Monday, January 4, 2010

Brandon Roy For MVP

For the first time in his career, I felt the "MVP, MVP, MVP" chants at the Rose Garden, while Brandon was attempting his free throws, were completely justified and not just a bunch of homers letting their opinions be heard. Sure, he has had the token name drop here and there over the course of last season, but he never really was a threat to even receive any votes. What's kind of comical is that his numbers across the board are eerily similar to last season. His points are up 0.7 from 22.6 to 23.3, assists are nearly identical from 5.1 to 5.0 currently, rebounds up just a smidgen at 4.8 from 4.7, free throw percentage is actually down 3% from 82% last year to only 79% this year, three-point percentage is only down by .024, and field goal percentage has dropped from 48% to 47.2%. So what makes this season's performance that much more impressive that last year's which garnered him 2nd Team All-NBA honors?
The answer is simple. He is following the path that Steve Nash laid out during the 2nd of his back-to-back MVP runs in 2005-2006. In that season, the Suns were -8 in the win column from the previous season, but still managed to win the Pacific division by 7 full games and take his team back to the Western Conference Finals all without the services of perennial All-Star Amare Stoudemire, who was held to only 3 games of action that year due to microfracture knee surgery.
Currently, the Trail Blazers are +1 on their pace they set last year, 54 wins, at this time and are in sole possession of first place of the Northwest division by a half game over the Denver Nuggets in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, where every team besides the Minnesota TimberWolves and Golden State Warriors would be in playoff contention if they were in the Eastern Conference. He is the ringleader of a team who has saw 2009 starter Nicolas Batum miss the entire season to date with a torn labrum, 6th man extraordinaire Travis Outlaw out with a broken fifth metatarsal for the past 25 games, Greg Oden done for the year with a broken kneecap after only participating in the team's first 21 games, backup center Joel Przybilla was lost with a similar, yet much more vicious, injury as Greg suffered and will be out for the year as well after only playing in 30 games, high energy and 3-point aficionado Rudy Fernandez who had to have surgery on his back to remove pain from his foot and has been out since December 1st, rookie big man Jeff Pendergraph recently came back to the lineup after having hip surgery and missing the team's first 29 games, fellow rookie Patty Mills will be making his debut tonight after breaking his foot in the summer, "big shot" Blake will miss his 2nd consecutive game tonight after being hospitalized with pneumonia, and the lone low-post scoring threat, LaMarcus Aldridge rolled an ankle in last Wednesday's win over the Clippers and is now going to miss his 2nd consecutive game as well. When it all boils down, there was only one player on the floor on Saturday against the Warriors and tonight versus the Clippers who was a rotational player for the Blazers 54-win team last season, Brandon Roy.
A sign of a MVP-caliber player is making the players around you better and posing a threat to the opposition that at any time, you can take over a game. As I sat in the stands before the Warriors game, I knew we would win based on one fact and one fact alone. We have Brandon Roy and they didn't. Now there's only a handful of players you can say that about on any given night in the NBA and the list is impressive: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Paul. Three of those guys (James, Bryant, Nowitzki) are former MVP's themselves, the other was an MVP of the NBA Finals (Wade), and the last player could go down as the greatest point guard to ever lace them up (Paul). And, it is not just Blazer fans who are getting the Roy 4 MPV memo either. Last week had Roy ranked 4th in their Race to the MVP voting, and somehow fell to #5 this week. Regardless of whether he dropped a spot or not, this is the highest he has been viewed by a legitimate media outlet outside of the Portland market.
The fact of the matter is, even if Roy is not the best player in the NBA or maybe not even top 5, the word "valuable" is listed in MVP and that must hold some merit come voting. After Oden went down in early December, Roy's numbers for the month were staggering at 27.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.9 apg, and .478 from the floor, combined with the fact he is on a streak of 15 straight games of scoring 23+ points, good enough to set a franchise record. When the chips are down, Roy performed at his peak. Highlights included a 41 point outburst along with 6 rebounds and 4 dimes on Christmas Day against then divisional leading Denver, 28 points, including 5-5 from downtown, and 8 assists in a come from behind win over the Heat in Miami, another dazzling show on TNT Thursday night against Phoenix with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, 28 points in a December 1st matchup versus Houston, where Greg went down, yet Roy hit the game winner, and finally, last night's incredible showing, with only 8 healthy bodies, against Golden State to the tune of 37 points on only 16 shots, 6 rebounds, and 5 dimes.
Portland is about to get some help back as Aldridge looks like he shall return Tuesday night against Memphis, Blake may only miss the next few games, Rudy could be back as early as the January 18th road trip, and Batum back as soon as late January. Unmindful as to whether those players come back on time or not, the media will not forget this stretch that Roy has put on by simply putting the team on his back and carrying them to victory after victory. For Roy to realistically be in the top 3 of MVP voting, he will have to lead the team to a divisional title and no worse than a 3rd seed, which will be a daunting task in itself. Whether that happens or not, right now Brandon Roy should be the MVP through the 1st third of the NBA season.

1 comment:

  1. Roy doesn't have a shot at MVP this year, but Kobe is getting old, and the league won't give it to LeBron every year.