You Are Here > Basketball-Reference.com > BBR Blog > NBA and College Basketball Analysis

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all Basketball-Reference content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing Basketball-Reference blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Basketball-Reference.com // Sports Reference

For more from Neil, check out his new work at BasketballProspectus.com.

Mini-Mailbag: MVP Winners, Team Winning %, & SRS

Posted by Neil Paine on February 11, 2011

Alex Sonty, who writes ChicagoNow's Load O' Bull blog, has been paying close attention to Henry Abbott's TrueHoop posts about Derrick Rose -- specifically, this post about past MVP winners and their teams' rankings in wins. Henry found that team wins were highly correlated with MVP voting, to the point that 19 of the last 20 MVPs came from a team with a top-3 record. This of course is bad news for Rose, as the Bulls are 6th in winning % at the moment.

But Alex was wondering how past winners stack up in a schedule-adjusted margin-of-victory based metric like the Simple Rating System, where the Bulls are 5th. So here's the master list -- every MVP winner, with their team's rank in both WPct and SRS:

Year Lg Award Player Team Rank in WPct Rank in SRS
2010 NBA MVP LeBron James CLE 1 of 30 2 of 30
2009 NBA MVP LeBron James CLE 1 of 30 1 of 30
2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant LAL 3 of 30 2 of 30
2007 NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki DAL 1 of 30 2 of 30
2006 NBA MVP Steve Nash PHO 4 of 30 4 of 30
2005 NBA MVP Steve Nash PHO 1 of 30 2 of 30
2004 NBA MVP Kevin Garnett MIN 2 of 29 2 of 29
2003 NBA MVP Tim Duncan SAS 2 of 29 3 of 29
2002 NBA MVP Tim Duncan SAS 3 of 29 3 of 29
2001 NBA MVP Allen Iverson PHI 3 of 29 7 of 29
2000 NBA MVP Shaquille O'Neal LAL 1 of 29 1 of 29
1999 NBA MVP Karl Malone UTA 2 of 29 3 of 29
1998 NBA MVP Michael Jordan CHI 1 of 29 1 of 29
1997 NBA MVP Karl Malone UTA 2 of 29 2 of 29
1996 NBA MVP Michael Jordan CHI 1 of 29 1 of 29
1995 NBA MVP David Robinson SAS 1 of 27 4 of 27
1994 NBA MVP Hakeem Olajuwon HOU 2 of 27 6 of 27
1993 NBA MVP Charles Barkley PHO 1 of 27 3 of 27
1992 NBA MVP Michael Jordan CHI 1 of 27 1 of 27
1991 NBA MVP Michael Jordan CHI 2 of 27 1 of 27
1990 NBA MVP Magic Johnson LAL 1 of 27 2 of 27
1989 NBA MVP Magic Johnson LAL 3 of 25 3 of 25
1988 NBA MVP Michael Jordan CHI 8 of 23 5 of 23
1987 NBA MVP Magic Johnson LAL 1 of 23 1 of 23
1986 NBA MVP Larry Bird BOS 1 of 23 1 of 23
1985 NBA MVP Larry Bird BOS 1 of 23 3 of 23
1984 NBA MVP Larry Bird BOS 1 of 23 1 of 23
1983 NBA MVP Moses Malone PHI 1 of 23 1 of 23
1982 NBA MVP Moses Malone HOU 9 of 23 14 of 23
1981 NBA MVP Julius Erving PHI 1 of 23 1 of 23
1980 NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LAL 2 of 22 2 of 22
1979 NBA MVP Moses Malone HOU 9 of 22 12 of 22
1978 NBA MVP Bill Walton POR 1 of 22 1 of 22
1977 NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LAL 1 of 22 5 of 22
1976 NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LAL 9 of 18 8 of 18
1975 NBA MVP Bob McAdoo BUF 3 of 18 5 of 18
1974 NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar MIL 1 of 17 1 of 17
1973 NBA MVP Dave Cowens BOS 1 of 17 3 of 17
1972 NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar MIL 2 of 17 2 of 17
1971 NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar MIL 1 of 17 1 of 17
1970 NBA MVP Willis Reed NYK 1 of 14 1 of 14
1969 NBA MVP Wes Unseld BAL 1 of 14 4 of 14
1968 NBA MVP Wilt Chamberlain PHI 1 of 12 1 of 12
1967 NBA MVP Wilt Chamberlain PHI 1 of 10 1 of 10
1966 NBA MVP Wilt Chamberlain PHI 1 of 9 2 of 9
1965 NBA MVP Bill Russell BOS 1 of 9 1 of 9
1964 NBA MVP Oscar Robertson CIN 2 of 9 2 of 9
1963 NBA MVP Bill Russell BOS 1 of 9 1 of 9
1962 NBA MVP Bill Russell BOS 1 of 9 1 of 9
1961 NBA MVP Bill Russell BOS 1 of 8 1 of 8
1960 NBA MVP Wilt Chamberlain PHW 2 of 8 2 of 8
1959 NBA MVP Bob Pettit STL 2 of 8 3 of 8
1958 NBA MVP Bill Russell BOS 1 of 8 1 of 8
1957 NBA MVP Bob Cousy BOS 1 of 8 1 of 8
1956 NBA MVP Bob Pettit STL 7 of 8 7 of 8

