Thursday, January 26, 2006

MVP Eligibility

Today my newest column should be going up over at and in it, I announce my surprising choice as the early MVP of the NBA. The whole exercise got me thinking: who is really eligible to win the award? More than any other sport, the NBA MVP seems to be reserved for a player from a winning team. Perhaps this is because a basketball player can have the most singular impact on this teams fortunes, but whatever the reason, you won't see any Andre Dawson or A-Rod type winners coming from last place teams. But how big does your team have to win? Last year I thought Allen Iverson got shafted and that he was never really considered despite the fact that he took his horrible team to the playoffs. Apparently, making the playoffs isn't enough. But what is? Top four in your conference (and home court advantage for a playoff series)? Top 2? A Division title? It's time to check it out. Read on for a breakdown of the last 25 MVP's in the NBA. (By the way, this is important when you consider that three of this year's top candidates - Iverson, Kobe, and LeBron - are on teams that certainly won't be winning their respective conferences.)


Adam Hoff said...

Alright, lets break this thing down, year-by-year. We'll list the year, the player, his team, and where his team finished in the standings.

2005 - Steve Nash, Suns, #1 Overall in the NBA
2004 - KG, Wolves, #1 in West, #2 Overall
2003 - Tim Duncan, Spurs, Tied for #1 Overall
2002 - Duncan, Spurs, #2 in West and Overall
2001 - Allen Iverson, 76ers, #1 in East, #2 Overall
2000 - Shaq, Lakers, #1 Overall
1999 - Karl Malone, Jazz, Tied for #1 Overall
1998 - Jordan, Bulls, Tied for #1 Overall
1997 - Malone, Jazz, #1 in West, #2 Overall
1996 - Jordan, Bulls, #1 Overall
1995 - David Robinson, Spurs, #1 Overall
1994 - Olajuwon, Rockets, #2 in West and Overall
1993 - Charles Barkley, Suns, #1 Overall
1992 - Jordan, Bulls, #1 Overall
1991 - Jordan, Bulls, #1 in East, #2 Overall
1990 - Magic, Lakers, #1 Overall
1989 - Magic, Lakers, #1 in West, #2 Overall
1988 - Jordan, Bulls, #3 in East, #7 Overall
1987 - Magic, Lakers, #1 Overall
1986 - Larry Bird, Celtics, #1 Overall
1985 - Bird, Celtics, #1 Overall
1984 - Bird, Celtics, #1 Overall
1983 - Moses Malone, #1 Overall
1982 - Moses Malone, #2 in East and Overall
1981 - Julius Erving, #1 Overall

Adam Hoff said...

Of the 25 winners, here is the breakdown:

- 16 MVP's came from the #1 overall team in the NBA.
- 5 more came from the #1 team in its conference and from the #2 overall team.
- 3 came from a team that was #2 in its conference, but each of those teams were also #2 in the entire league.
- The only MVP that did not come from one of the top two teams in the league was Jordan in 1988, when the Bulls finished third in the East and seventh overall. That was the year he average over 32, 8, and 8, maybe the greatest all-around season of his career.

As you can see, the history of the award tells us that unless you team is one of the two best in the league, preferably the #1 overall squad, you might as well forget about it. For Kobe or Iverson or LeBron to win this award would be completely unprecedented. For Nash to win the award, he will need the Suns to at least remain the #3 team in the West, but even that will be highly unusual. I guess what I am saying here is that after this analysis, Chauncey Billups' chances are looking really good.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that you posted all of that in support of your vote for Nash as MVP, considering that based on the last 25 years there is only a 1-in-25 chance that he can win it with Phoenix's current record. Kind of odd, that's all.

Ben R said...

I just read your Nash column and then went back and read your Nash column from last year, and strangely, I agree with both of them, in a way. What stood out last year is that you correctly pointed out how odd it was for Nash to scoop up an MVP when Isiah and Stockton had been unable to do so. Looking over that "points created" stat from the previous blog only makes that stand out even more. Isiah and Stockton created the standard for a traditional point guard. Did they play at the wrong time? Are there simply no Larry, Magic, and Michael to stand in Nash's way? Or did those amazing point guards fall victim to playing for teams that didn't finish #1 in the league?