May 30, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell: Kevin Garnett should have been the MVP of the NBA:

Kevin Garnett had another highly statistically efficient year for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the TWolves were even worse than they normally are with Garnett as their star, going 33-49, so nobody voted for Garnett for Most Valuable Player. Gladwell blogs:

"Anyone who believes in the conventional, adhoc methods of valuing basketball players has to answer for the injustice done this year to Kevin Garnett."

One reason why Garnett is so highly rated by Gladwell's Wages of Wins economists ( who hate players who take a lot of shots), but isn't very successful at winning games in the real world could well be because he doesn't shoot enough.

This year Garnett shot an outstanding .526 from the floor, the ninth highest in the league, but only averaged 21.8 points per game. And his team had the third worst offense in the NBA. To the three economists, this signifies that he's an incredibly efficient player stranded on a bad team, but to less naive observers, it suggests that he is not stepping up and taking the shots that need to be taken. If Garnett is really The Man in the NBA and his teammates are terrible, as the economists claim, then simple logic dictates that Garnett should act like The Man on his own team: he should demand the damn ball from his teammates and put it in the hole or go down in flames trying.

The economists claim Garnett was the best and Kobe Bryant was only the 17th best in the league, but Kobe's Lakers went 45-37, while Garnett's TWolves went 33-49, in part because Kobe said, "Gimme the ball" and carried the Lakers on his back by scoring 35.4 points per game. Kobe only shot .450 because he took almost twice as many shots as Garnett, but that's called "diminishing marginal returns." The more shots you take, the more desperate, unlikely-to-go-in shots you'll take and the lower your shooting percentage will sink. Economists are supposed to understand the concept of "diminishing marginal returns," but Gladwell's boys don't seem to get it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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