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Old 05-09-2005, 01:32 PM   #1
tobynosker
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Default 2005 NBA MVP Should Have Been?

I deem this NBA season as an off-year, which made it much harder to decide who should be NBA MVP. Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves failed to reach the playoffs. Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers failed to reach the playoffs. LeBron James and the Cleveland Caviliers failed to reach the playoffs. Allen Iverson has an outstanding year, yet his team struggles. Jermaine O'Neal gets suspended, shattering his MVP hopes. I believe the top four candidates were Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. And I believe the voters got it right, when the decision came down to Nash or Shaq.

The arguement over how bad the Phoenix Suns were this season without Steve Nash in the starting lineup isn't irrelevant, because the Miami Heat's record without Shaquille O'Neal was probably better than what should have been expected. Phoenix went 2-5 this season without Nash, while Miami went 6-3 without O'Neal.

And the arguement over the team's repective turnarounds isn't irrelevant, but needs to be placed into context. Miami was a playoff-team last year, and had a seventeen game improvement this season. Phoenix on the other hand, had a thirty-three game turnaround, and finished with the best record in the NBA (The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs tied for the second-best record). Was Nash the only reason? Probably not. Amare Stoudemire did improve, Shawn Marion certainly found a comfort-zone, and Quentin Richardson got a chance to showcase his talents. But did all three of these things happen because Nash was in the line-up? Probably.

Shaquille O'Neal's numbers were down all across the board. He played the least amount of minutes per game in his thirteen year career. His free-throw percentage was the lowest it's been in his thirteen year career. His rebounds per game were the lowest they have been in his thirteen year career. His assists per game were the lowest they have been since the 1998-1999 season. His steals per game were the lowest they have been since the 1999-2000 season. His blocks per game were the lowest they have been in the last three years. His personal fouls per game increased to the second-highest total in his thirteen year career. And his points per game were the second-lowest total in his thirteen year career.

And while the postseason shouldn't be a factor in deciding an MVP candidate, his points per game, blocks per game, steals per game, assists per game, rebounds per game and field-goal percentage all were down in the first round playoff series. Plus, the amount of turnovers and personal fouls per game went up. And while the Miami Heat won comfortably yesterday against the Washington Wizards, O'Neal fouled out, played only 26 minutes, and continues to show a tremendous weakness from the foul-line (38% against Washington on Sunday).

Steve Nash averaged a double-double, averaging 15.5 points per game and 11.5 assists per game. While leading the league in assists, Nash also finished in the top ten in assists to turnover ratio, averaging close to 4 assists per turnover. He averages 34.3 minutes per game, rarely is in foul trouble (1.8 personal fouls per game), shoots over fifty percent from the field (.502), over fourty percent from beyond the arc (.431), and close to ninety percent from the foul-line (.887). While I agree that Phoenix has one of the strongest starting fives in the league, Nash is the leader and controls the action for the Suns. He's third in the league in double-doubles, seventh in the league in triple-doubles, and ranks in the top ten in both free-throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage. His minutes per game were the second-highest of his career, his field-goal percentage was the highest of his career, his three-point field-goal percentage was the second-highest of his career, his rebounds per game were the highest of his career, his assists per game were the highest of his career, his steals per game were the third highest of his career, his blocks per game were the second highest of his career and his personal fouls were the third lowest of his career. And in the playoffs, his statistics have reamined consistent to what they were during the regular season. The only major difference was his field-goal percentage dropped from 50% to 44%.

I truly believe it's an off-year for the league, when a guy like Shaquille O'Neal has one of his worst years to date statistically, and is still favored for the Most Valuable Player Award. But, I believe the arguement between these two came down to deciding over a career-low for one player, or a career-high for another.

While Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal deserve it more this season, I still believe Tim Duncan is the Most Valuable Player to his team. While his numbers were down this season, he still averaged a double-double (20.3 ppg and 11.1 rpg), shot just under fifty percent a game (.496) and ranked second in the NBA in efficiency ranking per 48 minutes (behind Minnesota's Kevin Garnett). Plus, the San Antonio Spurs tied-for the second best finish this season. Yet, his team didn't feature the multiple-game turnaround, and feature a marquee player in a change of scenery. Tony Parker has become a solid NBA point guard, Bruce Bowen is relentless on defense, and Manu Ginobli is strong on both sides of the ball, but take away Tim Duncan from San Antonio and see how valuable of a team the Spurs would then become.
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Old 05-09-2005, 02:05 PM   #2
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Toby, seems like you've approached this (through your logic, especially regarding Nash) as if the vote were for "Best Player" instead of "Most Valuable". Thus I disagree with your picks.

