Chris Paul Deserves the MVP Award This Season…
Word on the street is that Kobe Bryant will be winning his first ever league MVP award this season. Do I think this is the correct choice? Hell and no I don’t. In a season where you could make legitimate arguments for four different players (KG, LeBron, CP3, Kobe), Kobe would have been my last choice out of the "Big Four." Of the said stars, here’s how I personally ranked them with my Blogger MVP/ROY vote: 1) KG, 2) CP3, 3) LeBron, 4) Kobe. It’s not so much that I hate Kobe Bryant, but I just don’t think he deserved it this season (more on that later.) I would like to say, I voted before the regular season was over, and was slightly swayed by Bill Simmons "KG4MVP Love Fest" article. Upon further review and if I could do it again, I think I would now go Paul first and KG second. Regardless, any of these four guys would have probably won the award the past 3 seasons… that’s how amazing they all have been playing.
Apropos of nothing, today is Chris Paul’s 23rd birthday. What does this have to do with anything you ask? Well, first off, I can’t believe this young stud is only 23 years old. He plays like an established veteran, and gun to my head, I’d say he’s the best PG in the entire league. Also, it happens to be "Chris Paul Appreciation Day." So, I am comprising this article in honor of his birthday, and making a case as to why Kobe Bryant is the wrongful MVP on the Association.
(Click "Read More…" to continue.)
Myth #1: Kobe’s team were "big time" winners this season.
Answer: While not completely false, the fact that the Lakers won the Western Conference is being overblown, given the circumstances. It is true that the voting contingent is more likely to reward the MVP to a player on a "more winning" team… whether they will collectively admit it or not. Off the top of my head and without any research, I believe Moses Malone was the only player in the past 30 years to win the MVP when his team did not win 50 games. In fact, I think he might be the only player ever to win the MVP under those circumstances. Again, I did not research this, but I am fairly confident it is correct. Where am I going with this? Well, it pretty much eliminates LeBron from consideration since his supporting cast was so atrocious… despite the fact that LeBron had the best all-around stats of anyone in the league.
Well, the Lakers won the incredibly difficult Western Conference , so Kobe deserves it… right? Right?!?! Not so fast I say. They finished ONE game ahead of the New Orleans Hornets, and the top six teams in the West were within 3 games of each other. So really, any of those 6 teams could have taken the top seed, depending on a few lucky (or not so lucky) breaks at various points during the season. Under this train of thought, shouldn’t someone from the Pistons (59 wins) or Celtics (66 wins) also be strongly be considered? I mean, KG had slightly lesser stats, but he was the best all-around player on the best team in the league. Don’t tell me the Celtics had it easy because they were in the East… they went 25-5 against Western Conference teams this season.
So, with all that said, I don’t think the fact that the Lakers having won ONE more game than the Hornets gives Kobe any advantage whatsoever over Paul. If anything, this category is a "wash" for these two.
Myth #2: Kobe is most responsible for the success of his team.
Answer: Really? Trying to determine how good a team would be over the course of a season without said player is incredibly subjective and pretty much impossible to do. However, after KG, Kobe has the best supporting cast of the Big 4 candidates. Take Kobe away from the Lakers, add Bynum, and they are a playoff bubble team. Take CP3 away from the Hornets and they don’t make the playoffs. Not even close. Jannero Pargo and/or Bobby Jackson (before he was traded) running the show?!? Ha! Good luck with that. Worst off, take LeBron away from the Cavs and they win less games than the TWolves, despite the fact that they are in the Eastern Conference. If you go solely by this criteria, I guess one would have to say that LeBron should be MVP. Either way, both LeBron and CP3 are more responsible for the success of their team than Kobe. Which leads me too…
Myth #3: Kobe makes everyone around him better.
