Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NBA MVP Series #2: What's value, and who gives it?

So in the last installment of the NBA MVP Series, we looked at what kind of production it took to be deemed worth of the MVP. We found 5 of the best players in the NBA.

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Dwight Howard

Most of these names are in the current MVP discussion. Wade probably the exception because he plays with James, who sucks up all the national media attention. Also Paul isn't discussed often because his team is only on pace to win 46 games so far, but it's hard to find a guy who's having a better season for a worse team.

There's one player who's definitely missing from this list whose name is all over the place nowadays: Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose is a very good PG in the NBA, but does he deserve to be the MVP?

The most important job of an NBA GM is to find players who can get the most value (points) from their assets (possessions). There's two sides to this, of course: Offense and defense. On offense a team wants to score the most points possible per possession, and on defense a team wants to prevent the most points possible per opposing possession. So finding players who can score and defend is always the priority. So it's with this mindset that we continue our journey and find out which top players yield this value for their teams. Are you ready?!

I like the enthusiasm!!

A good way to find out if a player is adding value to a team is to look at the offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency when the player is playing and when he is not. If a team plays as well without a player, then he must not be adding much value to the team. Offensive efficiency (OE) is defined as points scored per 100 possessions, while defensive efficiency (DE) is the points allowed per 100 possessions. Efficiency differential (ED) is OE-DE. With that, let's look at some fun little charts!

Click for google docs version

Click for google docs version

So there's some interesting information coming from these numbers. Firstly, top five players on this list would make a pretty awesome team. Secondly, who knew Paul Pierce was more important to the Celtics than either Rondo or Garnett. I was definitely not surprised to see Garnett so high on the list. Thirdly, LeBron James, regardless of the perception people have of him this season, is playing out of his mind, and is by far the most important player to that Heat team. Fourthly, what in the world is going on with Russell Westbrook?! The Thunder are almost a full 9 points better with him off the court. I'm not sure what to think about that.

And finally, as the first installment of this series showed, while Derrick Rose is a very good player, he is not the MVP, regardless of whether you view the MVP as the best player in the league or as which player is the most valuable to his team. Rose adds around 7 points per 100 possessions when he's on the court. This is a very good differential, one of the best in the league. But it isn't enough make him the NBA 2011 MVP.

One of these two guys should be....

(October 25, 2010 - Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)

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