One of the enduring criticisms of the Win Score metric is the result it produced in the 1995-96 season that suggested that Dennis Rodman was more valuable to the 72 win Bulls than was Michael Jordan. Basketball fans found this ludicrous.
However, if you look at my past two posts, which broke down teams win production according to their efficient point production, possession creation, and helpful acts, and then did the same for the 1995-96 Bulls, Rodman’s worth becomes much more plausible.
Here is the breakdown for the aforementioned Bulls:
1995-96 Chicago Bulls MWS Breakdown
As you can see, the Bulls “Scoring Efficiency” gap of (+6.47) was very good, but not historically good. If the Bulls were a 2010-11 team, that number would rank only fifth best in the NBA. However, where the Bulls really distinguished themselves was in Possession Creation. Their (+11.23) gap in that category is monstrous.
How monstrous? If that large a gap were recorded in 2010-11, it would be
two four full standard deviations away from the second best result, which is this season’s Chicago Bulls, who have an NBA best Possession gap of (+4.89). As Hubie Brown would say, that’s a “major, major” difference in possessions between the ’96 Bulls and everyone else.
To put the ’96 Bulls numbers into simpler terms, if they had only their Scoring gap, and if the rest of their comparative numbers were even, they would have been expected to finish with a (50-32) record. On the other hand, if the team only had their Possession gap, and the rest of their comparative numbers were even, they would have been expected to finish with a record of (57-25).
Given that Possession Creation was Rodman’s forte (although Jordan was no slouch in this area), his enormous value to that particular Bulls team becomes a bit more clear.