Wednesday, June 6, 2007

NBA MVP Value.

I got into a discussion on the value of the NBA's MVP award when Pacifist Viking set Kareem's six awards up, along with Jordan's 10 scoring titles and Russel's 11 Championships, as a career accomplishment that stood out above all others. I'm still not sure I agree that it is, but it appears that my reason for criticizing it were incorrect.

I took the viewpoint that the MVP was essentially a popularity contest, voted on by cranky sportswriters, without using any real data or statistics. I tend to be unimpressed, though admittedly I employ them when measuring a player, with most awards for this very reason. Bob Dylan has many a Grammy, but I would never defend the quality, or impact, of his music by listing his Grammy awards. Its quality is completely subjective, and the awards he receives can only be a portion of his total impact.

Different than other art forms, sports offer us results and statistics to support our positions. Which is why Ron Santo not being in the Hall of Fame is so galling, though statisticians all agree his credentials are HOF worthy. I assumed if you held various MVP winners stats up against other players, like Jordan vs. Malone in '96-'97, you would find that the player having the best season did not always win the MVP. That like in Santo's case, they let personal biases cloud their voting.

I emailed Mike McGraw at the Daily Herald, who voted this year and was cool enough to respond the same day, to ask if there was a list of voters anywhere. He didn't know of any list and explained that each team chooses three people to vote and these three people can change every year. A certain number of national media get a vote, and that's it. This seemed to support my theory the voting was treated casually at best.

All wrongo.

Michael 'wiLQ' Wilczynski over at has done an exhaustive study of the the MVP award going back to '84-'85. Using his own formula, that I barely understand and could never describe to you, he found that the voters had awarded the proper player every year.

Every year.

This is amazing to me. That the voters, who are again, just sports writers I find fault with everyday, could be correct some 22 times in a row. I think I'm interpreting the data correctly.

I think.

Someone please check me on this.

I guess the NBA MVP is one of, if not the most, consistently correct and reliable award given out.

You learn something new everyday.


Anonymous said...

The award is entirely subjective. No formula can prove otherwise.

As much as I hate Kobe Bryant his team doesn't win 20 games without him (assuming Odom is hurt most of the season per usual).

Are the Mavericks in the same situation without Dirk? Not even close, but Dirk is an easy pick considering he plays for the better team (more on that later).

Shaq is one of the most dominant big men ever, completely unable to be guarded for a three year stretch until rule changes made it impossible for him to single handedly gang rape teams on a nightly basis like used to. I think he only has one MVP award. That's simply retarded.

Steve Nash would be lost if he were on a low shooting/defense first team like the Bulls.

His strengths are the incredible athletes around him that can cover multiple positions which allow him to coast on defense and pick his multiple targets on offense. Sometimes he even shoots the lights out by himself, but he never faces double teams because they're never in a half court set and he is always able to find these incredible athletes slashing to the hoop on offense. However good he may be though, put a player like Lebron on that team and they win a title hands down.

Finally ask yourself this. Of the last seven years how many times did the MVP actually win an NBA title? Excatly once with Tim Duncan sealing the deal in 2005. Shouldn't the most valuable player add the most value to his team by winning a title or at least competeing for one? Those other six years weren't even players that WENT to the finals.

The fact that the award is chosen before the season is over only serves to illuminate the fact just how wrong the voters are when they choose the "most valuable player" in the NBA. I mean come on, at least pick one that can get his team out of the first round for God's sake. How "valuable" does Dirk look now? Last I heard the Mavs were rumored to be investigating a trade for Kobe before he went schizo and ran back to LA with promises of surrounding him with more talent. More talent that can win him a title. More talent that will win him another MVP. Kind of ironic when you think about it.

You think maybe the Mavs would have gotten past Golden State with Kobe on the roster? At the very least they wouldn't have had to endure exposing Dirk's lack of speed on the defensive end only to watch him get shut down by players a foot shorter on offense too. MVP? Yeah right, I wanna see a formula "prove" that one.

Anonymous said...


That last comment about Kobe should have read "another title, and his first MVP", but you get the idea.

Phil said...

Anonymous - If you are the same person that has been leaving most of the anonymous comments, I think you should write for this blog.

Also, I would have made the same arguements.

Now I may be misinterpretting the data and his conclusions, his goal was to predict the award winner and not neccessarily determine the best player, but based on the formula, excluding this years MVP, the MVP had always gotten the most "points" when considering all the stats he considers. He includes playoffs wins, regular season wins, etc. All kinds of crazy stats.

Check it out, pretty interesting stuff.

Jerious Norwood said...

Isn't it the point that it is completely subjective? Sure everyone is up in arms about the fact that Dirk won the award, but thats silly. He was the best player in the league during the regular season and thats it. The fact that his team lost in the first round not only suggests that he choked, but also that his supporting cast sucks. That actually tends to reinforce the idea that he deserved it. Whatever. Ultimately, you just have to chalk up this entire NBA season as an abomination and hope that the quality of play improves radically in the years to come.