## Fixing the NBA Superteam Problem: Sending GMs Back to 3rd Grade Math

There are 3 inevitabilities in life now: death, taxes, and LeBron James vs. The Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals.  It’s what we all expected last year, what we all expected this year, and what we’re going to expect again next year.  If you thought I made a typo earlier, trust me it’s no error.  It’s not Cleveland vs. GS it’s whatever team LeBron’s on.  However, this article isn’t about LeBron James.  It’s not about Durant and the Warriors.  At least, it’s not about them directly.  There is a huge problem in today’s NBA and it is not the super teams.  We need to address these moron GMs who don’t know basic math.

Today’s NBA appears to be more imbalanced than ever.  Most people are quick to blame LeBron or Durant for joining up with their buddies to make super teams, but that’s not a problem.  There’s nothing wrong with players taking advantage of their resources and modern communication abilities.  The problem is that GMs have no idea how to handle money.  They’re like 7 year olds in a candy story.  They’re ready to blow their stack on to the first thing that draws their eye without a single thought.  Don’t just take my word for it, let the numbers talk.

The NBA’s salary cap took a very dramatic hike this year.  The salary cap was at \$70 million in the 2015-16 season and jumped to over \$94.1 million.  That’s about a 34.4% increase.  This calculation is apparently sorcery to most GMs so I’ll outline how percentages work for these slow fools.  You can calculate the percent increase by taking the difference (24.1 million) and dividing that by the current year (in this case it was 70 million).  I apologize for troubling most of you with 3rd grade algebra but this apparently has gone over the heads of most of these idiotic talking heads.

It’s really embarrassing that I have to beat a dead horse here, but GMs clearly don’t know how percentages work.  If the price of a candy bar increase from \$1.00 to \$1.35, you pay \$1.35 for it.  You don’t say screw it and pay \$3 for that candy bar.  That’s not how things work.  Wes Wilcox (former ATL), Ernie Grunfeld (WSH), Chris Wallace (MEM), Donnie Nelson (DAL), David Wohl (LAC), Rich Cho (CHA) and above all, Sam Presti (OKC) & Neil Olshey (POR) YOU DON’T KNOW HOW THINGS WORK!!!!!!  AAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!  I can’t even begin to describe how much your stupidity hurts my brain.

There are certain franchises whose owners don’t care about luxury tax (aka Dan Gilbert) so you can pretty much pay whatever salary you want to players.  Most teams have some kind of restriction.  They can still put together championship caliber rosters, they just can’t be complete idiots.  The decisions below are the reasons why Cleveland and Golden State have such easy paths to the playoffs and won’t be challenged (outside of the Spurs and possibly the Celtics).

The Atlanta Hawks have been one of the most consistent teams in the NBA over the last decade.  They have the second longest active playoff streak behind the Spurs and always seem to have 3 talented players.  They started out this streak with Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith.  Smith eventually became Paul Millsap, Johnson became Jeff Teague, and Teague & Horford became Dennis Shroder and Dwight Howard this year.  Instead of using his extra cap space on another all-star caliber player, Wes Wilcox decided to give Kent Bazemore (7.4 ppg, 42.3 FG%, 2.8 rpg) 16.9 million in the 17-18 season, 18.1 mil the next year, and a player option for 19.3 mil the next year.  A guy who would be on the bench for most teams is making 18 million a year over the next 3 years.  This is why the Hawks can’t contend with Cleveland.

Chris Wallace is just as bad.  Wallace’s team could’ve actually contended for the title this year if he had some common sense.  Most people will get on him for the Mike Conley contract, but at least Conley makes his teammates better and was clutch this postseason (24.7 ppg, 48.5 FG%, 7 apg).  The real problem is Chandler Parsons.  Parsons is making more than Marc Gasol this year and will make more than him next year (16-17 = 22.1mil, 17-18 = 23.1mil, 18-19 =24.1 mil, and 19-20 = 25.6 mil).  Normally you get players like Parsons at a discount when they’re coming off a down year.  Wallace decided to pay an uber premium despite being one player away from a title contender.  The trio of Conley-Gasol-Randolph is pretty good.  Imagine what they’d be able to do with another all-star caliber player or a superstar like KD?

