Could Tony Parker really win the MVP? I scoffed at Arturo when he said this to me as his simulations ran. I ran to Twitter to mock such a claim:
We made "predictions" at Boxscore Geeks, accepting folly of year long predictions. Allow me to make a decade long prediction - No Spur wins MVP.— Andrés Alvarez (@NerdNumbers) November 12, 2013
And then I went and did the research. You see, Arturo has the Spurs winning a lot of games. Since the arrival of Duncan the Spurs are used to winning in the mid to high 50s. Arturo has them in the 60s. It's possible they could go even higher, like mid 60s to 70! And if that happens, then guess what? The top scorer from that team will win MVP. Here's a brief history:
History of NBA teams finishing a season with 65+ Wins
|72||1995-1996||Chicago Bulls||Michael Jordan|
|69||1996-1997||Chicago Bulls||Karl Malone|
|69||1971-1972||Los Angeles Lakers||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar|
|68||1966-1967||Philadelphia Warriors||Wilt Chamberlain|
|68||1972-1973||Boston Celtics||Dave Cowens*|
|67||1985-1986||Boston Celtics||Larry Bird|
|67||1991-1992||Chicago Bulls||Michael Jordan|
|67||1999-2000||Los Angeles Lakers||Shaquille O'Neal|
|67||2006-2007||Dallas Mavericks||Dirk Nowitzki|
|66||1970-1971||Milwaukee Bucks||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar|
|66||2007-2008||Boston Celtics||Kobe Bryant|
|66||2008-2009||Cleveland Cavaliers||LeBron James|
|66||2012-2013||Miami Heat||LeBron James|
|65||1986-1987||Los Angeles Lakers||Magic Johnson|
|65||1982-1983||Philadelphia 76ers||Moses Malone|
|65||2008-2009||Los Angeles Lakers||LeBron James|
Note: players in bold did not play for the listed team.
Wins = MVP
Of the 16 times a team has been able to win 65+ games, they've taken home the MVP title 12 times. That's a pretty fantastic hit rate. Now, there are a few exceptions that we'll get to. And there's one out that may prove me right against Arturo. Regardless, it seems like Tony Parker is a much more viable candidate than I thought.
Rival Teams, Voter Fatigue, and Better Scorers
In 1972, 1997, and 2009, a 65+ team lost out on the MVP. In all three of these seasons another team won more than 60 games (the Bucks, the Jazz, and the Cavs, respectively). Additionally, the teams countering with 60+ wins all had better scorers (Kareem, Malone, and LeBron).
In 1997 and 2009, the player also "unseated" the previous season's MVP. Of course in 1997 and 2009 the previous season's MVP would go on to win another title. So it's possible the voters wanted a narrative that another star could compete. In 1972 Kareem actually repeated, but it's important to note that in the 70s the players picked the MVPs, not the writers.
In 1972 Dave Cowens took home MVP, but he was not his team's top scorer; he finished second behind John Havlicek. However, he still managed over 20 points and 16 boards a game. With Parker sharing the court with Tim Duncan, this is one scenario that might hurt his chances. In his prime, Duncan might have hurt Parker's case, but since Parker will likely lead the Spurs in both points and assists, I leave him as the favorite.
The Kobe-shaped monkey wrench!
I was scared Arturo had a much better shot of being right on this. The one major outlier is 2007-2008, when Kobe took the MVP. There's a few things to consider. First, the Boston Celtics won a ton of games, but none of their players hit over 20 points per game. Doc Rivers actually did a fairly good job limiting his players minutes: no Celtic cracked over 36 minutes per game. On the other hand, Kobe played a lot of minutes and scored lots of points. Is there a shot another player does this to the Spurs this season? Here were a few names I came up with.
- Kevin Durant
- Kevin Love - Doubt Wolves get enough wins
LeBron James- Voter Fatigue
- Paul George
- James Harden
My bet? If the Spurs win in the mid 60s but the Thunder win in the 50s and Durant wins the scoring title, he'll take it. I think LeBron is out and that Love and Harden are unlikely. Paul George is definitely an intriguing pick at the moment, but that involves the Pacers keeping up this wild pace, which I don't see.
What do you think?