You Are Here > Basketball-Reference.com > BBR Blog > NBA and College Basketball Analysis

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all Basketball-Reference content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing Basketball-Reference blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Basketball-Reference.com // Sports Reference

For more from Neil, check out his new work at BasketballProspectus.com.

BBR Mailbag: Most One-Dimensional Players

Posted by Neil Paine on December 7, 2010

Here's a quick mailbag from "Imadogg", who writes:

"I was wondering who the best 'one-sided' players of all time are. For example, when thinking of the best offensive players ever, a name like Jordan or Wilt might come to mind, but no one would dare call them one-sided or only offense. On the other hand, when I think of Steve Nash, I think of perfection on one side of the ball and nothing at all on the other. On defense, guys like Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, or Dikembe Mutombo come to mind as amazing defenders who you would prefer never to give the ball to."

Imadogg went on to suggest looking at the percentage of a player's Win Shares devoted to offense vs. defense, so I'm going to take that approach when determining the most "one-dimensional" players in post-1952 NBA history.

I should note, one issue with using Win Shares is that they can sometimes be negative, which totally wreaks havoc on an exercise like this. But as a kludge, I just zeroed out the negative OWS/DWS, and took the percentage of those totals devoted to each side of the ball.

Among players with 10,000 career minutes, here are the players most extremely biased toward offense:

Player Games Minutes OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
Kiki Vandeweghe 810 24521 67 9 76 88% 12%
Steve Nash 1033 32279 100 14 114 88% 12%
Tyronn Lue 554 12565 17 2 20 88% 12%
Michael Redd 568 19202 47 8 55 86% 14%
Kenny Sears 529 14923 47 9 56 83% 17%
Adrian Dantley 955 34151 111 23 134 83% 17%
Terry Dischinger 652 17841 47 10 56 83% 17%
Kevin Martin 375 11634 29 6 35 83% 17%
Eric Piatkowski 789 14613 25 6 31 82% 18%
Jose Calderon 380 10261 24 5 30 82% 18%
Ed Macauley 506 18071 61 13 74 82% 18%
Stephon Marbury 846 31891 63 14 77 82% 18%
Lee Mayberry 496 10337 6 1 8 81% 19%
Earl Boykins 601 12128 19 5 24 81% 19%
World B. Free 886 26893 55 13 68 81% 19%
Player Games Minutes OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
Reggie Miller 1389 47619 140 34 174 80% 20%
Oscar Robertson 1040 43886 152 37 189 80% 20%
Neil Johnston 516 18298 74 18 92 80% 20%
Geoff Huston 496 12252 10 2 12 80% 20%
Calvin Murphy 1002 30607 68 17 84 80% 20%
Ray Allen 1042 38648 99 25 123 80% 20%
George Gervin 791 26536 70 18 88 80% 20%
David Thompson 509 16305 40 10 51 80% 20%
Jack Twyman 823 26147 60 15 75 79% 21%
Walt Bellamy 1043 38940 103 27 130 79% 21%
Geoff Petrie 446 16787 21 6 26 79% 21%
Gilbert Arenas 481 17875 40 11 51 79% 21%
Brad Davis 961 22302 42 11 54 79% 21%
Nick Van Exel 880 28969 44 12 56 79% 21%
Tiny Archibald 876 31159 65 18 83 78% 22%

And defense:

Player Games Minutes OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
Mark Eaton 875 25169 48 48 0% 100%
Guy Rodgers 892 28661 39 39 0% 100%
Herb Williams 1102 28484 37 37 0% 100%
Gar Heard 787 19571 31 31 0% 100%
Chris Dudley 886 16321 28 28 0% 100%
Joe Graboski 705 22197 25 25 0% 100%
Harvey Catchings 725 13182 22 22 0% 100%
Earl Lloyd 553 14477 19 19 0% 100%
Manute Bol 624 11698 19 19 0% 100%
Luc Longley 567 12006 18 18 0% 100%
Toby Kimball 571 10539 15 15 0% 100%
Slick Watts 437 11513 15 15 0% 100%
Anthony Carter 568 11541 14 14 0% 100%
Kevin Edwards 604 15332 14 14 0% 100%
Randy Brown 655 11533 14 14 0% 100%
Player Games Minutes OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
Gary Grant 552 12602 14 14 0% 100%
Michael Olowokandi 500 13130 14 14 0% 100%
Don Adams 487 12407 14 14 0% 100%
Jack McMahon 524 14228 13 13 0% 100%
Joe Ellis 524 10374 13 13 0% 100%
Bob Wilkerson 536 14883 13 13 0% 100%
Bob Harrison 417 11483 13 13 0% 100%
Woody Sauldsberry 399 11023 12 12 0% 100%
Al Bianchi 687 13649 12 12 0% 100%
David Wingate 740 13243 12 12 0% 100%
Darius Miles 446 11731 11 11 0% 100%
Greg Kite 680 10080 11 11 0% 100%
Jeff Wilkins 454 10004 10 10 0% 100%
McCoy McLemore 580 12221 10 10 0% 100%
Howard Komives 742 20213 9 9 0% 100%