Taking the cake though are Sam Presti and Neil Oshey.  While the other GMs on this list only had one stupid contract, these two decided to go the extra mile and screw their teams over with 2 horrendous contracts.  Presti has 43.5 million tied up in 17-18 on Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo.  This total increases to 45.2 million in 18-19 46.8 million in 19-20 and 48.5 million in 20-21.  Thunder fans can say goodbye to Russell Westbrook after next year since there is no way on earth he’s going to want to play with this nonsense.  Oshey decided to spend his money on 2 perennial backups: Evan Turner & Allen Crabbe.  These two superstars average a COMBINED: 18.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4.7 apg aka a bad LeBron James game.  Their salaries add up to 35.6 mil, 37.2 mil, and 37.1 mil over the next 4 years meaning that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will be rendered useless for the rest of their 20s.

In short, these NBA GMs suck.  They need to go back to 3rd grade math since this nonsense is inexcusable.  Gar/Pax, you might be feeling lonely since I didn’t include you guys.  You are an entirely different breed of stupid.  FIRE FRED HOIBERG!!!  Once again FIRE FRED HOIBERG!!!!!  I’m not sure if you know how to fix the Bulls or not, but the answer is simple: FIRE FRED HOIBERG!!!!!!!!!  Thanks for your time everyone and enjoy the rest of your day.

By: Milap Mehta

## 2015 Gold Glove Awards: 2nd Base

Defense is one of the most difficult aspects of the game to judge.  Almost every talented athlete in the field makes multiple web gems in the year, so it’s hard to tell which one of them are really the best defenders.  Baseball writers often fail to make the extra effort to judge defense, and this resulted in guys like Derek Jeter getting gold gloves.  This is my effort to objectively rank the defensive efforts of the 2015 season.

Here are the statistics I used for 2nd basemen and the explanation for why I chose each statistic:

Total Outs: This is a really basic statistic and shouldn’t be the deciding factor for gold glove voting.  My purpose for using the statistic is to resolve the quantity vs. quality issues.  Guys who played 2nd Base a lot longer were more valuable overall than guys who might have played slightly better on a per inning basis, but played in considerably fewer games.

Double Plays: This is another simpler statistic, but they have a huge impact on the game. Double plays take out an active baserunner which can save multiple runs in the process.  Most players can turn routine double plays, but being a league leader in the category requires elite positioning and playmaking ability.

Range Factor: This is a simpler advanced statistic (weird phrasing but true when you think about it) that’s one of my favorites.  This statistic shows how many outs a player creates for every 9 innings played.  Better defensive players like Ian Kinsler simply make more plays than weaker ones like Johnny Giavotella.

Real zone rating: RZR is an advanced statistic that shows how well a player defends their territory.  It’s the percentage of balls feilded within a players’ zone + the number of balls fielded outside of their, divided by the total number of opportunities in their zone.  This is statistic ranks right up there for me along with range factor.

Without Further ado, here are my American League and National League gold glove picks for 2nd Base.  I picked 10 finalists that I thought had a realistic chance of getting nominated at their positions and scored them based on the above criteria.  I’ll start with the AL gold glove.

 2B (AL) TO DP RF RZR B Dozier 759 111 4.94 0.771 J Altuve 664 81 4.49 0.785 I Kinsler 714 109 4.85 0.823 R Cano 690 104 4.72 0.754 J Kipnis 514 69 4.27 0.8 L Forsythe 463 43 3.88 0.698 O Infante 513 67 4.35 0.847 R Odor 557 97 4.98 0.767 C Sanchez 497 83 4.49 0.759 E Sogard 436 56 5.06 0.801 B Dozier 1 1 3 6 11 J Altuve 4 6 6 5 21 I Kinsler 2 2 4 2 10 R Cano 3 3 5 9 20 J Kipnis 6 7 9 4 26 L Forsythe 9 10 10 10 39 O Infante 7 8 8 1 24 R Odor 5 4 2 7 18 C Sanchez 8 5 6 8 27 E Sogard 10 9 1 3 23

Overall Analysis: Ian Kinsler had another excellent defensive season.  Robinson Cano didn’t just regress with his bat, his glove work was weaker too.  Logan Forsythe exemplifies why I hate WAR.  His defensive numbers are poor accross the board yet he’s 7th among major league 2nd baseman (minimum 500 innings at 2B) in dWAR.

Curious Candidate: If Eric Sogard played at second base all year, he would probably be my pick for the award.  The guy ranks number 1 in range factor and is 3rd in real zone rating.  He’s a darkhorse candidate for next year’s gold glove.  Hopefully he can do some work at the plate too to get some recognition.

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Ian Kinser – 10 points

2) Brian Dozier – 11 points

3) Rogned Odor – 18 points

My pick: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers – This was a pretty easy selection for me.  Kinsler had the best score among the second baseman and did well in every category.  He played second base all year too which nullifies Dozier’s best categories.  He also did really well in the advanced stats.  Technically Sogard was better in the advanced metric department, but the disparity in total outs was way too large to ignore.

 2B (NL) TO DP RF RZR DJ LeMahieu 752 120 5.27 0.786 K Wong 722 107 5.08 0.806 D Gordon 727 111 5.15 0.765 B Phillips 655 79 4.8 0.789 N Walker 654 103 5.04 0.751 J Peterson 682 109 4.44 0.785 C Owings 443 65 4.34 0.753 J Panik 459 64 4.9 0.787 S Gennett 449 71 4.93 0.801 A Russell 377 47 4.55 0.855 DJ LeMahieu 1 1 1 6 9 K Wong 3 4 3 2 12 D Gordon 2 2 2 8 14 B Phillips 5 6 7 4 22 N Walker 6 5 4 10 25 J Peterson 4 3 9 7 23 C Owings 9 8 10 9 36 J Panik 7 9 6 5 27 S Gennett 8 7 5 3 23 A Russell 10 10 8 1 29

Overall Analysis: Like the American league, there’s no real clear cut winner for 2nd baseman.  There appears to be a clear divide among contenders and pretenders as three candidates stood out among the crowd.  I always enjoyed watching Joe Panik play, but I guess his numbers at 2nd base aren’t as good as what I thought they would be.

Curious Candidate: Addison Russell, like teammate Anthony Rizzo, didn’t score as well as I thought he would.  Unlike Rizzo, Russell’s score is more attributable to playing time than performance.  His defensive duties were divided between short and second, which definitely ate into his opportunities.

Top 3 scorers: 1) DJ LeMahieu – 9 points

2) Kolten Wong – 12 points

3) Dee Gordon – 14 points

My Pick: DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies – LeMahieu’s defense can get overlooked because he plays on the same team as defensive stud Nolan Arenado.  LeMahieu’s real zone rating was just average but he was tops in all of the other categories which makes him my pick.  Wong was a little better in the advanced stats, but he didn’t drastically outperform LeMahieu so I’m going with the Rocky.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  Please let me know what you think of my writing/opinions, and feel free to post your gold glove 2nd baseman picks in the comments below.

By: Milap Mehta

## 2015 Gold Glove Awards: 1st Base

Defense is one of the most difficult aspects of the game to judge.  Almost every talented athlete in the field makes multiple web gems in the year, so it’s hard to tell which one of them are really the best defenders.  Baseball writers often fail to make the extra effort to judge defense, and this resulted in guys like Derek Jeter getting gold gloves.  This is my effort to objectively rank the defensive efforts of the 2015 season.

Here are the statistics I used for 1st basemen and the explanation for why I chose each statistic:

Total Outs: This is a really basic statistic and shouldn’t be the deciding factor for gold glove voting.  My purpose for using the statistic is to resolve the quantity vs. quality issues.  Guys who played catcher a lot longer were more valuable overall than guys who might have played slightly better on a per inning basis, but played in considerably fewer games.

Double Plays: This is another simpler statistic, but they have a huge impact on the game. Double plays take out an active baserunner which can save multiple runs in the process.  Most players can turn routine double plays, but being a league leader in the category requires elite positioning and playmaking ability.  Since first baseman are on the receiving end (usually the easier job) for the majority of double plays, it’s not weighted as heavily as the other categories.

Range Factor: This is a simpler advanced statistic (weird phrasing but true when you think about it) that’s one of my favorites.  This statistic shows how many outs a player creates for every 9 innings played.  Better defensive players like Paul Goldschmidt simply make more plays than weaker ones like Ryan Howard.

Real zone rating: RZR is an advanced statistic that shows how well a player defends their territory.  It’s the percentage of balls feilded within a players’ zone + the number of balls fielded outside of their, divided by the total number of opportunities in their zone.  This is statistic ranks right up there for me along with range factor.

Without Further ado, here are my American League and National League gold glove picks for 1st Base.  I picked 10 finalists that I thought had a realistic chance of getting nominated at their positions and scored them based on the above criteria.  I’ll start with the AL gold glove.

