Too much happens between the first play of the season and the last that has a profound impact on individual performances. But more important, these predictions influence voters–creating a leader-in-the-clubhouse or it’s-this-guy’s-turn mentality that becomes hard to beat.
Occasionally, though, it does. In the Heisman race, it seems early “front-runner” (at least in the minds of the prognosticators) Andrew Luck of Stanford was victimized by the hype surrounding him and failed to live up to the high expectations placed upon him. The eventual winner, Robert Griffin III of Baylor, meanwhile, was a virtual preseason unknown who emerged from the abyss of zero expectations and dazzled voters with his exciting play.
All that said, I’m going to predict the MVP for the upcoming NBA mini-season: Chris Paul.
Of course, a lot can happen between Christmas Day and the end of the regular season (playoffs aren’t factored into post-season awards) but already the near-consensus best point guard in the league, is showing that he will likely transform the long-moribund Clippers in the best team in Los Angeles (at least until Dwight Howard takes up residency there).
Paul had 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in just three quarters in his Clipper debut last night against the Lakers. More important, the Clips crushed the Lakers 114-95.
Yes, it was preseason.
Yes, the Lakers still have the best player in Los Angeles in Kobe Bryant.
But Paul (along with the additions of Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups, and the holder of that young cat who dunk over cars) has already shown these ain’t your Daddy’s sorry Clips.
They will march stride-for-stride with the Lakers this season, if not run them off their own Staples Center floor.
And Paul will own LA this season – beating out the seemingly consensus preseason-front runner Kevin Durant.
Love you, Kevin but sorry, your Luck will run out, too.