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Fantasy and MVP challenge: Bryant vs Garnett
Posted by Professor at 4/3/2008 3:14:00 PM
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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

Kobe Bryant

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.

Kevin Garnett

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?


4/1/08 3D, this blog was already commented on. Check up on the blogs more regularly.
Posted by kevinccp at 4/3/2008 5:34:00 PM
The problem with KG is that he missed nine games. Also, the fact Ray Allen was also brought in with him. That said, Allen is no longer a superstar, and KG's defense/selflessness is pretty unique. Having a major hand in the biggest win/loss turnaround in NBA history is pretty nice, too.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 4/3/2008 5:37:00 PM
UGG, ok I guess I have to subscribe to another site for basketball next year. Where do I start? I was harsh, I admit, with you blog talking about basketball players to pick up for injury returns, youth realized, etc. I didn't like the blog, due to the fact that I like people who go out and state who the like (see Dave M., although the Jets aren't winning the super bowl the next 4 years....). I put out Corey Magette as a sleeper (rotowire had 60 something ranked) VTA DAVE blasted me for that but compare the stats compared to rotowire rankings of him; again 60 something VS. Rashard Lewis (who was 12). Lewis easily wins 3 pointers made....but Magette wins fg%, ppg, rebounds, assists, and ft% based on how many more he made, despite the overall less percentage than Lewis. You also said in a blog Portland was done for this year, yet they remain in the playoff race right now. The MVP was argued days ago, I'm sure magically more blogs will appear to bury my comments here in the next few days. I will always subscribe to rotowire for baseball, and 3D's blogs, but you guys really need to improve basketball.
Posted by kevinccp at 4/3/2008 6:15:00 PM
Dre' makes a good case for KG - I had thought it was just a homer pick, but he convinced me otherwise. And KG's impact on the Celts is what MVP awards are typically about - Nash and Nowitzki won on teams with the most wins, too. And given the turnaround (which also had to do with Allen, Posey, Rajon Rondo improving, etc.), I might even be swayed. Chris Paul has carried the Hornets in a much tougher conference, though. It's between those two, I think. As good as LeBron is, the Cavs aren't special, and there are other good MVP candidates. Usually, the guy on a so-so team gets it only if no one else is really deserving. Not the case this year. I'm going to say Paul over KG, but it's very close. The presence of Paul Pierce, who had an excellent year, and Allen sways me to Paul. David West, Tyson Chandler and Peja are good running mates, but nothing special in the West. Paul is the guy who carries the load.
Posted by cliss at 4/3/2008 9:20:00 PM
I think that ultimately the MVP is going to come down to record/placement. If either the Hornets or Lakers win the West, I think the best player on that team probably has the best shot to win unless something big changes in the media perception over the next couple of weeks. If another team like the Spurs win the West, then that opens the door for KG. Or, if the Celtics end up with the best overall record by 8 or more games that could change things as I pointed out, you have to go back to before the NBA/ABA merger when the league only had 8 teams to find the last time a team with the best record by more than 6 games didn't get the MVP. That's an awful lot of history.

Posted by drza44 at 4/3/2008 10:20:00 PM
As for Paul's supporting cast...I'm not sure that I buy that it is really weaker than KG's. Allen and Peja have a similar historical pedigree, current role, and stats this season so I think they cancel out. Rondo and Chandler are both the "young players made better by playing with stars", but as much as I like Rondo I think that Chandler would have had more value on the open market than Rondo even before this season and still would today.

