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Sorry, New York, but Stoudemire is no MVP. Rose either.

Jan 26, 2011, 3:10 PM EDT

Amare Stoudemire

We all want to be smart, clever, cutting edge. Nobody wants to give the tired, same old answer. Even if it’s the right one.

Ask “experts” and fans who the best player in the NBA is and they’ll talk about how Player X is better than LeBron James. Kobe has more rings and finishes better, Durant has taken his scoring mantle, etc. Sorry, but the answer is LBJ. Has been for a few seasons now. Nobody is forcing you to like LeBron, but respect the game.

The same theory holds with the MVP discussion. We don’t want to state the obvious few guys because they don’t show us as forward thinking. We seem staid and boring saying LeBron should have a third straight MVP.

So we fall in love with the new guy and their fresh narrative. We sell their story. Amar’e Stoudemire has brought the Knicks back to relevance, carrying all of Manhattan on his broad shoulders, so he should be MVP. Derrick Rose has made this Bulls team the best since you know who, so he is in the MVP discussion.

Sorry, no.

Both Rose and Stoudemire are having genuinely fantastic seasons, they deserve truckloads of praise. Neither should have to buy a dinner in their respective cities. But MVP is another discussion entirely. Neither of them should be in that discussion once it gets serious.

Here’s the thing about Stoudemire — he’s the same player now he was in Phoenix. The numbers are close. Go ahead and point out he is scoring three more points per game than he was in Phoenix and I’ll note his shooting percentage — traditional and true shooting percentage — is down. Yes, he’s scoring three more points per game but he’s taking four more shots to do it.

Spare me the “defenses are focusing on him now” bit — if you think that defenses didn’t plan for him in Phoenix, you didn’t watch any of their games.

Which is kind of the point — Stoudemire was great in Phoenix but never got credit because people weren’t watching and too many of those that were became captivated by Steve Nash. Again, not to bash Nash, but he drew some of the attention that rightfully belonged to Stoudemire. Now, Stoudemire is getting that adulation on the big stage.

He has lifted the Knicks up to… average. The Knicks are not a good team folks, they’re just no longer craptastic. Credit Stoudemire for that — but that is very different than the MVP discussion. And you’d be shortchanging Raymond Felton. The truth of the campaign is that Stoudemire is New York’s favorite son and so all these Knick fans — including my bosses, so enjoy this column because I am biting the hand that feeds me — think he is now deserving of the league’s highest honors. No. He didn’t change, the Knicks changed a little with him and Felton. Stoudemire is not even having his best season (07-08).

As for Rose, you can make a better case for him — he is having his best season (of three, but still) and the Bulls are on the bubble of contender in the East. So he passes those criteria.

But Rose is also doing that in part because the team around him is better. The real MVP of the Bulls is Tom Thibodeau and his ability to coach defense. Then there are the  comparisons: Rose is undoubtedly good, but he is not as efficient a player other elite team leaders such as LeBron or Dwyane Wade. Chris Paul has a true shooting percentage of 60.4, LeBron is 57.7, Rose is closer to the league average at 53.8.  He’s about the same in terms of usage as Kevin Durant but not nearly as efficient a scorer. Rohan broke it all down well right here, I will not rehash it.

As Tom Ziller points out, the Durant of last season is a good comparison for Rose now because the casual basketball fan base is falling in love with his game for the first time, hence the glowing stories like Rick Riley’s on The “he’s a good person, we love his game” meme. Which all may be true, but that is different than an MVP discussion. For me MVP should be about efficiently leading your team to a higher place than they could go without you. Rose and Stoudemire both do that to a degree, but others do it better.

The problem is the NBA issues no guidelines on how to define MVP. Best player in the league? Best player on the best team? Guy who meant the most to his team? Best player to make a rap video cameo? You can define it however you wish.

In the absence of direction, many NBA writers are drawn to the guys with narratives. Writers like stories. We do. Here’s the thing: We’re like the rest of you — we want our job to be easier. Guys who come with their own narratives attached make our jobs easier. So many in the media root for those storylines. Guy changes the fortunes of New York/Chicago makes a great story.

It does not make an MVP.

To be fair, here are the three guys at the top of my list right now. Feel free to tell me how inadequate they are:

Chris Paul. The Hornets stunk last year and are good this year — 30-16 and currently riding the longest winning streak in the league. What’s the difference? CP3 is healthy. (And Monty Williams deserves a nod here in part). Paul is the best point guard in the game — you may be wrong, Barkley — and he somehow gets undervalued. He can shoot or dish like Nash. He carries this offense. He has lifted his team farther than any other player this season and done it efficiently.

LeBron James. Best player in the Association on one of its elite teams. Sure, he’s the same guy as the last two seasons, but that guy was MVP.

Dirk Nowitzki. If you’re one of those who say you can tell how good a player is by his absence from his team, then Nowitzki is your guy. Remember that Dallas was 24-5 (largely against a tough schedule of above .500 teams) while Nowitzki was shooting 55 percent (a career best) before his injury. He left and the team collapsed. What hurts his candidacy is what has happened since his return, which is unimpressive.

  1. jmad34 - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Looks like the Nuggets are warming up to the Knicks…and Anthony Randolph in a trade!

  2. fx1718 - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    LOL @ Drose isn’t a contender but CP3 is… your article is stupid.

  3. weimtime - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Kurt – You can’t be serious. You must have had a deadline and were seeking a strong negative reaction for your column.

