Reviewing the Pacific Division

Posted on December 25, 2007 by

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It’s Christmas Eve (Merry Christmas to anyone who is reading this) and I would like to get this posted before Santa Clause comes.  So here is the Pacific division, the last division to be reviewed (previously I reviewed the Atlantic, Central, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest).

Wins and Efficiency Differential

As I have done with each division, we start with the current standings and each team’s efficiency differential (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency).

Phoenix Suns: 19-8, 5.2

LA Lakers: 17-10, 5.0

Golden State Warriors: 16-12, 1.8

Sacramento Kings: 11-15, -2.4

LA Clippers: 9-17, -5.1

The Suns and Lakers are quite close.  In fact, one can argue that the top three teams in the West are now in San Antonio, Phoenix, and LA.  In essence, Kobe Bryant is now playing on a championship contender.  And one can argue – at least, I would argue – that this is all because the Lakers ignored Kobe’s request to trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd.

Wins Produced and WP48 for the Pacific Division

We can see my argument when we look at the Wins Produced on the Lakers.  This is reported – along with the Wins Produced for each other team in the division – in Table One.

Table One: A Team-by-Team Review of the Pacific Division

As I have done with each previous division review, here are a few brief notes on each team.

Los Angeles Lakers

The top two players on the Lakers are Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant.  Bynum has developed rapidly into one of the game’s top centers.  In fact, his production rivals the productivity of an old teammate of Kobe.  My plan is to devote an entire post on this subject in the very near future.

Phoenix Suns

As was the case last year, the Suns are led by Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, and Amare Stoudemire.  What’s different is the play of Boris Diaw.  He has gone from good (2005-06), to bad (2006-07), to very, very bad (2007-08).  If Diaw was replaced by an average NBA player, the Suns might be able to challenge the Spurs for best team in the West.  He’s basically acting like a giant break on the Suns championship train.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are a hard team to figure.  Who plays power forward for Don Nelson?  When you look at this team’s big men you see Andris Biedrins, Patrick O’Bryant, Al Harrington, Didier Ilunga Mbenga, Austin Croshere, and Brandan Wright.  The minutes of these players sum to 1,938.  The minutes available at power forward and center, though, sum to 2,708.  So there are 770 minutes being played by someone who is not thought of as a power forward.

For my calculations, I put Matt Barnes at the four spot. I also shifted some of Stephen Jackson’s minutes there as well. One could offer a different allocation, though.

Ultimately, though, it may not make much difference.  The top two players on this team are Biedrins (clearly a center) and Baron Davis (clearly a point guard).  The players who are taking minutes at forward and shooting guard are not the major wins producers, regardless of how they are classified.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings have a slightly above average center in Brad Miller.  They also have two above average small forwards (Ron Artest and John Salmon) and an above average shooting guard (Kevin Martin). And then there is the power forward and point guard spots.  Their best power forward is Mikki Moore.  As detailed last summer, Moore is not a very productive player. 

At the point is Beno Udrih.  He’s better than what he was in San Antonio last year.  But better than awful is still below average, so he’s not helping this team much.

Basically the Kings have a few good players, but no truly great player.  Consequently, this team is below average.

Oh, and by the way. Just as most people seemed to predict last summer, Spencer Hawes hasn’t helped much either.

Los Angeles Clippers

And then there are the Clippers, once again staring up at the rest of the division.  When Elton Brand was hurt we expected this team to struggle. Surprisingly, though, this team was the last one in the Association to lose a game.  Unfortunately, once this team remembered how to lose, they got really good at it.

There’s one bright spot.  The most improved player in the league might be Chris Kaman.  He certainly is producing like a top center.  Beyond Kaman, though, the Clippers only have Sam Cassell and Corey Maggette.  Every other player on this roster is below average.

Ranking All Players

Before I close this post, here are all 72 players ranked in terms of Projected Wins Produced.

Table Two: The Players of the Pacific Division

Now that every division has been examined, we can now see the top players in the Association.

Atlantic: Kevin Garnett

Central: LeBron James

Southeast: Dwight Howard

Northwest: Marcus Camby

Southwest: Chris Paul

Pacific: Steve Nash

The current Most Productive Player (The M2P) in the Association is on this list.  In my very next post, I will discuss the M2P (by the way, do you like the label?).

For now, though, I better end this post.  I think I hear something on the roof, so I better get to bed. Or am I supposed to throw open the window to see what’s the matter?

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also 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

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.