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Where Would They Be Without Him?

Posted by Neil Paine on February 28, 2011

Tom Haberstroh had a great piece at ESPN last week in which he broke down the ongoing Derrick Rose-vs-LeBron James MVP debate. To me, the key passage was this:

"Oddly enough, what's not helping Rose's MVP case is his plus-minus numbers. And implicitly, this is where most Rose supporters state their case. When his advocates ask, 'Where would the Bulls be without Rose?' the question is meant to be a rhetorical one. The obvious implication is that a Rose-less Bulls squad would instantly become a basement dweller. But rather than blindly accept it, we can actually see how the Bulls have managed without him on the court. And how have they fared with Rose benched? By beating opponents by 51 points on the season, or an average of 4.9 points every 100 possessions. Why? Whether Rose is in the game or not, [Tom] Thibodeau’s game-changing defense remains."

I don't want to get into Rose-vs-James specifically here, but I do think what Tom wrote is a very important concept to apply to all NBA MVP debates in this modern age of plus/minus.

This idea of "where would Team X be without Star Y?" comes up so frequently in these discussions, and its advocates usually want you to treat it as an evidence-free thought experiment. I suppose you had no choice but to take those arguments on faith in the pre-internet era, but now that there is on/off-court data being tracked for public consumption, we can actually look at how a team performs when Star Y is not in the game -- in essence, we can gather evidence about roughly how good his team would be in his absence.

Using the Pythagorean Formula and BasketballValue.com's efficiency data when a player is off the court, here's what we would expect from these MVP candidates' teams if forced to play without them:

Player Tm off_ORtg off_DRtg Pyth% expW-L
Steve Nash PHO 98.09 110.90 0.152 9-48
Chris Paul NOH 95.83 103.80 0.246 15-46
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 101.41 107.91 0.296 17-42
Manu Ginobili SAS 105.84 105.64 0.506 30-29
Amare Stoudemire NYK 103.58 103.17 0.514 29-28
LeBron James MIA 107.43 106.21 0.540 32-28
Pau Gasol LAL 105.62 103.80 0.560 34-27
Rajon Rondo BOS 101.55 98.90 0.591 34-23
Kevin Durant OKC 105.28 101.90 0.612 36-22
Dwight Howard ORL 104.87 101.32 0.618 37-23
Dwyane Wade MIA 104.27 99.80 0.649 39-21
Tim Duncan SAS 111.09 105.98 0.659 39-20
Derrick Rose CHI 97.82 92.80 0.676 39-18
Kobe Bryant LAL 106.36 100.24 0.696 42-19
Tony Parker SAS 114.21 104.37 0.779 46-13
Russell Westbrook OKC 110.94 100.68 0.796 46-12

Obviously, this is a bit of an oversimplification; the performance of a team when a player is off the court is not exactly equivalent to the team's hypothetical performance if he went down with an injury. For instance, substitution patterns often call for not only the player to leave the floor, but also for his fellow starters to depart, causing this metric to capture backups-vs-backups and other unintended matchups.

Having said that, it is still a pretty useful sanity check when you hear the ubiquitous "where would they be without him?" debates. For instance, the evidence above shows us that the Bulls might still be the #3 seed in the East without Rose, which sort of deflates the pro-Rose arguments Haberstroh references in his article. And it also shows us that Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki are very clearly the top candidates if you want to take the "hypothetical team record without him" tack: West #5 seed New Orleans is Sacramento-level terrible when Paul rides the pine, while Dallas goes from being the #2 seed in the conference to the equivalent of the New Jersey Nets when Nowitzki isn't in the game.

I'm not saying the "where would they be without him?" tactic is the ideal way to settle an MVP debate. Far from it, in fact -- I'm more of a "best player = MVP" advocate myself. But I am saying that if you choose to embrace that angle when arguing the MVP race, at least use all of the available evidence to inform the discussion. And in this case, "where would they be without him?" is no longer a thought experiment, because we actually have data on how teams perform when each player isn't in the game.

UPDATE: For those who argue that my initial analysis is mostly looking at bench-vs-bench matchups, and that the backups are feasting on weak opponents, let's take a look at the adjusted plus/minus scores for Chicago's primary lineups (which, by definition, account for the strength of opposing lineups):

Here were the primary lineups that contained Rose:

Team Players MP APM
CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 356.25 6.20
CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 194.78 2.44
CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Noah, Joakim (unit) 158.23 0.81
CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 95.07 -8.46
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Asik, Omer (unit) 92.77 18.52
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 88.27 -1.92
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Thomas, Kurt (unit) 79.98 18.80
CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Noah, Joakim (unit) 67.30 1.52
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 63.18 -3.28
CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 61.30 11.64
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Noah, Joakim (unit) 58.33 25.66
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 45.97 -1.45
CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Thomas, Kurt (unit) 45.85 -14.30
CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 38.83 -26.90
CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Asik, Omer (unit) 37.57 37.19
CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 30.78 -8.96
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 28.85 -8.12
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 28.22 -2.09
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Noah, Joakim (unit) 25.42 -22.45
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Asik, Omer (unit) 25.13 52.39
CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Asik, Omer (unit) 24.20 52.24
Minute-Weighted Average 5.00

Here were the primary lineups that didn't contain Rose:

Team Players MP APM
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Asik, Omer (unit) 98.25 -16.65
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Asik, Omer (unit) 72.98 7.84
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Asik, Omer (unit) 57.27 17.54
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 56.40 1.38
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 32.13 24.41
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 27.02 12.33
CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj (unit) 26.28 -10.00
Minute-Weighted Average 2.36

In plain English, this means Chicago's lineups can be expected to have an efficiency differential of +5.00 against an average team with Rose in the game, while they can be expected to have a differential of +2.36 against an average team when Rose isn't in the game.

Again, this shows that while Chicago is certainly lessened when Rose is not on the floor, the hypothesis that they would completely fall apart without him is baseless. +2.36 is still a playoff-caliber team, essentially the same as the Hornets or Thunder. And this is after adjusting for the strength of opposing lineups when the backups are in the game, so it's accounting for any backup-vs-backup effects.

