clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UPDATE: With 62 MVP Votes Counted: Russell Westbrook leads James Harden

New, comments

We’ve spent a week chasing down votes and the MVP race is close.

NBA: All Star Practice
The 2017 MVP vote remains close from our canvass of ballots.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

**UPDATE Noon Central 4/22**

After consulting with a statistician who ran 10,000 simulations of the race, we called the race. We are continuing to update the MVP vote tracker and the vote estimate here.

**UPDATE 4 p.m. Central 4/20**

The vote chase has slowed but we were able to confirm Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins vote for Russell Westbrook. He confirmed this vote on Cowherd last week and confirmed his ballot in a Tweet today.

This brings our total of confirmed first place ballots to 62 and our count of identified ballots to 82. These totals are both out of 100.

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

We still assume the fan vote will be one of the 100 ballots, but can’t find anything from the NBA or KIA (the vote sponsor) confirming this is the case.

The official vote tracking spreadsheet has two new additions.

A section to calculate the estimated second place votes. This only accounts for ballots that have Westbrook or Harden in first place, with no designated second place vote. The two ballots with LeBron James first are not considered, because we don’t know who they may have gone second with.

Through this we calculate that our confirmed vote totals are missing the following:

  • Westbrook: 42 points
  • Harden: 103 points

Second, the spreadsheet now includes a real time vote estimate. This calculates the votes we know along with the second place votes we are simulating. Our current MVP vote estimate with 62 first place votes is:

  • Westbrook: 522
  • Harden: 456

After their game 2 defeat, Westbrook and the Thunder front office can take solace in their estimated 66 point lead.

**UPDATE: 9 p.m. Central 4/18**

We’ve added the vote of Kevin Harlan of TNT to our tracker. He went on Sportsradio 610’s 3T show in Houston today where he explicitly said ‘he’s not supposed to say who he voted for.’ He then went on to deride folks who made their decisions passed on Westbrook’s triple double average and comment that Harden’s play weighed very heavily in his decision.

Listen for yourself.

The hosts of the show and we at The Dream Shake agree that Harlan cast a vote for Harden.

That would close the gap by another three points.

Making our current estimation of the MVP race at:

  • Westbrook: 519
  • Harden: 451

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

**UPDATE: 6 p.m. Central 4/17**

The Rockets resounding 31 point victory over the Thunder in game one will unfortunately not impact the MVP race. Ballots were all due on Friday.

We’ve only added one vote in the last 24 hours. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan went for James Harden. She had previously announced her support of Harden, but affirmed her ballot on Around The Horn today.

Assuming MacMullan put Westbrook second it only moves the estimate by three points.

With our estimate of 60 of 100 NBA MVP votes we now estimate the race to be at:

  • Westbrook: 512
  • Harden: 441

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

**UPDATE: 4 p.m. Central 4/16**

We’ve now identified 59 of the 100 MVP votes. So there’s no chance NBA fans will need to wait for the NBA awards show in late June to know the winner of this contest.

In the past 24 hours we added five more votes.

New first place votes for Westbrook: Charles Gardner (MIL), Yuan Fang (China), Marc Berman (NYC) and Ric Bucher (Bleacher Report).

New first place vote for Harden: Nira Khurana (Mexico)

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

The first place votes we’ve tracked are now:

  • Russell Westbrook: 38 first place votes
  • James Harden: 16 first place votes
  • Kawhi Leonard: 3 first place votes
  • LeBron James: 2 first place votes

Four of the five new votes have a second place vote indicated. So we don’t need to simulate much for these votes. Westbrook gains 47 points. Harden gains 38 points.

Adding that to our previous estimates we now project that after identifying 59 of the 100 NBA MVP votes the race stands at:

  • Westbrook: 505
  • Harden: 431

**UPDATE: 4 p.m. Central 4/15**

Thank you to all our crowd-sourcers for continuing to send in votes all night and this morning. We’ve added 11 new votes to our count. Bringing us to a remarkable 54 votes.

Yes... We’ve identified over half of the NBA’s 100 MVP votes already.

