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December 7, 2011
Awards Parity
Does It Exist?

by Dan Feldman

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One of the sticking points of the NBA lockout, especially to the owners, was parity. A lot of thought was devoted to assessing the league's competitive balance on a team level.

But what about parity of awards?

The NBA has successfully marketed individuals--usually players, but sometimes coaches and executives. These star individuals, typically the league's award winners, carry a lot of value for their franchises and should play into the parity discussion. Balance is not just about teams' won-loss records.*

*Although, obviously, winning an individual award is often dependent on a team's winning percentage.

It can also be evaluated by the seven major individual postseason awards: Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.

Believe it or not, if all teams had an equal chance at winning each award every year the team and award existed, the Phoenix Suns have been the most overrepresented and the New York Knicks have been the most underrepresented. I bet that would have thrown an interesting twist in Robert Sarver's and James Dolan's revenue-sharing arguments this summer.

Here's a complete list of how many awards each team has won relative to expectations. Expected awards are determined by giving each team an equal chance of winning each award each year both existed. For example, every franchise in the 10-team NBA in 1967 was expected to win 0.1 of each award given that year, and each franchise in the NBA last season was expected to win 1/30 of each award.

Team   Won  Expect   Diff
-------------------------
PHO     19   10.11   8.89
CHI     19   10.66   8.34
BOS     22   14.05   7.95
ORL     12    5.36   6.64
SAS     12    8.41   3.59
LAL     15   14.05    .95
MIL     11   10.11    .89
HOU     11   10.36    .64
IND      9    8.41    .59
MIA      6    5.64    .36

Team   Won  Expect   Diff
-------------------------
POR     10    9.68    .32
TOR      4    3.81    .19
MEM      4    3.81    .19
ATL     14   14.05  - .05
WAS     12   12.21  - .21
CHA      1    1.63  - .63
NOH      5    5.64  - .64
LAC      9    9.68  - .68
DET     13   14.05  -1.05
PHI     13   14.05  -1.05

Team   Won  Expect   Diff
-------------------------
DAL      6    7.68  -1.68
UTA      7    8.86  -1.86
GSW     12   14.05  -2.05
SAC     12   14.05  -2.05
DEN      6    8.41  -2.41
CLE      7    9.68  -2.68
MIN      2    5.36  -3.36
OKC      6   10.36  -4.36
NJN      3    8.41  -5.41
NYK      8   14.05  -6.05

Here's a more detailed list that shows how many of each award every team has won relative to expectations. To nobody's surprise, Celtics MVPs rank at the top of the list and Clippers Coach of the Years rank near the bottom. But the most underrepresented team when it comes to a specific award might surprise you, given how--I'd like to say--storied the franchise is.