    I’ll give you Chris Paul as a candidate. Dirk has been hurt for how many games? LBJ isn’t even in the MVP conversation. Sorry, not when you have the talent on that team (even if it is highly overrated).

    The best player in the league (you know, the MVP) is one of two people – the exact two people who you claim aren’t MVP candidates – Rose and Amare.

    Rose has carried his team on his shoulders with a mostly ineffective Deng and an injured Noah/Boozer. The full starting lineup has been on the floor for maybe a handful of games.

    Amare has had a nice season, but the Knicks are not enjoying the success the Bulls are.

    Stop watching Laker and Heat games and start paying attention to the talent around the league. There’s a lot of it.

  4. thekobebeef - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    I was having the same Amar’e discussion with my counterpart at yesterday. I pretty much argued verbatim what you have said in that just because he has lifted the spirits of New Yorkers and the Knicks it does not mean that he is the MVP.

    What do you think about tossing Rondo into the discussion just for kicks?

    • florida727 - Jan 27, 2011 at 3:35 PM


    • chitownmatt - Jan 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      Rondo has a spot on the deepest roster in the NBA.

      My grandfather could take Rondo’s spot and average 5 assists per game… and he’s dead.

  5. musilly - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    I’m sympathetic with this post. My criterion is this: who is the best player in the league? For me it’s Lebron. Durant’s more likable, Kobe’s game is more graceful, Stoudemire has a better story. But Lebron I see as the best player in the league.

    Other popular criteria:
    * Who means the most to his team, i.e. whose team would suffer most if you took player X away. This is silly to me since it adds so much chance to the equation. Player X can’t control it if his back-up sucks or his team-mates aren’t great quality. I think the MVP should be about the extent to which a player can impose his will on the game for his team overall benefit. Fact that Chicago has a back-court of scrubs shouldn’t be enlisted to support Rose’s candidacy.

    * Best player on the best team. Ditto. Which team is the “best” has a lot to do with the quality of the team-mates surrounding player X. Of course an MVP should make his teammates better, but there’s only so much anybody can do. What, we’re supposed to give Ginobili the MVP because he happens to be playing with a HOF currently relegated to role-player status, and they’re got Parker and Jefferson and a bunch of quality glue guys? Not in my book.

    * Who’s got the best story. This is MVP; it ain’t a fluff profile for Vanity Fair.

  6. fx1718 - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    What, we’re supposed to give Ginobili the MVP because he happens to be playing with a HOF currently relegated to role-player status, and they’re got Parker and Jefferson and a bunch of quality glue guys? Not in my book.

    Why not?? Everyone wants to turn Rondo into the best point guard who ever lived because he gets assists by passing to 3 future hall of fame players. I know you didn’t mention Rondo just sayin…

  7. leearmon - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Your basic point is well taken. Yes, without question Lebron James and Chris Paul are the best two players in the league and all MVP discussions *should* revolve around them. However your Dirk argument doesnt stand. In any event, no matter how hard we try it is very hard to quantify how good, or important one player is to his team’s success. Advanced statistics have done a great job in providing a formula to use, but as we all know it doesnt take certain variables into consideration. So although Rose’s TS% is only .538 and Amar’e plays for, as you put it “not a good team” You turn into a person who choses not to believe his eyes, but only statistics. Look at Steve Nash’s first MVP award, he had a 23.3 PER. That’s right on par with Rose this year, and STAT has a higher PER this season. You credit Thibbs for the main reason the Bulls have played so well this year, but advanced stats dont factor coaching styles, systems ect. Bottom line, no matter who your coach is you need players to produce, and Rose is doing just that. They are leaps and bounds better than they were last season, and his game has improved as well. As for Amar’e no matter what the stats say, it isnt any coincidence that Ray Felton, Wilson Chandler AND Gallo are having their best full seasons (Gallo’s rookie year he shot better statistically but only played in 28 games) this year with the arrival of Amar’e. That type of instant production out of teammates cannot be measured correctly. You may consider the Knicks to be an average or bad team (the opposite of good is bad, and since you say they’re “not a good team”….) but their improvement is dramatic, this point last season they were 8 games under .500. while playing with an incredibly efficient All-star forward (David Lee). Now I dont think Amar’e should be MVP although im a Knick fan and he is my guy. But a prerequisite for the award should be at least 50 wins, and the Knicks won’t do that this year, however dont discredit his season because of that. The NBA MVP award has been a joke for years now. How else do you explain Jordan not winning it the year they went 72-10? As fans of the league we already know this, but there is a difference between most valuable and best. The best usually make first team All-NBA, although they have messed that up too. Valuable can be interpreted in many different ways, not just the way you see it Kurt.

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 26, 2011 at 5:21 PM

      There is no single definition of MVP, hence this debate. The Knicks are better, the Bulls are better. No doubt Rose and Stoudemire are having fantastic seasons and deserve credit in part for these turnarounds. But what I really am saying is that people and fans get sucked into their storylines more than what we see on the court, what the numbers tell us. When you do that, Rose and Stoudemire fall back a few steps.

      • danielunreal - Jan 27, 2011 at 2:16 AM

        I honestly respect LBJ as well as everyone else game in the nba but LBJ also came with a storyline that you like every fan got sucked into it happens its the nba . Respect Derrick Rose game!!! the reason i believe hes most valuable player is because his the most essential part of their game

      • chitownmatt - Jan 27, 2011 at 3:08 PM

        “…numbers tell us.” you are absolutely wrong.
        The only numbers that matter are Ws and Ls. This is the NBA; basketball is a team sport and winning is a team function. The MVP is the player that contributes the most to the wins that his team achieves. He is the guy that, at the end of the season, every GM wishes he had signed.
        The highest scoring percentage, most rebounds, assists, etc… don’t always result in a W.