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90 Responses to “Where Would They Be Without Him?”

  1. P Middy Says:

    38-19. 'Cus you're not so scared of ANYONE on that team driving left that you double, leaving open the hottest shooter of the second half at the three point line.

  2. Head Says:

    hi Neil

    imho one MVP-name is missing: Steve Nash

    could you include him too?

  3. P Middy Says:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=310224004

    Bosh +2, Rose -2

    Can we just agree that plus/minus for individuals versus 5 man squads is garbage? PLEASE?

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    #3 - We've been through this before. Single-game samples are meaningful in a descriptive sense -- i.e., "the Bulls were outscored by the Heat by 2 points when Derrick Rose was on the court". But there is a huge amount of error between observed +/- and true +/- skill. The bigger the sample, the smaller the error becomes, just like with any data point. The data I provided is a much bigger sample than 1 game.

  5. Gary Young Says:

    Either way you guys try to dissect it, Rose is the MVP simply because he's done more with less. Yes, the defense is tops in the league, but do you honestly believe the Bulls would be a #3 seed with Boozer missing 15 games and Noah missing 30 out of the 57 games played?

    You're trying to get some fans to believe that Dallas w/o Dirk, New Orleans w/o CP3, Miami w/o LBJ even San Antonio w/o Ginobili wouldn't consistently beat the Bulls' starting 5 of CJ Watson, Keith Bogans (or Ronnie Brewer, since he plays more minutes), Kurt Thomas and one half of Carlos Boozer?

    Lastly, you're telling me your MVP would be the guy who's team is 1-9 against the top-tier teams? The guy that becomes a iso player in the clutch when he has a much better closer on his team in Wade? The guy who's team also has a pretty bad record when the games are close? He sure can fill up the stat sheet and beat up on sub-par teams with the help of another Superstar and Allstar. But when it comes down to critical possessions in the regular season and DEFINITELY in the playoffs, how good is your MVP then?

  6. Gary Young Says:

    Thank you, Neil Paine!!!

  7. Matt Says:

    Is there any way to use the sample size for these numbers (in minutes or possessions) to get a standard error or something? Because I trust the Dirk numbers (Dallas has 1100 minutes or so without him) more than the Rose numbers (Chicago has about 650 minutes without him). There has to be a crapload of noise in a 650 minute sample size.

  8. Brian Says:

    This is asinine if your truly believe plus-minus is a valid statistical analysis of a player, it's honestly more based around the situation that player is currently in than his talent/ability. If your on a good team THEN of course your players net worth is lessened by the fact hes on a team with other good players who are producing.

    Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are both on this list for a reason because they are on the best team, not because they are less valuable to their squad. You may say "yeah but Duncans numbers are all at a career low, he's not an MVP." No one is saying Duncan or Parker or Kobe or Westbrook are MVP's BUT if your saying D-Rose is not an MVP simply because of Plus-Minus your idiotic. Take Time Duncan or Kobe of there respected teams and they are .500 at best you don't need to Plus-Minus to see that. This is a bunch of bologne, D-Rose is by far the best candidate for MVP.

  9. Eric Says:

    #5 - This article doesn't talk about matchups, it talks about overall records.

    However, because you asked, I absolutely believe that the Bulls without Rose would beat the Hornets without Paul, and do so emphatically. I don't think that today's Bulls w/o Rose would beat today's Heat w/o James, but this metric isn't describing today, it's describing the whole season. I think everyone would agree that October's Bulls w/o Rose would crush October's Heat w/o James, and that has to be taken into account.

    Secondly, the Bulls have not done more than the Heat. There is less rhetorical oomph in saying that Rose has "done less with less", but it has the advantage of being factually correct.

    Finally, it's good to keep in mind that regular season records are not necessarily indicative of playoff success. The 2007 Cavs were 2-0 against the Spurs in the regular season. The 1995 Magic were 2-0 against the Rockets. They were both swept in the Finals. The only other Finals sweep victim in the past 20 years was the 2002 Nets, who were 1-1 against the Lakers. Put another way, no team in the past 20 years has swept a Finals opponent in the regular season and the playoffs.

  10. AYC Says:

    This whole debate is more proof that boxscore-based advanced stats are still imperfect when it comes to measuring BBall performance. If you really believe the Bulls would have the same record w/o Rose, I can't do nuthin' for ya, man. Only with the naked eye can you truly appreciate all that Rose does.

    And only with the naked eye can you see the dramatic limitations in Lebron's game. Sure, he's the best player in the league, but he's developed some terrible habits over the years: he settles for long jumpers too much, he fades away too much on those shots, he dominates the ball too much in late game situations, and he still refuses to play in the post. He will continue to put up Jordanesque advanced stats, and he will continue to fail in the playoffs until he fixes these flaws, or the Miami roster is improved.

  11. Tom Says:

    Without D-Rose the Bulls are basically the Cavs.

    Boozer=Jamison
    Noah=Hickson
    Korver=Gibson
    Brewer=Parker

  12. Greyberger Says:

    #3, settle down, it's just a statistic. You can decide that a statistic is 'wrong' if you want, but there's no reason to get worked up about it.

    And no, it's not wrong or garbage. It's just a summary of what happened to the score while the player was on the court. Chris Bosh, just like Lebron, Wade and Mario Chalmers, was on the court for ~42 minutes out of 48 total. The Heat starters were more or less even with their counterparts during this 42 minutes: Bosh +2, Bron +3, Wade -4, Chalmers 0.

    This is just a statement of fact. Bosh played 42 minutes and the Heat outscored the Bulls by 2 during this time.

    What else does +/- tell us about this game? Well, how about Omer Asik at +17 in 21 minutes? There's clearly a story there, and I bet you it's the same story that's being told in the other bench players for the Bulls (Watson +5 Gibson +6 Brewer +6) and for the Heat (House -10, Jones -6, Anthony -6).

    Sometimes I think people only like stats that confirm what they already believe, or what's already obvious.

