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.

Same Player, Different Roles

Posted by Neil Paine on December 29, 2010

I was browsing the stats this morning when I noticed that Ron Artest is currently using 14.7% of the Lakers' possessions when he's on the court, the 19th-lowest possession-usage rate of any qualified player in the NBA. Before joining L.A., Artest was accustomed to usage rates well over the league average of 20%, which had me wondering how Artest's decline in usage compares to other players who changed roles at varying times in the their careers.

It turns out that Artest is currently on pace to be one of only 5 players in NBA history (since 1952, at least) to have one qualified season with a possession rate of at least 25% and another with a rate of 15% of less:

Player Max Usg Year Min Usg Year
Ron Artest 25.7 2004 14.7 2011
Wilt Chamberlain 32.7 1962 12.8 1973
Gary Payton 28.0 2002 14.5 2006
Guy Rodgers 25.0 1966 14.4 1962
Sidney Wicks 27.4 1972 14.7 1980

Here are the players with the biggest difference between their largest and smallest-usage qualified seasons:

Player Max Usg Year Min Usg Year Diff
Wilt Chamberlain 32.7 1962 12.8 1973 19.9
Tony Parker 32.1 2009 18.4 2002 13.7
Gary Payton 28.0 2002 14.5 2006 13.6
Grant Hill 30.1 1999 16.6 2010 13.5
Tiny Archibald 31.6 1973 18.7 1980 12.9
Sidney Wicks 27.4 1972 14.7 1980 12.7
Michael Adams 29.2 1991 16.7 1988 12.5
David Robinson 31.4 1994 19.3 2002 12.2
Kevin Garnett 29.5 2004 17.5 1996 12.0
Kobe Bryant 36.5 2006 24.7 1999 11.8
Ron Harper 28.4 1987 16.6 2000 11.8
Jason Kidd 27.4 2003 16.1 2009 11.3
Ron Artest 25.7 2004 14.7 2011 11.0
Dwyane Wade 36.5 2009 25.6 2004 10.9
Antonio McDyess 26.5 1999 15.7 2008 10.8
Charlie Scott 29.0 1975 18.2 1979 10.8
Rick Barry 30.5 1975 19.8 1979 10.8
Dwight Howard 28.1 2011 17.4 2005 10.7
Guy Rodgers 25.0 1966 14.4 1962 10.6
Michael Finley 25.8 1998 15.2 2009 10.6
Paul Pierce 32.6 2003 22.0 2011 10.6
Steve Nash 27.0 2011 16.4 1999 10.5
Bernard King 33.1 1985 22.7 1981 10.4
Danny Granger 27.8 2009 17.4 2007 10.4
Carlos Arroyo 24.1 2004 13.8 2011 10.3
Phil Ford 24.4 1981 14.1 1984 10.3
Dennis Rodman 20.0 1988 9.7 1994 10.3
Andre Iguodala 23.6 2008 13.4 2005 10.2
Tracy McGrady 34.4 2007 24.3 2000 10.2
Allen Iverson 35.8 2002 25.6 2009 10.2

Of course, not all of these players changed roles per se -- we wouldn't necessarily say Allen Iverson dropping to 25.6% in 2009 represented a completely different role, just a reduced one compared to the near-record mark he posted in 2002. To capture players who were both low- and high-usage at different points in their careers, let's limit the list to include only players whose max usage season was 23% or more and whose minimum usage was 18% or less (the same bins I put players in here):

