|Guess who my MVP pick is...No, seriously, guess.|
Being a hardcore sports fan is about more than just watching games and cheering your team. It's about immersing yourself in the game and the many debates surrounding your particular point of view. We debate about teams, players, coaches, officials, and everything else in between. Those among us who are dorky enough (definitely me) debate contracts, metric stats, and even the merits of sideline reporters (useless wastes of time...please only hire Erin Andrews or comparable models!).
Despite the differences we share as sports fans, there is one indelible desire we all share; the desire for greatness. As kids, we dream about being like our favorite pro athletes. As adults, we've hopefully grown past that stage (still working on my jumper over here though), but the desire for greatness still remains with us in full force. We want to witness it and be a part of it. It's the reason we watch every single March Madness game, hoping for a huge upset at the buzzer. It's the reason we tune into Clippers games, wanting to see Blake dunk someone's arm through the hoop. It's the reason I still remember watching the Celtics complete a 21 point 4th quarter comeback in the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals. It's the reason I remember watching Tiger Woods win the U.S. Open on one leg. We all want to witness something amazing.
Last night, I sat down on my couch and turned to TNT to watch the Miami Heat play the Orlando Magic. This wasn't necessarily a big game for either team given we still have a month and a half of regular season left, but it promised to be entertaining nonetheless. Unbeknownst to me, I was presented with an opportunity to witness greatness! LebWade (my new name for Lebron/Wade) poured it on Orlando in the first half and the lead swelled to 24 early in the 3rd quarter. My hatred of Lebron and the Heat reaching a boiling point, I........
turned to TBS to watch the end of Anchorman (a movie I've seen over 20 times already btw).
That's right! You heard me correctly! I gave up on the game and turned the channel and missed my least favorite team in sports collapse in epic fashion! NOOOOO!!!!!! WHY?!?!?!?!?!? (I am now punching myself in the face)
Even though I missed the amazing comeback, it did spur me to look into something I've been kicking around since the All-Star break. A while ago, we talked about the MVP race on a podcast with Laney and Prince. Of course, 40 games into a season is WAY too early to figure out the MVP, but we definitely have a clearer picture now. For some reason, the media has already annointed Derrick Rose. Don't get me wrong, Rose is fantastic! The Bulls are a legitimite contender and Rose is the key reason why, but I just don't see the MVP thing. Statistically speaking, Lebron James is the obvious choice, but you already know how much I hate him...
For my money, the MVP is an easy pick right now and, for the life of me, I can't figure out why he isn't viewed as a legit candidate. It's Dwight Howard! Let's dig into the stats...
PER - 1st Lebron James (26.88) 2nd Dwight Howard (26.54) 3rd Dwayne Wade (25.3)
Value Added - 1st Lebron (553.4) 2nd Howard (529.4) 3rd Wade (470.00)
EWA - 1st Lebron (18.4) 2nd Howard (17.6) 3rd Wade (15.7)
Rebound Rate - 3rd Dwight Howard (21.7)
Def Rebound Rate - 4th Dwight Howard (30.4)
So, I know Prince is immediately going to jump in here and yell about Lebron being first in 3 of the major categories I listed. Yes, Lebron is ahead, I got it. First, there is an glaring disparity between 2nd and 3rd in the top 3 categories, but the difference between Lebron and Howard is fairly minimal. Second, LOOK WHO IS IN 3RD IN THOSE CATEGORIES! Lebron plays with two other studs while the 2nd best starter on Orlando ranks 80th! And it's Brandon Bass!
And this brings up the age old argument of what the exact definition of Most Valuable Player is. Is it the best player on the best team? Is it the best player overall? Personally, I never understood why this has to be so difficult. Let me go ahead and give you an example of what "most valuable" would look like. A team begins the year with an overrated roster (Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson? Maybe?) bloated with high expectations. They have one borderline great player who has shown serious limitations in the past (Dwight Howard? Maybe?) This team struggles early and the GM makes a couple panic trades, essentially blowing up the team. They trade away their frontcourt depth (Marcin Gortat?) their only good perimeter defender (Mickael Pietrus?), and their best trade chip (Vince Carter's expiring) for a group of underperforming jump shooters who don't rebound or play defense (Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas?). Borderline great player is left alone to take the next step in his development and carry the team on his back.
OK, you caught me, I was actually talking about the Magic! Seriously though, no team has gone through more upheaval than Orlando. No player has had to shoulder more of a load than Dwight Howard. No player has had to push himself to be better more than Dwight Howard. Want proof?
Howard's career averages are 18.1ppg, 12.8 rpg, 0.9 spg, 2.1 bpg, 58% FG.
Howard's season averages are 23.2ppg, 13.9rpg, 1.2spg, 2.3bpg, 60%FG.
Quite a difference...
Also, check out his monthly splits in 2011!
24.9ppg, 14.7rpg, 1.3spg, 1.8bpg, 62.3 %FG
26.6ppg, 14.8rpg, 1.4spg, 2.0bpg, 60.6 FG%
HE'S ALSO SHOT OVER 60% ON FREE THROWS DURING THE NEW YEAR!!!
Prince may never agree with me, but that's ok...he's an idiot. No player has meant more to his team than Dwight Howard, and I don't think it's even close. Offensively, he's finally pushed himself to the elite level we always wanted him to be at. Amidst a team full of streaky jump shooters, he's the only post option. Defensively, well, he's absolutely all they have! A team with JRich, Hedo, JJ, Jameer...wow those are bad defenders! Dwight Howard means everything to that team on both ends of the court and he is, without a doubt, your MVP. For now...