By: Martin Rand, III
Date: April 6, 2012


valuable: adjective; of considerable use, service, or importance.

Earlier this week, ESPN showcased four teams and four contenders for this year’s NBA MVP Award. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder took on LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Then, the late game, featured Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers versus Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers in a inner-city battle for dominance and the Pacific Division lead. All four players are doing incredible things for their respective clubs; however, Paul is the one and only true MVP this season.

While LeBron James (left) and Kevin Durant (center) have been getting more attention, the true NBA MVP is Chris Paul.

Now, before everyone gets that puzzled look on their face, let me explain.

First, let me remind you this is the Most VALUABLE Player Award. It’s not for the best player in the league. It’s not for the player who can put up the best stats. It’s for the player who matters the most to their team.

Lets refer to the definition of valuable above. According to dictionary.com, for something to be valuable is has to be of considerable use, service or importance. Importance being the operative word, which brings me to my second point.

To gauge the importance of a player, I rely on an old question: If you take the player off the team, how far would its competitiveness fall in the league?

Lets start with James and the Heat. Take James off the Heat and they would still have Dwyane Wade (the 2nd best SG in the league), Chris Bosh (one of the top ten players in the league) and the best bench of any of the four teams mentioned. No doubt they would still make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and be a contender to win a title. What James does is great, but it only adds to a team that would be a contender without him.

Importance level of James to the Heat: Extremely low.

Now, lets look at Durant. Durant and starting PG Russell Westbrook are the two best offensive threats on the Thunder. With that being said, if Durant were taken off the team, Westbrook could still carry the load offensively for the team; and they would be successful. There’s precedent for such a situation and it wasn’t too long ago.

Last season, Derrick Rose (another super-athletic PG who was a streaky shooter and not that great at passing the ball) led an offensively challenged Chicago Bulls team, not only to the best record in the East, but to the best record in the league. All the other players had to do was play great defensive and hit an occasional shot.

I’m feel very confident in saying Westbrook could do the same thing with the numerous defensive minded players on the Thunder.

Importance level of Durant to the Thunder: Low.

Okay, now lets take Bryant off the Lakers. I know the thought is unfathomable, but for this situation it has to be done. If you take him off the team, the Lakers would still have the best offense front court in the league with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, both of which can score 30 points on any give night.

However, they would have a major hole in the backcourt that couldn’t be half-way filled with anyone on the bench. Also, Gasol has fatigue issues and Bynum has injury issues, so the extra workload of carrying a team would probably way to heavy on them.

They would still make the playoffs; however, it would probably be a very low seed between the sixth and eighth spot. Their title hopes could still be there but it would seem more like wishful thinking.

Importance of Bryant to the Lakers: High.

Now, take Paul off of the Clippers. They wouldn’t even make the playoffs and would probably be in the NBA cellar at this point in the season. One word would sum them up: terrible. They’ve had only one playoff appearance in the last 20 years! Now with Paul’s arrival, they’re the fourth seed in the Western Conference and two games behind the Lakers for the division lead.

They would still have an all-star in F Blake Griffin, but he’s not at that point in his career where he can carry a team offensively or defensively. Plus, of the four teams, the Clippers have the worst bench with the least amount of scoring options.

Importance of Paul to the Clippers: Extremely high

To often in sports we mix up a player’s value level with their statistical production; but,I hate to break this myth, numbers always lie. They only tell a portion of the value the player has to a team. I hope the people who vote for this award get it right. There’s hope because the last three years they did, with Rose winning last year and back-to-back wins for James before him.

Of course, some people are still going to want stats to validate Paul being the MVP. Here’s a statiscal reason why him winning shouldn’t rely on statistics.

When Steve Nash won the award for the 2004-05 season, he was averaging less points, steals and more turnovers than Paul is this season, but he had two more assists per game. The numbers for the two player’s are similar; and, just like Paul this season, there were plenty of players with better stats than Nash.

So, why did Nash win?

He won because he came to a franchise, the Phoenix Suns, that had a losing record the previous season and made them relevant in the league the very next season. The same thing Paul has done this year with the Clippers.


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