Derrick Rose’s MVP candidacy has not only incited a national debate as to whether he is truly worthy of the award, but if he wins, will also ignite a second, and potentially more explosive debate as to who actually merits 1st Team All-NBA consideration.
With Dwight Howard considered to be a lock at Center, and Kevin Durant and LeBron James virtual locks at the Forward positions, Rose’s MVP honors would almost assure him of one of the final two Guard spots since no MVP award winner since the post-NBA/ABA merger has ever failed to make First Team All-NBA, and only 4 have failed to do so in NBA history (Bill Russell in 1958, 1961, 1962, and Dave Cowens in 1973). Assuming this remains consistent, the 2011 1st Team All-NBA would come down to one remaining spot, and two deserving candidates: Dwyane Wade vs Kobe Bryant.
So who’s odd man out?
Wade has certainly had the better overall stats, outperforming Kobe in 7/11 major categories, while trailing only slightly in two categories: assists, and turnovers. Moreover, given his age and the fact that he is still in his prime, the argument can be made that Wade is in fact a better player at this point in his career than his counterpart, who is embarking upon the twilight of his tenure.
However, my vote still goes to Kobe. Believe me, I’m torn on this one, but I’ve got to go with Kobe.
Despite the fact that neither player has been particularly impressive in close games this season, Kobe has still nonetheless outperformed Wade in the clutch . As an example, based upon the NBA’s standard “5 in 5” metric, which measures a player’s performance in the final 5 minutes of a game, and neither team down by more than 5 points, Kobe Bryant has managed to generate significantly more points, assists, and shoot a slightly higher FG and EFG percentage than Dwyane Wade, during his team’s most pressure packed games. Conversely, Wade has not only struggled to deliver, but has often deferred to LeBron James during key possessions. While much of this deference can be attributed to Lebron’s point-forward ball domination, and a lack of a defined 4Q offensive game plan by an inexperienced head coach, Wade’s performance has still nonetheless been below even his standards.
Assuming 48 min of productivity: 5 min left, no team down by more than 5 points
A second, and more significant point, is that Kobe Bryant is the defined Alpha Dog for his team, while it is highly questionable as to whether Wade is either the Alpha Dog, or even the best player, on the Miami Heat. After all, it is Lebron, not Wade, who is the Heat’s primary candidate for MVP this season, and it is Lebron, not Wade, who has managed most of the Heat’s crunchtime possessions. I am not necessarily declaring Kobe to be better than Wade, but in my mind, if I am picking between the two, I give the edge to the guy who carries the bulk of his team’s successes and failures on his shoulders on a daily basis.
Again, it’s a tough call – but my vote goes to Kobe. Moreover, in my mind, this honor is not only about what each player has done during the 2010-2011 regular season, but also about what we expect them to shoulder during the playoffs.
So there you have it Kobe Nation – I just threw you a bone. Sorry Wade’s World, but everyone lost out with the Scheme Team’s decision over the summer.
Regardless, I can’t wait to watch the fireworks once the announcements are finalized this May.