We’ve also confirmed the identity of 74 of the 100 voters. Or 3/4ths of all the voters.

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

There’s no chance we will need to wait until the NBA Awards show on June 26 (!?!) to know who the NBA’s MVP is.

First place votes we added for Westbrook: Jason Jones (SAC), Erik Horne (OKC), Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick (USA Today), Rod Beard (DET), Keith Pompey (PHI) and Matt Winer (TNT).

First place votes we added for James Harden: Marcelo Nogueira (Argentina), Kevin Ding (Bleacher Report) and Eddie Sefko (DAL).

First place vote for Kawhi Leonard: Nate Taylor (IND).

The first place votes we’ve tracked are now:

  • Russell Westbrook: 34 first place votes
  • James Harden: 15 first place votes
  • Kawhi Leonard: 3 first place votes
  • LeBron James: 2 first place votes

The majority of our new ballots do not stretch 1 - 5. So most of them are just the first place vote. This has skewed our tracked margin between Westbrook and Harden. We only have 31 confirmed second place votes out of the 54 votes we’ve tracked.

Because of that we’re missing 161 second place points. While Westbrook most certainly leads the race, his actual margin is not as large as it appears here.

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

The point tally for all the known votes 1 - 5 we’ve gathered so far (23 of the 54 ballots are only first place):

  • Russell Westbrook: 416
  • James Harden: 295
  • Kawhi Leonard: 118
  • LeBron James: 104

Harden is in first or second place on 29 of the 31 ballots we have first and second place votes for. That’s a rate of 93.5%. Applying this ratio to the ballots missing a second place vote which have Westbrook in first (15 ballots) produces 98 points for The Beard.

Westbrook appears in first or second place on 28 of 31 ballots we have both votes for, a rate of 90%. We have 6 first place votes for Harden with no second place and 2 first place votes for LeBron with no second place, 8 total ballots. We’ll give Westbrook all six of the second place votes that have Harden, or 42 points, but none of the LeBron votes. Reason being our three first place votes for Kawhi Leonard all have Harden in second and Westbrook in third.

Putting all that together we project that the MVP race currently stands at:

  • Westbrook: 458
  • Harden: 393

**UPDATE: 6 p.m. Central 4/14**

We’ve added three new votes to our tally. Kristen Ledlow of NBA TV is Russell Westbrook. While Bill Oram of the Orange County Register and Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune are James Harden.

We have now determined 43 total first place votes and identified 66 of the voters, which we presume to be 2/3rds of the entire voting pool.

Those three ballots should cut into Westbrook’s lead by three points, assuming Westbrook and Harden account for second place on each of the ballots.

**UPDATE: 2 p.m. Central 4/14**

Ballots are due today and we’ve now tracked down 40 total votes, including the votes from Italy, Charlotte, Chicago and Cleveland. We’ve also identified 62 of the 100 voters including two votes in Italy, one in China, one in the Philippines.

That’s eight more voters. Including Bill Simmons (Harden) and Paul Flannery (Westbrook). The new ballots are 6 Westbrook and 2 Harden. Harden places second on each Westbrook ballots and vise-a-versa, we’re missing one second place vote.

That means Westbrook’s margin improves by 12 points, if the missing second place vote is for Harden.

View our comprehensive spreadsheet of votes and our methodology here

Here’s the breakdown of 40 first place votes we know:

  • Russell Westbrook: 26 first place votes
  • James Harden: 10 first place votes
  • LeBron James: 2 first place votes
  • Kawhi Leonard: 2 first place votes

Here’s the point tally for all the known votes 1 - 5 we’ve gathered so far (16 of the 40 ballots are only first place):

  • Russell Westbrook: 317
  • James Harden: 210
  • LeBron James: 89
  • Kawhi Leonard: 80

Harden is in first or second place on 22 of 23 ballots we’ve seen a first and second place vote for, or 95.6%. Applying this ratio to the ballots we’re missing second place votes for and Westbrook is in first place produces an additional 70 points for The Beard (11 of 16 ballots missing second place have Westbrook first).

