In an early-season fanpost (Lillard's Road to ROY), I looked at ROY races in the Magic/Bird era to determine how well stats had predicted the winner. It turned out that PER was a pretty good predictor (~70% accurate). Makes sense, an offense-biased summary stat predicts an arguably offense-biased individual award.
One of the more interesting nuggets from my little trip down ROY lane was the 20 PER threshold. Over the 33 seasons since Bird topped Magic in 1979-80, a rookie has topped 20 PER in 13 of them. In only one of those 13 seasons did a player with a sub-20 PER win the award (2002-03, when Amare Stoudemire's 16.2 was voted ahead of Yao Ming's 20.6). I mention this because, as you may know, the current race has the Blazers' own Damian Lillard (16.0 PER) as the consensus ROY over Anthony Davis (20.5).
Lillard may just be the exception that proves the rule. He has just about every non-PER advantage over Davis at this point. He's a clear team leader in Portland, holding down the point more or less singlehandedly. The Blazers are an improved team this year despite offloading talent--a fringe playoff team depending whom you ask. He's been surprisingly steady in his rookie campaign, and he's stayed healthy. Davis, on the other hand, is toiling in relative obscurity with the lowly Hornets, and nagging injuries early on kept him out of 13 games before the All-Star break.
I'm not writing this to question Lillard's credentials as ROY. I agree with practically everyone else that he's head of his class. I do wonder if the Blazers continue to slip out of the playoff race whether Davis can make a run at the award based on his superior efficiency. With the Hornets having little to play for and Davis presumably fully healthy, will he earn more minutes? If so, could a few gaudy lines and highlight plays get him back in the race? I was slow to come around, but I'll admit now that it's Lillard's award to lose. Davis may well join Yao as the only 20+ PER rookie to lose to a classmate below the threshold.
What do you think?
Assuming Lillard and Davis keep up their current efficiency levels, what might get Davis and his 20+ PER back in the ROY race?
More minutes (23 votes)
Hornets ahead of Blazers in standings (17 votes)
Some crazy stat lines (34 votes)
No chance without Lillard drop off (72 votes)
146 total votes