Monday, April 28, 2008

Paul, Not Kobe, Should Win MVP

Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA, and would be the first selection in a pick-up game featuring everyone in the league.

The ten-time All-Star is unbelievably talented and can seemingly score whenever he touches the ball.

Despite all of that, he has never won a Most Valuable Player award – and that streak should continue this season.

Unfortunately, it won’t.

The 6-6 swingman ranked second in the NBA in scoring, and led the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference and the first seed in the playoffs. In most years, that would certainly be deserving of the MVP.

This year, though, it shouldn’t be.

The New Orleans Hornets improved this season by an astonishing 17 games, and set a franchise record for wins in a season with 56. Furthermore, they finished just one-game back of Bryant’s Lakers in the Western Conference.

The sole reason for the drastic improvement over last season? The player who should be this year’s MVP: Chris Paul.
Paul, a six-foot point guard from Wake Forest University, single-handedly changed the Hornets from a team that was mediocre before his arrival into a squad that can contend for an NBA Championship in just his third season in the league.

He had a phenomenal campaign this year, leading the league in both assists (11.6 per game) and steals (2.7), in addition to averaging 21.1 points per game. Paul is one of just eight players in NBA history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists per game throughout the course of an entire season.

Paul also made his teammates exponentially better. Before Paul arrived on the Hornets three years ago, power forward David West averaged 4.5 points per game in his first two seasons. Now, West is an All-Star.

7-1 center Tyson Chandler was always known as a player who did not live up to his potential during the majority of his seven-year career. However, Chandler really developed into a key performer this season, finishing third in the league in rebounding (11.7 per game) and second in field-goal percentage (62.3 percent).

The fact of the matter is that Paul was – and is still not – surrounded by a group of traditional stars. Still, he finds ways to make plays when it counts and is able to carry the Hornets by himself when necessary.

On the other hand, Bryant has All-Star Pau Gasol and match-up nightmare Lamar Odom at the forward positions, as well as arguably the league’s best young center in Andrew Bynum. Not to take anything away from what Bryant has done this season, but he has simply had more talent at disposal to take some of the pressure off of him.

Without Paul, the Hornets might not be in the playoff hunt. Without Bryant, the Lakers would still have the best frontcourt in the NBA and a playoff-caliber club.

Bryant is known as one of the best late-game players and possibly the most clutch scorer in the NBA. While that may be true, it’s not as if Paul hasn’t done his fair share of fourth-quarter and second-half hero acts.

Did everyone miss Paul’s incredible performance against Dallas in the first game of the playoffs last weekend?

Down by 12 points at halftime to the visiting Mavericks, Paul demonstrated his complete arsenal of talents in the second half, turning that 12-point deficit into a 12-point victory. Paul finished with 35 points, 10 assists and four steals, including 15 points in the third quarter. The Hornets desperately needed a spark at the start of the second half – and Paul’s game-changing, personal 7-0 run was exactly that. Paul was simply not going to allow the Hornets to lose.

If that didn’t cement his status as the 2007-2008 MVP, I’m not sure what else he could have done.

Looking at various “experts” around the league, though, it’s obvious that Bryant is the clear favorite to win the award. But why?

Because his more-talented and experienced team finished one game ahead of Paul’s Hornets?

Because he scores more points and plays in the huge media market of Los Angeles?

Or is it because Bryant has had a longer and more successful career than Paul, who has just been in the league just three seasons and is making his first playoff appearance?

The MVP award is not a career award, and it should not be. That’s what the Hall of Fame is meant for.

The Most Valuable Player award should go to the player who meant the most to his team in a given season.

This year, that player was clearly Chris Paul.


  1. Clearly, your head must be in the gutter my friend. Just let me know when your ready to come out. For once let just embrace this moment of greatness....(pause) because you will regret enjoying a player like jordanesque.

    Chris Paul has had a remarkable season, so does all the other superstars in the league...

    Before you begin writing useless comments, just grab a beer and watch the lakers, because for all I know you will be remembered as one of the many who hates lakers epsecially that guy no. 24.

    Too bad writers don't get drafted in the NBA. Oh wait they are too busy biting their nails ans pen tops.

  2. This isn't the strongest argument you've ever made and I think it is tough to make a really strong argument for any of the top four candidates (add in LeBron and Garnett). Garnett is hurt by the fact that he missed ten games, but I give him much more credit for the revival of the Celtics and their defense than Tom Thibideau. Garnett's versatility on defense is one of the more underappreciated things in the NBA.

    I think it is also hard to discount LeBron, who gets even less support than Paul.

    Paul, too, is excellent, but you can't say that he revived Tyson Chandler this season. Chandler's production was about the same last year and Paul has David West to help him. Lastly, the vote seems to become a big deal in the playoffs, but the voting is already over and only includes the regular season.