In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Alex Wolfe, challenges Sports Assistant Chris Molicki, Correspondent Josh Fidler and Correspondent Kevin Black to answer questions about the MVP in this almost-halfway-over NBA season, whether a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will happen (and whether it can save boxing) and who will make a difference in the first five picks of the NFL Draft.
1. We’re close to the All-Star game in the NBA (which I can’t wait for, except for the fact that no Knick really deserves it), the roughly halfway point in the NBA. Who do you think deserves MVP honors as of right now?
CM: In most cases, the MVP award should be given to the best player on the best team, and in this case, that makes the choice simple: Kevin Durant. Durant is averaging 26.6 points and 8.1 rebounds while leading the Thunder to an 18-4 record. Durant also has a very impressive PER, 26.54. Durant has scored at least 20 points in all but two of his games (one he had 19 in) and has helped Oklahoma City to an 8-1 home record. The case will always be made as to whether or not his is truly the best player in the NBA. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are both in the conversation, but the Heat have done pretty well in the games that either of them missed, so it would be hard to consider one of them. If the Lakers or Timberwolves were having more success, maybe Kobe Bryant or Kevin Love would be a candidate, but from what I’ve seen so far, Durant is clearly the best choice.
JF: To start, I can’t give the MVP to anyone on the Heat or the Thunder because there can be arguments over who is the most valuable player on those teams. So that would eliminate LeBron, Wade, Durant and Russell Westbrook, who has been having a great season. I would eliminate Kobe because he is taking too many shots. I think the MVP right now is last year’s winner Derrick Rose. Having just seen him take control of the game against the Knicks I have to pick him. Now, one could say that when he was hurt the Bulls only lost one game, but they only played one good team during that time span, and they lost that game. Compared to his MVP performance last year, Rose is putting up similar and in some cases better numbers. He is averaging more assists and less turnovers than last year. Rose did miss some key free throws against the Heat, but he was also the main reason that the Bulls were in that game. At 23, Rose is primed to win his second MVP this season.
KB: When it comes to the NBA MVP, it’s natural to gather up the three usual suspects: LeBron, Rose and Durant. So far it doesn’t look like it will be any different this season. At the halfway point this year, my vote would go to Kevin Durant. In a year where injuries have hurt teams at certain points in the season, Durant has only missed one game out of a possible 22 for the OKC Thunder. He is third in scoring — which is low for him — but is still averaging a solid 27 points per game and he has also led the Thunder to a league-best 18-4 record. They are now considered to be far and away the best team in the West. His play has been very consistent all year and the way he’s handled the so-called beef he has at times with Westbrook has been amazing. It’s time Durant gets his due as one of the most valuable players in the league as Rose did last year.
AW: I like Chris’ and Kevin’s arguments, and they’re both pretty similar. 3 points to both. Josh gets 2 because I don’t know about Rose two years in a row, not with how the Thunder are playing.
2. Floyd Mayweather just announced his last pre-jail sentence fight, a May 5 bout with Miguel Cotto. Cotto is, obviously, not Manny Pacquiao, the fight that everyone and their mother wants to see. Will a fight between those two ever happen, and if it does will it be too late to matter for the struggling sport of boxing?
CM: With the way things have been going, it’s hard to say that the fight will ever happen. Two of the greatest boxers in the world could produce a dream matchup, but since it hasn’t happened yet, it’s hard to have optimism for it to ever happen. However, it would be enormous for the sport if it were to happen. The pure anticipation of the matchup itself will continue to sit in the hearts of boxing fans and as soon as it seems that no one has interest in boxing, they could schedule the fight as a last resort. All of the sudden, everyone would be happy again because they can watch the fight they’ve been wanting to see, and all of the sudden, boxing would be relevant again. Plus, if the fight turns out to be a classic, that would make the sport skyrocket. I’m not a boxing fan myself, but I would still love to see these two square off. Who knows if they ever will, but if they do, boxing will be back.