  8. weimtime - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    False…your criteria is flawed (as is mine, but yours is more flawed). First, LBJ is NOT the best player in the league. The best player in the league doesn’t bolt an up and coming team (FYI, not a Cavs fan) for which he was the best player and leader for a team with two established stars just so he doesn’t have to take 30 shots a game. That’s a fact. You can’t be the best player in the league and be afraid to be the center piece.

    And you simply MUST look at the team and the circumstances to which a player has to raise his game. LBJ can take nights off (you know, like the playoffs last year), while guys like Rose and Amare cannot. There’s no “big 3” in Chicago. All rookies and no names on NY as far as I’m concerned.

    The MVP award symbolizes the player with the highest value to his team AND the league. You can’t ignore a player b/c he doesn’t have a great team around him. Nor can you annoint the player with the most physical gifts/skill. The MVP award emodies a culmination of facors and should not be relegated to simply, “the best player in the league.” I hope you don’t have a vote and are simply writing an article. Pathetic reasoning and effort, IMO.

    • sixers25 - Jan 26, 2011 at 7:53 PM

      How is his criteria more flawed when every single argument you gave is based on your own personal opinion with no facts or stats?

      1.”The best player in the league doesn’t bolt an up and coming team” -Are you slow? Looking at the ages and cap number for the guys on the Cav’s roster how can you call that an up and coming team. The highly touted JJ Hickson can not even get consistent minutes on a glorified D League roster

      2. How is Lebron not the center piece in Miami? All semantics, fan backlash and media hype aside, At the start of last season, if you injected every GM with truth serum they would take Lebron over D Wade. After the playoffs where they both lost to Boston they would still take Lebron. Now because he went to Miami that one act overrides every piece of basketball sense and makes Wade a better player?That is moronic. He went to Miami and Wade didn’t go to Cleveland because of the cap and because who the hell would rather stick it out in Cleveland over South Beach..

      3. Lebron is Afraid of being the center piece- Yea he definitely looked afraid when he single handedly took the Cavs to the finals.

      4. And you simply MUST look at the team and the circumstances to which a player has to raise his game. LBJ can take nights off (you know, like the playoffs last year)- Using Last years playoffs for this years MVP discussion is pretty dumb but ok I’ll go there. Lebron beat Rose’s Bulls in the playoffs like they thought of the decision. Amare may score well but this season like in the playoffs against LA his lack of rebounding has hurt his team.

      5. The MVP award symbolizes the player with the highest value to his team AND the league- Nope this line of thinking only came about recently because sports writers got tired of giving MVP’s to MJ. MVP goes to the best player on a contending team having the best season. It does not go to power forwards who can’t rebound because they make a NY team the number six seed. They do not go to point guards who are gifted and talented but not even the most efficient player at their position because they are in Chicago.

  9. Fred - Jan 26, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    I pretty much agree with leearmon. With all due respect, Kurt, I thought your argument was a pretty sloppy one. I should add that I am a Knick fan and I do not believe Amar’e should be MVP. I have three big problems with what you wrote, Kurt. First, you prattled on and on about statistically based evaluations without acknowledging that the Knicks are significantly better than they were last year. Sure, Felton deserves some credit for that, but it only seems fair to give Amar’e some credit for the fact that Felton is having by far his best season, as are, as lee pointed out, a number of other Knicks, while Amar’e does what Amar’e has always done, even in the absence of Nash. Second, you dismiss the possibility that ‘doing what you’ve always done’ might change the calculus of one’s value. I don’t understand how that makes sense if the results are different. If Kobe had his ’08 season on the Clippers, good as he was, they would still have sucks; the fact that he did it on the Lakers, made them a title contender, which to me enhanced his value. Third, you wrote that the MVP conversation, “should be about efficiently leading your team to a higher place than they could go without you.” That’s your opinion, which is fine, but I could take out the word efficiently and I think, not detract from what it means to be an MVP, under certain circumstances.

    • sixers25 - Jan 26, 2011 at 8:04 PM

      MVP should go to players on contending teams. The Knicks are significantly better than last year but they sucked last year. The thing people discount with Lebron is that while putting up the same numbers, and having the highest efficiency in the League with the Heat, the team he left went from 66 wins to the worst team in the NBA. And don’t give me injuries because they were falling apart way before tthe injuries happened and they had injuries to key plsayers for an extended period last year and they still won with Lebron

      • leearmon - Jan 26, 2011 at 11:15 PM

        Well do the same for Amar’e. The Suns went to the Conference finals last year. Stoudemire was arguably the best player in the entire NBA after the all-star break. Phoenix has actually added talent to their roster this season. Warrick, Gortat, Carter ect. but are under .500 now. The one glaring difference between this year and last, the absence of Amar’e. So using your logic, Stat IS in the MVP debate, not just for what he’s done for New York, and yes he has produced for the Knicks not just “storylines” as the article says, but how his play is being felt in the valley of the sun. Again, you can’t dispute his impact, Felton-best year of his career (arguably an all-star), Chandler-best year of his career, Gallinari- best year of his career. Hell, Landry Fields wasn’t even considered a top 100 prospect by “experts” who rank college players for a living, but you could make the case he’s having the best rookie year of a player drafted in the 2010 class. So you have to ask yourself, what’s the difference? And it all comes back to Amar’e. Those aren’t “stroylines” those are facts. No, he’s not as good as Lebron, or Paul, or Howard (soopreme makes great point in post below) but the award is not about who is the best player, again if it was Jordan would have won the award at least 10 times, same with Magic, Russell ect. its about a player’s value to his team.

      • sixers25 - Jan 27, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        You completely ignored every other aspect of my argument and just pointed to, “look, look, the Knicks got better and the Suns got worse”. You completely ignored the efficiency of the players. Yes the Knicks are better but they are better in an awful east and they are just th 6th best team in the conference. Yes, Felton has had a career year but part of that is the fact Larry Brown was his coach before. Dano is having a better year but also part of that is due to the fact that he could never stay healthy before. Amare has had better defensive numbers blocking shots but other than that he still is an underwhelming rebounder for power forward who compounds that issue even further due to the fact he starts at center. When the Knicks put him at power forward the offensive numbers are curtailed because he can not drive as easily. Also in the second half of games against good teams, they usually make the defensive adjustments to stop him and felton. You can see this to a certain extent recently as teams have adjusted to their style of play.
        The bottom line? He is a power forward that starts at center. Despite this fact he doesn’t rebound well. He has put more effort and blocked more shots on defense but is still not a great defender. He’s made his living as an offensive guy and is difficult to guard but not unguardable. He has helped one of the historic franchises in the NBA become relevant but they are still only 23-21. He has had a great “starter in the All Star game” numbers not league MVP numbers

      • leearmon - Jan 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        Apologies for “ignoring every other aspect of your argument” I just singled out the one point you spent most of your post talking about. But if you would like me to further my argument, here it goes…

        1) Contending teams – The term contending teams is relative. Last year’s Suns squad by definition was a contender, not because of their regular season record 40 some odd games in, but because they advanced to the Conference Finals. Now, im not stating that the Knicks will share that same level of success, but as the 6th seed in the East most Knick fans will tell you a matchup vs the Bulls is our best shot at advancing. Could you then say that team isn’t a “contender”? The 09-10 Celtics played about .500 ball in the second half of the season, yet they were a few shots removed from winning the title. Again, “contending” is relative.

        2) Efficiency – This is where judging a player’s value becomes tricky. If only the league’s most efficient players were to win this award, you could rule out Kobe, Rose, and replace them with other highly touted MVP’s like Kevin Love, Zach Randolph, Lamar Odom ect. Plus, how did you figure Amar’e isn’t an efficient player? Every stat (per game and advanced) begs to differ.

        3) Impact on team – I already had a post on this, but essentially the Suns are now a bad team w/out Stat, while the Knicks are better because of him.

        I dont know if you are saying Mike Dantoni is a better coach than Larry Brown, but if not, playing under Dantoni should not cause this drastic level of improvement for Felton. No advanced stat that im aware of calculates coaching into a player’s efficiency. Plus much has been made of Felton playing under L.B. but how do you explain Ray’s first 3 seasons? Brown only coached Felton for 2 full seasons.

        Danilo or “Dano” as you call him doesn’t have as bad of a problem staying healthy as you say. In fact he was injured most of his rookie year, but last season he played in 81 games, and this year he’s only missed a few due to a bad spill, all in all I wouldn’t say Gallo falls under the “Never stay healthy” category, and would argue thats a categorically false statement.

        Yes, Amar’e is a poor, VERY POOR rebounder, you will get no argument from me out of that, but the notion that his numbers against “Good teams” drops late in games is misleading. Amar’e is among the league leaders in 4th qtr scoring, and vs the “good teams” he still has scored very well, see the Magic, Spurs, Blazers to name a few. And as far as defense goes, look at other MVP candidates and see how their defensive numbers stack up. Dirk has a 104 drtg and a defensive win share of 1.7. Durant 108 Drtg and defensive w/s of 1.3 Stat? 107 drtg and a 1. dw/s so by the numbers Amar’e is a better defensive player than Durant, and is on par with Dirk who plays with a fantastic Center in Chandler. So his numbers aren’t as bad as you make them out to be, and while he does have “All-Star starter” numbers, they aren’t too far off with other MVP candidates as well.

  10. soopreme - Jan 26, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    It never ceases to amaze me how individual defense is never factored in to the MVP discussion. How can you have an MVP discussion and not consider Dwight Howard.
    The man gets 20 plus points a game and he is arguably the best defensive player in the league.
    The total package.
    In my opinion, if you are not first, second or third team all NBA defense along with great offensive numbers you do not deserve to be in the discussion. So with that said here are the real MVP candidates.
    Howard, lebron,Wade and kobe
    Thats it

    • sixers25 - Jan 27, 2011 at 5:02 PM


      1. Contending team is not so relative a term that you can apply it to a team 2 games over .500. Have you been drinking the Knicks Kool Aid so much that you legitimately think they can beat Boston Miami Orlando or even Chicago in a 7 game series.You have had success with Chicago but you haven’t beaten the other top teams this season.

      2. Not even going to comment on how ridiculous it is that you just compared the Knicks situation in any way shape or form to the Celtics situation.

      3. I’m pretty sure the efficiency numbers you are comparing Amare to are other power forwards (even though he doesn’t play power forward) thank you for advancing my point that he is one of the best power forwards in the league but to argue him for MVP you would have to compare him to guys at other positions. Dwade, Paul, and Lebron all have better efficiency #’s

      4. I’m not saying LB is a bad coach I’m saying Mike Dantoni’s system is a point guards dream while LB makes his point guards want to swallow bleach after a while. Feltons first 3 seasons were his first three seasons where most NBA point guards are still finding themselves.

