In Week 3 of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Alex Wolfe, challenges Sports Editor Brandon Gould, Staff Writer Kevin Lee and Correspondent Mark Barroso to answer questions about who deserves to be the MVP of the NBA at this point in the season, whether or not Tiger Woods will regain the No. 1 ranking in 2011 and what will be the impact of the new format of the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
1. We’re a little over halfway through the NBA season and a lot of players have had breakout seasons. Who is the NBA MVP at this point and why?
BG: The easy answers are Kevin Durant, and Amar’e Stoudemire, but the real answer is Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki trails Durant and Stoudemire in points-per-game and in assist-per-game, so if you want statistical evidence that Nowitzki deserves the MVP more at this point, I can’t give it to you. What I can tell you is that no team needs a player more than the Dallas Mavericks need Nowitzki. The Mavericks’ record is currently 29-16, but their record in games when Nowitzki has sat out is 2-9. His numbers aren’t going to wow anyone, but his value to his team is second to none and that’s the true definition of the MVP.
KL: The NBA’s league MVP is Chris Paul for his ability to win basketball games and make his teammates better. Last year the Hornets went a combined 37-45, but this year the Hornets are already at 31 wins at just 47 games into the season, with virtually the same team. Sure Paul’s scoring numbers are down but that’s a testament to his ability to make his teammates better. The fact that the Hornets really didn’t acquire any major free agents and still have one of the best records in the Western Conference and in the NBA makes Paul’s season all the more spectacular.
MB: Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is currently the most valuable player in the NBA. Although his average of 8.1 assists a game ranks him 10th in the league, he also averages 24.6 points per game which is seventh in the NBA. Voters in Miami will split their votes between Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, Kobe Bryant is the obvious yet boring choice, and the Knicks have to win more for Amar’e Stoudemire to be considered. Rose has led the Bulls to the second best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference without the help of his two big men, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, who have both missed over 15 games due to injury.
AW: The answer I was looking for here as a Knicks fan was Amar’e, but Mark gets 3 for making a good argument for Rose. Brandon gets 2 because despite Dirk’s impact on his team, numbers do tend to dictate MVP candidacy. I give 1 to Kevin because Paul has turned a team that missed the playoffs into the second best in the league.
2. Tiger Woods recently dropped to No. 3 in the world rankings. This ended Tiger’s five year reign at the top after a miserable 2010. Will Tiger reclaim his top spot in 2011?
BG: Yes, I think Tiger Woods will be able to reclaim his top spot in 2011. Woods had a lot to deal with in 2010 after the whole fiasco on Thanksgiving in 2009 and then all the
information that was revealed afterward. Woods went from superhero and master of the golf club to just a regular old John Doe with a sex addiction. As his name was pulled through the mud, Woods also saw his family crumble to the ground. It’s easy to hold athletes to a higher standard, but that is a lot for a person to deal with. Now that Woods has had time to cope with all that has happened to him, he can focus on golf once again, and there’s nothing worse than a superior athlete that has a little extra motivation.
KL: Absolutely. I believe that Tiger struggled last year not because of the scandal but simply being away from the game. I’m sure that Tiger did struggle emotionally with the scandal, but Tiger is one of the most mentally tough athletes. His ability to focus on the game of golf once he hits the course is absolutely phenomenal. Tiger lost a lot of time away from the golf course (nearly 20 weeks), and as a result, he went into a lot of tournaments cold. Golf is a game of repetition, and Tiger wasn’t able to get the adequate preparation he needed to perform at his level. Tiger is a good enough golfer to make the necessary adjustments mechanics-wise to once again ascend to the top. As a result, I don’t think it was so much the mental aspect that caused Tiger to struggle, but rather, the ability for him to swing the golf club at his normal ability.
MB: Tiger Woods’ last PGA Tour victory was over 500 days ago at the 2009 BMW Championship. Last year at this time, he was in a Mississippi rehab center for addiction after being caught “out late” with many women. According to Tiger, he is now fully healthy. However, Woods hasn’t been in the best shape the past couple of years. Since 2008, Woods broke his leg, had ACL surgery, tore his Achilles tendon, had a neck injury and received a cortisone shot for his sore ankle. Woods has to stay healthy in order to knock off his younger and more experienced competitors in 2011.
AW: Kevin gets the 3 for pointing out Tiger’s crazy level of focus on the golf course and his ability to address his shortcomings and improve his game. Brandon gets 2 for pointing out that Tiger is, indeed, a human being and can finally focus on golf. Mark gets 1 because I didn’t really see it as a clear answer.
3. The NHL All-Star game made an interesting move this year, instituting a fantasy draft where two captains (selected by their peers) get to pick teams, grade school dodgeball-style. Is this just a gimmick, or is this something that could bring interest back to the All-Star game concept in other sports?
BG: I’m all for this. It’s not like these guys have a choice to pick just anyone in the league. The All-Stars have been selected already, so all the captains are doing is picking from that small pool of players. The All-Star game doesn’t count for anything and is all about having fun, which is why they include skill competitions in most sports. Professional athletes have been scouted, picked, traded, signed and cut, so let some of them have a little fun and have the power for once. Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes is one of the two captains and two of the players in the pool of All-Stars are his brother, Marc Staal, and his teammate, Cam Ward. So, if it comes down to it, will he pick them or someone else? Who knows, but it will sure be interesting to find out.
KL: Regardless of how they format an All-Star game, it will always be an exhibition game causing people to turn away. Even when the MLB has their All-Star game decide homefield advantage, the game is still managed and has that feeling of an exhibition game. These games are meant for the fans, and it might garner some interest to a degree. Ultimately, the interest of All-Star games is going to lie solely on the effort that the athletes themselves want to put into the game. The fact that the games will always be viewed as an exhibition will never garner the interest of athletes themselves and subsequently the fans.
MB: This concept can bring interest back to the NHL because sports fans are familiar with this system. People can tune into games to see who the players feel are the best picks. It will be interesting to see if the captains choose the best players or the players that suit them best. More importantly, being named captain of an All-Star team of your choosing garners you plenty of attention, especially in a league that is struggling to increase ratings.
AW: Brandon gets the 3 here for pointing out the intrigue of how a player chooses his team. Mark gets 2 for pointing out the familiarity of a fantasy draft to the average fan. Kevin gets 1 for bashing All-Star games.
Brandon wins this week’s AtD, 7 – 6 – 5