By Shawn Muller–
What makes an NBA basketball player a viable MVP candidate?
This is one of the age-old questions that, quite simply, has no direct answer. Everyone that follows professional basketball (and pro sports all together) has their own set of criteria when determining who is or isn’t MVP worthy. Is it the player with the best offensive numbers? Should it be someone who played for a playoff team? Maybe you think a player should be solid on both offense and on defense. What ever your reasons may be, one thing is for sure: there is no right or wrong answer any way you slice it.
For me, individual statistics, while important, should not be the main determining factor when judging a players MVP validity. There are plenty of players that fill up the stat-sheet every night, but they play for horrible teams (Monte Ellis anyone?).
I am not saying an MVP candidate needs to come from a playoff team, but it helps. The problem with basing ones MVP decision on playoff appearances, however, is that playoff teams usually have a deep roster. Kobe Bryant would probably not have won championships without Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, and Michael Jordan probably would not have won titles without Scottie Pippen. What separates Kobe and Michael, from any other MVP candidate on a playoff team, is that they have/had the ability to will their teams to victory. As long as those two are/were playing, that team is never out of it. MJ and Kobe are MVP’s in every sense of the word.
Don’t get me wrong. My MVP needs to put up solid offensive and defensive numbers. To me, though, putting up solid numbers when games are on the line is more important. I want to see the players that don’t shy away from the big stage, rather, they embrace it. I want to see the players that live for taking the game-winning shot, the players that are not afraid to take a charge, and those individuals who make the players around them better by keeping them involved.
I also want to see how certain players react when their team is dealt a blow to the lineup and they lose key pieces to the roster for extended periods of time.
Basically, I want to see a player like Derrick Rose.
Does anyone honestly think the Bulls would be leading the Central Division with a record of 20-10 heading into January with anyone else leading the team besides Derrick Rose? No star player has had to deal with more than he has.
Call me a homer all you want, but you can’t deny the facts. Key free-agent pickup, Carlos Boozer, missed the first couple of months of the season with a broken finger. Then, once Boozer returned to the lineup, the Bulls found out they would be losing Joakim Noah for 6-8 weeks after having hand surgery. Couple those two huge personnel loses with the fact that the Bulls have played the toughest schedule in the NBA, and it is easy to see why he has my vote for MVP.
If numbers are what tickles your fancy, then Rose has you covered there too. Statistically speaking, the 2010-2011 season has been his best. Rose is setting career highs in points-per-game, rebounds, steals, blocks, and assists. He is accomplishing all of this while having a target on his back all season. Sure, players like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant (to name a few), are also putting up great individual stats on teams that are more than likely playoff bound as well. But those two have not had to deal with the team injury woes and schedule that Rose has had to face.
Yes indeed, there are many ways for people to determine what the important factors are when voting on the MVP.
Any way you choose to break down what matters most, Derrick Rose should be at the top of your list.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, “Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.