Next in the series of picks for the Stat Geek Smackdown is MVP, but first I have to revise a pick already. I went with Mike Miller for Wins Produced Sixth Man of the Year, but he’s out until January with a thumb injury. I imagine it’s possible that he’ll be really awesome as soon as he comes back, but it seems like a lot of productivity to make up. So, I’ll go to my second choice, which is DeJuan Blair. That means that Blair is both my WP and media pick for Sixth Man. I hope he comes through.
Picking the MVP should actually be a little easier than Sixth Man. For WP, I just need to pick the guy with the highest productivity who plays the most minutes. Since WP is fairly stable, I just have to look at last year’s production and try to adjust for trades, potential injuries, etc. The top four guys last year were LeBron (2966 minutes, .429 WP48), Dwight (2843/.377), Jason Kidd (2881/.337), and Durant (3239/.291), who produced 26.5, 22.3, 20.3, and 19.6 wins respectively. If I look at WP48, I can add Marcus Camby, Chris Paul, and Kevin Love as guys who produced at a high rate but maybe didn’t get enough minutes (I actually missed Camby because his production is broken up between the Clippers and Blazers, but he also only played about 2300 minutes).
In the end, however, for WP MVP the choice is obvious. LeBron produces at such a high level that he’s almost impossible to catch. Given Mike Miller’s injury, the Heat will have to play LeBron even more unless they want to go with three guards or James Jones for extended periods of time, which I don’t think they will. LeBron put up a .429 WP48 last year and .44 the year before; if we think he puts up a .42 this year and another 3000 minute season, that’s 26.25 wins. Even if Durant puts up another 3200 minute season, he would have to produce at .394 WP48, which would require a .1 jump in productivity. He did jump .12 from 2008 to 2009, but I’m not sure he has another improvement like that in him. Chris Paul put up a .45 in 2008, but I don’t know if he could do it again or stay healthy enough to get the minutes. Dwight Howard has been steady in the upper .3 range the past three years, so I don’t think he has the jump in productivity in him either. So I think you have to go with LeBron for WP MVP.
The media MVP actually isn’t too different, except you can mostly toss out the guys who get their WP from shooting efficiency and rebounding (e.g. guys like Love and Camby), and you have to choose the ‘best guy’ on the ‘best team’. The past two years that’s been LeBron, but apparently there’s backlash after his move to Miami. Kobe won two years ago and was essentially second to LeBron in the interim; he would be a solid choice but I feel like the media might be catching on to him a bit after the 6/24 performance. The GMs like Durant, and he came in (numerical) second last year, so he would be a good choice. The downside to Durant is that Arturo has the Thunder only winning 45 games; I don’t know if people would pick Durant if they actually slide in the West (or even if they stay about the same; everyone expects them to improve).
Under the best guy/best team idea, I think the options are LeBron or Wade, Kobe or Gasol, Brandon Roy if the Blazers finally put it together, and maybe Dwight Howard if the Magic have another big season. I want to take Brandon Roy on the prospect that the Blazers finally play like everyone thinks they can, but Andres beat me to it and I’d hate to copycat someone’s dark horse pick. So I’m going to go with Dwayne Wade; the Heat will have a great season but people won’t want to credit LeBron, so they’ll go with the guy who was already there. Hopefully Wade will stay healthy enough this season for the pick to make sense.
I can make my Rookie of the Year picks quickly because I think they’re easy choices. The Wizards will be too bad for John Wall to get the job done; defenses will double him constantly and he’ll score because he’ll have to, but I don’t think that even the media will be able to pick him. On the other hand, Blake Griffin should be really solid (both casual and WP fans think so) and he’ll put up good numbers on a Clippers team that will be not ridiculously awful, which will look better. Even though he was hurt he has a year of learning and watching NBA basketball up close, so he has the advantage over this year’s group of rookies. So I’m going with Griffin for both my media and WP ROY.