  13. Gary Young Says:

    @ Matt:

    Although Rose had tough shooting nights, he came through at the of both games. His Bulls are 2-0 against Dirk-led Mavericks... one of those games without Boozer AND Noah.

  14. AYC Says:

    Cmon Tom, Boozer, Noah and Luol Deng (who you oddly forgot to mention) are all better than anybody on the Cavs

  15. CrazyBoy Says:

    @Gary Young

    "You're trying to get some fans to believe that Dallas w/o Dirk [...]"

    considering that fact that the Maverick deliver a pretty good example of how your performance shift without your superstar you can make case that Neils formula is right with at the least the Dirk thing

    remember, when Dirk was injured the Mavs went from the 2nd best team in the NBA to a Cleveland-ish level of play... they went 2-7 in that timeframe

  16. Greyberger Says:

    Re: #10 just to be pedantic, +/- in any form isn't a 'box-score based advanced stat', since you need play-by-play data to create it. Box-score based advanced stats would be stuff like PER, WS, WP, and many 'modern' advanced stats use a combination of box-score inputs and other elements (usually drawn from play by play data).

  17. THW Says:

    #2
    Without Steve Nash the Suns would be 6-51 using Neil's method.

    #7
    Basketballvalue includes SE and you are right, Rose has a very high SE, sencond highest.

  18. AYC Says:

    Well, it is listed on boxscores now, but point taken. But that's not relevent to what really matters: does it produce reliable results? Based on what I've seen, it doesn't seem so....

  19. Gary Young Says:

    #9

    You're correct... during the WHOLE season, the Bulls were missing Noah for 30 games and Boozer 15 out of 57 games. He has done more with less.

    Lastly, it's good to keep in mind that regular season records ARE indicative of playoff success, when you're losing against EVERY top-tier team, not just one. How did all those teams fair against ALL the top-tier teams before winning a title? Also all those teams you mentioned were proven CHAMPIONS:

    The 2007 Cavs were 2-0 against the Spurs in the regular season.

    * Spurs had won 2 previous titles with their key 3 leading to that series.

    The 1995 Magic were 2-0 against the Rockets.

    * Houston were the defending champions.

    The only other Finals sweep victim in the past 20 years was the 2002 Nets, who were 1-1 against the Lakers.

    * Lakers were 2-time Champions in that series.

    Spurs, Lakers & maybe the Rockets were considered dynasties. This current Miami team hasn't proven anything other than it can beat up on sub-par teams. I don't even know how you could compare this Heat team to those multi-championship teams.

  20. Walter Says:

    Speeaking with regards to Rose specifically... You really need to take a look at the +/- stats with offensive and defensive splits to see the whole story.

    With Rose on the court the Bulls have an offensive efficiency of 109.3 but when he is off the floor the Bulls offensive efficiency drops to only 97.8. That is a decrease of 11.5 points. This leads the team by far! In fact, the spread between all of the other Bulls for offensive efficiency when off the court is between 103 and 109 so Rose's performance is significantly different than that of his teammates.

    On defense however the results are different. With Rose on the court the defense gives up 102.5 points per game but when he leaves the court the defense significantly improves and only gives up 92.8 points per game. Now some may argue that when the statistic is measuring the defense against starters when Rose is on floor versus defense against bench players when Rose in on the bench. This may be true, but the other starts face a similar situation and they all have a defensive efficiency when off the floor that is significantly different than Rose. Rose stands out as a very poor defender on a very good defense.

    Put those two pieces together and Rose is truly carrying the Bulls offensively. Without him the Bulls offense which isn't great to begin with (roughly league average) would easily become one of the worst in the league. However the Bulls defense, which is top notch and winning games for them, would likely improve if Rose was not on the team as he is still a defensive liability.

    It is tough to argue that Rose is the MVP when you consider both ends of the floor. His case is resembling Steve Nash's somewhat in that he is a game changer on both end of the floor, good on the offensive and awful on the defense. Unfortunately, most voters forget about the defensive end and focus primarily on offense. It wouldn't surprise me to see Rose win it this year.

  21. harold Says:

    So Lebron is the MVP because Rose plays on a team with a bench that plays better for 10-15 minutes a night?...

    Nevermind the fact that LBJ's numbers are down, or any of the other arguments already stated... You guys have been giggling since you hit the submit button on this post, haven't you. "Lets see if we can blow up the sports blogosphere this morning..."

  22. Z Says:

    Oh come on. This is a complete mis-analysis of what +/- measures. You are acting like the stats with Rose and the stats without Rose are directly comparable. Of course they are not. Not even close. There is almost no correlation between indivdual +/- and any advanced player value statistic out there.

    What is being measured here is much closer to the quality of the Bulls bench versus other benches in comparison to the quality of the Bulls starters versus other starters. The Bulls are a deep team, and there second squad does quite well against other second squads. While the starters do well against other starters, but less well than the bench matchup.

  23. Greyberger Says:

    #18, If by 'produce reliable results' you mean confirm your pre-conceived ideas about basketball, then no, it won't ever do that.

    +/- can tell you a lot about what you don't already know, if you keep an open mind. For example, I'm a Spurs fan. When I pull up the +/- by Player at BValue.com, I'm looking at the 'one year unadjusted overall rating' column.

    All 9 regular rotation players are +6 or better on court, and everybody's +4 or better off court, too - except for Manu Ginobili. The team is winning, all the time, except for when Manu is on the bench.

    There aren't any obvious conclusions to draw from this bit of info. But it's just as factual as anything from the box score or compiled from multiple box scores. The only thing missing (for us, not for the people whose job it is to look at +/- tables) is the framework for making sense of +/-.

  24. Matt Says:

    @ Gary Young

    You misread my post. I did not say that Dirk is a better MVP candidate, I said that the off court numbers are more reliable for Dirk than they are for Derrick Rose (because of the larger sample size).