Tm    Award     Won    Exp    Diff
----------------------------------
BOS   MVP        10   3.31    6.69
DET   DPOY        6   1.07    4.93
LAL   MVP         8   3.31    4.69
CHI   MVP         6   2.01    3.99
PHO   Executive   5   1.56    3.44
LAC   ROY         5   1.68    3.32
ORL   Improved    4   0.77    3.23
PHO   6th Man     4   1.07    2.93
PHI   MVP         6   3.31    2.69
ATL   Coach       5   2.45    2.55
GSW   ROY         6   3.65    2.35
ORL   DPOY        3   0.77    2.23
IND   Improved    3   0.94    2.06
WAS   Improved    3   0.94    2.06
CHI   Coach       4   2.01    1.99
BOS   6th Man     3   1.07    1.93
DAL   6th Man     3   1.07    1.93
SAS   MVP         3   1.34    1.66
TOR   ROY         2   0.54    1.46
CHI   Executive   3   1.56    1.44
SAC   Executive   3   1.56    1.44
WAS   ROY         4   2.56    1.44
SAC   ROY         5   3.65    1.35
POR   ROY         3   1.68    1.32
ORL   ROY         2   0.77    1.23
MIA   DPOY        2   0.81    1.19
MIA   Improved    2   0.81    1.19
NOH   ROY         2   0.81    1.19
MIL   MVP         3   1.82    1.18
PHO   MVP         3   1.82    1.18
PHO   ROY         3   1.82    1.18
HOU   MVP         3   1.91    1.09
GSW   Improved    2   0.94    1.06
PHO   Improved    2   0.94    1.06
POR   Improved    2   0.94    1.06
CHI   ROY         3   2.01    0.99
ATL   DPOY        2   1.07    0.93
DEN   DPOY        2   1.07    0.93
HOU   DPOY        2   1.07    0.93
MIL   DPOY        2   1.07    0.93
SAS   DPOY        2   1.07    0.93
UTA   DPOY        2   1.07    0.93
CHI   6th Man     2   1.07    0.93
IND   6th Man     2   1.07    0.93
MIL   6th Man     2   1.07    0.93
NYK   6th Man     2   1.07    0.93
PHI   6th Man     2   1.07    0.93
CHA   ROY         1   0.23    0.77
IND   Coach       2   1.34    0.66
DEN   Executive   2   1.34    0.66
SAS   Executive   2   1.34    0.66
NJN   ROY         2   1.34    0.66
SAS   ROY         2   1.34    0.66
BOS   Coach       3   2.45    0.55
LAL   Coach       3   2.45    0.55
UTA   MVP         2   1.45    0.55
MEM   Coach       1   0.54    0.46
TOR   Coach       1   0.54    0.46
MEM   Executive   1   0.54    0.46
TOR   Executive   1   0.54    0.46
MEM   ROY         1   0.54    0.46
MEM   6th Man     1   0.54    0.46
ATL   Executive   2   1.56    0.44
BOS   Executive   2   1.56    0.44
CLE   Executive   2   1.56    0.44
LAC   Executive   2   1.56    0.44
OKC   Executive   2   1.56    0.44
WAS   Executive   2   1.56    0.44
CLE   Coach       2   1.68    0.32
POR   Coach       2   1.68    0.32
CLE   MVP         2   1.68    0.32
ORL   Coach       1   0.77    0.23
ORL   Executive   1   0.77    0.23
MIN   Improved    1   0.77    0.23
MIN   MVP         1   0.77    0.23
ORL   6th Man     1   0.77    0.23
MIA   Coach       1   0.81    0.19
NOH   Coach       1   0.81    0.19
MIA   Executive   1   0.81    0.19
NOH   Executive   1   0.81    0.19
NOH   6th Man     1   0.81    0.19
MIL   Coach       2   1.82    0.18
PHO   Coach       2   1.82    0.18
HOU   Coach       2   1.91    0.09
HOU   ROY         2   1.91    0.09
ATL   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
DEN   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
HOU   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
LAC   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
OKC   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
PHI   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
SAS   Improved    1   0.94    0.06
BOS   DPOY        1   1.07   -0.07
CHI   DPOY        1   1.07   -0.07
IND   DPOY        1   1.07   -0.07
LAL   DPOY        1   1.07   -0.07
OKC   DPOY        1   1.07   -0.07
PHI   DPOY        1   1.07   -0.07
ATL   6th Man     1   1.07   -0.07
DET   6th Man     1   1.07   -0.07
LAL   6th Man     1   1.07   -0.07
POR   6th Man     1   1.07   -0.07
SAC   6th Man     1   1.07   -0.07
SAS   6th Man     1   1.07   -0.07
DAL   Coach       1   1.15   -0.15
DAL   MVP         1   1.15   -0.15
DAL   ROY         1   1.15   -0.15
CHA   Coach       0   0.23   -0.23
CHA   DPOY        0   0.23   -0.23
CHA   Executive   0   0.23   -0.23
CHA   Improved    0   0.23   -0.23
CHA   MVP         0   0.23   -0.23
CHA   6th Man     0   0.23   -0.23
DEN   Coach       1   1.34   -0.34
