Basketball is a game of numbers. Modern basketball statistics allows everyone from fans to enthusiasts adequately explain what happens on the court. Statisticians have figured out the factors that lead a team to victory. The most important statistics is the possession. A possession in basketball is considered as ending with a made shot, a defensive rebound or a turnover. With only a limited number of possessions a team must efficiently use their possessions, scoring the most points possible also known as offensive efficiency. Similarly, we can rate a defense by calculating how many points a team allows per possession which is called defensive efficiency.
We can even further break down offensive/defensive efficiency with 4 key factors: shooting, turnovers, rebounding and free throws. These factors are the foundation of Wins Produced (WP), a metric developed by David Berri, Martin Schmidt, and Stacey Brook to measure how any given player’s individual contributions relate to winning basketball games. With this metric we can account for the amount of wins a player produces for that game (per minute production), for the season and throughout their career.
We can accurately categorize players based on their production or WP (thanks to The NBA Geek [TNG]):
- < 0.0 WP48 A player who actually costs his teams wins (i.e. this player is actually worse than a player who contributes nothing)
- < 0.100 WP48 A below-average player
- > 0.100 WP48 An above-average player
- 0.175+ WP48 A “star” player. If WP48 were the metric used for choosing all-stars, most players with 0.175+ would make the cut (i.e. these players produce twice as many wins per minute as an average player)
- 0.225+ WP48 A “superstar” player. These would be All-NBA 1st-team and MVP candidate
With that in mind, lets take a look at the best and the worst the NBA has to offer as of 1/2/12, based off of WP, courtesy of TNG:
And here are the worst of the worst in the NBA; these players actually cost their teams victories:
The most interesting aspect of this chart is the fact that the NYK have 2 players, not named Carmelo Anthony, as a top ten player! Why isnt Melo a top 10 player yet still considered by many as a MVP candidate? Why do we constantly label certain players as MVP candidates when they’re not? Is there a preference amongst playing styles within the NBA? Well we’ll have to save that for another post but for now lets enjoy some holiday singing.
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