LaMarcus, You’re Our Man!

As the NBA season comes to a close, the league bestows upon the members of the Association a litany of yearly awards. Since the 1985-86 season, the Most Improved Player Award has been issued by the league to the player who has made “the most significant improvement” over the previous season. Recently, the Trail Blazers launched www.ripcityrising.com to lobby for LaMarcus Aldridge to win the award. But aside from an amazing web site and a much improved year, how do Aldridge’s numbers stack up against other players in the NBA in the running for the Most Improved Player Award (MIP)?

As with all awards, the criteria to win them are somewhat subjective. It is clear that the MIP award has at its heart a requirement that a player make a significant statistical improvement from the previous year. In an effort to analyze statistics of improvement in a non-bias way, we at the BlazersOG have crunched the numbers of potential nominees for the MIP award in order to compare and contrast their stats. There are an endless number of stats that can be included when analyzing a player; moreover it is always a difficult decision to decide how to judge a player’s improvement.

We at the BlazesOG feel the MIP award is first and foremost a personal award and accordingly we have chosen to analyze players’ statistics looking at the five most common categories used to value a player’s ability in all facets of the game: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals and Blocks. Using these statistics we have compared the 2006-07 season to the 2007-08 season of the nine most likely players to be considered for the MIP Award. Taking the various improvements (or in some cases, lack thereof) made by each player, all equally weighed so as not to give one position an advantage over another, we added the players’ net increase in each category together thereby giving them what we call a Total Player Improvement Average (TPIA).

The results are below.

Player

Points

Rebounds

Assists

Steals

Blocks

TPIA

LaMarcus Aldridge

8.7

2.6

1.2

0.4

0

12.9

Chris Kaman

5.6

4.9

0.8

0.1

1.3

12.7

Rudy Gay

9.6

1.6

0.6

0.5

0.1

12.4

Andrew Bynum

5.3

4.3

0.6

0.2

0.5

10.9

Hedo Turkoglu

6.3

1.8

1.7

-0.1

0.1

9.8

Mike Dunleavy

4.9

0.6

0.9

-0.1

0.2

6.5

Rajon Rondo

4.2

0.5

1.3

0.1

0.1

6.2

Deron Williams

2.8

-0.3

1.3

0.1

0.1

4.0

David West

2.1

0.9

0.1

0

0.6

3.7

As you can see, Aldridge’s Total Player Improvement Average is tops among potential MIP nominees. Although Aldridge has not had the greatest improvement in any one statistical category, his overall improvement is the best among the nine potential nominees.

Looking beyond the numbers it can be argued that both Chris Kaman and Andrew Bynum should not be considered or at a minimum penalized for only playing 58 and 35 games respectfully. It is hard to justify giving a player the most improved award when they don’t play the vast majority of the season.

Another factor that may be considered is the effect the players’ improved status had on the overall team. To date, Hedo Turkoglu’s emergence this season has helped result in a net gain of 11 additional wins for his team. David West’s great year has helped the Hornets improve their record from last year by 17 games. Equally as impressive is Boston’s turn around with the help of Rajon Rondo, however few would argue that Rondo had little more than a cursory impact on Boston’s huge win total. Others, like Rudy Gay’s or Mike Dunleavy’s break out seasons have resulted in no additional wins for their respective teams. In comparison, Aldridge’s year has helped the Blazers improve their record by 10 games from last year.

Looking at the totality of the facts, in our opinion LaMarcus Aldridge is the most deserving recipient of the Most Improved Player Award. Aldridge’s overall game is the most improved of the nine nominees. In addition, he has played a full NBA season while helping his club achieve a .500 record with the third youngest roster in NBA history and playing in the difficult and dominate Western Conference. Unfortunately, we hold little hope for Aldridge if the voters are as inept and myopic as those recently polled on ESPN.com when their talking heads amazingly failed to even mention Aldridge as a potential MIP nominee.

It is our sincere hope the various voters make Mr. Aldridge the third Blazer to win the Most Improved Player Award along with Kevin Duckworth (1987-88 ) and Zach Randolph (2003-04), thereby tying Washington with the most players to win the award (Pervis Ellison (1991-92), Don MacLean (1993-94), and Gheorghe Muresan (1995-96)).

Here’s hoping for you, LaMarcus.

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4 Responses to “LaMarcus, You’re Our Man!”

  1. While I appreciate the statistical effort, I do feel that your analysis is heavily flawed as it completely ignores minutes played per game. LA’s statistical production increase was a direct result of getting 12+ minutes a game more this season than last season.

    A better analysis would be to normalize all players’ statistical production to a per 36 minutes basis (You can use basketball-reference.com to do this) and then measuring the increase in statistical production value from 06-07 to 07-08. You will find that on a per 36 minute basis, LA did not improve much (and actually slipped in a few prime categories) compared to the others considered for the award.

  2. Oh really Scorcho.
    1.) I really doubt that your claim that LA did not imporve has any merit. The guys who did this blog posted their numbers where are yours?
    2.) Minutes played is NEVER figured into the MIP award. If it was then the majority of the the past winner would not have won including:
    2006-07 – Monta Ellis, Golden State
    2005-06 – Boris Diaw, Phoenix
    2004-05 – Bobby Simmons, Los Angeles Clippers
    2003-04 – Zach Randolph, Portland
    2002-03 – Gilbert Arenas, Golden State
    2001-02 – Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana
    2000-01 – Tracy McGrady

    All of which had HUGE increase in their minutes played in the year they won the award. As a matter of fact I would argue that for the most part the MIP award is really the “Young up and comming player that is not a rookie” Award becuase the players who win it are almost always young players who just became starters and accordingly are logging more minutes played. If you look at the history of the award there are only a few winners who were regular starters that increased their stats while playing the same minutes.

  3. You will be hard pressed to find a player fighting for this award this year or in years past whose minutes go down. We all know that their minutes go up, it is a point not even worth debating. If minutes go up, the stats go up. So why compare the minutes and cut to the important part? I have to agree with Adam, I am not saying the NBA will pick up this formula and start using it, but according to what this blog attempted to portray it proves that LMA should win.

    Scorcho, prove your point with evidence….I am not saying you are wrong, but PROVE it. We all know LMA deserves this so prove it wrong.

  4. I think LMA is a good MIP candidate because I have watched him all year and seen the drastic improvements he’s made on both ends of the floor. He has become our go to guy and a legit defender that we put on the other teams best big man like Duncan, Gasol or stoudamire. And he has blossomed.

    But he won’t win. This is partly because Scorcho is right that his number increases depended in minutes and people don’t see that this fact doesn’t matter. It is also partly caused by a few players who have also stepped up their game, namely Hedo and Rondo. But Hedo seems too old to win and LMA is WAY better and more valuable to his team than Rondo besides killing him on the stat sheet.

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