PODCAST: The MVP Debate — Who Will Finish Second?

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Kevin Durant is going to be the MVP. There’s no stopping him, and nobody is doing anything remotely close to what he is doing on offense for Oklahoma City. He might even win the award unanimously.

So that steers the MVP argument toward who should finish second, and I have been making the case for two weeks now that Blake Griffin is the most deserving candidate (although his missed FT late in regulation against the Pelicans was especially costly last night).

I have Griffin ranked No. 2 (and Joakim Noah ranked No. 3) in my latest MVP rankings, with LeBron James fourth. And after the Heat lost yet again last night, falling in Indiana, I would say my argument has been strengthened.

That was one of the topics of discussion this morning on AM830-KLAA on the Travis Rodgers show, but we also hit upon how Phil Jackson will try to rebuild the Knicks, how long the mediocrity window will stay open for the Los Angeles Lakers, and several other hot NBA topics. Enjoy.

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Sheridan’s MVP Rankings: March 26 Edition — LeBron Now Fourth

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Jackson-MettaNominations for the ultimate Theater of the Absurd are now closed. It doesn’t get any stranger than it did Tuesday night at Staples Center, so nobody should even try to top it, OK?

Phil Jackson’s new team allowed 51 points in the third quarter to his old team, with Jackson watching from a luxury suite where he was joined by another former Knick and Laker, Metta World Peace.

Meantime, down in the second row, Jeanie Buss took it all in with a wonderful, gorgeous smile on her face.

And the Oscar goes to …

Well, I guess it would be the Oscar for Best Documentary. Because this was all so real Tuesday night, so very, very real and so patently absurd it made you want to laugh. Or cry. (Yes, Knicks fans, your pain is understood). Fifty-one points allowed in the third quarter? Don’t you wish you were a fly on the wall in that luxury suite listening to the Zen Master and the Nut Job discussing this one?

Jackson: “Metta, how exactly did coach Woodson teach defense in practice?”

World Peace: “Teach? He didn’t teach anything other than “Get the ball to ‘Melo as much as possible.’”

Jackson: “No, seriously. What about in the team huddle. Didn’t he even tell guys to put their arms up when someone blows by Felton?”

World Peace: “I really didn’t listen to Woodson. He was a hater. That old team of mine might be the worst defensive team I’ve ever been a part of, so I just tuned him out. Why do you think they waived me, anyway, Phil? I’m capable of giving them the one thing they need, perimeter defense, and I couldn’t even get my warmups off.”

Jackson: “You going to play again this season?”

World Peace: “Yeah, at Rucker.”

Jackson: “Isn’t there a playoff team out there that needs a little of your juice?”

World Peace: “Hey Phil … The Knicks would be a playoff team if they had used me correctly. I’m all about summertime now. The summer started for me a month ago. Can I come over to your pad and sit out on the deck the next few nights as the sun sets into the ocean? Love that view from your deck, Phil.”

Jackson: “I’ll have to ask Jeanie. She’s really getting on my nerves with her texts. In her last one she asked me who I was going to draft this June.”

World Peace: “What’s so bad about that? Seems like a legit question.”

Jackson: “We have no draft picks, Metta. Our second-rounders for the next four drafts have all been traded away. The Nuggets own our first-round pick this year, and the Raptors fleeced my predecessors for our 2016 first-round pick last summer in the Bargnani trade.”

World Peace: “Who’s Bargnani?”

Jackson: “He was your teammate, Ron. You taking your medication?”

World Peace: “Oh, that Italian dude? Tall skinny guy? Damn! All along I though he was our defensive coach. Every single guy on the Knicks was told to do what he does on defense. Woodson was saying that way back in training camp.

Jackson: “Metta… don’t you think Woody was saying that in jest?”

World Peace: “What does ‘in jest’ mean?”

PhilandJeanieJackson: “OK, that explains a lot. If the rest of these Knicks know as much about vocabulary as you do, Metta, I’ve got this thing half figured out.”

World Peace: “Damn! This Robert Kelly is like the best passer I’ve ever seen. He’s kind of big for a point guard, no?”

Jackson: “He is not a point guard. And his name is Ryan. And he shouldn’t even be in the NBA.”

World Peace: “What did Jeanie just text you?”

Jackson: “She offered me Kelly for Felton and our 2018 first-round pick.”