  25. Jason J Says:

    I'm in agreement with Neil (I think). My impression is that MVP should be based on player production. If Wade and Bosh take such a load off LeBron, then his numbers should show it. His production should be dropping down the way the San Antonio and LA stars' production drops when each of them is balancing the others inside the team concept with their great role players. His doesn't (largely because they haven't got great role players I would guess). He's still contributing a huge amount of individual production to his team. Not to say that he's necessarily the MVP. I think by the numbers CP and Dwight are pretty close to him right now, and I'm sure good arguments could be made for others.

    I just don't think that the "Rose doesn't have any help" argument works unless you think Rose's production shows that he's actually "doing MORE with less" and not simply the best player on a winning team where our conventional beliefs tell us he gets no help and he somehow magically creates wins out of thin air. Now can an argument be made that Rose's production is the best in the league? Probably. His points, assists, and the Bulls team defensive numbers are fantastic.

  26. CrazyBoy Says:

    @22
    @Z

    is the bench-play really that meaningful ?

    let me stick with the Dirk example.
    the Mavs bench may be the best bench in basketball... they are able to sub in Terry, Marion, Haywood, Barea and others
    in fact they, the bench, usually score around 60 points like yesterday against the Raptors. they produced the most points of all teams in 2011 and still Dirks +/- are ahead of everyone else... remember that Dirk is carrying scrubs like Stevenson and washed up guys like Peja in the starting5.

  27. P Middy Says:

    #4 and #12. I'm just saying it's almost pointless as an individual stat. Like WINS. Or Championships. plus/minus is an indication of what a unit does versus another unit, and measuring individual value of any kind by it, regardless of the sample size, is garbage.

  28. P Middy Says:

    And so as not so sound like a complete ingrate, thanks for putting this together Neil!

  29. Unabashed Rose lover Says:

    What I gather from this is that the Bulls backups are a lot better than other team's backups. Which doesn't heavily factor into MVP talk.

    #20, you're on the right track but there is more to consider. Carlos Boozer is bad defender and as a big man has a much larger effect on team defense. He also is usually on the court with Rose.

  30. Seif-Eldeine Says:

    Amen to a statistic that shows Rondo is better than Rose!

  31. AYC Says:

    Excellent post, #20. The real question is whether Rose's offensive brilliance makes up for his defensive limitations. One way to look at it is that Rose's flaws havn't prevented CHI from being the best defensive team in the league.

    PS I second P Middy's claim that SPM is pretty worthless when evaluating INDIVIDUAL players

  32. Greyberger Says:

    Re: #27, the trick is to use an individual's +/- splits as a stand-in for a unit's +/-, or group of units.

    Derrick Rose's on-court data might serve as the Bulls' starter units +/- data. Rose has played in 77% of the possible minutes for the Bulls. When Rose isn't in CJ Watson is usually playing. When Rose and the starters are resting Thibodeau goes to a defense-first lineup and gameplan that has also been successful.

    Rose is 109 offense 102 defense on-court. Watson is 109 offense 103 defense off-court.
    Watson is 100 offense 94 defense on-court. Rose is 98 offense 93 defense off-court.

    Think of Rose's on-court numbers as the "Rose/Bogans/Deng/Starter/Starter" numbers. Watson's numbers are the "Watson/Brewer/Korver/Gibson/Center" numbers with Asik and Noah splitting the Center minutes.

    +/- makes it clear how important Rose is to the starters and the team overall. In the 23% of total minutes he hasn't played, they're a 98 team on offense. That's significantly worse than the worst team in the league right now. Even more amazing is that the Bulls are still winning in these moments, by holding opponents to 93 points per 100. Clearly the Bulls starters (primarily Rose and Boozer) are having a totally different kind of success than the bench crew of Asik, Watson and Brewer.

    I'm not qualified to try and tease out any more conclusions than that, but the point is with a little context +/- splits can be endlessly fascinating. And a great time-waster too.

  33. Joe Schaller Says:

    Haberstroh has it right, "Whether Rose is in the game or not, [Tom] Thibodeau’s game-changing defense remains."
    The Bulls have the best defense in the league. Rose is not one of their better defenders. The leading MVP contender on the Bulls is the "team defense".

  34. AHL Says:

    The last MVP post was better, showing that the MVP was typically chosen from one of the top 3 teams in the league.

    Also, Nash rules.

  35. P Middy Says:

    Yeah. I guess I can chill out on the whole thing some. But to my point regarding #32, Greyberger. The fact is that Rose's +/- is NOT representative of the starters +/-. He'll play with at least 3 different squads during the length of a game, because of substitution patterns.

    Until we get the contraction we're aching (royal we here) for, no coach is going to wholesale substitute 5 guys at a time.

  36. P Middy Says:

    factor in SOS at least. Being +2 against -37 SOS has to be worth more than being +4 against -50 SOS no?

    I'll shut up now.

  37. Poohdini Says:

    This stat is so damn misleading because it's pretty much measuring the Bulls bench compared to other teams bench's.. Bulls bench is very good defensively, because the starting unit barely plays without Rose on the floor.. Boozer almost NEVER plays without Rose.. So by using this stat what does it say? That the Bulls bench can win against other teams starting units and post an above .500 record? Lets be forreal. this stat is useless, because of the rotations and most of the starting unit doesn't play without Rose period.

    Stop trying to come up with some new advance stats, to discredit the work Rose has done.. Put down the damn calculator for 2 seconds and watch some actual games.

  38. Greyberger Says:

    Well, calling it the "the starter's +/-" might not be exactly right. A better name for Rose's groups would be something like "the lineups with Rose, a two guard, Luol Deng, and whichever front-court players are healthy enough to play".

    Rose and Deng loom pretty large in this group. Bogans is usually the two guard and probably doesn't deserve much credit for the lineup's excellent offense. Boozer does, when healthy, but that's only been about half the time. Rose and Deng are more than the common element here, they're the ones most involved in the offense when you look at box-score stuff.

    Now, I have no idea how you untangle the Rose and Deng tandem. 90% of the time Rose is out there Deng is as well. I think those two are (probably) the main reason for the success of the group, whatever we're calling it.

