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Old 03-31-2011, 12:44 PM   #1
Droid101
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Default Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

Bring the hate homers.

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What bothers me so much about this year's MVP coronation of "The Derrick Rose Story" is not so much that it's a mistake -- we've had bad award votes before and will have them again -- but that it's the same mistake, for the fifth time in 11 years.



This is an inherent risk in the MVP selection process. When you ask people whose life's work is to seek out and tell great stories to vote on this award, we shouldn't be surprised when they turn out to vote for the best story rather than the player who is most valuable.



Guards especially make for great stories, because they're natural underdogs. Height, obviously, is a huge factor in this game, so we're completely fascinated when smaller players can play at a high level. Generally, what they do is a lot more captivating than watching a 7-footer methodically dunk on people's heads, even if the latter is a much more effective way to win basketball games. We don't like rooting for Goliath.



Put a guard on a "surprise" team and the impact doubles. Everyone looks for The Cause, and all roads lead back to the guard. Jab in an IV and let the confirmation bias flow through your veins, and soon even the negative plays become proof ("Look at the shot he almost made!"). This usually happens only with perimeter players, by the way. A miss on a double-clutching drive after a sweet crossover can be spectacular, in a way that a missed jump hook simply cannot.



A brief history of Voting the Story



As a result of all our fun with guards and their compelling stories, the three dominant big men of the past decade -- Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan -- were shafted out of three MVP awards and nearly a fourth. Ask how this happened and you'll get a lot of embarrassed shrugging, and yet we're headed down that same path again.



So we'll end up with "The Derrick Rose Story" as this year's MVP -- just as we ended up with Allen Iverson winning in 2001, and Steve Nash in 2005 and 2006, and Jason Kidd's second-place finish in 2002 (which I include here because we only narrowly averted the greatest award travesty in league history, when one of the greatest players of all time had the best season of his career and nearly lost the award to a guy who shot 39.1 percent).



And make no mistake, the voters are pulling the lever for the story, and not the player.



How do we know that? Actually, we can prove it. Even if we presume that the stats somehow didn't adequately capture the value of Iverson, Kidd or Nash, we have a smoking gun that the vote was for the story and not the player.



Believe it or not, the voters told us. Actions speak louder than words, and their ballots in other seasons are Bose speakers blaring out that they voted for the story.



Neither Nash, Iverson nor Kidd had their best seasons the year they won (or nearly won, in Kidd's case). In fact, each had a dramatically stronger case in other seasons. What they lacked was the storyline.



Check out the evidence:



• Kidd is the most egregious example. In 2001-02, he almost won the award, receiving 45 first-place votes. The next season, the Nets traded two starters for a declining Dikembe Mutombo but made it back to the 2003 Finals anyway because Kidd had by far the best season of his career; compared to his first year in New Jersey, he added four points to his scoring average, shot better and took on a dramatically larger offensive role. If Kidd was the real MVP in 2001-02 (on a huge number of ballots), and the stats were somehow missing that, then surely he was even more valuable in 2002-03 and should have cruised to the trophy.



You know how many first-place MVP votes Kidd got in 2003? Bupkus. Zilch. Zippo. Kidd had only 31 total points, for a ninth-place finish that put him right behind Detroit's Ben Wallace. If people weren't voting for the story in 2002, as opposed to the player, explain that one.



• Nash is an equally strong example. As everyone knows, he won the MVP in 2005, sporting a player efficiency rating of 22.04 while joining with a dominant power forward to lead a 62-win team. What few people realize is that two years earlier, he had teamed up with a dominant power forward to win 60 games and tie for the best record in the West; he had a better PER that season (23.51) and played more minutes. For his efforts he received one fifth-place vote.



The difference between those seasons, obviously, was that in 2004-05 Nash was a great story, because he had just joined a 29-win team that surprisingly rose to first in the West. The 2002-03 Mavericks were already good, so his performance there was deemed a minor event.



• You can do this exercise with several other Nash seasons. For instance, Nash won the MVP with a PER of 23.29 in 2006, leading a 54-win team in the conference finals. In 2009-10, Nash had a PER of 21.25 and led a 54-win team to the conference finals. He finished eighth and didn't get a single first-place vote. Nash also finished a distant second behind Dirk Nowitzki the year he had his best statistical season, 2006-07, and won 61 games. Again, it sure seems like the story was the dividing factor between these seasons, and not the player.



