The Case for the Beard

Apr 28, 2015 by





In all my years following the NBA I struggle to recall a season where there is an inordinate amount of debate centering on the MVP race. It’s been quite some time since the the NBA legitimately had more than two players in the conversation. Typically who will be crowned the MVP of the NBA regular season is an obvious choice. Your 2014-15 NBA season has a five to six players being considered as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

The media has voted for the NBA MVP since the 1980-81 seasons. The NBA Player’s Union is pushing for players to have an active part in casting ballots for the seasoning ending awards. It was recently announced by the Union that they will conduct their own voting beginning this year. The Union released a memo stating that anonymous votes will be cast from players and the results will be announced sometime this summer. Obviously the peer voting will not be recognized as anything official, however, it could pave the way for players to eventually take part along with the media in the voting process. I like the direction this is heading and if it indeed becomes a reality my inclination is that the NFL and MLB will soon follow.

Since the media still retains the “official”MVP voting privileges, we can assume the following based on a history of monotony as it pertains to their voting patterns –

  • The best basketball player in the world, LeBron James, will not be awarded the Most Valuable Player this season. He will finish a distant third in the voting. In my opinion, this is one of the top reasons why I feel the players’, even coaches,should have some say in the voting process. It is absolutely ridiculous if you place James lower than 2nd when casting a ballot.What we should be discussing is what type of year a player should have to make a legitimate case for not naming LeBron the winner of the award. In the eyes of the media, that would be boring. That is why Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant were named your MVP’s for the 2010-11 and 2012-14 season respectively.
  • Anthony Davis is a special talent. His drastic improvement in his outside shot has now made him almost impossible to defend. We knew he could play on the defensive end when entering the NBA; I was just surprised how quickly he developed offensively. Just 22 years old, and only three years in the league, Davis is trending towards becoming one of the topplayers of his generation. Averaging 24 and 10 in the regular season, the future is bright for this former Kentucky Wildcat.
    • Memo to teams choosing high in the draft, Davis is the type player you draft to build your franchise into a title contender. When a player of Davis’ size and ability at the forward/center spot is available, choose that player over all others. His game represents the future of how big’s will play the game. Davis will lead the league in scoring many times in the upcoming years. He will also be a future multiple winner of the MVP. However, it just will not occur this season. The Pelicans are an elite point guard away from being a serious title threat in the West.
  • No disrespect to all the elite point guards littered across the NBA, but Chris Paul stands above all others at his position. Curry and Westbrook are clearly amongst the elite in the NBA. When it comes to debating the best point guards, they are just classified that way due to the teams the play on. Both Curry and Westbrook are not true point guards; in both the traditional and current sense of the how we view the position. I would argue that LeBron and James Harden are more of a point guard than both Curry and Westbrook. Just imagine if Chris Paul and Anthony Davis were playing together in New Orleans. Would it be a stretch to say they would be a two seed this year in the West?
    Chris Paul runs that Clippers offensive so efficiently he has made people think DeAndre Jordon is a respectable scorer. Paul has certainly enhanced, and even elevated, Blake Griffin’s offensive prowess. He simply does what a point guard should do, make players around him better. Stating all the positives around Paul’s play, he still does not get the respect I feel he deserves when it comes to be considered for the league’s MVP. Therefore, I feel as well as Chris Paul has played this year, he will still finish out of the top three, possibly top four, in MVP voting. I would assume his solid but no flash playing makes him less sexy compared to players like Westbrook and Curry. I guess jersey sales matter after all.
  • Russell Westbrook’s team, Oklahoma City, did not make the playoffs. He will not be the MVP, nor should he. It was always interesting to check the Thunder box scores over the last month and half of the season just to see what ridiculous stats he put up. Here’s the knock on Westbrook, the Thunder could not beat any team worth a damn and his stats though impressive made his teammates stand around and watch. I thought he looked completely out of control on many a night leading to a high number of turnovers. Plus he needed to take a ton of shots to put up the points that he did. It was a nice 6-week individual performance that led Sports Center on many occasions but the fallout was that his team did not make the playoffs which led to his coach being fired. Those factors do not resonate as someone who should be in a MVP conversation.
  • Stephan Curry will be awarded the 2014-15 NBA League MVP. The media’s simple justification will be that he was the best player on the team with the best regular season record.

