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Chris Paul — Still the NBA’s Best PG — On the Trading Block?

Posted by Neil Paine on June 24, 2010

According to ESPN, the Hornets could be open to trade offers for Chris Paul.


Contrary to what you may have heard from various talking heads during the playoffs, Chris Paul is still the best PG in the NBA. He was the best PG in the NBA in 2008, when he led the league in Win Shares, was 2nd in PER (behind LeBron James), and finished 2nd in MVP shares. He was the best PG in the NBA in 2009, when he was 2nd in the league in WS, 3rd in PER (behind James & Dwyane Wade), and 5th in MVP shares. And yes, even in an injury-plagued 2010 season, Paul was still the NBA's top PG when healthy -- he still led all PGs with a minimum of 1700 MP in WS/48 and PER.

What's the matter? You're one of those luddites who still doesn't believe the metrics? Fine, Chris Paul is still the NBA's best PG even if you use MVP voting, the most conventional of wisdoms:

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Posted in Analysis, Offseason, Rants & Ramblings | 34 Comments »

2010 NBA Draft: Peak Performances by Pick

Posted by Neil Paine on June 23, 2010

Last year, Justin had a great series about the expected career and rookie-contract value (in Win Shares) of a draft choice by overall pick #, and it's a must-read this week as you prepare for Thursday's event. I don't want -- or need -- to tread the same ground here today; instead, I'm interested in what kind of peak performance you can expect out of a player drafted in each slot. Because as good as longevity is, I feel like a player's peak years say a lot about his overall talent level, and the type of production he's capable of putting up, even if he only did it for a brief time. There's an old saying in baseball: "Once a player displays a skill, he owns it." Peak performance is like that -- a guy like Penny Hardaway may have only been super-elite for 1 season before getting hurt and declining, but 1 season is all it took to show he had that type of innate talent.

Now, the question becomes, how do we measure peak performance? Justin already used WS, so I'm going to look at peak Statistical +/-, defined as the highest 3-year moving weighted average* of the player's career.

(* The average for Year Y was determined by regressing each season to 222 minutes of -2.57 +/-, and weighting the previous seasons like this: Y, 66%; Y-1, 22%; and Y-2, 12%. Players who never made the NBA were said to have peaked at -2.57.)

Here are the average peak performances for each draft slot from 1976-2000:

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Posted in Analysis, NBA Draft, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 13 Comments »

Site Features: Draft Tools

Posted by Neil Paine on June 22, 2010

With the 2010 NBA Draft coming up in just 2 days, here are some features to help you get prepared for the big event:

Posted in Announcements, NBA Draft, Site Features | Comments Off on Site Features: Draft Tools

Layups: Divergent Paths of Adam Morrison & Shannon Brown

Posted by Neil Paine on June 22, 2010

This is a nice post from Order of the Court last week, about how much things have changed for Adam Morrison & Shannon Brown in the last 4½ years:

"Morrison’s greatest game at Gonzaga came when he dropped 43 points in a 109-106 triple-overtime victory against Michigan State at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22, 2005. Besides being one of the best college games in recent memory, it is instructive to watch the game and contrast Morrison with Shannon Brown, the ultra-athletic wing player for the Spartans whose professional career has taken a decidedly different trajectory."

In college, Morrison was unstoppable with his size, shooting touch, and ability to knock down a vast array of difficult shots. Brown was a good player (17.2 PPG as a soph) but scarcely better than future NBA washout Maurice Ager.

In the pros, though, Morrison's lack of athleticism (exacerbated by a knee injury that cost him his entire 2nd NBA season) made him inefficient, and ultimately a bust. Brown will never be confused with an NBA All-Star, but his length and explosiveness have given him far more staying power than Morrison, despite being picked 22 spots lower in the '06 Draft.

Who would have predicted that 4½ years ago?

Posted in Layups | 5 Comments »

Does Kobe or LeBron Give You a Better Chance vs. Boston?

Posted by Neil Paine on June 21, 2010

For those who missed the epic Kobe-LeBron thread over the weekend, here's a recap of a good back-and-forth between myself and a commenter named "Anon" (a far different Anon from the user who usually posts under that moniker, apparently)...

First off, I stated that if LeBron's teammates played as well vs. Boston as Kobe's did against the Celts, Cleveland would have advanced. In retrospect, I should have said "Cleveland would probably have advanced," since obviously there are no certainties, in life and least of all in sports, but the general point stands -- Cleveland's probability of beating Boston would have been higher had James' teammates given him a performance like Kobe's did against the same opponent. The justification for that statement is this:

"LeBron's SPM in the Cleveland-Boston series was +7.47. His team's efficiency differential was -5.8.

Kobe's SPM in the L.A.-Boston series was +7.45. His team's efficiency differential was +4.0.

Remember, 5 * the minute-weighted average of the SPMs of the individuals on a team must equal the team's efficiency differential.

This is what I mean when I say, 'if LeBron had gotten a Gasol-like performance from one of his teammates, Cleveland would have won.' Kobe and LeBron played at identical levels in their respective series vs. Boston. The only possible reason for their teams' disparate efficiency differentials must be the performances of their teammates."

