Posts Tagged ‘Carmelo Anthony’

Jeremy Lin benefiting from a massive “substitution effect”

February 16, 2012

If you’re eating chicken shit, and someone offers you chicken salad instead, it doesn’t matter if you don’t particularly like chicken salad… it will taste much better to you than the chicken shit tasted.

That’s part of the power behind Linsanity and the resurgence of the New York Knickerbockers.  Sure, Jeremy Lin is a nice ballplayer, and right now he has a well above average MWS and Winning Percentage, but what has really made him look awesome is the comparison between what he is providing the Knicks at the point guard position and the dreadful play they have gotten from the position this season when Lin was not on the floor (or indeed, on the Knicks roster).

Here is the latest Knicks Win Chart for 2011-12 (What do the different columns in the Win Chart mean?  Click here for simple explanation):

NEW YORK KNICKS (through February 15, 2012)

T Chandler 17.45 11.68 2.89 0.993 4.2__0.0 2.1 6.3
L Fields 8.14 6.33 0.91 0.656 2.6__1.4 0.6 3.2
C Anthony 6.83 6.22 0.31 0.554 1.7__1.4 0.2 1.9
A Stoumire 8.25 8.35 -0.05 0.494 1.7__1.7 -0.1 1.7
I Shumpert 3.15 5.36 -1.09 0.315 1.0__2.3 -0.7 0.4
J Lin 8.75 6.24 1.26 0.716 0.9__0.4 0.3 1.2
S Novak 9.09 6.18 1.45 0.749 0.8__0.3 0.3 1.1
B Walker 4.39 6.43 -1.02 0.329 0.8__1.6 -0.4 0.4
J Harrlson 11.11 9.56 0.77 0.634 0.7__0.5 0.1 0.8
J Jeffries 6.89 9.69 -1.39 0.266 0.5__1.3 -0.4 0.1
R Balkman 9.39 6.83 1.28 0.719 0.4__0.2 0.1 0.5
J Jordan 10.57 0.63 4.97 1.346 0.3__(-0.1) 0.2 0.5
T Douglass -1.95 7.11 -4.53 -0.266 (-0.6)__2.8 -1.7 -2.3
M Bibby 2.55 9.21 -3.33 -0.062 (-0.1)__1.3 -0.7 -0.8
Exptd 14.9__15.1
Act 15.0__15.0

Chandler and Fields still more valuable

As you can see from the Win Chart, the real MVPs of the Knicks are Tyson Chandler and Landry Fields.  But Lin has made a large relative impact because the Knicks former starting PGs, Mike Bibby and Toney Douglass, were not only bad, they were SO bad they were taking wins off the board.  Thus, replacing them with an above average player of Lin’s production had a massive impact on the team.

To illustrate, when Jeremy Lin is in the game, as the chart shows, the New York Knicks are getting a player with a Marginal Win Score of +1.26.  If all 5 positions were manned by 0.500% players, and you substituted Lin into the game, then Lin’s contribution alone turns the Knicks into a 0.545% team.  Not that large an impact.  However, in actuality, Lin did not replace “0.500%” caliber PGs.  In fact, the other Knick point guards combined produce a MWS of -2.84, which equates into a combined non-Lin winning percentage from the position of 0.020%.  To put number in perspective, if you add the other Knick PGs to the hypothetical 0.500% team described above, they would turn that team into a 0.406% team.  In practical numbers, the non-Lin Point Guards would turn a 41 win team (in a normal season) in to a 33 win team, whereas when Lin stepped in and replaced them, his production turned that hypothetical 41 win team into a 45 win team.  That’s a huge difference.

The story gets better when you consider that the “other Knicks” are somewhat better than a 0.500% team.  Indeed, as the Win Chart above shows, the Knicks are getting better than 0.500% play from several key players.  Tyson Chandler has been phenomenal at the center position.  I credit him with producing 4.2 wins and no losses.  And after a slow start, last year’s rookie phenom Landry Fields is back to playing above 0.500% basketball from the shooting guard position.  Then you consider that Carmelo Anthony plays nearly 0.700% basketball when he’s in there and healthy, and you have a pretty good team.  The thing that was holding the Knicks back, and I illustrated it earlier in the season, was their incredibly poor play from the point guard position.  Enter Linsanity.

That’s why, by comparison, Jeremy Lin has made such a major difference.  He turned a tremendous weakness into a strength, which magnified the impact that contribution made.  In basketball, I call that the substitution effect. (I think the real economic  “substitution effect” is when you switch from Coke to Jolly Good during a recession, but its been a long time since Econ 101).

