It’s that time again. Mailbag with Steven LeBron. You can follow him on Tumblr and Twitter, if you aren’t already. Questions are from you guys, but some couldn’t be answered this time. Keep sending in questions for Steven LeBron and FuckYeahNBA.
Q: Top 10 clutch players in the NBA
Steven LeBron (SL): I don’t have 10 players off the top of my head. But in late game situations, here’s some players I wouldn’t mind having the ball in no particular order: Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant.
Having the pleasure of seeing CP3 in person, I have to say that every time he steps on the court, he’s crafting a masterpiece in running the point guard position. The way he steps it up in the fourth quarter when needed is so seamless from the things he does in the first three quarters to move the team along.
Durant, Rose and Nowitzki’s track records speak for themselves.
As for Kobe, I know much has been written about whether he’s clutch or not. I’m a huge fan of his game so I will admit it’s a bit hard for me to step away from that bias and ignore the fact that he has tunnel vision when it comes to late game situations. But if I need a player to bail me out in a late game situation, there’s still no one better than Kobe, by any mask necessary.
Q: Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol vs. Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic
SL: Out of the four, the best player is obviously Kevin Love, who I think is the best power forward in the league at the moment. But as a combo, Bynum-Gasol are very underrated. Though it’s been difficult at times, I think their style of play can and do compliment one another, and Bynum has been relatively healthy this season which is a good sign so far.
I’d love for the Lakers to find out whether the offense could revolve around Bynum, and whether he has the skill set and stamina to handle being the number one option, but that seems unlikely with Kobe in gunslinger mode all year.
Still, you don’t want to give away Bynum without ever finding out whether that potential is there.
Gasol is one of those big men that does all the little things, doesn’t put up numbers that awe you, but there’s few power forwards I’d rather have on my team.
As a duo, it’s not even close. I’ll take the Lakers duo. But in a few years, when Derrick Williams gets comfortable in the league, we can have the conversation again. By then, it’s possible none of the other three will still be with their current team anyways.
Q: LeBron James and the decision (sorry) to pass at the end of the Utah game. Fair or foul to call him out since he’s the superior player. (this was my own amalgamation of a couple questions/statements I got from readers).
SL: I wrote a thousand words on this very question this week. Check it out at The Tickr.
In short, he is not just the superior player. He is the best player in the game. Is he shying away from that responsibility, or is he in the process of redefining what we think of as the best player.
He is the consummate team player, but if we accept him as the best player in the game, than shouldn’t we also except his late game decision making not as stage fright or having the moment become too big for him, but as the best player in the game making the best basketball decision at all times.
It seems hypocritical to praise all his skills and also believe that one of his greatest strength, his court vision, is suddenly impeded in the big moments. He’s not committing turnovers, throwing the ball away. The ball was in his hands in the Utah game, and he made a pass to an open teammate.
Again, I could go on and we can debate in circles, end of the day: winning a championship will validate all these decisions. Coming up short again will make all my arguments moot.
Q: First half MVP?
SL: LeBron James.
Although Derrick Rose should get lots of consideration if he stays healthy and gets Chicago to the top seed in the East. Trailing votes go to Kobe, who won’t win it cause his team has taken a step back, and Durant, who will suffer because of his strong supporting cast.
Q: Rookie of the year?
SL: Kyrie Irving. His performance has been surprising to me. The Cavs have a point guard they can build around for the future. Not bad less than two years removed from James’ departure.
Q: Coach of the year?
SL: If the Grizzlies hold onto a top four seed, without Zach Randolph for essentially the whole season so far, I’d have to give my vote to Lionel Hollins.
Though these coaches deserve significant consideration: Scott Brooks, Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich.
I think Erik Spoelstra has done a wonderful job this year, in maximizing all the talent he has. Didn’t Phil Jackson used to do the same thing and get a lot of respect. Spoelstra is doing the same to some extent, but because he coaches LeBron and Wade, he’ll always come short in this category.
Q: Defensive player of the year?
SL: Still Dwight Howard, though if voters like to switch it up and enjoy the crazy box scores, Serge Ibaka should get some votes.
Q: Most improved player?
SL: Ryan Anderson has already been given this award right?
Q: Sixth man of the year?
SL: I know I’m missing a lot of guys, but Louis Williams and James Harden stand out to me. I’ll go with Harden.