|Fantasy and MVP challenge: Bryant vs Garnett
|Last week I made cases for LeBron James and Chris Paul as real life and/or fantasy MVP. This week I will do the same for Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, and at the end I hope you will chime in on whether Paul, James, Bryant or Garnett get your MVP votes
Bryant is the Tiger Woods of the NBA, combining outstanding physical gifts with a computer-like knowledge of the game and a singular will to win. He is taller, quicker, bigger, and/or jumps higher than almost everyone that guards him and he is ruthless about exploiting those advantages to score at will. Bryant is a late-game assassin, with cold-blooded execution in crunch time situations that makes him one of the most feared players in the NBA when the game is on the line. He is also an excellent 1-on-1 defender, likely to add an eighth NBA All-Defensive team award to his trophy case this year. Bryant has been given credit for keeping the Lakers at the top of the ultra-competitive Western Conference despite injuries to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and also many consider it a correctible oversight that he has never won the MVP trophy. Thus, if the Lakers finish the season at the top of the West, Bryant has a good chance to win his first MVP.
Fantasy-wise, Bryant is second in the NBA in scoring at 28.7 ppg, and he is one of only two players in the league averaging at least 25 points, six rebounds and five assists per game (LeBron James). Where Bryant distances himself from James is at the free throw line, where his 7.6 FTM/game at 84% shooting is second only to Kevin Martin in terms of roto free throw impact.
Garnett has been the catalyst for a historic season in Boston, with the Celtics using a stifling defense (2nd team ever to lead NBA in points allowed, FG% allowed, and 3-pt % allowed) to improve by an NBA record 36 games with two weeks still left in the season. Garnett has been the focal-point of that defense, using his extremely long 7-foot frame, great quickness and excellent technique to shut down his own man while also giving strong help defense to his teammates. On offense, Garnett is a versatile threat that is able to command double-teams from opposing defenses on the blocks or consistently knock down the jumper with range out to 20 feet. He is also arguably the best passing big man in the NBA, which combines with his other offensive talents to foster an extremely efficient offense in which six of the top eight rotation players are shooting a career high EFG%. Garnett has infused this Celtics team with intensity, defensive edge, and unselfishness and is widely credited as the biggest influence that has made them championship contenders.
Garnett’s MVP candidacy depends a lot upon the Celtics record: you have to go back to 1960 (Wilt Chamberlain) to find the only time in NBA history when a team with the best record by more than six games did not have the MVP winner. The Celtics currently have the best record by 6.5 games, so if they maintain that margin history says that KG has a good chance to win his second MVP trophy.
Fantasy-wise, Garnett is one of only two players in the league averaging at least 18 points while shooting 53% from the field and 80% from the line (Amare Stoudemire). He is one of only three players in the NBA averaging at least 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists (Lamar Odom, Brad Miller). And he is one of only two players averaging at least 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks/game (Shawn Marion).
LeBron James. Chris Paul. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Garnett. Who is your fantasy MVP? Who is your real-life MVP? And why?
Posted by Professor at 4/3/2008 3:14:00 PM
|Welcome Back, Fellas
|Couple of big names made surprise returns to the court last night:
Most Dramatic Return: Gilbert Arenas -- no question. Gotta hand it to Agent Zero: dude has a flair for the dramatic. He didn't even take his spot on the bench until five minutes had elapsed in the first quarter, so as not to give away the surprise.
The only way he could have improved on his entrance is if he'd come dancing down the aisle in an Uncle Sam costume like Apollo Creed before the Drago fight.
Unfortunately for the Wiz, the game ended a bit like the Drago fight... Arenas played nearly 20 minutes and scored 19 points, but Washington lost on a buzzer-beater by "who dat" guard Ramon Sessions -- and may have lost DeShawn Stevenson and Antawn Jamison to new injuries.
Most Surprising Return: Dirk Nowitzki's return surprised for a couple of reasons. First off -- high ankle sprains ordinarily don't heal that quickly... I shudder to think about the tape-job he needed to get on the court, or what his ankle is feeling like today. Second -- his return helped propel Dallas to a victory over a team with a winning record -- their first since the Jason Kidd trade.
Most Significant Return: This one could go to Pau Gasol, who played 30 minutes and scored 10 points in the Lakers' win over Portland -- but we're holding off on handing a title to the Lakers until we see their entire projected lineup - including Andrew Bynum - on the floor together.
As such, we're calling Elton Brand's return the most significant of the night... considering the game was his season debut. Brand came off the bench for 25-and-change minutes, scoring 19 points, grabbing five boards, and showing countless fantasy owners that they might get a bit of return on that roster spot he's been occupying all season.
