Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Has Chris Paul's performance so far this season been MVP-worthy?
The NBA MVP. It's the pinnacle of individual awards in the sport of basketball. One of these on your resume and you're bound to make it into the Hall of Fame. Most Valuable Player. You know, it is thrown around a lot: "MVP-type numbers", "an MVP-caliber performance", "he won two MVPs". Most Valuable Player. There are around 400 players in the NBA. 150 starters. But the MVP- he is the top. He means the most. Not only is he an extremely talented athlete, but he has managed to turn that into transcendent individual statistics as well as astounding team success.
Since Bob Pettit won the first NBA MVP award in 1956, averaging 26 points and 16 rebounds a game for the St. Louis Hawks, there's been 56 more trophies handed out to 29 different players (including Pettit again in 1959). So, what does one have to do to be the 30th MVP? Well, if LeBron wins it again, then we'll have to wait at least another year to find that out (he's already on the list with three of the last 4 MVPs). But, let's venture away from that. Imagine, for just a moment, that King James will not win another trophy this year. It wouldn't be that shocking- we have certainly seen the voters get bored of giving it to the same guy over and over again in the past in multiple sports. Who would the voters turn to in that case? Kevin Durant seems like as good a candidate as any (28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists a game on the team with the second best record in the league). What about Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging 29 points a game for the New York Knicks (23-11)?
Isn't he an obvious candidate? The Clippers have been near or at the top of the league right now, and he's certainly their best player. They wouldn't be nearly as good without him. As of this writing, he is undoubtedly the best player on the team that's at the top of the standings. "Best player on the best team" is a pretty standard criteria for the award.
Should Paul win the award, he would be the 2nd player in franchise history to win the award, following in the footsteps of Bob McAdoo, who won in 1975 as a Buffalo Brave. The Clippers have already broken tons of franchise records set by McAdoo's '75 team; this one might be the most impressive of all.
Also noteworthy is that only six point guards have ever won the award.
Ultimately, Paul is only averaging 17 points a game, and that will make it hard for him to win the award. Only 6 former winners scored less. Four were Bill Russel, one Wes Unseld. The only one since 1970 was when Steve Nash won in 2005 only averaging 15.5 points a game. Nash, however, averaged 11.5 assists per game that year and his Suns had the best record.
To see how Paul stacks up against James, Durant, Anthony, and every other MVP in history, as well as specific groupings of MVPs, check out the spreadsheet I built below. (Right Click on the chart and open it in a new tab/window, then zoom in to see it larger.)
Should Chris Paul be the MVP? Here are the stats, here is the competition, here is the precedent. I say, sadly, no. What do you say?