Fabulous Fazekas

Posted on April 8, 2008 by


As noted yesterday, Erich Doerr – via a nifty Monte Carlo simulation — called the NCAA championship game before the tournament started.  Although we can’t expect such precision every year (so don’t go betting your life-savings next year on Erich’s picks), it is still neat to see statistical analysis produce such results.

In addition to looking at the NCAA tournament for the WoW Journal, Erich has also written posts examining the NBA draft (here is one from last June).  And last year his analysis (and mine as well) indicated that the most productive player taken in the draft out of college last season was Nick Fazekas.

Tables One and Two report the analysis of Fazekas last summer:

Table One: PAWS40 and the Top Prospects

Table Two: Analyzing the 2007 NBA Draft

And here is what I observed last July (I will get to Erich’s insights in a moment):

Topping the list in 2007 is Nevada’s Nick Fazekas. His PAWSmin of 0.269 surpassed Paul Millsap’s mark of 0.244. Fazekas, though, is going to the Dallas Mavericks, a team that already has many of the pieces in place. It’s hard to believe that Fazekas will get much playing time in Dallas next year, so it might be awhile to see if the numbers he posted at Nevada will translate into the NBA. Obviously many NBA scouts have their doubts. Again, college numbers are not a perfect indicator of pro success, so it’s more than possible that the scouts could be right. Then again, they could be wrong (have I covered all the possibilities here?).

As noted, Fazekas was taken by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round.  But after playing only nine minutes this season, he was cut from the team.  In the last few weeks Fazekas has re-surfaced with the LA Clippers.  And although he has only played about 200 minutes, the returns suggest that Erich is once again on to something.

In his first 207 minutes with the Clippers (not counting Tuesday night’s game against Denver where he was once again amazing), Fazekas has posted a 0.316 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes]. Yes, the sample is quite small.  But on a per-minute basis, it might be the best mark of the 2008 rookie class (I haven’t looked at all the rookies yet, but I would be surprised if another rookie surpassed the 0.300 mark).

When we look at the individual statistics we can see where Fazekas has excelled.

  Table Three: The Fabulous Fazekas

Table Three reveals that Fazekas is above average with respect to shooting efficiency, rebounds, steals, and blocked shots.  He has also avoided turnovers and personal fouls.  And when we look at Win Score, not surprisingly we see a mark that’s well above average.  In sum, Fazekas has been fabulous.

Of course before we get too excited, let me just note the following.

  • Fazekas has only played200 minutes. So our sample is really small.
  • Fazekas has not shown that he can perform as part of the regular rotation. That being said, in the seven games he has played at least 15 minutes he has been above average each time.
  • And it’s possible that his success has only occurred against the NBA’s lesser talents.

Such a possibility was noted by Erich last summer:

Since Win Score was derived from the evaluation of the NBA, there wasn’t a strong need to adjust for level of competition. The NBA teams sport a much narrower talent gap than the NCAA conferences and International leagues. In looking at college players, though, we have to note that the wider NCAA talent distribution allows for players to pick on the less skilled teams. The following tables offer an assessment of how well various players played against NCAA tournament teams, versus their performance otherwise. These tables suggest, in a very limited sample, that maybe Fazekas is not quite as good as his overall numbers indicate.

Table Four: Prospect’s per-minute Performance Against Tournament Teams

Table Five: Prospect’s per-40 minute Performance Against Tournament Teams

From Erich’s analysis we see evidence that maybe Fazekas is not someone who will excel against front-line talent (then again, maybe in the NBA he will).  But even if that isn’t the case, Fazekas – who I think is a free agent this summer – could still be a valuable NBA player.  Even if Fazekas can’t produce as a starter (and again, maybe he can), to produce so much off the bench against NBA second-string players is still worth something.

One last note… I should note that even if the college numbers of Fazekas prove to be prophetic, these numbers are not a crystal ball.  Remember, these same numbers tell us that Kevin Durant should be a very productive NBA player.  And so far, that hasn’t happened (really).

– 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.