This week on NBA Tuesday, we inch closer to the 2021 season with another edition of our awards analysis. Simple math tells us that in about four months, we will be all caught up to date here. We have plenty of ideas for where to go next, but it’s been a great ride doing this series, and we are excited about the next 18 entries!
Now, onto the this week’s analysis …
2003 NBA MVP: Tim Duncan (original), Tracy McGrady (revised)
San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan won another MVP vote, but the picture is a bit more complicated than that. The Big Fundamental topped the NBA in Win Shares (16.45), and he was third in Player Efficiency Rating (26.93). However, Orlando Magic shooting guard Tracy McGrady was best in PER (30.27) and third in WS (16.11).
The Spurs topped the league in wins (60), while the Magic nabbed the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with 42 victories. McGrady’s edge in PER is significantly more than Duncan’s margin in WS, although the two measurements are not equal in a linear sense. Still, it’s clear to see that San Antonio probably would have made the postseason, anyway, without Duncan, but there is no way Orlando makes the playoffs without T-Mac.
Duncan’s entire career is interesting, as he never led the NBA in any significant categories, and this 2003 season is no exception. Timmy was just very good at everything every year. Meanwhile, in this specific analysis, McGrady topped the NBA in scoring (32.1 points per game) backed by a .505 eFG percentage—adding 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, too.
Overall, the Spurs star posted 23.3 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 3.9 apg, and 2.9 blocks per game, in a conference where 44 wins still earned a playoff berth. We love Duncan’s game, and we know he brought a lot of value to San Antonio as the Spurs won another NBA title this year, but McGrady’s efficient game was a bigger difference maker overall.
2003 NBA ROTY: Amar’e Stoudamire (original), Yao Ming (revised)
Want some international flavor? Look at these rookies: Argentina’s Manu Ginóbli, China’s Yao Ming, and Brazil’s Nenê all posted some serious numbers their first year in the league. Overall, though, six players topped 4.0 WS in their rookie season(s): Miami Heat small forward Caron Butler (5.1), Denver Nuggets center Nenê (5.0), Houston Rockets center Ming (8.7), Phoenix Suns power forward Amar’e Stoudamire (6.2), Spurs shooting guard Ginóbli (4.2), and Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Carlos Boozer (5.9).
Stoudamire won the ROTY vote, as the Suns improved by 8 wins to claim the final Western Conference playoff spot. But what about Ming? The Rockets improved 15 victories (!) from the year before to trail Phoenix by one game for that last postseason berth. We think Ming was a better rookie than Stoudamire, and both WS and PER agree with us: The Chinese rock star (20.6) outpaced the American prince (16.2) there by more than 4 points.
We are not sure why the voters preferred the Suns rookie, as Ming was just 22 years old and hardly a “fake rookie” like Arvydas Sabonis had been in 1996. We definitely revise this award for Ming, as this is the second consecutive ROTY Award we have given to an international player now, signaling a global trend that continues to this day.