      5. Dano is an inside joke type thing that probably doesn’t work typing a comment response but he was hurt for much of his rookie season as you said and he had a few issues last year but you saw some flashes. Obviously adding Amare helps him get more space but that is not a reason to give him MVP.

      6. Yes he is among the league leaders in 4th quarter scoring but his team also only has 23 wins. Yes his numbers are better defensively than Durant or Dirk’s (they probably aren’t winning the MVP either) but his team only has 23 wins. Yes his numbers are comparable to other guys who have been mentioned in the discussion except he falls short with only 23 wins. No matter how you spin it turn it around or analyze it, his team is 2 games over .500. If this article was written after they beat the Suns I would have been all over the Amare for MVP bandwagon but they have lost 7 of their last 9 games. At this point there is no legitimate basketball reason other than the fact you are a Knicks fan to say he should be the MVP.

      • leearmon - Jan 27, 2011 at 7:55 PM

        If you were to look at my first post you would see that I said, Amar’e shouldn’t be the MVP because of team success, I believe I stated that no team who wins less than 50 games should be a MVP. However, to your point “contending” is relative. This same time last year the Suns were 26-21 just three games better than this current Knicks team.Yet the Suns were a “contender” by the very definition of the word. I find it funny you left that point out during your response. So if a team who is only 5 games over .500 is a contender, who is to say a team 2 games over isn’t? Yes 5 is greater than two, but Gallinari was out for several games during New York’s recent poor stretch. There is no “Kool-Aid” to drink about that, those are facts.

        The Knicks haven’t beaten other “top teams” this season? Really? Beat San Antonio by 13. Beat the Thunder by 14. Beat the Blazers by 14. Beat the Bulls by 8 twice. Beat Denver by 4. Beat the Hornets by 8.

        I gave you the examples of Love, Z-Bo and Odom just because they are three of THE MOST EFFICIENT PLAYERS, but Nash is also one of the league’s most efficient players, and Love also spends time at center. Also, I compared Amar’e not by position, but by other MVP candidates. I challenge you to compare the stats of Derrick Rose to that of Amar’e in terms of efficiency. If you need help, I’ll be glad to assist you.

        If Mike D’Antoni’s system is a “point guard’s dream” tell that to Chris Duhon, and Stephon Marbury. Or his point guard while he was coaching Denver. You discredit Nash and Felton by making that statement without any factual evidence. Again, Duhon’s numbers (the last PG to play under D’Antoni) are nowhere near Felton’s

        What issues did Gallinari have last year? Im curious. He played 81 games. And I’d argue that a player’s value is the ability to make teammates better. Every team is not able to surround their best player with 2-3 other top flight talent i.e Celtics, Heat, Lakers ect. But the fact that Amar’e can make solid players up their ability soley speaks to that player’s value. Hints the term “Most Valuable Player”.

        Again, if you read my initial post, I said Amar’e shouldn’t win due to the fact that NYK won’t win 50 games. But that is just my opinion. To then say “Amar’e shouldn’t win due to this that or the thrid” without providing any statistical or historical evidence is asinine. You brought up efficency, but he is among the most effiecent players this year, and has always been. As you said a week and a half ago you would have agreed, but just like the Mavs, Heat, Bulls and other teams, they hit a losing streak. Who is to say they won’t win 7 out of 9 next week and then be right around 7-9 games over .500. When you only base who should win on MVP during a fluid NBA season, you set yourself up.

      • leearmon - Jan 27, 2011 at 10:46 PM

        Oh yeah, you can add Miami to the list of teams too.

  11. invisiblemonkeyy - Jan 26, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Just to throw a leg bone into the wood chipper, uh, so to speak, but David Robinson in 1995 was the best player on a championship contender, league MVP, best player on and unquestioned leader of the West’s number one seed, best record in the league, and romped through the West playoffs until the Conference Finals, where Robinson was undressed, unmanned, and outplayed by the man who should have been MVP, Hakeem Olajuwon.

    So “best player on the best team” doesn’t hold water to me any longer. “Best player on a playoff team”, perhaps. But to give it every year to the #1 guy on the team with the best record is silly. Probably a better criteria for the award is to narrow the list of contenders to the players that other teams go, “Oh man, we’re playing {name} tomorrow night, got to get up for that game”.

    That list, off the top of my head, currently includes:

    Kobe (fading a bit, but has a lifetime exemption)
    Dwight Howard
    Kevin Durant

    Second tier:
    Bryant Westbrook
    Tony Parker
    Steve Nash

    There have to be 2 or 3 more second-tier guys, but I’m blanking. Amare’ doesn’t get on the list because he’s an abysmal defender.

    Mostly I think this award isn’t really that important except for in the historical sense, both for a player’s legacy (which is why I’m annoyed Kobe only has one), and to be able to look back and go, “Oh, 2011 was *that* guy’s year”. Just rename it to “Baddest MFer of {year}”.

    • leearmon - Jan 26, 2011 at 11:20 PM

      Amar’e is an “abysmal” defender, but Steve Nash isn’t??

      • sixers25 - Jan 27, 2011 at 2:12 AM


        I agree with some of the things you said but unless you are talking about someone winning multiple MVP’s you shouldn’t look at the post season results. The Sixers were single handedly carried by AI in the regular season, lead the league in scoring and his team lead the conference in wins. You can’t say Shaq should have won it because the Lakers killed the Sixers in the finals and Shaq was the main reason.