World Peace: “You gotta do that, Phil! Kelly has eight assists, man. And Felton couldn’t even guard you with your artificial hips and knees.”

Jackson: “You talking to Jeanie behind my back? She just texted me the same thing.”

OK, enough of that. Gotta give y’all something entertaining since the MVP race is over. The only battle left is who will be No. 2. And maybe No. 3, because Joakim Noah is riding a wave right now. And if LeBron James loses in Indiana tonight …

So on to the rankings we go …

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Sheridan’s MVP Rankings, March 19 Edition: Blake Griffin > LeBron James

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blakefunkThe readers have spoken … and the readers are thinking the same thing I am thinking: Blake Griffin is a stronger MVP candidate than LeBron James.

We published a poll late last week asking readers to chime in on the question of who should be sitting in the No. 2 spot beneath Kevin Durant, and Griffin drew 61 percent of the vote.

Yes, it seems sacrilegious to list LeBron third-best at anything – especially after he had another one of his freakish performances last night in Cleveland, dropping 25 in the first quarter and finishing with 43.

But how come he only seems to have those nights when Dwyane Wade is sitting out?

Remember when Bron-Bron went for 61 against the Bobcats a couple weeks ago? Yes, we all remember, because it was one of the more unforgettable nights of this season by any player from any team. But in the seven games afterward, he never scored more than 24 (or fewer than 17) as his team lost five of those seven games.

LeBron had 27 turnovers (against 47 assists) in that seven-game span, which is Westbrook territory when it comes to leading your team to empty possessions.

Most importantly, that seven-game stretch marked a period in which the Heat squandered an opportunity to quit looking up in the standings at the Indiana Pacers, who were having problems of their own. Miami and Indiana will play each other two more times – the next matchup coming a week from tonight – and those games will go a long way toward determining which will enter the postseason with a decent head of steam.

So whether we are talking playoff positioning or the MVP award, the race is far from over. This week’s rankings are only a last-day-of-winter heat check.

But for now, LeBron’s failures during March outweigh his triumphs.

And that means he drops one spot behind Griffin, who hasn’t scored fewer than 20 points since Jan. 18. That’s 28 in a row for those who may be wondering. Oh, by the way, the Clippers have more victories (48) than the Heat (46), in case you needed a little extra convincing.

So on to the rankings we go …

RANK PLAYER RUNDOWN LAST
1 KEVIN DURANT, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: How long until we start hearing conjecture about him joining the Lakers … or the Knicks. His contract is up in 2016, and all that hoops journalism is about these days is speculating about what will happen on July 1 — of this year, or beyond. Yes, I am overdramatizing. But free agency speculation is waaaaay out of control. 1
2 LAC_Griffin_Blake BLAKE GRIFFIN, F, LA CLIPPERS: Besides the intro, here’s another factoid: Griffin is a better endorser than James when it comes to selling cars. Just ask the folks at Kia. But in all seriousness, Griffin has scored 20 or more points 46 times to LeBron’s 52. But in 2014, Griffin leads ‘Bron, 40-39. 3
3 LeBRON JAMES, F, MIAMI:  I am not hating on him, OK? If I was starting a team from scratch, he’s the first player I would take because of his overall skills and his astounding level of confidence — a trait that has only has manifested itself in the past two years. But let’s face it: ‘Bron’s team should be playing at a higher level, kicking things into gear the way they did last season. 2
4 Charlotte Bobcats AL JEFFERSON, C, CHARLOTTE: Once you get below No. 3, this exercise gets tricky. So what puts Big Al in this slot? Two words: Mike Dunlap. You want a further explanation? Folks … this team was 21-61 a year ago, OK? The East’s POW is the linchpin in one of the biggest franchise turnarounds we’ve seen in years. 7
5 Chicago Bulls Media Day JOAKIM NOAH, C, CHICAGO: This podcast veered toward Coach of the Year, and a strong case can be made that Tom Thibodeau is the most deserving man out there — largely because of this guy, the best passing big man I have seen since David Robinson. The William Hill betting offers include a 70-1 price on the Bulls winning the title. 5
6 TOR_Lowry_Kyle KYLE LOWRY, TORONTO: Every week someone breaks in with a bullet, a testament to me being fickle and running super hot and super cold. Yes, it seems there should be someone from the 50-win Spurs in this slot, but that team is a special case. This guy has been spectacular since the Rudy Gay trade, especially lately. He’s going to make big, big bucks as a free agent this summer. -
7 JAMES HARDEN, G, HOUSTON: When we get down to seventh and beyond, there is very little differentiating the candidates, all of whom will draw fifth-place votes when the ballots are sent out. One of the most interesting subplots will be who is fourth and who is fifth. By the way, I know it is old news and all, but WHAT THE HECK WERE THE THUNDER THINKING WHEN THEY TRADED THIS GUY?! 7
8 Warriors STEPHEN CURRY, G, GOLDEN STATE: The best golfer on this list, which is worth something, right? Or maybe it’s just that my golf deprivation is so acute as the endless winter that has gripped New York shows no signs of abating. On a more serious note, the Splash Bros. – Curry and Klay Thompson – are the first teammates to combine for 400 3-pointers in consecutive seasons 6
9 WAS_Wall_ John JOHN WALL, G, WASHINGTON: Fouled out in overtime vs. the Kings on Tuesday and looked like the second-best point guard on the floor. But that is a testament to the skills of Isaiah Thomas, who rang up a triple-double and gets his share of love in our Most Improved Rankings. As for Wall, he’s shooting 48 percent in his last 10 games, and Wiz still have a chance at a top 4 seed. 9
10 Carmelo_Anthony_Headshot CARMELO ANTHONY, F, NEW YORK: Yes, you may recoil in disgust – especially those in Indiana who are witnessing the first of these rankings without Paul George. But the fact is that NY takes straight wins into tonight vs. the Pacers, and Melo has been carrying them. By the way, my take on Phil Jackson’s newser was that Mike Woodson is out if Knicks miss the playoffs. -

