Sheridan: Chris Paul gets my MVP vote, plus other ballot selections

I always use “valuable” as the operative word when voting for the Most Valuable Player, and that is the reason why I have cast my ballot this season for Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.

It came down to a decision between Paul and LeBron James, and as impressed as I have been with LeBron’s focus, determination and across-the-board improvement in every statistical category except assists, I do not see him as a valuable closer when he is paired with Dwyane Wade, and I thought the Heat should have done better than 18-15 on the road.

A year ago (heck, go back for a majority of the last 30 years) nobody would have ever imagined that the former laughingstock, second-class citizens of Los Angeles would take the Lakers right down to the wire for the Pacific Division title.

Who’d have thought they’d be more entertaining to watch on television than the Lakers.

Who’d have thought they’d even be relevant in something other than the draft lottery?

Paul has completely changed the culture of the franchise, and he and his team played with a finishing kick that was unmatched by anybody in the West with the exception of the Spurs (who are going to win it all, IMHO.) Paul hasn’t had a single bad game since March.

I e-mailed by ballots to Ernst and Young two seconds before posting this column, and I agonized over several selections (especially Defensive Player of the Year) more than I expected.

Here are all of my votes. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section. You can even be nasty if you want to. I have thick skin. I can take it.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

  1. Chris Paul
  2. LeBron James
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. Kobe Bryant
  5. Kevin Love
The hardest selection was for the No. 5 spot, and I debated giving it to Tony Parker over Love — but Love’s numbers before he got injured and the Wolves season fell apart were just too off the charts to exclude him.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

  1. Kyrie Irving
  2. Kenneth Faried
  3. Ricky Rubio
No brainer here, and I’d expect this one might be unanimous in favor of his teenager from Duke who already looks like one of the best late-game clutch players in the entire league.

COACH OF THE YEAR

  1. Tom Thibodeau
  2. Gregg Popovich
  3. Ty Corbin
Thibodeau guided the Bulls to the best record in the league and homecourt advantage throughout the postseason (they win the tiebreaker with the Spurs) despite being without Derrick Rose for almost half the year, without Richard Hamilton for a majority of the year and without Luol Deng for a sizeable chunk of time, too. They lost two games in a row only once. had the league’ No. 1 defense and led the NBA in point differential. If Pop had sacrificed one less game, he’d have my vote. Corbin got the nod over Frank Vogel and Mike Woodson, both of whom at least deserve a mention.

SIXTH MAN AWARD

  1. James Harden
  2. Lou Williams
  3. Al Harrington
You could make the argument that Williams was more valuable to the Sixers (he was their leading scorer coming of the bench) than Harden was to the Thunder, but Harden made such a leap in efficiency that it trumps that argument.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Serge Ibaka
  2. Shawn Marion
  3. Tyson Chandler
This is where I agonized the most, because I usually like to give props to the best on-the-ball defenders rather than guys who put up huge numbers in steals and/or blocks. And when I polled several NBA coaches, the names of Marion, Paul George, Tony Allen, LeBron James and Andre Iguodala were thrown back at me as the best in the business at shutting down an opponent’s best scorer. But in the end, I went for the guy who had the league’s highest blocked-shot average in 12 years. (And take note, Ibaka will be a difference-maker for Spain at the Olympics)
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
  1. Steve Novak
  2. Andrew Bynum
  3. Nikola Pekovic
Novak may be a surprising choice to some of you, but when you go from a guy who made 26 3-pointers all season a year ago, splitting time between the Mavs and the Spurs, to a guy whose .472 led the NBA in 3-point accuracy (he attempted 282 in 54 games, making 133) while taking more 3s than anyone except Ryan Anderson (.393), James Harden (.390), Joe Johnson (.388), Kevin Durant (.387),  Randy Foye (.386), Wes Matthews (.383), Danny Granger (.381), Jason Terry (.378), Marco Belinelli (.377), Anthony Morrow (.371), Deron Williams (.336), Al Harrington (.333), Brandon Jennings (.332), and when you’ve keen a key cog in the late-season surge by your team, you are indeed deserving.

ALL-NBA TEAMS

First Team

F- LeBron James
F-Kevin Durant
C-Dwight Howard
G-Kobe Bryant
G-Chris Paul

Second Team

F- Paul Pierce
F-Kevin Love
C-Andrew Bynum
G-Russell Westbrook
G-Rajon Rondo

Third Team

F-Carmelo Anthony
F-Josh Smith
C-DeMarcus Cousins
G-Dwyane Wade
G-Tony Parker
 

Cousins is the only player from a non-playoff team to make my Top 15, but he is such a better player than Roy Hibbert and Marc Gasol that I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to put Ty Lawson in there, too, but Dwyane Wade (despite all his missed games) is better. Period. Derrick Rose is a glaring omission, but he missed roughly 40 percent of the season (and two big foul shots late in the 4th quarter of the first Heat-Bulls game). ‘Melo’s strong finish (30+ points in 8 of the final 14 games) got him the nod over Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

 
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Comments

  1. says

    I won’t be nasty because I really enjoy your writing and site but any pick for MVP other than LeBron James is bascially saying I don’t want to vote for LBJ. I don’t have a big issue if writers through it out in an article to get debate going or get page hits but come on Chris, you have a vote. I love CP3 but he was so good his team is a 5 seed and you can’t exactly say he doesn’t have a good supporting cast. The whole no bad games since March is great but last I checked games on January count for the same amount. Oh, and he did go 6-19 in a loss to the Suns (it cost them home court advantage). He also started pretty slow and had many invisible games. While the story you mentioned about making the Clippers a divisional contender is nice, it’s just that, a story. Much like Rose last year, a vote for CP3 is a vote for a player that by no means was the best in the league this year. I always smirk when writers (not neccessarily you) mock fan votes for the all star starters as crazy, biased and uneducated but then the media votes like this for IMPORTANT awards. Come on Chris, you’re better than that….And LBJ is much, much better than CP3. Again, CP3 had few bad games over the last 2 months but LBJ had few average games all year. The guy is simply the best going. The fact that Kobe and Shaq have 2 MVP’s between them tells us that often the games best player doesn’t win MVP so you’re certainly not crazy. But I think the best player should win it. His name is LeBron James.

  2. says

    So your picks start with a look at the PPG list?

    Just some suggested variation to your all-NBA teams:
    Chandler instead of Cousins – TChan has a 23% points (!!!) better than DC from the field AND is the best defensive big guy in the league. Are the points that DC gets (by shooting a lot more) more valuable than the D and efficiency from TChan? No way.

    James Harden instead of Kobe – Harden is the most efficient at scoring in the league for guards. Kobe shoots more than anyone, and has the highest usage rate. So you trade Harden’s extremely efficient scoring for Kobe’s high volume shooting and barely above average rate of making shots. Its like a reward for Kobe shooting so much. So congrats Kobe, you managed to shoot more often than everyone else, that deserves a first team spot?

    Nash instead of Russell – Nash is 2nd in assists but again RW has a great PPG. I guess exclude that he isn’t even top 15 in assists, yet 2nd in usage rate?

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