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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Defining the Value of a Superstar

This year's MVP race has inspired a lot of heated commentary. Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash are generally considered to be the top two contenders, with Kobe Bryant an intriguing "third party candidate" based on his individual brilliance and his widely accepted status as the "best" player in the game--which many people do not necessarily equate with being the "most valuable" player. The heart of the question is not just who should win this year's award but how exactly should a player’s value be defined.

One way to look at this is to consider each contender's impact on his own team. At 82Games.com, Roland Beech tracks every player in the NBA in many categories, including "on court" and "off court." As you would expect, those numbers show how a player's team performs when he is on the court and off the court respectively. These numbers can be combined into a "net" value that consists of subtracting the off court total from the on court total. Beech further refines the "net" value by accounting for the player's individual performance and the production of the other nine players, resulting in a "Roland rating." There are 12 NBA players who have Roland ratings of at least 10 this year and most of them are likely to garner MVP and All-NBA consideration.

Dirk Nowitzki has the best Roland rating as of April 2, while Steve Nash ranks 10th. Kobe Bryant is seventh in Roland rating but his off court numbers show that the Lakers go from being pretty good when he is on the court to the equivalent of a lottery team when he is not in the game. Again, it must be emphasized that the on court, off court and net ratings only evaluate a player's impact on his own team and do not necessarily prove (or disprove) how well he would do with a different team. Since the Roland rating does account for the production of all the players on the court it is, in theory, a more reliable indicator of a player's overall "value." You can read more about this subject--and find out who are the other nine players with 10-plus Roland ratings--by checking out my most recent NBCSports.com article, which can be found here:

Defining the Value of a Superstar

posted by David Friedman @ 8:34 PM

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