(Points + Rebounds + Steals + ½Assists + ½Blocked Shots – Field Goal Attempts – Turnovers - ½Free Throw Attempts - ½Personal Fouls) / Minutes = Win Score per Minute

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The King

I'm working on a big post about playoff performance that will probably have to wait until the playoffs are finished, but I wanted to quickly drop some thoughts on LeBron James. It's interesting to see the different takes people have on him. Some think he is too unselfish, some think he doesn't know how to control his body, some want to see more agression, some want to see more finesse. Some think he is Michael Jordan, some think he is Magic, some think he needs to mature more, some think it is amazing what a 22-year old kid is doing in this league.

Count me in the last category. But take out the qualification of a 22-year old kid. It is amazing what LeBron James is doing in this league, regardless of his age. Especially in these playoffs, he has been incredible. Now, if you just look at shooting, you see he has gotten worse in the playoffs:

LeBron James: 2006-07 Regular Season Shooting
Minutes per Game: 41.0
Points per Game: 27.3
Field Goal Percentage: 47.6%
3-Point Percentage: 31.9%

LeBron James: 2006-07 Postseason Shooting
Minutes per Game: 44.6
Points per Game: 24.6
Field Goal Percentage: 42.6%
3-Point Percentage: 30.0%

So he is shooting worse and scoring less in more minutes per game. Not that impressive, right?

Now let's look at his non-shooting stats (I'm including free throws here, you'll see why):
LeBron James: 2006-07 Regular Season Non-Shooting
Free throw attempts per game: 8.99
Free throw percentage: 69.8%
Rebounds: 6.7
Assists: 6.0
Steals: 1.60
Turnovers: 3.21

LeBron James: 2006-07 Postseason Non-Shooting
Free throw attempts per game: 9.57
Free throw percentage: 77.6%
Rebounds: 7.9
Assists: 8.4
Steals: 1.86
Turnovers: 2.71

He has increased his free throw attempts and percentage, as well as his rebounds and assists, and has improved his steals - turnovers rate significantly. All of this leads to the following Win Score / Wins Produced calculations:

LeBron James: 2006-07 Regular Season
Total Win Score: 738.5
Position-Adjusted Win Score: 243.24
PAWSmin: 0.076
Approximate WP48: 0.227

LeBron James: 2006-07 Postseason
Total Win Score: 158.5
Position-Adjusted Win Score: 96.875
PAWSmin: 0.155
Approximate WP48: 0.355

I don't need to tell you that this is an incredible jump in productivity from the regular season to the playoffs. LeBron has gone from a top 30 player in Wins Produced to a top five player. There should be no criticism of how LeBron James has played in this postseason. He is giving us one of the great individual performances of the last few years, and has his team feeling confident that they can take down the mighty Pistons.

Cleveland should start figuring out a spot to put the championship trophies. Whether or not they win this year, I have a feeling LeBron will be in the hunt every year for the next decade. It's a good time to be a Cavs fan.

EDIT: I should have known it was too good to be true. Mr. Berri showed me a miscalculation I made. The playoff numbers should be as follows:

LeBron James: 2006-07 Postseason
Total Win Score: 158.5
Position-Adjusted Win Score: 61.625
PAWSmin: 0.099
Approximate WP48: 0.264

So he is performing better, but it isn't the amazing increase that I thought I spotted. Certainly nothing to write an entire post about. Apparently I need to stick to the programming end of things.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Frustrations of a Fan

I'm pretty sure this post is coming only from my frustrations at watching the Utah Jazz look like a team of rookies whenever they play in San Antonio. And so the righteous indignation that will come through in this post is probably not going to be properly aimed. But I'm going to let it fly anyway, knowing full well that I am letting my emotions get the best of me.

It's OK.

As I was updating the database this morning with the stats from last night's game, I took a second to look at each of the Jazz players, mentally checking off in my mind how the numbers corresponded with my impression of how they played.

Fisher was terrible....check
Kirilenko, Harpring and Okur were below average....check
Millsap didn't get nearly enough playing time....check
Deron Williams is a stud....check
Boozer played great on offense, terrible on defense....huh?

