A group of NBA fans and enthusiasts have determined Nikola Jokic to be the imminent winner of the 2020-21 NBA MVP using ML techniques.
Major sports leagues like the NBA are implementing Machine Learning and AI techniques to optimize player performance. However, the general public can also glean a ton from all stats that are publicly available.
In fact, one can make a reasonably educated guess with respect to the majority of the NBA awards. The voting patterns for these patterns have revealed several identifiable trends between past winners.
This historical context serves both as a guide to current voters and as an insight into what these voters value the most. Media voters’ individual ballots are all publicly available.
The approach adopted by PerThirtySix.com
Rob Moore has explained that they have used a random forest algorithm on historical vote shares to generate insights. As summarized by the author, the website states this:
In summary, by looking at MVP race rankings instead of the binary win/loss outcome:
- We’re now looking at the MVP race within the context of a given year
- We’re now using the entire range of ranking data available to us. Not just “1st place” or “not 1st place”, but looking at the precise ranking from 1st place down to 12th.
This approach has helped to cancel out voting anomalies. It increases the model’s accuracy by correctly placing each player’s individual season in the context of his competition in that specific year.
Who will be the 2020-21 NBA MVP according to this model?
Nikola Jokic is predicted to win by a handy margin according to projections from this Random Forest algorithm. He has a sizeable lead over the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry and James Harden.
Jokic is also the overwhelming favorite as suggested by the straw polls conducted by NBA writers this month. The Nuggets superstar landed 90 out of a maximum of 125 first-place votes.