 1B (AL) TO DP RF RZR E Hosmer 1362 121 9.05 0.825 J Mauer 1237 113 9.37 0.787 C Santana 1138 110 8.85 0.768 M Moreland 1039 109 9.52 0.75 M Cabrera 979 96 9.45 0.803 M Teixeira 945 76 9.31 0.787 C Carter 978 85 9.64 0.818 M Napoli 922 77 9.23 0.832 A Pujols 773 57 8.65 0.848 J Smoak 710 74 9.3 0.842 E Hosmer 1 0.5 8 4 13.5 J Mauer 2 1 4 7 14 C Santana 3 1.5 9 9 22.5 M Moreland 4 2 2 10 18 M Cabrera 5 2.5 3 6 16.5 M Teixeira 7 4.0 5 7 23 C Carter 6 3 1 5 15 M Napoli 8 3.5 7 3 21.5 A Pujols 9 5 10 1 25 J Smoak 10 4.5 6 2 22.5

Overall Observations: Eric Hosmer, the winner of the past 2 gold glove awards in the AL, was the best scorer for this year.  Mitch Moreland was second among 1st baseman in outs per inning, but still ranked last among the 10 candidates in real zone rating.  There doesn’t appear to be any truly elite 1st baseman in the AL defensively.

Curious Candidate: Chris Carter was the best performer among AL 1st baseman in the 2 advanced statistics I used.  Many baseball fans proabably don’t know who he is, let alone consider him to be an elite defender.  Regardless, he had a great year and definitely deserves some considration.

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Eric Hosmer – 13.5 points

2) Joe Mauer – 14 points

3) Chris Carter – 15 points

My Pick: Chris Carter, Houston Astros – This was a really tough pick for me between Hosmer & Carter.  Joe Mauer technically scored better than Chris Carter, but there was no difference between Mauer and Hosmer in advanced stats so Mauer wouldn’t get the nod over the defending champ.  Hosmer simply played more games first than any other AL catcher and dominated Carter in total outs.  I’m giving Carter the nod because of the sizeable 6 point gap in advanced statistics.  If Hosmer was closer in the latter 2 categories, I would have given him the nod.

 1B (NL) TO DP RF RZR A Rizzo 1456 102 9.16 0.771 P Goldschmidt 1501 129 9.78 0.841 J Votto 1351 122 8.83 0.778 A Gonzalez 1383 100 9.92 0.847 A Lind 1180 124 9.13 0.823 L Duda 1116 87 8.91 0.813 B Belt 1131 91 9.69 0.854 F Freeman 956 103 8.98 0.803 R Howard 937 75 8.81 0.728 P Alvarez 1034 98 10.27 0.759 A Rizzo 2 2.5 5 8 17.5 P Goldschmidt 1 0.5 3 3 7.5 J Votto 4 1.5 9 7 21.5 A Gonzalez 3 3.0 2 2 10 A Lind 5 1.0 6 4 16 L Duda 7 4.5 8 5 24.5 B Belt 6 4.0 4 1 15 F Freeman 9 2.0 7 6 24 R Howard 10 5.0 10 10 35 P Alvarez 8 3.5 1 9 21.5

Overall Observations: The National league also has better 1st baseman than the AL.  Adrian Gonzalez and Brandon Belt would both have the gold glove in the bag if they played in the other league.  Pedro Alvarez managed to get the most outs per inning, but really bad in every other category.  Ryan Howard has fallen really far.

Curious Candidate: I was at the Cubs-Brewers game for the “Rizzo Catch” which was absolutely amazing.  As a Cubs fan, I really wanted to see Rizzo be the best pick in the NL.  Though the guy’s got a great defensive highlight real, he unfortunately should be considered a middle of the pack guy for the gold glove award.

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Paul Goldschmidt – 7.5 points

2) Adrian Gonzalez – 10 points

3) Brandon Belt – 15 points

My Pick: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks – Even though the NL had better catchers, this was a much easier pick for me.  Goldschmidt scored extremely well in every category.  Adrian Gonzalez and Brandon Belt narrowly edged out Goldschmidt in the advanced stats, but it was extremely close and Goldschmidt’s overall production was good enough for me.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  Please let me know what you think of my writing + opinions, and feel free to leave your gold glove 1st base picks in the comments below.

By: Milap Mehta

## 2015 Gold Glove Awards: Catcher

Defense is one of the most difficult aspects of the game to judge.  Almost every talented athlete in the field makes multiple web gems in the year, so it’s hard to tell which one of them are really the best defenders.  Baseball writers often fail to make the extra effort to judge defense, and this resulted in guys like Derek Jeter getting gold gloves.  This is my effort to objectively rank the defensive efforts of the 2015 season.