    Even though the duo accounts for just 38% of the total minutes that end up in Rose's +/- line, they (probably) have more impact than, say, Bogans, who makes up another big chunk of the minutes. You have to look at box-score stuff to make these kinds of calls on offense, and I have no idea how you decide who's responsible for what defensive performance. Watch the games, maybe.

  39. luislandry Says:

    +/- for a single player is usually worthless. Take a star player, such as say Wade. Wade plays more minutes than the role players on the team do. The team gets off to a 10-0 start with Wade and Chalmers in the game, then Chalmers sits and Arroyo comes in and the team other team scores 6. So now Chalmers is at +10, Arroyo is at -6, but Wade is at +4. It's a simple example, but just illustrates the actual basketball substitutions and how other people's play drastically affects the assessment of Wade. If you're NOT looking to assess a player by his individual +/-, well then I'm not sure what other positive information you can get out of that stat.

  40. Anon Says:

    "PS I second P Middy's claim that SPM is pretty worthless when evaluating INDIVIDUAL players"

    Based on...? It's simply one of several tools to use.

    And please, this better not be related to your vendetta against FT rate.

  41. Neil Paine Says:

    #31,40 - AYC, I think you might be confused about what SPM is. SPM is a boxscore-based regression that predicts adjusted plus-minus. P Middy was complaining about raw plus-minus, which is essentially what this post is based on. SPM and raw +/- are two completely different metrics.

  42. Statistics nerd Says:

    Now, to be clear, I think Rose is just another no-defense MVP candidate in the same vein as Nash's 2006 turn. That said, unadjusted +/- is dubious at best.

    Statistics only converge to the true value when they're consistent. Unadjusted +/- is obviously inconsistent. Worse, the bias comes from both directions with numerous sources, so it's incredibly difficult to take the numbers "in context" without personal bias clouding everything.

    I'd take adjusted +/- much more seriously, though every metric has its issues. It's worth noting that Rose has an adjusted one-year +/- of 12.39, but the SE is 10.15 (from Basketball Value). My best guess is that the multicollinearity along with the relatively small sample size makes it too noisy to glean much. This means all we really have is the "evidence-free thought-experiment," in which I am free to imagine the Rose-free Bulls turning into a 2004 Spurs level defensive squad in spite of Boozer.

  43. AYC Says:

    I'll admit to not knowing alot about plus/minus, beyond the fact that it often produces dubious outcomes for individual player evaluation. I'm just a lay-person who wants to talk BBall at a level hopefully higher than the comment sections at ESPN and the Bleacher report....

    How many different versions of plus/minus are there? The impression I have is that there isn't yet an agreed upon way of calculating it. Am I mistaken about that?

    PS Anon, if I have a vendetta, it's against TS%, not FT rate. I've been saying all along that it would be worthwhile to have FT rates listed on the leaderboard and player pages.

  44. Greyberger Says:

    Well, efficiency on three-pointers is inconsistent, to the point where one year's worth of attempts isn't always enough to determine if a player is good at threes, or a team is good at defending threes, and so on. It's especially noisy if you compare it to rebounding performance as measured by rebounding rate. Do we think it's "wrong" or too cloudy to draw any conclusions? Not really, we find a million reasons why Ray Allen can make 6 threes one game and zero the next and don't really consider randomness as it relates to the box score.

    +/- is inconsistent, even with a year or more of data to work with. But it's just as much a record of what happened as events recorded in the box score. You should respect the randomness if you're going to share your conclusions, just as you should with 3pt% and other measurements. I wouldn't go so far as to call it 'incredibly difficult' to keep this in mind, though.

    Every 'version' of +/- splits has advantages and drawbacks. APM isn't perfect, and even if it was it would still require a compromise of recency to get a large enough sample. Regularized or Regressed APM (RAPM) is a new alternative that makes the recency problem better and splits contributions in to offense and defense, but provides values that are collapsed towards zero and is created with a technique that's way above my head.

  45. Greyberger Says:

    Well now forty-three It's like I was sayin', plus-minus is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There, uh, plus-minus kabobs, plus-minus creole...plus-minus gumbo, panfried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple plus-minus, lemon plus-minus, coconut plus-minus, pepper plus-minus...

    Sorry. Little tangent there.

    You've got your plus minus, in box scores, at NBA.com, and in the unadjusted columns at basketballvalue.com.

    You've got adjusted plus minus, which uses plus-minus information to control for the effect that teammates and opponents have on the score. This approach only works with a year's worth of data or more. APM can be found in one-year and two-year versions at BValue.com and historical APM can be dug out of 82games.com. It's presented with a Standard Error so you have some idea of the confidence the model has in the output.

    These days you also have the Regressed/Regularized/Ridge Regression APM option. RAPM was created to deal with the recency problem of APM, and results in much smaller standard errors, even with just a year of play-by-play data. In this version the key regression is informed by a prior set to neutral, so the end values are smaller. I don't pretend to understand RAPM, but I look at it here: http://stats-for-the-nba.appspot.com/

    SPM isn't really the same kind of animal. Statistical plus minus is a category of roll-up metric like PER, WS, WP, etc - the kind Dean Oliver described best as adding up the 'good' box-score stats like points and subtracting the 'bad' ones like TOVs. An SPM sets the coefficients for the metric through a regression or series of regressions to find the relationship between box score stats and APM.

    There are many different versions of SPM because different authors choose to run the regression and set up the model their own way. Since the goal is to sum to the recorded efficiency differential of the combined players, SPM is put in a format that looks like +/- or APM. Just like in the others the list will look like Lebron +8, Chris Paul +6, etc.

  46. Anon Says:

    "Well now forty-three It's like I was sayin', plus-minus is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There, uh, plus-minus kabobs, plus-minus creole...plus-minus gumbo, panfried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple plus-minus, lemon plus-minus, coconut plus-minus, pepper plus-minus..."

    Greatest extended metaphor ever.

  47. Eric Says:

    #19 - "Lastly, it's good to keep in mind that regular season records ARE indicative of playoff success, when you're losing against EVERY top-tier team, not just one."

    Are you sure?

