NBA MVP: Not as Complicated as it Seems

It has been debated the deciding factors that elect the leagues MVP. Even so, in the last 10 years all but one winner have had two particular stats in common. Those stats are PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and PIE (Player Impact Estimate). Both stats try to take into account all stats on the box score.

The creator of PER John Hollinger says this about the advanced stat, “The PER sums up all a player’s positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player’s performance.”

According to NBA Stuffer PIE, “is a metric to gauge a player’s all-around contribution to the game. Almost all statistical categories in the box score are involved in the PIE formula. PIE answers what % of the events in a game each player contributed.”

ESPN.com

In the 2014-2015 season, the first year Stephen Curry won this award, he ranked 5th overall in PIE and PER. This year would have seen Anthony Davis as the MVP if the following the trend over the past ten years.

NBA.com

In this last years competition to be crowned MVP Nikola Jokic saw himself at the top of the list and the voting. He had a 23 PIE and a 32.94 PER. The next closest in these statistical categories were Joel Embiid with a 21.2 PIE and a 31.24 PER. Followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo with a 21 PIE and a 32.12 PER.

I note the additional players because I found that their performances in these categories were good enough to place them on the top of five of the other 9 seasons MVP votes.

Jokic posted numbers higher in each advanced category than the other two players that topped the PER/PIE stat, as seen below:

NBA.com

Additionally, Jokic played more games than both Giannis and Embiid. Still found himself averaging more rebounds, assists, and steals per game. The year prior to this he found himself at the top of the MVP list. While he scores less points than the others he is competing against he puts together a more complete box score.

We have seen a lot more “Bigs” winning the MVP, in part because of their ability to pass the ball an contribute to the score in many different ways. Yes, this has been seen before, but not at the level that Jokic, Giannis, and Embiid have shown over the course of the last few years.

Embiid has lobbied to be the next MVP. In some perspectives he should have won over Jokic. Embiid, or any player that wants the honors, will need to be more multi dimensional in order to win. It is not enough to just be the best scorer, that is why there is a scoring title. It is not enough to be great at one thing. It is necessary to be in the tops of multiple categories and maintain efficiency in the others.


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