If you're like me, you were drawn to this website because you are a Laker fan, and have found a home with the funny writing, insightful commentary, and active game-posts. Ammo shows up from time to time, as well as a wrathful Brian Shaw.
Since joining, however, I've been nudged in a different direction. After posting a comment defending Derek Fisher and his arsenal of intangibles I drew the ire of a certain Mr. Fishmore. Needless to say, I was put off about the constant "hate" for one of my favorite players. I believe Dex or CA had used "stats" to point out how Derek was hurting the Laker's offense. Stats? This isn't baseball, with it's easy-to-assess stop/start analysis pitch per pitch. This was Basketball, where a game is in constant motion. How can one really use stats? I think Dex said something like, "stats are here to stay, get over it or leave" (paraphrased). Jerk! How could he be so cold? Well, he was right, and it's changed my outlook on basketball (thanks!).
The last time I even bothered with stats was in College, where I pulled Cs in Stats and Statistical Analysis, so I had a lot of work to do. Part of the problem with basketball stats is they're all so wrong! I mean, how come one of my favorite players, a veritable god of basketball (sorry Brian Shaw) has such low rankings in PER and such? Yeah, I'm talking about Kobe. Well, that debate and article is for another time.
Right now we're going to utilize the data we have available to make some observations about post-season play and the "real" MVP as I was inspired by a previous fan post.
Stat to use: Game Score (GmSc)
Game Score was developed by Hollinger (creator of the Player Efficiency Rating- or PER) to give a snap-shot view of an individual player's performance in a game. The formula is such and uses the box-score of completed game:
(Points x 1.0) + (FGM x 0.4) + (FGA x -0.7) + ((FTA-FTM) x -0.4) + (OREB x 0.7) + (DREB x 0.3) + (STL x 1.0) + (AST x 0.7) + (BLK x 0.7) + (PF x -0.4) + (TO x -1.0)
Basically we can see a player is awarded for scoring points, getting rebounds, blocking shots, etc. Players are penalized for shots taken, free-throws missed, turnovers, and fouls. An average game would score about 10 GmSc, an outstanding game, around 40 GmSc. What does the actual "score" represent? Well, nothing. It's just a number that allows you to quickly gauge a player's performance in a game. Again, we are using this stat because the DATA is readily available at basketballreference.com. On to the analysis.
1. Lebron James- regular season MVP, post-season putz.
Lebron posted some of the most impressive GmSc's of the post season. In the first round he had three scores of 30+, with a 39.9 in a Game 4 win against Chicago. To put that into perspective, that 39.9 is higher than any GmSc Kobe posted all season. To put this even more into perspective, Michael Jordan has only scored higher than 39.9 GmSc in three playoff games; each a blistering 50+ point performance. Sick stuff. Lebron's other first round scores were in the high teens, still very respectable if we go with "10" being an average game.
Round 1 Average GmSc: 29.5
Round 2 sees regicide and the fall of the self-stylized King. Lebron still racks up impressive GmSc performances with two 30+ games, but most notable is the fail-cake Game 5 score of 9.1. For a stat-whore like Lebron, and "MVP" of the league, this is surprising. Oh yeah, it was also a must win game that the Cavs lost at home. LBJ bounced back a little bit in Game 6, but his lackluster play and low shooting % makes the 22.6 GmSc fairly mundane given previous performances.
Round 2 Average GmSc: 22
Analysis: Lebron's average score actually decreased as he progressed in the playoffs. In games where Lebron should have been exerting his will and taking control, he failed miserably , posting GmScs of 13.8, 9.1, and 22.1 as the Cavs deflated against the Celtics.
2. Kobe Bryant
Stats and the Mamba don't mix. The disdain the "stat" community has for Kobe is fairly evident once you start snooping around. That being said, we will utilize GmSc to track KB's trek through the post season.
Round 1- Kobe's GmSc against the Thunder was, well, pretty horrible for a "superstar". Given the Thunder's defense, Kobe's nagging injuries, and his refusal to shoot in Game 4 we see some ugly scores through the series: 9.9, 22.4 (Game 2 best of the series), 11.9, 6.5 (nobody loves me), 10.1, 16.5. The scores are nastier than a Greg Oden self-portrait, but the end result is the Lakers advance.
Round 1 Average GmSc: 12.8 (very pedestrian and non-mamba)
Round 2- And then along comes Utah. The Mamba starts to hit his stride, and we see four games of 20+ GmSC with a high of 26.5. Utah makes Kobe feel good again, and it looks like he's finally got his shot back, scoring over 30 points in each game.
Round 2 Average GmSc: 21.9 (tres bien!)
