Most Improved Player Rankings: Week 13

college basketball espnOne of my favorite things about college basketball is when Dick Vitale starts screaming on Selection Sunday.

Hold on, let me be more specific. I’m talking about when he starts screaming during ESPN’s show on Selection Sunday, after one of the teams he thinks should have made the NCAA Tournament is snubbed.

Vitale mocks the RPI and the Strength of Schedule numbers, and starts talking about the VBDI, a.k.a. the Vitale Bald Dome Index. The VBDI is, essentially, the eye test. Does a team look like it belongs in the NCAA Tournament when it plays?

By the end of his rant (or at least when they cut him off), Rece Davis is exhausted, Jay Bilas looks like he wants to punch someone in the face, and Digger Phelps is beside himself in laughter.

But Vitale has a point.

Sometimes, you can go so far inside the numbers, you’ll never find your way out. It’s the same thing with the Most Improved Rankings. Like Chris Bernucca, I like to look at the per-36 numbers when making my decisions on the players that grace this spot each week. But sometimes, the numbers lie.

Anyone with half a brain, and also Charles Barkley, could tell you that Paul George is one of the most improved players in the league this season. He is averaging 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. He has taken over as the alpha dog on the Pacers and helped lead Indiana to a 26-19 record. He is an All-Star for the first time in his career.

But George’s per-36 numbers haven’t changed much from last season. He is up just two points per game (from 14.7 to 16.6) and less than a rebound per game (6.8 to 7.5). Just looking at the production he puts up every 36 minutes of action, he’s not that much better than he was in 2011-12. The same thing goes for Kemba Walker, whose per-36 scoring has increased slightly (16.1 to 18.4), but his assists numbers are virtually the same (5.8 to 6.0).

So what does it all mean?

Well, I think it reinforces something I learned a long, long time ago. Math can get you into trouble. Maybe that’s why PER maven John Hollinger is reportedly trying to trade Rudy Gay to the Raptors.

Sometimes, you’ve got to stop thinking, and start channeling your inner Dickie V.

On to the rankings, BABY!!!



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