2008/2009 MVP and Rookie of the Year Rankings

3QC was honored to be one of the blogs selected to rank the NBA's MVP and Rookie of the Year candidates this season. Every two weeks, a panel of bloggers will vote to determine the top 10 MVP candidates and top 5 Rookie of the Year candidates, and the results will be posted at a different blog each voting cycle. I will update this page with my ballot after every cycle.

HoopsAddict hosted Round One. Check it out. Here's my MVP ballot:

  1. LeBron James - The King's stat line (through Sunday) shows 29.8 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, and 7.3 assists per game. But the most important number might be this one: 37.5 miutes per game, the lowest of his career. If Mike Brown can keep his minutes down, LeBron will be even more monstrous in April, May, and--dare I say it?--June.

  2. Dwight Howard - He and Mickael Pietrus are the only guys in Orlando playing above-average ball, yet the Magic are tied with the Hawks for the Southeast Division lead. Also, he's 4th in the league in shooting, 8th in scoring, 2nd in rebounding (by 0.1 boards) and 1st in shot-blocking (by 1.1 swats). Ridiculous.

  3. Joe Johnson - Has made the jump from "fringe All-Star" to "legitimate franchise player" in his 8th season. He's blowing his career numbers out of the water, and although Atlanta is on a losing streak, the fact that they're even above .500 with this head coach is impressive enough.

  4. Shaquille O'Neal - Don't laugh. The Diesel is fitting in well with the Suns and is, at least to this observer, the most significant factor in their 7-3 start.

  5. Dwyane Wade - Somehow, D-Wade has found a way to quietly average career-highs in scoring, steals, blocks, and field-goal percentage while nearing career-highs in rebounding and assists.

  6. Carlos Boozer - He's giving the Jazz everything he has in the absence of Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams, and Andrei Kirilenko.

  7. Tim Duncan - I'm usually loathe to vote for players on struggling teams, but Duncan's a worthy exception to the rule. His consistent 25-point, 10-rebound, 1-block performances mean the Spurs, even at 3-5, can't be counted out yet, even though they're missing their only other reliable offensive options.

  8. Kobe Bryant - His numbers are down across the board, and he didn't deserve the award last year, but the Lakers have the best record in basketball. We should acknowledge their best player, even if they're winning with a team effort.

  9. Kevin Garnett - Like Kobe, he's not playing particularly well. But the Celtics are 9-2 despite being below average in eFG% and--gulp--29th in turnover rate. No team that offensively impotent should even sniff .500. But KG's defense is the main reason the Celtics are once again atop the Eastern Conference.

  10. Tayshaun Prince - With Chauncey Billups' exit, Prince becomes the Pistons' emotional leader and steadiest player. His per-game averages of 17.2 points and 8.0 rebounds, along with his defense and intangibles, should make him an All-Star.

And here's my Rookie of the Year ballot:

  1. Rudy Fernandez - He scores efficiently and in bunches. A future All-Star, without question.

  2. Derrick Rose - Maybe it's a result of low expectations, but he's impressed me so far. The book on him said he'd be a leader; it didn't say he'd average nearly 19, 5, and 6 as a 20-year-old.

  3. O.J. Mayo - His efficiency has surprised plenty of people. Shame about his defense, though.

  4. Jason Thompson - The sooner the Kings deal Mikki Moore, the better. Thompson looks like a stud at power forward, but lost at small forward, which is where they're playing him now.

  5. Michael Beasley - He's doin' his thang with 16.7 points per game on 45.7% shooting, but I won't rate him any higher until he improves his rebounding; he's pulling down just 5.9 boards a game, an exceptionally low total for such a talented player starting on an undersized front line.

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Upside and Motor hosted Round Two. Here's my MVP ballot:

  1. LeBron James - ESPN's headline for a recent Cavs victory over the Bucks read, "Sub-par James keys late run as Cavs slip Bucks." LeBron went for 32, 7, and 5. And that's sub-par?!

  2. Chris Bosh - I can't believe I left him off my last ballot, so I'm making up for it. Anyone who scores 40 points on 20 shots, and does it more than once, for a winning team, deserves MVP consideration.

  3. Dwight Howard - Anchoring the league's third-best defense while providing some offense of his own. He could join the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Bill Walton if he leads the league in rebounding and blocks, as he does now.

  4. Chauncey Billups - Changed Denver's fortunes seemingly overnight. The Nuggets are a playoff lock now. Just think of how dangerous they'll be if J.R. Smith stops pouting about his bench role and starts shooting straight again.

  5. Kobe Bryant - Not having a great season, but his team is atop the West and, as its best player, he merits a vote.

  6. Paul Pierce - See my vote for Kobe, only replace "West" with "East."

  7. Joe Johnson - Atlanta's taken a bit of a dive, but still sits at 10-6 without Josh Smith--who is a better player than Johnson, I should add--so Johnson's offensive contributions can't be overlooked.

