Steph Curry. Lebron James. Joel Embiid. Luka Doncic. Nikola Jokic. Who is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player today?
In this exercise we’re going to compare these 5 players in some of the most common statistics and assigning a point to the leader of each one.
We'll also look at a couple of advanced stats.
Ultimately, the player with the most points will be the MVP at this point in the season.
There is, however, one factor that we’re going to rule out from the study: wins and losses.
The MVP is an individual award that should measure a player's performance. Wins and losses are not solely attributable to a basketball player. It’s a team sport.
If a player averages a triple-double all season long, but his team is out of the playoffs, why is he to blame for his team’s lack of support?
Having said that, let's start with availability
James, Curry and Jokic have played every game for their teams. This is especially impressive in LeBron’s case, since his team only finished playing the Finals in October. Also, LeBron is 36 years old and in his 18th season.
Doncic has missed one of the Mavericks 25 games, while Embiid has missed five of the Sixers 25 games.
Due to the circumstances and age: 1 point for James.
Minutes per game:
The MPG are nearly identical among the five candidates, with Jokic leading with 36.1 minutes per game and Embiid last with 32 minutes per game.
Point for Jokic.
Steph Curry is averaging 29.6 points per game. Leader among the five nominees and second in the NBA, only behind Bradley Beal’s 33 per game.
Curry is followed by Embiid with 29.1, Doncic with 27.8, Jokic with 27.5 and James is last with 25.6, the fifth lowest average of his career.
Jokic leads the pack with 11.5 boards per game, followed by Embiid with 11, Doncic is third (8.7), then James (8.0) and Curry (5.4) who despite being last, ties his career best in this department.
Doncic is number one with 9.3 dimes per game, and then comes "The Joker" with 8.5, LeBron with 8.0, Curry has 5.9 and Embiid closes with 2.9.
FT % and 3P%
These two stats are widely dominated by Curry (92.9% FT and 42.9% 3P). In an NBA where both categories gain prominence and shape the modern game, being lite at both is huge.
Pair of points for Curry.
When we go into advanced statistics, we start with Player Efficiency Rating or PER, a number that measures the overall efficiency of a player. Embiid and Jokic are tied at the top of the group and the NBA (31.2), followed by Curry (25.6), Doncic (25.4) and James (24.3)
Points for Embiid and Jokic.
Not everything is offense. Defense also wins championships. And in this department Embiid has a small advantage over LeBron.
The defensive rating is an estimate of the points allowed by a team per 100 possessions with a given player on the court. The lower the number, the better the defender.
The Cameroonian has a defensive rating of 103, one point higher than James' 104. Jokic is at 110, Curry at 111, and Doncic at 112.
What is Clutch? The statistical definition according to the NBA is the performance of any given player in the last five minutes of a game with a point differential of five points or less.
Under that criterion, LeBron James has scored (as of Feb, 10) 22 shots in the clutch. He’s followed by Jokic with 21, Doncic with 14, Embiid with 12 and Curry with 9.
Point for LeBron.
- Curry: 3 pts
- Jokic: 3 pts
- James: 2 pts
- Embiid: 2 pts
- Doncic: 1 pt.
After evaluating nine different categories, you can see the parity. We’re talking about five players with different characteristics. Stars whose value varies according to the supporting cast around them and the coach who manages them.
All very valuable.
For the purpose of this exercise, today, the MVP is shared between Jokic and Curry. But any of these five players, or other stars like Antetokounmpo, Leonard or Durant can join the fight.
For now, congratulations to Nikola and Steph on this much-deserved award from NBC Bay Area.