Ross Trudeau ’06 and Tom Trudeau ’09 love each other like brothers. As such, it was a no-brainer for them to make direct use of their fraternal bantering skills in a column. With awards season upon us in the movie and music businesses, the two felt it was time to debate who is in line to take home some hardware in the sports world.
NBA MVPTom: You can probably make legitimate cases for LeBron James; Dirk Nowitski; last year’s winner, Steve Nash; Chauncey Billups and may-be even Elton Brand, who has trailed off a bit after starting the season red hot. Still, Kobe Bryant would be my pick by virtue of the workload that he has to take every night on both ends of the court. He is the Lakers’ best scorer, playmaker and defensive stopper. After what was looking to shape up to be a Tony Montana-type career – a quick rise to fame and power followed by troublesome legal battles leading to an army of people looking to take him down – Kobe’s insane stats became relevant again now that he’s turned the Lakers back into a winner.
The knock on Bryant this year is that he has played more selfishly than ever, but without any other legitimate scoring threats on the roster besides the NBA’s worst great player, Lamar Odom, Bryant has been forced to pick up the workload even more. Everyone on the Lakers – save Devean George and Sasha Vujanic – has a better field goal percentage when Bryant is on the floor than when he is out of the game, evidence that Bryant makes his teammates better.
James will give him a run for his money by virtue of his equally impressive numbers, Dirk and Billups will get an extra look for being the best players on two of the NBA’s best teams and people will point to the Suns’ incredible season without Amare Stoudemire as evidence that Nash should repeat as champ. Nash, however, now leads the league in tur-novers and also has an elite teammate in the league’s most underappreciated super-star, Shawn Marion, who is arguably the better all-around player.
Ross: While Tom makes a compelling case for Kobe, I have to disagree that he has made the Lakers legitimate contenders again – they stand at a pedestrian three games over .500. I have to rule out Billups simply because he doesn’t impact a game like the Kobes and Iversons of the league. Steve Nash deserves just as long a look as Kobe – he’s scoring five more points per game than he did his MVP season – but the man for me is LeBron. The heir (Jordan)-apparent is the league leader in player efficiency and, along with Dwanye Wade, is the only player to average 26.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 6.0 apg.
James has his Cavs, who like Kobe’s Lakers offer little peripheral scoring support, poised as a top-three seed in the East. Moreover, his field goal percentage is matched in the top-20 scorers only by bangers like Garnett and Duncan. The Cavs could be dead last without him. His value to his team is the highest in the league.
NBA Rookie of the YearTom: Who has the highest player efficiency rating of all western conference point guards? It’s not Steve Nash, Tony Parker or Baron Davis. It’s Chris Paul. The Hawks, Bucks and Jazz are probably kicking themselves right now for letting this rookie fall to number four in this year’s draft. Despite impressive rookie campaigns by Channing Frye, Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams, no one can come close to the impact that Paul has made. Already the best player on his team, the rookie point guard out of Wake Forest has taken what was supposed to be a team fighting to avoid the league’s worst record and made it into a team that has been above, at or around .500 for the entire year. Paul scores (16.3 ppg), dishes (7.4 apg), boards remarkably well for a player his size (5.7 rpg) and even causes havoc on the defensive end (2.2 spg), all while protecting the basketball (2.3 TO per game). It’s no contest: Chris Paul deserves to be an all-star and the league’s rookie of the year.
Ross: As much as I’d like to bust my young compatriot’s chops again, he’s right on the money with this pick. Paul is as high-impact a rookie as you’re ever going to see. His numbers compare favorably to LeBron’s rookie stats, and even King James couldn’t make a .500 team out of the 2003-2004 Cavs, whereas Paul makes his squad a threat to win any game.
NHL Rookie of the yearRoss: Sidney Crosby began the year with his name already stenciled into the Calder Memorial Trophy, but he’s gotten some serious competition that makes him anything but a lock. Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals leads Crosby in goals (34 to 25) and points (65 to 60) and if he continues his torrid scoring pace will probably take the award.
My pick, however, is the rookie netminder for the New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist. His save percentage is third in the league, while his goals against average ranks fourth. Lundqvist should also get a boost from the fact that he and Jaromir Jagr have led the Rangers, picked by many to finish dead last in their division, into contention for a top three seed in the East, while Crosby and Ovechkin haven’t been able to pull their respective teams out of the cellar.
Tom: Talk about hometown bias. Plenty of young goalies have had success in their rookie seasons, but few newcomers – and even fewer teenagers – have become superstars on the ice the way Ovechkin and Crosby have. Crosby and Ovechkin are already the best players on their respective teams and, unlike New York’s young goalie, are marked men throughout the league.
While Ovechkin has been an elite goal scorer, Sid the Kid is my pick. His superior vision and lack of help or a thug to help protect him, combined with the weight of being the new face of the NHL and having to save hockey in Pittsburgh make Crosby the clear choice.
Tom Trudeau ’09 thinks it’s funny that Ross Trudeau ’06 has a Web site devoted to his intramural teams.