The MVP Vote and Endorsing Conventional Wisdom

Posted on May 3, 2010 by


Matthew Yglesias made the following observation last Friday: Dave Berri endorses conventional wisdom, says Curry & Evans were the best rookies. When I read this statement I thought… “is it really news when my view corresponds to the views of sportswriters?”  Well, perhaps it is (at least, for the few people who care about my viewpoint).

With this statement in mind, let’s prepare for some more news.  The sportwriters have named LeBron James as the Most Valuable Player in the NBA.  And when we look at the Most Productive Player (MPP) – or the leader in Wins Produced – we see… LeBron James.  Yes, I am endorsing conventional wisdom.

And let me say, it feels great!!! Finally, I am part of the majority of NBA fans.  Rather than stand against the crowd, I am now proudly part of the crowd.

And this feeling also goes beyond LeBron.  If you think Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard are among the top four players in the game, it turns out…. yes, I agree again.  Wow!!! This is fantastic!!!

Okay, enough of that.  Let’s talk about Kobe Bryant.  Not a single sportswriter thought Kobe was the MVP this year (and yes, I agree again!!).  However, the voting for the MVP award suggests Kobe was the 3rd best player in the NBA in 2009-10.  The word “best” (or “most valuable”) is not really defined.  But if we defined “best” in terms of Wins Produced we would see – as reported in Table One — that Kobe was only the 32nd “best” player in the NBA this past season.

Table One: The Candidates for MVP in 2010

In fact…

  • Kobe was only the third most productive player on the Lakers (behind Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom).
  • Kobe was only the fourth most productive shooting guard (behind Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili, and Joe Johnson).
  • If we turn to WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes], Kobe falls behind Wade, Ginobili, Brandon Roy, and Jason Richardson at the shooting guard position (minimum 2,000 minutes played).

In sum, I don’t think Kobe should have received much consideration for this award.  And a similar story could be told about Dirk Nowitzki and Carmelo Anthony (and does anyone – besides one sportswriter – think Stephen Jackson is the 5th “best” player in the NBA?).

Table One only reports the players who received votes.  The complete list of Wins Produced leaders will be offered when the All-NBA teams are announced.  I also need to write a post on the All-Rookie team as well. 

For now, though, I need to get back to my grading.  Spring semester grades are due tomorrow at 4pm.  And as I told my students, there is a real good chance I will hit that deadline.

– 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.