        In terms of understanding the historical impact of MVP’s I 100% agree. Steve Nash winning multiple MVP’s means that he is one of the top 5 point guards of all time and top two in his era. Sorry but I don’t even know if he cracks the top 5. The media loved the floppy haired North American white guy and wanted to anoint him MVP for all the white guys in America wh love basketball. For christ’s sake last year was the first time he was in the conference finals.

      • invisiblemonkeyy - Jan 27, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        Good point. I wasn’t thinking along defensive lines when I added Nash & Parker to the list–just having those two looked awkward, but no one else came to mind.

        Since it appears I can’t reply to sixers25’s comment (probably only allows three nested comments), I didn’t mean that because Olajuwon destroyed Robinson in the playoffs that he deserved the regular-season MVP, my underlying point was that the Rockets’ low seed that year hurt him in the vote.

        About AI, see my above post. AI was the baddest MFer in the league that year and utterly deserved it. He carried an average Sixers team to the Finals and even won a game against that Lakers juggernaut–even though I still think the call that sent Game 1 to OT and the eventual win was bogus.

        And in a sane world, Nash wouldn’t have those two MVPs. He was the engine that made the league’s most fun-to-watch team go, and facing the Suns in those years was definitely a “get-up” game, but it was as much due to D’Antoni’s coaching (see the Knicks this year) as Nash’s individual brilliance. Maybe I can see 2005, but Kobe was robbed in 2006.

      • sixers25 - Jan 28, 2011 at 1:02 AM

        1. I didn’t read and analyze your first comment I only replied to the statement you made in response to my comment. You said, “but the award is not about who is the best player, again if it was Jordan would have won the award at least 10 times, same with Magic, Russell ect. its about a player’s value to his team”. Along with your other statements in that response to my comment it was not an unreasonable assumption for me to think you were arguing Amare for MVP.

        2. On your point about the Suns record last year you are absolutely right. But with that record no one had the audacity to argue for Nash or Amare for MVP.

        3. I never questioned the overall quality of the Knicks wins I only pointed out that before tonight they had not beaten won against the teams with the 3 best records in the East.

        4. It is awesome that you are using all this data but I am questioning where the hell you are getting it from. Hollinger’s PER ratings list Lebron, Paul, Wade, Howard and Kobe in the top 5. Amare is 12th. efficiency ratings have Love, Lebron, Gasol,Griffin and Howard in the top 5 then STAT at 6. Here I’ll even cite my sources:

        5. Yea Duhon is not a starting point guard never was but a guy like him without great talent had 20 assists in a game under D’Antoni. And Starbary? Really? I feel like saying the guys name is self explanatory enough to say why he didn’t pan out. I could really dig hard for numbers as to how playing for D’Antoni helps a point guards numbers but it really is not worth the time.

        6. You are absolutely right Danilo had no real issues last year. I also was wrong to give Amare credit for his improvement. Gallinari is shooting a lower percentage from the field and three than last year, scoring four tenths of a point more in half a minute more action. Truly earth shattering transformation.

        7. And if the Knicks win 7 of 9 we can talk about him as MVP again until then all of the hype is just hype.

      • leearmon - Jan 28, 2011 at 10:20 AM

        You bring up my exact point. No one would have had the “audacity” to argue for Amar’e or Nash last year (although both finished in the top 10 in MVP voting) probably due to their team’s regular season record. However they were true contenders by the very definition of the word. They went to the Conference Finals! they were more of a “contender” than the Thunder yet Durant finished second in voting. So maybe no one had the “audacity”to argue their case, but someone probably should have.

        You may not have questioned the quality of the Knicks wins, you just questioned them altogether.

        “… You have had success with Chicago but you haven’t beaten the other top teams this season.”

        Now I am willing to believe you meant to say “beaten the other top teams in the east this season” and this sentence was a slight oversight on your part, but as I pointed out, this statement is false. New York has currently beaten 4 division leaders.

        Danilo’s shooting is down, if you look at his per game numbers. Yet his advanced stats show a different tune. His PER is up. His TS% is up. All the while lowering his turnovers. So yeah, that is earth shattering considering the effect Stat is having on Chandler, Fields & Felton…

        Which leads me back to Ray-Ray. Your point is a poor one. You incorrectly stated that “Yea Duhon is not a starting point guard never was…” Actually yes, he was a starting PG. For two years in New York, and in Chicago. And you question Stephon Marbury’s legitimacy? Im hoping you’re joking. Steph (although nuttier than squirrel stuff) career numbers are nothing to sneeze at

        And again if your first point was true, any PG would thrive in Dantoni’s offense. You called it a “dream” but the fact of the matter is this. It’s not just the system. Show me one advanced metric that factors a player’s system into his efficiency. Player’s make plays. Yes Felton deserves credit for his play thus far, but you are delusional if you don’t think Stoudemire is the main reason for his success this year.


        “Feltons first 3 seasons were his first three seasons where most NBA point guards are still finding themselves”

        Really? Instead of going back and forth with me, you should try brushing up on your basketball knowledge. The 3rd year in actuality is the year you are supposed to show the most improvement especially in PG. Consider the following

        Chris Paul had a 28.3 PER IN HIS 3RD YEAR!!! A WIN SHARE OF 17.8 and a ts% .576

        Deron Williams had at that point his best PER by far with a 20.8 and a .595 TS%

        Both Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are having their best seasons of their careers, in you guessed it, their 3rd sesaons …

        I could go on. But hopefully you get the point.