Before we get into who I feel deserves to win the MVP. We must quickly peer into the current landscape of talent in the NBA. Probably the top reason for so many players being in the MVP conversation is that we are experiencing an abundance of elite players in their prime along with up-and-coming talent ready to stake their claim from all-star to elite. It makes for exciting regular season weekly match ups and (hopefully) a memorable post season. The league is in a good place right now. Under the leadership of Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA will be America’s most watched league in the very near future. I believe the NBA’s popularity will continue to expand, not only in the states, but throughout the world. Within a very short time, maybe 20 years or so, the NFL will fold making basketball America’s new national treasure.

So who is my choice for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, that irrelevant honor goes to James Harden of the Houston Rockets. I am willing to listen to a debate, if and only if, it includes the following three players – LeBron James (The league’s best player), Steph Curry (The league’s best shooter and best player on a team with the most regular season wins), and James Harden (The NBA’s best offensive player and quite possible most valuable to his team’s success). All other players will have to try their luck again next year.

Since neither the NBA nor the media have ever defined what criteria should be followed when voting, I must take it upon myself to create some guidelines to assist in my selection. They are as follows, with no particular weight allocated to any of the categories –

  1. Their team must win at least 50 games and cannot enter the playoffs lower than a two seed. (This would be unpopular because it will kill much of the debate….oh well.)
  2. The player must have played in 85% of regular season games. Durability should be considered in my opinion. (I will give a pass to LeBron who played in 84% of games this season with the Cavs.)

I will play the media game and rule LeBron out of the race. Not because it’s boring to vote for LeBron, but I do believe Curry and Harden had better years in a much more competitive league. Actually, I am lying, LeBron is a boring choice…below is a breakdown statistically on how Harden and Curry and their regular season.

Harden Curry Table

A quick glance at the stats above appears to give Harden a slight advantage. Curry clearly has a better team as well as playing alongside another big time scorer in Klay Thompson. Golden State had games that were well decided before the 4th quarter was set, which led to fewer minutes on the court for Curry then Harden. The Rockets did not have Dwight Howard for the majority of the season and also suffered losing Beverly to season ending injury. This meant more minutes were needed from Harden each night, which gave him more opportunities to boost his stats ahead of Curry. Still the statistics are so close that I am not sure it tells the whole story of who deserves to win this thing.

So who was the most valuable to their team – Curry or Harden? I truly believe James Harden did more with less talent around him. The Rockets finishing second in the West was quite a feat and all the credit goes to Harden.

Whether its Curry or Harden, the prestigious award will go down with little controversy since both are deserving. I will conclude by halting my bullshit rambling and list below why I really want the Beard to be crowned the 2014-15 NBA MVP.

(Note: The reasons below are solely mine and will convince you once and for all that any credibility I believe I possess in writing about the NBA is now void.)

So Why the Beard?

  • I am biased. Harden is simply my favorite player to watch on the offensive end. That lefty jumper is lethal. His handles are some of the best in the league. He deserves more credit for his passing ability. Whether it’s a killer step back or a relentless drive to the hoop, he’s just tough to guard, plain and simple.
  • James Harden decided to enter the season with an attitude of “Take no shit from anyone”. This was on display against LeBron on national television, I saw it again a few nights ago against Rondo. Hell, he basically frustrated Rondo to the point that Rondo will never put on a Dallas jersey again. I love his toughness and the “fuck you” approach he takes to the arena each night.
  • Harden resembles that cool laid back happy-go-lucky guy that sat on your college dorm room couch for two semesters pounding beers with you.
  • How can you not vote for someone who sports a beard like he played in the 70’s era ABA? I sure couldn’t.
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