Player Max Usg Year Min Usg Year Diff
Wilt Chamberlain 32.7 1962 12.8 1973 19.9
Gary Payton 28.0 2002 14.5 2006 13.6
Grant Hill 30.1 1999 16.6 2010 13.5
Sidney Wicks 27.4 1972 14.7 1980 12.7
Michael Adams 29.2 1991 16.7 1988 12.5
Kevin Garnett 29.5 2004 17.5 1996 12.0
Ron Harper 28.4 1987 16.6 2000 11.8
Jason Kidd 27.4 2003 16.1 2009 11.3
Ron Artest 25.7 2004 14.7 2011 11.0
Antonio McDyess 26.5 1999 15.7 2008 10.8
Dwight Howard 28.1 2011 17.4 2005 10.7
Guy Rodgers 25.0 1966 14.4 1962 10.6
Michael Finley 25.8 1998 15.2 2009 10.6
Steve Nash 27.0 2011 16.4 1999 10.5
Danny Granger 27.8 2009 17.4 2007 10.4
Carlos Arroyo 24.1 2004 13.8 2011 10.3
Phil Ford 24.4 1981 14.1 1984 10.3
Andre Iguodala 23.6 2008 13.4 2005 10.2
Christian Laettner 25.0 1994 15.1 2003 9.9
Jim Jackson 26.7 1994 16.9 2004 9.8
Artis Gilmore 25.2 1978 15.6 1987 9.6
Anthony Peeler 23.9 1997 14.3 2003 9.6
Clarence Weatherspoon 23.2 1995 13.9 2003 9.3
Reggie Miller 24.4 1996 15.1 2004 9.3
Johnny Newman 23.5 1991 14.3 1996 9.2
Quentin Richardson 23.4 2004 14.1 2010 9.2
John Starks 26.2 1994 17.1 2001 9.2
Dale Ellis 24.8 1988 15.7 1999 9.1
Thurl Bailey 23.6 1989 14.6 1984 9.0
Mike Bibby 24.9 2006 16.0 2011 8.9

That's more like it. And here you see Artest with the 9th-biggest change of any player since the NBA started tracking minutes, a testament to the statistical sacrifice he's made in order to play for a championship-caliber team.

ShareThis

5 Responses to “Same Player, Different Roles”

  1. P Middy Says:

    Shouldn't we be looking only at his usage from 2008-2009 versus his average usage from 2009-2011? His usage in 2004 is somewhat irrelevant when considering what he gave up to be on the Lakers.

    Might also be more interesting to limit the comparison to seasons where the player switched teams, or added a significant player. These are just ideas, and represent a significant amount of work - which I am clearly too lazy to do myself.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Sure, that's something I can look at too. The main point here was just to capture guys whose careers have seen seasons as both "the man" and a role player.

  3. Kirk Says:

    How confident are you about Wilt's usage rate? Not that a 32.7 rate means he's Marcus Camby, but I was surprised to see his number that low compared to some current players. Then I looked at his player page, and saw that there is no usage rate posted for him, which I would have guessed to be the case. Any brief description of how you came to the number and whether you think it adequately compares to usage rates that are calculated for today's players would be welcomed.

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    I described the process here:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6269

    I estimated turnovers according to Justin's formula and estimated that 30% of TRB were offensive, which allows you to get a possessions estimate.

    If it looks weird to see Wilt that low, consider that in 1973 he took 6 shots per 36 minutes, which would rank among the lowest rates in 2010-11:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=QP758

    Add the fact that the average 1973 game had roughly 16 more possessions than the avg. game in 2011, and it's easy to see why his usage estimate was so microscopic.

    Obviously these are just estimates anyway, so going back to the 1960s & 70s really tests their accuracy. But I don't think they're very far from what we'd estimate if the NBA officially tracked the necessary stats in that era.

  5. Neil Paine Says:

    Re-reading your comment, I see you're actually saying his 1962 rate is too low. That can also be explained by the fact that Wilt played almost every minute of every game that season, in a pace environment with 30-40 more possessions per 48 minutes than the typical 2010-11 game. Kobe's 2006 usage record came with 27.2 FGA/G, playing 82.5% of LA's minutes, on a team with 80.6 FGA/G. Wilt in 1962 had 39.5 FGA/G, playing 100% of PHW's minutes, on a team with 111.6 FGA/G.