My MVP vote:
1. Shaquille O'Neal
Utterly irreplaceable and dominant. Down from previous years? Maybe. But he should really have 5 MVPs right now, so that doesn't say much about him relative to other players. Miami would be a sub-.500 team without him and nobody else in the NBA could've filled his shoes this season in Miami. The Lakers and Heat's records this year compared to last are very compelling evidence for the effect Shaq has had. (6-3 without him was nice, but could not have been maintained IMO)

2. Allen Iverson
Best argument against Iverson is that his team barely made the playoffs. But without him, they would've been lucky to win 25 games. Probably irreplaceable in the Sixers' system. Dominant offensively on a team that had little other offense. Also an improved team attitude this year (and in recent years).

3. LeBron James
Ditto Iverson logic. Heavily relied upon by the Cavs.

Beyond these three, I suppose Nowitzki, Nash, Duncan, and Ray Allen are the leading candidates. Nowitzki gives the Mavs unique big man talents, but I feel like they could've won nearly as many games relying more on their guards and SFs for scoring. Nash, as has been suggested by others, played extremely well offensively as a PG on a team that sorely needed a true PG, but several other players could've filled those shoes. Duncan missed too much time for me to strongly consider him. Ray Ray is very important to his team, but not as dominant as Shaq/Iverson/LeBron, so I can't put him in my Top 3.
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Old 05-09-2005, 07:43 PM   #3
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I would have to agree with Billy D, for the most part.

The League's 'most valuable player' would be THE player that any coach would want on their team, if they could only choose one, and I'll bet if you polled the coaches, you'd get a damn near unanimous "I'll take Shaq". I think he's been robbed to receive the award only once in his career.

That being said, Nash was a very close second IMO, so I don't really have much of a problem with the outcome.
It's just too bad that AI doesn't have a better surround cast... he certainly gave quite a performance this year!
This may sound crazy, but I would LOVE to see Iverson and Garnett on the same team someday.. I think that would be a dynamite combination.
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Old 05-11-2005, 02:54 PM   #4
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I agree with Toby in only one regard: a healthy Duncan is MVP this year ( and has been every year since 99 except Shaq's 2000 year).

His whole breakdown is flawed in the fact it doesn't take a historic perspective into account when deciding MVP. The award, when given to a point guard, had been given with an OVERWHELMING burden of proof that the man getting the award was truly MVP ( only Magic and Cousy). The point guard position was, and I'd like to think still is even in today's weak era with egos, the most important position on the floor SPIRITUALLY for an NBA team. By giving the award to Nash, we've trampled that value. An MVP is more than stats. His heart and soul must lead that team. Sure, stats are needed, but it is a combo of the two. As far as energy and heart, I could name 10 guys off the top of my head who exemplify that more than Nash, including Shaq. We've now got our 4th MVP (Barkley, Iverson, KG, Nash) in the last dozen years that has no chance in hell of ever winning a ring, but managed to dazzle voters with media hype, better-than-career average stats, and increased win totals. The fact is simple: Since 1990, if MJ had on a uniform, he was MVP. If he didn't, it was Duncan with the only exception being 2000: the year of Shaq. The banners bear this out.
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Old 05-11-2005, 05:29 PM   #5
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I agree with everyone that Steve Nash is not technically the league's most valuable player, especially from a marketing standpoint. But that is why the league doesn't get to decide, and instead leaves it up to the voters. And I agree that more team's and general managers would rather have Shaquille O'Neal as their team's leader as opposed to Nash. But that is not what the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award is for? The award is for the most valuable player to his team during the course of one year. And nobody has presented an arguement that anybody was more valuable than Steve Nash. Whether the Miami Heat would have sustained the record in which they did with Shaq out of the lineup is irrelevant, because they did sustain an above .500 record and were a playoff team this season before without him.

