We are at the last week of the regular season in the NBA. The MVP race is down to the wire. We will discuss our criteria for the MVP, and reigning MVP Lebron James. Also, Are the Spurs the real team to beat in the NBA? All this and more on the NBA Roundtable.
Lets get right to the questions.
LeBron James stated recently that he would vote for himself for league MVP if he had a vote. Is this LeBron being arrogant, or does he have a legitimate claim?
Steve: LeBron James is the best player in the world. No one and I mean no one can take claim to that other than LeBron James. So if you are going based off of that, then James will always have a legitimate claim to winning the MVP award. That being said, he will not win it this season. LeBron is a confident player, and has led the Cavaliers to the #2 seed in the East, so yes he has a claim to say that as he is that good.
Chad: The way the Cavs have played since the All Star Break, he may have a point. But at the same time, he took off, plus the play of guys like Curry, Westbrook, and Davis, makes his comment seem more arrogant than an actual claim.
Tyion: I want to preface this by saying I hate Lebron. He has singlehandedly cost my Bulls at least one championship (maybe more), but to be honest Lebron has had a legit claim on the MVP award every year since he’s been in the league. And this year is no different. Yes he started off a lil slow compared to his usual Man among boys self but think about this… Since his return from his midseason sabbatical Lebron has averaged 25.3pts 7.4rbs and 6ast and the Cavs have been 32-7 and have locked up 2nd in the East. Now those are MVP numbers any year. Now is he the runaway favorite in this loaded field? No. But he definitely has a claim.
Bill: Of course he’d vote for himself if given the opportunity to do so as would any other player in his position or as part of the MVP discussion. I don’t know if I’d call that arrogance in as much as I’d call it cocky confidence. James has been a transcendent player since bursting onto the scene all those years ago now. He’s about as complete a player as you can have and his inclusion on any team in the league would completely transform it and its chances at contending. As such, his claim is strong… but it doesn’t matter in the end as every other person on the short MVP list has an equally legitimate claim.
What is your criteria for MVP? Best player on the best team? Best statistical year? Or something else?
Steve: I see it as a combination of stats and what your team has accomplished. For instance, Russell Westbrook is my MVP IF and only IF the Thunder take the final spot in the West. If they don’t, I give it to Steph Curry and Westbrook falls to fifth on my ballot. While Anthony Davis would go from 5th to 3rd if the Pelicans win. So it really depends on how well the player does, and how well the team does collectively.
Chad: My criteria for MVP is simply the guy the elevates those around to a point where the in the a playoff contention when the team wouldn’t be w/o him. This year for me it would be Anthony Davis; w/o Davis the Pelicans would be a lottery team. Davis makes that team a lottery team
Tyion: I think it has to be a combination of both. For example the Atlanta Hawks have the second best record in the league. If the Warriors lost a few more games then the Hawks would be the best team in the league. Is there a person out there that would argue anyone on that team should be a mvp candidate? Exactly. So obviously we can’t just vote for the best player on the best team. But at the same time while Anthony Davis and Westbrook are putting up historically great numbers one of them will miss the playoffs completely and the other will have only made it in by just half a game. So why they are each individually having great seasons if they can barely carry their teams into the playoffs how valuable are they really? For those reasons I believe you have to consider both individual success and team success when picking an MVP.
Bill: I’ve long been an opponent of the MVP award as it’s more of a popularity contest than one that has actual meaning and especially now in today’s league. The best player on the best team isn’t criteria by which I would choose because the best team is often stacked to the gills with talent and as such, that particular person doesn’t have to do as much and can more readily rely on his teammates to help carry the load (and make him look good at the same time). More often than not, the real MVP is on a lower tiered team and has to do far more with less. That carries significantly more weight for me and more clearly illustrates that player’s real importance. This is especially so if that player gets injured and is forced to spend a significant period of time out of the lineup. Statistical values aren’t a great measure either since numbers can easily be skewed one way or another, but it’s a far more reliable metric by which to judge. As great as LeBron James has been as a player, I wouldn’t have voted for him to be league MVP for all the years he’s won it.
Russell Westbrook tallied his 16th technical foul on Sunday night, which caused a one game suspension with two games to go. That suspension was rescinded early Monday morning by the NBA. Do you agree with the NBA rescinding the suspension, or was it warranted?
Steve: I am torn here, because on one level the referees made a call to give Westbrook at technical foul, whether or not it was warranted, the call was made. Had Westbrook not have been T’d up 15 prior times in the season, we would not be having this conversation. On the other hand, the league could not in good conscience allow the referees to literally hand the 8th spot to New Orleans, because that is what would have happened if Westbrook was not able to play. Westbrook better keep his cool though because if it happens again, im sure the NBA will not hesitate to suspend him for the last game.
