The Truth: Paul Pierce is Real NBA MVP
March 20, 2008 by Sean Crowe • Print Story •
The race for NBA MVP is as wide open as the Western Conference right now.
From what I've been hearing, the choices seem to have been narrowed down to Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and LeBron James.
All of them are fantastic choices. There are clear, legitimate arguments for each of them.
I'm a huge NBA fan. I'm an admirer of guys who play a complete game. All of the guys who have been mentioned in the MVP race fall into that category.
You have Kobe Bryant, who is an underrated one-on-one defender and an the most dominating offensive force in the NBA. The easy choice for MVP this season, he's led the surprising Lakers up to or near the top of the Western Conference (depending on what happens between now and when this is published on Thursday).
Chris Paul is playing out of his mind. He makes his teammates better, can score at will, and might be playing at a higher level than anyone else in the Western Conference. An insane season for a guy who stands at only six-feet tall.
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. He's averaging 31-8-7 for the season, which is just stupid. He's completely unstoppable. The Cavs would be a lottery team without him — but with him, they're in the Eastern Conference championship conversation. He's scary good, and might be good enough to win an Eastern Conference championship again on his own.
All are great choices and would be worthy MVPs.
But to me, the real MVP is playing for the NBA-leading Boston Celtics.
No, not Kevin Garnett. The Truth, Paul Pierce, is my NBA MVP.
What Paul Pierce is doing this season is going almost completely unnoticed due to the additions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
It's amazing the transformation as a player he made this year.
Pierce has always been a good scorer. He's never been afraid to take big shots. But he's never been a complete player.
At times in his career, he's been a black hole. He'd get the ball, the Celtics would run some type of isolation play, and then he'd fire up a bad fall-away jumper. He'd do this enough times that he'd score 25 points a game, but his percentage would be down around 30% and the Celtics would lose.
At times in his career, he's been a defensive liability. He's always had the ability, he just never seemed to want to play defense.
In a way, you can understand it.
The Celtics couldn't win unless he put up 40 on the offensive end. That type of offensive output takes a lot out of a guy, especially when he's consistently triple teamed. He had no energy left to waste on the defensive side of the ball.
He's fought maturity problems in the past. I, for one, will never forget the needless ejection against the Pacers in the playoffs just a few short years ago. He followed that up with a pathetic Game 7 performance in what was probably the low point of his career.
But something happened to Paul Pierce this season, and it's not just the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
All of a sudden, Pierce is the best player on the floor when he needs to be. He's making great decisions. He's turned into a great passer. He's transformed himself into a great free throw shooter.
Garnett is the emotional leader on the Celtics, but Pierce is the captain.
When Ray Allen is out of the lineup, Pierce is there stepping up his offensive output.
When Kevin Garnett is out of the lineup, Pierce is there stepping up his defense. The entire time Garnett was out they ran their offense through Paul Pierce. He kept the team afloat during extended absences of the other two thirds of the big three.
He's the one guy the Boston Celtics can't play without. He's the best man-to-man defender on the team when they need him to be. He's the best scorer on the team when they need him to be. He's a point-forward, a shooting guard, and a small forward depending on the matchup. He gives them whatever they need to win on any given night. He's not putting up LeBron numbers, but 20-5-5 isn't too shabby.
He's the MVP of the best team in the NBA. Just ask any of the Celtics players. They'll tell you.
"I got Paul for MVP this year," Kevin Garnett told the Boston Globe. "He does a lot of things, just little small things that people don't see. There are only three people I like to watch on offense, and he's one of them, man. He makes scoring look easy. He has an uncanny confidence about him that I love, cockiness and self-assurance. I told you, there is a reason why I came here. He's one of the reasons."
Garnett's right. If I had a vote for NBA MVP, it would go to Paul Pierce.
And that's the Truth.