MVP Race: Defining a Player as Most Valuable

Our modern dictionary describes the word “valuable” to me mean having qualities worthy of respect or esteem when used in terms of NBA Basketball players. In this same context, the word “most” technically refers to the greatest, as in size or extent. So who then, you ask, is the NBA Player with the greatest number of qualities worthy of more respect and esteem than the rest of his NBA peers this season? Depends who you ask.

West All-Star Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder holds up the MVP trophy. after the NBA All-Star game in Orlando, Florida, February 26, 2012.

The annual debate that surrounds the selection of an NBA MVP revolves around which qualities, specifically, a voter may deem worthy of not only their respect and esteem, but also their vote. Do you vote for the best player on the best team? Do you vote for the player with the best number’s statistically, regardless of wins and losses. Is it a lifetime achievement award to a certain degree? As in the case with Steve Nash’s second MVP, I’ve always felt, do you vote for an MVP again if his numbers are better now than the last time he won the award? Do you vote for the guy in your local market because you’ve seen him play more times than anybody else and kinda like the guy? Everyone’s different, no right answers exist really, but should there be?

Regardless of those factors mentioned above, and anything else that may dictate how somebody votes on an MVP ballot individually, we do all seem to agree every season who the ten players are that deserve the greatest extent of consideration for this award. That group of ten undoubtedly has representatives from each of those categories I mentioned above, and this season that collection of Ten MVP candidates reads like this according to seemingly everybody: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Paul. 

What I’ve often times wondered aloud is whether or not the MVP race needs to be calibrated in some way though to dictate a true winner. Should a statistical formula like John Hollinger’s PER be used in part to rank MVP’s 1 through 10. Should the N.E.R.D rankings be that metric, a Synergy Sports type equation possibly? If it was, I think you could include stats and wins, and maybe it would eliminate a big market city winning out over a small market that way, but I’m not sure if that “it” factor would be included. Or even if it should be.

By that I mean a couple things. Kobe Byrant’s been doing this a long time. He’s in his thirties, he has a new coach, he’s team’s had turnover on the roster all around him, and he’s still scoring at will in a younger man’s NBA right now. That’s cool in some ways. As is the way Kevin Love is putting numbers on the board for a team that has no chance at winning an NBA Title too. He loses Rubio, keeps going, and you can almost see the overwhelming work ethic that he puts in with ever shot he takes an rebound he grabs. It would be hard to get mad at anybody who voted for Kevin Love too, is I suppose what I’m saying.

But then you get to the case of say a Kevin Durant. He doesn’t have that LA market behind him in OKC, but he has been the best player on the best team all season long. Derrick Rose won the MVP last season for just about the same reason. LeBron won it in Cleveland that way too. Charles Barkley won it once in Phoenix when his team wasn’t that though. 

I suppose I wish you could more strictly define the MVP Race in the NBA for all of these reasons, but I also suppose it’s impossible. With that said, Kevin Durant is definitely the MVP this season. Unless of course you like Kobe or Kevin Love, or LeBron, because they kind of are too.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.