Lakers: Kobe Bryant Deserved NBA's MVP for the 2005-2006 Season

Kobe Bryant's 05-06 season is the stuff of legends
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The 2005-2006 NBA MVP went to Steve Nash. Perhaps it shouldn't have. Before the torches come blazing, let's take a closer look.

Nash averaged 18.8 PPG, 10.5 APG, and 4.2 RPG, and 0.8 SPG. This is undeniably a terrific season. Kobe Bryant's averages were 35.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 5.3 RPG, and 1.8 SPG. It is long established that a scoring championship alone doesn't make a deserving MVP, but there are a myriad of reasons Bryant deserved it. NBA fans who are more forward thinking will cite more analytical stats. That's perfectly fine, let's look at least one analytical stat before some of your eyes glaze over.

PER stands for Player Efficiency Rating. It is often used as a 'one numbered' stat to evaluate all of a players contribution into one number. 

Kobe Bryant's PER for 05-06: 28

Steve Nash's PER for 05-06: 23.3

Only LeBron James' PER was higher that year. It was 28.1. One percentage point better than Bryant's. Steve Nash's teammate Shawn Marion had the exact same PER as Nash, meaning Nash had at least one player who contributed as much as he did (per this one stat I grant) but it sure explains who Nash had to pass the ball to. The advanced analytical argument falls apart with the PER discussion, but let's move on to a bigger context here.

The 2005-2006 Phoenix Suns as aforementioned had Shawn Marion who averaged 21.8 PPG and 11.8 RPG. That's not an MVP season, but that is a monster season worthy of an All-Star selection (which Marion did have) as well as being named third team All-NBA. Marion led the team in points (21.8), rebounds (11.8), steals (2.0) and blocks (1.7) per game. Boris Diaw of the same Suns squad also won the Most Improved Player award. The point is, Nash had a lot of pieces around him to pass to.

Bryant's team? Ah yes, the 2005-2006 Los Angeles Lakers roster featuring such juggernauts as the starters of Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, and Chris Mihm. Lamar Odom was certainly a baller but he was not an All-Star and did not put up the kind of numbers Shawn Marion was putting up. Support wise, that is all to be said of the Lakers 05-06 roster. Brown and Parker were notorious under-performers, and yet Kobe Bryant lead this roster to a winning 45-37 record, and to the playoffs, where this Lakers roster had no business being.

Individual anecdotes to Bryant's absurd 05-06 season are endless. Here are a few.

April of 2006: Bryant averages 41.6 points on 51 percent shooting, making 41.3 percent of his 3-pointers.

Bryant had 27 40-point games. That was the highest single-season total since 1986-87, when Jordan had 37 of those games. 

December 20th of 2005: Kobe Bryant drops (a then) career high of 62 points against the Mavericks. He did this in only three quarters.

January 22nd, 2006, Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points. Nobody has come close to doing that since. 

Steve Nash was a great player and gave all of his effort and heart as a Laker, even at the end of his career amidst a lot of injuries. But Kobe Bryant deserved the 2005-2006 MVP.