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The 2008-09 All-APBRmetrics Team

Posted by Neil Paine on May 15, 2009

When the league announced the All-NBA Teams this week, there were relatively few surprises. For those who haven't seen them already, the selections looked like this:

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
LeBron James, Cleveland
Dwight Howard, Orlando
Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
Dwyane Wade, Miami
Paul Pierce, Boston
Tim Duncan, San Antonio
Yao Ming, Houston
Brandon Roy, Portland
Chris Paul, New Orleans
Carmelo Anthony, Denver
Pau Gasol, LA Lakers
Shaquille O'Neal, Phoenix
Chauncey Billups, Denver
Tony Parker, San Antonio

I thought it would be interesting, though, to see how the analytic community would have picked the teams, assuming we filled out our ballots according to our respective metrics. The rules for voting would be the same as those for the real panel of sportswriters that vote on the teams: five points for a first team vote, three points for a second team vote, and one point for a third team vote. Positions are defined by our database here at Basketball-Reference (unless we absolutely need to consider a F at C); each "team" will consist of two forwards, one center, and two guards. And each metric's ranking is according to its own preference -- for instance, PER and adjusted +/- prefer to rank players on a per-minute/possession basis, while Win Shares rank on the basis of cumulative value over the 0-win margin. Here are the sources I'm using:

Win Shares (Justin Kubatko)
PER (John Hollinger)
Adjusted +/- (Dan Rosenbaum/Aaron Barzilai)
Statistical +/- (Dan Rosenbaum/Neil Paine)
eWins (Mike Goodman)
Wins Produced (David Berri)
Composite Score (Jon Nichols)
Tendex (Dave Heeren/Doug Steele)
WARP (Kevin Pelton)
Roland Rating (Roland Beech)

(If for some reason you have a rating system and I forgot you, drop me a line and I will update the voting to reflect your results.)

Here are the results of the "voting":
(UPDATE: Added WARP & Roland Ratings -- thanks, Kevin & Roland!)

Player Pos WS PER APM SPM eW WP CS Tndx WARP RR Total
LeBron James F 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 50
Chris Paul G 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 50
Dwyane Wade G 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 50
Dwight Howard C 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 45
Yao Ming C 3 3 5 3 1 3 3 3 3 27
Kobe Bryant G 3 3 1 3 3 1 3 3 3 3 26
Tim Duncan F/C 1 5 5 3 1 1 5 1 22
Dirk Nowitzki F 3 3 5 5 1 3 20
Pau Gasol F/C 5 1 3 1 3 1 3 3 20
Brandon Roy G 3 3 1 3 1 1 1 3 3 19
Chris Bosh F/C 1 1 1 3 3 3 12
Kevin Garnett F 5 5 10
Jason Kidd G 3 3 3 1 10
Lamar Odom F 3 3 3 9
Gerald Wallace F 3 1 3 1 8
Rashard Lewis F 5 1 1 7
Troy Murphy F 1 5 6
Ray Allen G 1 3 1 5
Rajon Rondo G 1 3 1 5
Shaquille O'Neal C 1 3 1 5
David Lee F/C 1 3 1 5
Andre Iguodala G 3 1 4
Danny Granger F 3 1 4
Al Jefferson F 3 1 4
Paul Pierce F 3 1 4
Deron Williams G 3 3
Marcus Camby F/C 3 3
Tony Parker G 1 1 1 3
Nene F 3 3
Andrei Kirilenko F 1 1 2
Steve Nash G 1 1
Jameer Nelson G 1 1
Antawn Jamison F 1 1
Chauncey Billups G 1 1
Manu Ginobili G 1 1
Rasheed Wallace F 1 1
Ime Udoka F 1 1
Chris Andersen F/C 1 1
David West F 1 1

First Team:
G Chris Paul, Hornets
G Dwyane Wade, Heat
F LeBron James, Cavs
F Tim Duncan, Spurs
C Dwight Howard, Magic
Second Team:
G Kobe Bryant, Lakers
G Brandon Roy, Blazers
F Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs
F Pau Gasol, Lakers
C Yao Ming, Rockets
Third Team:
G Jason Kidd, Mavs
G (tie) Ray Allen & Rajon Rondo, Celtics
F Lamar Odom, Lakers
F Kevin Garnett, Celtics
C Chris Bosh, Raptors

There were not a lot of differences from the "official" team at the top (the most obvious one being Chris Paul's unfortunate snub to 2nd-Team status because humanity would never hear the end of it if Bryant wasn't a 1st-Teamer, & they couldn't justify sending Wade down either). But as you move down, the teams become more and more divergent -- the metrics don't consider Pierce, Parker, Shaq, or Billups to be All-NBA material, and Carmelo Anthony (sometimes regarded as one of the league's most overrated players in APBRmetric circles) didn't garner a single "vote". So it's apparent that we're not all on the same page here.

