Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Real MVP

On national television today at 1PM PDT Lauren Jackson has the opportunity to demonstrate to the media, particularly the Sacramento broadcast team who recently snubbed her in the MVP top 5 listing, why there is only 1 candidate for MVP this season. Clearly being first or second in 15 of 32 tracked categories and and in the top 10 of 31 of those categories is not enough (she is #15 in FG%, funny how triple teams can lower that overall percentage). Obviously leading the league by almost 4 points in efficiency rating, a blended category incorporating the majority of key statistics, is not a factor to be considered. Being second in the league for point and rebounds while 3rd in blocked shots should not matter, especially at the forward position which hinges on points, rebounds and blocked shots. Being the leader in free throw attempts per 40 minutes, indicating a clear LEAGUE WIDE focus to defend against her, isn't a statistic with which to be concerned. Leading the league in double doubles is not of any real importance.

Comparing her statistics to her MVP year in 2003, she is not as dominant on the offensive end of the floor, however the 2003 team did not have anyone other than Sue Bird to help with the scoring forcing Lauren to provide the additional 3 points per game only to place the storm at 5th in the west. Her rebounding is back up to her 2003 levels, but her shooting is lower by 16 points overall and by 19 points from long range. She has improved her shot blocking by 25 points, reduced her turnovers by 32 points and dropped her fouls per game by 22 points.

The 2003 team had three players averaging double figure scoring...

LJ 21.2
Sue 12.4
Kamilla 10.1

Best of the rest....
Sandy Brondello 8.2
Adia Barnes 5.5
Amanda Lassiter 5.1

The 2005 team offers the following with 4 players averaging double figures...

LJ 18.3
Betty 12.5
Sue 12.2
Janelle 10.0

Best of the rest...

Izzy 8.0
Suzy 6.5

Year LJ Others
2003 21.2 41
2005 18.3 49

LJ isn't required to score as much in the current offense.

Jayda Evans of The Seattle Times today suggested that Lauren lacks the feel good story that gets the media's attention. The 6'5" foreign power forward shooting 31% from 3 point range got their attention. This year she is just another superstar youth putting up league leading numbers. A comeback story like that of Sheryl Swoopes with her adorable son in tow all season is much more interesting and draws the voters focus more easily. I love Swoopes. She is everything the league wants out of its players...talented, fiery, beautiful (not important on the floor, but critical in the marketing), well spoken and charismatic. LJ is shy (though she has come a long way), quiet and humble. Sheryl dominates games in the spotlight, while LJ comes off the floor with a double double you barely even realize she earned.

Today is a big time game. The surprise conference leaders take on the defending champions in what could be a preview of the Western Conference finals, and all on national TV. LJ is not going to change her game to try and put up 30 points, and she doesn't need to. She needs to make sure her team wins the game and furthers the distance between themselves and Houston. They want to lock up their magic number and secure a slot in the playoffs. Does that mean LJ won't have a great game? I believe she most certainly will, like she does most every game. The real question is whether the media will take notice.

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