By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Posted Jan 2 2009 8:38PM
All season long, we've kept a running debate as to what qualifies someone to be an NBA MVP. Superior stats? Team success? A combination of the two? Can value even be quantified in such a manner?
We also mentioned that we'd try to get NBA beat writers to talk about their criteria for MVP. Well, we got a sucker ... er, writer. Alan Hahn, the Knicks' beat writer for Newsday and author of The Knicks Fix, graciously agreed to offer his opinions about what makes an MVP.
R2MVP: What makes an MVP candidate?
Hahn: I think an MVP still has to be one of the best players in the league. Obviously, you have to be on a good team, because that matters. But, I don't know, in Chauncey's [Billups] situation, if he's more of an MVP than LeBron James.
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If the Nuggets were in first place and playing unbelievably, then you could relate it to him. Like Chris Paul and the Hornets last year. They were playing great and he was a big part of it.
I think what LeBron has been doing, no one has come close.
R2MVP: And you don't care who wins? There's no bias, no favoritism?
Hahn: No. It's not like we get anything out of it. No one knows who you're voting for. So, if you care about the integrity of the award, then you care about your vote, who you're voting for and how you're voting for them.
R2MVP: When you say "best players in the league," is that something that's earned over time or something that's predetermined?
Hahn: I think you could be a nobody one season, and the following season be an MVP. I don't think you have to have established an MVP status over time. In a situation where you get traded to a team in the offseason to a perfect situation. Take Kevin Garnett, and you're clearly head-and-shoulders above the rest -- and your team is as a result of your play -- you're an MVP. I don't care who you are.
You don't have to have three or four seasons in a row of playing well and now you become an MVP candidate. I think it depends on the year.
R2MVP: What about a team like Boston, which has three guys who don't have the stats, but they serve each other? Could one of those guys be MVP?
Hahn: I think Garnett is definitely an MVP candidate along with LeBron because Garnett -- his intensity, his defense, what he brings to that team -- if you take him away, they're not a great team. That's a great team, they have three great players, but Garnett to me is the best player on that team. He's the player that makes it all happen. Just because his numbers aren't there, but you know his effect is there -- off the court, on the bench, in the game. People overlook defense, but it's his defensive intensity is what makes them such a good team. So, he's a candidate.
R2MVP: So, it's not solely numbers?
Hahn: No, I don't think so. You can look at players putting up huge numbers. Look at Dwyane Wade. He's putting up great numbers, but is he an MVP candidate? He said he's not because his team has an average record. It's not a great team and certainly not a contender. He's having a great year individually, but he's not an MVP candidate.
Despite having him as low as No. 7 here in the Race to the MVP, we have had LeBron at No. 1 for most of the season. While KG is not in our Top 10, we have acknowledged his value to the Celtics. Does that make him most valuable in the NBA? We haven't subscribed to KG's intangibles as we did last season, or as we have to Billups' this season. Who knows? Maybe we've given Garnett the short shrift.
As for Wade, we believe he's a legitimate candidate. The Heat have 17 wins, already passing last season's total of 15. Wade leads the league in scoring and is fourth in steals. Without Wade, the Heat would be looking at another trip to the lottery. Right now, they're the East's sixth seed. We'll argue for Wade's candidacy.
What do you think?
You can always let us know. Write to RacetotheMVP@gmail.com.
Now, on to the rankings.
Hoops Line of the Week: New Jersey's Devin Harris, Dec. 19: 41 points, 13 assists and three boards vs. Dallas
This one happened nearly two weeks ago, but Harris put on a "How-Ya-Like-Me-Now?" performance against his former team, the Mavericks, in the Meadowlands.
Jamal Crawford's 50-point, five-dime night on Dec. 20 was also considered.
Rise of the week: Joe Johnson (from No. 10 to No. 6)
Drop of the week: Chauncey Billups (from No. 6 to No. 10)
Dropping out: None
Outside Looking In (OLI)
11. Kevin Garnett
12. Carmelo Anthony
13. Pau Gasol
14. Devin Harris
15. Ray Allen
16. Steve Nash
17. Yao Ming
18. Paul Millsap
19. Rajon Rondo
20. Amar'e Stoudemire
Other reader favorites: Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce
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