Monday, October 03, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #9

Who's going to emerge as this year's prime MVP candidate?

#9 - A Wide-Open Race For MVP

Wow. I couldn't even fit all the legitimate MVP candidates on the collage above. Apologies to Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal, and Vince Carter. Seriously though, you could mix and match about 15 guys any which way right now and it would be hard for anyone to tell you that you're a total moron. Allow me to break down some MVP numbers before I predict the outcome of this year's vote. I want to make it clear that this isn't how I would rank the MVP race at the conclusion of the season, but how I think the vote will end up. On to the noteworthy facts...
  • In the last decade, exactly 20 players who have taken their team into the Playoffs after missing the prior year have finished in the top ten in MVP voting. (Good for Baron Davis, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James).
  • An average of 6.6 players return to the top ten in voting after finishing there the season before.
  • There hasn't been a string of 3 consecutive non-Rookie of the Year award winners to be voted MVP in 24 years. (Good for Shaq, AI, LeBron, Amare, Iverson, and Duncan)
  • In the last decade, 11 players have gone from the top five in voting to finishing out of the top ten the following year.
  • Not since 1997 have there been as many Eastern Conference players to finish in the top ten in voting as Western Conference players.

D-Wade might see his numbers take a dip due to all of the talent (and egos) surrounding him this season.

10. Dwyane Wade, Miami
-I'm guessing a lot of people will have Wade closer to the top than I do. If you believe Miami will live to up their hyped expectations, that Wade can stay healthy for at least 70 games, and that he'll continue to raise his game to another level, he's got top five written all over him. I have my doubts, specifically from a statistical standpoint. I'd be shocked if Wade repeated his numbers in points, rebounds, and assists from last season, and voters often times weigh statistical improvement pretty heavily.

9. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
-It's hard to foresee AI not having a monster season, especially considering the urgency he must be feeling coming into this season. But be mindful of this-- in 1999, Iverson finished 4th in the MVP voting; in 2000, he finished 7th. In 2001, he was the recipient of the prestiguous award; in 2002, he dropped to 9th. In 2003, he ended up 6th; in 2004, he didn't receive a single vote. And last year he finished 5th, so should we expect a drop-off this season? I think so. It's going to be extremely difficult for AI to top what he did last season.

8. Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
-Amare won't have the surprise factor in his favor this season, not that of his own or his team's. But I do fully expect the beast to be a better player this year. Word out of Phoenix is that he's looking even bigger, even stronger, and way more versatile. I really think the sky is the limit with Amare, more so than anyone else not named LeBron, so nothing would really shock me. If he posts a 30, 10, 2, and the Suns win 50 games, he's a lock for top five status.

You can't keep the best down for long. Kobe will bounce back big this year.

7. Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
-Can you believe Kobe didn't get a single vote for MVP last season? I'm not saying he deserved one, but let's be serious, Kobe is arguably the most talented player in the entire world. I think people often times forget that the award is given to the league's most valuable player, not the best player. And I say that now because people can argue all they want that Alex Rodriguez is a better player than David Ortiz, but was he really more valuable this season? You're lying if you say yes. Kobe will bounce back this season and remind people of how incredibly good he is.

6. Shaquille O'Neal, Miami
-The Diesel hasn't finished lower than 6th in the voting since 1997. Since 1990, every single team (24 in all) that has won 60 games has had a candidate finish within the top seven of the MVP voting. I'm banking on both of these trends to continue this season. And yes, I think the Heat are a sure bet to notch 60 victories.

5. Tim Duncan, San Antonio
-Duncan has never finished out of the top five in voting, which if you think about his remarkable string of being All-NBA 1st Team ever single season he's played, makes perfect sense. I think TD takes a step back as a serious threat to win the award this season simply because he isn't as vital to the success of the Spurs as he once was. And let's face it, 'Groundhog Day' isn't going to have people jump out of their pants if he leads San Antonio to 60 wins by averaging a 23-12-3. Nevertheless, I'm not about to squeeze him out of the top five.

4. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
-After all those wonderful things I said about KG the other day, how could I possibly place him any lower than 4th? He's set up pretty well for the award this season too. A lot of people are down on the Wolves' chances of making the Playoffs, and are pinning the hopes of the team squarely on Garnett's shoulders. Da Kid realizes this from the very start (unlike last season) and is going to do everything in his power to carry this team on his shoulders. If he gets back up to those 25-14-6-2-2 numbers and sneaks Minnesota into the Playoffs, we're talking prime MVP bait.

Look for Le Baron to create some serious buzz as an MVP candidate this season.

3. Baron Davis, Golden State

2. LeBron James, Cleveland
-When the results from the preseason vote for MVP (which the NBA Source will compile once everyone's award predictions are out) come in, look for LeBron to finish on top. In fact, if I was a betting man (which for legal purposes, let's say I'm not), I wouldn't dare bet against LBJ. Would you? The sky is the limit for LeBron, and the scenario is certainly in his favor. The Cavaliers are going to improve and God knows how much better he's going to be. 50 wins and a repeat 27-7-7 could easily be good enough for the phenom to win his first of many MVP awards.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2005-06 MVP.

1. Tracy McGrady, Houston
-Every year there's that one player who creates the intial MVP buzz for the season right after his team storms out of the gate in November. It's usually a player that isn't a perennial candidate, and someone that leads their team above and beyond preseason expectations. He'll also make great storylines, like Nash last season as the unexpected candidate who was the driving force of a team that made one of the most incredible turnarounds in NBA history. Or Garnett two years ago, who answered all his critics by taking his game to an MVP-level and leading Minnesota to the top of the Western Conference. Baron Davis fits that mold this year, especially considering Golden State's absolute JOKE of a schedule to begin the season (11 of their first 17 are against 2005 lottery teams and 13 of their first 20 are at home), but Tracy McGrady is going to take it a level above. Just wait for the December 14th clash on ESPN, when the 14-7 Warriors welcome in the 15-4 Rockets. ESPN's front page will have a shot of Baron Davis raising his fists in celebration as his teammates surround him in elation. The headline reads something along the lines of "The Golden Boy" with a blurb about Baron leading a Golden State Warriors revival after eleven years of humiliation in Oakland. And then below, there will be a link to a Scoop Jackson article with the tagline, "T-Macking it in Houston". By the end of the night, after a brilliant 37-11-8 performance, T-Mac will steal Baron's thunder. Golden State will fall back to Earth on the heels of a tough loss and an impending 5 game Eastern Conference road trip on the way. And Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets will never look back.


At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct, Sir.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger larry bird said...

I agree with most of these predictions. I would put Nowitzki in the top 10 and King James at 1. Baron Davis is probably the best point gaurd in the league when healthy so I would put him at about 5.

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can forget about T-Mac winning the MVP. He has no chance this year. I think that LeBron will show year that he is already a better player then T-Mac. But the real winner of the MVP will be a kid down in Phoenix by the name of Amare. His critics will see improved defense, rebounding and scoring. Just absolutely taking it to another level.

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Paul, sick collage, but why is Dirk in there? You should have put Pape Sow at least top 8 dude. That's kinda crazy to leave him out all together.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Chia said...

YO! just wanna let ya guys know this is a great sight and u have readers from singapore! ME! anyway i think iverson shld be higher!! he'll get his ring !! someday... when he have a better supporting cast!

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Yo Chhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhia, thanks for coming to the site. We have another reader from the Phillipines. I'm not sure if even Simmons can say he has readers from Singapore and the Philipines. Anyway, Iverson's running out of time for that ring, but I agree, he should have a nice season. Take care

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

PAUL!!!!!!!! WHY IS THERE A PICTURE OF DIRK??? ANSWER ME DAMMIT!!!! You don't see me putting pictures of Scott Baio in an article about Tony Danza. Man, you're so DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDumb!


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