|Posted on May 14, 2012 at 10:15 PM|
Lebron James was awarded the 2012 MVP Award, receiving 85 out of 121 first place votes. However, only six votes went to the player who I believed deserved the honor. Here is how I would have filled out my ballot:
Fifth Place: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns - Without Nash, the Suns wouldn’t have been an above-.500 team like they were; they’d likely have been the worst team in the Western Conference. Nash dropped 10.7 dimes per game, playing with Jared Dudley, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, and Marcin Gortat.
Fourth Place: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic – There’s a reason that the Magic went 33-21 before he got injured and 5-12 after he got injured.
Third Place: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder - He led the NBA in scoring this season on really good percentages (50% from the field, 39% on three pointers, 86% from the foul line) for a team that really only has three options offensively.
Second Place: Lebron James, Miami Heat
First Place: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Four questions must be asked to determine an MVP for any given season.
1) If there was a draft in which all NBA players were eligible, who would get picked first in the draft based on how they played this season?
If I was drafting my team in a game that my life depended on the outcome, I would draft James with the first pick. He improved his post-game as well as his three-point shooting, so he can take over a game offensively in a wide variety of ways, and he also carried the Heat to a 11-1 record when Dwyane Wade was injured. Edge: Lebron James
2) Who had better statistics?
Most people would just say Lebron James without even thinking, but we need to take a look at the big picture (all stats are per game):
Paul: 19.8 points, 9.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 48 field goal %, 37 three point % (1.3 makes), 86 free throw %, 2.1 turnovers, 2.5 steals
Lebron: 27.1 points, 6.2 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 53 field goal %, 36 three point % (0.9 makes), 77 free throw %, 3.4 turnovers, 1.9 steals, 0.8 blocks
Rebounding and assists cancel out, blocks and steals cancel out, and field goal and three point percentages cancel out, considering that Paul attempts more threes per game (so logically his field goal percentage should be a little lower). Paul has much fewer turnovers, which is extremely impressive considering that he has the ball in his hands 75% of the time (his assist/turnover ratio is a whopping 4.38, and only one other player in the league even tops 3.23). Paul’s free-throw shooting is better than Lebron’s, which is extremely important because these guys get to the line five to ten times a game. Obviously, James scores a lot more, but that’s his job as a small forward. Paul also does his job as a point guard, which is to pass the rock and not turn it over. No edge for either player
3) Who would you rather have the ball in crunch time?
Here are the two players’ statistics per 36 minutes of “crunch time” (in the last five minutes of games when the score margin is within five points):
Paul: 30.8 points, 6.7 assists, 42 field goal %, 96 free throw % (not a typo), 3.0 turnovers
James: 30.3 points, 5.7 assists, 45 field goal %, 71 free throw %, 2.4 turnovers
Everything is nearly identical except free throw percentage (Paul shot 54/56 in crunch time). Chris Paul isn’t fazed by the pressure of having to be the guy who makes things happen, because Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, and Randy Foye aren’t going to create their own shots in a close game. On the other hand, Lebron is an extremely underrated player in the clutch, but we all remember those moments when he simply collapses late in the fourth quarter (and NBA Memes lets everyone know about them on facebook). That’s why Dwyane Wade usually ends up taking the final shots for Miami while James stands and watches. Can we really have an MVP who is ridiculed for deferring to his teammates when the game is on the line? Edge: Chris Paul
4) Who improved their team’s record the most?
Let’s look at Lebron first. In the last season before he signed with Miami (2009-2010), the Heat ended up with the 5-seed in the Eastern Conference. Their starting lineup was Mario Chalmers (not nearly as developed as he is this season), Dwyane Wade (essentially the same player as this season), Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem (same player as this season), Jermaine O’Neal (he was already decomposing by then). Essentially, Lebron joined a team with an above-average record that improved enormously by adding Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, and Mike Miller, as well as developing their young talent. However, he still couldn’t even lead them to one of the best three records in the league this year!
As for Paul, the Clippers were a 13-seed in the Western Conference last season. The only major changes they made to their roster were signing Caron Butler (positive), signing Kenyon Martin (small positive), trading away Eric Gordon (huge negative), and trading away Chris Kaman (small negative). So, prior to this season, Paul got traded to one of the worst teams in the NBA, whose roster got even worse over the offseason, and they are currently in the Conference Semi-Finals as a 5-seed. What a gigantic leap!
Chris Paul assists on more than 41% of his teammates’ baskets while he’s on the floor (even though those are all really David Stern’s assists, because the commissioner vetoed a trade before the season that would have sent Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers as opposed to the Clippers). He’s the only reason why Deandre Jordan isn’t just another Javale McGee. He’s the only reason why Blake Griffin’s field goal percentage raised from 50.6% to 54.9% this season. When he’s on the court, the Clippers outscore their opponents by 6.6 points per 100 possessions. When he’s on the bench, the Clippers are outscored by 7.3 points per 100 possessions (worse than the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Sacramento Kings, and New Orleans Hornets). He’s one of those guys (and there are very few of them), who truly raises his team to a whole new level of performance. Chris Paul turned a roster that would be headed for the lottery if not for him, into a team that is contending for a spot in the NBA Championship. Overall Edge: Chris Paul
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Categories: Awards & Honors