Doing the same for Westbrook would produce the following estimation of where the vote is:

Russell Westbrook: 338 and James Harden: 280

It’s still close, but Harden will need to outpace Westbrook’s first place votes and find a few more ballots that slot Westbrook third to make up ground.

**Content below is from our original article published Friday morning when we had 32 votes**

I’ve spent the last 72 hours on Twitter chasing down MVP votes and asking the very helpful and sometimes unhelpful people of the Internet to help find votes and voters. And here’s what I’ve learned...

The MVP race is close, despite Westbrook having a clear lead in first place votes, and the NBA didn’t put out much (or any) information on who was voting.

After three days of hunting I feel good that with the crowd sourced help of the Internet we’ve hunted down the first place vote of 32 media members and identified 51 of the media members who have ballots. We may have made a few mistakes, but we’ve tried to source both the vote and the fact a media member has a ballot. And our information is dependent solely on what’s available publicly. We’ve had no contact with the NBA or an NBA team while doing this.

View our spreadsheet and see all the votes Help us track voters by viewing our “suspected ballots” section and searching for Tweets, articles, interviews or podcasts that shed more light on any of those voters.

And... While Westbrook has the advantage, the race remains close. From the 32 ballots we have here’s the breakdown of the first place votes:

  • Russell Westbrook: 20 first place votes
  • James Harden: 8 first place votes
  • Kawhi Leonard: 2 first place votes
  • LeBron James: 2 first place votes

The current layout of first place votes give Westbrook an easy lead of 200 points to 80 points, but it doesn’t tell the full story because Harden is able to reap 7 points on every Westbrook first place vote (and vise-a-versa).

We’re never going to get the one through five ranking of every voter until the voting is released meaning it will be difficult to firm up the vote total before it’s announced.

As of now we’ve only got the full ballots for 7 of the 32 voters we have a first place vote for. For context, first place votes are worth 10 points and scale from there: second place is 7 points, third place is 5 points, fourth place is 3 points and fifth place is 1 point.

If you tally the results of every vote we’ve gathered so far then the four man MVP race is:

  • Russell Westbrook: 243
  • James Harden: 155
  • Kawhi Leonard: 60
  • LeBron James: 53

We get to this total with almost half the ballots we have only accounting for a first place vote. In fact we’re missing a declared second place vote for 15 of the 32 votes we’ve confirmed.

10 of these 15 missing second place votes have Russell Westbrook in first (3 have Harden and 2 have James). Of the 17 votes where we have first and second place votes accounted for James Harden is in one of those spots in 15 ballots, or a 88% occurrence.

Applying that rate to the 10 missing second place votes where Westbrook is listed first produces 9 second place votes for Harden or an additional 63 points for The Beard. Which would bring Harden’s total to 218.

Applying the same theory to Westbrook he’s on 82% of ballots where we have a first and second place vote (14 of 17). There’s only five ballots missing a second place vote that Westbrook isn’t on. We’re going to give him second place on three of these five ballots, or an additional 21 points. Reason being he would get four out of five, but two of the five ballots have LeBron James in first place.

We currently have no full results for ballots listing LeBron in first place. We do have detailed results for the two ballots where Kawhi Leonard is in first place... each of those have James Harden in second place (Zach Lowe & Kevin Arnovitz). So Russ gets an additional 21 points.

Running this theory all the way out we get to Westbrook: 264 and Harden: 218.

That’s still a sizable margin, but it’s nearly half of what our spreadsheet currently shows. It takes an 88 point Westbrook lead down to a 46 point lead.

This margin means there’s still space for change in the final total to occur, though it’s minimal. For serious change in these trends to occur Harden is going to need voters to keep him in second place at worst in the ballots we haven’t seen. And Harden is going to need more first place votes to get the three point differential or a mess of voters to drop Westbrook into third, as a five point differential is going to make a big difference in the margin.

That’s tough to do. But the race is still close. With ballots being due today (Friday) we’ll hopefully learn more and continue plotting these trends.