Nobody believes Steve Nash is on the same-level as "Magic" Johnson, Bob Cousy or even Allen Iverson. And while players like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan would rank just as high (and for some I'm sure even higher) as a top player choice for list of teams and owners, they didn't have their best performances and deliver beyond expectations. They suffered injuries and failed to overcome on-court and off-court issues surrounding their team.

Steve Nash did. He had a career-season, and contrary to what buckeye would like for us to believe, his heart and soul did lead this team to the best finish of any NBA team in the regular season. He had a lot of help, but he was the guiding force. And while I continue to agree that stats don't mean everything, they mean a lot. And an 83% winning percentage with Nash in the line-up, compared to a 29% winning percentage with him out of it says something (and don't forget those games included Quentin Richardson, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion).

I don't believe Steve Nash is a top ten player in this league, a top five player at his position, or the best player on his team. But I believe, he is the Most Valuable Player of the Year (far different from best player). I feel Allen Iverson is probably the most valuable to his team, because no other team would tank as bad as the Philadelphia 76ers would if you took away their top star. But unfortunately, being successful and leading your team beyond expectations means something. That's why a guy like Iverson or LeBron James, both very valuable to their teams, should be taken out of consideration. And that's why Steve Nash should be considered.

And there might be ten guys who exemplify more heart and soul and leadership for their teams than Nash, but none of these players exemplified it and had a year that exceeded everyone's expectations. Let's face it: there isn't one person on this board who last November thought Steve Nash would be a top candidate for league MVP. The fact that he is MVP says enough about his season.

And whether or not you should win the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award based on whether your team has a shot at winning the championship at the end of the year is ridiculous. Peyton Manning has won the NFL MVP award for two-consecutive years, each year improving upon the previous and establishing his value to his team. Yet, nobody thought Indianoplis was the favorite to win the Super Bowl. Vladimir Guerrero of Anaheim won the MLB American League MVP Award last season, yet nobody expected Anaheim to pull of another surprise playoff run and defeat the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, or a talented Minnesota Twins team. Alex Rodriguez didn't stand a chance the previous season, when he won the award playing for Texas.

This isn't an award that is to be given to the Player Most Likely To Win The NBA Championship This Season. Or else I would say the hell with Steve Nash or Shaquille O'Neal. That honor should go to Tim Duncan or Tayshaun Prince.
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Old 05-12-2005, 10:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by tobynosker
This isn't an award that is to be given to the Player Most Likely To Win The NBA Championship This Season. Or else I would say the hell with Steve Nash or Shaquille O'Neal. That honor should go to Tim Duncan or Tayshaun Prince.
...or Nazr Mohommad and Darko Milicic. Why not?!!

Seriously though, I'm glad you brought the other stuff up because I've got several more lines of logic on my side.

First of all, I'd like a clarification: If the award is for the player most valuable to his team, why is your vote not for Allen Iverson? If it's for the player who has most defied expectations, then how did Jordan ever win an MVP?

It sounds as if you are voting for the player who combines those qualities, plus plays on a winning team-- to me, that's arbitrary and not what the MVP's about.

Also, the fact that Nash is replaceable by any quality true PG continues to be difficult to dispute. I'd wager that Luke Ridnour would've averaged 10 assists on this team.

Beyond that, I'd like to trot out some facts:

From 03-04 to 04-05, the Miami Heat lost two of their top three scorers yet improved their record by 17 games. Hmmmm.

From 03-04 to 04-05, the LA Lakers lost Shaq, Payton, Malone, and Fisher (two of those probably being addition by subtraction) and got worse by 22 games. Hmmmm.

From 03-04 to 04-05, the Suns added Steve Nash, Jim Jackson, Quentin Richardson, and 26 games more of Amare Stoudamire (a pretty good player) and won an extra 33 games. You can judge who had the biggest impact there.

The Suns lost Marbury during the 03-04 season, so he was partially responsible for the wins they got, but his absence also left a huge hole. No Amare or Marbury for the last 25 games or so-- that's why they tanked so badly.

In 02-03, the Suns won 44 games with a full season of Marbury and a very, very raw Amare. In other words, the pre-Nash Suns weren't so bad, and their only big loss was Marbury.

