Sunday, January 27, 2013

There's no Defense for this All Star Pick

By: Brian Sanchez

San Rafael, Calif.—Look, the Golden State Warriors are having a bounce back season to be incredibly proud of. David Lee has broken the Warriors long string of being without an All-Star since 1997 when Latrell Spreewell represented the Dubs in Cleveland.
     Now, normally, a team that is double digit wins over .500 which has beat the L.A. Clippers three out of four times as well as beating the Heat, Thunder, Pacers, Nets, Hawks, and Nuggets; would get two All-Stars if they had two deserving players. There is no doubt the Warriors do, with Stephen Curry and David Lee. Alas, the Warriors only get one All-Star. This is a clear sign that the rest of the league acknowledges the Warriors are having a good season by giving them one All-Star, but letting them know they have not arrived as one of the leagues notable teams by not allowing them two.
     First I'll take a look at who should have made the team between Steph and D. Lee. I understand that David Lee is having a very, very good year (offensively). He's within fractions of averaging 20 ppg. and 10 rpg. and has 27 double-doubles this year.  Curry on the other hand is averaging 21 ppg. 6.5 apg. and 4 rpg. 6.5 assists per game may seem low, but for a point guard that scores at the high clip Curry does, it is more than sufficient. Curry is the leading scorer of all players left off of the All-Star team.
     The reason Lee made it over Curry is because the NBA is obsessed with offensive stats and don't really look at anything else. If David Lee is not the worst interior defender in the league, then he must be tied for the worst. He is soft inside, often late on rotations, and allows average to poor offensive players to have big scoring days on him, which in my eyes cancels out his own offense. But who cares about that, right? How many points does he score? That's all that matters. And yes, Curry scores more than him, but Lee does it down low where there isn't always a lot of scoring in the league. What really did it for Lee was his number of double-doubles. That is what impresses people. Just the term alone gets people in a tizzy.
     I would have picked Steph as the teams All-Star, because he is without a doubt the most important player on his team. Steph is sporting some of the most impressive numbers shooting wise: 45% on three's, 43% from the field, and 90% from the charity stripe. Curry handles the ball a lot throughout a game, especially compared to David Lee. However, Curry has only five more turnovers than him, with 117 compared to Lee's 112. While I don't think stats do a good job of showing how good a player is defensively, Steph has twice as many steals and just as many blocks as David Lee. Let that sink in. An All-Star power forward who plays almost 38 minutes a game only has eight blocks. Did I mention he didn't play very good interior defense?
     With all of that said, I think both Lee and Curry should have been on the All-Star team because of how well their team is preforming. This is why I think Lee over Curry isn't the biggest problem with the selection process. My problems come with Lamarcus Aldridge, and James Harden.
     I'll start with Aldridge. He isn't even averaging a double-double, and he's shooting under 50% from the field. There is no way he belongs over Steph Curry. The Trail Blazers are one game over .500 and they are that good because of Lillard more than Aldridge.
     Same story with James Harden. Harden is having an All-Star type year according to his numbers, but is he more deserving than Curry? Harden is averaging 26 ppg. 4.5 rpg. and 5.5 apg. Very impressive numbers. He is also a black hole on offense who isn't a floor general like Curry. This is basically a toss up in my eyes. And Curry should win that toss because of the record he has lead his team to. The Warriors sit at 26-17 while the Rockets are only two games over .500 at 24-22.
     At the end of the day I think Stephen Curry will be on this years All-Star team. Chris Paul looks like a candidate to pull out due to injury, as does Dwight Howard. Tim Duncan and the Spurs are always prone to pulling himself from extra competition to rest at his advanced age.  Curry will probably be going to All-Star weekend with or without being on the team because he should be in the three-point competition. At this point in time, I would put my money on Curry being an All-Star.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

NFL MVP Vote: All Day

By: Brian Sanchez
(Left: Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are the two leading MVP candidates)

     If I were to vote for the NFL MVP, it would not take me very long to make my decision. I would think about picking Peyton Manning, I wouldn't choose him, but I would have to pause and think for a second. I have decided my vote goes for Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, and I wouldn't have to ponder (see what I did there?) it for very long.

     This is my rationale for MVP, not comeback player of the year. Because both Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning have come back from devastating injuries, played a full season, and were incredibly effective, I consider the injury category a push and do not factor it into my decision. This is also based on the regular season and not on which player is in a better position or has a better chance to win the Super Bowl.