        Now back to the efficiency debate. How is my opinion different than yours? I said Stat was far more efficient than Rose. (as you pointed) out shows that. I never said Amar’e is more efficient or as efficient as Lebron, Paul, Wade Howard ect.. In fact I stated James and Paul should ALWAYS be in the middle of the MVP conversation (although numbers suggest Lebron and Wade are having almost the same impact on Miami, with the slight edge to James) If you are talking about the defensive numbers, you can’t just look at PER and efficiency stats. Look at Defensive Rating and Defensive win shares to see where Amar’e stands compared to Dirk (Kurt’s 3rd player he named for the award) and Durant.

        Finally, Im not arguing Amar’e FOR MVP. Im only stating he has to be in the discussion. To just dismiss his season, and the impact on both the Knicks and Suns is lazy, and a disjustice. Like I said earlier, Amar’e was arguably the best player in the second half of the season last year, and he willed his team to the Western Conference Championship. Although their regular season was nothing to sing about, they were CONTENDERS by the very definition of the word. Only 3 other teams contended for the title better than them. But some criteria for the MVP cannot be measured via stats. When the NYK lost 6 games in a row earlier this season, it was Stat who called them out leading them to 8 in a row. When New York needed him, he went on a crazy streak of scoring 30+ pts a game for them. He’s logged an insane amount of minutes because when he sits, the team struggles to a point where every level of production falls off. When faced with a huge game vs the Heat last night, Amar’e says no one is afraid, giving his teammates a level of confidence and ability to win. These things are impossible to overlook. If you don’t consider that MVP worthy, then we are just stuck in a stalemate.

      • sixers25 - Jan 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        1. Yep they were and if they made MVP’s for the first round of the playoffs and conference semi finals they are perfect. No…. No one should have had the audacity to argue their case because it is a regular season award*.

        *On that note I have absolutely no clue what the hell you could possibly be arguing, you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth here.
        “Finally, Im not arguing Amar’e FOR MVP….”
        But “If you don’t consider that MVP worthy”

        No I think we’re stuck on a stalemate because I have no idea how to argue against someone who “isn’t arguing Amare for MVP” but is providing only arguments for why Amare deserves to be MVP.

      • leearmon - Jan 28, 2011 at 6:12 PM

        sixers25 If you were to read my posts completely you would see I have stated several times, I do not think Amar’e is the MVP, however i believe he is in the conversation. If you were to read the actual article, you would see how Kurt explained why Amar’e (and Rose) are only in the conversation due to “storylines”. The points im arguing are that Amar’e’s numbers do show he is well deserving to be among the top MVP vote getters, although I don’t think he should win the award. Life is not black and white, right and wrong. There are shades of gray which you clearly cannot see.

        With the Suns point, you obviously are missing the fact that although their regluar season was not among the league’s elite, they were “contenders”. So when you or others say an award can’t be given to players on teams that aren’t “contenders” that raises red flags. If by “contenders” you mean teams in the race for home court advantage, sure. But I speak of contending for titles. And like the Suns example, contending teams don’t always have the best records. If that were the case, Lebron would have two rings already.


      • sixers25 - Jan 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM

        In terms of Rose I disagree with Kurt. I think there are valid basketball reasons that warrant his discussion for MVP. He has clearly taken his game to another level and his team is among the 3 or 4 best in the conference.
        In terms of STAT clearly a lot of his consideration from most people starts out with, “He has made the New York Knicks relevant again.” While this is admirable most guys, even guys putting up great numbers on middle of the pack teams record wise do not get legitimate MVP hype. Last year DWade was absolutely nasty and pretty much the only reason the Heat won 45 games. He got some hype for MVP but no where near the hype of Amare this season when his team had much less talent than Amare’s team. You have to acknowledge part of the reason why Amare is being mentioned so much is because he plays in the media capital of the world

  12. btanner17 - Jan 26, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    oh my gosh thank you so much for writing this article. I think this is literally the first MVP article I’ve seen that is actually based on basketball. 1. Lebron 2. CP3 3. Dwight Howard 4. Nowitzki
    Everyone else is a tier below, and even nowitzki is falling out of the picture.

    Now lets analyze this portion of a comment:
    “False…your criteria is flawed (as is mine, but yours is more flawed). First, LBJ is NOT the best player in the league. The best player in the league doesn’t bolt an up and coming team (FYI, not a Cavs fan) for which he was the best player and leader for a team with two established stars just so he doesn’t have to take 30 shots a game. That’s a fact. You can’t be the best player in the league and be afraid to be the center piece.”
    So, Kurt Helin’s criteria is flawed because he didn’t include non-basketball into his criteria for the best basketball player? The Cavs were far from up-and-coming; they were on the decline and are obviously horrible, as you can see this year. Why is Lebron obligated to stay and never win a championship when he can play with his two friends who are also amazing? No, that is not a fact. That is an illogical claim, and I have never heard anyone say that one of the criteria for MVP was not to have left his team the year before. AND the best part…. afraid to be the centerpiece? He still is the centerpiece!! If anything he did the opposite and proved that he can be the clear #1 on a much better team.\\
    And lebron never takes nights off…. watch him play, or just look at his stats, hes the most consistent elite player in the league… not even going to start to explain how lebron doesnt quit in the playoffs either.

  13. zblott - Jan 27, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    More insight into Amar’e clearly NOT being an MVP.