I was stunned to see that Boozer, according to Win Score, played almost as well as Tim Duncan. How could that be? I watched him fall asleep on the defensive end time after time! I checked Fabricio Oberto's line (the man Boozer was covering most of the night) to be sure, and there it was, 14 points on 6-7 shooting for a man averaging 4-5 points per game through the season. And from my own viewing I knew that at least 5 of those 6 shots were ridiculously easy layups made possible by the lackadaisical defense of one Carlos Boozer.

Now, I've always been a defender of the Wins Produced system, even against those saying that it underrates good defenders and vice versa. There is a very long post on the Wins of Wages Blog that goes over this whole phenomenon of defensive team statistics in great detail. But I guess I had never seen a disparity this egregious with my own eyes before. So I'm concerned.

What is the answer here? There are some possibilities:

1. My eyes deceive me, and Boozer really did contribute as much to a possible win as Tim Duncan did.
2. Win Score and Wins Produced are limited in their ability to evaluate a single game, but the effects balance out over an entire season, which makes for an accurate evaluation of 82+ games.
3. There is a fairly significant flaw in the way Wins Produced evaluates those at the top and bottom of the defensive totem pole.
4. ??

Help me out here, guys. Is there a fourth option I'm not seeing? Have any of you had similar experiences where something didn't add up quite right for you? We all know that there is no perfect metric, so should I even worry about it? It's still the best thing we've got, right? Right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What goes around, comes around

I made a comment a few months ago (in a post I'm not especially proud of) about how ESPN.com must be required to mention LeBron James as the lead story in any game he participates in, whether or not he actually played well. This was in reference to a game in which Ben Wallace played fantastic, but the lead was something to the effect of "LeBron's 20-something points not enough".

Today, we have the opposite-but-equal effect coming into play, as all the leads about last night's game refer to LeBron only scoring 10 points as the Cavs lose to the Pistons. On the radio this morning, all I heard coming in was that LeBron didn't score enough and he shouldn't have passed the ball on the last play of the game, he should have taken it to the hole. And pundits will take every opportunity to let us know that LeBron is not Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, and that he still doesn't have what it takes to be a champion.

As always, let's take a look at the numbers, shall we? The box score of the game reveals that LeBron almost had a triple-double. Here is his line:

James, LeBron - 45 min, 10 points on 5-15 shooting, no free throws, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 block, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, 1 foul. This gives him a Win Score of 11.5 for the game, a PAWS of 4.5 and a PAWSmin of 0.101. Calculating the approximate WP48 gives us 0.267, which is actually better than James' average for the year. Only Ilgauskas and Varejao played better in this game than LeBron did.

The real issue here is that none of the Cavs' outside shooters were on yesterday. Sometimes LeBron's shot will be off, but he usually finds other ways to contribute. If that happens, someone has to step up and start making outside shots. And no one did.

Sasha Pavlovic: 4-14
Donyell Marshall: 1-4
Eric Snow: 0-4
Larry Hughes: 4-13
Daniel Gibson: 0-4

Out of those five players, only Larry Hughes did ANYTHING else to redeem himself, garnering a few rebounds and a couple of steals. The other four players did nothing else but shoot poorly. And that is why Cleveland lost the game. LeBron and the post players did everything they could to give Cleveland the chance to steal the first game in Detroit, but the outside shooters couldn't make shots when they needed to. And if they want their season to extend past Game 5 in Detroit, someone besides LeBron will have to start making shots.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

2 Down, 2 To Go

After almost a month of games, we're down to 4 teams, Utah, San Antonio, Cleveland and Detroit. I wonder if anyone predicted these four teams would be the ones left. I doubt there were many who believed Utah would be here. I mean, they're my team and I didn't even think they'd get this far. I'm excited to see how this all plays out. Now, let's take a look at our fantasy game standings:

obreck3 1770
momotiki 1704
aomcgill 1703.5
huey 1703.5
jchan 1703.5
mike 1657
tlarkin 1652
amarishnu 1621
jlewis44 1600.5
jasonyiin 1419.5
drock113 1388.5

Although there is a traffic jam in spots 2-5, obreck3 has gotten a huge advantage over the rest of the pack. Let's see if we can figure out if anyone has a chance to overtake him by looking at what players are left in the playoffs.

