Who should be higher on the MPV ladder, Jimmy or Butler or DeMar DeRozan? That’s the question of the hour.
They are both strong wings who like to post up and draw fouls. They’re even similar size.
Both their teams have 29 wins.
They’re both the best player on their teams.
They’re fairly similar statistically:
And here are the advanced stats:
DeRozan has the scoring advantage, but with more Win Shares and Real Plus-Minus Wins, it’s arguable Butler’s defense more than compensates for the difference.
DeRozan adjusted his game to fit Toronto’s “culture change” and that kind of leadership is making a huge difference.
After trying to “adapt” to the Timberwolves, Jimmy started to lead the Timberwolves and since he has, they’ve been rolling, winning 12 of their last 15.
Both teams even clobbered the Cavaliers in consecutive games, giving LeBron James the worst back-to-back plus-minus performance of his career.
I’ll take Jimmy because he’s a more complete player, but if you’re sleeping on either of these guys, it’s time to wake up.
1. James Harden: It looks like he’s ready to come back this week, and it seems the Rockets desperately need him. They were 3-3 with a total point differential of plus-one with him out. The six-game absence was enough to give us a look of what the Rockets look like without him without dooming their No. 2 seed prospects.
2. Stephen Curry: Curry missed too many games to take the prize form Harden just yet. He gets it over Durant, though, as the Warriors are plus-18.8 with Curry and without Durant compared with plus-7.1 with Durant and without Curry.
3. Jimmy Butler: Probably seems insane until you realize that he’s actually third in RPM wins, that the ‘Wolves are suddenly half a game behind the Spurs for the No. 3 seed in the west, or that they have the best net rating in the NBA over the last 15 games with Butler being the principal reason why.
4. DeMar DeRozan: Right behind Jimmy for the reasons outlined above.
5. LeBron James: The Cavaliers have lost four games in a row. All were to playoff teams. They were outscored by 84 points with LeBron on the court in those games. It’s really hard to put him higher than fifth with that being the case.
6. Kyrie Irving: The Boston Celtics are a great team. By that I really mean team. They have a very egalitarian approach to virtually everything they do. Kyrie Irving might be their best scorer, but I’m not even sure he’s their MVP, much less the MVP. But they should have a name up here, and his works as well as any.
7. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook is quietly flirting with another triple-dobules season (25.0 points, 9.9 assists and 9.8 rebounds), but it’s not getting the same attention this year, probably because he has more “help” but the Thunder actually have an even lower winning percentage.
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Bucks are in seventh in the East, which makes the Freak’s remarkable season (28.3 points, 10.1 boards, 4.5 dimes) a lot less MVP worthy.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Zach LaVine*