A few months ago, the National Basketball League (NBA) MVP race was stuck in a tight race between two obvious choices, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Now, deep into the NBA season, a surprise candidate has emerged from an injury riddled 2007-08 season. Is Dwayne Wade a legitimate candidate for MVP?
Last season, the Miami Heat finished with a league worst 15-67 win-loss record. Halfway through a horrible season, Wade felt that it was in the best interests of the team to shut down his playing time completely to undergo OssaTron treatment on his ailing left knee.
At the time, the Heat seemed to be spiraling down from their peak of winning the NBA title in 2006. The team lacked the depth and talent to help alleviate the pressures put on their franchise player Wade. The future looked as bleak as the present.
Fast forwarding to the beginning of this season, after undergoing months of rehabilitation, Wade delivered a message to the media and to all his fans — Im ready to go. He sure convinced everybody through his performance during the 2008 Olympics where he led the USA National team in scoring, even while he was coming off the bench during the start of the tournament.
Despite his obvious resurgence, critics still questioned his teams depth and talent early on this season.
However, they overcame the odds stacked against them and the Heat are now fighting for home court advantage in a playoffs — something thought of as too high on their list of expectations this season. O nce again, is Wade the MVP for the 2008-2009 regular season? Yes he is.
First off, his personal stats alone propel him above any other MVP candidates including both Bryant and James. His 29.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game exceed the statistics of his two main counterparts. James is currently averaging 28.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.3 assists; while Bryant is averaging 27.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Wade is outscoring and assisting both James and Bryant and is also averaging more rebounds than Bryant. Wade also averages more steals and blocks. He is not only an offensive presence, he is now feared while guarding the Heats paint.
The milestones and records he has reached this season have not gone unnoticed. On January 23 against the Raptors, Wade became the second player in NBA history to tally at least 40 points, 10 assists and five blocked shots in a game since Alvan Adams in the 1976—77 season. Following the All-Star game, Wade recorded a career high 50 points on 56.6 per cent shooting and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a game against the Orlando Magic. The following game, Wade recorded a career-high 16 assists and added 31 points and 7 rebounds in a 103—91 win against the Detroit Pistons. Wade became the second player to record 15 or more assists after scoring at least 50 points since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. He also secured his fifth consecutive all star appearance.
Whats more important is his role on the team and what he contributes as a leader. Hes not looking for his own glory but a team effort to possibly take them to another championship.
Wade is attributed to the obstacles that his team has overcome thus far this season. Out of the three main candidates, Wade clearly has the worst supporting staff as Bryant and James are surrounded with the arguably the best bench-depth in the NBA. Many of the bench players on those respective teams can probably attain starting positions on most of the other teams in the league. Wade is able to lead a fairly young, inexperienced team that lacks notable talent and depth into a comfortable playoff position.
Where would the Miami Heat be without Wade this season? They would be out of the playoff picture. As for the other candidates, as important as they are to their respective teams, without them their teams might at least be able to secure a playoff spot considering the amount of depth and talent both the teams possess all around. Would they be conference leading teams? Probably not. But they would likely be playoff bound at least.
MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. That means the player which is the most valuable to their team and franchise. Nowhere in that definition does it state the player with the most points or the player with the most popularity.
Although Wade is amongst the top in the league stats-wise, it comes down to the value and impact he has had on the Heat this season. Understanding this, it would be hard to vote against Wade.