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Though this article will rely heavily on established advanced metrics like win shares, player efficiency rating, true shooting percentage and more, I've also developed a new set of performance metrics that can be used to compare players across eras.
As you'll soon see, these metrics will be displayed for every featured player, and they'll be discussed quite often throughout the descriptions of the players in question. Therefore, it's best to familiarize yourself with them now.
Understanding the exact calculations is unnecessary for these purposes, but do take the time to understand the principles and purposes, as that will allow you to fully grasp the justifications for the order of this countdown.
With traditional metrics, we can gauge how well a player performed during the regular season throughout his career. But with these new ones, we have insight into his playoff performances, as well as how valuable he was to his team and throughout the league in general.
Playoff Performance (PP)
Derived by multiplying game score by the number of playoff appearances, this simply shows the strength of a player's statistical production during the postseason. It rewards both quality of play and longevity, as the top scores are only achieved by maintaining excellent performances over the course of multiple deep playoff runs.
Advancement Share (AS)
This shows how deep a player advanced into the playoffs. Different rounds are weighted differently—250 possible points for a title, 100 for an unsuccessful appearance in the NBA finals and 50 for a conference finals exit—but not every player earns all the possible points.
To recognize that some players are bigger contributors than others, the advancement scores are weighted by how much time a player spends on the court. Someone who wins a title but plays only 20 minutes per game will receive a lower percentage of the possible points than a teammate who played 35 minutes per contest.
As a result, this shows both playoff success and relative importance during the run of the player in question.
Career Contributions (CC)
Win shares are supposed to be an approximation of how many wins a player provided to his team during a given season, so dividing win shares by team wins should give an estimate of the percentage of value that player was responsible for. Multiplying that by how successful a team was that year (based on TeamRtng+, a combination of DRtng+ and ORtng+) accounts for both a player's value and the strength of the team he was contributing to.
Career Contributions sums a player's scores for every season of his career, showing how much value he provided during his NBA life.
Career Contributions per Season (CC/Season)
This shows the number of Career Contributions that a player earned during an average season. It's no more complicated than that.
Literal MVPs (LMVPs)
MVP literally stands for "Most Valuable Player," though the award is usually given to the best player on one of the best teams, depending on the narrative, the glamorous play of the candidate and other factors. A Literal MVP, or LMVP, is given instead to the player with the top Career Contributions value during the season in question.
An LMVP can go to a player on the best team in the league, but it can also be handed to a player who was essentially a one-man wrecking crew on one of the bottom feeders. The strength of the team doesn't matter, save for the Career Contributions calculation.
Literal MVP Shares (LMVP Shares)
Rather than only rewarding the LMVP, we're giving credit to every player who was the top contributor for his team during a given season. Team-leading win-share producers were sorted by Career Contributions, then they were handed LMVP shares according to their finish on that leaderboard.
The LMVP himself gets a full LMVP share. Second place receives 0.5 LMVP shares. Third place gets 0.33 LMVP shares, and so on and so forth.
This appears in the information of each slide, and it's a method of representing a player's peak. Rather than arbitrarily selecting his best season, we're meshing together the best performances of his career for each per-game stat.
That means his points per game could come from his rookie year, while his rebounds per game could be drawn from a season five years down the road. The only qualifier is that he must have played in at least 30 games during the season in question, thereby avoiding small-sample-size effects.