Pollard, House, and Who Else? A Look at the Remaining Free Agents

Posted on August 15, 2007 by


The Boston Celtics traded away much of their roster from 2006-07 to acquire both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  Although these two moves resulted in a starting line-up with four very productive players (Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Allen, and Garnett), it left the team with very little depth.  Consequently the Celtics have turned to the NBA free agent market to fill out its roster.

Signing Pollard and House

This past week the Celtics signed Scott Pollard and Eddie House.  This past season Pollard posted a WP48 (Wins Produced per 48 minutes) of -0.004 for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  So he wasn’t too good.  House offered a WP48 of 0.067 to the New Jersey Nets, which is below the average mark of 0.100.  So if we look at each player in 2006-07 it looks like neither player is going to help Boston much in 2007-08.

Our information on these players, though, extends beyond what each did last year. 

Table One: The Careers of Scott Pollard and Eddie House

For example, Pollard has played 10 seasons in the NBA.  Across these ten seasons he has played 8,202 minutes, and only 109 of these minutes happened last season.  In the 8,000 plus minutes before Pollard briefly played in Cleveland, he has generally been quite good.  His career WP48 stands at 0.159.  In only three seasons has he played 1,000 minutes.  But in all three of these campaigns his WP48 – like his career mark – was well above average.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, the same story can’t be told for House.  He has played seven seasons in the NBA and has yet to be an above average player. Certainly the Celtics need depth in the backcourt, but if that depth is going to be provided by House, it looks like this will be an area of weakness for this team.

Who else could the Celtics have selected?

The NBA free agent market opened in early July.  Had I been on top of things I would have posted an analysis of available free agents at that point. But alas, that didn’t happen. Still, given the question at hand, an analysis this week is not entirely useless.

The available free agent pool has been evaluated in terms of WP48 and NBA Efficiency per 48 minutes [NBA48].  Again, the average WP48 mark is 0.100.  Although it’s not widely known or intuitively obvious, the average NBA48 mark in 2006-07 was 21.4.  So now we have reference points for the numbers in Table Two.

Table Two: The Remaining Free Agents in 2007

When we look at the 21 unrestricted free agents who played at least 500 minutes this past season (and who had not signed when I created this table this past weekend) we see seven players who were above average in terms of WP48, but only five above average in terms of NBA48.  Interestingly there is not much overlap on the two lists.  Four of the seven above average in WP48 are considered below average when we look at NBA48.

For the restricted players we see the same pattern.  Anderson Varejao is above average with respect to WP48 and NBA48.  But after Varejao, there are no above average restricted free agents in terms of WP48.  NBA48, though, says that both Lawrence Roberts and Andray Blatche are above average performers.

What does all this mean for the Boston Celtics and other NBA teams?  NBA Efficiency, which over-emphasizes scoring, is a good measure of how productive a player is perceived to be.   Consequently, if we see a player who is above average in WP48 but below average in NBA48, this is a player who can probably be acquired at a reduced rate.  And if the reverse is true, you will probably end up over-paying for that player’s production.

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

Wins Produced and Win Score are Discussed in the Following Posts

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say