    #19 - "Also all those teams you mentioned were proven CHAMPIONS:"

    The Pistons were proven champions too, and were 3-1 against the Heat during the 2006 regular season. They lost. A team doesn't win because it's called a dynasty, it's called a dynasty because it wins.

    #42 - "Statistics only converge to the true value when they're consistent. Unadjusted +/- is obviously inconsistent."

    Is this a bug or a feature? By which I mean, are basketball players consistent from year to year, month to month, game to game, shot to shot? Or is the notion of a true talent level simply an approximation? I hadn't really thought about it until I read "true value" in your comment there, I'm not sure how to demonstrate it either way. It seems obvious that beings made of thought and meat lack the precision to be literally identical, but it's also conceivable that the anatomical/psychological fluctuations are negligible.

  48. Seif-Eldeine Says:

    How do you calculate adjusted +/-?

  49. Drunk On Mystery Says:

    I have trouble buying into a commentary that suggests Orlando would have only lost 1 extra game without Dwight Howard on the team.

  50. Jackson Says:

    So...the "math" says the Bulls would be 39-18 without Rose. Despite Noah and Boozer missing a combined 58 games. So, for most of the season, using a starting lineup of C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas, the team would be 39-18 and the East's three seed?

    C'mon. I mean, really. Come on.

  51. Neil Paine Says:

    For those who argue that my initial analysis is mostly looking at bench-vs-bench matchups, and that the backups are feasting on weak opponents, let's take a look at the adjusted plus/minus scores for Chicago's primary lineups (which, by definition, account for strength of opponent):

    http://basketballvalue.com/teamunits.php?year=2010-2011&team=CHI

    Here were the primary lineups that contained Rose:

    Team Players MP APM
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 356.25 6.20
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 194.78 2.44
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Noah, Joakim (unit) 158.23 0.81
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 95.07 -8.46
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Asik, Omer (unit) 92.77 18.52
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 88.27 -1.92
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Thomas, Kurt (unit) 79.98 18.80
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Noah, Joakim (unit) 67.30 1.52
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 63.18 -3.28
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 61.30 11.64
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Noah, Joakim (unit) 58.33 25.66
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 45.97 -1.45
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Thomas, Kurt (unit) 45.85 -14.30
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 38.83 -26.90
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Asik, Omer (unit) 37.57 37.19
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Bogans, Keith - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 30.78 -8.96
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 28.85 -8.12
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 28.22 -2.09
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Noah, Joakim (unit) 25.42 -22.45
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Asik, Omer (unit) 25.13 52.39
    CHI Rose, Derrick - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Boozer, Carlos - Asik, Omer (unit) 24.20 52.24
    Minute-Weighted Average 5.00

    Here were the primary lineups that didn't contain Rose:

    Team Players MP APM
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Asik, Omer (unit) 98.25 -16.65
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj - Asik, Omer (unit) 72.98 7.84
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Asik, Omer (unit) 57.27 17.54
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 56.40 1.38
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Gibson, Taj - Noah, Joakim (unit) 32.13 24.41
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Thomas, Kurt - Boozer, Carlos (unit) 27.02 12.33
    CHI Watson, C.J. - Brewer, Ronnie - Korver, Kyle - Deng, Luol - Gibson, Taj (unit) 26.28 -10.00
    Minute-Weighted Average 2.36

    In plain English, this means Chicago's lineups with Rose can be expected to have an efficiency differential of +5.00 against an average team, while they can be expected to have a differential of +2.36 against an average team when Rose isn't in the game.

    Again, this shows that while Chicago is certainly lessened when Rose is not on the floor, the hypothesis that they would completely fall apart without him is baseless. +2.36 is still a playoff-caliber team, essentially the same as the Hornets or Thunder. And this is after adjusting for the strength of opposing lineups when the backups are in the game, so it's accounting for any backup-vs-backup effects.

  52. Jackson Says:

    "I have trouble buying into a commentary that suggests Orlando would have only lost 1 extra game without Dwight Howard on the team."

    Exactly.

  53. AYC Says:

    But Neil, Rose plays 38 MPG. All you've really proved is that the Bulls play reasonably well w/o him for ten minutes per game. Could they maintain that level of play for he full 48 minutes? I remain skeptical.

    PS Thanks, #45. You kind of confirmed my impression. I didn't go to MIT, so I can't be bothered figuring out how all this works until they come up with a universally accepted version. I'm going to stick to commenting on metrics I actually understand like WS, PER and the hated TS%....

  54. Joe Says:

    Any way you could include Minnesota's expected W-L without Kevin Love?

    It must be in the negatives...

  55. Gary Young Says:

    #47

    The Pistons won ONE championship in 2004, the year Kobe's selfishness was exposed in the Finals and those same Pistons were on the decline after losing to the Spurs in the Finals the very next year... they can't be considered a dynasty because they made 2 straight Finals appearances, winning one. Besides, 2006 Miami Heat featured a one-trick pony roster, meaning that roster was not put together to push for multiple titles...and the D-Wade free-throw discrepancy also helped.

    Let's get back to what the comparison was really about. If you lose around 90% of the games against the elite teams, which Miami has done up to this point, you don't compare them to champions who have won multiple championships, but happen to get swept 2 games in the regular season by their eventual Finals opponent. Miami has to get there first, let alone win one before you make ANY comparisons.

    Keep 'em coming, buddy.

  56. P Middy Says:

    #53. Exact-a-mundo. This why arguments like "where would they be without him" and "what if you swapped those two guys" are pretty much impossible to quantify. Totally subjective arguments. Good arguments to have. But I don't think stats have the answer - as thorough and exceptional as Neil's work as been.

    #49. Howard ranks #1 right now in my admittedly simplistic MVP calculator. Crediting him with 1 win is criminal.
    https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?hl=en&hl=en&key=0AowDfK6gQsDJdEt6Vks3X3RIZDJ4aHRWTGVmdE9iQ3c&output=html

  57. Anon Says:

    "Lastly, you're telling me your MVP would be the guy who's team is 1-9 against the top-tier teams? The guy that becomes a iso player in the clutch when he has a much better closer on his team in Wade? The guy who's team also has a pretty bad record when the games are close?"

