Stop it, please. Derrick Rose, regardless of which inane argument folks choose to offer on his behalf, is not the NBA’s most valuable player for the 2010-11 season.
Incidentally, the fact that he seems to be the consensus pick among so many talking heads and hardcore fans speaks to how ridiculous the public’s criteria for this award is. How poorly though out, and easily swayed everyone seems to be by a few nice storylines and the reemergence of a once-great franchise at the top of the Eastern Conference.
The biggest reason that Rose appears to be the hands-down, clear-cut choice for league MVP this year is his team’s regular season success. The fact that his Chicago squad has risen from the eighth place hole they were in last season, to sitting atop their conference -- all but locking up home court advantage for the duration of the playoffs against opponents from the East.
And, apparently, because Rose is the best player and on-the-floor leader of that team, he’s the most valuable player in the league. Or, you know, something with similar faulty logic.
If the best player on the best team is the MVP of the league, then the award should go to Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan or Tony Parker. If the player with the greatest impact on a team’s win/loss differential is the MVP of the league then the award should go to LeBron James. If the most unappreciated key component of a championship team is the MVP of the league, then the award should go to Kobe Bryant.
Of course, if you want to actually give out the MVP based on what the award is supposed to be handed out for, you know, being the LeBron-like reason that a team isn’t a lottery-bound trainwreck -- Dwight Howard is the clear-cut choice.
Before proceeding, it’s important to note that nobody believes that Rose isn’t a great player. He’s arguably the best point guard in the league and is without a doubt one of the top-five talents currently in the NBA. Without him, the Bulls surely wouldn’t be the improbable championship contenders they currently are.
But they wouldn’t be awful. And above all else, he isn’t the reason for his squad’s turnaround this season – which is supposedly the main reason he’s at the helm of the candidates list.
Remember, this year’s Chicago team is far different than the eighth-place, barely-limped-into-the-playoffs group that stumbled into the lion’s den during the 2009-10 postseason run. Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer were still glints in the eyes of teams that knew they were going to lose their guys come season’s end at that point. Instead, Chicago’s attack was completely reliant on the successes and failures of uber-gunner John Salmons, the out-of-place Kirk Hinrich and ‘softie’ Brad Miller.
That incarnation of the Bulls was good for nearly 98 points per game on the offensive end, and surrendering a tad over 99 points on the defensive end. Hardly a recipe for success.
Now compare those totals to this year’s Chicago squad. The same team, mind you, that is essentially scoring the same amount of points per game – but only allowing 91 points to opposing offenses.
Since all evidence indicates that the Bulls’ success is a direct result of their new devotion to playing championship-level defense, perhaps head coach Tom Thibodeau deserves the MVP award. Thibodeau’s tenacious defensive philosophies, which he in turn imposed on his team, are the primary reason for this amazing turnaround.
Clearly Rose is a bigger factor on the offensive end for Chicago this year as well, but a lot of that can be attributed to the way that he’s increased his own role in the offense. Keep in mind, this is a guy who is second in the league when it comes to usage rate to Bryant. So yes, he’s better on offense, but at what cost?
Since last year’s campaign, Rose, who has supposedly become some sort of other-worldly force this season, has barely improved on his non-scoring stats. And, of course, all of those additions can be attributed to the aforementioned increase in usage rate.
Now compare Rose’s qualifications for the most prestigious regular season award in the sport to those of that one underappreciated big man in Orlando.
Howard, as it stands, ranks among the top ten in the NBA when it comes to rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage. Assuming he can muster up a top-10 finish in scoring, he would become only the tenth player all-time to accomplish the feat. Further, unlike his counterpart in Chicago, Howard is the defensive centerpiece who holds down his squad on that end of the floor. Considering the Magic currently rank fifth in the NBA on the defensive end, clearly he’s doing a pretty good job.
All in all, the fact that Rose seems to have already won the MVP in the hearts and minds of so many speaks to the problem with this award. Too often in the last few years, ridiculous, borderline stupid influences have impacted who the prize ultimately goes to.
Again, Rose is a great player. He’s done a great job with the Bulls this year.
But he’s no MVP.