The Best Point Guard in Sacramento Now has a Better Job

Posted on November 6, 2008 by


The big political news this week is that an African-American basketball player was finally elected to an executive office. Yes, Kevin Johnson is now the new mayor of Sacramento.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the biggest problem KJ will face in his new job is a budget crisis (an on-going problem throughout California). But there might be a bigger problem for fans of the Sacramento Kings (although not bigger for KJ).  The Kings are currently 1-4, and have been out-scored by 15 points per contest.  The worst team in the NBA last season – the Miami Heat – was only out-scored by less than nine points per game.  So the Kings are off to an awful start.

Part of Sacramento’s problems is the play of Beno Udrih, the team’s starting point guard. After five games Udrih has posted the following below average marks:

  • Adjusted field goal percentage: 40.8%
  • Field Goal Attempts per 48 minutes: 13.03
  • Free Throw Attempts per 48 minutes: 1.71
  • Points Scored per 48 minutes: 12.00
  • Rebounds per 48 minutes: 4.11
  • Steals per 48 minutes: 0.34
  • Turnovers per 48 minutes: 6.51
  • Blocked shots per 48 minutes: 0.00
  • Assists per 48 minutes: 7.54
  • Personal fouls per 48 minutes: 4.11
  • Win Score per 48 minutes: -2.23

If you look over this list, you will see that there is only one standard box score statistic missing.  When it comes to free throw percentage, Udrih is above average (80%).  But he hardly ever gets to the line, so that really doesn’t help.

Now let’s look at the career numbers of Kevin Johnson that were above average:

  • Adjusted field goal percentage: 50.1%
  • Free throw percentage: 84.1%
  • Field Goal Attempts per 48 minutes: 17.54
  • Free Throw Attempts per 48 minutes: 8.98
  • Points Scored per 48 minutes: 25.14
  • Rebounds per 48 minutes: 4.60
  • Steals per 48 minutes: 2.07
  • Blocked shots per 48 minutes: 0.34
  • Assists per 48 minutes: 12.85
  • Personal fouls per 48 minutes: 2.95
  • Win Score per 48 minutes: 10.58

The only place where KJ was below average was turnovers (4.32 per 48 minutes).

To put these numbers in perspective, in his 13 season career, KJ produced 110.1 wins and posted a 0.211 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes]. An average player posts a 0.100 WP48, so Johnson was very good. 

In fact, his career numbers surpassed the career marks of Chauncey Billups, Isiah Thomas, and Allen Iverson (see table below).

Table One: Comparing Chauncey Billups, Isiah Thomas, and Allen Iverson

Despite KJ’s performance, he was never named to the All-NBA first team and he only appeared in three All-Star games.  And has yet to be treated by the Hall-of-Fame voters as well as he was treated by the voters of Sacramento. 

So let’s summarize the story:

  • The best point guard in Sacramento – even at 42 years of age — is currently the mayor-elect.
  • The new mayor of Sacramento was also a more productive point guard than Isiah Thomas (that statement might make a few Isiah fans angry).
  • Although I am not entirely familiar with KJ’s political agenda, I suspect he will be a better leader in Sacramento than Isiah was in New York.

In all seriousness, the events of this past week have been tremendously inspiring.  The challenges facing the new administration in Sacramento (and of course Washington) are immense.  But it’s good to see new people and new ideas in positions of power.  And I certainly wish KJ (and our new president) all the best.

– DJ

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at 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.