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The Impact of the European Exodus

Posted by Neil Paine on August 26, 2009

Today's post topic comes courtesy of BBR reader Jared Rasmussen, who e-mailed us with this yesterday:

"Recently, especially this off-season, a lot of NBA role-players have been touring overseas. While many players have had overseas stints at some point in their careers, especially those who were drafted pre-D-League, some of the recent names are fairly relevant to NBA teams at the present.

I was wondering if there could be a blog based on the Win Shares of Josh Childress, Linas Kleiza, Von Wafer, and a lot of the 6th-12th bench players (and conceivably starters if any have gone overseas) to see the production that is being lost for the NBA franchise.

This suggestion comes today with the front-page news on Hoopshype.com that Cedric Simmons, Taurean Green, Alan Acker, and Kedrick Brown are all heading to Europe for the 2009-10 season."

No problem, Jared. In fact, Jared would later hook us up with this list of European defections:

- Josh Childress (formerly ATL) - 2008
- Primoz Brezec (formerly DET/TOR) - 2008
- Carlos Delfino (formerly TOR) - 2008
- Jorge Garbajosa (formerly TOR) - 2008
- Linas Kleiza (formerly DEN) - 2009
- Von Wafer (formerly HOU) - 2009
- Cedric Simmons (formerly CHI/SAC) - 2009
- Alex Acker (formerly DET/LAC) - 2009
- Taurean Green (formerly POR/DEN, then D-League) - 2009
- Kedrick Brown (formerly PHI, then D-League) - 2009

So, what's the real impact of the "Childress Era" of players jumping ship to Europe? Well, let's look at the career Win Share rates of the players who left the NBA:

Player MP WS
Acker 234 -0.2
Brezec 6097 11.0
Brown 1935 3.0
Childress 8925 23.1
Delfino 4485 8.0
Garbajosa 1983 3.1
Green 74 -0.1
Kleiza 5720 13.0
Simmons 705 0.1
Wafer 1453 1.7
Total 31611 62.8

As you can see, we're not dealing with a stunning amount of production here. Per 3000 minutes, the defectors average about 6.0 win shares, which is below-average -- the equivalent of a 39-win team, in fact. And to illustrate how much of that production is due to Childress, the only distinctly good player in the bunch, if you take his numbers away you're left with the equivalent of a 34-win team. Obviously you don't bolt for Europe if you're an All-Star in America, though, so we're back to the main question: what was the cost, in wins, of these players heading overseas?

For the sake of the argument, let's assume each player would have recieved his previous career high in minutes this year. Obviously this isn't true -- some would see more, some less -- but it's good enough for an approximation. And while we're at it, let's also assume each player would produce at his career WS/min rate in those minutes. That would leave us with:

Player Pos MP WS
Childress G-F 2376 6.1
Brezec C 2276 4.1
Delfino G 1928 3.5
Garbajosa F 1909 2.9
Kleiza F 1889 4.3
Wafer G 1225 1.5
Brown G 666 1.0
Simmons F 534 0.1
Acker G 179 -0.2
Green G 44 -0.1

For a grand total of... 23.3 win shares. In a league where 1,230 games are won each year, basically 2% of them were lost to European leagues since the Childress Era began. That's hardly the league-wide epidemic people were clamoring about after Childress left last summer. Now, with the economy hitting the NBA as hard as any league, and with the possbility of a lockout in 2011 looming, that number may certainly climb higher -- but for now, the impact has been very small when compared to the total amount of talent currently in the league.

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3 Responses to “The Impact of the European Exodus”

  1. your favourite sun Says:

    There were a few others who jumped ship last year that were more important than Acker, Green or Simmons. Carlos Arroyo and Earl Boykins, for starters, and briefly Nenad Krstic...even Juan Carlos Navarro. Adding these guys would not significantly alter the conclusion of your analysis, but they'd be more representative of the calibre of players being lost to Europe. I mean, Kedrick Brown hasn't even been in the NBA since 2005, he's as irrelevant to this subject as the hundreds of other fringe players who choose overseas competition over minor US leagues every year. We should only be including guys who had a legitimate shot at an NBA roster spot in the first place.

  2. KneeJerkNBA Says:

    Childress is probably the cream of that crop. And the Nugs might miss Kleiza a little bit. For the most part, that's a bunch of scrubs.

  3. Jared Ras Says:

    I was the one who compiled the list, though it was just my best attempt at a patchwork list of players since a complete list wasn't really available through my research. Boykins I knew but had forgotten; I assumed he was retired after last year's stint in Europe and therefore out of the player pool for comparing future seasons. Krstic was in the NBA last year as well, so that doesn't quite work for stating theoretical win shares. I suppose Carlos Arroyo and Juan Carlos Navarro could be added to the list, but again, I couldn't find them in my quick research and they must have slipped my mind.