Pretty much everyone has Billups, Boozer, Duncan, Ginobli and LeBron.

In addition Obreck3 has the following players left: Drew Gooden, Antonio McDyess, and Tony Parker.
Momotiki, Aomcgill and I have Rasheed Wallace
Huey has Gooden but not Billups
Mike has Tony Parker
Tlarkin has Gooden and Tayshaun Prince, but not Boozer
Amarishnu has McDyess and Paul Millsap
JLewis44 has an interesting team, with Gooden, McDyess, Parker, Prince and Anderson Varejao, but no Boozer
Jasonyiin also has Varejao, plus Prince, Parker, Gooden and Chris Webber
And Drock113 has Gooden and McDyess.
(Let me know if I made any mistakes here)

So I'm not sure anyone will be able to catch obreck3, but there look to definitely be some shakeups in the standings over the next little while. Some people have as many as eight players still going, with others only having 5. As for me, looks like the only way I can have a chance to win (tie for first, that is) is if Detroit and Utah play for the title, and Rasheed plays a whole lot better than McDyess. Guess we'll see what happens.

Anybody else feel like they have a good chance to win? Or any predictions on the remaining series? I'm gonna refrain from predicting anything this time. It's just embarrassing.

EDIT: I missed Owen's comment on the previous post. He listed the number of players left on each team. I didn't realize JLewis had 10 players left. He should be shooting up the rankings in the next little while.

-Going into the third round of the playoffs, here is how many players each contestant -has remaining.

-OBreck3 8
-Momotiki 6
-AoMcgill 6
-Huey 5
-Mike 6
-Tlarkin 6
-Amarishnu 7
-JLewis 10

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Suns, Spurs, Suspensions, Statistics

There has been plenty of commentary on the suspensions for tonight's Spurs-Suns game, so I'm not going to talk about whether the NBA was right or wrong in this thing. But it does seem like everyone is just assuming that the Suns will lose this game, now that two starters are out. Let's see what WP48 has to tell us about the chances. (I'm going to use the approximate WP48 from my stats site in this analysis, so just know that all WP48 numbers are approximate)

First of all, how does this affect the Spurs? Robert Horry has a knack for coming through in the clutch, at least that is his reputation. But he hasn't given the Spurs much this year overall. Horry has shot poorly (37%), but somewhat made up for that through decent rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and a low turnover rate. He still ended up below average, with a WP48 of 0.091, just under the average player (0.100). I'm guessing his minutes will be mainly taken up by Fabricio Oberto or Matt Bonner. Both of these seem to be slight upgrades. Oberto's WP48 is 0.116 and Bonner's is 0.122. The other option is probably more minutes for Francisco Elson, and having Tim Duncan play more power forward rather than center. Elson's WP48 is 0.066 and would seem to be a slight downgrade from Horry. Either way, it appears the changes won't affect the Spurs much, and they should play more or less equal to how they have played throughout the season.

As for the Suns, they will be missing Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. Stoudemire is one of the best players in the league, and his WP48 of 0.291 shows that. Diaw, however, has dropped off significantly from his breakout year and is sitting on a WP48 of 0.019, well below an "average" player. The loss of these two players will result in more minutes for everyone on the Suns. They've been playing with a rotation of 8 players as it is, and this brings the list down to 6 players, of those that have been getting minutes for Coach D'Antoni. Kurt Thomas is going to be asked to step up in this game and probably play 40 minutes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however. Thomas has played well this year and currently has a WP48 of 0.189, which is actually pretty good. The options for the rest of those minutes, however, don't look quite as good. James Jones and Jalen Rose are probably the most likely to see increased minutes, and they stand at 0.048 and 0.081 WP48, respectively. Of course, both of those players are an upgrade from Boris Diaw, with the only problem being that they don't play the same position as Boris. All things considered, things don't look as horrible as they seemed for the Suns. The biggest issue for them will probably be if Thomas can have a good game and play a solid 40 minutes. If the starting five of (I'm guessing) Thomas, Marion, Bell, Barbosa and Nash can all stay on the court for 40-45 minutes, then I think the Spurs will have a much tougher game than they expected.

