Okafor Finally Signs

Posted on July 29, 2008 by

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Over the last few days there have been a number of wonderful suggestions for blog topics. 

Josh suggested a post on the career of Karl Malone.

Ken asked for a post on David Robinson.

Stephanie would like more information on how performance changes with age.

And William would like me to post the Wins Produced numbers from every player who played in 2007-08.

Looking over these suggestions I knew exactly what I should write about… Emeka Okafor. 

Okafor vs. Bogut

Okafor just signed a 6-year, $72 million contract with the Charlotte Bobcats. And although I liked the suggestions, I thought I should offer a comment on this deal.

A few weeks ago the Milwaukee Bucks signed Andrew Bogut for $60 million over five years ($72 million with apparently some hard to reach incentives).   So Bogut and Okafor are both receiving $12 million per season. 

Here was my first thought when I saw the two deals were basically the same:  “That seems wrong. One of these players is much more productive.” At least, that’s what I see when I glance at the numbers.

Table One: Comparing Emeka Okafor and Andrew Bogut

Table One looks at the last two seasons from both Okafor and Bogut.  As one can see, in both years Okafor’s per-minute performance was superior.  And this is primarily because Okafor is the better rebounder.

When we turn to Wins Produced per 48 minutes [WP48] we see the same story.  Okafor posted a 0.208 mark last season and a stellar 0.290 WP48 in 2006-07 (see the Greatness of Okafor for more on his 2006-07 campaign).  Meanwhile, Bogut’s numbers were 0.145 two years ago and 0.157 in 2007-08.

When we look at the per-minute numbers it’s hard to see how Okafor and Bogut should be paid the same amount.  But then I thought about Wins Produced. 

Bogut has only played three seasons.  And across these three seasons he has produced 22.6 wins.  Okafor just finished his fourth season, so his career Wins Produced is higher.  But when we look at Okafor’s first three seasons we only see 23.4 wins.  Yes, Okafor’s per-minute performance was much better (0.193 WP48 vs. a 0.148 mark for Bogut).  Bogut, though, played 1,522 more minutes in his first three seasons.  Consequently Bogut was able to nearly match Okafor’s production of wins.

When we move past per-minute performance and consider Wins Produced, then the offers each of these players received make some sense.  Now if Okafor can stay healthy, it seems likely the Bobcats will got more bang for their buck.  But Okafor’s history with injuries – his fourth season was the first time he played in 82 games – probably cost him some money.

The Bobcats Review

Okafor has been with the Bobcats from the inception of the franchise. In these four seasons Okafor has produced 35.2 wins.  The rest of his teammates, though, have only produced only 80.7 wins. This works out to only 20.2 wins per season.  In sum, even if Okafor produced 20 wins per season the Bobcats would still have been a sub-0.500 team the past four seasons.

Entering the 2007-08 season, though, there was some reason for optimism.  Last August I noted that the Bobcats could have expected to be about average last season.  This projection, though, was not realized. 

Just before the season ended I noted why this happened.  And as I stated in April, the key reason why the Bobcats finished about 10 wins off the pace is that Okafor, Matt Carroll, and Gerald Wallace offered less.  This point is also made in Table Two below.

Table Two: The Charlotte Bobcats in 2007-08

At the conclusion of my April post I offered some thoughts on what Charlotte should do going forward.  The return of a healthy Sean May (0.175 WP48 in 2006-07) will help.  And if Adam Morrison cannot improve dramatically, a return of a healthy Morrison could hurt.

Beyond May and Morrison, though, I focused on the point guard spot.  Raymond Felton, Jeff McInnis, and Earl Boykins were all below average performers last season.  So it looked to me that the Bobcats needed a new point guard.

In the NBA draft, the Bobcats took point guard D.J. Augustin in the lottery. Can Augustin be the answer to this team’s point guard woes?  Erich Doerr – who analyzed the NBA Draft with Win Score – is pessimistic about Augustin’s NBA chances.   Still, at least the Bobcats made an effort to address an area of weakness.

Beyond the draft, the Bobcats really haven’t done much to improve their talent level.  They have changed their coach.  Perhaps Larry Brown can get these players to be more productive (then again, maybe he can’t).

Other Topics

As I wrote this post I learned that the

1. the Rockets may have acquired Ron Artest.

2. and Paul Pierce has declared himself the best player in the game (or at least better than Kobe Bryant).

Quick thoughts on each topic…

1. Not sure how Artest dramatically improves the Rockets.  But then again, I haven’t looked at all the numbers yet.  But my first reaction is not as positive as what I saw on ESPN when the story broke.

2. Pierce is not the most productive player in the game.  But he could argue that he is as productive as Kobe (see Kobe Myths and Kobe Myths – Playoff Edition).

Perhaps additional posts on each topic would be a good idea.  And more on Karl Malone, David Robinson, and the impact of experience on productivity would also be good topics.

As for every player’s Wins Produced numbers… I hope to post that after I have reviewed each team.  So far 12 teams have been reviewed.  That leaves me 18 more teams to review before the season starts.  Looks like I better get these out a little bit faster.  If not, I will still be reviewing teams from 07-08 next January.

– DJ

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

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.