For NBA Tuesday today, we take on the 2004 season: The Detroit Pistons won the league championship for the first time since the Bad Boys era, and the world of LeBron James officially crashed into us. Kind of weird when you realize he just won his fourth ring last fall with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yes, we are creeping closer to modernity every week. But enough about that! Bring on the hoops analysis …
2004 NBA MVP: Kevin Garnett (original, confirmed)
The Minnesota Timberwolves, led by MVP vote winner Kevin Garnett at power forward, won 58 games to top the Western Conference, and perhaps with little surprise, it was KG leading all his peers in both Win Shares (18.33) and Player Efficiency Rating (29.44). That makes this MVP confirmation pretty simple.
What we see here is Garnett at his peak: His 24.2 points per game, 13.9 rebounds per game, and 2.2 blocks per game were all career-best marks. The rebounding figure was the best in the NBA this season as well. There is just no one else in this discussion this time around.
2004 NBA ROTY: LeBron James (original), Carmelo Anthony (revised)
This All-Rookie lineup was a monster, folks—Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (4.8 WS, 13.7 PER), Heat point guard Dwyane Wade (4.6 WS, 17.6 PER), Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard James (5.1 WS, 18.3 PER), Toronto Raptors center Chris Bosh (6.2 WS, 15.1 PER), and Denver Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony (6.1 WS, 17.6 PER). That’s a pretty daunting starting five for a rookie class.
The King won the vote, due to the hype, but we’re not so sure he deserved it. The Cavs won 35 games and just missed the Eastern Conference playoffs by one victory, while the Heat won 42 games to make the postseason. However, Haslem and Wade teaming together somewhat eliminates both of them from consideration.
The Raptors finished with just 33 wins, however, while the Nuggets won 43 times to claim a Western Conference playoff spot. Denver had won just 17 times the year before, as did Cleveland. We’re going to go with Anthony being more valuable here, based on team playoff qualification and individual numbers as well.
Yes, James may have been the better player, but this is a common storyline here: It’s more about value to us.