The MVP Illusion Part 2: Let Kobe be Kobe

“The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder… Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.”
― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Yesterday we started down the path of reviewing the best player, the perceived best player and the wort player on each NBA team in an effort to illustrate some of the biases of the average fans and media member (and to kill some time and air space while we wait for the season to resume and possible trades to happen).

and a one!
and a one!

We, as a species, get true value judgements wrong way more often than we like to admit. We’re swayed by small samples and flash more than actual substance. We tend to attribute results to the most memorable, likeable and impressive actors as opposed to the ones that the numbers scream are the actual cause of those results. Sometimes by a happy accident we stumble onto the right result.

More often than not? We miss the forest for the trees or, in basketball terms, the dominant big man for the less than efficient guard Robin.

How does that ass taste?


Kobe is the poster child for this. I’m not saying Kobe isn’t a good player. He’s just not as good as the narrative paints him and at this point it’s impossible to change this misconception.


I would start a time machine kickstarter just for this (Image from

It does make for wonderful copy (and no, I’m not going to Temeculah this year).

Let’s get to it shall we? We’re using the MVP metric tool for everything. For each team we will show three things:

  • The for real Most Valuable Player for each team based on actual productivity on the court (Let’s call this the Lebron team MVPaward)
  • The perceived MVP based on, functionally, the perceived share of  the load (The Kobe Congeniality award)
  • The Least Valuable player on each team (or affectionately the Bargnani team LVP)

Today we do teams 11 to 20 in alphabetical order. Why? Seriously, I need content till the next Woj Bomb.

Houston Rockets:


Lebron Team MVP: Harden was asked at All Star if he was the MVP. He was polite. I wish it had gone like this: “James, are you the MVP?” “Are you joking with this? Of course I am, look at that damn chart! I’m doing Jordan type things on the court! Respect!”

Kobe Congeniality Award: You think everyone in OKC realizes there’s like a 10% chance Harden and Jeff Green are facing off in the West Finals? Yikes. Harden pulls the double on Houston

Bargnani team LVP: Motiejunas grabs another Bargs throphy for tall white Euros.

Indiana Pacers:

MVPRace (1)

Lebron Team MVP: David West and boy would he be a value asset for a team in the North looking for an upgrade at the 4 and playoff experience. Is someone screening Larry Legend’s phone for Masai incoming calls?

Kobe Congeniality Award: Donald Sloan has somehow, improbably, been an above average NBA player this year. The Indiana coaching staff knows how to maximize strengths and hide weakness of guards apparently.

Bargnani team LVP: Chris Copeland has not actually been atrocious. He’d be a decent 8th man as your number 1 player on the depth chart he’s murder. If Paul George comes back this year, the upgrade will be massive.


Los Angeles Clippers:

MVPRace (2)

Lebron Team MVP: Chris Paul remains a top five player and this is why, even with Miss Congeniality runner-up (Blake) being out, Clipper fans (all ten of them) can remain chill right now.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Blake gets this one even though CP3 deserves it because he’s so photogenic!

Bargnani team LVP: Jamal Crawford is not having a good season. If the Clipps can turn him into something (like, say, Goran Dragic) that could be a game changer, yet again, in the West.


Los Angeles Lakers:

MVPRace (3)

Lebron Team MVP: How did Ed Davis wind up on the Lakers so cheap? Two words: Rob Pelinka. Same reason why, even though he’s the most tradeable asset on the team, he’s probably staying.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Kobe, for better or, in this case way,way worse, remains the face of the Lakers and the power behind the throne in Los Angeles. Of course he wins the Kobe, he’s effin Kobe. The surprise comes next.

Bargnani team LVP: Kobe does not win the Bargs though, quite probably because of injury. Jeremy Lin gets it. I still think Lin is a viable NBA player but not with a charter member of the unfrozen caveman coach club like Byron Scott. Don’t be surprised when he’s an effective second unit point on a contender in the future.


Memphis Grizzlies:

MVPRace (4)Lebron Team MVP:  This was a close one in Memphis. You might even call it a slobberknocker. Marc ekes it out with Zbo on his heels but hampered by injury. I though the expiration date on the Memphis bigs might have come in the offseason. I admit that I’ve been wrong so far this year.

Kobe Congeniality Award: WENDIGO!!!! With a contract push, Marc gets the media recognition that’ll guarantee a super max contract.

Bargnani team LVP: Fitting that Vince looks done in the year his dunktastic heir (Zach Levine) reveals himself to the world. You’re a hall of famer Vince, there’s no shame in being at the end.

Miami Heat:

MVPRace (5)

Lebron Team MVP:  How on earth did Hassan Whiteside fall thru the cracks? He’s putting up crazy numbers for the Heat. If they could get some mildly competent point guard play and some Wade health this team could make noise.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Of course it’s Bosh winning the Kobe. Bosh is an slightly above average piece making wayyyy too much money. I’d really think about moving him if I could get the right pieces back. That contract is not getting smaller and he’s not getting better.

Bargnani team LVP: With as many good to great point guards as there seem to be in the NBA right now, what Norris Cole is doing to this team is an atrocity.


Milwaukee Bucks:

MVPRace (6)

Lebron Team MVP:  Brandon Knight at 23 is having a career year. Coming at the right time for him too, He’s about to get paid.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Everyone knows he’s their best player too. Knight gets the Deer Double.

Bargnani team LVP: Johny O’Bryant gets this one in very limited minutes which really is a testament to the job archmage Kidd has done getting the most out of this team.


Minnesota Timberwolves:

MVPRace (8)

Lebron Team MVP: Shabazz Muhammad takes advantage of the Twolves stealth tanking to take this one. Rubio is coming though. 

Kobe Congeniality Award: Wiggins does Kobe proud in taking the Kobe for this team as the most highly rated player on the team while he’s also…

Bargnani team LVP: The worst player on the team. Granted, Wiggins has the very valid excuse of extreme youth and another card carrying unfrozen caveman coach in Flip to thank for his ignoble Kobe/Bargs double.



New Orleans Pelicans:

MVPRace (9)

Lebron Team MVP:  Anthony Davis is the best 21 year old ever to play in the NBA. He hasn’t even figured everything out yet. He will just own a season in the next five years.

Kobe Congeniality Award:Anthony Davis again of course. I mean:


Bargnani team LVP: I feel for Ryan Anderson (google it folks). I hope he gets back to who he used to be.

New York Knicks:

MVPRace (10)

Lebron Team MVP:  Carmelo Anthony is finally on a team where he is without a doubt the best player. Of course at 10-43, it’s the worst team in Basketball and a historically terrible team. Melo is a third star. He’s a flawed scorer that doesn’t bring much else to the table and can take things away by becoming a black hole where ball movement goes to die on the wrong team. He chose to get paid rather than go to basketball situations that were better for him winning. I respect that but don’t expect success on the court.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Melo continues his tradition of being the worst perennial all star starter. This award may soon become the Melo.

Bargnani team LVP: Even though Hardaway Jr earned it, I’m overriding the numbers and giving it to Bargnani. Just his presence is enough. If he was allowed on the court he could win this trophy in twenty games.

One more day to go and hopefully it ends with a bang.







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