Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Is A Valuable Player?

First of all, with victories over Cleveland and Denver, the Mavericks gave me everything I wanted for Christmas. I love my guys. :-D

It's interesting, though. If you tuned in on Sunday looking for an epic duel between two top ten scorers and MVP canadites, I do apologize. The 'Melo versus Dirk matchup could be in the dictionary under 'anticlimax,' both performing under their scoring averages.

Carmelo Anthony: 16 points, 5-19 for 26% FGP, 12 rebounds (5 offensive), 4 assists
Averages: 30 points, 47% FGP, 6.4 rebounds (2.1 offensive), 3.3 assists

Dirk Nowitzki: 13 points, 6-15 for 40% FGP, 11 rebounds (zero offensive), 2 assists
Averages: 25.5 points, 48.5% FGP, 8.1 rebounds (0.9 offensive), 2.6 assists

Last week, Chauncey Billups went down with a strained groin muscle, and as of Sunday the Nuggets were 1-3 without him. Situation for Denver; at home, second night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks, the go-to guy not putting up his usual numbers. This should have been an opportunity for Anthony to rally the Nuggets around him, settling his teammates down when the Mavericks went on runs, kibitzing with Billups and Coach Karl on how to stop the Dallas centers -- Drew and Damp lit up Nene and the Birdman like cigarettes -- not letting his frustration getting the better of him when the calls weren't going Denver's way. A chance to set his seal on the Nuggets, to announce to the world that Billups might call the plays but he is their heart and spirit and best hope for excellence.

Instead, Anthony played faces with the refs, failed to inspire his teammates into performing above and beyond, spent key stretches of the game on the bench in foul trouble, and finally got himself disqualified in the fourth after knocking Josh Howard off his feet. Anthony got pissed and added some arm-action to body-ing up Josh. (BTW, JR Smith's foul on Jason Terry in the third was a flagrant.)

In short, because Anthony couldn't control his temper he was not on the floor to help the Nuggets capitalize on several late mistakes by the Mavericks and take back control of the game. At the risk of being called a homer, Carmelo Anthony does not mean a tenth so much to the Nuggets as Dirk does to the Mavericks (or Kobe does to the Lakers, LeBron to the Cavaliers, Nash to the Suns, etc). In the last six games Denver has demonstrated who their leader is, and 'Melo ain't it. He does not belong in the MVP discussion, I don't care where his averages are.

I'll go even further. Here's Billups's postgame thoughts:

"I thought we fought hard at different spurts at the game, but we didn’t fight very smart," Billups said. "So much of this game, especially when you are playing against good teams, is being smart, not making the same mistakes over and over again during the course of the game. Knowing what they are going to do throughout the game and try to take certain things away. We just didn’t do a very good job of that."

I'm going to do a little guesswork and give you a prediction. Denver is an passionate, yet immature bunch of guys who require a certain amount of management to be most effective. That manager has just publicly called them morons. Now if I'm a hypercompetative fourteen year old boy, how do I take that? Billups hasn't lost the team, but I think their confidence in him's gonna take a hit.

The Nuggets will finish in the top eight, of course -- they're too talented not to. But they have very little depth and might be coming to a crisis of leadership. MavsMonkey says . . . upper-four seed, out in the second round.

No comments: