With the help of Twitter and crowd-sourcing we spent 10 days searching for the NBA’s 100 MVP votes in the hope of introducing the world to James Harden, 2017 MVP winner.
Like a mad scientist who began their research with the best intentions, we’re dismayed by our ultimate discovery: Russell Westbrook will win the 2017 NBA MVP award.
Our crowd-sourcing and canvassing has found 62 of the NBA’s 100 first place votes for 2017 MVP. There was no announced list, so we identified the votes and that a voter had a ballot using Twitter, interviews, podcasts, articles and TV broadcasts.
And Westbrook will edge Harden.
And right now we estimate the MVP race, after 62 first place votes, to be at:
Russell Westbrook: 522
James Harden: 456
View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here
A first-place vote speaks the loudest by carrying a three point margin with it. First is worth 10, second 7, third 5, fourth 3 and fifth 1.
Through a hard count of the NBA MVP votes the first place tally of votes has Westbrook in the lead:
Westbrook: 39 first place votes
Harden: 18 first place votes
Leonard: 3 first place votes
James: 2 first place votes
All that really matters is first, second and third. As we're yet to see Harden or Westbrook placed lower than third in the 23 ballots we have with clear votes 1 - 3.
While the 66-point deficit isn't too sizable numerically, it is in the context of the race. There's only 2,600 points for all five places over all 100 ballots. The most points a single player could receive is 1,000, or all 100 of the first place votes (Westbrook has appeared at third four times to Harden’s one).
The deficit Harden is facing is enormous because Harden only gains three points for each first place ballot, which is of course negated by each Westbrook first place ballot. Harden would need 13 yet-unseen ballots to mirror Kevin O’Connor’s, which is Harden-James-Westbrook, for a five point spread, just to draw virtually even in our estimate.
Sure, there’s a ton of factors here, but it’s unlikely Harden can make up this ground.
Before we got to 62 first place votes counted we asked an associate professor of statistics at Wheelock College, Dr. Samuel Cook, to give us the odds.
With 59 total first place votes counted, Dr. Cook projects if the remaining 41 first and second place votes only go to Harden and Westbrook, and each voter puts Harden in 1st with probability 50%, then in 10,000 simulations Westbrook wins 99.9% of the time.
This probability drops minimally to 98.9% if you assume Westbrook will get more 3rd place votes than Harden at the current trend.
At odds like that, even if we've made three or four mistakes in our canvassing, crowd-sourcing or estimations it's not enough to derail this prediction.
No matter the result of the Rockets-Thunder series Russell Westbrook has won the MVP award.
Congrats to Russell. Well deserved.