Making The Case For Chris Paul As MVP

Chris Paul

Throughout most of the season Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have been bandied about as the main candidates to be named MVP this season. While all three players are strong candidates to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, over the past few weeks a new candidate has burst onto the scene.

Who is this mystery man?

None other than Chris Paul, the point guard who’s diminutive in stature but whose play has New Orleans playing high atop the Western Conference standings.

“When you start talking to me about MVPs you obviously need to look at their stats, but you also have to look at what that person means to his team,” Byron Scott recently preached to the media. “He’s probably close to accounting for 48 or 49% of our offense. So that’s a big part of anyone’s offense and I think those numbers, his performance this year and where we are [in the standings] bode well for him to be considered the MVP.”

When you look at that explanation, there’s no reason why Paul shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as Garnett, Bryant and James. But all four players obviously can’t win the award so there has to be a way of sorting out the eventual winner. Many writers in the past have taken a page out of Phil Jackson’s criteria and eliminated any player who doesn’t carry his team to at least 50 wins. With Cleveland currently stuck on 42 wins, you can cross James’ name off the list as he hasn’t guided his team to enough wins. Besides, as gaudy as James’ stat line of 30.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.3 assists are, you could make the argument that Paul’s averages of 21.6 points, 11.5 assist and 2.7 steals are superior since he’s on a team that’s won over 50 games in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

It appears that New Orleans Hornets head coach Byron Scott would be one of the people who agree with this assessment.

“I just think with his numbers and with what he’s been able to accomplish this year – he could be the first player in the history of this game to average 20 (points), 10 (assists) and 3 (steals) – that’s number one. Every statistical category has gone up from last year. He’s on the team that’s currently tied for the top in the Western Conference. So I think that says a lot a lot as well.”

When looking at an MVP you need to feel that player thrives under pressure and loves to compete against the other elite players in the NBA. When Scott was asked about Paul playing well against fellow point guards like Steve Nash and Baron Davis this season, he had to stifle a chuckle before he could answer the question.

“I think that means he’s pretty good. I think the thing about those two guys that you just mentioned, he knows how good they are so that’s a personal challenge to him. He gets up when he plays against who he considers the better point guards in this league. Deron Williams is another one in Utah and when you talk about Tony Parker in San Antonio. There are so many of them in the Western Conference that are scary, but he gets up for those types of challenges because he knows how good those guys are. That’s just the competitive nature that he has.”

As strong as Paul is currently playing, he’s only three years into his NBA career and things will only continue to improve for him. Unlike Garnett and Bryant who are in the peak of their respective careers, Paul’s style of play will continue to evolve, his body will get better at taking the pounding of playing every night against men larger than him and he’s learning about the game daily from the Hornets coaching staff.

It’s qualities like this that have many people who watch Paul on a daily basis talk about the bright future this point guard has in the NBA.

“It’s been a very young career, but right now I think he’s established himself as one of the top point guards in this league,” said Scott. “The thing about Chris is I’ve given him a lot of freedom and I’ve done that because I know that he has great basketball IQ. He doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, he values the ball and if you look at his assist-to-turnover ratio for as often as he has the ball in his hands it’s remarkable. Especially in his third year at 21-years-old.”

Despite all the hoopla surrounding Paul, when you approach the talented point guard and ask him for his thoughts about possibly winning the MVP award this season he tries to change to topic.

“I don’t think about it to tell you the truth,” is all Paul would say when reporters recently asked if he thinks about being named MVP this season

When told he was considered one of the front runners for the award, Paul merely shrugged his shoulders and tried to direct the focus away from himself and back onto the strong play of his team.

“I appreciate it but what I want to do right now is make the playoffs. I just want to see that little mark on NBA.com, that little ‘x’ that says we’ve clinched a playoff spot. Once that happens I feel like the rest of the other stuff will take care of itself.”

When further prodded about whether he ever thinks or daydreams about winning the MVP, the diminutive point guard continued to shoot down the MVP chat.

“For what? That might mess us up. It’s never about that, it’s always about winning.”

A lot of times fans and writers became enamored with the player with the gaudy stats and often neglect the player that makes a difference to a team winning. Hearing Paul talk about the award it’s clear he doesn’t care about personal accolades, the only thing he’s thinking about this month is helping his team win some important games.

Isn’t winning games all a legit MVP candidate should be worried about?

Hopefully voters acknowledge this and dish out the first of many Maurice Podoloff trophies to Chris Paul this spring.

Photo Credit: ICON SMI

About the Author

Ryan McNeill Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.

Comments (15)

  1. I agree that Paul is in the running for sure, but I still think he falls behind Kobe and LeBron. With that said though, New Orleans has been unreal this season, taking down the best teams in the West and there’s no doubt that’s because of Chris Paul.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to take away each team’s supposed MVP for the same 10 game stretch and then see how well each team does without them? There’d be no way of this happening, but it would clarify who deserves the award.

