Any ole yokel can take a screenshot of an awards ballot and dunk on an unsuspecting media member. But The F5 holds itself to a marginally higher standard. So over the last few days, I combed through every NBA awards ballot to mathematically rank media members by how far their votes deviated from the consensus. The math that goes into the formula for ranking voters is straight forward, but extremely dull. In short, I calculated how many standard deviations each voter’s ballot is from the consensus ballot. If you’re interested in reading the full methodology, check the footnotes1.
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The big takeaway here is that Max Haupt, a first-time voter (and probably last-time voter — more on that in a moment) covering the NBA for Deutsche Presse-Agentur, has by far the most unique collection of ballots out of any awards voter. His MVP, Coach of the Year, and All-Defensive Team ballots are each two or more standard deviations away from the consensus. That number by itself doesn’t carry much meaning, so let’s look into the specifics behind why these values shake out the way they do.
Ultimately, Haupt’s MVP ballot is what pushed him so far out to right on the contrarian scale. To begin, he gave Luka Doncic a second-place vote when no one else gave him anything higher than a fourth-place vote. Additionally, he was one of only five voters to give Stephen Curry a first-place vote and the only voter to omit Nikola Jokic entirely from his MVP ballot. Instead of putting Jokic on his MVP ballot, Haupt made the objectively unique choice of giving Russell Westbrook and Ben Simmons a third- and fourth-place MVP vote, respectively.
Compare Haupt’s ballot to a voter who is more in line with the consensus, like ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. Overall, Nichols had a fairly uncontroversial ballot with the only real contrarian choice coming from her Most Improved Player ballot, which featured Zion Williamson. Nichols was the only voter that had Williamson on their Most Improved ballot.
I’ve done this analysis for the past three seasons and one of the reoccurring trends has been that female media members tend to score lower on the contrarianism scale than male voters. I think part of that has to do with the fact that female media members are more likely to be the subject of ad hominem attacks and unfair criticism from fans for casting an unconventional ballot. So perhaps out of self-preservation, female voters tend to make fewer controversial choices than male voters do. Of the 13 female media members that voted on this year’s awards, only two (The Ringer’s Seerat Sohi and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne) ranked in the top 50 in terms of contrarianism.
Howard Beck: For those who love to obsess over All-NBA voting… Embiid & Jokic are eligible at *both* C/F, per the official ballot. The following are eligible at both G/F: JBrown, Tatum, LaVine, Luka, LeBron, Kawhi, PG, Butler, Middleton, Simmons, Booker. Let the hand-wringing commence.
Joe Cowley: @JaMorant Ja is a transcendent player- no arguing that. But the ROTY should go to the most impactful. The NBA built a TV schedule around Zion and expanded a bubble for Zion. His 24 games were must-see TV. I’ll take that 24-and change PER and stand on that side of history.
Doug Gottlieb: Why does Maria Taylor have a vote? Real question. She is a studio host/sideline reporter in her first year covering the NBA. She works a ton, not just on the league. No reason for her to have a vote https://twitter.com/hmfaigen/status/1307374145135546368
Donovan Mitchell: Because she knows what she talking about … and worked hard to get where she at… and hooped…. y’all really gotta stop trying @MariaTaylor its corny!
Baron Davis: We have to find another way of voting for These Awards. Everyone who won deserved it. The media and writers whoever else We realize that 10% of the voters actually played basketball.
Jorge Sierra: Some media votes suck, but you may want to think twice before giving more power to players when it comes to selecting award winners. Two beauties from the players vote for the All-Star: * Will Barton ahead of Chris Paul. * Carmelo Anthony four spots ahead of Rudy Gobert.
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July 24, 2021 | 9:37 pm EDT Update
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July 24, 2021 | 5:12 pm EDT Update
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