All-Star MVP Draft

Kobe MVPDrafts are fun.

Fantasy football, fantasy basketball, American Idol elimination, even dead pools (OK, the last one’s a stretch).

Of course, there’s a bit less pressure when you have nothing on the line but pride amongst your friends and co-workers … Which isn’t exactly the case when Mitch Kupchak (or, especially, Isiah Thomas) steps (stepped) up to the phone on NBA draft night.

I bring this up because we’re trying to figure out who’s going to win the MVP tonight.

When I say we, I mean myself and Lakers.com mastermind Ty Nowell (“overstatement, but I’ll take it,” he said). After we go back and forth (he won the first pick by winning rock, paper, scissors) in draft style, we’ll keep a close eye on the race throughout Sunday evening’s All-Star game.

We selected five players each, starting with King James:

Ty: 1) LeBron James – “He’s a freak and he just seems primed to do it tonight, even though he won last year (and two years ago) works against him. He scares me.”
Me: 2) Dwyane Wade – D-Wade’s been in “Don’t-forget-that-I’m-the-bomb” mode, his (sinewy) legs are fully healthy/explosive and the East has won 3-of-4 games.
Ty: 3) Amare Stoudemire – “I should probably take Chris Paul, but I think Stoudemire is out for blood in his own town.”
Me: 4) Chris Paul – Just because Ty said he was going to take him, though I’m slightly tentative about his groin. He should still collect 15 assists and generally control the pace for the West, which has a huge lineup compared to Dwight Howard, KG and a bunch of guards.
Ty: 5) Kobe Bryant - “He’s always dangerous in these kind of games. I feel like he might sit back and take it easy this year, but if he won and I didn’t have him I’d be upset.”
Me: 6) Tony Parker – The East doesn’t have one big off the bench – literally – and Parker’s the best penetrator and finisher in the league. He’s coming off the bench, but he’s fully healthy, and Jackson doesn’t have a lot of guards that handle the ball on the roster (Paul, Parker and Chauncey Billups).
Ty: 7) Dirk Nowitzki – “It’s not somebody I expected to pick, but I think he could go off from outside a little bit. Plus I didn’t have any Europeans on my squad. I needed one.”
Me: 8) Shaq – This is my “Lifetime Achievement” All-Star pick as his Western teammates might try to force-feed him the ball. Big Cactus is in his current city of Phoenix, he’s playing in his 15th All-Star game and the East can’t afford to foul him too much with their lack of size. Then again, he might not play any minutes, but I’m rolling the dice.
Ty: 9) Dwight Howard – “He’s the only big in the East, and he could easily pull down 30 boards. Plus he’s healthy and should play big minutes.”
Me: 10) Ray Allen – He’s absolutely locked in with his shooting right now, and he’s going to get a lot of open looks. Furthermore, Ray has the same “I’m still good” bit going as D-Wade, which pleases me.

We’ll check back in a bit after the game starts at 5 p.m. Pacific.