All of those defensive players had their OWS zeroed out because they were negative contributors on offense. Among players who actually had non-negative OWS totals, here were the most defensively-biased players in NBA history:

Player Games Minutes OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
Em Bryant 566 11451 0 9 9 0% 100%
Jamaal Tinsley 436 12605 0 17 17 0% 100%
K.C. Jones 676 17501 1 38 39 2% 98%
Ralph Sampson 456 13591 0 20 20 2% 98%
Chris Kaman 471 14089 0 17 17 3% 97%
George Johnson 904 18102 1 32 33 4% 96%
Dudley Bradley 600 10192 1 16 16 5% 95%
Earl Cureton 674 12420 1 14 14 5% 95%
Darrell Griffith 765 21403 1 21 22 5% 95%
Nathaniel Clifton 479 14369 1 15 15 5% 95%
Quinn Buckner 719 16245 1 23 25 5% 95%
Jason Collins 610 13631 1 18 19 6% 94%
Sidney Green 679 13247 1 16 17 6% 94%
John Barnhill 426 10054 1 10 10 8% 92%
Ronald Murray 487 11077 1 8 8 8% 92%
Player Games Minutes OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
James Bailey 595 11625 1 15 16 9% 91%
Wali Jones 607 14420 1 14 15 9% 91%
Lionel Hollins 673 18453 2 21 23 9% 91%
Greg Anderson 680 14040 2 17 19 10% 90%
Benoit Benjamin 807 21911 3 30 33 10% 90%
Albert King 534 12836 2 15 16 10% 90%
Caldwell Jones 1068 26474 5 39 44 11% 89%
Ron Mercer 432 13418 1 8 9 13% 87%
Armond Hill 468 11785 1 10 11 13% 87%
Fred Carter 611 18328 2 13 15 13% 87%
Darwin Cook 612 14156 3 20 23 14% 86%
Clyde Lee 742 19885 5 29 34 14% 86%
Darrell Walker 720 18601 4 23 27 15% 85%
Brian Shaw 942 21666 4 20 24 15% 85%
Alton Lister 953 18965 5 31 37 15% 85%

With his comeback looming, it's a shame that our old pal Antoine Walker (6 OWS, 32 DWS -- 85% defense) just missed the cut for the last list.

ShareThis

35 Responses to “BBR Mailbag: Most One-Dimensional Players”

  1. Walter Says:

    Looking at #2 on that first list makes me think that the MVP trophy should be renamed to Most Valuable Offensive Player because obviously defense doesn't matter in the voters mind. Of course defense wins championships and their is a reason he doesn't have any of those.

  2. huevonkiller Says:

    #1 I'd say even using just advanced offensive metrics (let's say PER), Steve Nash still didn't deserve it. That was a LeBron/Kobe year.

  3. Walter Says:

    Another interesting look is at individual years. I quickly looked at data since the 2000-01 season (last 10 years basically) for players with WS>7 and DWS<1.

    Only 15 times has a player had a season in which they recorded at least 7 win shares while defense contributed 1 or fewer of them. The 15 occurances were done by 11 players. 9 players did it once, 1 player did it twice (Antawn Jamison), and the two time MVP Steve Nash did it 4 times (twice with Dallas and twice with Phoenix).

  4. kkopi27 Says:

    Wow, lots of guards/swingmen on the offense list and many bigs on the defense one. Not that surprising overall I guess.
    All the more stunning that Walt Bellamy is so high on the list, especially since he did rebound quite a lot.

  5. Jerry Says:

    where's Ben Wallace?

  6. AYC Says:

    Surprised a former assist leader like Rodgers gets zero credit for offense...