With the Heat this season, Udonis Haslem averaged nearly a double-double. Udonis Haslem!!
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Old 05-12-2005, 05:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
It sounds as if you are voting for the player who combines those qualities, plus plays on a winning team-- to me, that's arbitrary and not what the MVP's about.
Everyone wants to point out history for those who are selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Year. Here's a little bit of history:

2005 - Steve Nash - Phoenix finished with the best record in the Western Conference
2004 - Kevin Garnett - Minnesota finished with the best record in the Western Conference
2003 - Tim Duncan - San Antonio finished with the best record in the Western Conference
2002 - Tim Duncan - San Antonio finished with the second best record in the Western Conference
2001 - Allen Iverson - Philadelphia finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference
2000 - Shaquille O'Neal - Los Angeles finished with the best record in the Western Conference
1999 - Karl Malone - Utah finished with the third best record in the Western Conference
1998 - Michael Jordan - Chicago finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference
1997 - Karl Malone - Utah finished with the best record in the Western Conference
1996 - Michael Jordan - Chicago finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference

So eight of the last ten MVP winners were members of team's that finished with the best records in their respective conferences. And all ten were the most valuable player to his team, that excelled to new heights, and played for winning ballclubs. Arbitrary or not...winning means something.

Quote:
Also, the fact that Nash is replaceable by any quality true PG continues to be difficult to dispute. I'd wager that Luke Ridnour would've averaged 10 assists on this team.
You want to talk about an arguement that is arbitrary. The possibilities that players like Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Tony Parker or possibly even Luke Ridnour could have done just as much or more with the Phoenix Suns this season than Steve Nash did, does not dispute what Steve Nash accomplished. Would Ridnour be averaging 10 or more assists per game like Nash did this season? Would Ridnour average a double-double like Nash did this season? Would Ridnour average close to four assists per turnover like Nash did this season? Would Ridnour shot over fifty-percent from the field like Nash did this season? All of this is up for debate.

But would the Miami Heat have won seventeen more games this season compared to last year had they had Yao Ming or Brad Miller or Dirk Nowitzki or Tim Duncan or Amare Stoudemire or Jermaine O'Neal or Zydranus Ilgauskas or Ben Wallace in place of Shaquille O'Neal? I agree, before anybody tries to shoot down my arguement for comparing Ilguaskas to O'Neal, that none of these guys are at the level of Shaquille O'Neal. But would the Miami Heat have had the chance of winning as many games this season with these guys as they did with Shaq?

Quote:
The Miami Heat lost two of their top three scorers yet improved their record by 17 games...the Suns added Steve Nash, Jim Jackson, Quentin Richardson, and 26 games more of Amare Stoudamire and won an extra 33 games. You can judge who had the biggest impact there.
Actually, two of Miami's top three scorers from last season are still members of the team; Eddie Jones led the team in scoring and Dwayne Wade was third. Udonis Haslem getting more minutes per game (an extra 10.8 minutes per game) is the reason for his near double-double, because he wasn't too far off last season (he averaged over seven points and six boards a game behind Lamar Odom).

The Miami Heat won 67% of the games they played without Shaquille O'Neal in their line-up this season. The Phoenix Suns won 29% of their games they played without Steve Nash in their line-up this season. Judge that impact.

Quote:
The Suns won 44 games with a full season of Marbury and a very, very raw Amare. In other words, the pre-Nash Suns weren't so bad, and their only big loss was Marbury.
The Miami Heat went 42-40 last season, and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, so the pre-Shaq Heat weren't so bad either. Sure they lost Odom, Caron Butler, Rafer Alston and Brian Grant in the offseason. But as I said above Haslem got the chance to improve and see more floor time, Dwayne Wade became a complete, all-around player, they signed a couple of decent off-the bench free-agents in Damon Jones and Keyon Dooling, and were also helped by a healthy Alonzo Mourning.

Plus they play in the same division as the two worst teams in the NBA, and the second place finisher in the division made the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The played in a weaker conference than Nash and the Phoenix Suns did, and I am still not too confident that the Miami Heat will be able to beat the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals in a best-of-seven series (although if Detroit blows a first quarter lead like they did last night, anything's possible).