  14. downtowndanny - Jan 27, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    ok you clearly wrote this just to get a response, regardless you need to put the coke plate down, walk away from the meth, and find a 12 step. You obviously haven’t watched D Rose much this year, outside of TNT. No other player has willed his team this season like Rose. Noah out, Boozer out and they continued to win. You can’t cheapen his value by saying it’s due to coach Thibs. Sure they play hella defense now, but in your twisted world we could just sub in anybody and still get the same results because it’s all due to coaching. Um, no stupid! Do you understand how sports work? I’m a big CP3 fan, but even he couldn’t have pulled out all those victories Rose did alone. Amare looked like he would run away with it, but I knew reality would show back up, as it tends to do in New York. As much as Blake has been wilding out, you still have to give the nod to Rose. It’s about wins, positioning for the playoffs not just highlights. You’re a bonehead!

  15. btanner17 - Jan 27, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    notice how everyone who is against this article doesnt cite basketball as a reason that lebron shouldnt be mvp

  16. gmsingh - Jan 27, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    LeBron is hardly the most valuable player on the Heat. Doesn’t the MVP actually have to be the most valuable guy on the team?

  17. chitownmatt - Jan 27, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Your article is stupid and very premature.
    “…Rose is undoubtedly good, but he is not as efficient a player other elite team leaders such as LeBron or Dwyane Wade….”

    Apparently you must have missed the Bulls Heat game on Jan 15th when Rose kicked Wade’s @ss.

    Its January, lets get back to the serious mvp talk in April. The reason people are talking about Rose and Amare as MVP candidates is because its January and they have been playing like…. MVP candidates. Sure Lebron and Dirk are up there, they have been for years and they are supposed to be there.

    The storyline and the reason people are talking is because Amare and Rose have elevated their games to the highest level and if they keep it up through the season then they will have become SERIOUS mvp candidates.

    Maybe you should watch a Bulls game and write a follow up…

  18. whtsand - Jan 27, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    As a long time Laker fan I have to say I disagree with LBJ being the most valuable player and no I don’t think it’s Kobe either. MVP is the player who makes a team better and in my opinion that is Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. LBJ is best at being disrespectful, loud, obnoxious and way too full of himself. No way does he deserve MVP until he changes his attitude. Let’s get it in perspective, stop the emotional talk and get to the Most Valuable Player overall – I vote for Blake!

    • drakost - Jan 30, 2011 at 11:07 PM

      Hey you know what, I’m right there with ya. Take Blake from the Clippers and you get… um well, the Clippers.

  19. quetzpalin - Jan 27, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Wow, Kurt, the level of commenting here is a bit…um…different than FB&G. Regardless of the arguments, I’ve long felt much the same way. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that Jordan should have won every year 89-93 and 96-97, Olajuwon in 94-95, Shaq from 96-01, and you’d be hard pressed to find many people still thinking that Kobe wasn’t the best player in the league during the middle of this decade.

    There just seems to be some aspect of human nature that needs to have this sort of churn. Of all of the arguments regarding the criteria for MVP, this has always been my favorite: If all teams disbanded at the end of the season, and you were the captain of a team headed into the playoffs with the very first pick, who would you choose? That’s your MVP right there.

    And if you were to choose anyone but LeBron, you’d be crazy.

  20. jimsjam33 - Jan 27, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Let’s get it right . Lebron James is not the most valuable player in the league right now . He was the MVP when he was playing for Cleveland and his play and numbers confirmed his right to be called the best , but let’s not get tied up in the past and tales of what use to be. The best player , and the individual who is most deserving is from Los Angeles , and believe it or not he is not a Laker.
    Blake Griffin has taken the Clippers from being the perennerial patsies and made them into a serious team . A team you have to battle , night in and night out , for a victory . Griffin doesn’t have Dwayne Wade , Chris Bosh , and Mike Miller to back him up . Griffin doesn’t have Paul Gasol , Lamar Odom , Ron Artest , and Kobe Bryant on his home floor . Doesn’t matter though .
    Griffin is the most exciting player to come into the league since Lebron James . The crowds prove it . The hype proves it . The fans can’t be wrong this time . This guy gives the meaning of power forward a new dimension . There has never been a better rookie at that position in the history of the NBA. Any argument ? Only a fool could argue .
    The ” Rim Reaper ” has the best numbers of any player , regardless of position , in the NBA since mid December. That’s for points and rebounds . Blake Griffin has folks talking about the NBA again . It’s just like the old days when Magic and Bird came into the league . It’s exciting , no matter what team you root for .

  21. drakost - Jan 30, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    You know it kills me when I see an article declaring LBJ should be the MVP. You can’t even cleanly state that lebron is the MVP of his own team. Look at the numbers. Wades’ numbers are damn near identicle to Lebron’s. The only big advantage that Lebron has stat wise is assists.
    Wade also seems to possess that intangible quality that the MVP should have. You see it in the way they carry themselves on the court. Wade is the heart of this team. He has that killer instict that Lebron has yet to show (Those who are going to argue that LBJ has that killer instinct need to think about this… ever hear anyone question Wade’s killer instinct? Me neither).

    So with that said… Shouldn’t the League MVP at least be the clear cut best on his own team?

  22. jimsjam33 - Jan 31, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    The ” Rim Reaper ” left Charlotte for dead Saturday night scoring 15 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in the first quarter ! His coach ( Vinny Del Negro ) must believe in the ” mercy rule ” as the Clippers slaughtered fthe Bobcats , who came into Clipper Country at Staples on a four game win streak . Blake Griffin is the MVP !

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