MVP and “Best Player on Best Team”

Investing the notion that the NBA MVP traditionally goes to the best player on the best team.

Every year when talking about who should win NBA MVP, the following argument is always brought up:

MVP traditionally goes to the best player on the best team, therefore Player X should win because he is the best player on the best team.

I’ve always been bothered by this argument because of two reasons. One, it’s a lazy argument. People don’t have to watch a second of basketball to argue this. Two, if MVP always went to the best player on the best team, there would be nothing to debate besides whether Kevin Durant is better than Steph Curry.

Now, to investigate if this argument is actually true. Does MVP actually usually go to best player on the best team??

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[Fastbreak Data] Using Machine Learning to Find the 8 Types of Players in the NBA

Alex Cheng is Founder of Fastbreak Data and a guest contributor for Ball and One. Follow his work at


Using machine learning, my goal is to uncover the positions that are intrinsic to today’s NBA players and classify players with a position that best encapsulates their skill sets.

Inspired by the topological data analysis of Muthu Alagappan in “From 5 to 13: Redefining the Positions in Basketball” and the “Periodic Table of NBA Elements” by Stephen Shea in Basketball Analytics: Spatial Tracking, this study proposes an alternative method in which to classify players in today’s NBA….

Click the image below to read the full article. Or you can click here to read it on my blog, Fastbreak Data.

Click on the image above to view the full article at

Musings on the first third of the 16-17 season

Musings on every team for the first third of the 2016-17 NBA season.

Merry Christmas and happy 2/3 of the NBA season left! I’ve been able to watch a little bit of every team and to celebrate the holidays, I’ll be going through each one and giving my take on they stand. Team records are before games on 12/19.

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The Newest Trend in Big Men

At the risk of jumping to conclusions after just one week of NBA regular season basketball, we’re ready to declare that a new wave of NBA big men has arrived in the form of 7-foot centers who play like shooting guards. The “stretch” four or “small ball” four has been around for a long time now, and refers to power forwards who can shoot from outside and thus “stretch” the defense. Over the course of the past 10 years, players with those skill sets became more prevalent since the league as a whole began trending toward small ball for a variety of reasons.

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Sharing is Caring?

An analytical look at the value of balanced offense distribution

When you think about a balanced offense, the first team that comes to mind is probably the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich’s beautiful passing offense truly feels like every player touches the rock and gets offensive opportunities. This well balanced sharing based offense has been not only well respected by many peer coaches, but has also produced one of the most consistently successful franchises in NBA history. With a resumé like that it should be easy to argue that the aim of every basketball team should be to have a balanced offense. But it’s also hard to deny the fact that having a superstar on the floor can also have some pretty profound effects on a team’s success.

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Why is Home Court Advantage a thing? [Part 1]

Using statistics to understand why teams play better at home

As basketball fans know, our beloved announcers all have their pet sayings when calling games: Mike Breen’s “BANG!” after big shots, Mark Jackson’s “Hand down, man down” (which doesn’t really make sense), Hubie Brown’s “Now now, come on now”. One of my favorite announcers though is Jeff Van Gundy because of all his random ideas and thoughts he spurts out on every broadcast.

Usually, a lot of Jeff’s thoughts are just dumb things he says to kill time during blowouts, but there is one point he consistently makes that has interested me for a while. Why do teams always play better at home? After all, the rims are still 10 ft. tall, the ball’s the same, the coaches and players are the same, and the court is still 94×50 ft. of hardwood no matter where you play.  Continue reading “Why is Home Court Advantage a thing? [Part 1]”