This seems slightly more encouraging for Rose, as a player from a 5th-ranked (or worse) SRS team crashed the MVP ceremony 3 times since 1988, as opposed to 1 instance of a player outside the top 5 in WPct during that span.

Then again, doesn't this really just mean voters are usually blindly paying attention to W-L without regard to team dominance? Further proof: In the majority of cases, the MVP's team ranked as high or higher in WPct than in SRS.

When evaluating team strength, SRS generally tells you more than WPct. But when it comes to the MVP, Henry was right: winning is everything.

ShareThis

14 Responses to “Mini-Mailbag: MVP Winners, Team Winning %, & SRS”

  1. P Middy Says:

    Whiteness counts (2006)

  2. P Middy Says:

    2007 for that matter too. How does KG not get it that year?

    Also, my MVP from 2005-2010 with the exception of 2007 is LeBron. Easily.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    I thought it was because he was Canadian...?

  4. P Middy Says:

    Nobody would willingly vote for a flappy headed Molson drinker if their deep, deep racism did not demand it.

  5. P Middy Says:

    (these are jokes)

  6. Nerd Numbers Says:

    Neil,
    Awesome stuff! I looked at this a bit too and found that if you used the requirement of the MVP being on a top 4 seed that the voters did a fair job voting in the right winner with one exception. What are your thoughts on A.I in 2001? (my numbers say winning team + player contribution = should have been Shaq)

  7. AYC Says:

    Shaq in 01 was in a similar position to MJ in 93. The Bulls dropped from 67w the previous year to 57w, allowing Charles to sneak in an MVP. For Shaq in 01, the Lakers dropped from 67w to 56w. Expectations and past dominance certainly are considerations for voters.

  8. Matt Johnson Says:

    It's not so clear to me that SRS should be given more weight in MVP rating than W-L.

    Don't get me wrong - when I rate a player's ability and career accomplishments, I always use the SRS as a sanity check on W-L. I do understand there is luck involved in winning close games.

    However, I don't necessarily think trying removing luck from the equation is necessarily a valid way to approach value contributed. When a player goes off and scores 50+ points, he's absolutely having a lucky game. He can't possibly keep that up, but what are we supposed to do, pretend he didn't help his team more in that game than he does on average? We factor in that luck when thinking about who the best player is, but the MVP is about what actually did happen, not what could have happened, or what was most likely to have happened.

  9. Dwight Howard Says:

    Nene's name is not "Nene Hilario" as his basketball-reference page suggests; his name is now legally just "Nene" and the nba lists him as such. He was born Maybyner Rodney Hilário.

  10. Matt Says:

    It takes a truly extraordinary effort to get an MVP with your team outside of the top 4 in win %.

    Going strictly by win shares leader per year, it doesn't look like MVP voters do a very good job.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/ws_yearly.html

  11. Mike Goodman Says:

    How about the possibility that as MVP hype builds over the course of the season, the refs are swept up in the hysteria and call close games in favor of the mvp-hopeful's team?

    Almost every year of late, the media has declared one candidate from the East and one from the West, by midseason. This year's a bit off that trend, as every team has taken a turn at stumbling. But the best player appears to be on the best team, so ...

  12. Mike Goodman Says:

    Only tangentially related, but are the Spurs the weakest team to ever sport a .800 record this late in the season? They're on pace to win 68 games. (.830) with a SRS of 6.85 .

    No other team has won even 65 games with such an unexceptional SRS. The '06 Pistons come closest with 63 wins and 6.69 SRS.

    When's the last time an elite W% team had not even a remote MVP candidate?

  13. Mike Goodman Says:

    Sorry, the 2006 Pistons won 64 games and had SRS of 6.23
    http://bkref.com/tiny/bzEcR

    Billups did get some MVP buzz that year. He has 15.5 Win Shares (3rd in the league), got to his 1st All-Star game and all-NBA (2nd team).

  14. Kelly Says:

    Here's the thing though. How much of that accounts for vote splitting? Voters aren't looking just at top 3 records either.