Game Four Thoughts: Ray Allen for MVP

Posted on June 13, 2008 by


Not sure I have much to say about last night’s game beyond “Wow”.  Still, here is what the players look like via Wins Score and PAWS.

Table One: Analyzing Game Four of the 2008 NBA Finals

The PAWS star of the game was Ray Allen.  Kevin Garnett and Eddie House were also above average, although neither was nearly as effective as R. Allen.

For the Lakers, Lamar Odom was the leader in PAWS.  Trevor Ariza was nearly as effective, but only played nine minutes.  In these nine minutes, though, he hit both of his field goals (one from beyond the arc), grabbed five rebounds and one steal.  But he also only played nine minutes. 

Should the Lakers have played Ariza more?  There is a temptation to think that we can simply double Ariza’s minutes and then see his stats double.  Although there is some validity to this perspective if you are looking at a seasons worth of data, I don’t think this works in a single game.  In fact if that were true, we would have expected the Lakers to have a much better second half.  In other words, within a single game we are going to see a fair amount of variability.  So we don’t know that Ariza would have done had he played more minutes.

At least, we don’t know by just looking at what he did on Thursday night.  If we look at Ariza’s performance across the last two regular seasons we see a player whose WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] is greater than 0.200.  In other words, he is twice as good as average.  One would think that such a player could help.

Of course even if Ariza were to play more now, and he played well, it’s probably too little too late.  It’s unlikely the Lakers are going to take three straight from the Celtics, especially with two of these games to be played in Boston.

Assuming the Celtics do go on to win the title, who would be the early favorite to be named MVP?

If PAWS was used to determine the MVP (and it is not), then the early favorite – as Table Two indicates — is Ray Allen.

Table Two: Analyzing the First Four Games of the 2008 NBA Finals

Table Two indicates that R. Allen is well ahead of the pack.  For the series his PAWS stands at 21.5.  James Posey is currently in second place (on the Celtics) in PAWS, and his mark is only at 4.5. 

Here are a few additional observations from Table Two:

  • Kobe Bryant is below average in the Finals.  He was well above average before the Finals.
  • Lamar Odom is even less productive than Kobe.
  • Kevin Garnett is only average in the NBA Finals, while Pau Gasol is slightly above average.
  • Paul Pierce, who I think is receiving consideration for MVP, is below average in PAWS.
  • Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown, two veterans added to the Celtics in mid-season, are easily the least productive Boston players.
  • The aforementioned Ariza is the most productive player for the Lakers (in just 25 minutes).  And I think that tells us more about the Lakers (than anything more about Ariza).

Okay, those are my thoughts on the game.

Let me close by noting that for the first time, my two daughters (who are eight and ten years old) are actually into the NBA Finals (both are rooting for the Celtics).  So I am hoping this goes to six or seven games.  It’s fun watching these games with your kids.

– DJ

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.