• Iverson outperformed his MVP season in both 2004-05 and 2005-06; he had a comparable PER in more minutes in the former and a better PER in more minutes in the latter. He didn't come close to winning in either season, finishing fifth in 2005 and getting just a single fifth-place vote in 2006.

(Side note: If you don't like PER, you can use any other measures and get the same answers, which shouldn't be a surprise, since PER is essentially a summary of all the other statistical categories.)



What's the explanation for this other than that the voters went for the best story instead of the best player? Did all three of these guys suddenly become crappier leaders or lose their clutch mojo in those other seasons?



No -- they just weren't hot stories.



The burden of proof



The same thing is going to happen this season with "The Derrick Rose Story."



Let me emphasize that Rose is indeed a very valuable player, and that what he and the Bulls have done this season is undeniably a great story. It does not, however, make him more valuable than every single other player in the entire league, and the evidence for this is abundantly clear to anyone who cares to look for it. Sorry, but if you want me to build the pedestal that high, I'm gonna need some more concrete for the foundation.



This part gets Rose fans terribly upset, but it's really basic: There is a glaring lack of evidence that he is as valuable as has been claimed. It's not just a question of one selected number or another not supporting his case. It's that none of the numbers do.



I'm not cherry-picking stats to support some covert Rose-hating agenda. I literally cannot find a single shred of data, anywhere, to support the idea that he's the most valuable player in the league.



Rose already has an uphill climb in any logical debate -- his status as the front-runner rests uneasily beside the fact that he'd be the fourth-best player in the state of Florida. This is where people point out that "Most Valuable" and "Best" aren't necessarily the same thing, and that's correct.



But it does shift the burden of proof. If you're going to tell me that Rose has been more valuable this season in spite of those facts, you better bring a hell of a lot more to the table than, "But watch him play!" (For the record, I've seen him in person four times this season and countless other games on the tube.)



Digging for proof



This always gets people screaming and yelling about those infernal statheads, as though it's some kind of horrible imposition to ask for actual hard evidence to back up an MVP vote.



"Nobody has carried a greater burden than Rose," it's been said, and in an extremely narrow sense that's almost true -- only Kobe Bryant has used more possessions. Carrying the burden well, on the other hand, hasn't been his strong suit, as his middling true shooting percentage attests. More obviously, there are greater burdens than handling the ball for 20 seconds on every trip. Dwight Howard, for instance, carries the burden of being his team's entire defense and absorbing vicious beatings on offense, but it's tough to package that in a highlight reel.



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Old 03-31-2011, 12:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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"Rose won without Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah," it's been said, and certainly the Bulls did just that. However, even when those players were out, the Bulls outscored opponents when Rose was off the court, suggesting they were far more than the one-man band that's been depicted. None of the Bulls' other players are big stars, and this throws people, but Chicago's depth and defensive ability have carried it this year.



And finally, there's the idea of his indispensability -- it's the "they're nothing without him" approach. If that's the case, the Bulls should perform much worse when he's off the court than they do. Certainly, it's the case with most other stars. The Heat are 10.49 points per 100 possessions worse without LeBron James this season; the Mavs, 16.68 points worse without Dirk Nowitzki; the Magic, 6.95 worse without Howard, and the Lakers, 6.20 worse without Bryant.



Rose's Bulls? They lose just 1.49 points per 100 possessions. When he's off the court, they still outscore opponents by 6.78 per 100, which roughly translates to a 55-win team.



Now, that first measure does understate Rose's impact, because he's played a lot of minutes with guys like Keith Bogans and Kurt Thomas. You can get more scientific by adjusting for the players Rose players with and against, as basketballvalue.com does, and the difference becomes a more respectable 8.60. But that isn't the biggest difference in the league, or even close to it. Howard benefits from the same math -- Orlando is 12.36 points better per 100 possessions with him on the court after said adjustment.



Yes, these stats are notoriously noisy. But as I noted above, "The Derrick Rose Story" doesn't have compelling evidence to start with; this is another plank of non-support.