My Definition of Most Valuable Player:
     This may seem painfully obvious, but it is an important place to start in the Manning vs. Peterson debate. There is no set definition for being the NFL MVP, and each voter has their own distinct and unique way of deciphering who to cast their vote for. When I go about choosing the MVP, I put the most emphasis on the "V", it's all about value. And by that I mean how valuable the player in question is to their team.
Adrian Peterson with a stiff arm on Packers Safety Atari Bigby
     Now, in my opinion, the tactic of saying, "if you were doing an NFL fantasy draft for this one year, who would you choose first?" slants way too far towards the QB's. Quarterback is the single most important position in any sport, thus it carries the most weight in decision making. By the fantasy draft way of thinking, Adrian Peterson would more than likely not even be in the MVP conversation. Because QB is so important, if you were doing a draft of all players to start your team for one year of play, you would almost assuredly take Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees over Adrian Peterson. I'm also sure there are people who would take players among the likes of Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson purely because of their positional importance. That's why I throw that theory out the window.
     They way I like to decide MVP's is by taking the player off of the team and replacing them with an "average player" at the same position. This is the same basic idea of the popular Baseball statistic WAR (wins above replacement). By doing this, I think you get the most realistic look at the value of any particular player.

Why Adrian Peterson?
     Bottom line: The Minnesota Vikings do not make the Playoffs without Adrian Peterson. First, let's look at Adrian Peterson's season statistics:

348 car, 2,097 yds, 131.1 yds/gm, 6.0 yds/car, 12 TD, 2 fumbles lost

     Wow, talk about dominating the league. Peterson ended up only nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's all time single season rushing record of 2,105 yards. I think breaking that record would have made Peterson an easier choice for most, but I don't think nine yards will change my opinion of him. 
Adrian Peterson leaps over Bears Safety Major Wright
     Let's run Adrian Peterson through my test of replacing him with an average player. With Adrian Peterson narrowly missing the greatest single season by any RB in history, the Vikings snuck into the Playoffs in the final second of the final game of their season. I do not believe any other RB in the league could have carried the Vikings to victory, only Peterson. Christian Ponder the QB for the Vikings is very little more than a game manager. Ponder only threw for 2,935 yards this year. 2,935, that's only 900 yards more than Peterson ran for. Are you serious? That's 183.4 yards per game. Ponder averaged 50 yards a game more than Peterson IN A PASSING LEAGUE. That's argument number one in my mind right there. 
     If the Vikings had another good, not even average, but good running back like Benjarvus Green-Ellis who ran for over 1,000 yards, do the Vikings make the playoffs? No way. Peterson had to do more than just have a productive year, he had to make plays, big ones, he was the deep threat for this team, especially with Percy Harvin injured. 

Why Not Peyton Manning?
Denver Broncos QB, Peyton Manning
     Manning had a great season, there is no denying that. He got the No. 1 seed in the AFC while throwing for 4,659 yards and 37 TD's. I can not deny those are MVP type numbers. But when I put him through my MVP calibration test, he passes, but not with flying colors like Adrian Peterson. Manning's value to the Broncos during the regular season is overrated in my eyes. I don't even have to imagine what this Broncos team could do with an average QB. Last year we saw what they could do with a Quarterback that can barely throw a football. Tim Tebow led the Broncos to the Playoffs. The man who could not start over the horrendous Mark Sanchez or the rookie 7th round pick Greg McElroy was able to take the Broncos to the playoffs, and win a playoff game over the Steelers. 
     My grand point is this, Peyton Manning took over a playoff team that won their division before he was there and did the same. Sure he got more wins and a better seed for his team, but he took over a division winning team. Look at how pitiful the AFC West is. The Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers are three of the 10 worst teams in the NFL. The only reason those three sorry teams got wins was because they got to play each other and every time that happened one team out-worsed the other.

Closing Statement
The Most Valuable player must bring the most value to his team. Could the Denver Broncos have won the AFC West and made the Playoffs with an average Quarterback instead of Peyton Manning? Yes. Could the Minnesota Vikings have made the Playoffs with an average Running Back instead of Adrian Peterson? No way. Adrian Peterson for MVP, All day.
My NFL MVP vote, Adrian Peterson
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