Having completed 2010-11 Win Charts for every NBA team, I extracted and ranked the NBA rookie class according to each rookie’s accumulated ”Value Rating” (GLOSSARY). Here is the ranking and complete MWS stat line for every player who made his NBA debut this season and played at least 200 minutes:
Final 2010-11 NBA Rookie Win Chart
Marginal Win Score 2010-11 ROY: Blake Griffin
The Rookie of the Year, by these standards, is the same as the Rookie of the Year chosen by the media — PF Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. He was dominant, and finished in the top 10 Value Rankings for all NBA players, a rookie rarity, to be sure.
Rookies who surprised this season were: G/F Landry Fields of the NY Knicks, who finished 2nd and also landed on the “20 Most Valuable” list; C Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons, who finished 3rd; the exceptional SF Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, who finished 4th, and C Omar Asik of the Chicago Bulls, who finished 6th.
Lottery picks did not fair quite as well. SG Evan Turner struggled on offense, but his all-around game was good enough to land him 5th on the list. Derrick Favors improved mightily after being traded to Utah and it was enough to boost him to 12th. John Wall, the number one overall pick, placed 15th. He did not contribute much value to the Washington Wizards this season.
DeMarcus Cousins (18th) and Wesley Johnson (35th) were particularly disappointing. I expected much more out of Cousins, who played more like a finesse player than the power player he ought to be. And I’ll bet the Timberwolves expected a bit more out of Johnson. Johnson’s Value Rating was in the negative range (-1.7).
Other highly touted rookies also made extremely harmful contributions to their teams. SF Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz had a Value Rating of (-0.5), SG Xavier Henry of Memphis (who looks like he shouldn’t even be in the NBA at all) recorded a Value Rating of (-1.9), and it would have been far lower had the Grizzlies not mercifully benched him. And the Bucks look like they made another awful choice, as C Larry Sanders looked overmatched and underskilled and recorded a Value Rating near the bottom of the class at (-1.8).
Getting “More Athletic” often means getting worse
In the last few days, I have heard countless ESPN analysts state that the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers need to “get more athletic”. I don’t know if they mean the teams should raid the US Olympic track team, but I assume by “more athletic” they mean “younger”. But going “younger” often means getting worse.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of rookies on their roster. Most of them made my “20 Most Harmful” list. The New Jersey Nets also carried a lot of rookie “athleticism” on its roster. Again, the new burst of athleticism provided no visible benefit of any kind. And the Minnesota Timberwolves have been on a perpetual youth movement since they traded KG. Since that movement began, they have annually yielded multiple “20 MHPs” candidates and exactly ZERO winning seasons.
Out of every NBA draft, you are lucky if a half dozen make a significant positive contribution to your team. In fact, at the bottom of the chart, I calculated the rookie class averages. As you can see, they are horrible. A team filled with rookies could be expected to win only 24 games. A team full of median NBA players would be expected to win 35 games.
When will people learn that athleticism wins track meets, basketball skills win basketball games. (Had the Bucks applied this rule, they would have drafted Ty Lawson, not Brandon Jennings).