By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com
Posted Mar 26 2010 12:03PM
Week after week, The Race updates loyal readers on the highs, lows, comings and goings of the same 12 or 13 guys as they move up, down, onto or off of this list of MVP candidates. To the point that, if you didn't know better, you wouldn't realize that the NBA actually is the home of more than 400 world-class athletes, each of whom has been wildly successful in his own right. Yet here the committee is, obsessing and enumerating 10, and 10 only, for the most special consideration.
Well, it's time to broaden our horizons. This league is about more than just 10 guys.
We're going to look at 10 others. (Sorry, the rest of you 390 or so.)
What The Race wants to do this week is to identify its candidates for the mythical award of Pretty Valuable Player, or PVP for short. If you don't care for that designation, they could be known as Next-Most Valuable Players, which would make them NMVPs. Or the committee could call them simply The Second 10.
It's inevitable that, as the season progresses, the evidence mounts and the arguments harden, cracking the top 10 of MVP candidates becomes increasingly difficult. Some guys can be right there, noses pressed to the glass, without gaining or sustaining enough traction. Other guys can be a clear half-step down, which still leaves them a whole flight of stairs above the league's worker bees. The Race decided to honor, in this smallest of ways, the next 10 players who, with a little luck or someone else's debilitating injury, could have their faces and individual glories hailed below on a weekly basis.
This will have to do:
• Steve Nash: It's a thin line between Nos. 10 and 11, and Nash has zigged and zagged across it numerous times this season. Given his two MVP trophies already, it's unlikely the Phoenix playmaker will pinch himself over this cockamamie NMVP status.
• Tim Duncan: Slipping into The Second 10 is nothing Duncan would brag about, if he ever bragged at all. One's first thought is, this slippage is in sync with his career arc, but then you remember that the Spurs' power forward still ranks among the league's top dozen players, as judged by the committee for this season. And other past MVPs like Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett aren't here at all.
• Brandon Roy: There is an ensemble feel to what the Trail Blazers do on their best nights, but there is no denying the impact Roy has had generally and throughout this season.
• Josh Smith: No, it wasn't just his tip-slam to beat Orlando that puts the Atlanta forward here. It is his all-around game and his growing maturity, in terms of doing what the Hawks need rather than showing what he himself can do at any given moment.
• Carlos Boozer: The Race considers him the "other" Chauncy Billups, but in mirror image to the way Denver has it. In Salt Lake City, the point guard is the more valuable of the MVP and NMVP candidates, but the forward isn't far behind. Just so happens this forward was the West's player of the month in February, too.
• Rajon Rondo: If the committee is going to go 20 deep, it seems appropriate that every likely playoff team should be covered with an MVP or NMVP candidate. In Boston, you'd be splitting hairs in ranking Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, especially given Rondo's impact and performance since October.
• Andrew Bogut: Milwaukee needs some love, too, and for all of Brandon Jennings' difference-making, the Bucks wouldn't be considered a dangerous first-round opponent for an upper seed if not for Bogut, playing as healthy and as consistently as he ever has.
• Gerald Wallace: Charlotte's headed for the postseason, too, and Wallace -- banged-up as he's been -- gets the biggest piece of credit pie.
• Aaron Brooks: OK, so Houston is on the outs right now in the West. But where exactly would the Rockets be without the vast improvement their slight point guard has shown this season (after serious glimmer in 2008-09)?
• Derrick Rose: Rose is here representing the best of the worst. He edges New York forward David Lee as the most valuable guy on a sub-.500 team. You hardly ever see such players in The Race and, frankly, they rarely are permitted to crack it. But there is no denying the Chicago point guard's value as a D-Wade Lite this season.
And now, The Race resumes its regularly scheduled programming:
Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA for 25 years. You can e-mail him here.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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