Embiid Is Early Candidate For NBA MVP


One of the biggest debates every year in the NBA is which player should win the most valuable player (MVP) award. In particular, the media and fans alike often have heated arguments based on their own unique definition of what the term “valuable” means. For example, does value mean the best player on the best team or can a player on a bad team still win the award given his performance?

Trying to make the intangible more tangible is one of the key priorities for Block Six Analytics. With our Corporate Asset Valuation Model (CAV), we determine a specific value for a specific sponsorship by applying how a company makes money and what a company’s marketing / brand goals are to a specific partnership. In essence, we look at how what is most important to the company translates to each sponsorship activation.

We wanted to apply the same logic to players as we use for partners. More specifically, what is most important to teams is how does each player help that team win and generate revenue. Our Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) model specifically answers these questions by looking at an athlete’s on-court and off-court performance.

For this post, we are going to specifically look at our on-court metrics called B6A Wins. We use multi-factor regression analysis to determine which factors contribute to winning and how much each factor contributes using advanced analytics from Basketball Reference as a baseline. For the NBA, we found that these factors best determined the number of team wins:

  • True Shooting Percentage

  • Total Rebound Percentage

  • Assist Percentage

  • Steal Percentage

  • Usage Percentage

  • Defensive Plus / Minus

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Joel Embiid came out on top of the early season 2018-19 rankings. 2019 B6A Wins shows our projection for each player’s performance for the entire year. 2018 B6A Wins YTD shows the player’s impact on the number of team wins so far in the season. While Russell Westbrook is behind Kevin Durant in B6A Wins YTD, Westbrook is projected to surpass Durant by the season’s end.

 To provide context to these numbers, the table below shows the final results for the 2017-18 season.

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While James Harden won the MVP award last year, he was only fifth in B6A Wins. LeBron James should have been the MVP last year if you define value by the player that contributed the most wins to his team. In addition, the 2018 B6A Wins tally shows that Embiid and Nicola Jokic are projected to have far better performances this year than anyone had last year.

This piece of analysis leads to an important point. RAR can not only project a player’s B6A Wins through the end of the 2018-19 season, but it can also project a player’s performance through the 2023-24 season. However, there are factors that are difficult to account for in this or any model for player performance including injuries, coaching changes, trades, and more. Therefore, this analysis requires a margin of error when evaluating the results. 

What is arguably more important, however, is the process of determining what value means. From B6A’s perspective, creating clear metrics with tangible factors for analysis that can be examined and communicated is critical to answering some of the toughest questions in sports such as determining the NBA MVP.