Other arguments similarly fall flat. "Look at Rose's impact on the Bulls' winning," you say. Well, Chicago has certainly won a ton, and they've done it with a suffocating defense than ranks first in the league.



Rose? He's arguably been the least important part of that equation. While I'd argue the stats undervalue his defensive improvement this season, it's a bit jarring to find out that the Bulls actually give up dramatically fewer points the second he exits the game.



As for the argument that Rose was the catalyst for the defense anyway, because of his buy-in to coach Tim Thibodeau's approach … I agree that was a necessary condition for Chicago's success. But has it really come to this? Are we really giving out an MVP trophy with "actually tried on defense for a change" as a key bullet point in the résumé?



If Rose is indispensable, however, we might also try to remove him from the Bulls entirely and see what happens. The equation everyone tries to make in their head is what I call the "bad backup" test, which holds that since Rose would be replaced by C.J. Watson while LeBron James would be replaced by Dwyane Wade, then Rose must be more valuable.



In this test, there's no reason to focus on just the team, however. A better version of this test will lead you directly to this year's true MVP:



Whom else in the league could you replace this player with?



That's really what we want to know, isn't it? If you could trade the player tomorrow and replace him with somebody just as good, it's hard to make a case that he's the single most valuable player in the league, right?



In Rose's case, it's pretty apparent that you could replace him with Russell Westbrook and suffer virtually no drop-off. They both use an equally large chunk of their team's possessions, and use them almost exactly the same way in terms of shot-pass decisions and spots on the floor. Rose shoots more jumpers and Westbrook takes more free throws, but by and large you'd get the same results.



Not a fan of Westbrook? Fine. You can try the same exercise with Nash, or Chris Paul, or Deron Williams, or even Wade, who despite being a 2 has a lot of similar attributes to Rose. One can argue for days whether Rose is a bit better than these players, and if so, by how much, but we're talking about small change here. And it's not just that there's one particular player you could replace Rose with and suffer only marginal decline; there are several such players.



Now, let's try the same exercise with another player.



Who could replace Dwight Howard?



Anyone?



[Taps foot]



Got a candidate in mind yet?



[Looks at watch]



No, I mean from this season, not 1995. Try again.



[Crickets chirping]



Still waiting …



The conclusion is obvious, isn't it?



Dwight Howard is the most irreplaceable player in the league.



This is the ultimate reason not to vote "The Derrick Rose Story" for MVP: Every argument put forward for him works better for somebody else, and in particular works better for Howard.



This last one is the most damning, however. Put Westbrook, Paul or Williams in for Rose and the Bulls might slip a couple of games. Might. Put any other player in Howard's position and the Magic immediately turn to sawdust. It's not just that he's second in the league in PER and seventh in adjusted plus-minus; it's that no other center can touch him in either category, and the one who is closest (Andrew Bynum) has played half as many minutes.



Unlike "The Derrick Rose Story," Howard's case has more than just raw emotion to support it. The Magic are third in the NBA in defensive efficiency -- ahead of Miami, Milwaukee, the Lakers and Dallas, among others -- even though nobody else in their top eight is even an average defensive player. An Orlando team that often plays Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson at the same time still gets elite defensive results because Howard so completely controls the paint behind them.



Offensively, Howard's fingerprints are everywhere, too -- not just with the dunks, but with the fouls he draws that put opponents in the bonus and hand his teammates easy freebies, and the clean 3-point looks that come without his ever touching the ball. It's not always pretty, but it's hugely valuable.



So why have the Magic not won more games than the Bulls? Because, to borrow everyone's favorite line about Rose, Howard has played the entire season without Boozer and Noah, and Luol Deng. Any of these three would be the second-best player on the Magic. Compare the benches and you'll get a similar laugh riot; the Bulls have arguably the league's best backup center, for instance, while the Magic don't even keep one on the roster.



Unfortunately, the momentum is probably too far gone at this point. We like great stories and we don't particularly enjoy rooting for Goliath, so "The Derrick Rose Story" will win the MVP trophy when it should probably finish sixth or seventh, and Howard will end up in the same shafted company as Shaq, Garnett and Duncan before him.



