CP vs. the (2-Time) MVP

In case you didn’t notice, basketball-reference recently re-tooled their website. It’s much cooler, and features like head-to-head comparison utility are now fully functional. Which inspired me to compare CP3’s campaign to Steve Nash’s MVP years- the first one here, and the second one here. The highlights (First Steve Nash listed stat is 04-05, second is 05-06):

Chris Paul 11.4 apg, Steve Nash 11.5 apg, 10.5 apg

Let’s start at the top. CP is stunningly close to Nash’s first MVP year, and blows away his second. Even still, Steve Nash’s assist figures are inflated because of the speed the Suns play at. If we go tempo-independent, Steve Nash posted AST% figures of 49.2 and 44.4 Chris Paul? Oh, just a cool FIFTY TWO POINT TWO percentage.

Chris Paul 2.5 topg, Steve Nash 3.3 topg, 3.5 topg

Another huge differential. So far, in the two stats point guards are defined by (ast/to), Paul has been clearly better. Of course, in the interest of being fair, I need to cite tempo-adjusted turnover numbers; pace-independent, Paul has a TOV% of 11.9. Steve Nash posted much, much worse 20.9% and 19.0% figures.

Chris Paul 2.7 spg, Steve Nash 1.0 spg, 0.8 spg

Paul gets far more active in his team’s defense if you look at just the steals, but Paul is also an infinitely better one-on-one defender in general than his MVP counterpart. The best evidence of that is clear whenever you watch a Suns’ game- you’ll never see Nash guarding the Tony Parkers, Deron Williams, Jason Kidds, etc’s, but Chris Paul matches up against those very players every night.

Chris Paul 20.6 ppg, Steve Nash 16.3 ppg, 19.2 ppg

Point per game I’m just indicating for the sake of completeness. It’s a stat that doesn’t tell you nearly as much about a player’s scoring ability than the next stat I’m about to cite. All that said, Chris Paul still wins very comfortably.

Chris Paul .530 eFG%, Steve Nash .557 eFG%, .583 eFG%

Here’s where Steve Nash outshines every other point guard in the league. He’s as steady a shooter as I’ve ever seen, and while Paul’s made huge strides forward in his perimeter game, he’s nowhere near the level of Nash. However, Nash wasn’t a great shooter himself when he came into the league- his first three years went like so: .49, .53, .44 eFG percentages.

And now for the kicker: the stat every MVP article should be mentioning at least once.

Chris Paul 28.8 PER, Steve Nash 22.0 PER, 23.3 PER

The difference is mind-boggling. Voters were quick to say Nash was far and away the best point guard in the league when he posted PER’s of 22, and 23. What does that make Chris Paul? One huge thing nobody recognizes is that PER is not position normalized. What does that mean? Basically, the average PER at various positions is larger or smaller. The way the game is played today, forwards tend to have larger PER’s. What I’m trying to say is Chris Paul having a 29 PER is unreal. LeBron, statistically the best forward in the game, is a shade under 30 himself, while Kobe is in the high 23’s. The bottom line is: if Steve Nash won back to back MVP’s with those stats, how do you explain Chris Paul not winning it once?

Now you’re probably thinking, “great, those are just numbers, but how about the WINS???” To which I say, no way. I absolutely refuse to fuel the insane practice of using wins as an MVP measuring tool, so I’m not even going to list wins. Paul Pierce scores 21, dishes 5, and boards 5 a game, and wins 60 games. No, that doesn’t make him an amazing gritster who “refuses to lose.” It says he has awesome teammates, and that he’s a pretty good player. Crediting winners has gotten absolutely out of control these past few years- picking the best player on the best team is an inexcusably lazy way of selecting an MVP. Unfortunately, it’s how 90% of voters will fill out their ballots this season.

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2 Responses

  1. Great breakdown. Thanks entersandman!

  2. No problem mW!

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