Our NBA Tuesday series examining the history of the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards is complete, and next week, we will be moving on to a new series analyzing the Finals MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year awards. But first, let’s look back at where we have gone in the last 17 months of our first retro-analytical review of the past.
First, let’s look at who were our top winners in the MVP analysis:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 9
- Wilt Chamberlain: 8
- Michael Jordan: 8
- LeBron James: 4
- David Robinson: 3
- Shaquille O’Neal: 3
- Chris Paul: 3
Yes, these have been the most dominant players in NBA history, by our estimation. You want an All-Time NBA team? Maybe you start with these 7 guys and pick a starting 5 from this group: Paul would the point guard, with Air Jordan at shooting guard and King James at small forward. That leaves us with 4 centers to employ at our leisure.
We’d probably go with Kareem and the Admiral, simply because the Stilt and Shaq both were vulnerable at the free-throw line. But obviously that flaw didn’t keep either great from dominating our analyses, since they were so powerful in other areas of the game, to the point they raked in the hardware.
Of these 7 players, too, it’s interesting to note that 5 of them won ROTY honors, too. Chamberlain debuted before the award did, and James won the vote at the time, but we picked Carmelo Anthony for the honor in retrospect. We don’t feel that is a bad thing, simply due to circumstance at the time.
Second, beyond this top tier of players, there were 7 other guys who won the MVP honors twice:
- George Mikan
- Neil Johnston
- Dolph Schayes
- Bob Pettit
- Moses Malones
- Larry Bird
- Kevin Garnett
That, too, is am impressive list, although it’s dominated again by big men. Generally, the sabermetrics have tended to favor the front-court players due to the prominence of rebounding and shooting percentages in formulaic evaluations. But if you’re good enough, obviously, you can penetrate the front-court dominance with a deft shooting hand, a keen passing eye, and a lot of good defense.
Basketball always has been a game for the tall, anyway: That’s no surprise. This 17-month analysis of Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating reveals that, too, especially before the three-point line was introduced into the sport. That has had a somewhat equalizing effect on the balance of the game, as we continue to watch it evolve today and into the tomorrows of the future.
The game is still won, however, with two key elements: making baskets with efficiency and rebounding missed shots on both ends of the court. That probably will never change. However, those elements have shown us, perhaps, who the most overrated players in the NBA history are, and we will look at that list in the second part of this analysis later.