Saturday, February 7, 2015

Anthony Davis's Torrid MVP Pace

Anthony Davis is still considered a long shot to win NBA MVP this year (despite recent heroics). But by at least one measure (and others), it's not even close - Anthony Davis is the league's MVP. Using my win probability model, I can assign a value to each player's contributions, based on how those contributions affected their team's chances of winning. This approach automatically devalues garbage time stats, and assigns more credit for clutch performance. When ranked by Win Probability Added (WPA), Davis' total of 7.32 is far and away the league's best this season. Atlanta's Kyle Korver is a distant second with 4.86. Here is the top 10:



I've been quietly adding prior seasons to my win probability graphs and box scores over the past week (and will continue to do so until my database says uncle). To give you a sense of how remarkable Davis' season has been, here is how the WPA race looked at this point in the season over the past three years.







The closest comparison is Kevin Durant's 2012-13 season, in which he amassed 6.62 in win probability added through early February. But note that KD had 50 games to get to that point, while Davis has a higher WPA total with five fewer games.

Win probability added is not a perfect metric (there is no such thing) and it is far from comprehensive. As I've defined it, it explicitly ignores defense, assists, and rebounds - although Davis still looks good when you roll those stats in to his totals. But Davis is getting unfairly discounted as an MVP candidate due to the Pelicans' poor record this season. Yes, the Pelicans have struggled to win games this season, but win probability added shows those struggles have had little to do with Davis.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Is the gap b/t AD and No. 2 significantly larger than previous seasons' No. 1's and No. 2's at roughly this juncture in the season?

    I'd be interested to know if, relative to the field, he's every bit as dominant an advanced stat frontrunner as LeBron a few years back.

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