I don't know if I'd bet on the Suns....but I probably wouldn't put any money against them either. How do you think the game is going to play out? Are the Suns going to get too tired and get blown out in their own building? Or will they rally together and get the best payback imaginable? Either way, should be a fun night.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

23 Points can be Deceiving

Just looked at the Nets-Cavs score and saw something interesting that warranted a quick post. Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter and Jason Kidd, the Big 3, each scored 23 points in this game. A quick glance tells you they each played a great game. But digging in further, you find something different. Take a look at the box score for each of the three players.

Each made 8 shots, but Kidd only took 12, Jefferson 17 and Carter 19. Plus, Kidd made 5 three-pointers. Then you look at the rebounding, again Kidd leads, 13 to 8 to 6. Of course he leads in assists, but he also only had 3 turnovers to go with all those assists.

Let's completely ignore the position played by each of these players and just look at raw win score.

Kidd - 26.5
Jefferson - 10.5
Carter - 4.5

When you look at that, it's pretty clear who carried the team this game, now isn't it? I keep hearing rumors that Jason Kidd is going to be traded to the Lakers or the Mavericks or whoever. The rest of the league better hope he doesn't go to the Mavericks, because I can't imagine how many games they would win next year if he did.

What do you think? Are these Win Scores misleading, or do they paint the right picture? And if you were an NBA GM, would you try to trade for Jason Kidd?

P.S. I wasn't able to watch the game, but noticed Jason Collins fouled out with 1 point, 5 rebounds and 4 turnovers. Did anyone watch it who can tell me if he played well defensively? People say the numbers don't show what he does, but I just don't see it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Basketball Razzies, Part 2

I can't possibly quantify how wrong I was about the Chicago Bulls. Even after Game 2, I still thought they would come and get some confidence back at home and even up the series at two games a piece. Anyway, in honor of the Bulls' collective belly-flop, I give you part 2 of the Basketball Razzies, the award for Worst Game Performace, Individual.

And the nominees are:

Jermaine O'Neal - Indiana Pacers - March 30, 2007

O'Neal said, after this game, "It's not really about what other teams are doing. It's about what we're doing. Or a better way to put it, what we're not doing to win games." Very perspicacious, Jermaine. In this game, O'Neal shot 4-18, and had five more turnovers (8) than rebounds. Top that off with five fouls and only 2-4 from the line, and it's amazing Indiana only lost this game by 8 points.

Gilbert Arenas - Washington Wizards - November 24, 2006

The truly horrible games must come from those you expect to be great. Elias had this to say about the game:

"Gilbert Arenas, who had scored 20 or more points in each of his previous 10 games, was held to three points in 32 minutes. Only one other player in NBA history had a single-season streak of at least 10 games scoring at least 20 points broken by scoring three or fewer points in at least 30 minutes."

Of course this game came against the ferocious defensive force known as the Memphis Grizzlies. They forced Gilbert into 4 turnovers, and he somehow managed to avoid getting a rebound for the entire game.

Danny Granger - Indiana Pacers - April 10, 2007

Granger had a great year, and appears to be headed for NBA stardom. However, on this day, it was not to be. You'd think at some point in missing his first 13 shots, Danny would have decided not to shoot anymore. Yet he somehow took 17 shots, making only two. And his contributions ended there. One assist and two rebounds in 39 minutes make you wonder what exactly he was doing out there, at least when he wasn't shooting.

Adam Morrison - Charlotte Bobcats - December 29, 2006

A lot to say about this one. The Bobcats actually won this game, despite Morrison's contributions and Kobe's 58 points. The game went into triple overtime. And this game probably set a record for the largest separation between two teammates in Win Score. Morrison finished with a -10.5, while his teammate Emeka Okafor turned in one of the great performances of the year and garnered a 31 Win Score.

