In the case of the NBA's MVP award, the fix seems clear

In the case of the NBA's MVP award, the fix seems clear

In the past two weeks, we have come to realize that the most prestigious award in the National Basketball Association is in freefall, and by the time the winner is actually announced on June 26, the reaction will not be, “He really had a great year” but “Why him?”
Yes, it’s the Most Valuable Player award, and in this past fortnight, we have seen Russell Werstbrook’s candidacy undermined by Oklahoma City’s decision to use only him. We have seen James Harden’s candidacy undermined by one of the great personal power pouts in modern sports history. We have seen Kawhi Leonard’s candidacy both undermined and then potentially enhanced by his ankle injury. We have seen the non-existent candidacies of Isaiah Thomas and John Wall greatly enhanced by their postseasons.
And we have no idea what to make of Kevin Durant or Draymond Green.
Most of this is due to two anomalies in the NBA award system. The first is the time-honored decision to end all voting at the end of the regular season, which makes sense because it rewards six months of consistent work rather than the last-thing-I-saw-matters-the-most crowd.
But the second is to put the award up after the season ends for the benefit of a television show, and as we all know, putting television first is always a winning strategy.
In this case, the choice to announce the winner 2.5 months after the end of the regular season allows the time and the corrosive nature of public commentary turns the winner into an abuse magnet.
And while even this individual award is far less important than the championship thing, the league and its various correspondents want it to matter for purposes of engine churn. Thus, the need for a fix seems clear.
Moreover, the fix seems clear. A regular season MVP and a playoff MVP.
Neither award would matter as much, of course, because the more awards you hand out the lesser each one seems. But the reduction in prestige would work hand-in-glove with a reduction of ridicule.
Knowing the NBA, it would probably do this and then double-down and have a Summer League MVP. Oh, wait; it already has one. But maybe nobody’s thought of a training camp MVP yet. Get on that one, Adam.
And the MVP award still is facing a seismic war over whether it is for best numbers or best vague analysis of contribution. That will not be settled any time soon, to be sure. If Westbrook wins, it will probably be a one-off victory based solely on one’s man’s body of work separate from his team. If Harden wins, it will be for making the seemingly shambolic Houston Rockets a dramatically better team, which is the more historically predictable method. And if Leonard wins, it will probably mean ballot box fraud given that the entire debate has been about Westbrook and Harden to the exclusion of all other candidates.
But however this breaks down, the dissatisfaction will not be able to fit in the overhead bin, and that’s no way to celebrate a season in which the apparently superior team could end up with no awards at all.
So maybe this is just more of the Great Year of National Deconstruction, in which all old standards are blown up just to see stuff rocket into the sky. You know, like our political, culture and ethical systems.
Now if that’s your goal – to devalue the awards as some sort of hyperflagellant all-glory-is-fleeting-and-everything-is-meaningless message – then this is the best method ever. Closing the voting and wait for developments to turn everything into filth has never been tried before, so maybe this is the perfect year for it.
But I’ll bet they try it only the once. This may a traditional notion, but the Most Valuable Player award should be a kind of cool thing rather than an award you pick up with barbecue tongs while wearing a Hazmat suit.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller