both with and without LeBron who did better while playing with LeBron. Are there extenuating circumstances in some of these cases? Of course, but no one takes those types of things into account when talking about Kobe's impact on his teammates. By the way, young Bynum has improved each year playing alongside Kobe, though--like Gibson with LeBron--we have not seen Bynum playing alongside a different superstar.

People say that LeBron's supporting cast is bad but it is nowhere nearly as bad as a team that started Kwame and Smush. Kobe took a team to the playoffs with two marginal NBA players as STARTERS. Smush can't get on the court for a team that has won 11 games. Kwame can't get any run for a horrible Memphis team. Kobe almost beat the Suns in a seven game series with those guys! If that is not "most valuable" caliber then I don't know what is. Put Nash with those two guys and you're heading straight for the lottery, like Wade is in Miami this year. Wade is providing a case study in how hard it is to carry a team the way Kobe has for three years now (prior to Gasol arriving midway through year four).

At Friday, March 14, 2008 2:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymonous reggie

you are trying to tear down lebron with the notion you made you answered your own question boozer was in his second year he was going to improve no matter why are you knocking lebron for something you knew was going to happen anyway. the double standard is the one you use on everybody but kobe youre such a fan of kobe it is comedy because people dont like kobe as much as lebron you try to make up any notin to try to tear down lebron and any other superstar down to even the playing field so to speak kobe problems in the past with the media is kobe problem dont blame others for that or try to tear down other superstars because the media like them.

i said if chris paul when 60 games then he should be mvp because he has met the criteria 55 wins and he carries more weight on his team than kobe does if kobe finish in front of him than he deserves the mvp thats how the media votes on it david youre observation it should go to the best player in your opion when he wins 40 games is not right to me when other guy team wins 54 and 67 games winning is part of the equation it has always been.

lebron not mvp over paul becuase his team is not great they only have 37 wins he wont get the 55 needed to win it he got 50 and came in second so that wont be enough. if it is about best player alone it goes to james without question kobe 2 paul 3 but thats not what the award is about it is winning and value to team.

butler had his career high to that point in his career that was his his 3rd year boozer had a career high to that point in his career that was his 2nd year you dont know how much he would improved more with lebron now based on the fact that lebron has improved as wellwall. big z number are at his best with lebron so thats one example there.

his supporting cast was a little better than but you always exxagarate this topic kobe supporting cast was 27-14 halfway through last year and better than you are saying it is lebron went to the finals without alot around him and to me if you put kobe on cleveland last year they wouldnt beat detroit i know it for a fact kobe has never played well aginst detroit or tayshaun prince lebron was going to the rim and it was man amongst boys dominated and he wouldnt of scored 50 in game like he did and would of had too because detroit was so tough in that game lebron strength seperated him he went to the basket at will kobe cant do that THE KING RULES.

At Friday, March 14, 2008 5:24:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Right, I'm trying to "tear down" LeBron. That's why I wrote about his "accelerated growth curve" last season. That is why I predicted that he would lead the Cavs to the Finals last season when few other people thought so. That is why I defended him in print when people criticized him for not taking the last second shot early in the Det. series. Saying that I am trying to "tear down" LeBron is ridiculous. I've said for most of this season that Kobe and LeBron are neck and neck. Since I've said for two years that Kobe is the best player in the NBA, that is pretty high praise for LeBron.

The point of my rhetorical question is to show how people can use stats to mean whatever they want. I made it clear that I do NOT believe that LeBron does not make players better--but it is easy to cite selected examples to work against him, which is what people have done with Kobe for years.

You and I are talking about two different things. I am talking about who should win the MVP based on objective standards and you are trying to predict who will win the MVP based on previous voting patterns. The interesting thing to me is that the "buzz"--based on what mainstream media people are writing and saying--is that the race is between Kobe and LeBron, so the old 50-55 wins rule that was used against Kobe the past two years is already being disregarded.

I don't know how in the world you can say that LeBron is the best player over Kobe "without question." I would agree with anyone who says that it is close but you cannot say that either player is better than the other "without question." There are plenty of questions, mainly about LeBron's defense, his outside shooting and his free throw shooting. Since all of the questions are about LeBron, I'm still taking Kobe.

What does the Lakers' record last year have to do with how good Kobe's supporting cast was? Smush and Kwame started for that team and they are barely in the NBA now. Are you telling me that the Lakers were doing well because of those two guys? Give me a break. Kobe's presence drew double-teams that made a lot of players look better than they actually were. Then injuries wiped out the frontcourt and Kobe had to go into Wilt-mode as a scorer just to keep the team afloat. We've been over this before and the numbers bear out what I'm saying, so I have no intention of going back and forth over this again.

When Kobe faced Prince in the Finals in 2004, a younger Ben Wallace manned the paint alongside Sheed, meaning that driving was a much less viable option than it was for LeBron last season. Please note that the Pistons have not been back to the Finals since getting rid of Wallace and Coach Larry Brown. That takes nothing away from what LeBron did but you are wrong to assume that Kobe could not have done the same thing. In fact, he has had similar playoff performances, including back to back 40-plus point games in the postseason.


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