Shaquille O'Neal is certainly a deserving candidate every year (much like Michael Jordan was, although Malone and Charles Barkley picked up MVP honors), but this year his numbers were down all across the board. Can you tell me how you can justify not giving him an MVP trophy during his peak years, and then giving him an MVP trophy during one of the two weakest years in his career?

Steve Nash is a deserving candidate, and his numbers were career-highs. He's not the best player, but this year he is the Most Valuable Player of the Year.
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Old 05-12-2005, 05:38 PM   #8
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Looks like I stopped in at just the right time...
Quote:
Originally posted by tobynosker
Everyone wants to point out history for those who are selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Year. Here's a little bit of history:

....(list of MVP winners)...

So eight of the last ten MVP winners were members of team's that finished with the best records in their respective conferences. And all ten were the most valuable player to his team, that excelled to new heights, and played for winning ballclubs. Arbitrary or not...winning means something
This logic, combined with picking the guy who defies expectations, is what drives many of the MVP votes. This is why the voting sucks.


Quote:
Originally posted by tobynosker
But would the Miami Heat have won seventeen more games this season compared to last year had they had Yao Ming or Brad Miller or Dirk Nowitzki or Tim Duncan or Amare Stoudemire or Jermaine O'Neal or Zydranus Ilgauskas or Ben Wallace in place of Shaquille O'Neal? I agree, before anybody tries to shoot down my arguement for comparing Ilguaskas to O'Neal, that none of these guys are at the level of Shaquille O'Neal. But would the Miami Heat have had the chance of winning as many games this season with these guys as they did with Shaq?
No. (that's an easy one)


Quote:
Originally posted by tobynosker
Actually, two of Miami's top three scorers from last season are still members of the team; Eddie Jones led the team in scoring and Dwayne Wade was third. Udonis Haslem getting more minutes per game (an extra 10.8 minutes per game) is the reason for his near double-double, because he wasn't too far off last season (he averaged over seven points and six boards a game behind Lamar Odom).
Sorry, I meant to say three best players, not three top scorers-- good catch.


Quote:
Originally posted by tobynosker
Shaquille O'Neal is certainly a deserving candidate every year... but this year his numbers were down all across the board. Can you tell me how you can justify not giving him an MVP trophy during his peak years, and then giving him an MVP trophy during one of the two weakest years in his career?
Uh, I would've given him several more MVPs in his peak years. I can't fix the past.
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Old 05-12-2005, 05:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by tobynosker
You want to talk about an arguement that is arbitrary. The possibilities that players like Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Tony Parker or possibly even Luke Ridnour could have done just as much or more with the Phoenix Suns this season than Steve Nash did, does not dispute what Steve Nash accomplished. Would Ridnour be averaging 10 or more assists per game like Nash did this season? Would Ridnour average a double-double like Nash did this season? Would Ridnour average close to four assists per turnover like Nash did this season? Would Ridnour shot over fifty-percent from the field like Nash did this season? All of this is up for debate.
Well, here's where the argument is clinched for me. Nash had great stats because of his team, but didn't play much better than Mike Bibby or Tony Parker. If you're replaceable, then you're not valuable. Nash is pretty much replaceable. Thus, he's not the MVP in my mind.
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Old 05-13-2005, 10:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
This logic (winning), combined with picking the guy who defies expectations, is what drives many of the MVP votes. This is why the voting sucks.
Steve Nash may be replaceable (and I agree he is), but again he had a better year, exceeded everyone's expectations and lead his team to a thirty-three game turnaround (remember, a twenty-nine perecent winning percentage without him) and the best record in the NBA, while playing in the toughest Conference. I haven't heard one arguement against him.

All I have heard is speculation that Nash is replaceable, but while you think it sucks to vote based on performance, winning and excelling, I think it sucks to vote based on speculation.

And my point is Shaquille O'Neal is replaceable as well, and shouldn't be the Most Valuable Player of the Year because of it. And again, I am not saying O'Neal is not the most dominate player in the game, because there is two other guys I would rather have on my team; Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. And that mostly has to with age at this point, because neither are at O'Neal's level at his peak.

But the Miami Heat have now won 70% of the games they have played without O'Neal in the line-up, including a second-round playoff victory on the road. How valuable is he to your team when you can win 70% of your games without him, including on the road in the playoffs?

