A couple of weeks ago Andre’ Snellings – of Yahoo! Sports and RotoWire.com- asked me to evaluate the top candidate for the MVP award. Snellings was primarily interested in where Wins Produced ranked Kevin Garnett. His column (Hoops Lab: MVP Talk IV – The Heart) covered far more than the Wins Produced numbers (and is hence a good read), but for here let me just note the Wages of Wins aspect of the Snellings story:
… let’s clear up a big misconception. Garnett does in fact have the numbers to compete directly with the other MVP candidates when you factor in defense, where he should be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. According to Dave Berri from wagesofwins.com, Garnett entered this week behind Paul in Wins Produced per 48 minutes but ahead of both James and Bryant.
The M2P Leaders
As Snellings notes, KG is ahead of both LeBron and Kobe. In my discussion of Garnett posted a couple of days ago I intentionally avoided comparing KG to other players (besides Kobe). But perhaps I should report the numbers Snellings got to look at in writing his column.
Here are the Wins Produced and WP48 numbers for several of the top candidates for both M2P (Most Productive Player) and MVP (as of Friday, March 28):
Dwight Howard: 23.1 Wins Produced, 0.392 WP48
Chris Paul: 21.7 Wins Produced, 0.401 WP48
Marcus Camby: 19.4 Wins Produced, 0.383 WP48
LeBron James: 19.0 Wins Produced, 0.339 WP48
Jason Kidd: 17.9 Wins Produced, 0.336 WP48
Tim Duncan: 16.8 Wins Produced, 0.338 WP48
Kevin Garnett: 15.8 Wins Produced, 0.356 WP48
Manu Ginobili: 14.6 Wins Produced, 0.328 WP48
Kobe Bryant: 14.1 Wins Produced, 0.238 WP48
Paul Pierce: 12.6 Wins Produced, 0.227 WP48
One should note that this is not a comprehensive list. In other words, Kobe Bryant is not currently 9th in Wins Produced (I really only looked at the players that Snellings asked about).
With that being said, here are a few thoughts I had when I looked at this list:
- The current leader in Wins Produced is Dwight Howard. But Paul has a higher WP48. Plus, because of the “short supply of tall people”, it’s harder for a guard to lead the league in Wins Produced. In other words, what Paul has done is more impressive than what Howard has accomplished.
- The WP48 for LeBron James would be 0.378 if he only played small forward. LeBron, though, is not only the Cavaliers best small forward, he’s also their best power forward. So we can see why the Cavs use him at both forward spots. Still, if LeBron were strictly a small forward, his numbers would come close – although not quite equal – to what we see from Howard and Paul.
- Garnett is the best player on the best team. And he is having an amazing season. But he is not quite as productive as Paul or Howard.
- When we look at Wins Produced it is hard to conclude that Kobe Bryant should be MVP. Although Bryant is having a very good year, he’s not nearly as productive as the players at the top of the list. Plus, he is barely more productive than Paul Pierce and he falls short of Manu Ginobili.
So who should be MVP?
Because Howard has played more minutes than Paul, I think Howard will finish the season as the leader in Wins Produced. In other words, I think Howard will be the Most Productive Player or the M2P. Again, though, what Paul is doing is more impressive. And Paul does have the highest WP48.
I think you can also make a credible argument for LeBron. He has been very productive despite playing substantial minutes at a different position. KG should also get some consideration. Because he has great teammates, it’s possible that Garnett’s numbers are somewhat lower (i.e. diminishing returns).
I would eliminate Camby and Duncan, since I think both falls short of Howard. In other words, if you are going to give it to a big man, Howard is the most productive this year (that is if you can ignore the diminishing returns story I told about KG).
Likewise, if you are going with a small man, Paul is the obvious choice. This means Kidd, Kobe, Ginobili, and Pierce are not better choices than CP3.
In sum, I think this should be a race between Howard, Paul, James, and KG. If I had to vote – and I don’t – I would go with Paul. It’s harder for a little guy to distance himself from others at his position. Hence, the 0.401 mark of Paul (and I checked today and he still has this mark), is very impressive.
Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.
Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:
Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.