NBA

NBA MVP Candidates: Gasol, Paul, Rondo and More

| by Hoops Karma

Here’s Hoops Karma’s first look at the 2010-11 MVP race. I’ve included the basic stats for each of the top three candidates, plus the efficiency numbers so you can see how well they’re putting those numbers together, plus the impact stats so you can see how each is mathematically impacting the success of their clubs in ways that often aren’t picked up in the normal stats (like defense). I’ve used the efficiency and impact stats before on several occasions, but if you have questions, please just ask or check this site which explains a lot of them.

Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

Basic Stats: 16 ppg, 10 apg (2.4 turnovers), 4.9 rpg, 2.9 steals, 49% FG, 48% 3FG

Efficiency Stats: 54% eFG%, 60% True Shooting %, 51% Assist%, 4.5 Steal%

Impact Stats: 97% PythWin% (124-96 ORtg-DRtg), +17.95 APM, 4.3 Wins Produced (0.496 WP48), 2.8 Win Shares

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CP3 has always been a super-efficient PG machine, which he’s continuing to be, but now he’s bringing his team along with him in a big-time way. Even though their team defense has taken a quantum leap forward and all this teammates are looking better now that they’re 11-2, Paul still has the top impact stats of every Hornet, and in some cases by quite a substantial margin. He’s completely in control of almost every game you see of NO’s, and sometimes we get so used to seeing it, we don’t realize his shooting and passing numbers have rarely been touched by anyone before, let alone in tandem. There’s zero debate who’s running this team, and that team has been amazing.

Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

Basic Stats: 23 ppg, 12 rpg (3.5 offensive), 1.7 blocks, 4.1 apg (1.6 turnovers), 56% FG, 82% FT

Efficiency Stats: 56% eFG%, 61% True Shooting %, 17% Rebounding%

Impact Stats: 97% PythWin% (132-103 ORtg-DRtg), +18.31 APM, 4.5 Wins Produced (0.410 WP48), 3.3 Win Shares

For starters, his basic stats are awesome. Where they get even more awesome is when you realize his efficiency in producing them is by far the best on the 12-2 Lakers. Lamar Odom is right there in terms of shooting percentage and rebounding, but the passing and free throw shooting lag far behind. Kobe scores a few more points a game, but his shooting is much worse, as is his ball-handling/passing and rebounding. Additionally, Gasol’s collection of impact stats absolutely smokes those of his teammates, with only Odom in the vicinity (yes, PG and LO are that far ahead of KB with these). Like Paul, Gasol is proving to be the best player on a great great team, which probably has a lot to do with their impact stats looking so similar. He places a close second because the Hornets have to rely on Paul more than the loaded Lakers need to rely on Gasol.

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Basic Stats: 11 ppg, 14 apg (3.7 turnovers), 4.8 rpg, 2.5 steals, 50% FG

Efficiency Stats: 51% eFG%, 51% True Shooting %, 53% Assist%, 3.2 Steal%

Impact Stats: 82% PythWin% (111-100 ORtg-DRtg), +2.10 APM, 3.2 Wins Produced (0.328 WP48), 1.8 Win Shares

He’s running a great team and accruing a record amount of assists while doing so. His defense is superb, but there are a few too many hurdles to get past when putting him in the Paul-Pau strata at this point. For starters, every single impact stat of his is lower. You can never put too much weight into any one of these measures, but it definitely says something when all of them are significantly lower than the two guys listed before him (and lower than those of a few of his teammates you’re already familiar with). His free throw shooting continues to be a hindrance (47%), and he’s often overshadowed by multiple teammates for long stretches. There’s no question Rondo is having a great season and is very important to a club that’s doing quite well, but he hasn’t distinguished himself yet like Paul and Gasol have.

Some others worth considering or being considered

Atlanta’s Al Horford and Utah’s Paul Millsap are doing well by traditional standards (AH: 17 ppg, 9 rpg, 63% FG – PM: 20 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.3 steals, 57% FG), but they are out-frickin-standing by the advanced measures. Both are in the top-4 in the league in Win Shares (AH, 2.4; PM, 2.6 – behind only Paul and Gasol) and top-7 in Wins Produced (AH, 3.8; PM, 3.0), plus their PythWin% are extraordinary (AH, 96%; PM, 93%). And although Horford’s APM is just a little above-average at +2.81, Millsap’s is a ridiculous +22.71 (way ahead of teammates Williams and Jefferson). Kevin Durant is leading the league in scoring and his team is winning, so ESPN tells us he’s an MVP candidate. Unfortunately, his terrible shooting percentages (42% FG, 29% 3FG) and bad passing numbers (2.8 assists to 3.8 turnovers), not to mention ho-hum impact stats (none of them are good), should keep him far out of the running. No one wants to believe it, but LeBron James isn’t doing that bad, ranking in the top-8 in scoring and assists (only Rose can say the same), and his impact stats are all looking pretty good. Dwight Howard continues to put up phenomenal pers of 22 ppg, 12 rpg, and 2.6 blocks for a 9-4 club that many still consider a contender for the Eastern crown. He’s shooting 60%, pulling down boards at a predictably high 21% Reb%, and his impact stats are outstanding (94% PythWin%, 2.8 Wins Produced, 2.2 Win Shares). Kobe Bryant has the scoring chops, but he’s shooting 43% FG (and only 46% eFG%), his assist-turnover numbers are lower than those posted by most of the big men on his team, and his impact stats are some of the worst on the Lakers (74% PythWin% on a 12-2 club, -16.74 APM, 2.3 Wins Produced, 2.0 Win Shares).