Using my estimate of what a player’s Marginal Win Score probably was, I believe the most productive individual professional basketball season (measured by wins attributed to the player) was Wilt Chamberlain’s 1967-68 season with the Philadelphia 76ers. I estimate he posted a Marginal Win Score of +7.34 in 1967-68, that he was responsible for 19.9 of the Sixers 21 wins above 0.500%, and I gave him a Value Ranking of approximately 47.8, which is simply off the charts (last season’s Marginal Win Score MVP, Dwight Howard, had a Value Ranking of 33.4).
While my numbers are based upon estimates, for various reasons I think I am in the right ballpark with Wilt, but for historical reasons I thought a MWS of +7.00 was no longer achievable in the modern age (a player has to almost thoroughly dominate every opponent he faces to a productive degree that the pace of today’s game seemed to make unachievable). Incredibly, I was wrong.
LeBron James is currently posting a Marginal Win Score of +7.35, just slightly better than the Marginal Win Score posted by Chamberlain in 1968. I can’t really express how shocking this is. Part of the reason Wilt was able to post such a high MWS is because he only played against a handful of opposing centers. Thus, if he were more dominant than that small group, he could post big numbers over them night in and night out.
Somehow, though, LeBron is “Wilting” the opposing small forwards in the NBA. He’s doing it mainly with extremely efficient scoring, coupled with his normal “stat box” full of positive winning statistics (or “Win Score” as we call it). LeBron is averaging 20.14 points per 48 minutes more than his counterparts at small forward (82%) and power forward (18%), yet he is only using 12.8 more “scoring attempts” (FGAs +.5FTAs) per 48 to do it. That’s an incredible “marginal” gap in efficient scoring. Then you throw in the fact that he rebounds well for a small forward, and you especially add the fact that he hands out assists like a point guard, and you have yourself a mid-season that has been slightly better than Wilt’s brilliant campaign.
On the whole, I have LeBron producing about 8.7 wins and (-3.7) losses, which means he is responsible for +6.2 of the Miami Heat’s 10.0 wins above 0.500% (note= the Heat are 27-7. In sports vernacular, they are “20 games above 0.500%, but in mathematical terms they have 10 wins above 0.500%. 20 wins above doesn’t work. If you remove 20 wins, those must become losses, which would put the Heat at 7-27. If you remove 10 wins, they are 17-17. So when I say “Wins Above 0.500%” I mean literal wins above 0.500%.)
Let’s see if he can keep the pace up for the second half of the season.