An Unlikely MVP Candidate

An Unlikely MVP Candidate

Every year, basketball-reference.com has an MVP tracker that “ranks candidates based on a model built using previous results”. By pulling statistics from the season including team record and games played, the site runs an algorithm that predicts the likelihood that a player will win this year’s award as compared to past MVP’s.

The overwhelming favorite is James Harden, which most of us have been predicting to be the 2018 MVP almost all season. He is given a 70.9% probability of ending the season as the award winner. Second is LeBron James, who is a regular in MVP voting and is the clear leader of the Cavaliers since Kyrie’s departure. He only boasts a 8.2% probability to win but it’s good enough to put him in second place in this graphic.

Any guesses on who claims the third spot here? There have been plenty of arguments for Anthony Davis (my ideal pick for MVP personally), Damian Lillard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo among others.

How about Chris Paul?

chris-paul

Yes, the second half of Houston’s back-court duo sits in the third spot of this MVP tracker with a 7% chance of taking the award away from fellow teammate James Harden.

Of course he’s not going to do that; if a member of the Houston Rockets becomes MVP it will be James Harden, but what is it that has Chris Paul ranking so high as an MVP candidate?

Out of the 10 players considered for the award according to basketball-reference.com, Chris Paul ranks towards the bottom or middle in almost every single statistical category available. The only exception is his turnover rate, something Harden and James have struggled with as high volume ball handlers. On top of that, Paul has played less games than every single other MVP candidate listed, even less than Kyrie Irving who will have missed 22 games by the end of the season.

Here’s an answer to why Chris Paul might be so highly considered as a possible NBA MVP:

Chris-Paul (1)

He currently leads the league in Real Plus-Minus, and will probably remain at the top with so few games remaining. He has an RPM of 6.94. That’s good for the top 10 all-time finishes for season plus-minus, and he already owns one of those spots.

He’s also in the top group of turnover to assist ratio. That means that for every turnover he has, he generates x amount of more (or less) assists. His ratio is around 3.5 assists for every turnover. This year’s league assist leader, Russell Westbrook, has a ratio of 2.1 assists per turnover. Paul’s ball-handling responsibilities have been diminished because of playing alongside James Harden, but he capitalizes on his opportunities and makes smart passing decisions.

Basically it comes down to his impact in Houston. The Rockets are so much better with him on the court, even with offensive juggernaut James Harden sharing the hardwood with him and taking a lot of the spotlight. I do not think that Chris Paul will receive many, if any, MVP votes this season; but his value as a player is undeniable and worth analyzing.

Check out the MVP tracker for yourself at this link here:

https://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/mvp.html

and let us know who is your pick for MVP!

Feature photo source: dfw.cbslocal.com

Photo Source 1: nba.nbcsports.com

Photo Source 2: clutchpoints.com

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