Here are the statistics I used for catchers and the explanation for why I chose each statistic:

Total Outs: This is a really basic statistic and shouldn’t be the deciding factor for gold glove voting.  My purpose for using the statistic is to resolve the quantity vs. quality issues.  Guys who played catcher a lot longer were more valuable overall than guys who might have played slightly better on a per inning basis, but played in considerably fewer games.

Range Factor: This is a simpler advanced statistic (weird phrasing but true when you think about it) that’s one of my favorites.  This statistic shows how many outs a player creates for every 9 innings played.  Better defensive players like Yadier Molina simply make more plays than weaker ones like Nick Hundley.

Caught Stealing %: The ability to get baserunners out is one of the most standout abilities of catchers.  Not only do catchers with good arms get more outs, but they prevent runners from getting into scoring position which saves a lot of runs.  Obviously this isn’t the only aspect of catching, but it’s a very important one.

True Catcher ERA: I don’t want to call this my proprietary statistic since I’m sure others use it, but it’s not very common.  This is simply the catcher’s actual era minus the team’s ERA.  This statistic really shows if pitchers performed better with these guys behind the plate.  Russell Martin and Stephen Vogt had a nearly identical Catcher ERA (RM = 3.88, SV = 3.81).  However, the Blue Jays ERA was actually higher with Martin than other catchers, while Vogt significantly lowered the athletics ERA.  True Catcher ERA doesn’t give unfair advantages to players who just had better pitching staffs.

Without Further ado, here are my American League and National League gold glove picks for catcher.  I picked 10 finalists (AL Catcher is the only one I used 11 for.  Why?  I don’t know) that I thought had a realistic chance of getting nominated at their positions and scored them based on the above criteria.  I’ll start with the AL gold glove.

 Catcher (AL) TO RF CS% True CERA S Perez 1064 8.03 0.305 -0.09 K Suzuki 860 7.06 0.149 -0.09 B McCann 1049 9.06 0.359 -0.06 R Martin 869 7.87 0.444 0.08 J McCann 777 7.41 0.406 0.03 M Zunino 853 8.35 0.344 -0.12 J Castro 849 8.55 0.364 -0.06 T Flowers 940 9.63 0.254 -0.29 C Joseph 794 8.65 0.327 -0.39 S Vogt 699 7.83 0.317 -0.23 Y Gomes 804 9.05 0.328 -0.13 S Perez 1 7 9 6 23 K Suzuki 5 11 11 6 33 B McCann 2 2 4 8 16 R Martin 4 8 1 11 24 J McCann 10 10 2 10 32 M Zunino 6 6 5 5 22 J Castro 7 5 3 8 23 T Flowers 3 1 10 2 16 C Joseph 9 4 7 1 21 S Vogt 11 9 8 3 31 Y Gomes 8 3 6 4 21

Overall observations: Salvador Perez, the gold glove winner for the past 2 years, did was middle of the pack statistically.  He played the most innings out of American league catchers so he created the most outs, but didn’t realy do well anywhere else.

Curious Candidate: Brian McCann, who is widely regarded as a poor defensive player is actually a legitimate gold glove candidate.  He ranks well among AL catchers in every category and should have legitimate consideration.

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Brian McCann & Tyler Flowers – 16 points

3) Caleb Joseph & Yan Gomes – 21 points

My Pick: Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox – There is a decent gap between Flowers+McCann and the rest of the candidates so it came down to those 2 for me.  Both Flowers and McCann have a major weakness in a critical category (Caught Stealing & True Catcher ERA respectively).  Flowers was dominant in 2 categories and there is a big gap between he and McCann in McCann’s best category.

