By Steve Aschburner, for NBA.com
Posted Feb 26 2010 11:25AM
While waiting to see whether and where Zydrunas Ilgauskas asserts himself in the wholly owned subsidiary of this weekly endeavor -- The Race to The MVP (Most Valuable Pickup edition) -- let's look at some numbers as they pertain to the big-boy race here.
And in this case, we're not talking about basketball statistics. We're talking simple math. As in, what's better: One star or two?
At All-Star Weekend in Dallas, Toronto's Chris Bosh was asked on an ESPN Radio show about the widespread assumption that he not only would be leaving the Raptors as a free agent this summer, but that he would select a team based on where LeBron James and Dwyane Wade land. The thinking behind that view was that two stars always are better than one, which is why the New York Knicks, for example, cleared a staggering amount of cap space last week.
Not so fast, though. Bosh said he already had given some thought to that possibly mistaken notion.
"I was just looking at what people say and it's like, 'Chris is going to go here and play with him, or this, this and that.' I'm like, 'Wait a minute,' " Bosh said. "I feel like I should be built around. And maybe that's just my ego talking, but I feel that I'm a very good player in this league and I'm only going to get better. So ... maybe we should be getting somebody [in Toronto]."
Interesting. Maybe it was Bosh's ego talking. He at least showed self-awareness by suggesting that. Maybe he had just tired of hearing outsiders predict his fate and dictate his thought process. Maybe he believes in the Raptors' and general manager Bryan Colangelo's long-term vision. Or maybe he just wanted to throw a bone to worried fans in Canada.
What Bosh needs to remember, though, is that the one-superstar strategy is better for winning MVP awards than for winning championship rings.
It's possible to do both, certainly, if a championship team's best player is undeniably better than its No. 2. The Race has a murkier time of it with team leaders of similar value. Think back to Boston's 2008 title team -- it was nearly impossible to choose from among Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen as a head-and-shoulders-superior MVP candidate. And appropriately, none of them won; Garnett's Defensive Player of the Year Award was a lower-profile acknowledgement of his contribution in hitching up the Celtics' defense.
You can make a case now that Atlanta and Portland are seen more as ensembles than as star-driven teams, though Brandon Roy and Joe Johnson might be firsts among equals. That's how the Detroit Pistons got so deep into the postseason through most of the 2000s without a Maurice Podoloff trophy winner.
Now consider the Denver Nuggets, as Chauncey Billups -- the engine of those Pistons teams -- continues to build a case for MVP consideration while playing alongside a seasonlong candidate in The Race. Does Billups' play detract from Carmelo Anthony's worthiness? Does the presence of a helpful fellow All-Star lead inevitably to split votes and diminished MVP chances for the other guy?
Good questions. We've got about a month and a half to figure them out, as we plug teammates into spots in The Race for the first time in a while.
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