Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Lin’

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)

KNICKS WS DWS MWS exW% W__L W>0.5 VALUE
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.

How long will the LINsanity last??

February 11, 2012

In the last 3 games, Jeremy Lin-sanity has hit the New York Metropolitan area.  But how long will this condition last?  One way to predict is to use the past as precedent.

Based upon Marginal Win Score, Lin is off to a superb start to his NBA career.  The majority of his time has still been his time with the Golden State Warriors (where he was pretty good) but he will soon eclipse that as his Knickerbocker time is likely to continue to grow.

Here is Lin’s NBA Win Chart so far, with his Harvard college numbers below that.  (I could not provide any estimate of his Harvard Defensive Win Score, because the StatFox server has been down all Saturday morning… college bball betting action must be hot)

J LIN WS DWS MWS W% W__L W>0.5% VALUE
NBA 9.98 5.65 2.18 0.869 1.8__0.2 0.8 2.6
COLLEGE 9.21

When Harvard was his home

As you can see, while Lin has been way above average during his short NBA career (as the chart shows, based on his production I credit him with producing 1.8 NBA wins and only 0.2 NBA losses so far), he is also playing above his own personal college resume.  This is a big red flag for me.  You generally see a 33% decline in Win Score production when the player steps to the pros.  It makes sense… if you couldn’t produce better numbers against inferior college defenders, why should we expect you to do so in the NBA?

Therefore, Lin’s numbers over four seasons at Harvard suggest he is playing above himself at this time, and that his winning percentage will soon decline.  In the long run, his Harvard numbers would project him as a slightly below average NBA point guard, at best.

However, if there is one spot where players can outperform their college numbers, it is the point guard spot.  I have a theory as to why.  The largest pool of talent is at the shorter guard positions.  Therefore, the talent levels at those positions should not be as markedly different between college and the pros as one would expect at the taller positions like center and power forward.

In Lin’s case, though, playing against the Beauregards and the Van Houtens of the Ivy League was not exactly like playing against the Manigaults and the Knowings of Rucker Park.  He should have done better, one would suspect.

But Lin obviously has some game, so maybe he continues the fine start he has made and establishes himself as a permanent member of the NBA’s upper middle class.  We shall see how his story plays out over the balance of this season.  He has at least injected some life into an otherwise forgettable NBA campaign.


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