The MVP Illusion Part 3: The Short Supply of Tall People

“The NBA keeps adding teams but the short supply of tall people—yes, we love saying this—persists. There is only one Shaquille O’Neal. No matter what policies the NBA adopts, they cannot manufacture quality big men for every team. This rule doesn’t just apply to players like Shaq, but to smaller players like Michael Jordan. There is not an abundance of 6’6” people in the world either, and when you ask for a person of this height with Jordan’s skills, you are not going to unearth many candidates.”
― Some dude named Dave Berri, Wages of Wins

The Trade Deadline exploded across everyone’s timeline yesterday.

This wonderful visual summary of the 2015 NBA trade deadline is from David Kitchen (@Socrdave)


It sparked discussion. It sparked outrage. My gmail smart basketball mark group had a civil war about Sam Hinkie over it with the words “I’m willing to put a thousand dollars on it right now!” being uttered. I need to cover this at some length.

This, however will have to wait a bit for all the dust to settle. Also, because I owe you the denouement of the MVP post.

That trade deadline post is coming soon! (Image from

The Headline for Part 1 was about the dangers of Fool’s Gold as exemplified by Derrick Rose. Part 2 was about the PR advantages of playing next to franchise big as exemplified by Kobe Bryant. Today, the focus is on perhaps the single most important lesson behind one of my favorite books.

Basketball is all about cornering the market in highly skilled tall people.

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 21 to 30 in alphabetical order plus the Detroit review I inconveniently forgot. Because, quite honestly, I need at least 24 more hours to figure out how to process all those WOJ bombs.

Detroit Pistons:

MVPRace (11)

Lebron Team MVP: Detroit delivers a big man (actually two) to match the headline. Drummond, who looked like the heir apparent to the big man conch until Gobert and Hassan appeared, ekes out a win over a resurgent Greg Monroe. Detroit looks to quite possibly be set at the 4 and 5 for the next decade. SVG picked the right spot to come back.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Detroit was still recovering from losing their Kobe award winning point guard to injury. Brandon Jennings had been good overall and fantastic once they released Josh Smith. Augustin had been a serviceable replacement. Reggie Jackson is a real upgrade here.

Bargnani team LVP: You need to ask? I wrote a whole piece on it. Josh Smith gets the most deserved Bargs this year.



OKC Thunder:

MVPRace (12)

Lebron Team MVP: Continuing the theme from Detroit, the OKC race is a barnstormer. Russ ekes out a win over KD so far this year. Turns out that ,so far this season at least, Russell Westbrook is the real OKC MVP.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Kevin Durant gets the most real Kobe of the season to date. He’s still amazing.

Bargnani team LVP: Perkins wins one last Bargs for OKC as we light a candle in memoriam of Perkyfish. Of course, KantWait is here.

Orlando Magic:

MVPRace (13)

Lebron Team MVP: Vucevic wins yet another Brony (that has some weird connotations) for the young Big men of the NBA.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Vucevic also pulls off the double as the undisputed best player on the Magic.

Bargnani team LVP: Why is Channing Frye on this team again? Maybe they buy him out and he gets to join his buddy Dragic in Miami now.


Philadelphia 76ers:

MVPRace (14)

Lebron Team MVP: Robert Covington is the only above average player on the Sixers roster. Nice job! I look forward to you playing bench on a good team next year. I kid, I kid!

Kobe Congeniality Award: The departed MCW gets the Kobe. I have no issue with the Sixers trading high on him for a shot at Okafor. I think the Kidd/MCW marriage could be great.

Bargnani team LVP: Luc Mbah a Moute takes the Bargs back to Cameroon.


Phoenix Suns:

MVPRace (15)

Lebron Team MVP: Bledsoe wins the Lebron for the Suns.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Bledsoe wins the Kobe too. Interestingly, the Suns wound up with the player I had as the best on the Bucks to replace Goran and Isaiah Thomas.

Bargnani team LVP: If they’d gotten rid of their Bargs (Markieff Morris), I would have given them rave reviews.


Portland Trail Blazers:

MVPRace (16)

Lebron Team MVP:  Lillard has been a beast for Portland and is the rightful team MVP.

Kobe Congeniality Award: LMA gets the accolade award. He does however deserve it as much as he ever has. He’s been having a career year.

Bargnani team LVP: Chris Kaman is your worst player? What a shocker!

Sacramento Kings:

MVPRace (17)

Lebron Team MVP:  Rudy Gay is legitimately good on the Kings. I’m stunned.

Kobe Congeniality Award: I’m ever more stunned that I have to cape for Gay. He should be recognized as the best player on this team. He’s not. I’ll posit that Boogie Cousins is more talented but he’s also given to moods that hamper his value.

Bargnani team LVP: Congrats to Ramon Sessions for winning the team LVP and proceeding to be traded to a winning team. The George Karl era in Sacramento began well.


San Antonio Spurs:

MVPRace (18)

Lebron Team MVP:  Danny Green continues to be seriously underrated.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Duncan gets the Kobe. He’s better than that though.

Bargnani team LVP: Bonner get the Bargs but he’s like a millionaire’s version of Bargs.


Toronto Raptors:

MVPRace (19)

Lebron Team MVP: Kyle Lowry gets it in an unexpected squeaker. Jonas and Patterson made it close.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Lowry gets the double by the slimmest of margins.

Bargnani team LVP: Terrence Ross getting the Bargs is why I’m surprised he wasn’t moved. Masai made no trades during the busiest trade deadline ever. That is a freaking upset.



Utah Jazz:

MVPRace (20)

Lebron Team MVP:  Rudy! I love Rudy Gobert. Don’t be surprised if Utah is all of a sudden way better by subtraction.

Kobe Congeniality Award: Hayward is so photogenic. Perfect for this spot.

Bargnani team LVP: Exum wins here but he has an excuse. He’s younger than some of my spreadsheets. Burke almost deserves me overriding the numbers and giving it to him. You know what? Sit down Dante and come get your award Trey Burke.

Washington Wizards:

MVPRace (21)

Lebron Team MVP:  John Wall is the Wizards actual MVP. Do I regret saying the Wiz shouldn’t have drafted him? I still think Boogie over Wall was the right call but Wall has certainly exceeded expectations.

Kobe Congeniality Award: John Wall scores a lot of points and looks good doing it.

Bargnani team LVP: Kevin Seraphin gets the last Bargs.


Now, I need to go write a thousand more words on the trade deadline for next week.







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