SAS   Coach       1   1.34   -0.34
NJN   Executive   1   1.34   -0.34
IND   ROY         1   1.34   -0.34
UTA   Coach       1   1.45   -0.45
DET   Coach       2   2.45   -0.45
GSW   Coach       2   2.45   -0.45
NYK   Coach       2   2.45   -0.45
PHI   Coach       2   2.45   -0.45
SAC   Coach       2   2.45   -0.45
WAS   Coach       2   2.45   -0.45
UTA   Executive   1   1.45   -0.45
UTA   ROY         1   1.45   -0.45
MEM   DPOY        0   0.54   -0.54
TOR   DPOY        0   0.54   -0.54
MEM   Improved    0   0.54   -0.54
TOR   Improved    0   0.54   -0.54
MEM   MVP         0   0.54   -0.54
TOR   MVP         0   0.54   -0.54
TOR   6th Man     0   0.54   -0.54
DET   Executive   1   1.56   -0.56
GSW   Executive   1   1.56   -0.56
HOU   Executive   1   1.56   -0.56
LAL   Executive   1   1.56   -0.56
MIL   Executive   1   1.56   -0.56
POR   Executive   1   1.56   -0.56
BOS   ROY         3   3.65   -0.65
DET   ROY         3   3.65   -0.65
NYK   ROY         3   3.65   -0.65
LAC   MVP         1   1.68   -0.68
POR   MVP         1   1.68   -0.68
CLE   ROY         1   1.68   -0.68
MIN   Coach       0   0.77   -0.77
MIN   DPOY        0   0.77   -0.77
MIN   Executive   0   0.77   -0.77
ORL   MVP         0   0.77   -0.77
MIN   ROY         0   0.77   -0.77
MIN   6th Man     0   0.77   -0.77
NOH   DPOY        0   0.81   -0.81
NOH   Improved    0   0.81   -0.81
MIA   MVP         0   0.81   -0.81
NOH   MVP         0   0.81   -0.81
MIA   ROY         0   0.81   -0.81
MIA   6th Man     0   0.81   -0.81
MIL   ROY         1   1.82   -0.82
OKC   Coach       1   1.91   -0.91
OKC   ROY         1   1.91   -0.91
BOS   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
CHI   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
CLE   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
DAL   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
DET   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
LAL   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
MIL   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
NJN   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
NYK   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
SAC   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
UTA   Improved    0   0.94   -0.94
CLE   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
DAL   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
GSW   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
LAC   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
NJN   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
NYK   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
PHO   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
POR   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
SAC   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
WAS   DPOY        0   1.07   -1.07
CLE   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
DEN   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
GSW   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
HOU   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
LAC   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
NJN   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
OKC   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
UTA   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
WAS   6th Man     0   1.07   -1.07
DAL   Executive   0   1.15   -1.15
ATL   MVP         2   3.31   -1.31
NJN   Coach       0   1.34   -1.34
IND   Executive   0   1.34   -1.34
DEN   MVP         0   1.34   -1.34
IND   MVP         0   1.34   -1.34
NJN   MVP         0   1.34   -1.34
DEN   ROY         0   1.34   -1.34
NYK   Executive   0   1.56   -1.56
PHI   Executive   0   1.56   -1.56
WAS   MVP         1   2.56   -1.56
LAC   Coach       0   1.68   -1.68
OKC   MVP         0   1.91   -1.91
GSW   MVP         1   3.31   -2.31
NYK   MVP         1   3.31   -2.31
SAC   MVP         1   3.31   -2.31
ATL   ROY         1   3.65   -2.65
LAL   ROY         1   3.65   -2.65
PHI   ROY         1   3.65   -2.65
DET   MVP         0   3.31   -3.31

Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Dan by clicking here or click here to see Dan's other articles.

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