Faceoff: Hamilton vs. Munshaw
Who is the Most Valuable Player of the NBA?
Matt: You know what I’m sick of right now? Winter. Well, let me add one thing. LeBron “please get off my television” James. That’s right, I’m not a big fan of LeBron James, but let’s look at this objectively.
Up until last week, Kevin Durant was the unanimous MVP choice, after putting together a streak of 12 straight games with at least 12 points. No one has ever done that, not LeBron and not Michael Jordan.
Durant is simply the most important player for his team in the entire NBA. Without him, the Thunder would have Russell Westbrook to lead. The Thunder would struggle to compete with any of the Western Conference’s best.
What would the Heat look like without LeBron? Oh, just three perennial All-Stars (Wade, Bosh, Allen) and a pretty dang good supporting cast. The Heat could slide into the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the East without James. Granted, the East is awful, but you get what I’m trying to say.
To be short, Kevin Durant is having a career year and is extremely important to his team and its success. LeBron is having a great season, but the Heat would survive without him.
Munch: This is easy, it’s LeBron James, and I will use the Basketball Reference Player Finder to back me up.
What players have ever had a season like James is currently having?
Let’s try to find someone with a field goal percentage of greater than or equal to 58.2 percent while averaging 27.4 points and seven rebounds per game, plus 37.9 percent three-point shooting.
How many players have ever done that before? None.
James is literally having a season that no one has ever had before in the NBA.
Let’s drop the three-point shooting, and then you only get two guys who have ever had seasons like this one.
Shaquille O’Neal did it three times, twice with the Magic and once with the Lakers, and Charles Barkley did it during the 1987-88 season with the Phoenix Suns.
Unfortunately, none of them won the MVP in those seasons (twice they were beaten out by Michael Jordan) but you simply can’t look past the year that LeBron James is having.
Give him the trophy.
Who will claim the No. 3 seed in the East?
Matt: Well, the top two spots in the East are taken, so it’s a battle for seed No. 3.
Toronto owns the spot right now, but Chicago and Washington are on its heels.
Munch will say Washington, because John Wall is the man, the team is hott with two t’s and Toronto leads the Bulls by 2.5 games.
I’ll go with the Bulls, who have won nine of their last 11 games.
Add one of my favorite college basketball players of all time, Jimmer Fredette, and the Bulls are poised to overtake the Raptors for No. 3.
Joakim Noah is playing better basketball than ever, averaging 12 points and 11.4 rebounds a game, both career highs. On March 2, Noah recorded a triple-double, something unheard of for a center.
With Noah, Carlos Boozer and D.J. Augustin in the mix, the Bulls have the best shot to pass the Raptors for that No. 3 spot (Ludacris reference).
Although, my man Greivis Vazquez loves a challenge, the Raptors don’t have as much depth as the Bulls do. I guess we’ll have to see if he dominates like he did against Duke in his senior year.
I think the final standings will read Chicago, No. 3, Toronto, No. 4 and Washington, No. 5.
Stay tuned everyone!
Munch: Right now, the Toronto Raptors have a pretty strong hold on the No. 3 seed in the East with a 33-26 record.
The Bulls are the next candidate to grab it at 33-27, but they simply can’t continue to run the offense through Joakim Noah and win games.
Tom Thibodeau can only will that team to victory a finite number of times.
The third seed is the Wizards’ for the taking, and I’m not just being a homer.
Washington has the 12th best scoring defense in the league, ranks second in the league in three-point shooting and point guard John Wall is having a career year, averaging more assists per game than anyone else in the East.
In their remaining 22 games, the Wizards only play six teams with winning records and could easily get to five games or so over .500 to challenge Toronto.
With the NBA seeding rules, each division winner gets at least one of the top four seeds, and Toronto is a lock to win its division.
But with Wall playing well, don’t sleep on the Washington Wizards to surpass the Raptors.
Plus, it is just tough for me to see a Kyle Lowry-led team breaking into the top three, even in this year’s Eastern Conference.