  8. Tim Duncan - Kept the Spurs afloat while injuries to Manu and T. Longoria took their toll.

  9. Dwyane Wade - His per-game averages are stellar. He loses MVP points because his team is so dreadful, though.

  10. Devin Harris - The Nets trail only the World Champs in the Atlantic, due in large part to Harris' ability to get to the rim at will. He's playing like an All-Star right now.

And here's my Rookie of the Year ballot:

  1. Derrick Rose - Like Harris, playing at an All-Star level. Once the Bulls get Captain Kirk healthy, they can swing him for a decent low-post option and possibly leap into that middle tier in the East.

  2. O.J. Mayo - Still scoring.

  3. Greg Oden - The Sam Bowie comparisons end now. The dude can play.

  4. George Hill - Played well above replacement level in Parker's absence and looks like a solid backup PG option. Love that he rebounds as well as he does.

  5. Rudy Fernandez - His shot left him for a week or so, but it's back and with a vengeance.

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The Dream Shake hosted Round Three. Unfortunately, 3QC was unable to participate.

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RaptorsHQ hosted Round Four. Here are my MVP picks:

  1. LeBron James - Prior to Sunday's games, the King led all players with a 32.72 PER, which would be the best single-season mark if the season were to end today. On top of that, his Cavaliers are on pace to win 70-plus games and should be favored to win the NBA title. This MVP call is easy.

  2. Dwyane Wade - It's true that the Heat have played the league's weakest schedule, and are only 4 games over.500 as it is, but Wade's individual statistics are simply too impressive to ignore: roughly 29 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block per game. From a 6'04" shooting guard. Absolutely insane. If he had anyone around him, he might stand more of a chance of winning the award.

  3. Chris Paul - Although the Hornets have stumbled out of the gate this season--as of this writing, they are 17-9, or half a game behind the Hawks for the league's sixth-best record--Paul has somehow managed to improve. 20 points and 11 assists per game, on nearly 50% shooting from the field, make him an offensive juggernaut. He's not a slouch on the other side of the ball, with 4 defensive rebounds and 3 steals per game. And he gets these eye-popping stats on the league's slowest-paced team.

  4. Tim Duncan - I tend to value defense in my MVP candidates, which explains Duncan's ranking. The Spurs are 20-10 despite Tony Parker's and Manu Ginobili's missing multiple games with nagging injuries, and Manu--a poor man's Kobe Bryant when healthy--has yet to regain his footing. The Spurs should not be this good. But they are, thanks to Duncan and Gregg Popovich, their brilliant coach.

  5. Kevin Garnett - The Celtics, with the league's best record and record-setting start, need MVP representation. Garnett's numbers aren't too gaudy, but he nonetheless leads them in PER, and he is once again their defensive anchor.

  6. Kobe Bryant - The Lakers are too good not to have a player mentioned in the MVP discussion. Kobe, the reigning MVP, fits the bill. Like Garnett, his stats don't stand out relative to his career-wide body of work, but he's the best player on one of the league's best teams. He deserves his due.

  7. Dwight Howard - although he's struggled offensively since returning from the first injury break in his five-year career, Dwight's defense at the center position is unparalleled. The emergence of Jameer Nelson, as well as the quietly excellent play of Rashard Lewis, has done more to help Orlando win lately, though, which is why he's slipped a bit in my rankings.

  8. Brandon Roy - The Blazers have split their last 10 games, but that does nothing to diminish Roy's rising stardom. His assertiveness in the clutch, coupled with his do-it-all skill-set, is making him one of the league's most feared perimeter players.

  9. Yao Ming - Although he's historically injury-prone, Yao has missed only one of Houston's 31 games this season. The Rockets are 20-11 despite Ron Artest's and Tracy McGrady's wayward marksmanship. If those two players recover from their season-long slump, and if Yao continues his steady play--20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks on 53% shooting--the Rockets may find themselves atop the ultra-competitive Southwest Division at the end ofthe season. That's no small feat.

  10. Dirk Nowitzki - Call it a courtesy vote for the player leading a team I didn't expect to seriously contend for a playoff spot this season, or call it a consolation prize for his ridiculous suspension for "hitting" Matt Harpring in the face a few nights ago. Either way, Dirk deserves dap.

Here are my Rookie of the Year picks:

  1. O.J. Mayo - He plays for a pretty bad team, but he also plays with the poise and maturity of a veteran. The Grizzlies drafted him for his skills. That he's giving them that, as well as intangibles, speaks to his value to the franchise.

  2. Rudy Fernandez - Perhaps Nate McMillan isn't making the most of Fernandez's abilities as a playmaker. I don't care. I could watch him drain three-pointers all day and not tire of it.

