The NBA MVP award goes to the person who supposedly was the most valuable in the National Basketball Association in a given year. It looks like Derrick Rose will probably win the 2011 version of the award, or LeBron James will claim his third in a row. However, there is a player who deserves it more than those two.
While James is playing on a team that has not lived up to its expectations and Rose is surrounded by All-Star talent, there is one player who is breaking records that are over 30 years old, and is quickly becoming an elite power forward in the NBA. The consistency in the numbers and the impact he has on the game cannot be debated. And, in the true definition of the word valuable, take this player off his team and it would be significantly worse. I’m talking about Kevin Love who would receive my vote for NBA MVP.
I can already hear the “are you on crack,” and “you’re a UCLA homer” comments on their way. But listen to the argument first. While James and Rose both average more points than Love (James at 26.3, Rose at 24.5, Love at 20.9), Love’s points are irreplaceable. The next post player on Minnesota averages nine points per game, and that’s Darko Milicic. So if Love doesn’t play on a given night, Darko has to absorb Love’s scoring production for the Wolves to have a chance. Rose has little help from his guards as, but has three other players who can pick up the scoring load, including Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng (who was being offered as the main prize for Kobe Bryant a few years ago). If LeBron misses a game for the Heat, that means more shots for Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, both All-Stars who are very capable of filling the production missed from Lebron’s absence.
But points are not the whole story.
Love triples any of his teammates in rebounding while Rose doesn’t average five a game and LeBron averages close to eight — still half of Love. Love is 4th on his team in assists, and his free-throw and three-point percentage is better than both Rose and James, and only LeBron has a better field goal percentage. Statistically speaking, Love is as good as both MVP frontrunners. So what puts him over the top?
Let’s look at what surrounds Love: Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster, Michael Beasley, and Wesley Johnson. Yep, ’nuff said. Also, Minnesota traded away Al Jefferson, a 20-10 guy so Love could have the minutes and opportunity. Jefferson was an established NBA player, and a good one at that. Take Love away from Minnesota and they are a D-League caliber team. Miami and Chicago would be worse without James and Rose, but they would still do well be playoff contenders.
The term most valuable means the thing or person that means the most. While James and Rose are both worthy MVP candidates and are extremely valuable, Kevin Love defines value. His value to the T-Wolves cannot be measured by stats or box scores. Loves numbers are almost as influential as both Rose and James, but his environment is far less designed for success. LeBron won the last two MVPs for the very same reason. Love deserves that type of respect, and it’s time we show him that love.
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