Arturo here. I’m working on something but I’m a little stuck. So that gets pushed back and you get a repost of an old piece from my blog. I hope you get a kick out of it.
A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually. -Abba Eban
The MVP for the 2010-2011 season was Derrick Rose. He was not, however, a deserved NBA most valuable player by any possible definition that I consider valid.
He was a very good player who fit a convenient narrative (best scorer on the best regular season team). The media picks this award and they’re all about the easy byline.
I, however, roll to a different drummer. I’m all about actions and results. Thus, it’s only natural that I take action and have one final go at the NBA MVP argument. The stats must have their day in court.
Luckily, this given that it was not a very well kept secret, the announcement did catch me unaware. And because forewarned is forearmed, I come prepared with arguments tables and charts in hand.
Before we get started go here for the Basics (go ahead, no one will think less of you). As for the previous MVP posts?
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/most-important-players-for-the-season-so-far/ (CP3 get’s the mythical ASLS MVP vote)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/best-players-right-now-and-defense-adjusted-wp-part-2/ (KG gets a nod)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/opponent-wp48-and-opponent-adjusted-wp48-for-2010/ (The King takes a bow)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/the-mvp-race-so-far/(The King makes it two in a row)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/a-series-of-good-nights/ ( A Split Decision for the King , CP3 and K-Love)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/a-nightly-pattern-of-behavior ( Another Split Decision for CP3 and K-Love)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/the-100-best-games/ (K-Love gets this one in a landslide)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/a-starry-night/ (K-Love does it again )
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/the-best-player-in-the-league-hands-down/(K-Love continues his hot streak )
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/winning-performances/ (K-Love is a beast)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/late-night/ (K-Love still leads bu Superman is coming)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/sneak-peak/ (Howard takes the lead)
- http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/putting-things-together/ (Superman and the weight of the world)
- And Finally I made an App . Tip: wait 30 seconds and press play! ( see the companion piece http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/mvp-race-in-a-picture/ )
I think that covered them all :-). Let’s finish this once and for all.
We are going to do this using stats and we are going to reach a consensus. Making a decision by consensus implies a process that resolves minority objections to seek the agreement of the majority. To do that we are going to look at a lot of the metrics that are out there (which may or may not agree on the final decision), with the understanding that they all have their own special and different limitations, pick the best ones and combine them in our own special, super way (no foreshadowing here ) to come up with a fairly unassailable number.
First a table of some the advanced metrics that missed the cut:
These all serve a purpose (yes even PER, I need someway to figure out who’s overrated) but they’re not giving me what I need here. For the MVP, we need to talk about value and in basketball that means wins.
What makes it in then? My three favorite metrics for player evaluation:
- The Classic Wins Produced stats courtesy of Prof. Dave Berri (explained here).
- My own opponent adjusted Wins Produced based stat Wins Produced Combined (explained here).
- Basketball Reference‘s Win Shares (credit Justin Kubatko and Dean Oliver)
They all evaluate a player holistically based on slightly different assumptions (which I am not going to go over again here, feel free to go to the basics for length). They all have an extremely high correlation to wins at the team level. What’s important is that all are good bellwethers for what is actually leading to wins. Given that wins are what we want to measure, these are the ones I choose (and no I’m really not that conceited, I swear).
There is one final twist to this exercise. I came up with two consensus metric:
Average Wins = (Wins Produced + Wins Produced Combined + Win Shares)/3
Win48 = 48 * Average Wins /Minutes played
This should handle most everyone’s objections (except for one big one that we’ll cover at the end).
Let’s get to the graphs and tables shall we?
The Wins Produced MVP
You can also click them for a larger image.
The winners here are obvious.
Love and Howard took it down to the wire. Love had a big lead but got hurt; Howard came flying back but couldn’t quite catch up. Lebron was on both their heels and advancing but finished third. Chris Paul took fourth after dominating the early going (and saving Chris F#$@ing Paul for the playoffs).
Reigning MVP Rose comes in at 23rd (impressive for a 22 year old).
Let’s adjust for the player on the other side.
The Wins Produced Combined MVP
Dwight and Lebron separate here. Kevin Love is an average defender (actually perfectly average his opponents produce a WP48 of .100). Lebron and Dwight though are the among the best at shutting down opponents. The opponent losses produced top five are Dwight, Durant, Kobe, Deng and Lebron.
So this time it goes: Superman, The King and KLove.
Media best player in the league Rose comes in at 13th (again impressive for a 3rd year player).
Let’s account for team success.
The Wins Shares MVP
The King looks to make an argument for an MVP three-peat. Dwight and KLove pay penalties for playing on respectively a below average and a historically bad team falling to third and 9th. We seem to have a three way tie. Who wins out?
Rose by the way, get’s a more respectable MVP-like fifth here. Good enough to get votes; not good enough to get more first place votes than Dwight and Lebron combined.
The Consensus MVP
The King almost gets it done but Dwight reigns supreme. Kevin Love falls by the wayside (for now – he is also 22). Rose the media MVP ends up at number 11 (one behind another 22 year old – Blake Griffin – making him the third best 22 year old. But take heart Derrick: you play for the best team).
Here’s the table summary of all these numbers.
Oh, one more thing before anyone brings up the scoring angle.
Introducing Points over Par
It always bother me when people discuss point without context. Yes player A scored 30 points that day but what good was it if he did it on 40 shots? We want to account for the cost of generating points but the problem is that providing and equation or number that does that can be very complicated. Points per shot, efg% and TS%? The typical viewer’s eyes just glazed over. Anything that a 10 year old couldn’t do with a pencil is going to fly over people’s heads.
No more. I came up with something nice, simple that anyone could work out. Four simple steps:
- Figure out the average league points per shot for the league. For 2011 it’s 1.225 points per Field Goal Attempt
- Find Shots taken and Points made for the player
- Multiply Shots (FGA) times average league points per game. This is Par or the average points expected for those shots.
- Calculate Points over par . Points -Par
Quick example: If a player gets 20 points on 22 FGA his Points over par are:
Par= 20 FGA* 1.225 pts/FGA= 24.5 expected points
Points over Par= 20 points -24.5 expected points = -4.5 points below par (and being below par is bad not good)
You may be asking why I’m bothering to do this and how it applies here?
|Player||Year||Sum of FGA||Sum of PTS||Sum of Pts over par|
Dwight Howard was the best scorer in the league by far. In fact, he put up the eighth best performance since the merger (but that is a story for another day).
So in the end, Superman wins.
Wait that’s a screw up.
Damn flux capacitor.
Bonus Content time The Top 10 at Every Position
For those die hard fans who’ve seem this before I decided to throw in some bonus content as a thank you. Here are the top 10 at every position.
And now we are done.