"I don't think it's wide open. The media seems to have made their decision, and they're the ones that vote. So I think it's over," Van Gundy said Wednesday night as his Orlando Magic prepared to play the New York Knicks. "I mean, I just listen and read. I think it's over. Derrick Rose has it. I haven't really read or heard a media guy who is going another way at this point. I'd be shocked if he doesn't win it."
Votes from selected sportswriters and broadcasters are due back at the league office on Thursday, April 14 -- the day after the regular season ends. The award is announced at some point during the playoffs. Last year, LeBron James received 116 of 123 first-place votes.
Van Gundy has openly campaigned for Dwight Howard, who is scoring 23.0 points per game -- 1.9 fewer points than Rose. Howard is also second in the league in rebounding (14.3 per game), field goal percent (60 percent) and blocks (2.43).
The Magic began the night with a record of 45-26, only five fewer victories than they had after 71 games last season.
Howard himself acknowledged Wednesday night that Rose is indeed the favorite to win the award, having led the Bulls into first place in the Eastern Conference. Rose is averaging 24.9 points (seventh in the NBA) and 7.8 assists (10th) for a team that has had success despite missing Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah for long stretches of the season. Also, Rose has become a much better 3-point shooter, making 112 shots from long range this season after making just 32 total over his first two NBA seasons.
"Look, and I've said this before, to me, with his rebounding his scoring and his defense, I don't think there's anybody that impacts as many possessions in a game as Dwight does," Van Gundy said. "I think Derrick Rose has been great. I'll have no problem at all if Derrick Rose wins the MVP. They've got the best record in the East, he's been clearly their leader. You can make a great case for him.
"I think it's a hard choice to make, he's been great. But, I still don't think anyone impacts as many possessions a game as Dwight does.
Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing seconded Van Gundy's opinion: "Everyone's talking about Derrick Rose. Not to take anything away from him; he's having a fantastic year, too. But they need to start putting Dwight Howard's name in the mix. Without him, who knows where we would be?"
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com and ESPNNewYork.com.