Phoenix Suns 2014-15 Season MVP: It’s Not Who You Think

Dec 23, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) celebrates with forward Markieff Morris (11) in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 124-115. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) celebrates with forward Markieff Morris (11) in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 124-115. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Most Valuable Player. The most important of the awards, yet also controversial. Some years, it seems obvious. Other years (like this one) there are several top candidates. In these years, everyone from the teams to the media to the fans has a differing opinion on who should receive that most distinguished individual honor.

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The wide variety of perspectives on the award are due to the vagueness of the award itself.

Most valuable? What does that mean ultimately? Best offensive player? Best overall player displayed in the best PER (player efficiency rating)? Most clutch player? Is it about stats or overall impact? How does “making your teammates better” factor in to all this?

These are all intriguing questions that MVP voters need to consider. For an interesting perspective on the MVP and what it should really be, check out Matt Moore’s (@HPbasketball) article.

A big unknown is how does the team’s success factor into the decision? For example, if Anthony Davis (or if for some reason Russell Westbrook) don’t make the playoffs, does this negatively impact their candidacy? Maybe. The opposite side of that coin is “the best player on the best team” should win the award, regardless of if he is worse than a better player on a worse team.

But I’m not here to discuss the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, I’m here to delve into who has been the most impactful player for the Phoenix Suns. They just don’t have a player even in the conversation for league MVP.

The Suns haven’t quite captured last year’s magic where they nearly captured a playoff berth despite a clear lack of recognizable and established talent. They have however, fixed their offseason mistakes (signing Isaiah Thomas, exasperating Goran Dragic) and completed the league’s quickest re-load/re-tool.

With the flurry of trades at the deadline, they are younger, more athletic, better defensively while also increasing the ceiling of this core of players.

The season is nearly over with only 10 games left to decide if the Suns can battle back and earn a playoff spot in the brutal Western Conference. The question remains, who has been the most impactful player for Phoenix over the course of the year? The criteria include consistency, production, defense, and reliability (in no particular order).

Looking at the numbers, it seems to only boil down to Eric Bledsoe or Markieff Morris.

Several of the other top scorers in terms of points per game this season haven’t played enough games or aren’t even on the team anymore (see Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Brandon Knight, and Gerald Green). Alex Len has missed too many games and his scoring production is pedestrian at best.

Phoenix Suns
Mar 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Suns defeated the Rockets 117-102. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

P.J. Tucker can’t win the award since he isn’t even averaging double-digits scoring-wise, but as far as I’m concerned, he wins the perennial Dan Majerle Hustle Award as long as he is in a Phoenix Suns uniform. He owns all your fourth quarter rebounds… at least the ones Alex Len doesn’t gobble up!

So it comes down to Bledsoe or Keef. Despite what I think, the national media would say Bledsoe (because of name recognition). But I’d say Keef wins this award, although it is REALLY, REALLY close.

1Eric Bledsoe717134.55.812.8.456.345.495.8020.
2Markieff Morris727231.36.313.5.467.319.496.7551.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 3/26/2015.

Even though Bledsoe has averaged 17.3 PPG to Keef’s 15.5, Keef does it in three less minutes per game and with a better field goal percentage (Keef is at 46.7 percent while Bled’s is at 45.6 percent) Keef grabs a few more rebounds and Bledsoe dishes out a couple more assists so those metrics don’t help us much.

To Bledsoe’s credit, his PER (19.2 to 16.0), TS% (56.7% to 52.5%)* and offensive rating per 100 possessions (108 to 103) are all slightly better than Keef. Bledsoe also has the edge in win shares (6.9 to 4.3).

*TS% (True Shooting Percentage takes into account how well you shoot from the field, including from three, as well as from the free throw line).

1Eric Bledsoe19.2.567.4372.914.78.827.12.51.318.523.
2Markieff Morris16.0.525.2144.616.310.411.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 3/26/2015.

However to Keef’s credit, his turnover percentage is WAY lower than Bledsoe’s (12.5 percent to 18.5 percent). Keef is also the most clutch player on the planet this year.

It was interesting to find out that despite Bledsoe being touted as the seemingly better defender, he and Keef have the same 105 defensive rating per 100 possessions.

While Bledsoe is a really talented player and will bring that infuriating turnover percentage down over the years, Keef is my pick for Suns’ MVP. He is so reliable and so consistent when you look at the game logs for the entire season and watch the games. He brings so much to the table, and has improved so much the last few years.

Tell me what you think on Twitter @Eric_Saar.

Next: Steve Nash: Top 10 Moments With The Phoenix Suns

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