The race for the MVP | Nikola Jokic, “super valuable” | NBA

For ten years now, Basket USA has been offering you its Top 5 candidates for the « Most Valuable Player (MVP) » trophy every Tuesday. But what does “valuable” mean? Literally, he is the most « valuable », « useful » or « important » player. It is therefore an extremely subjective term because it is difficult to compare the usefulness or the importance of a player compared to another, so much the contexts and the forces to be judged differ.

Each year, it is therefore necessary to juggle between criteria that do not overlap. The best player on the best team? Who dominates the most in the NBA? Who would his club miss the most in his absence?

An incredibly open MVP race

The specificity of this mid-season campaign is that it remains surprisingly very open, with seven main candidates who each have their arguments… but also weaknesses.

Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are thus ultra dominant on an individual level, in particular lately for the pivot of the Sixers, but their teams are not in the Top 5 of their respective conferences. Kevin Durant is injured and may now be out of the race, Stephen Curry has been on a slippery slope, like the Warriors, for several weeks after his start to the season. Injuries are plaguing the Bulls from DeMar DeRozan whereas Chris Paul has for him to be the boss of the best team in the league, and the current master of « money-time », but does not necessarily display MVP stats. Giannis Antetokounmpo he still has the stats but the impression given by the Bucks is quite strange.

Not to mention that it’s not impossible to see a comeback from behind, LeBron James if the Lakers finish strong following the return of Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler if the Heat confirm they are the best team in the East and they don’t miss any more games, even for Ja Morant, Rudy Gobert Where Devin Booker.

Individual and collective “value”

In short, there will undoubtedly be material for debate until the end. However, we can try to determine the individual and collective « value » of the players. For this, we can use the PER, which is not a perfect statistic but which measures the overall statistical impact of a player, as well as the differences in the offensive and defensive efficiency of a team, when a player is on the field and when he is on the bench (or absent).

And in this little game, the most « valuable » player since the start of the season is quite clear…

What does it mean ? That Nikola Jokic has the best PER in the entire NBA this season (33.2) but also the biggest impact on his team. According to Cleaning The Glass, Denver thus plays like a team capable of winning 64 games on the season when it is on the field… but only 10 games when it is not. That is to say that with him, the Nuggets register 116.4 points on 100 possessions, and collect 106.5 on 100 possessions. Without him, the team is only scoring 102.2 points on 100 possessions and conceding 117.8 on 100 possessions. So we go from +9.9 to -15.6, a positive swing of 25.5 which is also the strongest in the whole league!

The second in this influence ranking is Stephen Curry, as the Warriors play like a 69-win team when the point guard is on the line, but only 25 wins when he’s not.

Of course, these are only statistical projections, and there are bound to be biases. The impact of certain « role players » such as Patty Mills or Monte Morris is thus overestimated, either because of their shorter playing time than that of the stars, or because they play precisely with these stars who have a huge impact. , and from which they profit.

The impact of certain superstars can on the contrary be underestimated, by the force of external circumstances, and this is particularly what seems to be the case with Ja Morant, Luka Doncic or James Harden, whose teams are more efficient statistically when they are not on the ground.

The Top 5

1 – Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Assessment: 24 wins, 21 losses – 6th in the West.
Matches: 40 disputed out of 45 possible.
Statistics: 26.1 pts, 13.8 reb, 7.6 pds, 1.4 int, 0.8 ctr and 3.5 pdb in 33 min.
Percentages: 57% on shots, 36% on 3-pointers and 79% on throws.

2 – Joel Embiid (Sixers)
Assessment: 27 wins, 19 losses – 6th in the East.
Matches: 31 disputed out of 43 possible.
Statistics: 28.7 pts, 10.7 reb, 4.3 pds, 1.0 int, 1.4 ctr and 2.9 pdb in 33 min.
Percentages: 50% on shots, 39% on 3-pointers and 82% on throws.

3 – Stephen Curry (Warriors)
Assessment: 34 wins, 13 losses – 2nd in the West.
Matches: 43 disputed out of 47 possible.
Statistics: 26.0 pts, 5.3 reb, 6.2 pds, 1.4 int, 0.5 ctr and 3.2 pdb in 35 min.
Percentages: 42% on shots, 38% on 3-pointers and 91% on throws.

4 – Kevin Durant (Nets)
Assessment: 27 wins, 16 losses – 3rd in the East.
Matches: 36 disputed out of 46 possible.
Statistics: 29.3 pts, 7.4 reb, 5.8 pds, 0.8 int, 0.9 ctr and 3.0 pdb in 37 min.
Percentages: 52% on shots, 37% on 3-pointers and 89% on throws.

5 – DeMar DeRozan (Bulls)
Assessment: 29 wins, 17 losses – 2nd in the East.
Matches: 42 disputed out of 46 possible.
Statistics: 26.3 pts, 5.0 reb, 4.8 pds, 0.8 int, 0.4 ctr and 2.2 pdb in 35 min.
Percentages: 50% on shots, 33% on 3-pointers and 86% on throws.

5b – Chris Paul (Suns)
Assessment: 37 wins, 9 losses – 1st in the West.
Matches: 46 disputed out of 46 possible.
Statistics: 14.4 pts, 4.4 reb, 10.2 pds, 2.0 int, 0.3 ctr and 2.4 pdb in 33 min.
Percentages: 49% on shots, 33% on 3-pointers and 84% on throws.

Mentions : Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Ja Morant (Grizzlies), Rudy Gobert (Jazz), LeBron James (Lakers), Jimmy Butler (Heat), Devin Booker (Suns)

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