Round 3 and the Mamba is rolling! He comes out on fire, with a 40 point performance and his best GmSc of the playoffs at 32.3. The Mamba follows up with a healthy score of 20.9 after he goes all crazy and starts handing out assists.
Round 3 Average GmSc (so far): 26.6 (juicy!)
Analysis: So the Mamba struggles and pouts against a young Thunder crew, with only one respectable performance, albeit a perfectly timed break-out in game 2. Not surprisngly, however, is that as the Lakers advance deeper, the Mamba has increased his efficiency. The reigning non-MVP has shown a focus and will to win that is supported by Game Score, which continues to increase as the Lakers advance.
3. Other players- Those in Green and Blue
We've heard about some other guys playing this game, perhaps heir to the post-season MVP title? Let's take a look at some of the front runners.
Rajon Rondo- The Cleveland Closer, the King Killer, the Magic Mangler. Rajon has been basketballs deep in both Cleveland and Orlando's mortification this year. He had a triple double with 18 rebounds (queue Amare Stoudameir) against Cleveland, and has six games over 20+ GmSc. His average GmSc has increased from 15.9 to 20.4 through rounds 1 and 2, when he dismantled Cleveland. His average has dropped in Round 3, where he posted an ugly 6.6 GmSc in game 1. This is offset some as Pierce and KG have taken up some of the slack and Rajon isn't forced to do so much offensively. He's a very good candidate at this time, and showed up the "King" in his own Castle.
Other Celtics? How about Allen. Pierce, and KG? Without going into too much detail, here's some comment.
Allen has been horrible, actually posting a -.04 game against Orlando. He also has multiple GmSc under 10, with 2.4, 6.9, 6.8, 4.2, etc, etc throughout the playoffs. He's out.
Pierce? Ditto Allen, numerous games with GmSc under 10, including 4.0, 4.3, 4.4. Non-factor against Cleveland but looking up against Orlando.
KG? More consistent than the previous two, but with three games under 10 the Alien isn't looking that formidable. What can be said is that he averaged a GmSc of 14.2 in Round 1, and 13.8 in Round 2. He produced consistently. His average in Round 3 is only 9.1, which means he may be bothered by Dwight.
Superman? Dwight Howard? How is he looking? Fairly un-super to be straight. He's got multiple games under 10 GmSc, and has played with no consistency. He's really wilted against the Celtics, after having a good series vs. Atlanta. He needs to get another move or two besides the drop-step and spin, and we'll see this cat doing much more in years to come. Right now, he's way out of the running.
4. The Spaniard, Pau Gasol, Dame más Gausolina...
Oh boy, Pau's been on a roll!
In Round 1 Mr. Madrid averaged a passable GmSc of 17, lowered by a poor performance in game 4 (like all Lakers, actually, game 4 was horrid).
He's followd up Round 1 with an average GmSc of 24.1 against Utah. He also posted the best Laker GmSc of the post-season with a score of 33.2 in game 4 against Utah.
Finally, against Phoenix the Conquistador has averaged a GmSc of 22.8. He's taking apart Phoenix, and has had little trouble finding his spot against Amare Stoudemier.
Analysis: Can Pau continue this, or will he revert to "softy"? I have a feeling that over the next few games people are going to find out the hard way. Pau is for real. Smaller lineups and less physical front-court players will allow Pau to continue his dominance.
5. I'm just saying
This guy would probably average around a GmSc of like, 50, if PJ played him. I mean, Kobe's 81 points netted something like 65 GmSc, so an average of 50 for Ammo is feasible.
Final analysis: My call for "real MVP" is going to be close. Rajon Rondo's play has been awesome. He dominated Cleveland, showed up Lebron, and has posted some very impressive games, with a triple-double against the Cavs. His play has fallen off a bit over the last couple games, but I think this is more in part to Pierce getting freed up than to him going away. I look to Rondo to be a huge factor in the finals, where he may make his mark. As far as current post-season MVP? Not yet.
Kobe's drive and determination is well documented, but now we've actually seen his production and efficiency increase through the post-season. The man's on a mission, and has been dominating games, whether through efficient scoring, or handing out the assist. Kobe's the only player I've rated that has shown an increasing GmSc over the first three rounds of action.
Pau has been a consistent force down low, and is dominating other players. His average GmSc over the first three rounds is the highest of the players I've rated. I believe that after the next couple of games against Phoenix his dominance will become even more pronounced, and he should be the likely candidate for MVP of any finals match-up.
MVP so far? I'm going with Kobe just slightly over Pau. His GmSc has increased, and he looks posed to continue his dominance. That being said, I truly believe Pau will be the pivotal factor in the finals. He just needs to exercise some past play-off perceptions of softness. We know Kobe has the drive, will Pau continue to perform?