 Catcher (NL) TO RF CS% True CERA Y Molina 1120 8.77 0.413 -0.14 F Cervelli 1074 8.79 0.223 0.29 W Ramos 1103 9.21 0.444 -0.17 D Norris 1049 9.07 0.344 0.07 JT Realmuto 882 7.74 0.271 -0.29 B Posey 838 8.36 0.361 -0.13 Y Grandal 871 8.86 0.291 -0.08 N Hundley 694 7.21 0.342 0.62 M Montero 875 9.55 0.202 0.02 J Lucroy 680 8.21 0.278 -0.1 Y Molina 1 6 2 3 12 F Cervelli 3 5 9 9 26 W Ramos 2 2 1 2 7 D Norris 4 3 4 8 19 JT Realmuto 5 9 8 1 23 B Posey 8 7 3 4 22 Y Grandal 7 4 6 6 23 N Hundley 9 10 5 10 34 M Montero 6 1 10 7 24 J Lucroy 10 8 7 5 30

Overall Observations: The National League clearly has the 2 best defensive catchers.  If Yadier Molina played in the American League, he would no doubt win the award.  He very well could win it again this year on name value, but he’s not the right pick.

Surprising Result: Wilson Ramos had an amazing year behind the plate.  There is a decent gap between he and Yadier Molina in scoring which I did not expect at all.  He’s known as a pretty good catcher, but who would’ve thought that he’d separate himself from Molina by so much?

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Wilson Ramos – 7 points

2) Yadier Molina – 12 points

3) Derek Norris – 19 points

My Pick: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals – This is an easy one for me.  The guy finished in the top 2 in every category.  There were no deficiencies in his game behind the plate.  He created a ton of outs, nailed runners trying to steal, and had great success in pitch framing.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  Please let me know what you think of my writing + opinions, and feel free to leave your Gold Glove catcher picks in the comments below.

By: Milap Mehta

## 2014-2015 NBA MVP

This year has one of the greatest MVP races to come about in a while.  There are several strong candidates who are all incredibly deserving of the award.  Unfortunately, my MVP for the year has faded as the season progressed.  Despite losing recognition, Anthony Davis scored the best compared to the other candidates and is my pick for the year.  Here is how the entire list played out:

1. Anthony Davis (24.4 – 10.2 – 2.2), Score: 64.5.  Despite missing 14 games, Davis scored the best out of all the MVP candidates.  He managed to carry the Pelicans to the playoffs despite having the worst supporting cast out of all the playoff teams.  He is a legitimate 2-way player and many believe that he overtook LeBron this year as the best player on the planet.  He’s not going to win the award, but he is just as deserving as the next 4 guys who are getting a lot more attention.

2. James Harden (27.4 – 5.7 – 7.0), Score: 70.5. Harden was the heart and soul of the Rockets this year, and he managed to carry them to the playoffs despite missing Dwight Howard for half the year.  He has the highest value added in the NBA thanks to reaching career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.  He is the favorite to win the MVP award and for good reason.

3. Stephen Curry (23.8 – 4.3 – 7.7), Score: 84.5.  Curry is the guy who pretty much everyone wants to win the award.  He seems like a nice person, is the best player on the team with the best record, and is an incredible combination of cerebral and elegant on the court.  He wasn’t asked to do as much as Harden and Davis because he had a better supporting cast.  Regardless, the MVP race comes down to Curry and the Beard.

4. Russell Westbrook (28.1 – 7.3 – 8.6), Score: 89.  Westbrook was easily the most entertaining player to watch this year.  People complain about his turnovers and shot selection, but there is no doubt that he is unstoppable when he’s on.  The Thunder missed the playoffs which guarantees that he won’t win the award.  Regardless, he had a phenomenal year and will finish top 5 in voting for sure.

5. LeBron James (25.3 – 6.0 – 7.4), Score: 92.  James still has claim to the title of best basketball player on the planet.  He was the most important factor in the Cavs turning around their season.  Despite putting up another phenomenal season, there are a couple guys who beat him out statistically.  The Cavs also play in the weaker conference which could hurt The King in voting.

6. Chris Paul (19.1 – 4.6 – 10.2), Score: 92.  CP3 is in this position virtually every year.  He plays extremely efficiently on offense, is solid on defense, and is the best player on a title contender (at least an on-paper title contender).  The problem is that Blake Griffin and De’Andre Jordan are on their way up and can take over games just like Paul.  He’s not going to win the award, but will get some of the votes.

7. Al Horford (15.2 – 7.2 – 3.2), Score: 98.5.  Horford stayed healthy this year and led the most surprising team in the league to the Eastern Conference title.  He was asked to do the least out of every player on the list which is why he is 7th despite playing on a team with the 2nd best record.  If Horford had his 2012-13 playing time, he would have a legitimate shot at the MVP, but that’s unfortunately not the case.