  7. Neil Paine Says:

    "Only" 75% of Wallace's WS came from his defense:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/wallabe01.html#advanced

  8. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Antoine Walker, that well-known shut-down defender who rarely involved himself in the offense.

  9. Frank N Says:

    "Surprised a former assist leader like Rodgers gets zero credit for offense"

    Kind of what I thought. Rodgers, a one dimensional defensive player? maybe when he was not aveeraging double digit assits pergame or double digit FGAs, 15-20 in the middle of his career.

    I guess in the same style as Antoine Walker who threw up more than 20 shots a game, averaging almost that many FGAs per game for 6 years in the beginning of his career.

  10. Imadogg Says:

    Thanks for this Neil. The name that surprised me right away was Chris Kaman, almost all defensive?

    Most of the names (offensive especially) are to be expected. Guys like Nash, Redd, Kevin Martin, etc etc you know are gonna show up on that all-offense list.

    And oh yea if you're wondering, 133.6 out of Bill Russell's win shares came from defense, which is just under 82%.

  11. kampfy Says:

    I though for sure I would have seen Jeff Malone on the offense.

  12. Neil Paine Says:

    #8 - Yeah, this is measuring percentage of value (at least according to WS) devoted to each side of the ball. To measure percentage of involvement... Well, that's another thing entirely, and one which I'd have to think about a lot more before I came up with a metric.

    For instance, Dean Oliver's stats do a really good job of measuring offensive possessions used, but defensively they just assume all 5 players each face 20% of opposing possessions, which totally fails us in an exercise like this.

  13. Chronz Says:

    First person I thought of was Kiki

    Dont be surprised Doggy, its not so much because Kaman is a great defender but because hes horribly overrated offensively. The guy has never met league average in efficiency regardless of his role, and since becoming an All-Star the chucking hasnt stopped.

  14. AYC Says:

    I assume all of Wallace's offensive value is due to offensive rebounding....

  15. Anon x 2 Says:

    How about a list of the most balanced players? 50% split or as close to it?

  16. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I get it Neil, just found it amusing that Walker is rated that way. I do understand why his offensive rating is so low (even negative some years). I'm not sure that's accurate, since on certain teams there's probably value to being the guy who makes baskets, even if it takes too many shots to do so. Of course, smarter people than I have spent a lot more time than I working out all these systems, so I won't argue too strenuously since I have nothing new to bring to the table.

  17. kevin Says:

    I don't think it's fair to call Rodman, Wallace and Mutombo offensively inept. Shooting ability is only part of an offensive game. The guys who are bad offensively are the ones who consistently make poor decisions and are bad at executing patterns. One guy who comes to mind is Tony Allen, who is a terrific defender but is an absolute disaster when he has the ball. That he actually played point guard for a portion of his career is an anomoly of historic proportions. It is the equivalent of putting your dog behind the wheel of your car and expecting him to get you to work safely.

  18. Jason J Says:

    Kevin I'm confused by your comment. Does your dog have a job that requires a morning commute? Mine just barks at squirrels which he can do from the couch under the window.

  19. Darla Dillon Says:

    Comment deleted for spam

  20. Greyberger Says:

    And that right there is the first female commenter in BBR.com history. Hey-O!

  21. Neil Paine Says:

    (To preserve Greyberger's one-liner, I merely blanked the spam comment instead of deleting it completely.)

  22. Jerry Says:

    I'd guess Usage/DRtg would produce more believable results. You know, no Chris Kaman, more Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace

  23. Imadogg Says:

    @15

    I was thinking about that as well. The incredible Timmy Duncan is at almost exactly 50% (81.6OWS:82.9DWS)

  24. Dave Says:

    I note that Eaton was Bad offensively early in his career, and became less bad - story of a journeyman centre in the Bad Boys era?

    An interesting list, is all player seasons with OWS4 in the modern era gives this (short) list http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=yKDxC

    I think the 1985/86 Utah Jazz must have been an intereting team with two big men who hurt the team on offence ...
    Perhaps a better measure of Defensive leanings would be the difference between DWS and OWS.