EDITOR’s COMMENT:  Do they still sell Jolly Good soda? It was an off-brand that came in a variety of flavors and at one time had jokes written on the inside bottom of the can, as I recall.  I remember you’d finish the thing, then you’d have to close one eye and try to direct the inside of the can toward the sun so you could strain to read the dumb joke/riddle to your friends. ” Let’s see… What has four legs buttttt cannnn nnnnnot… shit, I can’t read the last word… oh…  ‘run‘? What has four legs but cannot run? ”  The things we used to find entertaining.  Good times.

CORRECTION:  The original post had Carmelo Anthony as a slightly more productive player than he has been.  The original post therefore calculated Carmelo’s wins at 2.1 and the Knicks estimated wins at 15.3, which were both in error.  It was pointed out by a reader, and has been corrected.

Shouldn’t the New York Knicks have a better record?

January 18, 2012

Last month the New York Knicks began their first full season with the frontcourt of so-called superstars SF Carmelo Anthony and PF Amare Stoudamire.  The team then added the win producing center Tyson Chandler to that frontcourt, and PG Mike Bibby to the backcourt.  Yet the team has a lower winning percentage than they had at the end of last season.  What gives?

Using Marginal Win Score, I calculated the winning percentages produced by each NY Knick performer and projected them out over 66 games.  (See “GLOSSARY” page in the “Courtside Reading” column on the right hand side of this blog).  Here are the numbers I produced:


New York WS DWS MWS W% W66 W>0.5 V66
T Chandler 16.74 11.01 2.86 0.989 10.1__0.1 4.1 13.2
C Anthony 9.55 6.87 1.34 0.729 6.6__2.4 2.1 7.7
L Fields 5.23 4.77 0.23 0.541 4.5__3.9 0.3 4.8
I Shumpert 3.44 2.42 0.51 0.589 3.5__2.5 0.9 4.4
J Harrelson 11.09 11.16 -0.03 0.497 2.7__2.7 0.1 2.8
A Stoudamire 7.36 9.24 -0.94 0.343 2.3__4.3 -1.1 1.2
B Walker 4.55 6.05 -0.75 0.375 2.0__3.4 -0.7 1.3
R Balkman 12.88 11.26 0.81 0.639 1.1__0.6 0.2 1.3
S Novak 3.82 8.38 -2.27 0.116 0.2__1.1 -0.5 -0.3
M Bibby 4.62 10.05 -2.71 0.042 0.2__3.4 -1.6 -1.4
J Jeffries 1.99 7.48 -2.74 0.036 0.0__1.3 -0.6 -0.6
T Douglas -0.46 9.37 -4.91 -0.331 (-2.2)__8.8 -5.5 -7.7

Reasons the NY Knicks are not better

1. Carmelo and Stoudamire are not “superstars”

Carmelo Anthony is playing at his normal, above average level.  He has never posted elite win statistics at any point in his career.  The fact that he is not doing so this season should come as no surprise.   Stoudamire used to be a superstar or near superstar.  Since his knee injury, he has not been, and since he came to New York his winning percentage has been below 0.500%.  It has gotten slightly worse this season.

2. Fields bubble burst

Last season Landry Fields finished among the Top 20 Most Valuable Players in the NBA, according to Marginal Win Score.  That was a shocking outcome, because his college resume did not suggest he could post such outstanding statistical numbers.  Thus, I expected him to come back down to Earth this season and he has so far.  His decline accounts in large measure for the Knicks dreary beginning.

3. Toney Douglas is playing horribly.

Last season PG Toney Douglas was a slightly below 0.500% performer.  This season, he has been awful,as the Win Chart shows.  Douglas is getting outperformed by his counterpart PG to such an extent that he is not merely creating losses, he is actually taking wins away from the Knicks.  The Knicks wised up to this and have given the PG job to the rookie Iman Shumpert.  Shumpert looks like a good defender, so the team could see some improvement at that position.

4. Mike Bibby is shot

If the team expected a major contribution from G Mike Bibby, they did not look at his recent performances.  Last season Bibby was a below 0.500% win producer in both Atlanta and Miami.  So his “performance ceiling” was not very high to begin with.  To make matters worse, it appears as though his “performance floor” has gone down substantially.  At the moment he is playing neither defense nor offense.  He could rally to the point that he would bring himself up to last season’s below average standard, but I am not optimistic that he will.


Tyson Chandler is playing at maximum efficiency.  Carmelo is playing like Carmelo, and I would not expect to see Amare play much better than he is playing.  So the Knicks hope for a play-off berth rests, I believe, in the hands of Landry Fields and the aforementioned Iman Shumpert.  Those are the two players who could improve their play to the point that the team really starts advancing.  If neither one does so, the team may not make the postseason, and that would qualify as a major disappointment for Knick fans.


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