Archive for the ‘2009-10 NBA Win Charts’ Category

Analyzing the slow start of the Detroit Pistons

January 13, 2010

Before the All-Star break I’d like to calculate the Marginal Win Score and the consequent wins and losses produced by each player on every NBA team.   When I am finished with every team I will produce a page that will provide access to continuously updated NBA Win Charts.

This morning’s post is the first in that series, and it features an analysis of the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit Pistons (11-25)

In deference to BGulker, a friend of this blog, the rest of the Badboys, and all the others from PistonNation who have been kind enough to follow this blog, I begin the project with the Detroit Pistons Win Chart, which I just finished.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW DETROIT PISTONS WIN CHART(36 games)

Who’s dragging down the Pistons?

I don’t know what the expectations were in Detroit, but I certainly thought the Pistons would get off to a better start than they have.  What is going on?

If we compare the above listed Win Chart to the Pistons Win Chart from last season (click here), we can identify those that are not producing up to last season’s standards, and those who are no longer around and whose absence is felt the most.

At this point the two key columns on the Win Charts that will be most helpful in our analysis are “Win Contribution”, that means the respective player’s relative “win impact” he is providing the team over a given period of time, and “Player Win Average”, which is the percentage of wins the player is producing for every 240 minutes of action.  Those two columns are fully comparable. (Win Credits are not because they are a function of absolute minutes played).  The former is a measure of player value, the latter a measure of player performance.

The Returning Pistons

If we concentrate on those categories we see that almost every significant contributor to last season’s Piston team is well off last season’s pace.  Its actually a little bizarre.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where a whole group of players productivity took roughly the same simultaneous decline.

Its almost as though someone deemed that every returning Piston take a 200 point haircut on his Player Win Average.  Really strange.  Jason Maxiell (.483% to .209%), Rodney Stuckey (.452% to .279%), Kwame Brown (.428% to .197%), Tayshaun Prince (.519%  to .275%) all have declined by roughly the same amount.

And if you notice, the group’s common decline just about mirrors the overall team decline (from an overall winning percentage last season of .475% to an overall winning percentage this season of .305%).  But the aforementioned players don’t deserve all of the blame.

Richard Hamilton = Michael Redd

A big disappointment for Detroit has been stalwart swingman Richard Hamilton, who is basically the Michael Redd of the Pistons.  Like Redd, Hamilton was and has been an significant win contributor to his team, but also like Redd the “Marginal Win Score” system has never believed he was quite as significant a win contributor as popularly assumed.  Both players are volume scorers and not much else.  When they are hitting a high percentage of shots, or converting a high percentage of possessions into points, they are valuable players.  When they aren’t they are usually costly players.

This season both have been exceptionally costly.  Of course Redd’s season is over now, but in a lot of ways it never began.  He was basically a loss producer for the Bucks, and may have been the team’s worst player.  At the moment, Richard Hamilton is demonstrably the Pistons worst player (if you consider MWS48 a legitimate measurement).

Hamilton’s Player Win Average is currently -.114%, way down from last season’s .442%.  A negative Player Win Average is horrible.  It means the player is not only producing losses, he is also producing “negative wins”.  Negative wins means the player’s marginal production has been so bad it has forced the others who are on the court with him to outproduce their counterparts by a larger amount than they normally would have to do just to produce the same amount of wins.

To conceptualize “negative wins”, think of the fat guy on that Real World/Road Rules Challenge a few seasons back who cost his team the grand prize because in the final race he not only ran slow, he repeatedly collapsed and thereby prevented his teammates from running and forced them to exert extra energy dragging him along the course… like Joker had to drag Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.  That’s basically a negative win.

Newcomers/Outgoers

So that’s a quick overview of the returning Pistons.  By and large they have been a disappointment.

Now lets examine the  players the team added in the offseason and compare them to the players the team lost.

The one departing player whose absence is most costly is PF/C Antonio McDyess.  He had a tremendous season last year, a very underappreciated tremendous season.  Its very hard to replace a player who makes a > +0.200 Win Contribution to his team, and none of the newcomers have.  But this is not really an indictment on Pistons management because, like Kurt Thomas of the Bucks, McDyess appears out of gas.  He has not contributed much to his new team the Spurs.  Nevertheless the missing wins are a fact.