In leagues where no one took a flyer on a possible return by Brand -- and according to the stats on Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner, that's around four out of every five leagues -- get to that waiver wire and make your claims. Where else are you going to find a 20-and-10 guy this late in the season?
Posted by Charlie Zegers at 4/3/2008 10:07:00 AM
|Evaluation of Newest Knick Savior
I am a long suffering Knicks fan and have no room in my heart for optimism or giving the benefit of my doubts to anyone hired by Jim Dolan. That being said, you are free to take my evaluation of the Donnie Walsh signing with as many grains of salt as you wish.
The Knicks are in a black hole. This once proud franchise has been primarily placed into this black hole via the outstanding incompetence of Jim Dolan and Isiah Thomas. To return the Knicks to prominence, Jim Dolan needed to transfer active ownership to someone with a brain. Because that is not an option for the feeble-minded fortunate son, Dolan needed to hire the best person available. In my opinion, this best available option would have to be the cream of the crop at the NBA or college level. This person would have to be everything that Isiah Thomas is not. This person would have to be committed to winning and demanding of overall excellence from his players and himself (imaging that Isiah- accountability).
This person is not Donnie Walsh. Donnie Walsh is another example of Jim Dolan’s utter lack of basketball intelligence.
Here are my reasons:
1. Donnie Walsh hired Isiah Thomas.
2. Donnie Walsh (when asked about the aforementioned hiring) says that he would do the same thing over again and hire Isiah .
3. Under Donnie Walsh’s “direction” as general manager, the Pacers have been completely irrelevant and boring for the past 7 or so seasons.
4. Under Donnie Walsh’s “direction” as general manager, the Pacers of the past 4 or 5 seasons have been a team generally regarded as lacking in “character”.
5. Donnie Walsh seems old, proud and tired. On the surface, Donnie Walsh appears to be over the hill.
6. Donnie Walsh does not appear to have thick skin. Whether it’s due to his age or Pacer fatigue, I was not impressed by his introductory dealings with either Mike & The Mad Dog or the New York media.
7. Donnie Walsh has chosen to act with class (whatever that means) and let Isiah finish out the season. Serious Knicks fans would all agree that Donnie needed to kick the clown to the curb ASAP. This Donnie failed to do and suggests an inner softness that will not be appreciated by New York basketball fans.
Put simply, the Knicks have fallen about as far as a franchise can fall. They are a complete joke and nothing the organization does or says can be currently taken seriously. The Knicks need a legitimate savior that is sharp, in his prime and excellent in every sense of the word. Donnie Walsh is the wrong person for a very wrong franchise. Maybe that just makes him the right choice.
Posted by David Martorano at 4/3/2008 7:07:00 AM
|Paul for MVP
|Many have been debating whether Chris Paul, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant deserve the 2007-08 NBA MVP award, but not only am I here to declare the winner, I’m here to say there really shouldn’t even be a debate to begin with.
When all is said and done, LeBron James will be viewed as one of the two or three best players in the history of the league. His line this season – 30.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 1.0 bpg, 48.4 FG% - is downright fantastic and would be worthy of MVP honors in most other NBA seasons. However, his team currently sits 17.5 games out of first place in an inferior Eastern Conference, good for fourth place. He also commits 3.4 turnovers per game and shoots just 71 percent from the line.
If my life depended on someone scoring during one final possession, Kobe Bryant would be my choice with the ball in his hands. The fact he’s yet to win a single MVP award is nothing short of a travesty, and his 2007-08 campaign has been one of his most impressive yet. Still, take him away from this current Lakers squad, and they’re still a playoff team, likely in the top-4 in the East.
Paul, meanwhile, is simply having the best season at his position in the history of the NBA. His 4.56/1 assist/turnover ratio is flat-out amazing. To put that in perspective, during John Stockton’s NBA-record 1989-90 season in which he handed out 14.5 assists per game, his ratio was 4.15/1. Paul’s not just the best passer in the league, but he’s also the game’s best perimeter defender, evidenced by his league-leading 2.7 steals per game. Here are Paul’s averages from 15 games in the month of March: 24.0 points, 13.3 assists, 2.7 steals, 1.5 3-pointers on 55.3 percent shooting from the field. The guy made 46.0 percent of his three-point attempts!
David West is a good player, but with Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler rounding out the starting five, it’s simply incredible Paul has the Hornets currently leading the Western Conference. In the history of the league, only one team won 44 games and failed to make the playoffs; the current Western Conference features a Denver Nugget team that is on pace to finish with 50 wins and yet out of the postseason. In short, during the most competitive season in NBA history, Paul’s efficiency, defense and ability to take control of a game has led an otherwise moribund franchise to the top of the standings. Paul has been the NBA’s most valuable player this season.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 4/1/2008 4:54:00 PM