    They play basketball in teams of five though, and for 48 minutes per game - not just for ten seconds or a couple minutes at the closing of the 4th quarter. Not to mention that the evidence of "clutch data" has shown that LeBron has been arguably been the league's best closer for several seasons. Don't get fixated on a couple game-winning shot misses while his usually spectacular partner Wade has been MIA (no pun intended) in some of these marquee games.

    Also, the "records versus elites" throry that is popular nowadays is a bit of a myth.

  58. Aaron Says:

    #49 and #56 are correct. No way Orlando wins only one game fewer without Dwight(the unquestioned offensive AND defensive leader of the team). This is obviously a deeply flawed metric.

    Speaking of Dwight, where is the argument for his MVP award? Probably going to be the DPOY for the third straight year (at the very least on the short list) and getting 23pts/14reb/2blk a game...?

  59. Greyberger Says:

    I'd put Howard second on my hastily-thrown-together MVP ballot:

    Lebron James
    Dwight Howard
    Dirk Nowitski
    Derrick Rose
    Kevin Durant

  60. Gary Young Says:

    #57

    "They play basketball in teams of five though, and for 48 minutes per game - not just for ten seconds or a couple minutes at the closing of the 4th quarter. Not to mention that the evidence of "clutch data" has shown that LeBron has been arguably been the league's best closer for several seasons. Don't get fixated on a couple game-winning shot misses while his usually spectacular partner Wade has been MIA (no pun intended) in some of these marquee games.

    Also, the "records versus elites" throry that is popular nowadays is a bit of a myth."
    ______________________________________________

    We are specifically talkin' about the MVP... the award cannot go to a whole team. Also, "arguably" I'd give Kobe the nod over Lebron if you're talking about league's BEST closer for the past several seasons. MVPs WILL their teams to wins, even if their co-stars are MIA in performance. IMO, either Bosh or Wade are gonna be considered MIA in games because, Lebron dominates the ball so much. If either doesn't get it going early, forget about it.

    The "record versus elites" theory has been made popular nowadays BY THE HEAT because I'm not sure if there has been a title team in the past 10 years who's record was so terrible against the elite teams.

  61. AYC Says:

    I've got Rose, Lebron, Howard, Dirk and Wade (still underrated IMO) in that order. I think MIA would be better off in late game situations if Wade was the primary ballhandler and LBJ played off the ball. Right now they are redundant, and Wade is often the odd man out in the clutch.

  62. Anon Says:

    "The "record versus elites" theory has been made popular nowadays BY THE HEAT because I'm not sure if there has been a title team in the past 10 years who's record was so terrible against the elite teams."

    The 2006 Heat won all of two games against the top ten in the regular season.

    The best predictor of success has always been point differential, not win-loss records.

    "MVPs WILL their teams to wins, even if their co-stars are MIA in performance."

    One of the more tired cliches in modern sports lingo. This is a team sport FIRST. Always will be.

    "IMO, either Bosh or Wade are gonna be considered MIA in games because, Lebron dominates the ball so much"

    This doesn't excuse Wade for not shooting the ball well and turning it over during his possesions.

  63. JTaylor21 Says:

    #60- I'm not sure if there has been a title team in the past 10 years who's record was so terrible against the elite teams.

    Umm there have been quite a few championship teams that struggled to beat so called elite teams in the RS turned around won the whole enchilada. Most notably the 05/06 Miami team that won the chip struggled just as bad maybe worse beating great teams in the RS than this current MIA squad. So everyone needs to stop acting like a teams RS record vs great teams is an indication of what happens in the playoffs.

  64. @ P Middy Says:

    @ P Middy

    sorry - but your metric is flawed.
    lets say player X is injurex for 10 games but played on MVP level for the remainding 72 games - in your formular he would have no chance against the rest(lacks winshares).

    shouldn't the SOS from the Thunders be more like 0.2 ? how to you get to 0.4 ?

    plus: I don't take a ranking serious in which the author can't even spell Nowitzki right

  65. Jason J Says:

    # 58 For what it's worth, I've been putting some thought into this question, and right now I've got LeBron / Howard at 1 / 2

  66. Eric Says:

    @55

    The comparison was "really about" determining whether regular season records against specific teams mattered in the playoffs. I demonstrated that it is not a sure thing, and that even the best and perhaps most hyper-competitive player of all time once ended up with a losing record against an elite team. This matter is settled. Regular season splits are not guaranteed predictors of playoff success.

    You then claimed that those particular losing regular season splits didn't count because the games were lost by "proven champions". I demonstrated that this was also untrue.

    Now you want to claim a subjective interpretation of why the Pistons won their championship, why they no longer counted as proven champions, and so on. The pattern has been established. I show verifiable facts, you show personal opinions. There is no point in pursuing this conversation further.

    @54

    I too would be quite interested in the predicted outcome for the Loveless Timberwolves.

  67. Bryan Says:

    Re: Rose for MVP, I think some comments Neil made regarding AI and the 2000-01 76ers are relevant to the discussion at hand (http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=2997#comment-10981). Like the 00-01 76ers, the 10-11 Bulls are a team with an average offense (Neil's latest BBR rankings place them as the 18th offense in the league). Their success is based largely on their extremely strong defense (ranked 2nd in the league in Neil's latest BBR rankings). Unless you believe Rose is the defensive catalyst on the team, the Bulls' success can hardly be attributed to him. The +/- numbers with and without Rose on the court likely reflect the fact that it is the team's defense driving the Bulls' success and not the offensive skills of a single player.

    Of course, despite these facts, AI did actually win the MVP in 2001.

  68. BSK Says:

    Neil-

    You mentioned said, "...I'm more of a "best player = MVP" advocate myself..." Generally speaking, I go with this line of thinking as well. However, I wonder if there also needs to be a certain correction for the strength of team. I realize this is an extreme example, but suppose LeBron puts up 18 WSs in a season. This would lead the league just about any year and would likely rightfully put him at the top of the heap for MVP. But let's suppose that his team went 78-4. Without him, they are still a 60 win team and likely top seed. Is there an extent to which being the best is mitigated if the team they are contributing is so far and away the best that his contributions are of less value? Would WS take this into account?

