The Amazing Race

From the first tip of the NBA season sportswriters everywhere try to figure out who will be the MVP of the league. The discussions are endless and the debates are fierce. Everyone has a different opinion about what the award means and who deserves to hold the title of Most Valuable Player. There are many different definitions people have of the award. Some feel that it should go to the best player in the league no matter what team that player plays for, if they have the best stats, they should win the award. Others feel that it should only go to players on winning teams because what does it matter if you have great stats only to see your team miss the playoffs – the award is all about value. There are hundreds of methods of analyzing and judging each player, anything from individual stats to head-to-head match ups to what the teams have accomplished. But at the end of the day it has to be a personal decision. No one has ever defined what it takes to be the MVP. There are not even set criteria for what makes a worthy candidate let alone a deserving winner. This leaves us in the situation where personal preference comes into play. Which player as MVP feels best to the voter? There are many deserving candidates. But which player has that something extra, that intangible that makes them stand out to the voters as a true MVP? Here is a group of the six candidates that I think it will come down to as the voters make their final decisions: 6. Chauncey Billups. He does not have the most phenomenal stats but how can the MVP voters not account for what the Detroit Pistons have done this season with Billups at the helm. With a ridiculous 4.04:1 assist-to-turnover ratio it is no wonder that his team is on pace to set a record for fewest turnovers in a season. While he was an integral part of his team’s run at the best record, he is no MVP. He is the best player on the best team in the league but it is a team predicated on teamwork and the whole of the team, which is a great system for winning championships but will not get Billups the MVP.5. LeBron James. Based purely on the numbers James should walk away with the award. He is averaging 31.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists every time he steps on the court. James may have the most pure talent out of any of the players, and he has the least talent around him. This lack of talent is evident in his team’s ordinary record. While he has scored through the roof, his team has not won the games and it will be at least another year before LeBron wins an MVP and the Cavs make a deep run in the playoffs. 4. Kobe Bryant. Where would the Lakers be without Kobe? That is the only question voters need to ask themselves. If Kobe were replaced by two decent guards the Lakers would have won 20 games at the most this season. As it is, they are in position to take the seventh seed in the West with close to 45 victories. That means one player is worth almost 25 wins. How is he not the MVP? While he may have scored 81 points during a game this season (let that number sink in a moment), the voters all end up going with there gut feeling and a player like Kobe makes stomachs turn. He got exactly what he wanted this year in a team that was completely centered around him it won’t get him anywhere in the playoffs and won’t win him the MVP. 3. Dirk Nowitzki. The German sharpshooter has made great strides this season. It seems that as the Mavericks improve so too does their best player, Nowitzki. He is averaging 29 points and 10 rebounds a game since the All-Star break and has made incredible progress in rounding out his game. Nowitzki has done amazing things for his team, but his duties and responsibilities don’t extend as far as some of the other players. However, if he continues to improve and his team continues to win this award will be his very soon. 2. Dwayne Wade. Until about a week ago he was my winner. After struggling and having some injury problems he has dropped into second.Watching Wade play is out of this world. He has body control beyond anything I have ever seen. He is averaging 27.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. Those are gaudy numbers, but the most amazing stat may be that, according the statistical website 82games.com, the Heat outscores its opponents by 8.2 points every 48 minutes Wade is on the floor. Without him, the Heat are being outscored by 8.6 points. The thing that has held D-Wade down in the past, the Shaq Factor, will keep him from winning again this season. Having the most dominant player of the last 10 years on one’s team certainly eases the load. This will be on the minds of the voters and will keep Wade waiting for the award at least one more year. 1. Steve Nash. As hard as it is to believe, Nash, last year’s MVP, has had a better season this year. He has increased his scoring by 3.8 points a game since last season, more then any MVP award winner except for Larry Bird who went up 4.5 ppg after he won the award in 1983-84. He is the averaging an absurd 10.8 apg, tops in the league, which explains why six of his teammates are averaging career bests in scoring and five are likely to finish with personal highs in shooting percentage. Nash is the whole package. He runs a team that won 62 games last season and then lost seven players, including All-Star Amare Stoudemire, and has still led this patchwork group of players to more then 50 wins and the Pacific Division Championship. He is the consummate leader and continues to improve himself and the team around him. He is the Most VALUABLE Player to his team and the Most VALUABLE Player in the league.