The NBA MVP Award is Inherently Flawed

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Geoff Nelowet:

The NBA’s MVP award is generally an inaccurate representation of the most valuable NBA player each season. This is not to say that the winner of the MVP award is typically not the best player in the NBA, rather it’s that the final top-ten vote-getters each season is almost always a misrepresentation of the ten best players of that year. Kobe Bryant seems to make the top-five in votes every single year, and it’s because he’s the leader of the best team in the league. He won the MVP award in 2007-08 averaging 28 points per game, yet in ’05-’06 he averaged 35 points per game – the highest mark of the decade. He followed that up with 31 ppg, the league scoring title, and no hardware. And, of course, the LA Lakers made it to the NBA finals in the year that he won the MVP. It’s undeniably true that there is a correlation between individual success and team success, but there are maybe two guys in the league that could take any team to the playoffs, and at this point it would be LeBron James and Dwight Howard. Aside from those two, it’s commonplace to find a great player having a great season while sitting on a bad team. These players almost never garner any attention in MVP voting despite being some of the best in the business.

When looking at the 2010 MVP balloting, it’s laughable to see that Kobe Bryant finished in third, yet Dwyane Wade finished in fifth. I would like to hear an argument that supports Kobe Bryant being more valuable to the 2010 Lakers – as in the team with Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum – than Dwyane Wade was to his team of role players. LeBron made a valid argument in his reality special that Kobe, in game seven of the finals, was afforded shooting 6-24 from the field because he has great players around him.

The MVP award is inherently unfair, as it prevents great players on losing teams to receive any sort of recognition. The award should be for simply the best player of that year, as a way of mitigating the Kobe Bryant effect, which seems to allot countless votes to the player that happens to be the best player on the best team. This year we will see either Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili make the top-ten in votes (which is absurd) because they are the two best players on the team with the best record. The fact is that the San Antonio Spurs are a great team on both ends of the court. They play hard every night, they share the ball, and they don’t make many mistakes. They have a great bench and great chemistry. In reality, though, if the NBA decided to start over and have every team re-draft their players based on the results of the 2010-11 season, not a single Spurs player would go in the top-25 of this imaginary draft, and yet, one or two Spurs players this season will be recognized as a top-ten or fifteen player while someone like Blake Griffin – who is already a top ten player in the NBA at any position – will go unnoticed.

Here’s my stab at a true MVP award: I’ve ranked the ten best player of the 2010-2011 season irrespective of their team’s record or past success prior to the start of this season.

  1. Kevin Love
  2. Derrick Rose
  3. LeBron James
  4. Dwight Howard
  5. Kevin Garnett
  6. Blake Griffin
  7. Amar’e Stoudemire
  8. Dirk Nowitzki
  9. Deron Williams
  10. Chris Paul

HM: Rajon Rondo, Pau Gasol, Monta Ellis

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