The MVP should really be the MOP

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by Jarod Hamilton

In a sports fan’s perspective the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is given to the player whose value to their team is so significant that if he/she was not a member of the team it would likely diminish the teams success.

While this is one of the many ways to measure a respective player’s greatness, it is also one of the most subjective.

However, if we changed the name of the accolade to the Most Outstanding Player Award (MOP) then we might be able to come to a more unified conclusion. The MOP award winner would be the player who possesses the best statistical averages after the duration of a series of games. When a player gets an MOP award he/she does not necessarily have to be the most important asset to their team. That player could have just had the best performance through the series of games.

At the conclusion of the NCAA tournament, the MOP award is given as opposed to the MVP award. Many NBA All-Stars have won the MOP in the tournament including Richard Hamilton, Anthony Davis, and Kemba Walker. However, there have been instances where a player who was not the star of their respective championship team was named the MOP, such as Louisville’s Luke Hancock in 2013.

Hancock was a reserve player for the Louisville Championship Team. The 2013 NCAA Championship (now vacated), had impact players such as Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and NBA center Montrezl Harrell. Yet, Hancock was given the award after scoring 20 points in the national semifinal and 22 points in the title game. Hancock averaged less than 8 points per game in the regular season that year.

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In the NBA, there’s a regular season MVP, All-Star game MVP, and a Finals MVP. No one really cares about the All-Star game MVP, as the players usually try to get the hometown team’s player the award in a glorified dunk contest. The Finals MVP is awarded similarly to the NCAA’s MOP award for the NCAA tournament which is a step in a positive direction because the person who contributed the most statistically gets the award. The regular season award is the problem.

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During the regular season, there are too many excuses for why the player with the best statistical averages does not actually win the MVP.

Michael Jordan won the MVP award six times in his career. However, he had many more seasons where he was statistically dominate. Jordan could have won the MVP award almost every season he played, yet, “voter fatigue” thwarted him from doing so. “Voter Fatigue” is a phenomenon that takes place in sports voting that allows a less worthy candidate to win an award because the voters are tired of seeing the same person continuously win it every season.

Other times winning the MVP award can come as a result of being on the best team with the best record. While that’s a very plausible reason for winning the award, sometimes that means someone with better stats is losing out on the award. In 2006, Kobe Bryant averaged a league-best 35.4 points per game along with five rebounds and almost five assists. Bryant led the Lakers to the #7 seed in the Western conference that season but lost the MVP award to Steve Nash.

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Nash won his second consecutive MVP award after averaging 18.8 points and 10.5 assists in the 2005-2006 season. The Suns were 54-28 and finished with the #2 seed in the Western conference. Because Nash was the best player on a better team he won the MVP. But had the award been named the MOP Bryant would have most likely won it because of the production he provided to propel the Lakers into the postseason.

If James Harden wins the MVP this year maybe the league should think about renaming the award. Harden had another incredible season and has a legitimate argument to win the award. However, when you take into account other factors such as Harden coming in second in MVP voting in two of the previous three seasons and presumable voter fatigue against LeBron James, this award may be given to Harden simply because “it’s his turn”.

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While Nash and possibly Harden are valuable players in their own right. Is it right to say they are the most valuable in the league when neither one of them was ever heralded as the best player in the NBA? That is why the NBA should clear up all confusion and change the name from MVP to MOP.

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