8. Pau Gasol (18.5 – 11.8 – 2.7), Score: 99.5.  Pau might not have been the Bulls’ best player this year, but he was the most consistent.  The man led the NBA in double-doubles and anchored a lethal Bulls offense.  The Bulls went through a few slumps this year, but most of the rough stretches were because of injuries, or Pau not getting the ball enough.

9. Marc Gasol (17.4 – 7.8 – 3.8), Score: 100.  The other Gasol brother looked like he was going to crack the top 5 a month ago.  Unfortunately, the Grizzlies faded toward the closing stretch as Gasol had his worst statistical month of the year in March.  MVP or not, Gasol’s presence makes the Grizzlies a legitimate title contender.  I really want to see the Gasol brothers duke it out in the finals.

10. Kawhi Leonard (16.5 – 7.2 – 2.5), Score: 101.  Most people thought that Leonard was going to break out in a big way this year after winning the finals MVP award.  Leonard followed through by setting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.  He played the fewest games out of everyone on this list, which is why it took so long for his value added to get to the required threshold.  If he stays healthy, Leonard will be a legitimate candidate next year.

Honorable mentions: Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler, De’Andre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyrie Irving

By: Milap Mehta

## 3rd Quarter MVP of 2014-2015 NBA Season

The NBA season is a little over 75% done, and teams are heading down the home stretch.  Ultimately, this year’s MVP race is going to come down to 5 five candidates: Davis, Harden, Curry, James, and Westbrook.  However, I want to highlight a few more of the outstanding players from this year.  I posted links to my previous two posts on the bottom which should clarify how I did the scoring .  Without further ado, here are my MVP rankings:

1. Anthony Davis (24.3 – 10.4 – 1.7), Score 60.5: Davis no longer leads the league in Hollinger’s value added, but he’s still my top MVP candidate.  He’s still the most efficient player in the league and has kept the Pelicans alive in the uber-competitive western conference.  If Davis had a better supporting cast, he would be a near-unanimous MVP pick.

2. James Harden (27.1 – 5.8 – 7.1), Score 66.5: Harden has been a monster this regular season and has been single-handedly carrying the Rockets for most of the year.  Harden’s pretty far behind Davis in efficiency which is the difference in their scores.  Despite that, he will probably win the MVP award by season’s end.

3. Stephen Curry (23.6 – 4.4 – 7.8), Score 80.5: Curry is the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA.  He’s not asked to do as much as Harden and Davis which is why he didn’t score as well.  Regardless, Curry’s having a phenomenal year and is a very deserving MVP candidate

4. LeBron James (26.0 – 5.7 – 7.3), Score 84.5: James is once again in the thick of the MVP race thanks to his resurrection of the Cavs.  He’s still scoring and passing at an elite level, and has the Cavs positioned to contend for the Eastern conference title.  A strong push in the last quarter of the season could propel him to his 5th MVP award.

5. Russell Westbrook (27.4 – 7.1 – 8.3), Score 87.5: Westbrook wasn’t even qualified for the award in the 1st quarter, and now he’s in the thick of the race.  If Westbrook keeps up this level of play for the rest of the year, he will definitely be the MVP this year.  Even if he doesn’t win, the guy is still the most exciting player in the NBA this year.

6. Marc Gasol (18.0 – 8.0 – 3.8), Score 93: Gasol has been the Grizzlies’ anchor this year and should be a perennial MVP candidate.  He’s asked to do less than the majority of the candidates on this list and that’s what’s holding him back.  Gasol probably won’t win the award, but he should finish in the top 10 in voting.

7. Chris Paul (18.5 – 4.8 – 10.1), Score 98.5: CP3’s biggest weakness is that he plays with 2 all-star caliber teammates who are both in the top 25 in value added.  He’s leading another solid Clippers team, but needs to carry them to the next level if he wants to win an MVP award.

8. Jimmy Butler (20.2 – 5.9 – 3.3), Score 101: Because of his injury, Butler won’t be in the top 10 for the final MVP rankings.  However, he has been a top 10 candidate up till this point.  He’s the 2nd best shooting guard in the NBA and will be missed heavily by the Bulls who are littered with injuries.

9. Pau Gasol (18.3 – 12.1 – 2.7), Score 102: Pau should climb the rankings during the final stretch of the season.  With Butler and Rose both out, the Bulls should lean heavily on the big man.  He’s a long shot to win the award, but could be in the conversation if he helps the Bulls secure the second seed in the East.

