Stan Van Gundy has never been one to mince words or pull punches or whatever other term you want to use to convey that he says what’s on his mind. If he thinks it, he’ll say it. That gets him in trouble with the league pretty regularly — see, for instance, that time he inferred that David Stern was a murderous dicator and Stern’s ruffled feathers response – but it sure makes for good quotes. Plus, if you’ve been paying attention, he’s usually right.
The point is, when Stan Van Gundy talks we should listen. Last night, he was talking MVP, and not surprisingly, he was totally right. From ESPN:
Stan Van Gundy believes the MVP race is already over, and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls is going to win it.
“I don’t think it’s wide open. The media seems to have made their decision, and they’re the ones that vote. So I think it’s over,” Van Gundy said Wednesday night as his Orlando Magic prepared to play the New York Knicks. “I mean, I just listen and read. I think it’s over. Derrick Rose has it. I haven’t really read or heard a media guy who is going another way at this point. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it.” [...]
“Look, and I’ve said this before, to me, with his rebounding his scoring and his defense, I don’t think there’s anybody that impacts as many possessions in a game as Dwight does,” Van Gundy said. “I think Derrick Rose has been great. I’ll have no problem at all if Derrick Rose wins the MVP. They’ve got the best record in the East, he’s been clearly their leader. You can make a great case for him.
“I think it’s a hard choice to make, he’s been great. But, I still don’t think anyone impacts as many possessions a game as Dwight does.”
That’s a bingo. All of it.
Derrick Rose is probably going to win the MVP because it’s a great story. As SB Nation’s Tom Ziller perfectly explains, Rose is not the best choice. But it’s hard to argue with the narrative of a 22-year-old winning a gold medal then carrying a team that was .500 the last two seasons — and has had two starters miss significant portions of the season — to the best record in the Eastern Conference. That’s a pre-made introduction at an awards ceremony. Not to mention, Rose has improved his scoring, passing, outside shooting, free throw shooting and defense this year. Oh, and he’s one of the most exciting players in the entire league. These are the kinds of checkmarks you need to win an MVP.
And really, that’s what matters here. MVP voting is concerned with story, perceived impact and the ever-present “take him away from his team” argument rather than stats. If you compare Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, you’ll see that Dwight does more for his team than Rose does, even with the inadequate measures that we use to evaluate defense. But that’s totally irrelevant. Derrick Rose seems more important, so he’s going to win.
Maybe that’s silly, but so is worrying about this. Derrick Rose will be this season’s MVP and even Stan Van Gundy is OK with that — “I’ll have no problem at all if Derrick Rose wins the MVP” — and he’s never wrong.