The other player who made a decent contribution last season but is no longer in Detroit this season is PF Amir Johnson.  Unlike McDyess, Johnson has most certainly not run out of gas.  In fact he is producing nearly identical numbers in Toronto.  The Pistons and after them the Bucks were fools to kick Johnson down the road.  Yes his offensive game is rudimentary and yes he fouls too much, but when he’s on the court he produces wins.  Plain and simple.  Its funny how fans sometimes view player value.  It seems that if a player can score basketball fans will overlook almost any glaring fault, but if he cannot score, fans consider any fault at all to be fatal.

The Frustrators

Now lets look at the new Pistons.  Here I have to eat a little crow.  Charlie Villanueva is actually producing decent numbers.  But, I caution Pistons fans.  He’s played this shell game before.  No other player in living memory has ever been such a cocktease in a Bucks uniform as Villanueva was.  This guy burned me with his up-and-down play at least five times.  And I note that his play has declined over the last month, so I am not yet a believer in Charlie fever.  But at just below average production, I must admit he is so far doing better than I imagined he would.

The other frustration for Pistons fans is the similarly inconsistent Ben Gordon.  His numbers are down from last season with the Bulls.  They may bounce right back.  But then I my experience with him has been that they go back down again (two seasons ago he was awful).  Others disagree.  (See footnote).

Honestly, I have never liked Gordon.  Why?  Because in my mind he’s the basketball version of fool’s gold.  He goes on incredible scoring runs and your mind tends to overvalue those.  Thus you think he’s adding great value when a lot of the time he is not.  Coaches will remember his incredible scoring binges and decide to leave him on the court when he’s doing nothing but taking awful shots.

That’s what killed the Bulls in Game Seven last season against the Celtics.  Remember that hideous airball he had when the game was basically in the balance?  Gordon just wouldn’t stop wasting possessions with bad shots, and Bulls Coach Del Negro wouldn’t sit him down.  And there went the series.   Binge scorers like Gordon will do that to you.

I don’t know if that’s what’s happening in Detroit this season, but by my calculation Gordon has not been up to par.  At the moment he is producing the same value for Detroit that Allen Iverson produced for them last season.  And I think that got Iverson run out of town.

The other veteran newcomer is C Ben Wallace.  For a guy who was supposedly washed up, he’s done alright.  Just don’t ask him to be last season’s Antonio McDyess.  Or last decade’s Ben Wallace.

Promising Rookies

Let me close on an optimistic note for Pistons fans.  Their two rookies, Jerebko and Austin Daye have promise.  I’m somewhat impressed with Austin Daye.  Others such as BasketballValue rate him poorly, but I don’t.  He’s relatively efficient and productive, and that’s what you want a basketball player to be.  It tends to result in wins.

I don’t put much stock in BasketballValue anway, though I certainly find it interesting and I know others believe in it a lot, and that’s fine.  I just think the “+/-” system relies too much on circumstance.  Yes, perhaps my reliance on tangible box score production does omit the value of a pick set, or a “pass before an assist” but I can live with that because I really don’t think those intangibles are worth a whole lot.  They may be, but I’m just not convinced.

I prefer instead to rely on direct evidence.  Its more consistent.  I don’t want to end up proclaiming Sebastian Telfair an “underrated gem” only to find the very next season that gem looks a little like cubic Z.  (Boy how does a guy go from positive one year to -16.00 the next?).

FOOTNOTE:  There are others who disagree with my positive analysis of  Daye, so I shouldn’t take after BasketballValue so harshly.  I could be wrong.  Basketball-Reference.com’s Win Share system allocates wins in a very similar manner to my “Win_Loss Credits’ except they give 0.2 less to Daye and 0.7 more to Ben Gordon.   My system downgrades Gordon’s win production because his scoring surplus is outweighed by his deficits in every other statistical category.

