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NBA: How Should Voters Decide on MVP?

As fans eagerly await the crowning of the NBA MVP, the usual conversation will arise. What defines the winner of the MVP? The words most valuable player should be pretty simple to dissect, yet fans and media members alike find ourselves arguing about the definition each year.

Often times, the award seemingly goes to the best player, period. The best player would likely be valuable to their team, but that begs the question, how do we define valuable?

Leave it to Colin Cowherd to give us a good answer. On his show Monday, Cowherd handed out his NBA awards with a sarcastic tone to it. Yet, a very important discussion was brought up.

He thinks the NBA should just name the best player, period. His reasoning? Chris Paul is a very valuable player because he helps James Harden and the Rockets win; without Paul, the Rockets are not as good. But Paul is not anywhere near the conversation for MVP.

If value to a team is looked at, Lou Williams of the Clippers is one of the most valuable players in the NBA, as he is again a frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Again, though, Williams is nowhere near the MVP discussion.

So, how does just naming the best player sound?

The pro of doing this is it clears up ambiguity surrounding the qualifications for the award.
Instead of arguments about the qualifications that led to a player winning, the arguments will
have more meaning.

NBA MVP
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by time.com)

Here is what is meant by that:

Giannis Antetokounmpo is having a tremendous year with averages of 5.9 assists, 12.5 total
rebounds and 27.7 points per game (all career highs). He is also leading the Bucks into the playoffs with the best record in the NBA.

Now look at James Harden:

He is averaging an absurd career-high of 36.1 points per game and, on a less-talked-about side
note, is also averaging a career-high 87.9 percent shooting from the free throw line. Not to mention, until Chris Paul came back from injury, he singlehandedly carried the Rockets and has helped them attain the three seed in the west.

Well, who is the best player?

No one could answer that with certainty.  But, no matter who is chosen, the discussion afterward has better structure now. Instead of guessing what made the winner the most valuable player, based on what are the
unknown definitive guidelines, everyone now knows who is deemed the best player, period,
and can work backward to figure out why.

In a 2017 blog post on the NBA website, those asked what determines the MVP had varying
answers. Selecting the best player would also have varying answers, but at least now there can be a better guess why the winner was chosen. Then, stats become more valuable in figuring out why.

So, is there a con to using this method?

Yes, a big one at that. Just saying best player can block the chance for flexibility in choices for the award.
It already happens with the MVP discussions: LeBron James, and recently James Harden and Russell Westbrook are always in the discussion. And, without some drastic happening to change that, they always will be.

NBA MVP
LeBron James (Photo by heavy.com)

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are amazing players whose talents have already won them MVPs. But they are not in the discussion for MVP this year. So, would this format lock in the same players every year? Many consider James to still be the best every year, so should the award just be conceded to him every time? Or, could it have the opposite effect? What if the voters see a lot of players who they think can be considered the best? Then the pool for the award may get too crowded, or is that what the award needs? A diverse choosing pool?

Either way, there is the chance of an issue arising from this format.

Finally, even with deciding the best player, could it be argued that the best player had to be valuable to their team? No matter what, the decision to name the best player for MVP will have arguments for and
against it.

Also no matter what, the choice for the winner is decided by fact-based opinions. Those are the most reliable opinions in theory, but they are still opinions. Harden or Antetokounmpo could win it, and rightfully so.

Maybe everyone has to just accept the fact that a definitive best player or MVP is near-impossible
to actually decide.

 

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1 comment

2019 NBA Playoffs: Rockets vs. Jazz Preview • The Game Haus April 13, 2019 at 8:37 am

[…] With Chris Paul missing a large portion of the season due to injury, James Harden took on an extra load and delivered. Averaging 36 points per game along with 6.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists, the reigning MVP had another incredible season, and could take home the award again this year. […]

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