2017 NBA All-Star Game: Who Has the Best Chance of Taking Home MVP Honors?
Most would probably say that trying to figure out who the Most Valuable Player of the NBA All-Star Game will be is an unpredictable event. Not only do players play different, but they do so with less minutes and a higher pace. Oftentimes, the winner comes out of nowhere.
While that's mainly true, there's actually some type of inexact science to it. You can see why by taking a look at Las Vegas' odds on the award, according to Bovada.
|WEST||Russell Westbrook||7/2||EAST||DeMar DeRozan||28/1|
|WEST||Stephen Curry||6/1||EAST||Carmelo Anthony||45/1|
|WEST||Anthony Davis||13/2||EAST||Kyle Lowry||45/1|
|WEST||Kevin Durant||7/1||WEST||Klay Thompson||45/1|
|WEST||James Harden||7/1||EAST||John Wall||45/1|
|EAST||LeBron James||7/1||WEST||DeMarcus Cousins||55/1|
|EAST||Kyrie Irving||15/2||WEST||Draymond Green||55/1|
|EAST||Giannis Antetokounmpo||11/1||WEST||DeAndre Jordan||65/1|
|WEST||Kawhi Leonard||15/1||EAST||Kemba Walker||65/1|
|EAST||Isaiah Thomas||15/1||WEST||Gordon Hayward||70/1|
|EAST||Jimmy Butler||22/1||WEST||Marc Gasol||80/1|
|EAST||Paul George||25/1||EAST||Paul Millsap||80/1|
Are these odds reflective of those players with the best chance to take home the award? With the support of box scores and advanced numbers from the last 10 MVP performances, I would say (for the most part) no.
Thanks to RealGm, we know what to expect from the MVP in recent years. We see some distinct trends in points, threes and field goal attempts, but also in metrics like usage percentage and hands on buckets. For those unfamiliar, hands on buckets (HOB) is the percentage of field goals a player is directly involved in as a scorer or passer.
Starting with HOB, we'll narrow down the 24 All-Stars by category. Utilizing their 2016-17 numbers, we'll do this until we reach the final few and, ultimately, the most likely winner.
Cut 1: HOB
That brings the player pool to 18.
Cut 2: Usage
That leaves 14 players, including 7 of the top 8 candidates, according to betting odds.
Cut 3: Points
Needless to say, points are crucial in an All-Star Game. So much so that only 1 player has tallied less than 27 points in an MVP performance. As a result of that high threshold, we cut eight players from contention. That group is made up of big names like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, among others.
With that, here's where we stand.
Cut 4: Threes
All-Star games see a lot of three-point shots go up, warranted or not. But, one thing rings true: only 1 MVP (Dwyane Wade) has failed to make any threes and 9 of the last 10 have converted on at least a pair of them.
Cut 5: Field Goal Attempts
Seven of the last 10 MVPs have hoisted at least 22 field goal attempts. Westbrook is the only player averaging that many attempts through the first part of the regular season.
It's not astonishing that the numbers agree with Westbrook as the most likely winner. After all, he's won the award the last two seasons and has a style of play that's tailor-made for All-Star games.
Of the 3 players at 7/1 odds, Harden appears to be the best bet, given his usage, scoring and three-point prowess. Meanwhile, IT2 -- with his outstanding play and ability to shoot and dish -- is possibly the best value on the board.
Who will actually take home the hardware? We'll find out on Sunday night.