Updated Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart (01-06-10)

January 6, 2010

I’ve updated the Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart through last night’s Game 32 win.

CLICK HERE to see the Updated Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart

In this chart, unlike any of the previous charts, I added a column documenting the change in each player’s Player Win Average from the previous chart.  So now you can see who, according to my method, has played at a higher or lower level in between charts.

Michael Redd’s continuing struggles

My numbers indicate that the largest drop in performance belongs to the highest paid player on the team, SG/SF Michael Redd.  He’s giving nice efforts, I think, but the results just haven’t been there.  As I’ve stated in the past, he looks out-of-shape and his shooting legs aren’t underneath him.  His poor performance is probably the main reason the Bucks probably aren’t going to meet the win totals we forecast at the beginning of the season.

Moute not meeting expectations either

Another player who has disappointed me has been Luc Moute.  He is performing below the threshold he set for himself last season.

Bogut steady

I realize C Andrew Bogut has been a focal point of frustration for Bucks fans, but he’s actually playing well overall.  The thing that I think frustrates fans is the up and down nature of his performances.  But that may simply be a reflection of the fact that he’s probably better than 60% of the matchups he faces and worse than the other 40%.  He feasts where he can and starves at times as well.  I don’t think it has a lot to do with “aggression” level, as Coach Skiles sometimes suggests.

Warrick back to his career norms

Last summer I did an analysis of Hakim Warrick’s career MWS48 and found that it was -1.22.  Not so good.  However, last season with Memphis he posted a -0.26.  I was hoping he would post something similar, perhaps better, for the Bucks this season.  Initially it looked like he would.  It no longer does.  Since about the middle of December his MWS48 numbers have been “regressing to the mean” as they say.    After starting the season just above average, with every new Win Chart Warrick slumps nearer and nearer to his -1.22 norm.  He is currently at -1.02.  Maybe he will turn back in the other direction.  I hope so.

Keep an eye on Meeks

The one player who improved the most over the last 9 days was Jodie Meeks.  His college numbers suggest he should be somewhere just below average as a win producer but he’s been way below average.  Hopefully he has turned the corner and we can expecting better things from him from here on out.  The Bucks desperately need someone to step up and produce at the 2 guard spot.  Maybe Meeks is the guy to do it.

Updated Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart

December 28, 2009

82games.com just updated their statistical information and I used it to update the Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart.  (Click Here to see the chart updated to 12-27-09).

If you do not know how to make sense of the information in the chart, there is a page dedicated to it in the column to the right.

Bucks have structural problems

I was really anticipating this update because I wanted to pin some responsibility somewhere for the Bucks woes.  To be honest, I was with one of the commenters who speculated it could be Michael Redd’s fault.  My information doesn’t suggest that.  My information suggests its been a dip in the play of the players I refer to as the team’s “structural players”: SF Carlos Delfino, PF Hakim Warrick, PF/C Ersan Ilyasova, and SF/PF Luc Moute.  Each of those 4 have seen a dramatic decline in their Player Win Averages over the last ten days, and that has really led to the Bucks slide.

Yes, Luke Ridnour’s numbers have declined but he really had nowhere to go but down.  He is not an elite point guard, yet he was producing like one.  The scary thing is, the team was relying on him to continue producing like one.  Bad bet.

As for Mr. Redd, his play has actually improved drastically, but it could hardly have gotten worse.  He’s still not at his normal production level, but at least there is now hope he might get there.

Don’t blame Tiny

Bogut and Jennings, the team’s mainstays, basically held at the level they were playing at the last time I updated the Bucks Win Chart on December 16th.

Sure, Bogut has regressed from the super season he had last season, but only half way back to his previously established average in the prior seasons (he was basically a .500% player prior to last season).  I sort of expected he might do that.  As athletes are fond of saying, “He is who he is”.  Bogut struggles on some nights, and dominates on others.  He’s not a bust, he’s a good center.  But I don’t think there’s any chance he will ever be an elite center.

