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Really, Who is the MVP of This Team?

Following the departure of David Lee, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh after the 2005 campaign, Gator fans were left wondering "who is going to score the points next season?"

You see, it was that trio of Lee, Roberson and Walsh that combined for 60 percent of the scoring average that season.  With that kind of production leaving and a crop of unproven youngsters to carry the burden, how would this basketball do anything worthwhile?  Surely we would be in for a long season unless someone could step up and handle the load.

What we found out from a starting lineup consisting of four sophomores and one junior was that the strongest type of team was one in which did not have that one go-to-guy, but instead could beat you with a good performance out of anyone on the court on any given night.  And this even worked better when everyone was pitching in equally -- which leads me to discussion regarding the defending National Champions and their 2007 run to an SEC Championship and perhaps a repeat performance.

In a year where everything has been so balanced, from scoring, to shot attempts, to FT attempts and so on -- is there one player who has been the most valuable to this year's team?

Here are a few important stats to determine the answer to this question:

Led Team in Scoring:
Al Horford 7
Corey Brewer 6
Taurean Green 6
Joakim Noah 5
Lee Humphrey 4

Led Team in Rebounding:
Al Horford 15
Joakim Noah 11
Corey Brewer 1

Led Team in Assists:
Taurean Green 7
Al Horford 6
Corey Brewer 6
Joakim Noah 6

Double Figures Scoring:
Taurean Green 19
Joakim Noah 18
Al Horford 17
Corey Brewer 16
Lee Humphrey 12

Double Figures Rebounds:
Al Horford 12
Joakim Noah 8

Al Horford 11
Joakim Noah 5

From that, although it's tough to tell, I think that Al Horford could be looked at the most valuable, statistically speaking.  The fact that he has the highest number of games in which he led the team in both scoring and in rebounding is pretty impressive, although the scoring stat shows us why this team really is so successful with their balance.

The margin between the highest and lowest number of games as the leading scorer is only three. In the assists column you will see that Noah, Horford and Brewer each have had six games in which they led the Gators in assists. In terms of scoring average there is only a 2.2 difference between the highest (Green) and the lowest (Humphrey).  In terms of assist/turnover ratio there is only a 1.2 difference between the highest and the lowest, and every starter has a positive one (meaning that no Gator turns the ball over more than dishing out assists).

So with that type of balance on this team, is Horford really the MVP, or could we just say that there isn't really one?  Sure, some of the stats will tell you that he may be, but sometimes the numbers do not explain everything.

The stats will not explain to us how important Taurean Green's ability to create opportunities for his teammates are and how valuable his patience in the halfcourt offense is.  The stats also will not show us how important Joakim Noah is with his constant movement on the offensive side and ability to set up penetration for his teammates with his multiple screens.  And finally the stats will not show any of us how important the threat of a three point attack by Lee Humphrey is on the defense's gameplan.

As cliche as it does sound, I think that every one of the starting five on this team is equally valuable to the success of the '06-'07 season.  Horford and Noah underneath wreak havoc on the opposition's big men on both sides of the court, Corey Brewer causes matchup problems because of his energy and explosiveness, Taurean Green gives the Gators a very good point guard who can create points in a variety of ways and Lee Humphrey gives the Gators an outside shooting threat that can be unparallelled at times.

Unfortunately, though, not everyone always plays up to their potential.  Basketball will always throw bad performances at players -- which just leads to the rest of the team having to pick up the slack.  That's what the good teams do.  The Gators have had to do it on certain occassions this season and have succeeded, while sometimes just coming up a bit short when a few bad performances through the entire team in a funk (in the three losses).

Sure, if I had to give the MVP to somebody as of right now, I'd give it to Horford.  But the fact that we really can't put our finger on who the most valuable player on this team really is, and to add to it we could pick from four or five players is not a bad problem to have whatsoever.  Give this starting five some production off the bench as well, and watch out come tournament time, especially if everyone is clicking on all cylinders.  When that happens, it's definitely fun to watch, and it's the main reason why the Gators are the SEC Champions this season.