M. Haubs' All-NBA/MVP & M.I.P.
Here are M. Haubs' picks for MVP & Most Improved:
1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
2. Tim Duncan, San Antonio
3. Steve Nash, Phoenix
4. Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
5. LeBron James, Cleveland
Usually, I have a lot to say about the NBA MVP, esp. b/c the voters have a ridiculous proclivity for getting tired of giving the award to the same guy multiple times even if he is the clearly deserving choice (see Jordan in '93, '97; Shaq in '02, '05).
This year, however, it couldn't be more clear-cut - which is esp. surprising because last season was the toughest time I've ever had deciding on an MVP. (Usually, I feel pretty strongly about my choice - last year I ended up with Kobe, but I wavered repeatedly among Dirk, LeBron and Wade, and had trouble dismissing Nash.)
This year, you've got the guy with the second-highest PER in the league (27.59) - trailing only Wade, who missed 30 games - on the best team in the league. Dirk is Dallas's go-to guy, one of the all-time matchup problems for the opposition, and just as utterly efficient as a basketball player could be - he joins his buddy Nash as a rare member of the 170 club (50% FG + 40% 3PT + 90% FT) and averaged just 2.2 TO/game despite a high Usage Rate of 26.8. And he set career highs in FG%, 3PT% (though he shot the fewest number of 3's since his rookie year), FT% and assists (I think he's improved noticeably as a passer - and as a defender, too).
Timmy is underrated b/c his numbers don't look gaudy given that he only played 34 mpg (he actually ranks 4th in PER, which measures per-minute production) and also b/c the numbers don't fully capture his impact as the defensive anchor on the league's 2nd best defensive team.
Nash, amazingly, improved his PER for the third straight season at age 33! I think this was his best season yet - .534 FG%! - but his defense is still too much of a liability for me to put him on top of the list, as much as I love his game.
Kobe is Kobe, and I really wanted to put KG at No. 5 over LBJ but I just couldn't justify it with Minny's record. While I thought LeBron's season was disappointing overall, he still led his team to the 7th best record overall without a whole lot of help, esp. in the backcourt.
But all hail Dirk, the first European MVP.
Explanations above. The only one I wavered on was LeBron vs. KG. The rest were easy choices.
I'm not thrilled with having two guys who played only 50 games apiece on here, but there just weren't a whole lot of options in this, the year of the injury. Booz over Brand and/or Bosh was basically a coin flip. T-Mac gets the slight edge over Agent Zero b/c he actually plays a little D.
I took Marion by a nose over Amare b/c Matrix is a far superior defender. Wish I had room for Manu and Josh Howard. Chris Paul, your time will come, and soon.
1. Kevin Martin, Sacramento
2. Monta Ellis, Golden State
3. Al Jefferson, Boston
A somewhat impossible award to pick this year - PER an invaluable tool here, since it measures per-minute production, which helps weed out guys whose numbers went up just because they got more run. After looking at Martin's big PER jump, plus some impassioned campaigning by Jay Aych, I decided to change my vote from Monta to Martin.