Six radically different players and how each produces wins

PLAYER BREAKDOWN

I chose six different NBA players with different levels of consistency, and different strengths, and broke each player’s Marginal Win Score over the past five seasons down into the three main categories of production:  (1) Net Effective Points Scored per 48; (2) Net Possessions Created per 48; and, (3) Net Helpful Acts per 48 (assists, blocks, avoiding fouls).

The six players analyzed are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Ben Gordon, Deron Williams, and Marcus Camby.

I chose LeBron because he is an example of a player whose career is marked by “great leaps forward”.  I chose Kobe because he is an example of steady excellence.  I chose Ray Allen because he is an example of a player who consistently creates above average wins almost solely through scoring.  I chose Ben Gordon because he is the anti-Ray Allen.  I chose Deron Williams because he wavers between average and All-Star.  And finally I chose Marcus Camby because he is an example of a player who creates monster wins mostly through the creation of extra possessions for his team.

With that introduction here is how the five rank when I compare their mean Marginal Win Score per 48 averages over the past five seasons.  The first parenthetical numbers is their MWS48, the second two are the variances in MWS48 and the standard deviation from the mean.

5 season Marginal Win Score per 48 averages
1. Lebron James….(+4.01)…(1.90; 1.38)
2. Marcus Camby….(+3.47)…(.79; .89)
3. Kobe Bryant…(+2.81)…(.65; .81)
4. Deron Williams…(+1.79)…(1.30; 1.14)
5. Ray Allen…(+1.51)…(.26; .51)
6. Ben Gordon…(-1.08)…(1.64; 1.28)
Analysis

As you can see, the steadiest player on the list is Ray Allen.  This puts the lie to the idea that Win Score somehow punishes scorers… it punishes inefficient scorers.  Allen has played with two different teams in the past five years and has created wins above average for both almost solely through scoring.  But that’s a dangerous way to go, as Ben Gordon shows.  Gordon is so bad in the other two areas (as you will see) that he HAS to produce positive net effective scoring or he’s awful.  The list seems to show LeBron as the most volatile, but this is misleading.  What has actually happened is LeBron has hit two higher plateaus in the past five seasons.  His MWS48 over that time reads like this: (+2.71; +2.58; +4.01; +5.64; +5.12).  So as you can see LeBron actually shows remarkable consistency — consistently rising production.

Now lets break down how each player produces wins by major category rankings.  First Net Effective Scoring, which equals The Player’s (Points – FGAs – .5FTAs) minus The Player’s Counterpart Opponents (Points – FGAs – .5FTAs).

Here is how the six rank in this category.  As you can see, the best “effective” scorers tend to create the most wins.  Again, putting the lie to the idea that Win Score does not give proper weight to scoring.  What Win Score penalizes is volume scoring (Michael Wilbon needs a lesson in the difference between volume scoring and effective scoring — he couldnt figure out why the Lakers tend to win more often when Kobe takes fewer shots).

The first parenthesis is the player’s Net Effective Scoring per 48.  The second is the variance/standard deviation.  The third is the percentage of wins produced this category accounts for in the player’s overal portfolio.

Net Effective Points Scored per 48
1. Ray Allen…(+2.92)…(.87/.93)…(93.0%)
2. LeBron James…(+2.88)…(1.79/1.30)…(36.0%)
3. Kobe Bryant…(+2.59)…(.26/.51)…(46.0%)
4. Deron Williams…(+1.61)…(1.43/1.19)…(45.0%)
5. Ben Gordon…(+0.63)…(2.97/1.72)…(100.0%)
6. Marcus Camby…(-0.92)…(.67/.82)…(-13.0%)
Analysis

Notice how many of these players rely heavily on scoring to produce above average wins?  Gordon relies solely on it, and he’s not that good at it.  Ray Allen relies almost solely on it, and he is very good at it.  LeBron, the true elite level superstar, has the perfect mix of production, relying on his scoring for only a third of his wins above average.  Kobe Bryant’s net scoring is remarkably consistent.  And it is surprising the degree to which Deron Williams relies on effective scoring, and he’s inconsistent in that regard — fully explaining his wavering status.  And contrary to popular opinion, Marcus Camby is not representative of a typical Win Score success story.  Few players can suffer a gap in scoring as he does and still produce wins above average as he does.  You have to almost be perfect in every other area, and exceptional in at least one other area.  Most examples of “high possession” win creators are like Kevin Love.  Love actually has a slight net positive effective scoring margin, which he then supplements with large possession numbers (Camby’s have to be crazy large to overcome his scoring gap).

Next is Net Possessions Created which is the same Player/Counterpart comparison as above except substitute in (Rebounds + Steals – Turnovers).  Same things in the parenthesis.

Net Possessions Created per 48
1. Marcus Camby…(+5.69)…(4.92/2.21)…(85.0%)
2. Kobe Bryant…(+1.42)…(1.26/1.12)…(25.0%)
3. LeBron James…(+1.13)…(1.20/1.09)…(14.0%)
4. Ray Allen…(-0.13)…(.28/.53)…(-4.3%)
5. Deron Williams…(-1.12)…(1.07/1.04)…(-31.2%)
6. Ben Gordon…(-2.51)…(.28/.53)…(-116.2%)
Analysis

Five of the six players listed are amongst the 30% of NBA players who produce wins above average (ie who have positive MWS48).  Yet only one  relies to any extent on possession creation, and that is Marcus Camby.  I’d like  to point out also how volatile Camby’s numbers are.  This contradicts the  idea of the “rebound catcher” or “designated rebounder” (what a ludicrous idea from a usually solid blog).  Rebounds, especially net rebounds, are not easy.  And rebounds aren’t the only ingredient here.  Steals and ball protection are also equally in the mix.  If you notice, and it might be depressing for Pistons fans, but not only are Ben Gordon’s numbers awful, they are consistent.  Meaning, they are almost a given.  He’s working himself out of a hole from day one.

Net “Helpful” Stats

That’s a dumb name for blocks, assists, and personal fouls, but its meant to differentiate them from point and possession stats.  The strange thing about “Helpful” stats is they tend to vary the least, despite the fact that in theory the player has little control over two of them (he is reliant on successful shots for assists and the referee’s whistle for fouls).  Actually, though, I think assists are kind of like hockey goals.  Those that attempt them often put up good numbers, those that attempt them seldomly do not.

The formula for this category is (.5Ass + .5Blks – .5PFs).

Net Helpfuls per 48
1. LeBron James…(+4.02)…(.64/.80)…(51.0%)
2. Deron Williams…(+3.10)…(.55/.74)…(86.0%)
3. Marcus Camby…(+2.18)…(1.03/1.01)…(28.0%)
4. Kobe Bryant…(+1.84)…(.11/.33)…(29.0%)
5. Ray Allen…(+0.25)…(.15/.39)…(11.7%)
6. Ben Gordon…(-0.29)…(.31/.56)…(-13.3%)
Analysis

As you can see, this is the category Lebron has used to make himself a monster win producer.  In the past couple of seasons he’s been an extremely effective play maker.  Camby is a decent playmaker, but a very good shot blocker.  Kobe and Ray Allen both have very steady numbers.  Allen just doesn’t do much in this area, and if Kobe did more he could be classified with Jordan.

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2 Responses to “Six radically different players and how each produces wins”

  1. brgulker Says:

    Salt. In. Wound.

    • tywill33 Says:

      Thats not why I included Gordon. He’s just fascinating to me because he’s so up and down.

      I would actually expect him to be up next season. Actually, that was the worst season of his career, so he almost certainly will be better.

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