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Predicting the NBA 2005-06 MVP Voting

NBA Statistical Analyst Adrian Lawhorn
by Michael 'wiLQ' Wilczynski
Comments can be directed to wilq@orion.media4u.pl

Are you tired of reading that this year's race for MVP is really, REALLY tight?
Well, you have found your place.
However, there's also a dark side to that, the following article could be wrong.


Because 2005/06 season is a perfect example of a situation where there's not enough historical data to work with so it's impossible to make any certain conclusions.

On the bright side, after I investigated the last twenty MVP winners (see http://www.82games.com/wilq.htm), I'm sure about one point, whoever wins that award will become a pioneer in some way:

As for Chauncey Billups, he can become the first winner who played alongside three all-stars. Last year there was already a concern about an MVP candidate who played with two all-stars so maybe three will be considered by voters as too many?

As for Kobe Bryant, he can become the first winner whose individual achievements were by far more important than number of wins collected by his team.

However, if history before the introduction of the shot-clock can be any indication... in the 1961-62 season Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game and averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds per game for the whole year. His team won more games than this year's Lakers (49 to 45) and guess what, he still did not win the MVP award! Bill Russell from 60-wins-Celtics did.

What's more, during last twenty years there wasn't single MVP winner from team which didn't win at least 61% of its games (equivalent of 50 in full season) and which was outside Top3 in its a conference considering number of wins. Lakers won 55% of its games and were only sixth in West considering number of wins...

Is it the time when voters shift their main focus from "team success" to "player's individual achievements"?

As for Tim Duncan, he can become the first player who won that award after the worst season of his career. Can a player have an off year and still be the most valuable player in whole league?

As for LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, they can become the youngest winners. MVP's from the last two decades have an average age of 29 years old. The youngest winner during that stretch was Michael Jordan in 1987/88 season. He was 25 years old then. LeBron James is only 21 while Wade is 24 years old. Is this the case when the argument "he is still very young and will win many awards in future" will lose its power?

As for Steve Nash or Dirk Nowitzki, it can be the first time ever when non-US born players win MVP in back-to-back seasons. (I know that Tim Duncan was born on the Virgin Islands but it's widely considered as a part of USA as opposed to South Africa or Germany). Is this another sign of increased international influence on NBA? Do voters have any patriotic feelings after Team USA lost during Olympic Games? Regarding Nash there's also another very uncommon factor. His team played by far better than expected after the loss of Amare due to surgery but still they weren't as spectacular as they were last year... So how important to voters are facts that were supposed to happen if they surprisingly didn't?

I cannot answer to any of aforementioned questions because it's not up to me. I'm not a fortune-teller and I'm not able to estimate which of the above statement will have the strongest influence on voters.

All I can do is assume that all of the above questions will have slight or equal importance and then use historical data from previous twenty years and try to predict the winner.

[Again, a full explanation of this tool can be found at the previous article: wiLQ: Predicting the NBA's Most Valuable Player]

Important note: I have to admit that I was wrong about one part of my formula. During the last couple of days some of the players missed a couple of games because they were resting for the playoffs. According to my formula that fact was automatically decreasing their chances for MVP because of games_played/4 part which is obviously the wrong approach. I implemented games played into my formula because I wanted to assure that players who missed many of them wouldn't be considered as strong candidates. However, that's exactly the purpose of minimal requirement which is set at 70 games played... So I used the same information twice. It was a mistake so my formula definitely have to be modified. Games_played/4 part have to be left out of equation. What's funny about it, that it doesn't change anything about predicting winners from the last twenty years. The formula still suggests them correctly and the only difference is that some players from distant places slide closer to the top (sometimes even to second place) ...

So here's the bold prediction for the 2005-06 season using modified MVP Points.

 Billups Chauncey Det 81 2926 423 1012 184 425 465 520 252 699 71 170 8 160 2 1495 6
 James Lebron Cle 79 3363 875 1823 127 379 601 814 556 522 123 260 66 181 0 2478 0
 Nowitzki Dirk Dal 81 3087 751 1564 110 271 539 598 728 226 58 156 83 164 1 2151 8
 Duncan Tim San 80 2789 574 1185 2 5 335 533 881 253 70 198 162 219 2 1485 9
 Nash Steve Pho 79 2799 541 1056 150 342 257 279 333 826 61 276 12 120 1 1489 2
 Wade Dwyane Mia 75 2896 699 1413 13 76 629 803 430 503 146 268 58 217 0 2040 9
 Bryant Kobe Lal 80 3274 978 2173 180 518 696 819 425 360 147 250 30 233 1 2832 14
 Brand Elton Lac 79 3099 756 1435 1 3 440 568 790 208 81 173 201 227 0 1953 0
 Gasol Pau Mem 80 3132 600 1194 3 12 425 617 713 371 46 235 153 184 1 1628 1
 Kidd Jason Njn 80 2978 366 905 139 395 194 244 580 672 150 192 29 157 0 1065 2

MVP Points
Rank  Player Team Tendex Ws Ws-1 Conf Cat t-1 MVPp
1  Billups Chauncey Det 23,39 64 54 5 1 63,89
2  James Lebron Cle 31,64 50 42 58,64
3  Nowitzki Dirk Dal 27,71 60 58 58,21
4  Duncan Tim San 23,21 63 59 2 57,71
5  Nash Steve Pho 26,39 54 62 4 56,39
6  Wade Dwyane Mia 27,90 52 59 1 53,89
7  Bryant Kobe Lal 28,89 45 34 -5 2 1 52,14
8  Brand Elton Lac 28,27 47 37 -5 1 50,26
9  Gasol Pau Mem 24,25 49 45 -5 1 45,75
10  Kidd Jason Njn 23,58 49 42 -5 44,83

Ws = Wins
Ws - 1 = Wins in previous season

Conf = Bonuses for place in conference's standings
(+2 for just winning, +5 for winning with at least 4 game advantage, -5 for not having at least third most number of wins in the conference),

Cat = Bonuses for individual statistical achivements like winning in points, assists or rebounds per game
(+2 for just winning, +4 for winning with at least 10% advantage over second place)

t - 1 = Bonus for improved tendex by at least three points (checked only when that 1 point would make difference at top 5)

MVPp = MVP Points

If it weren't for all aforementioned doubts Billups would be an easy choice. Statistically he was the best player from the team which was by far better than last year and it became by far the best in its conference. He also had a career year. During last twenty years it was the best foundation to be named MVP...but it can be true only until 2005/06 awards because of his teammates. If playing alongside three all-stars will be very important during voting then leading candidate is LeBron James...of course assuming that his young age won't be discouraging to voters...

If MVP voters go for Nash or Bryant, it will be the proof that my idea was only a nice-looking curiosity and it will become the last part of that series...

Important note: Dear reader, please remember that MVP Points are not reflecting my private opinion about that subject because it doesn't matter. I do not participate in official balloting. This idea was an attempt to get inside of the heads of the voters from past two decades to find out what aspects convinced THEM that a player is MVP worthy...

The launch of the recent 82games.com Research Program has brought us a flurry of very interesting ideas for NBA analytical articles, many of which we hope will eventually find their way to publication on the site.

Also see:
- wiLQ: Extreme Individual Performances and their Results (03/17)
- wiLQ: Predicting the NBA's Most Valuable Player (02/24)

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