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MVP Candidates at the Three-Quarters Mark

Now that he's a top-10 scorer, can Dwight Howard win the MVP Award?This is Behind The Basket’s third look at the 2010-11 MVP race. I’ve included the basic stats for each of the top candidates, plus the efficiency numbers so you can see how well they’re putting those basic numbers together, plus the impact stats so you can see how each is mathematically impacting the success of their clubs in ways that often aren’t picked up in normal stats (like defense). I’m specifically looking for candidates who excel in all three areas so we can rest assured that their positive stats are accurately correlating with positive value. I’ve used the efficiency and impact stats before on several occasions, but if you have questions, please just ask or check this site which explains a lot of them. For the record, the players are put in order based on their overall body of listed numbers.


Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

Basic Stats: 23 ppg, 14 rpg (4.0 offensive), 2.3 blocks, 11.5 free throw attempts, 60% FG
Efficiency Stats
: 59% eFG%, 62% True Shooting %, 22% Rebound%, 4.8 Block%
Impact Stats
: 92% PythWin% (113-95 ORtg-DRtg), +12.98 APM, 19.1 Wins Produced (.397 WP48), 11.4 Win Shares

No one should be too surprised that his collection of numbers comes out at the top of the heap because he’s unquestionably the hardest player to gameplan for when you look at both his offensive and defensive contributions. He’s a dominant defensive player who covers up anything that gets into the paint, and the Magic’s entire offense is predicated on no one being able to guard him, so he can either score, get to the line, or get double-teamed and open up a perimeter shooter. With more touches this year, his scoring has jumped into the top-10, even though he shoots less shots than everyone in the top-20.


Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

Basic Stats: 16 ppg, 10 apg (2.3 turnovers), 2.4 steals, 47% FG, 42% 3FG, 89% FT
Efficiency Stats
: 51% eFG%, 59% True Shooting %, 46% Assist%, 3.6 Steals%
Impact Stats
: 94% PythWin% (123-101 ORtg-DRtg), +13.17 APM, 17.1 Wins Produced (.352 WP48), 11.9 Win Shares

Paul arguably has slightly better overall numbers than Howard, but he’s missing some time with a concussion, and there are too many games of his that you just feel he could have helped New Orleans more by shooting more. Other than that, he’s an absolute nightmare to stop on offense, and his defense is top-notch. He has a team without much individual talent floating around the #5 spot in the West all year, but his concussion could knock them out of the playoffs altogether.


LeBron James, Miami Heat

Basic Stats: 26 ppg, 8 rpg (1.0 offensive), 7 apg (3.6 turnovers), 1.5 steals, 50% FG, 34% 3FG
Efficiency Stats
: 53% eFG%, 59% True Shooting %, 36% Assist%, 11% Rebound%
Impact Stats
: 84% PythWin% (115-102 ORtg-DRtg), +9.93 APM, 17.6 Wins Produced (.354 WP48), 11.6 Win Shares

We all know what he’s capable of, and all of the numbers (including impact) reflect that, so it’s not that hard to imagine James winning his third MVP trophy in a row. If the Heat quit losing and win 2 of their final 3 marquee match-ups (LAL tonight, SA next Monday, Bos on April 10), he could do it. Part of the problem, though, is that he likes to let the offense stop with him, overdribbling, shooting dumb shots, and trying to be more of a hero than a winner. Believe it or not, he’s just not getting the most out of his potential right now, yet he’s right in the thick of this discussion.


Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

Basic Stats: 19 ppg, 11 rpg (3.4 offensive), 1.7 blocks, 3.6 apg (1.8 turnovers), 53% FG, 83% FT
Efficiency Stats
: 53% eFG%, 59% True Shooting %, 16% Rebound%, 3.4 Block%
Impact Stats
: 93% PythWin% (124-103 ORtg-DRtg), +8.67 APM, 14.3 Wins Produced (.285 WP48), 11.9 Win Shares

As the year goes on and the Lakers evolve, particularly with the recent emergence of Andrew Bynum, Gasol’s place in the MVP discussion has disappeared. But you should know that his impact stats have all remained really high and continue to crush those of his teammates (overall). I’m not sure fans understand how valuable he is to the Lakers by being good at everything.


Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

Basic Stats: 21 ppg, 16 rpg (4.7 offensive), 2.5 apg (2.2 turnovers), 47% FG, 42% 3FG, 85% FT
Efficiency Stats
: 52% eFG%, 60% True Shooting %, 24% Rebound%
Impact Stats
: 89% PythWin% (124-107 ORtg-DRtg), +1.78 APM, 24.0 Wins Produced (.479 WP48), 11.1 Win Shares

His team sucks, so there’s no way he can win it, but many of his impact stats are absolutely dominant.


Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Basic Stats: 25 ppg, 8 apg (3.5 turnovers), 1.1 steals, 44% FG, 34% 3FG, 84% FT
Efficiency Stats
: 48% eFG%, 54% True Shooting %, 41% Assist%
Impact Stats
: 74% PythWin% (110-102 ORtg-DRtg), +9.63 APM, 8.9 Wins Produced (.298 WP48), 9.2 Win Shares

Rose has gotten a lot of credit for the Bulls’ emergence at the top of the East, but I’m leaning a little more toward Tom Thibodeau’s defense (1st in the NBA) and Chicago’s key offseason pick-ups. No doubt Rose has improved some parts of his game, but his shooting percentages, turnover totals, and defensive consistency are still not what you’d expect from an MVP point guard.


Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Basic Stats: 23 ppg, 7 rpg (0.5 offensive), 2.5 apg (1.9 turnovers), 53% FG, 43% 3FG, 88% FT
Efficiency Stats
: 56% eFG%, 63% True Shooting %, 11% Rebound%
Impact Stats
: 85% PythWin% (119-105 ORtg-DRtg), +13.12 APM, 7.1 Wins Produced (.182 WP48), 8.5 Win Shares

Forget about his numbers, which are good, for a minute. Dallas went 2-7 while he was out, plus only 1-3 while he was still trying to play himself into shape, and is 43-8 with the real him. And their only 3 losses since his return were all by 1 point and all came in the closing seconds of the contest. Looking at how the team performs with and without him might be enough to get him in the top-3 of this discussion at the end of the year.


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Reader Comments (10)

Okay I was all in on this column until I saw Kevin Love. Let's be honest while Kevin Love has having a magnificent year but his team is the worst in the league and this is a team sport so really his great numbers have produced 13 wins instead of what 10 sorry that dog don't hunt. Also Lebron James is on here for putting up the same numbers he did on Cleveland the last two years and is now playing with another transcedent player in D-Wade will end up with 10 wins less. Sorry he has shown zero leadership this year and his late game non heroics have been awful. Lebron is basically the A-Rod on the NBA without the ring.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndre the Giant

Thanks for the comment.
I really only put Love on here because his Wins Produced crush the rest of the league. His Pythagorean Winning % turned out to be really good as well, so here he is.

March 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Well, Wins Produced has been shown to be biased towards rebounders. And rebounding isn't always the best indicator of a player's performance because even though you know the value of a rebound to a team, how do you know the factors that went in to getting that rebound? Maybe his teammates boxed out for him or he "stole" the rebound for stats.

It'd be better if you gave your own explanation on the stats, however brief, and how they may not be a perfect indicator of performance. I trust advanced statistics more than an eyeball test, but they don't capture everything.

Win shares are based on box score data and APM has been shown to be inconsistent and not that accurate (http://dberri.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/deconstructing-the-adjusted-plus-minus-model/).

Just interesting, but Kobe has very similar stats to Derrick Rose, but didn't get any mention:

72% PythWin, 9.4 Wins Produced, 49 eFG%, 55 TS%.

You might say he gets more assists, but those are based on the eyeball test, as they're recorded by people, and don't, for what I know, affect team performance. And they have similar team records.

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin

Thanks for the comment. I used 4 different impact measures because each one has some small "issue" that can be argued about it. If a player can show dominance in all 4, then I feel OK saying his impact is both good and significant. I'm assuming you haven't read the extensive amount of math that defends the role of rebounds in Wins Produced. It's a lot and quite convincing - check it out. The article you referenced that attacked APM was by the guys who do WP - they were trying to push down the one method to show theirs is better. To simply write it off because guys who want you to use another matrix say so isn't the best way to go about things. I realize none of them is perfect, but used together I feel the picture gets much clearer.

Kobe's impact stats are not similar to Rose's. Here they are:
68% PythWin% (112-105), -6.99 APM, 9.3 WP (.201 WP48), 8.6 WS

If I include KB, his stats out of the 8 players would rank as: 8th/last, 8th/last, 6th (7th), and 7th (only 0.1 ahead of Dirk who missed many games). Kobe actually scores out abysmally low--basically last in 3 of the 4 impact stats--compared to the 7 I've included.

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

I don't always agree with Jordan but he hit this one on the head last week. The MVP takes into consideration many more things than just the criteria listed in this article. Taking everything into consideration, Derrick Rose is the MVP at this point without question.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

In the case of Rose, I gotta disagree with you. His defense has gotten better, but he by no means is one of the main reasons the Bulls' D is now so good and chiefly responsible for the wins. And on offense, he doesn't nearly bring to the table what CP3, DWilliams, Nash, or Kidd bring. He's often just driving somewhere then hoping to find someone open. You watch those other four, and they're CONTROLLING the offense and making something specific happen. The most recent game of Chicago's that I watched was on Saturday against Utah, and although he hit all those early 3's, I never felt as if he was controlling the offense. That's part of the reason his turnovers are still so darn high.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott


The difference between the 4 you mention and DRose, Drose can actually win a playoff game for you with his offense, I don't believe the other 4 can. The others are better pure point guards, but DRose scares teams. Coach Thibedaux (spelling) is a defensive wizard who is responsible for the team's better defense. I don't think you can win a title with either of the guards you mentioned as the teams best player. I think you can with DRose, because, good offense ALWAYS, beats good defense.

ANd you are not disgreeing with me. You are disagreeing with Jordan. Of course MJ doesn't use win pyhjt or efg%.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

Whatever Jordan uses to evaluate talent, I don't want to use. Whatever he doesn't use or thinks is foolish, I'm all for.

March 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

This isn't talent evaluation, this is making a decision on an award, big difference.

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

I understand what you're saying, but I simply don't see an MVP when I watch the Bulls. Rose looks like a guy who's still trying to use nothing but his athleticism to make something happen and when it doesn't work out, he looks sorta lost (compared to other elite PG's).

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

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