JF: I think the fight will happen at one point. The amount of money the two of them could make plus their competitiveness will make this fight happen. But I don’t believe that this fight will save the sport of boxing. At best I think this fight could slow down the decline of boxing, but that is it. Manny Pacquiao is 33 and Floyd Mayweather is 34. This does not have the makings for a good rivalry, because they are both old. I think that one of the reasons boxing is on its way down is because it is too hard to follow. There are so many unaffiliated leagues and so many different divisions that I don’t know what is going on. Manny Pacquiao has 17 different titles. Knowing this, the title means absolutely nothing to me now, it is watered down. In fact the only reason I know about these two is because ESPN has made such a big deal about their potential fight. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t even watch the fight. Barring the possibility of any young stars in the mold of an Ali or a Foreman or a Tyson I don’t see boxing making a comeback.
KB: At this point, I think it will never happen because a lot could happen with Manny while Floyd is serving his sentence, and it’s more on Bob Arum at this point. I feel that the public is now to the point where it’s like, “just do it already.” I’m sick of the trash talking from both sides. Why it won’t happen is because one fighter doesn’t want a 50-50 split of the ridiculous amount of revenue the fight would make anyways. People just want to see the fight and be done with it. You can try to hype up the fight for as long as you want, but people will eventually lose interest and I think that time is actually here. Oh, I’m sure people will still watch Cotto fight Floyd, but I think that once that fight ends, boxing may be seeing the edge of the proverbial cliff.
AW: Josh gets 3 for pointing out the huge draw of the fight, but that boxing may be down for the count (pun intended). Chris gets 2 because the fight does have a chance to revitalize boxing. Kevin gets 1 because I don’t think people have lost interest in the fight quite yet.
3. Now that the Super Bowl is over, let’s get to the next NFL national holiday — the Draft. We all know Andrew Luck will be going No. 1 to the Colts, but what do you think will be the biggest impact pick of the rest of the top five?
CM: The top five picks (minus Luck) will most likely all have high impacts, but none more significant than Robert Griffin III. A likely move would see maybe the Browns, Redskins or another team in need of a quarterback trading with the Rams for the number two overall pick so that they can draft Griffin. There are two main reasons as to why Griffin will make the biggest impact. First are his comparisons to Cam Newton. While Griffin is certainly not as big as Newton, he is similar in that he has a cannon for an arm and can rush like a running back. If anyone doubts his arm, just look at one of his 37 touchdowns, specifically his game-winning bomb against Oklahoma. Or you can look at his incredible efficiency (72.7 completion percentage, six interceptions). There was a point in the season where Griffin had more touchdowns than incompletions. The second reason is that quarterbacks, specifically rookies, are ruling the NFL. Two of the best in the league were in the Super Bowl after they overcame stingy defenses. And with the quick success of Newton and Andy Dalton, there’s certainly optimism for Griffin to come firing right out of the gate.
JF: I know this is going to be a popular answer, but I don’t care. I think that it will be RG3. He plays a position that has the biggest potential to make an impact. I think that whoever drafts him will give him the chance to fight for the starting position, especially after seeing the success that Andy Dalton and Cam Newton had last year. RG3 is faster than Cam Newton, and he is also considered a better thrower than Newton as well. RG3 was efficient with the ball, completing over 70 percent of his passes while throwing only six picks. Both of these stats were better than what Andrew Luck put up, not to mention that he is also faster than Luck. Speed from a QB can kill — we have seen that with Vick, Newton and to some extent Aaron Rodgers. While RG3 doesn’t quite have Vick speed he will still be one of the fastest QBs in the NFL. To sum up, he’s fast, can throw the ball well and plays at QB which can have the greatest possible impact on a team.
KB: Robert Griffin III will face huge amounts of pressure wherever he goes because the rookie quarterbacks of last year (Dalton and Newton) exceeded expectations (with a shorter offseason no less). With Washington desperately looking to move up it could happen. I don’t want to base this off of a trade that may or may not happen so I will look at St. Louis sitting at that spot. With new coach Jeff Fisher’s offensive mind joining the team, the Rams I feel may look at adding another playmaker. Enter Justin Blackmon. The wide receiver from Oklahoma State could make the Rams into a formidable foe in the NFC West. Yes Bradford has Brandon Lloyd already, but having him as a second option wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
AW: Chris gets 3 for pointing out some of Griffin’s nonsensical passing stats and the comparison to Newton’s rushing. Josh gets 2 for stating the recent successes of rookie QBs. Kevin gets 1 because I think RG3 will probably be the top impact pick, and I can’t see him slipping from the top five.
Chris wins this week’s AtD, 8-7-5.
“YOLO.” — Chris