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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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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%....

  4. Joe Says:

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

    It must be in the negatives...

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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...?

  9. Greyberger Says:

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

    Lebron James
    Dwight Howard
    Dirk Nowitski
    Derrick Rose
    Kevin Durant

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. @ 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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. DustinMyselfOff Says:

    Dwight Howard 1 win?

    Seriously?

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

  24. 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."

  25. 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.

  26. @ P Middy Says:

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

  27. 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

  28. P Middy Says:

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

  29. Jason J Says:

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

  30. Jason J Says:

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

  31. 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.

  32. 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."

  33. Jason J Says:

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

  34. P Middy Says:

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

  35. 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.

  36. 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".

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. Joseph Says:

    Thank you, sir.

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