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Fan debate: Three reasons LeBron James deserves the 2010-11 NBA MVP more than Derrick Rose
It's nearly a foregone conclusion the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose(notes) is going to win the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. There doesn't seem to be anyone at most of the major sports media outlets who even raises an eyebrow when the rah-rah cheerleading for Rose begins every time the Bulls are discussed.
Yet, as I pointed out in my article Is Derrick Rose the Worst NBA MVP Candidate Front-Runner Ever? I believe his candidacy is seriously flawed, and there are other far more deserving candidates who could and should win the award.
In my article discussing Rose's illegitimacy for the award, I drew quite a bit of criticism for focusing mainly on PER, although many of those criticizing me falsely claimed it was the only thing I mentioned. While I definitely focused on that stat, purposely trying to be as succinct as possible and not turn the article into a book, there are a number of other factors that led me to believe LeBron is still the MVP of the NBA, despite all the hype surrounding Rose.
And this is not a knock on Rose. The young Bulls guard is a fine player. In fact, I'd almost be willing to say he was a great player if it weren't for the fact most of his fans would see that as some dichotomy on my part. Yet, no matter how fine or "great" he is, he is not an MVP player; at least not this year. Not in competition with LeBron and others.
Following are three reasons LeBron James deserves the 2010-11 NBA MVP more than Derrick Rose, and should win his third-consecutive Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Ask ten fans or so-called "expert" analysts what the definition of Most Valuable Player is or should be, and you're almost certain to get ten completely different answers. My answer to the question, and one of the primary reasons for my belief LeBron is the MVP this season, is that it should be defined as the best player in the NBA who is playing on one of the best teams in the league.
There are those—especially those who support Rose for MVP—who will make the claim the player has to be on a team with either the best team. Of course, Rose supporters throw in the caveat it just has to be the best team in a respective conference; knowing the Bulls don't stand a chance of overtaking the San Antonio Spurs for the best win-loss record in the NBA.
They point out many of the past MVP winners (especially over the past two decades) came from teams that were the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in their conferences; ignoring the fact some came from teams that weren't. Using this argument, their argument will fall to pieces if the Miami Heat are able to either overtake the Bulls, or even the Celtics for one of the top two spots in the Eastern Conference this year; a distinct possibility as I thoroughly laid out in my article Could the Miami Heat Still Claim the Top Spot in the Eastern Conference?
Rose supporters further will make the claim all you have to do to know Rose should be the MVP is watch the games, as if those who don't agree with their view just aren't watching those games. They say that if you watch the games, it's clear Rose has had a much bigger impact on the Bulls winning than LeBron has on the Heat winning. Frankly, I can't see it from watching those games (and I have watched), so apparently I'm blind.
However, as Tom Haberstroh points out in his article A Closer Look at 'LeBron vs. D-Rose' MVP Debate, much of the fanfare about Rose's impact on the Bulls wins tries desperately to ignore the fact much of Chicago's success hinges on their incredible improvement this year on defense, which has far more to do with their coach, Tom Thibodeau, than anything Rose is doing.
Those same Rose supporters, and many Heat-haters, will claim LeBron's impact on Miami's success this season is minimal. However, all one has to do is look at the number of times LeBron has been out of the lineup and how poorly the Heat have played when that happens, even with Dwyane Wade(notes) and/or Chris Bosh(notes) still playing, to see the impact he has on Miami.
Haberstroh goes even further in dispelling this myopic view by Rose supporters, delving into the plus-minus numbers of both players. When Rose is out of the lineup, the Bulls don't take some huge tumble, as his supporters will constantly hypothetically claim would happen, and instead do quite well. However, with LeBron on the court, the Heat outscore their opponents by more than 11 points, and when he's on the bench Miami can barely outscore the other team at all.
Pretty compelling evidence of who has the most impact on their team. If nothing else, this point could almost be called a wash (because Rose supporters will point out Derrick's supposed superiority in clutch shots over LeBron, which is subjective) if it wasn't for one thing we can also look at, and that's the impact LeBron's loss to his former team has had.
Over the past two years (both of which seasons LeBron has won the MVP), his Cleveland Cavaliers enjoyed the best record in the NBA, winning 61 and 66 games respectively. Since he left they've become one of the worst teams the association has ever seen in its history, with a current record of 13-57.
Some will claim LeBron wasn't the only player Cleveland lost, and that is certainly true. They also lost Shaquille O'Neal(notes) and Delonte West(notes) to the Celtics, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) followed LeBron to South Beach, but anyone believing LeBron's loss isn't responsible for at least 90 percent of the drop-off in wins for the Cavaliers club this season simply doesn't understand his true impact.
Rose fans are quick to point out the Bulls inimitable young guard is the only player in the NBA this season averaging at least 24 points and 8 assists. Some put it in the context of Rose being the only player in the Top 10 in both of those statistical categories. They make this claim as if it's something that should hold a great deal of significance in regard to MVP consideration.