  3. Derrick Rose - the first overall pick in the draft has shown signs of hitting the dreaded Rookie Wall lately, but he's still lightning quick and a savvy playmaker. Mayo will prove to be a more prolific scorer, but the Bulls will not regret drafting Rose anyway. Point guard is a tough position to fill, and the Bulls have done so with Rose.

  4. Greg Oden - He fouls too often and scores not often enough, but his rebounding and defense--fouls included--are simply too impressive to ignore.

  5. Marc Gasol - Pau's younger brother is a poor rebounder relative to his size, but his defense and toughness are real difference-makers in the middle for Memphis, which definitely needs Gasol's production (11 points, 7 boards, 52% from the field), considering the only other centers on the roster are Hamed Haddadi, who is a rookie stuck in the D-League, and Darko Milicic, who is Darko Milicic.

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TruthAboutIt.Net hosted Round Five. Unfortunately, 3QC was unable to participate.

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Red's Army hosted Round Three. Unfortunately, 3QC was unable to participate.

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Canis Hoopus hosted Round Seven. Here's my MVP ballot:

  1. LeBron James: poor showing against the Lakers notwithstanding, he's still having the best statistical season of anyone in recent memory, and the Cavaliers still have a great chance of finishing with the league's best record.

  2. Kobe Bryant: Now that the Lakers have the league's best record, I can't overlook their best player. The individual statistics are pedestrian (by his lofty standards), but his team sits atop the league.

  3. Tim Duncan: The reports of the Spurs' demise have been greatly exaggerated. They're the only team in the West that can hope to knock off the Lakers in a seven-game series, and Duncan is the biggest reason for that.

  4. Kevin Garnett: This slot was the hardest one to select. I know Garnett's the most valuable Celtic, but Paul Pierce is their most explosive scorer and Ray Allen is their most efficient/consistent one. As much as I hate to cast a fourth-place MVP vote for someone averaging 17 and 9, I can't ignore the intangibles he brings to the floor, not to mention his defense.

  5. Dwyane Wade: He's having an absolutely bonkers statistical season (how's that for analysis?) but we're at the point where we need to weigh team success more heavily in determining a player's MVP-worthiness. As such, D-Wade drops a few slots.

  6. Dwight Howard: The injury to Jameer Nelson ended the Magic's hopes for a title this year, and Hedo Turkoglu's versatility is certainly a huge part of the Magic's success, but the whole team is built around Howard. And despite a 5-4 stretch since coming back from a big West Coast trip, the Magic have the league's fourth-best record.

  7. Chris Paul: The Hornets have managed to stay afloat despite Tyson Chandler's remarkable regression to the mean and David West's fairly inconsistent production. Paul is the motor that keeps this team running. Too bad it won't win a championship until it deals one of its several superfluous wings for a credible backup center or point guard.

  8. Brandon Roy: The Trail Blazers might be this year's Hornets, the young, borderline-elite team nobody in the West wants to face in May. Roy, who's averaging 20, 5, and 5 on 47% shooting (and only 2 turnovers), is the biggest reason for that. Having a balanced roster helps, too.

  9. Chauncey Billups: He's led Denver to the league's sixth-best record even though Carmelo Anthony missed 15 games with a broken hand. Billups' professionalism and leadership balances a team that features noted hotheads Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith, and is coached by George Karl.

  10. Yao Ming: He's been unusually healthy this year, unlike the rest of his teammates. One wonders how great this Rockets team could have been if it didn't have such fragile players on it.

And here's my Rookie of the Year ballot:

  1. Derrick Rose: He is, by all accounts, a certified franchise player. What impresses me is how infrequently he turns the ball over. Despite having the fourth-highest usage rate among rookies, he has the fifth-lowest turnover rate, and the guys ahead of him are bigs who don't have to worry about handling the ball. If only he had a competent head coach...

  2. Kevin Love: His averages (9 and 8) don't impress until one considers how little he plays (23 per game) in relation to other rookies (Marc Gasol posts 11 and 7 in 30 minutes). He'll take on a much larger role with Al Jefferson out.

  3. O.J. Mayo: With Mike Conley's failure to impress at point guard in his first two seasons, there's talk in Memphis of converting Mayo to that position. The problem? Although he's an accomplished, efficient scorer (19.8 per game on 54.8% TS), he is simply not a creator: his pure point rating of -1.6 sandwiches him between Anderson Varejao and Travis Outlaw. Not good company for a potential franchise point guard, no?

  4. Russell Westbrook: Let's see: he just turned 20, was considered to be a reach as the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, yet is doing it all with per-game averages of 15, 4, and 5, with a steal thrown in for good measure. If he shot better (50.3% TS, in Allen Iverson/Fred Jones territory), he'd be much higher on my list.

  5. Greg Oden: 9 points and 8 rebounds. Ho-hum. When he learns to stop fouling people, he'll be able to stay on the floor longer, and thus put up better numbers. It amuses me to hear all the talk about how he's a bust, though. Let's wait for him to play more than, what, half a season before we make that call, shall we?

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