But let's not kid ourselves. In the end, this vote says a lot more about us than it does about either Rose or Howard.
Spot on, really.

Oh well, the best story will always win if you let the media vote, and not the best player.

http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insid...PERDiem-110331
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

There's no hate to bring, considering there is not one vote casted yet. He just may not win MVP, but so what?

If he does, it'll be great for the city, Rose and the team. If not, then they can go and try to win it all.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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As bad as Iverson's



It's clear as day that the MVP isnt given to the best player each year and that it has a subjective meaning.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

Regular Season MVP gotta be on par with AS MVP credibility wise. Finals MVP is the only important individual award.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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Originally Posted by dunksby
Finals MVP is the only important individual award.


Yeah, because Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, and Tony Parker are the best players on the planet.

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Old 03-31-2011, 12:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

Man, Iverson gets crapped on constantly on these boards.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:03 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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Originally Posted by Droid101


Yeah, because Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, and Tony Parker are the best players on the planet.

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Old 03-31-2011, 01:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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Originally Posted by dunksby
Regular Season MVP gotta be on par with AS MVP credibility wise. Finals MVP is the only important individual award.
And Durant ain't even sniffing FMVP's table.

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Old 03-31-2011, 01:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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The Magic are third in the NBA in defensive efficiency -- ahead of Miami, Milwaukee, the Lakers and Dallas, among others -- even though nobody else in their top eight is even an average defensive player. An Orlando team that often plays Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson at the same time still gets elite defensive results because Howard so completely controls the paint behind them.
This is the most underrated part of Dwight's season this year. Everyone's talking about his improved footwork and post game on offense, but the fact that Orlando is still a top 3 defensive team, despite losing the only 3 players you could call solid defenders from last season (Pietrus, Gortat, Barnes) is impressive as well.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:08 PM   #11
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

Wades championship/finals MVP have gotta be the most bootleg thing to ever happen in the NBA

something was clearly not right with that series Lolll
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:10 PM   #12
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

More of these topics.. Haters gotta deal with D-Rose being MVP, Deng on all defensive team, Rose all-NBA, Noah should be DPOY and Thibs Coach of the year..

Don't make me laugh Dwight mvp when he's 4th seed with a stacked team, get outta here
Might be over doing it a bit but you haters are pissing me off, just deal with the fact that Rose is playing MVP ball, watch games, don't just check the box score.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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Unlike "The Derrick Rose Story," Howard's case has more than just raw emotion to support it. The Magic are third in the NBA in defensive efficiency -- ahead of Miami, Milwaukee, the Lakers and Dallas, among others -- even though nobody else in their top eight is even an average defensive player. An Orlando team that often plays Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson at the same time still gets elite defensive results because Howard so completely controls the paint behind them.



Offensively, Howard's fingerprints are everywhere, too -- not just with the dunks, but with the fouls he draws that put opponents in the bonus and hand his teammates easy freebies, and the clean 3-point looks that come without his ever touching the ball. It's not always pretty, but it's hugely valuable.



So why have the Magic not won more games than the Bulls? Because, to borrow everyone's favorite line about Rose, Howard has played the entire season without Boozer and Noah, and Luol Deng. Any of these three would be the second-best player on the Magic. Compare the benches and you'll get a similar laugh riot; the Bulls have arguably the league's best backup center, for instance, while the Magic don't even keep one on the roster.



Unfortunately, the momentum is probably too far gone at this point. We like great stories and we don't particularly enjoy rooting for Goliath, so "The Derrick Rose Story" will win the MVP trophy when it should probably finish sixth or seventh, and Howard will end up in the same shafted company as Shaq, Garnett and Duncan before him.

This is why i think Dwight should be MVP, to bad Rose has this one on lock though. If only Dwight had some competent point guards on his team the Magic would be so much better :\
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

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Originally Posted by catch24
Man, Iverson gets crapped on constantly on these boards.
He's not getting crapped on. But the season he won MVP wasn't his best season! Which means, he played better in other seasons, but didn't win MVP. That's all.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:11 PM   #15
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Default Re: Rose MVP- as bad as Iverson's, both of Nash's, and Kidd's near win

Hollinger is
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