John Hollinger at ESPN wrote his annual full MVP analysis article. In the chat that followed, he listed the common arguments for a player as MVP and noted that all of those arguments favor at least one other player over D-Rose.
In his Mar. 31 "Per Diem" at ESPN, John Hollinger calls the coronation of Derrick Rose as MVP of the 2010-11 season "The Derrick Rose Story" and makes the case that there is no argument for Rose as the MVP; that they're just stories.
- On how he dare state Rose isn't MVP:
"Here's the thing -- when people ask themselves if Most Valuable should mean Best Player on the Best Team, or Most Irreplaceable, or the Just Plain Best, or the Did The Most With the Least ... none of those answers are Rose. ([Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James], Howard are the correct answers [in order]). I can't see any way to define "most valuable" where Rose comes out as the answer."
I posted this quote on Twitter and it's caused a tad of an uproar, but no one's actually refuted it -- just as no one could when I recently raised the same point. The only argument is regarding the first and fourth argument, but any argument stating the Bulls are better than the Lakers is marginal at best and the "most with least" is ignorant of the fact that the second-place team in the Central Division is currently 34-42. At 35-39 through 70 games, the Bulls would be the #4 seed and to suggest they'd be worse than that is so insane, it's barely worth entertaining with a response.
- On who would be on his five-man MVP ballot:
"Interesting question, because if I had a ballot in real life I'd probably put Rose on it at 4 or 5 so as not to overly influence the vote."
I found this most interesting, not because it was unexpected, but because I find Hollinger is straw manned as a "Rose-hater" all too often. This is beyond insulting, not only because it questions his bias, but because it states he's making arguments to support a desire from the same base level of passion as his critics -- as opposed to analyzing evidence to form a conclusion.
- On Bulls having the top record in the East, despite missing games from Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah:
"The issue isn't whether it's valuable. The issue is whether it's more valuable than what's been done by every single other player in the entire league. Orlando is third in the NBA in defense with no good defensive players except Howard. Ponder that for a second. Tough to compete with value like that."
This gets to the heart of "most with the least" because it points out the Naked Emperor of many arguments to say that: (a) the Bulls and Magic both win primarily because of defense; (b) though Rose is a super-strong defender, to say the least, the basketball axiom is that defense is a team concept; and (c) it's a complete mindfuck that Dwight Howard is crushing that axiom -- surrounded by that tub of goo on the defensive end -- to remain only behind the Bulls and Celtics in defense.
The Magic don't win primarily because of defense like the Bulls do; they win primarily because of Howard's defense. These statements to Rose and Howard's value should be uncontroversial.
- On Rose being irreplaceable:"
"Name one C the Magic would trade Howard for. Name one SG the Lakers would trade Kobe for. Name one SF the Heat would trade LeBron for. Sorry, gotta do better than that. The Bulls would never trade Rose for Westbrook, but if it happened they would be in largely the same place."
To add: there is no one as replaceable as the undisputed most dominant big man in the NBA. LeBron James is so extremely elite that he can be arguable, but that's marginal at best, and still requires stretching truisms about the game.
- On Rose doing it with nothing:
"Rose is more responsible than any one else on the Bulls ... but the responsibility is a lot more widely distributed than it is on most teams. Like I mentioned in the story, Boozer, Noah, and [Luol Deng] would all be Orlando's second-best player, so it's tough to make the Rose-has-done-it-with-nothing claim. And the bench, of course, has been lights out."
This goes to the secondary reason, on the court, that the Bulls win so often: their depth. It's the key to their team defense being successful. And even when they don't score, neither does the other team. This is fact.
- On Rose getting better through the year:
"Actually, his stats since the All-Star break are Baron-esque, but the Bulls have been winning anyway."
To say Rose has produced like Baron Davis is a wow, but a true wow. Hollinger was immediately confronted on this with the example of Rose's weekend performance in Milwaukee, and responded:
"Because there were 19 other games since the break, and he shot bricks in most of them, except for the one where he had ten turnovers. Look, if Rose averaged 30 and 17 then he'd obviously be the MVP, but you can cherry pick the best games from lots of players and make them look like an MVP. But he's at 40.8% since the break and 28.9% on 3s."
Is Hollinger saying that Rose is no better than Davis? Hell no. Is he saying Rose has been as bad as Davis? Hell no. He's stating that the Bulls happen to winning, despite Rose's increased recent inefficiencies to prove that the claims implying the Bulls are shit without him are garbage.
Is Hollinger stating that the Bulls are #1 in the East, let alone a title contender without Rose? Absolutely not. But he's acknowledging that without the roster generally managed for a defensive genius like Tom Thibodeau, they'd be worse than Rose-less.