Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Crunching Out an MVP

Hard to believe we’re almost halfway through the NBA season already.  I suppose that with the Rockets’ season in the trauma ward, it’s all slipping by me faster than usual.  Anyway, seems like it’s time to start things like figuring out the MVP race.  The award has gotten iffy over the past few years, with the Nash mini-controversy last year (doesn’t seem so outlandish 8 months later) and going back to when Karl Malone undeservedly got it as a lifetime achievement award over MJ in 1997.  It’s allowed more emotional sway, like the (feel good story) Coach of the Year award.  It’s not a science, nor supposed to be, but in my dreamworld, it should be more objective.  

The criteria to get the award, in my mind:
  1. The player leads his team to be one of the best in the league.

  2. The player is one of the top producers in the league.

  3. The player is consistent and reliable over the season.

How I look to sort through the top guys (another fun stat equation!):
[(PPG * consistency * PPS) + RPG + APG –TOPG] * Team Win % w/player * % games played

Here’s the rational:  Points, Rebounds, and Assists minus Turnovers gives you basic production.  I weight the scoring based on consistency (as previously discussed in this blog) as well as points per shot (PPS), another stat I’m awfully fond of.  These two numbers temper the scoring by taking into account “off nights,” the ability to get to the line, and/or to nail triples.  Guys that are easily shut down by good defenses or need a volume of shots to get their numbers are weeded out by these two factors.  

Team winning percentage with the player is fairly self-explanatory.  Suspensions and injuries aren’t taken into account here, but they are with percentage of games played.  It’s all well and good when people justify Nash’s MVP season by pointing out that the Suns laid eggs without him, but shouldn’t it be mark against you if you’re not able to play every night?  

So let’s see how it works.  As candidates, I nabbed the players currently in the top 5 for scoring (Kobe, AI, LeBron, Arenas, Wade), the top guys for the top 4 teams in the league (Duncan, Dirk, Marion, Billups + Rip), the top assists guy (Nash), and the top rebounds guy (B Wallace).  Sure, that’s 3 Pistons, but you know what?  They’re on pace for almost 70 wins, so stuff it.  The results after crunching them through:
  1. Dirk (31.0 EJ score)     (26.0 PPG, Dallas is #3 in the league)

  2. Chauncey Billups (28.6)     (19.7 PPG, Pistons 27-5)

  3. LeBron James (28.4)     (#3 PPG in the league with 30.6, Cavs #2 in East)

  4. Duncan (26.6)     (#1 West squad, 20.7 PPG)

  5. Kobe (24.5)     (top scoring avg in the league, keeping Lakers above .500)

  6. Ben Wallace (18.2)     (team record couldn’t save his woeful scoring)

  7. Arenas (12.6)     (team record killed him)

And there you have it.  Now, the BCS makes it clear that you can’t use stuff like this as an end-all-be-all test.  It doesn’t consider defense (but neither did last year’s voters).  It can’t measure leadership (Kidd and Nash turning franchises around) or other intangibles.  It doesn’t consider the popular ‘they couldn’t win without him test’ because I couldn’t figure out a fair way to incorporate it because of the conundrum with MVPs missing games.  Costing your team wins shouldn’t help you win the award, should it?  So it misses things.  Still, maybe it helps narrow down the field.  Maybe it makes you consider someone that constantly gets forgotten for no good reason (Marion, Dirk).  Maybe you think it’s all a bunch of junk.  That’s cool.  But I have pub rights on this site.  Ha!


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