I went on to show the cumulative stats for both teams during their respective series vs. Boston:

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 56 Comments »

Layups: R.I.P. Manute Bol (1962-2010)

Posted by Neil Paine on June 19, 2010

Sad news today -- Manute Bol, a noted humanitarian and, at 7'7", the tallest player in NBA history, has died at the age of 47.

Bol died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition, Tom Prichard, executive director of the group Sudan Sunrise, said in an e-mail.

"Sudan and the world have lost a hero and an example for all of us," Prichard said. "Manute, we'll miss you. Our prayers and best wishes go out to all his family, and all who mourn his loss."

On the court, Bol was not an All-Star, but he was highly respected for his character, and his ability to swat away opposing shots was truly amazing... In fact, he was easily the best shot-blocker in NBA history (or at least since the league first kept the stat in 1974).

Off the court was where Bol really shined, though. "Manute" means "Special Blessing" in Dinka, and he certainly lived up to his name as an activist for the poor in his native Sudan. After he retired from the NBA, Bol had made it his mission to build schools throughout his homeland, in addition to numerous other charitable projects.

Both NBA fans and the people of Sudan lost a great role model today in Manute Bol. May he rest in peace.

Posted in Layups | 13 Comments »

2010 NBA Finals Stats

Posted by Neil Paine on June 18, 2010

No commentary, just the numbers from the series...

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Posted in Data Dump, Playoffs | 247 Comments »

Final 2009-10 BBR Rankings

Posted by Neil Paine on June 18, 2010

Congratulations to the Lakers, they outlasted the Celtics in a very gritty, physical Game 7... They deserve to be champions after surviving that test. Also, congrats to the Celtics, whom no one thought would even make it to within a game of a championship. Both teams left it all on the floor here, and as an NBA fan that's all you can ask for. It was a great season, everybody, thanks in large part to our loyal readers and commenters. We couldn't do what we do without your support.

As a token of our appreciation, here are the final 2010 BBR Rankings:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, Playoffs | 10 Comments »

The Greatest Laker Ever™

Posted by Neil Paine on June 17, 2010

There's been a lot of talk about how Kobe Bryant's legacy is "on the line" tonight. Win, and he could become the Greatest Laker Ever™ (Bryant would have 5 championships in Forum Blue & Gold, tying him with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and George Mikan as the franchise's winningest winner); lose, and it would be his 3rd Finals loss (clearly a blemish from which his reputation could never recover). In short, Bryant supposedly won't be the same caliber basketball player tomorrow morning if the Lakers don't win tonight.

In case you can't tell, I think that's an extremely flawed and childish way to look at the question of who the greatest Laker was/is. Kobe winning a ring tonight adds to his resume in some ways, but it's not like getting to 5 titles automatically ties his career with Magic Johnson's, nor is it true that he could never surpass Magic if L.A. loses tonight. Winning a ring is the ultimate team accomplishment, but we have much better ways to parse out player contributions than to lazily took at championship totals and blindly base our evaluations on them alone.

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery | 46 Comments »

With Or Without You: Kendrick Perkins

Posted by Neil Paine on June 17, 2010

At first glance, Kendrick Perkins' knee injury early in Game 6 may seem like only a minor setback for the Boston Celtics -- after all, Perkins has scored just 8.5 PPG in the Big Three Era, and while his rebounding and defense are solid, he's never finished in the top 10 in RPG or garnered All-Defense honors. However, despite his lack of box score presence, Perkins has been highly important to the Celtics' chances this season: when he plays less than 22 minutes in a game, Boston is 5-8, including Tuesday's ugly loss and a similar beatdown suffered vs. Orlando in the Conference Finals when Perkins was limited by foul trouble.

We can really illustrate Perkins' hidden importance by looking at the Plus/Minus numbers. When Perkins was on the court for Boston this season, the Celtics outscored their opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions; when he wasn't playing, that number was only +0.2, a difference of -7 pts/100 poss. The same story has been true since Perkins became a regular starter in 2006-07: putting together a rudimentary game-by-game "with or without you" regression (similar to what I did in this post) between team HCA-adjusted PPG differential and whether or not a player played 17 minutes in the game (the MPG that usually indicates a "contributor"), Perkins shows up as adding +2.18 PPG to Boston's differential when he's a contributor vs. when he plays limited minutes or less.

Meanwhile, Perkins' Game 7 replacements, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, don't fare nearly as well by the WOWOY metrics. Despite Davis' heroics in Game 4, he and Wallace have been Boston's two worst players by net on/off rating during the playoffs. Wallace has been particularly toxic for the Celtics all season -- the team played 5 pts/100 poss. worse when he was on the floor, as evidenced by his recurring appearance in the Celts' worst lineup combinations. Davis & Wallace look better by the 4-year WOWOY regression (Davis is +1.36, Wallace is +0.47), but neither has the ability to positively impact the game the way Perkins does. Without his presence, and playing on the road (home teams win Game 7 80% of the time), the Celtics appear to be in dire straits tonight.

Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 9 Comments »