    Again, I'm generally on board with this logic, but I have to think it has it's limits. The same way some new baseball stats (such as WPA) account for the situation (a GS when a team is up 20-0 is worth less than a a sac fly in a tie game in the bottom of the 9th, when obviously the GS, in a vacuum is 'better'), I wonder if we must also do so in MVP considerations. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

  69. P Middy Says:

    64 - @ P Middy

    Health plays into my MVP considerations. You miss more games than somebody as good as you, that knocks you down on my list.

    Also nobody cares how Dirk's last name is spelled except for him, his momma, and you.

  70. Kelly Says:

    I think this is more indicative of the folly of trying to determine what happens if a player isn't on the team through statistics.

  71. Sean Says:

    Sometimes, you can be quite suprised at the results when a player isn't on a team. Examples: 1994 Bulls and 1989 Celtics.

  72. Sean Says:

    Neil says: I'm not saying the "where would they be without him?" tactic is the ideal way to settle an MVP debate. Far from it, in fact -- I'm more of a "best player = MVP" advocate myself. >>>>>>>>>>

    Some people would argue that 'most valuable player' literally means 'where would they be without him'. And that if the best player in a TEAM sport isn't the most indispensable player----then is he REALLY the BEST player? I'm thinking that my most indispensible player is my most valuable player.

  73. DustinMyselfOff Says:

    Dwight Howard 1 win?

    Seriously?

    Did you miscalculate or did you spend your time making a chart of no actual use?

  74. Anthony Coleman Says:

    Because of many factors (the Bulls record, his high scoring and assist average, and the hatred for Lebron), if Rose doesn't get hurt and he maintains this stat line only a Milwaukee Bucks 2002 Epic Collapse by Chicago will keep him from winning the MVP award. His candidacy has turned from a mere buzz to a runaway train. He is going to win this thing. However, I agree that Lebron has been the best player in the league this year and should be the MVP. But if Rose wins, I wouldn't be pissed off to be honest. Because while I don't agree with him winning, the argument for his candidacy is still very logical. He is a great shot creator for himself while maintaining decent efficiency, is a damn good facilitator, maintains a low turnover percentage, and he is second on the team in defensive winshares. In terms of fulfilling the needs for the Bulls he gets an "A."

  75. Wang Chung Says:

    Kevin Durant is worth no wins for the Thunder. Without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder would have won 10 more games. Without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have the same record. Take away Dwight Howard, and the Magic only lose 1 more game. Does anyone actually believe this, and calls themselves a basketball fan?

    If this isn't the pinnacle of a worthless, and clearly incorrect stat, I don't know what is.

  76. @ P Middy Says:

    you didn't say anything about the OKC SOS...

  77. P Middy Says:

    That's because I wanted to save you the embarrassment. It's at .40 now.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2011.html

  78. P Middy Says:

    Want to demerit me because I failed to predict it would go up .01?

  79. Jason J Says:

    Officer P. Middy, You are fined 1 credit for violation of prediction morality code.

  80. Jason J Says:

    Also you don't know how to use the three sea shells.

  81. Neil Paine Says:

    #68 - That's a good point, and it all goes back to how you define "value". I think what you're saying is basically the "where would they be w/o him" argument, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I truly think that the league intentionally leaves the award criteria ambiguous to drive discussion, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

  82. P Middy Says:

    I love ambiguity of it. Look how hard we are all examining our formulas and definitions. Reworking and refining them. The scrutiny of interested parties in a community like this one is a great thing.

    Like Doc Rivers says, "Steel sharpens steel. Then you trade your broadsword for a baton and a bo. Pick up an epee off waivers, and you're all set."

  83. Jason J Says:

    Did Doc say that in Vogue? His PR people are awesome.

  84. P Middy Says:

    Doc's always been a cunning linguist. Their hurlbat threw out his patella last night. Bad stuff.

  85. Jay Says:

    Seeing the dwight howard figure here pains me because I don't consider rose a runaway MVP candidate, and this would've been a nice backing for it. However, howard has my vote for MVP, and I just don't see how the magic do much of anything without him as their defensive anchor, and a significant contributor offensively down low.

  86. Gary Young Says:

    @ #62

    "The 2006 Heat won all of two games against the top ten in the regular season."

    * You might wanna check on that stat again if you're talking about top 10 according to records.... I counted 7 to your 2.

    "The best predictor of success has always been point differential, not win-loss records."

    * I have yet to hear an analyst and/or a reporter make any predictions, basing them on point differential over win-loss records.

    "One of the more tired cliches in modern sports lingo. This is a team sport FIRST. Always will be."

    * Tired Cliche? You can't be serious. Give me one... one... championship team that DID NOT have closer(s)... a team that was just so unpredictable, that no one had a clue that the last shot would go to one or two players on that team. The closest is Detroit and still we all expected Mr. Big Shot to come through.

    "This doesn't excuse Wade for not shooting the ball well and turning it over during his possesions."

    No one's making excuses. I'm just stating the facts. The Big 3 of Miami are very talented, but have not yet figured out how to compliment each other... who knows if they ever will.

    @ #66

    That's because I actually WATCHED every series that was mentioned, not analyzing stats & box scores. There are details that both do not cover. It's common sense if you're a real sports fan. There's cause to each one of your "facts".

  87. Joseph Says:

    Neil, do you know how far back the adjusted plus/minus stat goes back? I ask this because I'm wondering how it justifies the MVP winners for past years.

  88. Neil Paine Says:

    I think the first published APM stats came in 2003-04 with Dan Rosenbaum's work. I know Winston/Sagarin were doing this in the late 1990s/early 2000s, but WINVAL was totally proprietary so you wouldn't be able to find it. I believe Rosenbaum's public introduction of the metric is still on 82games.com, though.

  89. Joseph Says:

    Thank you, sir.

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