PRUETT COLUMN: The difference between ‘most valuable’ and ‘best’ in basketball

Published 10:24 pm Saturday, May 14, 2016

Golden State’s Stephen Curry was the best player on the best team this season in the NBA.

That cannot be denied. He was fantastic as the Warriors went 73-9 and he drained more than 400 three pointers this season.

Curry is changing the game of basketball, so it was fitting the NBA gave him its highest award, the league MVP.

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MVP stands for most valuable player. Curry was not the most valuable player in the NBA this season, and he was not it last year either when he won the award for the first time in his career.

Curry was the league’s most outstanding player, the name of the award in college basketball. There is a difference in the terms outstanding and valuable.

Cleveland’s LeBron James is the most valuable player to his team. He has been for a very long time, and that is not changing anytime soon.

James’ value to the Cavaliers is far and away greater than Curry’s worth to the Warriors. That doesn’t mean Curry is not fantastic. Curry just doesn’t bring as much value to his team like James does.

The Warriors without Curry playing set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a game when Golden State beat Houston with Curry on the bench with an injury.

Golden State eliminated the Rockets without Curry’s services through most of the first-round series and was well on its way to doing the same to the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round.

Curry was at his best in Game 4 against the Blazers. He proved once again he was the best player in the league, but his performance also proved my point.

It took overtime for the Warriors to beat the Blazers in Game 4 before Golden State won Game 5. The Warriors were already up on the Blazers 2-1 in the series without Curry and needed overtime to beat them with him.

It is easy to assume the Warriors would have made it to the Western Conference Finals if Curry had not played the first two rounds.

What happens to the Cavs if James does not play? The answer is very simple. Cleveland goes home early, and they certainly do not sweep the first two teams in the postseason.

James left Cleveland for Miami, and immediately the Cavs became one of the worst teams in the NBA. James came back, and right away the Cavs were again at near the top of the league.

James could go to any team in the league and that team overnight becomes a title contender. The team will compete for a trip to the finals the day James signs the contract, no matter which team it is.

If Curry goes to the Bucks, they still struggle to get into the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. The same would not be said for James in Milwaukee.

James can guard every team’s best player and, on most nights, hold the guy. Curry cannot.

James can play every position on the floor with success. Curry cannot.

It is time to change the name of the award or do the right thing and give it to James every year because he is the one who brings the most to his team.

Curry is fantastic and outstanding. James is the most valuable.

Gabriel Pruett can be reached at 721-2436 or at On Twitter: @PaNewsGabe.

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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