Point guard Brandon Jennings, I have no problem with (a little Yiddish sentence structure).  Others I’m guessing do have a problem with him because, to paraphrase Denny Green, “he isn’t who they thought he was” (ESPN has taken to posting what I call “sarcastic statistics” for Jennings on their underscreen scroll.  You know, unremarkable statistics with some negative emphasis — usually poor field goal shooting).

But I warned BucksNation against overinflated expectation.  Without the hype, and considering his age and experience,  Brandon Jennings is well outperforming any reasonable expectation at this point.

Of course when Homer True is claiming in November that you “saved the franchise”, and Jim Paschke spends a month referencing you into every aspect of every game, I’d say any notion of balance or “reason” pretty much flew out the window.

I also need to mention Charlie Bell, a player I frequently target for my ad hominem attacks.  Bell is also playing well above my expectation and well above anyone else at his position and he deserves to keep getting minutes.

But the Bucks really need to get one or more of those aforementioned “structural players” going again.  I think Delfino and Moute can reimprove, and I have hopes for Ilyasova, but I have to be honest with you: I hate Hakim Warrick.  He’s never consistently produced strong “win” numbers, and I doubt he ever will.  His game is mismatched with his body and with his talent.  He basically has a “strong player” game without having the strength or efficiency needed to pull it off.  The numbers he is putting up now are right in line with his career averages, so I don’t know.

In closing, I guess my question to Bucks management is this.  When will the organization end its infatuation with “floor stretchers” (i.e. “We think ____ can really stretch the floor”) and finally invest in some “floor shrinkers”?  You can’t have a winning team that cannot make two point field goals.  This is the National Basketball Association, not the Euro League.

Why the Chicago Bulls have declined

December 20, 2009

About three days before the season started, I was trying to guess how many wins the Chicago Bulls would end up with based upon the Marginal Win Score per 48 averages of their roster over the last two seasons.  I think I came up with around 38 wins.  Not even close.

But what’s gone wrong?  Who is underperforming?  I did a Win Chart of this season’s team to find out who was creating the team’s wins and losses.  The results were somewhat surprising.  You can see the 2009-10 Chicago Bulls Win Chart if you click here.

Derrick Rose playing brutal basketball

I would say the most surprising result I came up with concerned sophomore point guard Derrick Rose.  If you go to the above Win Chart and then click on the link in that Chart to last season’s Bulls Win Chart you will see that last season Rose was basically a .500 player.  Not bad at all for a rookie.  And since players normally progress substantially in their second seasons, I expected Rose to step up to the near elite level this season.  So far this season he has actually gone the other way, and he’s done so in dramatic fashion.  He is playing awful basketball.

But why?  Where has his game declined?  If you look at his “Production Page” on 82games.com and compare it to the same from last season, its obvious.  Everything about Rose’s marginal production is basically the same except his marginal scoring efficiency.  That has really declined.

Last season Rose outscored his opponents by +3.0 points per 48, and he only needed 3.0 more scoring possessions per 48 to do so.  So his “scoring impact” was basically a wash for the Bulls.  This season, though, he is outscoring his opponent point guards by +4.4, but he now he requires 7.4 more scoring possessions per 48 to do so.  In Marginal Win Score terms that’s -3.0 divided by two which comes out to -1.50 per 48.  That’s damaging.  Unless he’s making up for it in other areas, which he isn’t, those kind of numbers from a significant minutes guy will lead to a lot of losses.

There are plenty of others who share some of the blame.  Noah’s production is down, Brad Miller’s production is down, and so is Kirk Hinrich’s.  Hinrich’s decline has been the steepest and the most surprising.  He’s usually pretty reliable.  Then you throw in the two rookies, and there you have a recipe for a bad team.

Luol Deng not at fault

The one player who cannot be blamed is Luol Deng.  He’s “progressed to the mean” if that’s a valid phrase.  Meaning, after a down season or two, he’s producing wins for the Bulls this season at almost exactly his career Player Win Average.

If you remember last summer I did a “Win Resume” for Deng and found that his career Player Win Average was .684%.  The last two seasons it had declined a bit to around the .500% level, but this season he’s got it back at .695%, and since he’s been able to stay healthy, he’s making one of his better Win Contributions (+0.181).


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