The MVP Race part 2: Depth Charts, Least Valuable players and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

7 seasons, 419 games and a number 1 pick. Sometimes it’s really hard to know when to cut your losses. When you’re that invested in a player, a team sometimes just can’t let go even when holding on to that hope only makes the situation progressively worse.

Andrea Bargnani is a living breathing example of the sunk cost fallacy.

But before we get to that let’s talk about the MVP Race. As long time readers know I love talking about the MVP and coming up with different angles to attack the problem from. In part one of this series, I focused on Durant and his apparent ascension to the statistical trophy and how he could very easily be denied by the Yay Points philosophy prevalent in the mainstream media analysis.

This one is about toys, inevitability and the predictable folly of decision makers. We start with the toys.

Top 30 MVP

I’ve been building some tools. Taking the data from NBA Geek and putting it together the ability to do some quick analysis. The data tells us that Kevin Durant is not going anywhere. Kirilenko and Varajeao continue to be in the top 3 but the usual suspects in Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, Kidd, James and Rondo are lurking around. We also see Harden as a top 15 guy, Kobe countinuing with his indian summer, David Lee back from zombie land and J.J. Hickson out of nowhere.

I also built a nice little tool for handicapping the media MVP race. Take the percent of a teams points the player scores and multiply it by the expected wins of his team based on point margin so far. I call this Yay Points Wins Produced.

Top 30 MVP media

Whereas it was kinda close before, Kevin Durant is now winning in a rout.

They also let me look at the least valuable players:

Top 30 MVP least

And this gets us back to Bargnani. This table actually fails to completely represent the magnitude of the problem. Let’s throw out anyone not in the top three in their team’s rotation.

Top 30 MVP least top 3

By POP48, Bargnani is 75% worse than the next guy who cracks the top 3 in his teams rotation. It gets worse when we look at history.


The problem isn’t that just that he’s bad or even historically bad, he’s the worst starting player in our database. No one has had a more detrimental effect on a teams fate.

So Andrea Bargnani is right in that the Raptors are one of the worst teams in the NBA. Any team with him getting the second most minutes would have to be.

Never fear though Raptors fans because there is hope.

Top 30 MVP bench

Looking at our top ten bench guys reveals Ed Davis , Mr. Bargnani’s understudy, as number 4 on the list behind Greg Smith (starting center for my Wages of Wins fantasy team), Drummond (making Pistons fans upset at their coach for leaving him on the bench) and Jimmy Butler and behind some familiar names in Reggie Evans,Bledsoe, Wright, Splitter and Landry.

There is a darn good reason for that win streak the Raptors are currently on.


P.S. The tools also let me quickly give you a quick look at the rosters as a final bonus.

Top 30 MVP depth chart




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