DROPPED OUT: Goran Dragic (8), Paul George (10).

MORE RANKINGS: Rookies | Most Improved | Sixth Man | Power Rankings

PREVIOUS RANKINGS:

March 12 Edition: Kevin Durant is Still No. 1 For Me
March 5 Edition: What Do the Readers Say?
Feb. 26 Edition: Why The Knicks Stink and ‘Melo Isn’t Worthy
Feb. 19 Edition: Who is the LeBron James of NBA Writers?
Feb. 12 Edition: Like a Frozen Block of Ice
Feb. 5 Edition: The Benefits of Riding Solo
Jan. 29 Edition: Is The Race Over?
Jan. 22 Edition: KD Rocks the Hard Rock
Jan. 15 Edition: Where Will Adam Silver Be Hated First?
Jan. 8 Edition: Vegas Baby, Vegas
Jan. 1 Edition: Good Riddance, 2013
Dec. 25 Edition: LBJ and Wi Tu Lo
Dec. 18 Edition: Aldridge Moves to No. 1
Dec. 11 Edition: Still Limited Love for LeBron
Dec. 4 Edition: Paul George Back at No. 1
Nov. 27 Edition: Viva Tony Parker
Nov. 20 Edition: Durant takes over No. 1 spot.
Nov. 13 Edition: Paul George is No. 1.

Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

PODCAST: Phil Jackson Isn’t The Only Item Up For Discussion

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Phil Jackson to the Knicks was definitely the story of the day. When a guy with 13 championship rings takes on a new job, there’s no getting around the importance of the moment.

But there are 29 other teams making news of one kind or another, and I found time on 1280AM in Salt Lake City to deviate away from Jackson and discuss Coach of the Year, the sleeper teams in the East and the West, and the debate over whether Blake Griffin has become a more worthy MVP candidate than LeBron James.

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MVP Debate: Is Blake Griffin More Worthy than LeBron James?

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LAC_Griffin_BlakeLeBron James headshotA lot has happened since our MVP rankings were published on Wednesday.

The Heat have not lost five out of six, blowing a chance to surpass Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings, and the Los Angeles Clippers won their 10th in a row Friday night by defeating Utah as Blake Griffin reached 20 points for the 25th consecutive game.

I had Griffin ranked third and James ranked second behind Kevin Durant in the latest edition of the MVP ranks, and now I am leaning toward elevating Griffin to the No. 2 spot in the next edition of the ranks.

Is that a fair thing to do?

I will listen to the advice our readers provide in the poll published below, and from whatever comments are entered in the comments section. It seems sacrilegious to list James as the third wheel in any context, but perhaps this is the exception.

Thanks for voting. The percentage results will appear after you cast your ballot.