The quotes are there because I don't actually have an MVP ballot. Also, there was the thing where I derisively mocked MVP voting in general. So...
But that's not to say that a "correct" MVP can't be chosen- just that the MVP is generally chosen in imbecilic fashion. So what follows is my Blogger MVP vote. The final blogger MVP awards should appear on fellow SBN blog Sactown Royalty this week.
1. LeBron James
I have no love for anyone without the slightest semblance of a jump shot, anyone that comes up with nonsense like "crab dribbles," or anyone that displays the unbelievable sense of self-entitlement that LeBron James does. But whether he's the MVP or not has nothing to do with whether I like LeBron James, the man. Fact is, he just posted one of the most mindblowing seasons in the history of the league. He was magnificent offensively, accounting for 33%+ of his team's possessions, at a 31.7 PER clip (T-1st NBA history). He was terrific defensively; Basketball Prospectus' defensive metrics indicate that he held his counterparts to about 93% of their normal production. There are question marks- how did such a physical defender average a ridiculously low 1.6 fouls/36?- but I give him the benefit of the doubt.
2. Chris Paul
We've watched him the whole year, so we are inherently biased. The numbers are not biased, and they agree with us. Chris Paul was awesome. No point guard has come close to doing what he did this year. He led the league in assist rate and steals rate for the second consecutive year, while out-rebounding fellow MVP candidates Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. He finished 3rd in PER, a hair behind Wade, but Wins Produced says he easily outproduced every player in the NBA. Aside from the league leading steals rate, BP metrics show that he held his counterparts to 97% of their normal production, among the top marks for all starting guards. Based on Wins Produced and PER, I have CP and LBJ virtually equal offensively. But LBJ gets the edge on defense.
3. Dwyane Wade
Most every season in NBA history, D-Wade's year would have won him the MVP trophy with ease. But as I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is not your average season. Wade's resume is pretty ridiculous. A league high 36.2% of possessions used. A career high 30.3 PER. On top of that, an 11.6 turnover rate for a guy using 36% of possessions is obscene. Where I start to question him- relative to Paul and James- is defensively. Sure, he has a loaded highlight reel of block after block. Yet BP has him giving up 4% more to his counterparts than they would normally get offensively. Paul's edge defensively and in Wins Produced gives him the overall advantage.
4. Dwight Howard
The three elite offensive players of 2008-2009 were LBJ, CP, and Wade. After that, there's a significant drop-off to Dwight Howard. Where Howard excelled was the defensive end and on the boards. He led the league in total rebound rate for the second straight year and the third in the four seasons. He rates as a terrific one on one defender against centers, and many of the blocks resulting from his 5.8% block rate occurred in help situations. All that said, I'm underselling his offense a bit too much. Not only did he post a 25.4 PER (4th in the league), he accomplished it on 60%+ true shooting, and ranked second in Wins Produced. He certainly has a strong case to finish higher than 4th, but I just find the offensive drop off too steep.
5. Kobe Bryant
His usage was up in 2009 from last year, but his overall efficiency stayed virtually constant for the fourth consecutive season. It bugs me that people still consider his offense in the class of LBJ/CP/Flash. Not only do people need to get out of their dated viewpoints, Kobe's peak circa 2005 was not close to what The Holy Trinity accomplished this year. On top of that, it's hard to argue that his defense isn't overrated. For starters, he's the only guy among these 5 players to post a negative adjusted defensive +/-. While Basketball Prospectus does have him ceding just 98% of average opponent production, the evidence suggests that he's an average to above average defender, but nowhere near the All-Defense guy that Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy routinely make him out to be. Kobe Bryant is still the best "difficult shot maker in the world." That doesn't make him the best player in the world.
Tim Duncan and Brandon Roy are right there (and by right there, I mean right at #5). I just question how great Timmy actually was on D (adjusted +/- and BP suggest he wasn't fantastic) and Roy's offense isn't Kobe level at this point. I hate not putting Dirk's amazing stroke in here, but his season wasn't up to his normal par.
As for Marc Stein putting Chauncey Billups in his top 5? To me, that's just really, really, really lazy journalism. It indicates that he has no idea why Denver was great this year- Nene turning in a truly amazing offensive and defensive season, Carmelo Anthony restructuring his game to fit into a new system, Chris Andersen and Co. turning the squad into the 8th best defensive team in the NBA. He has no idea why they were good. Instead of actually doing some research, he decides to take a random guess that it was primarily due to Chauncey. I won't say that I hate Marc Stein, because he does some great player interviews, breaks a lot of important team news, and generally seems to do his research well. But in this instance, he clearly did not. Millions of readers will come across his work, assuming that he did his homework, and take what he says at face value. That's the sad part.
Well, anyway, here's a pre-emptive congratulations to LeBron James for winning his first MVP award. At least the voters are going to get it right for the first time in a while. There's just no way they give it to Kobe... right?