  2. Lebron is NOT an MVP candidate to me anymore. His team has been quietly struggling over the past few weeks. Kobe and Chris Paul are the only two candidates, and considering Paul is atop the West, he gets it.

  3. How many games did CP3 play in last year?

    How many games did David W & Peja S play in last year?

    What was the Hornets’ W-L record last year?

    CP3 is a terrific basketball player … but … if you remove David W & Peja S from this team, right now … the Hornets would be a sub .500 outfit, with Chris Paul as their PG.

    1. Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player, on the best team, in the NBA … when that team is healthy (i.e. with Andrew Bynum & Trevor Ariza), this season.

    or

    1A. Kevin Garnett is THE single most important (i.e. influential) player in the NBA this season … and THE reason for the greatest team W-L record turnaround in NBA history … at the Heart of everything Boston is doing this year, when it comes to Team Defense, Team Rebounding and Sharing the ball on Offense … given his relentless passion for the game, surrounded now by other high quality players.

    This year’s League MVP Award should by all rights go to one of these two great players.

  4. Brendan

    Khandor – It does not matter how many games Paul played last year when it comes to the voting this year. Paul has led the Hornets to the top of the west and as done it with a healthy team at his side. MVP’s are mostly looked at how their team performs. The Hornets have had a great turnaround from last year and they are a force to watch for upcomming years.

    I agree with you on Garnett 100%.

    Your statement about the Lakers and Kobe I disagree. Take away any franchaise player and any team would struggle. Look at Bosh and the Raptors. You said it yourself that Kobe is on the best team when their healthy. Remove Gasol Odom and Bynum and you would have a sub par .500 team as well. Its the same scenerio as you mentioned with the Hornets. I will assume that you are a Kobe fan ?

    Biased opinions aside as i am a huge Jazz fan since Stockton and Malone, i would rank my top 3 MVP’s as goes

    #1. C Paul
    #2. K. Garnett
    #3. Kobe Bryant

  5. I’m a fan of good basketball players … which include all of Kobe, Lebron, Garnett and Paul.

  6. Brendan

    That’s cool as i didnt not mean any harm by the comment. I just know that Kobe fans are the die hard for him. That’s all.

  7. Blake – Glad to see you aren’t blinded by your adoration of Kobe. However, with that being said, I wouldn’t mind seeing Bryant win the MVP award this season. Can you imagine if he somehow didn’t win the award? That would be a travesty.

    Gagan – Hornets got a taste of this last season when Paul missed a chunk of games. I remember they started last season as a team with a legit chance of making the playoffs but fell in the standings when Paul went down.

    Rashad – THANK YOU! It’s about time fans started to realize LeBron is nothing more than an over-hyped player. While he’s posting gaudy stats it’s coming at the expense of his team winning games and I don’t think that’s something that should be celebrated.

  8. Gabby

    In determining this season’s MVP, one should take a serious stab at answering these questions:

    1. Does the success of candidate x’s team hinge on candidate x? Can the team find success without candidate x being effective (and I don’t mean statistical numbers here) in leading the team, giving confidence in his crew, and finding other ways to grind out a win even if his shot isnt falling.

    2. Has his (candidate x) value been crucial throughout the entire season? Has he been playing MVP ball since October?

    3. Has candidate x shown that when his team mates are struggling, he can still, on his own, manage to get that W?

  9. Anthony RapFan

    Chris Paul Should Get it over Kobe!!!!

    KOBE was very unfortunate to have PAU go down with injury, but Paul just knows when to be a passer and then when to be a passer. He knows how to compensate a bad shooting night into a good passing night or a great defensive night. And #1… he nails a BIGGGG shot and does not celebrate until the buzzer sounds.

  10. Anthony RapFan

    Oops * Imean when chris Paul knows when to be a passer and when to be a shooter for points. He also has the leadership that is not coated with EGOTistical A@#HOLE. Is it that Chandler, PEJA ,and David WEST(-side story) that made Chris Paul better or did CP3 make them better? That IS the question!

  11. john man

    everyone says kobe has so much support around him but between gasol, bynum and odom, they missed 105 games….kobe led his team to the top of the west with little consistency in the starting lineup and with bench players getting a lot of minutes. he should be mvp.

  12. Tavo

    KOBE WILL WIN IT. HE IS THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER THIS SEASON.

    #1 WESTERN CONFERENCE!!!!

    YOU CAN NOT ARGUE AGAINST THAT.

    SORRY GUYS…

    i really do feel sorry for ya… when all you got in your pathetic little cities is sports… can’t blame you…

    SALUTATIONS FROM SUNNY SOUTHERN CALI

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