Not Mellow about the MVP
NBA Finals players LeBron James and Kevin Duran (AFP)
Father Christmas my wish list is simple. No diamond rings or Mercedes Benz. No pining for the Wigfield, George Michael, Mariah Carey or which ever other pop singer decides she wants you for Christmas.
I just want people that watch the NBA to start valuing defence.
I know it seems a lot to ask. We’ve had three MVP awards in recent years go to players so that couldn’t guard the back up at their position from scoring 20 and setting the table for their team mates.
Last year there was a ground swell of support to anoint Kevin Durant, an offensive juggernaut no doubt and decent defensive player, the MVP ahead of LeBron James, one of the top three players at both ends of the court having an “all-time” year as a player.
Sanity thankfully won out but sadly it looks like we’ve got another fight on our hands this year.
This year it is Carmelo, yes undoubtedly one of the league’s best scorers. He’s lifted his game and gone from volume scorer to efficient volume scorer. Which puts him in the rarefied class of the Durants and Lebrons.
Sadly though on the defensive end, the now faint praise he receives is that he’s a break even or passable defender.
It is the ever endearing argument that the best offensive player on the best team must be in contention. Apparently basketball is not played with five players each that try to stop the other team from scoring. It is the ultimate in confirmation bias: that guy must be good, ’cause I keep seeing him score.
There are two parts to basketball, your team putting the orange in the hole and stopping the other team from putting the orange in the hole. We need to start valuing both when talking about who are the most important players in the league.
The Melo for MVP argument also misses the point that LeBron, Durant and Paul are still better offensive players scoring more easily and helping their team mates more than Melo does, even in his best year.
Yes Melo is the best offensive player on what may be the best regular season team in the NBA.
However to attribute the success of the Knicks to Melo suggests you don’t follow basketball and appreciate what Woodson has the Knicks doing.
They move the ball more than in the previous seasons allowing Melo’s supporting cast the opportunity to hit shots at a career high rate. Tyson Chandler is again doing his best to paper over the cracks in their defence.
Watch the Bulls game where they basically dared the Knicks to run the game through Melo. It put them back into a 2011-12 Knicks mould and stagnated their offence.
This is not a knock on Melo, who has made enough little adjustments to go from really only being a top 25 player to a top ten, but it is just the stark reality that there is a clear top super elite of three players in the NBA.
But that does not mean the Knicks can’t win a championship with Melo as their best player.
It just means that until he gets better at both running an offence and defending he just won’t be a part of the game’s big three.