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.
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:
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:
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.