My only response to that would be, are you kidding me? LeBron's stats dwarf Rose's in so many categories it's not even funny, and simply because LeBron is ranked #13 in assists rather than in the Top 10 is hardly reason to vote Rose over LeBron.
Another argument I constantly hear from Rose fans is Rose is one of only a handful of players who have ever averaged 25 PPG, 8 PPG, and 4 RPG (although he's actually averaging 24.9 PPG and 7.8 APG at the moment).
It's as if they don't realize how weak this argument is considering LeBron is not only on that list of players who've done it, a great counter-argument to it is LeBron is one of only a few players who have ever averaged 25 PPG, 7 RPG, 7 APG, and is pretty much doing it right now (26.3, 7.4, and 6.9 respectively).
However, such cherry-picked statistical accomplishments are frankly meaningless in many respects. Instead of trying to boost Rose's legitimacy by trying to find some statistical measure to put him in the same sentence as some of the greats like Jordan and the Big "O" there should simply be a straight comparison and contrast between LeBron's stats and Rose's, and when that's done, LeBron comes out ahead every time by a country mile.
Also, it must be remembered Wade's stats also dwarf Rose's and he's on the same team as LeBron, and contrary to the continually espoused, and frankly idiotic, notion this is an argument against James' candidacy, I think logic dictates it's anything but. The fact Wade is taking production away from James and yet LeBron is still able to have complete statistical superiority over Rose should count for something, shouldn't it? For if you imagine what LeBron's stats would be if Wade wasn't taking up all that production, it's easy to see James' stats would make Rose's puny by comparison.
In fact, we don't really have to imagine, for they'd pretty much be what they were the past two seasons with the Cavaliers; MVP numbers.
Although I used PER as a main focus of my previous article, there are a number of other statistical analytics that give a clear picture why LeBron is more deserving of the award, and there's one statistic Bulls fans just can't get around; his FG percentage.
Allen Iverson(notes) is the only MVP winner in the modern era (since 1960) who has ever averaged as little as 44 percent from the field (Rose's current FG percentage, which is higher this week than last, when it was in the 43.8 range), averaging 42.0 percent the year he won the award.
While the Chicago Bulls have what is considered by many the best defense in the NBA, holding their opponents to the second-lowest points average at 91.1 PPG (right behind the Boston Celtics' 90.9 PPG), there are a number of defensive statistical categories the Miami Heat are their equal or better, and there is not much one could criticize about Miami's sixth-place ranking in opponents scoring at 94.4 PPG.
Derrick Rose isn't a poor defender, and I'd actually admit he's a pretty good one. However, his defensive significance to the Bulls is simply overshadowed by LeBron's importance to the Heat's ability to play defense.
Sure, Wade is also a large part of why Miami's perimeter D is so good this year, but it's the addition of LeBron that is chief among the reasons the Heat are able to do to teams what they did to the Pistons on Wednesday, Mar. 23 in their 100-94 victory over Detroit at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
In that game, and all season long, LeBron has been the primary lock-down defender on most the Heat's best players (no matter the position). He has guarded point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, and even centers, and that is saying something that's out of this world if you ask me. Can you even imagine Derrick Rose trying to guard a center like Marcus Camby(notes)? It would be silly. It would be something out of a Harlem Globetrotters skit.
As I said at the beginning, it's almost a foregone conclusion Rose is going to win, but this is because the MVP has devolved into a popularity contest, where media pundits and fans completely ignore any and all evidence that gets in the way of their hyped candidate. Rose is the current flavor of the month, and while I'm not saying he's not a fine player, he's not worthy of the MVP.
Much of the reason LeBron hasn't been getting the hype this year boils down to two reasons. He and the Heat angered the NBA world by joining up in South Beach, and there is a pathetic reluctance to vote for any player to win three-consecutive MVPs.
Yet, LeBron is the best overall player in the NBA by a huge margin, and he's on a team that has a legitimate shot with less than a dozen games to go of securing the top spot in the Eastern Conference. To claim he shouldn't even be in the conversation for MVP is beyond ludicrous, and I'm of the belief to claim he doesn't deserve it more than Derrick Rose ignores the evidence.
However, I know many will ignore all, and still view Derrick Rose as a legitimate MVP candidate who is more deserving than LeBron. Whatever you believe, share your view by taking part in Yahoo! Sports new Grudge Judge feature on the issue. Simply click on the link and it will take you to Grudge Judge Case #357 where I've posed the question this article answers. Basically, you can give your answer with your vote.
All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Yahoo! Sports and Basketball-Reference.com.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
Haberstroh, Tom. (2011). A Closer Look at 'LeBron vs. D-Rose' MVP Debate. ESPN.
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