Advanced stat MVPs
Last week I looked at a handful of Defensive Player of the Year candidates, and how they stacked up against each other in some of the different metrics. This week I'll look at potential MVP candidates in a similar way. The actually MVP vote is usually heavily based on team record and box score stats. I don't think these are necessarily the best ways to evaluate players, so I'll shine some light on the topic with the help of "advanced stats" - call it ASMVP. While I suspect the leader of the advanced stats will also win the actual MVP award, perhaps there might be some interesting deviations among the "others receiving votes".
No matter how you look at it, LeBron James is a shoe in to repeat as MVP this year. He has led the Cavs to the best record in the NBA and has huge leads in all three of the advanced stats that I looked at: John Hollinger's PER, basketball-reference.com's win shares, and 82games.com's Roland Rating. PER attempts to measure efficiency and production, win shares looks at offensive and defensive efficiency and Roland Rating combines Net PER (PER of player – PER of guy he guards) and Net +/- (team's +/- per 48 minutes with a player on and off the court). No matter which measure you like, LeBron's dominant scoring, distributing and even defensive impact make him the runaway ASMPV this year.
Second place in the ASMVP vote goes to Kevin Durant, whose awesome scoring ability and sneakily effective defense has helped the Thunder break out in a way that few expected this season. Durant is second to LeBron in both Win Shares and Roland Rating, and is third in the league in PER behind LeBron and Dwyane Wade.
Wade is third on our ASMVP list, measuring second in PER, fourth in Win Shares and third in Roland Rating. Neither Durant nor Wade would traditionally be expected to win an MVP because their teams haven't won enough. The Thunder are on pace for 50 wins and the Heat for 44, and the only player in the last 25 years to win MVP on a team with as few as 50 wins was Michael Jordan in 1988. But both Durant and Wade are putting up seasons that could have won ASMVP in some years.
Dwight Howard checks in at fourth on our list with a season that ranks third in win shares and fifth in Roland rating. As we mentioned last week, he's arguably the best defensive player in the league. And though his offensive game still lacks polish, it is hard to argue that a big man who can score 20 points on 60 percent shooting isn't extremely effective. He'll have to step his game up next year to catch the perimeter players of his generation, but he's still only 24 so more growth is possible.
Of the three stats that I checked, Kobe only made the top-5 in Roland Rating which kept him from making the ASMVP finals and left him in the "others receiving votes" category. Injuries and lack of need to dominate both hurt Bryant's statistical standing, though it should be noted that he's never led the league in any of the stats I'm looking at, so injuries aren't the only reason he doesn't have an ASMVP trophy on the mantle. On the other hand, he has four championship rings and a Finals MVP trophy so I'm sure he's not too upset to finish so far down the statistical standings.
Tim Duncan isn't in anyone's MVP conversation, and rightfully after the way he has faded in the second half of the season, but he (fourth in PER) and Gerald Wallace (fifth in Win Shares) join Kobe as the "others receiving votes" for my 2010 ASMVP. The other names that I hear most often in the MVP talks are Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowtizki, but neither measure out among the top-5 in any of the stats I looked at, so they didn't even receive a vote for ASVMP.
There are two weeks left, so news about star players that aren't on your team isn't really relevant to you. And if he's already on your team, you likely already know his news. So instead of the usual "Situations to Watch and quick hits" section, I'm just going to expand New Additions and talk about a bunch of players that could potentially be on your free agent wire and might just help you win your league in a pinch.
Beno Udrih (70% owned): Tyreke Evans (concussion) was able to practice on Monday and is expected to play on Tuesday. This could eat into Udrih's numbers, as he has been dominating as a lead guard since Evans went down. Udrih has been playing so well (18 points, 11 assists, seven boards, three steals over last week), though, that if he's available in your league you still have to grab him and just hope he maintains even a fraction of that pace.
Mike Conley (69% owned): Conley has been performing at a similar pace to Udrih (20 points, 10 assists, three boards, three steals over last week) but without the threat of a star injured teammate returning to cut into his numbers.
Tayshaun Prince (66% owned): Prince was one of the hotter players in the league before he suffered another back injury against the Celtics, which slowed him for a couple of games. He has his groove back now, though, averaging 18 points with seven boards, six assists, a steal and a trey on great shooting over the last week.
Drew Gooden (64% owned): Averaged 20 points and 15 boards last week. Sometimes the numbers speak for themselves.
George Hill (62% owned): Hill has put up big numbers as the substitute starting point guard for the Spurs, and with Tony Parker not expected back for awhile, be sure to pick Hill up if you're in the 38 percent of leagues where he's still on the wire.
Jrue Holiday (51% owned): Continues to finish his rookie season strong, averaging almost a double-double with 4.5 steals in his last couple of games.
Rasual Butler (51% owned): Remains quietly one of the best sources of three-pointers in the NBA and available in half of the leagues.
Leandro Barbosa (48% owned): Barbosa is starting to get back into the scoring groove after his long layoff. He has averaged 17 points on 54% shooting in his last two games.
Udonis Haslem (46% owned): Haslem has taken advantage of injuries in the Heat frontcourt to average a solid double-double for his last several games. If he keeps getting more than 30 minutes per game, the boards should keep coming in.
Yi Jianlian (31% owned): Yi scored a career-high 31 points on Friday, hurt his shoulder, then proceeded to average 7.5 points and 7.5 boards over the next two games. While those aren't exciting numbers, he has shown the 30-point potential this week and could be worth taking a flyer on in a desperate situation.
Reggie Williams (30% owned): Williams has scored at least 23 points with at least two treys in three of his last four games, making him the new guy to own on the Warriors.
Matt Barnes (26% owned): Is a glue guy in real life for the Magic, and his jack-of-all-trades production makes him similar in fantasy. He won't win you a league, but his 13 points, 6.3 boards, 1.3 treys and solid shooting percentages over the past week could help to fill a hole if injuries strike your squad.
Earl Watson (22% owned): Watson's scoring is awful, but he has averaged about 10 assists over his last six games so if you have a need in that category he's a consistent source.
J.J. Redick (18% owned): Redick stepped in for an injured Vince Carter and scored a team-high 23 points with seven boards and eight assists against the Nuggets on Sunday. Carter is still day-to-day, and if he has to miss any more time Redick could make a solid spot starter.
J.J. Hickson (17% owned): Hickson has come on strong of late, including back-to-back 20-point games last week. He is still sharing time in a crowded Cavs frontcourt, but with Anderson Varejao (hamstring) joining Shaquille O'Neal on the sidelines there are more minutes available for Hickson.
Wesley Matthews (13% owned): Matthews is not a huge producer, but he is solid and steady. He has scored in double-digits in eight of his last 10 games and contributes regularly to treys, rebounds, assists and steals. With Andrei Kirilenko (calf) still limping, Matthews should continue to see regular minutes for the Jazz. By this same logic, C.J. Miles (15% owned) could be worth a look, too.
Article first appeared 3/30/10