Chad: I can kind of see the league’s viewpoint on this; I feel as though the technical was rescinded to avoid the backlash of having Westbrook sit out the most important game of the year the league would undoubtedly face
Tyion: I don’t have any problems with Westbrook’s 16th technical being rescinded. Not only was it not justified to begin with, but it would have essentially removed the Thunder from playoff contention. Only the most egregious of fouls should be able to have that type of impact.
Bill: Westbrook should have sat since he did legitimately earn that tech; however, seeing as OKC is a league darling/favorite and fighting for its playoff life right now while headed for a first round matchup versus Golden State, there’s no way they keep Westbrook out. Besides, he’s been on a tear lately and that draws even more attention to his team, himself, and the league. Rescinding his tech based on OKC’s position and with only a few games remaining sets an awfully terrible double standard of favoritism and I have a huge problem with that.
The Spurs are the hottest team in the NBA entering the playoffs, and could possibly end up as the #2 seed after hovering around the 6-7 spot all season. As the defending champion, are the Spurs the real team to beat in the NBA?
Steve: How can they not be considered the favorite now. Winners of the last 11 game going into Monday night. They are the defending champs, and Pops seems to find a way to win once he gets into the post season. They are playing better than anyone right now, but I still think since Golden State has home court and has virtually been unbeatable at home as they only lost an overtime game to the Bulls at home, they are still the team to beat in the playoffs. The Spurs should make the conference finals though.
Chad: To me the San Antonio Spurs, and I have said this before, are always a threat come playoff time because Popovich playes his team in the regular season and to me when you are the defending champion, until somebody beats you, you are the favorite.
Tyion: It’s funny that after so long we all still fall for Popovich’s tricks. Every year we claim they’re too old, and they start the season proving all the naysayers right. They stumble out the gate with Pop experimenting with different lineups and bring his vets along slowly. Then while barely holding on to 6th place in the West Pop decided it was about time to start playing for real which led to a 12 game win streak and the Spurs jumping from 6th to 2nd place in the leagues toughest division. Along the way they knocked off the Warriors, Rockets, Grizzlies, Mavericks and Thunder. They’re playing the patented brand of basketball that got them to the NBA Finals the past 2 years and a championship last year. That should have the rest of the league afraid, very afraid.
Bill: The Spurs, like it or not, are defending league champs and while it’s easy to discount their chances based on their advancing age, someone would be a fool to rule them out as being right in the thick of the quest for another league championship. I don’t know if they’ll have the energy and firepower to contend with the speed, youth, and talent on some of the other teams in the hunt, but I’m guessing we’ve not yet seen the Spurs play as they do best: methodical, half court hoops with great ball movement. Western Conference teams are mostly set up to run and while the Spurs can do that, they always find a way to slow the pace and play to their strengths. They’ll be there near the end, count on it. I will also readily admit that I thought that this would be the year that they finally began to fall off and perhaps miss the playoffs. Clearly I was wrong and I’m glad to say that I was. While I’m not a fan of the team, it’s good to see them doing it their way and finding success year after year.
Which team that will be left out of the NBA post season this year (excluding Oklahoma City and New Orleans) will rebound and make the post season next year?
Steve: This may shock you a bit, but I could really see something happening with the Sacramento Kings. They have a head coach who has a ton of experience in leading teams that are down in the dumps to the post season, he has one NBA Finals appearance with the Sonics, and also led the Nuggets to the Conference Finals. The Kings have some young quality players with it all starting with DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings could be on the verge of making a post season appearance sooner than you think.
Chad: I’d say Miami with the return of Chris Bosh for a full season with Wade and the other pieces Miami would easily be 4-6 seed in the East
Tyion: I’m going to go with the Heat on this one. I know its common for a team losing a player as valuable as Lebron James to quickly drop into obscurity but the Heat aren’t going without a fight. After Lebron announced The Decision 2.0 Pat Riley did everything he could to make sure the Heat stayed competitive. He locked up Chris Bosh (inturn taking away a GUARANTEED championship from the Rockets), signed Luol Deng, found diamond in the rough Whiteside, and then for the icing on the cake they made the midseason trade for Dragic. If not for some blood clots in Chris Bosh’s Lungs I don’t think it would be farfetched to say the Heat would not only have made the playoffs but would have had a good shot at home court advantage through atleast the first round.
Bill: MIA is a great choice, but I think their chances largely balance on whether Dragic re-signs with them or bolts and how healthy Chris Bosh is once he returns from his blood clot issue. They’ve got some good talent on that team and were in the hunt all season. The fact that they’ve fallen off and out is a bit surprising, to be honest. With that, I’m going to say… UTA. The fact that they’ve accumulated solid talent as well as developed it from within is rare in today’s league. They’ve got a cornerstone swat machine patrolling the lane in Gobert, their huge upside PG of the future in Exum, a solid all around player in Hayward, and a host of other solid contributors. Had they not been hit by some critical injuries to key personnel, they likely would have been in the hunt. Next season, I see no reason as to why they’ll spend another year watching from home.
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