  25. Charles Warring Says:

    No Nash should have won the 2 MVP's, he turned around an entire franchise one year and the next he took Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Kurt Thomas, Shawn Marion, James Jones,Kurt Thomas and Eddie House to the WCF. So shut up all Nash haters.... plus, who would of wanted to play wiht KObe those years..... the glares, the yelling.. thats an MVP.... no problem if Lebron won it.... but I think MVP is more than assists... especially in today's NBA, point guards are going to be very effective offensively but defensively they look bad..... we want to look at all these stats... how bout one.... wins...

    and defense wins championships... how about not having your best players constantly injured and/or suspended.... but I guess Kobe would have won game 7 with an injured Gasol last year shooting 6-24...and no Kobe hating here... he is a great a player

  26. Charles Warring Says:

    assists= stats, in last point... as pointed out.. most guards were on the offense list and most big men on the defense list

  27. Gabe Says:

    How is it that Jamaal Tinsley has career 0.0 OWS, and 16.5 DWS?

    He of the career 38.3 AST%, 8.3 AST/36, and 20.7 USG%. He got some steals, but not really a player known for his defense.

  28. DJ Says:

    Why is it that there are plenty of defensive players with no offensive value (100%DWS), but no offensive players with no defensive value (100%OWS)?

    Is that an artifact of the Win Shares system (and the possibility of a negative OWS)?

    Or is it that teams are willing to carry a defender who can't shoot, but not a shooter who can't defend (at least a teeny bit)?

  29. Anon x 2 Says:

    @ 27

    DJ, partially perhaps, but I think also cuz defense is divided among the teammates.

    As a fun fact, I looked up Adam Morrison and he has -3.00 OWS and +1.6 DWS.

  30. Zeiram Says:

    I think #28 also explains #28 question, because defense is extrapolated from the team performance even bad defenders won´t quite have a negative or miniscule DWS.

  31. Neil Paine Says:

    Right, it's far easier to be sub-replacement level on offense than defense, because DRtg values (based heavily on team D) are so much more compressed than ORtg values (based on individual production). Only 66 players have ever had negative DWS in a season:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=AWDUF

    Compare that to the huge list of players with negative OWS:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=iIII8

    Btw, for those looking for a list of 50/50 players, here you go (sorted by proximity to a perfect 50/50 split):

    Player Games MP OWS DWS WS %Offense %Defense
    Xavier McDaniel 870 25201 24 24 48 50% 50%
    Terry Cummings 1183 33898 46 45 91 50% 50%
    Chris Mills 568 17282 19 19 38 50% 50%
    Bingo Smith 865 22407 17 17 33 50% 50%
    Popeye Jones 535 12579 11 11 22 50% 50%
    Bryon Russell 841 19805 24 24 47 50% 50%
    Nick Anderson 800 24922 27 28 55 50% 50%
    Clarence Weatherspoon 915 27735 29 29 58 50% 50%
    Michael Cage 1140 29716 37 37 74 50% 50%
    Ben Poquette 718 15763 15 15 30 50% 50%
    Robert Parish 1611 45704 74 73 147 50% 50%
    Rudy Gay 340 12115 9 9 17 50% 50%
    Larry Drew 714 18370 12 12 24 50% 50%
    Tim Duncan 997 36165 82 83 164 50% 50%
    Danny Schayes 1138 21975 24 25 49 50% 50%
    Keyon Dooling 615 11950 7 7 15 50% 50%
    Latrell Sprewell 913 35270 28 28 56 50% 50%
    Johnny Moore 520 13430 15 15 30 50% 50%
  32. Willie Says:

    Excellent and Post Neil, and thoughtful to preserve GB's one-liner.

    I was however slightly disappointed because based on the title of the post I was imagining something looking at players more literally "one-dimensional" IE good at one thing only (the most obvious example to me is Manute Bol). Many of the players on these lists aren't one dimensional at all (Eaton could rebound and block, Nash can shoot and pass etc...) I know very little about statistics but I imagine you could come up with this list by using metrics that rank a characters strength in a particular category relative to some sort of mean of all players and then look for the players with the largest differential between their relative greatness in one category and the rest of their abilities.

  33. AYC Says:

    The X-man!

    ...surprised to see Chauncey and Joe Dumars on the negative DWS list

  34. Mike G Says:

    Reggie Miller = best 1-dimensional player ever

  35. Rip Wiley Says:

    Apples and oranges, I know, but I was really expecting to see Bruce Bowen on the 'Defense' list, after all those good Spurs years when he would come at or near the bottom of Hollinger's defense-blind PER rankings. I wonder is Bowen's kind of defensive impact still hard to quantify in Win Shares, or did his corner 3s give him more balance than might sometimes be assumed?