The biggie is Pierce vs. David West. Paul is given a lot of credit for making West a star, but West was an NCAA national player of the year in college and his progression from 17/7 to 18/8 to 20/9 over the last 3 years seems like a natural improvement rate for a young star on the rise. I think Paul makes life easier for West (the same way that KG makes Pierce's life easier), but I'm not sure how much of West's All Star Status I can lay at Paul's feet. So while I'd give Pierce an advantage over West right now because Pierce is more established (and has been outstanding this year), I think the advantage is not as wide as name recognition might suggest. The rest are role players, and both teams are strong on that front. On the whole, I'd think that for a regular season those supporting casts are pretty similar in caliber.
Posted by drza44 at 4/3/2008 10:27:00 PM
I'd say the Celts have more depth though - Mo Pete, Bonzi, Bobby Jackson, Jannero Pargo - those were Paul's backcourt running mates. And even if the supporting cast is close, Pierce is more of a leader (and has also been a very good defender). Plus, Paul's had to do it against tougher competition. The Celts supporting cast is better compared to the east than the Hornets' is compared to the West. Also the best record argument is skewed by the conferences. (Though I think the Celts have a great record against the West, too). Really, the argument will only be settled if the Celts make the finals and KG leads them to a title over Kobe or Paul. Probably the Spurs will beat them all. And don't count out the Suns. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mavs come together. The Western Conference playoffs are going to be sick. Anyone besides Dalton (who's on crack) think the Cavs can be a problem for the Celts in Round 2?
Posted by cliss at 4/3/2008 11:05:00 PM
Re: supporting cast. Coming into this season Mo Pete was more highly thought of as a wing-man than Kendrick Perkins was as a starting center next to KG. Pargo and Bobby Jackson are probably better than House and Tony Allen. Bonzi vs. Posey...again, toss-up. I really don't see a big difference in supporting cast, outside of whatever difference Pierce's experience gives over West.

Re: West vs. East. Nobody questions that the West is stronger top-to-bottom than the East, but this isn't baseball where the leagues don't interract much. As of today, the Celtics have played 30 games against the East and 45 against the West (vice-versa for the Hornets).

Celtics: 25 - 5 (83.3% win) against West, 35 - 10 (77.8%) against East
Hornets: 31 - 14 (68.9%) against West, 21 - 8 (72.4%) against East

Not only are the win percentages for both teams pretty consistent across conferences, the Celtics have a better win percentage against both the East AND the West than the Hornets do. In other words, it's hard to argue based on how each did against the East and West that the conference is why the Celts have eight fewer losses than the Hornets. I think the conference angle is a bit overblown in the MVP talks I hear.

Posted by drza44 at 4/4/2008 5:51:00 AM
I def. think the C's are better than the Hornets, and my Cavs wager is looking pretty bad right now, Liss. At least Durant is winning ROY for sure.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 4/4/2008 7:32:00 AM
Horford deserves it - he's on a playoff team, but you're probably right - the voters will just buy into the hype and the scoring average. And Dre', maybe you're right about KG - good arguments. It's tough to overcome all of those facts you're throwing at me... How about some Horford/Scola/Durant facts? Let's get this out to the voters before Dalton gets undeserved money from me.

Posted by cliss at 4/4/2008 9:51:00 AM
Re ROY: I think if there were no names attached and the voters really had to look into it the details, a big man that averages a double-double on good shooting percentages and plays a prominent role on a playoff contender would definitely get the nod over a tall perimeter player whose only production has been volume scoring (on poor percentages) on a bad team. A quick glance at indicates that Wally Szczerbiak, another tall scoring wing, was much more effective for the Sonics than Durant. He's almost the epitome of hollow stats (for this season).

But Durant basically was the incumbent for ROY before this season began. Another rookie would have had to do something dramatic to overtake him, so even though Horford is IMO more deserving I expect Durant to win it.
Posted by drza44 at 4/4/2008 10:38:00 AM
Durant is shooting 49 percent from the field since the All-Star break and 87.5 percent from the line for the year. He's also averaging a steal and a block per contest. I agree the 20 ppg is skewed since he's basically allowed to shoot as much as he wants on an awful team, but Durant isn't some scrub who's going to win based solely on name recognition. Horford's only playing 2.5 mpg less than him. Horford is already a top-10 rebounder in the league, I will give you that. And I think the vote is debatable.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 4/4/2008 4:55:00 PM

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