Myth #3.5: Kobe’s supporting cast is not any better than (insert player here: CP3, KG, LeBron)
Answer: Myth #3 could be correct as a standalone statement, but Kobe does not make the players around him better than Chris Paul makes the players around him better. (You follow that?) As for Myth #3.5… hahahaha. First off, what can Kobe even do to make veterans like Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Luke Walton, and Derek Fisher "better?" In the cases of Odom and Gasol, they are already stars. If anything, they make Kobe’s job easier. Gasol was/is an All-Star and Lamar Odom is an underrated player that would be the second option on a lot of other teams. He’s a very slightly worse version of KG with better shooting range, but worse overall defense. Luke Walton and Derek Fisher are leaders that are as good as they will ever be. Bynum was playing very good before his injury, but was that Kobe’s doing? I would attributed that to the normal development of a very talented young big man. It takes time for someone as young as Bynum to mature in the league. Plus, his sample size was so small that there is no way you can say whether or not Kobe did or didn’t "make Bynum better." I’m leanding towards "no."
I suppose one could say that Kobe helped boost the game(s) of the role players on his team, but Chris Paul made David West into an All-Star. Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler hooked up for the most alley-oops of any combo in the league. Without Chris Paul’s amazing pinpoint feeds every game, Chandler would be lucky to average 8 points per game. Instead, he’s considered one of the best young centers in the league. Who else is even on their team? Mo Pete? Peja? Bonzi Wells? Jannero Pargo? Julian Wright? Hilton Armstrong? Should I keep going? I’d like to see Kobe lead this cast to 56 wins. Chris Paul could easily lead the Lakers (minus Kobe) to the best record in the West, I have no doubt in my mind.
Fact #1: Kobe wasn’t really in the thick of the MVP race until they traded for Pau Gasol.
Answer: Correct. If the Blogger MVP/ROY Rankings are any small indication, Kobe never cracked the very top of the MVP consideration until they went on their sick winning streak, after the Pau Gasol trade [at the very beginning of February.] Also, I think you’ll find that the mainstream media did not consider him a Top 3 candidate until they started climbing up the Western Conference standings. If my calculations are correct, the Lakers were an amazing 28-9 A.G. (After Gasol), thusly making them a good, but not great 29-16 B.G. When did Kobe’s MVP push really start to take stride? Not until the end of the season when it appeared the Lakers would have a chance to win the Western Conference. Just some food for thought.
Fact #2: Kobe should have won it a few years ago.
Anwer: Correct. In my humble opinion, Kobe should have won it in 2005-06 OR 2006-07 when he had similar rebounding and assist numbers, but scored 35.4 ppg and 31.6 ppg, respectively. He also had infinitely worse supporting casts, especially in 2005-06. So, WHY should Chris Paul be punished this season since Kobe is "owed" an award? That doesn’t make sense does it? Since they screwed up those years and gave it to Nash and Dirk, that means they are going to just keep pushing it down the line, regardless of current season performance? Kobe had a great year, but Chris Paul’s was one for the ages. How long are CP3 and LeBron going to have to wait to get their Lifetime Achievement Award like Kobe did this season? 3 years? 5 years? 10?
Fact #3: Chris Paul had better statistics than Kobe Bryant this season.
Answer: Yep, he sure did. Let’s take a gander at this, shall we?
CP3: 21.1 ppg, 11.6 apg, 2.7 spg, 4.0 rpg, 57.6% TS, 28.3 PER
Win Shares (completed formula that basically tells how many wins any given player is "responsible for"): 50
Kobe: 28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.8 spg, 24.2 PER
Win Shares: 39
Kobe had a very good season, but Chris Paul’s was one of the best Point Guard seasons EVER in the history of the NBA. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but Chris Paul was one of only 4 (? was it 5?) players to average 20 points and 10 assists in a single season. Kobe’s season wasn’t even his own personal best season. How do you give him the MVP over Paul when all other aspects are so close, or even in Paul’s advantage (in my opinion, as detailed above.)
Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.
Lastly, here are the final results of the Blogger MVP/ROY season-long voting. Looks like the majority of some very knowledgeable bloggers agree… it should indeed be CP34MVP in 2007-08!
Good luck to the Hornets in the playoffs, and I hope the Lakers choke on their own vomit. Ok, I might dislike Kobe just a little.