But at least the two groups of voters can agree that D-Wade, LeBron, and Dwight Howard are 3 of the most elite players in the league. And almost every metric I came across listed James as the game's best/most valuable performer this season, which also matches the voters' official MVP decision. We may disagree on a lot of things, but there's no difference of opinion on who the absolute cream of the crop has been this season: he's the guy who wears #23 and plays his home games in Ohio.

60 Responses to “The 2008-09 All-APBRmetrics Team”

  1. Mountain Says:

    P.S. Not directly on this exact topic but I wondered how Dave Berri's Wins Produced for teams would have done for predicting the playoffs and why he choose to go with efficiency differential ... , home court advantage, and any relevant injuries" instead. If Wins Produced is the product of the best academic research why not use it? For the first two rounds it would have been the same except it would have taken the Spurs in the first round and the Celtics except for the injury factor and I can understand switching for that reason. But if Wins Produced does exactly what efficiency differential, home court advantage, and any relevant injuries does and the author of Wins Produced used them for his playoff predictions rather than his own model was that academically sound model really that important or better than the rest of the stuff out there and better than the stuff other people without a PhD level formal statistical training are using? Just asking.

  2. Mountain Says:

    Dave Berri at his blog:

    "So this contest really is not a “test” of anyone’s ability to evaluate teams. Again, this is because a) I think we essentially have the same evaluation and b) the playoffs are simply not designed to test that evaluation. Of course if I get this test right, then we will forget everything I just said and conclude that I really do know something :)"

    Ok so this doesn't matter. Or it might.

    The regular season gave a fuller test and several versions of Wins Produced compiled by another person not the author faired poorly compared to the rest of the metric and non-metric based competition that was won by Bill Simmons. But this doesn't matter. Or it might. I'll leave it there.

  3. gdth Says:

    My $.02 about ratings at the top agreeing, while ratings lower down don't..

    Think a 12 horse field, easy to pick out 2-3 favorites (good in may categories), almost impossible to distinguish between 8th-12th best horses...

    Hold true in mamy (most?) competitive endeavors..Another example, world-championship chess: 4-5 WC contenders (Anand/Topolav/Kraminik/Carlsen)...but #50-100 by FIDE rating, virtually interchangeable...

    No matter what the 'ruler'/scale, outliers at the very top readily identifiable... down below, lost in the crowd...

  4. Anon Says:

    @ Mountain,

    Man, you're really breaking out the calculator today :) All great info that you provided in your posts.

    But just to add to my suggestion of a longer study, I think perhaps a five-year timespan could provide a rough gauge on the consistency of these metrics, and how they correlate with each other. I say five because its probably the most practical given the accessibility in the resources for might be able to include non-box score stats such as APM, depending on how far back the data necessary for its computation has been available. Then again, I don't know if the data for systems like WARP and Roland Rating have been available for that long either.

  5. Mountain Says:

    It would be interesting to see which regular season metrics are most consistent with playoff performance for the top guys or broader. Some insiders scorn the attempt to compute / refine very or all inclusive metrics but it still seems worth checking this.

  6. Zach Morris Says:

    Just to add to Haushinkaa2's original critique and Neil's (excellent) response, I believe the Roland Ratings are a composite of an adjusted plus/minus rating and a modified per rating(or at least some sort of box score based metric) because when Roland was creating the system the composite ratings passed the smell test better than either of the individual measures. So at least in regards to that specific metric Haushinkaa2's complaint may be valid.

    Of course the flip side of the Roland Ratings passing the smell test better than other systems is that the rankings seem better at first glance. Even players who are ranked higher in the Roland Rankings than the conventional wisdom would suggest (Nene, Odom, Thaddeus Young, Brendan Haywood etc.) make sense to people who follow the game closely and these players generally do well in the other metrics (it is a composite of per and adjusted +/- after all).

    So from a completely non intellectual perspective its hard for me to consider the Roland Rankings invalid or useless. Which might be Haushinkaa's original point.

    Hope I didn't steer the conversation back in the wrong direction.

  7. Ben Says:

    EWA seems like the best way to use PER for all NBA teams.

  8. merl Says:

    Why does Yao come first for APM and Dwight comes first for SPM yet neither player registers on the other stat? Makes you question plus/minus....?

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