Morrison's five rebounds and two assists were not enough to make up for 3 turnovers and a dismal 1-15 shooting night. You put an "average" player in there and the Bobcats probably win by 14 in regulation. Just an absolutely phenomenal game all around.

Marvin Williams - Atlanta Hawks - April 14, 2007

OK, so the game was meaningless for the Hawks, already mired in the lottery section of the standings. But you've gotta still show up for the game. The game was all but over at halftime, as the Cavaliers went to the locker room up 56-28. Marvin Williams was the anti-star of this anti-show, shooting 3 for 15 and only pulling 2 rebounds in 41 minutes, a pathetic total for a man standing 6 foot 9 inches. I don't know if the Hawks were tanking, but if not, they did the best impression of it I've ever seen.

And the winner is:

Jermaine O'Neal - Indiana Pacers - March 30, 2007

It absolutely had to be. His Position-Adjusted Win Score of -23 blew everyone else out of the water. The poor shooting, the lack of rebounds for a PF and the turnovers combined into a perfect storm of NBA mediocrity. The fact that we all know O'Neal is a pretty good player only adds to the mystique of this game for me. Will it be topped this year? Not likely, but maybe one of the Bulls can make a run at it next game.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Second Round, here we come!

Well, the first round could be classified as "less than riveting", but there were at least two fun / interesting series, and the winners are coming together. Utah / Golden State should make for a great time, if only to see which team gets to play "their way". Will it be a defensive grind a la Jerry Sloan? Or will Nellie's run-and-gun take over? A great chance to watch two of the best coaches in the business, with completely different styles.

OK, that's enough of my own biased opinion. Which second-round matchups sound the most interesting to you?

Here is some quick fantasy game news, this is the top players so far in the game

1. huey - 977
2. obreck3 - 967.5
3. momotiki - 945.5
4. aomcgill - 945
4. jchan - 945
6. mike - 930
7. tlarkin - 918.5
8. amarishnu - 873.5
9. drock113 - 821
10. jlewis44 - 818.5
11. jasonyiin - 808

Some quick stats on the teams:

Six players were chosen by every team: Nash, Nowitzki, LeBron, Ginobli, Marion and Duncan.
Another six players were chosen by every team but one: Howard, Billups, Bosh, Deng, Stoudemire and Ben Wallace.

From there it got interesting:
Eight people are ticked that Jason Terry, Dwyane Wade and Yao Ming have been eliminated.
Seven will be enjoying Jason Kidd and Carlos Boozer's points in round 2.

The difference makers are probably in the players who are still active, but weren't chosen by many players.
These include:
- Tony Parker, 4 teams
- Rasheed Wallace, 4 teams
- Leandro Barbosa, 2 teams
- Anderson Varejao, 2 teams

All in all, only 30 different players were actually selected. As for my picks, I feel fairly confident since "aomcgill" chose the exact same team as I did. However, I almost changed that, in fact, I actually thought about adding DeSagana Diop to my team.

Thank goodness.

How do you guys feel about your chances? What players do you think will show up with big numbers in this coming round?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Avery Johnson is a really good coach, so what the.........?

I don't have time to properly research this at the moment, but I wanted to throw this out there while it is fresh in my mind. While everyone is loving Golden State right now, and some people are discussing what Dallas has been doing wrong, I've only seen a few people mention in passing what I think is the single biggest difference in this series.

And mind you, I never thought I would say this, but I think the biggest problem for the Mavs is the lack of playing time for Erick Dampier. He has consistently been the third best player for this Mavericks team, anchoring the middle, rebounding, and shooting a ridiculously high percentage. And now he's turning in one and two-minute games. How does this make sense?

I know he's not fast enough to get back on fast breaks, but wouldn't his offensive rebounding skills get rid of four or five fast breaks per game? I can't understand why a 67 win team is adjusting to a team that barely made the playoffs.