Advanced statistics can be great when used in regards to basketball. They can be used as a tool to determine who’s a better player, what’s a better lineup, and which is a better team.
But they can only be used as a tool.
When used by themselves, advanced statistics can look pretty damn, well, un-advanced.
Yesterday, TrueHoop published an interview with Wayne Winston, a professor at Indiana and nine-year stat-head for Mark Cuban. In it, he was asked who he thinks should be the MVP, which is when the interview gets really murky, if you ask me:
8. Who is the MVP?
Surely Dirk. He leads the whole league in two of my categories, plus/minus points and impact (plus-26 points, plus-73% impact).
So Winston thinks Dirk deserves the MVP? Okay, that’s highly ridiculous, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility; after all, Dirk is averaging 25 points and 8 boards and leading a team that many feel is overachieving. (On another note, isn’t it a little odd that Winston worked for the Mavericks all that time, and his stats just happen to favor a Mav? Also, since he worked for the Mavs for nine seasons, I wonder if his stats were the reason Mark Cuban signed Erick Dampier rather than re-signing Steve Nash. If they were, good choice.)
But wait, before you think Dirk as MVP was the highlight of my post, hold on; there’s far more absurdity from his MVP choices. Make sure you’re on the floor when you read this; if you’re on a chair, you might just faint and fall off it…
Luol Deng, Ray Allen and LeBron James have also been great. People forget Kobe Bryant has great teammates, so I do not think he is up there.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a second. Luol Deng as an MVP candidate? Ray Allen as an MVP candidate? Kobe Bryant not as an MVP candidate? Whatever Wayne and his stats are smoking, it is some pretty potent stuff.
Let’s start with Deng: Luol Deng? Luol Deng? MVP? Okay, he’s a pretty decent player. But he’s nothing more than average, and pretty much the only difference between the Chicago Bulls that are 14-19 this season and the Chicago Bulls that took Boston to seven games in last season’s playoffs is that Deng substituted for Ben Gordon. When your team is far better off with Ben Gordon than it is with you… you are not an MVP candidate. Not under any circumstances.
Moving on to Ray Allen, I’m as big a Ray fan as there is. I love the way he plays, and I admire that — even as mostly a jump shooter — he finds ways to help the C’s when his shots aren’t falling. But an MVP candidate? If I had to pick an MVP for just the Celtics, Ray would probably be third on my list… and that’s only because Kevin Garnett has been hurt recently. If Garnett were healthy, Ray would be my fourth choice.
But enough with the players he did choose. (Lebron was the other candidate, and he deserves to be on the list. Whether it’s based on stats or otherwise, King James is an MVP candidate.) Now, let’s move on to the player he said didn’t deserve to be in the running for MVP… to not have Kobe Bryant on the list is ludicrous. I hate Kobe, but I don’t care if his teammates are the Dream Team or a girls jayvee team, the way Kobe’s playing this season merits serious consideration for MVP. If the season ended today, in fact, he’d be my choice to win the award.
But advanced stats somehow show Kobe to be worse than Luol Deng? Give me a break.
How’s this, Wayne Winston? Maybe watch a game or two.
Then tell me Luol Deng deserves to be in the race for MVP.