And for a team that has won 70% of their games without him (and won 72% of their games all season), how can you tell me that the Miami Heat wouldn't have done just as well with Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O'Neal or Ben Wallace in place of Shaquille O'Neal?
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Old 05-13-2005, 03:49 PM   #11
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Just look at how the Heat are manhandling with Wizards without Shaq. The Suns have struggled without Nash. You can be hypothetical and say it's the other Suns players getting better around Nash, but if you look at the actual results and evidence, it has to go Nash, with Shaq a close second.
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Old 05-13-2005, 03:58 PM   #12
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Friendly reminder about playoff matchups: the Mavs are much, much better than the Wizards (despite the loss of that one shaggy-haired PG guy they had last year)... besides that, i think i've made my arguments pretty clear and i believe they still stand.

I haven't been this fired up about an NBA MVP vote since that darn trucker dude won it...
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Old 05-13-2005, 04:58 PM   #13
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Billy D, where were you at last week??? I could have used you.

Marc, your argument flies out the window because the Suns don't have a reliable backup point guard, so they're obviously not going to win games with that offense without a reliable point guard.

Everyone agrees that that Suns offense needs a point guard to distribute the basketball to finishers. If you don't have anyone to distribute then the finishers aren't going to finish.

I love how people point that part of the argument out without realizing that the Suns being unsuccessful without Nash actually hurts their argument. If the Suns had a reliable drop back from Nash and they still lost...then yes...you would have a good argument that Nash should be the MVP.

But as it is, pointing out that the Suns lose games without Nash is just pointing out numbers without stopping to look at logic and reasoning.
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
The Suns don't have a reliable backup point guard, so they're obviously not going to win games with that offense without a reliable point guard. Everyone agrees that that Suns offense needs a point guard to distribute the basketball to finishers. If you don't have anyone to distribute then the finishers aren't going to finish...pointing out that the Suns lose games without Nash is just pointing out numbers without stopping to look at logic and reasoning.
I'm sorry I fail to follow logic and reasoning, but I have a hard time understanding how Nash is not the Most Valuable Player when the team that finished with the best record in the league fails to win games without him.

They don't have a reliable backup point guard, so that means Nash's value is probably higher than it should be. But again we have someone who is basing their arguement on speculation of what this team could do with a reliable backup point guard. The logic and reasoning in voting based on speculation is more flawed than anything. Instead of arguing against what he was able to accomplish, you argue for what somebody else might have been able to do. Without a reliable backup point guard, Steve Nash becomes the Most Valuable Player on his team, which finished with the best record in the league.

If everyone agrees that the Suns offense needs a point guard to win ballgames, again Nash becomes the Most Valuable Player on his team. So Steve Nash is the Most Valuable Player to a team that finished with the best record in the league and had the biggest turnaround of any club from last season. That to me sounds like a Most Valuable Player of the Year winner.

But the Miami Heat have an underrated starting five, and reliable backups that prove they can win ballgames without Shaquille O'Neal. So maybe I should change my vote, and we should probably award the Most Valuable Player of the Year to a guy who is easily replaced in the lineup and his team manages to still win 70% of the games he's not on the floor for.

Or we could easily argue Shaquille O'Neal isn't the Most Valuable Player to his own team, because in my own speculation, I believe the Miami Heat would have struggled in a road playoff game against Washington without Dwayne Wade rather than without Shaq. You're right, that sounds so much more valuable.

Last edited by tobynosker; 05-14-2005 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 05-14-2005, 11:22 AM   #15
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I am with toby I fail to follow that logic as well. Wouldn't the fact that they don't have a reliable backup make the player that much more valuable to the success of his team given the fact that they take a large step backwards performance-wise when he is not on the floor.

The success of the Heat without Shaq just goes to show that this is Wade's squad and not Shaq's. Shaq is the dominant personality, but the Heat clearly win or lose with Dwayne Wade, but I guess he is not as valuable as Shaq because they have 'Zo backing him up and they don't really have anyone worthwhile backing up Wade or he would have gotten a significant rest last game.

Toby is probably right when he says that the Heat are likely just as good, if not better, with more athletic guys like Amare and TD out there than when Shaq is on the floor.
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