It’s a big day at gotbuckets, offering updated 2-year APM incorporating the first two months of the current season. All credit for this laborious task goes to Mr. Randall Cooper. Follow him on twitter: @laughingcavs.
Over the course of this week, gotbuckets.com leader boards for MVP, Eastern and Western Conference All-Stars, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year will be offered. Come back frequently for those, as well continual APM updates over the rest of the season. An RAPM variant should be available soon, too.
Now, onto the inaugural ranking of Top Five MVP candidates for 2013 – 2014. This list won’t always lack subjectivity, but today’s crew does represent the five highest rated players for minute-weighted 2-year APM from 02/14/2012 through 01/06/2014.
1. Lebron James - Not much to say about what is pretty much universally recognized…Mr James is the NBA’s best. His defense rates out less than probably anticipated, but his offensive impact is otherworldly, so other than crunch time and the playoffs, Lebron gets away with 80% effort at that end. At least the “Lebron is #1 result” confirms that Randall didn’t mess up the regression.
2. Steph Curry - On offense, Curry and Lebron are orbiting in a higher stratosphere than anyone else. Averaging per-game career bests in scoring and assisting, while leading the NBA in attempted threes, the imprint of his game is all over Golden State’s 13th ranked O.
3. Kevin Durant - This guy will continue to be near the top of MVP lists for the rest of the decade.
4. Paul George - While greatly improving his scoring and scoring efficiency, and trimming his turnover rate, to APM, George’s defense sets him apart and propels him towards MVP frontrunner status. Only nine guys make a bigger impact per 100 possessions than Indiana’s ultra-long, ultra-athletic wing.
5. Amir Johnson - If this were the first or second time that an unsung player showed up near the top of a 2-year APM regression, I would bypass him and include someone else at #5. But here at gotbuckets, we love Amir Johnson…shoot, we sponsor his basketball-reference page. We’ve already had Adam Francis offer insights into what makes Amir special, due to his ranking 5th, 29th, 18th, 8th, 11th and 11th in 2-year APM over the last six datasets. Now amidst another season when the Raptors stink when he sits, but are a juggernaut when he plays, Johnson leaps to 3rd on the 2014 2-year APM list. Through January 9th games, Toronto has been outscored by 4.1 points per 100 possessions when Amir rides the pine, but is outscoring opponents by 6.9 pp100p with him on the court. That is amazing for a guy that won’t sniff All-Star consideration, but also pretty much routine for this year-in, year-out scoreboard mover.
But how can an MVP candidate average 11 points and 7 boards every night? One reason is his versatile defense, whether tough man D in the post, or rotating to help at the basket, or guarding Lebron, Johnson is one of the small handful of players that rates out above Paul George for per possession defense. On offense, he scores efficiently, and is the NBA’s meanest screen setter. The greatest pick-setter of his generation? That goes unappreciated almost everywhere, but here at gotbuckets, it can’t be ignored. APM won’t allow it.