I love the NBA.
And I love Porn.
That’s probably why I love Stan Van Gundy – he brings together the best of both worlds.
The NBA’s version of Ron Jeremy was at it again this week, this time artfully criticizing the media’s premature awarding of the MVP to Derrick Rose, several games prior to the conclusion of the regular season, while openly campaigning for Dwight Howard for MVP. And through the course of his appeal, Van Gundy actually raised a very interesting point:
“Look, and I’ve said this before, to me, with his rebounding his scoring and his defense, I don’t think there’s anybody that impacts as many possessions in a game as Dwight does. I think Derrick Rose has been great. I’ll have no problem at all if Derrick Rose wins the MVP. They’ve got the best record in the East, he’s been clearly their leader. You can make a great case for him. I think it’s a hard choice to make, he’s been great. But, I still don’t think anyone impacts as many possessions a game as Dwight does.
For the record, my vote at this stage of the season goes to Derrick Rose. But if you think about it, Stan Van makes a pretty interesting case.
I understand that league voters have historically valued winning above all else when selecting the season’s MVP. They have also used criteria such as Best Player in the League, Most Dominant Player in the League, Player that does the Most with the Least, Alpha Dog on the Team with the Best Record, America’s Sweetheart, and even “I’m Tired of Giving the Award to the Player that actually Deserves it”.
However, to Stan Van’s point, one criteria that has never really been used is that of the player that impacts the most possessions on both sides of the court. And in an era where defense wins championships, shouldn’t this be given more consideration? After all, isn’t a player’s ability to prevent points just as valuable as their ability to generate points? Moreover, isn’t a shot block that prevents 2 points just as mathematically effective as a layup that scores 2 points? If we work off this logic, Stan Van is right – no player in the NBA impacts more overall possessions on both sides of the floor than Dwight Howard. Through 69 games, Howard is averaging 23.1 points, 60.2% FG, 14.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game, while serving as both Orlando’s primary offensive facilitator as well as the league’s most dominant defensive force. If “impacting possessions” was an actual and valued criteria, the argument could be made that Howard would runaway with the MVP award at season’s end.
Another point of interest – had impacting possessions actually garnered more attention amongst MVP voters in the past, it might have actually
changed the course of the award’s history. In 1993, Charles Barkley won the MVP, but the runner up, Hakeem Olajuwon, impacted far more possessions on both sides of the floor because of his defensive superiority. The same could be said about Tim Duncan in 2001 when he was runner up to Allen Iverson, or Shaq in 2005 instead of Steve Nash, or even Kobe in 2007 instead of Dirk Nowitzki. Would the gap have been minimized or possibly erased had impacting possessions been taken into account?
I recognize that the MVP award can mean different things to a different voters, but the important takeaway from Stan Van’s comments is that voters need to begin incorporating defensive impact, and impact per possession, as part of their overall evaluation criteria when determining the MVP. In the interim, we’ll sit tight and wait to see what the NBA’s “Hedgehog” has up his sleeve next.