10. Al Horford (15.4 – 7.6 – 3.4), Score 104.5: Horford cracks the list for the first time this year.  His return has been a huge reason why the Hawks are 1st in the east and just a half game behind Golden State for the best record in the NBA.  He plays the least out of all the MVP candidates which hurts him, but his team probably has the best chemistry.

Honorable mentions: LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard.

By: Milap Mehta

https://thesportsstorm.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/1st-half-mvps-of-the-2014-2015-nba-season/

https://thesportsstorm.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/1st-quarter-mvps-of-the-2014-2015-nba-season/

## 1st Half MVPs of the 2014-2015 NBA Season

We’re a little past the halfway point of the NBA season, and it’s time for my midseason NBA MVP voting.  To create an objective MVP ranking, I assigned points based off of in game totals, efficiency, and advanced metrics.  The lower the score, the higher the rank.

More information on voting criterion can be found at my previous MVP ranking: https://thesportsstorm.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/1st-quarter-mvps-of-the-2014-2015-nba-season/.

Without further ado, here are my NBA candidates (Parenthesis stats are: points – rebounds – assists).

1. Anthony Davis (24.2 – 10.4 – 1.6), Score 60: Davis has one of the weakest supporting casts in the Western conference and still has this team above .500.  He plays very well on both sides of the court, and is one of the most efficient offensive players in the game.  James Harden would have the real award if voting ended today, but the numbers slightly favor Davis so that’s who I’m taking.

2. James Harden (27.3 – 5.5 – 6.8), Score 64: Harden is having a monster season and kept the Rockets near the top of the conference despite missing Dwight Howard for a significant period of time.  He might be the best offensive player on the planet right now, and could very well be seeing his first ever MVP award by season’s end.

3. Stephen Curry (22.8 – 4.7 – 8.1), Score 76.5: Curry is the biggest reason why the Warriors have the best record in the NBA.  He’s shooting lights out, and currently has the highest single season FG% for his career.  If it wasn’t for other Warriors like Thompson and Green taking over games, Curry would be at the top of the list.

4. LeBron James (26.0 – 5.5 – 7.4), Score 83.5: Unsurprisingly, the Cavs struggled mightily when James missed time.  Despite a slight decline in numbers, James is still the best player on the planet, and could very well win his 5th MVP award if the Cavaliers somehow manage a top 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.

5. Marc Gasol (19.1 – 8.2 – 3.7), Score 94: Gasol’s having a career year, and is a major reason why the Grizzlies are so dangerous.  He can do it all offensively, and defensively, making him a legitimate MVP candidate.  He doesn’t take over games as often as the 4 guys ahead of him, and that will most likely be what keeps him away from the MVP award.

6. Jimmy Butler (20.5 – 6.0 – 3.3), Score 95.5: Derrick Rose might be back, but there is no doubt that Jimmy Butler has been the MVP of the Bulls for the first half of the year.  The iron man continues to play extremely well on both sides of the floor and will at least win the MIP if not MVP.  The presence of Rose and Pau will limit his chances, but it’s still been a great run.

7. Russell Westbrook (25.0 – 6.0 – 7.6), Score 97.5: Westbrook would easily be a top 5 candidate if he hadn’t missed so much time.  The guy has been doing it all, and is the biggest reason why the Thunder are still in the thick of the playoff hunt.  With KD back, he probably won’t win the award.  Regardless, it’s been one of the most exciting rides of the season.

8. Chris Paul (17.3 – 4.7 – 9.8), Score 99.5: Chris Paul is still as efficient as ever, but he just isn’t asked to do as much as a lot of the other MVP candidates.  Regardless, the Clippers wouldn’t be a title contender without him.  Saving CP3 for the grind of the playoffs is probably the best move.

9. Blake Griffin (23.0 – 7.6 – 4.9), Score 100: Griffin and CP3 will both eat into each others’ MVP votes.  Griffin’s been a stud, but his scoring and rebounding are both down from last year.  It’s tough to be the MVP when you might not even be the best player on your own team.  However, the Clippers wouldn’t be anywhere near this dangerous without Griffin.

10. DeMarcus Cousins (25.8 – 12.4 – 2.7), Score 100.5: The Kings are 3 games under .500 in games Cousins played in.  A few more losses, and Cousins will no longer be eligible for my MVP rank.  Of course, Cousins is the last guy you’d blame for the Kings’ struggles.  Cousins is having a career year, and is the only reason why the Kings are even slightly relevant.

Honorable mentions:  LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Pau Gasol, Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

By: Milap Mehta