It wasn’t so much the statistical impact that Rubio had in his team’s overtime win over the Mavericks, though he did finish with nine assists in only 18 minutes of action.
It was the crisp passing and the flair he has for playing the game from the point guard position that truly makes him special to watch.
This assist to Greg Stiemsma early in the second quarter exemplifies that.
Rubio receives the ball at the top of the three-point arc, and initiates the dribble-drive after a brief shot fake. Once he gets near the baseline, the pass he makes is so unbelievable that it was almost hard to see on the very first viewing.
The replay shows that the ball was bounced with precision through the legs of Elton Brand, and right into Stiemsma’s capable hands.
Amazing vision from Rubio there, and equally impressive was that this occurred in his first few minutes of NBA action in over nine months.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.