By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Posted Feb 2 2009 9:18AM
Each week, we receive plenty of comments from fans of the players occupying the top two spots in the Race to the MVP: our No. 1, LeBron James and our No. 2, Kobe Bryant. They are two decidedly different but wholly dedicated factions who go at it, claws bared and teeth sharpened.
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Recently, a vocal third faction has entered the fray: Dwyane Wade fans. They cite their hero's digits: a league-leading 28.7 points per game, 7.2 assists and -- if they're fans who know how to argue -- they also call out his 2.2 steals and his amazing 1.5 blocks per game, best of all guards.
By most measures, Wade's averages this season are MVP numbers. Add to that Wade's Heat are winning and his fans have a plenty of fodder to make a legitimate argument. Yet in this week's rankings he's fourth behind James, Bryant and Dwight Howard. Why?
Because sometimes your best season isn't the league's best season. Statistically, this has been Wade's best season. He has no doubt been valuable to the Heat. Yet, as we've discussed in the space throughout the season, being an MVP is often more than stats. No season epitomized this more than 1961-62, when Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.2 points per game and Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double, yet it was Bill Russell whom the players voted MVP.
So what of this season's other MVP candidates? Have they had better statistical seasons than the ones they're having now and not won MVP? For clarity's sake, let's take a quick look at the top five from this season using the triple-double stats: points, rebounds and assists.
LeBron James, 2007-08: 30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.2 apg -- 45.1 total
MVP that season: Kobe Bryant, 28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg -- 40.0 total
Kobe Bryant, 2005-06: 35.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg -- 45.2 total
MVP: Steve Nash, 18.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 10.5 apg -- 33.5 total
Dwight Howard, 2007-08: 20.7 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 1.3 apg -- 36.2 total
Dwyane Wade, 2008-09: 28.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 7.2 apg -- 40.9 total
Chris Paul, 2008-09: 21.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 11.1 apg -- 37.6 total
With these basic elements, it's easy to see where Wade's fans are coming from. But the MVP, clearly, is not always the one with the best statistical season.
So keep arguing. We're listening. Questions, comments? You can mail us at RacetotheMVP@gmail.com.
Hoops Line of the Week: Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Jan. 23: 46 points, 15 boards and four assist vs. L.A. Clippers.
Nice line by Durant, which included a 24-for-26 performance from the line. But the Thunder, being the Thunder, lost 107-104.
Rise of the week: Dwyane Wade, Brandon Roy, Kevin Garnett (all one spot)
Drop of the week: Yao Ming (two spots to No. 10)
Outside Looking In (OLI)
11. Dirk Nowitzki
12. Joe Johnson
13. Pau Gasol
14. Jameer Nelson
15. Tayshaun Prince
16. Paul Pierce
17. Devin Harris
18. Steve Nash
19. Amar'e Stoudemire
20. Tony Parker
Readers' favorites: Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Danny Granger, Al Jefferson, Chris Bosh, Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, Rodney Stuckey, Mo Williams
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