Every Player at the Midpoint of the 2008-09 Season

Posted on February 1, 2009 by


Last week every single team finally played its 41st game in the 2008-09 season.  Consequently, I was able to analyze every player and every team at the season’s midpoint.  And although there are many stories this data set could tell, I thought I would just post the data.  So without further introduction, here is the Wins Produced and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] of every player at the midpoint of the 2008-09 campaign.

Table One: All Teams at the Midpoint of the 2008-09 Season

Table Two: All Players at the Midpoint of the 2008-09 Season

Table One organizes the players by team.  Table Two organizes by Wins Produced.  Here are a few quick stories this data tells (again, I am sure there a many others).

A Few Stories

  • As noted a few days ago, the most productive player in the NBA is Chris Paul.
  • Obviously Paul is the most productive point guard. The top players at the other positions are as follows:
    • Center: Dwight Howard
    • Power Forward: Kevin Garnett
    • Small Forward: LeBron James
    • Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade
  • There are a number of outstanding centers and point guards. Of the top ten players in Wins Produced, five are centers and three play the point. Garnett, the top power forward, only ranks 12th in the league in Wins Produced.
  • I was going to write a post on the All-Star selections, but I think it would read the same as my post on the Rookie Challenge. David West, Joe Johnson, Danny Granger, and Rashard Lewis can all score. But none of these players are really that productive (at least, not relative to the top players in the game). Yes, scoring is once again being rewarded. And although people might claim that fans are most interested in scoring (and the game is for the fans), the role scoring plays in all-star selections is consistent with what we see when we look at free agent salaries. In sum, players are consistently rewarded when they score (even if they do not do much else).

Stoudemire, the Suns, and Red Auerbach

The emphasis on scoring is why All-Star Amare Stoudemire is currently frustrated.  Stoudemire may lead the Phoenix Suns in scoring, but his shot attempts are down from last year (and so is his rebounding and overall productivity).  As a consequence, he has suggested that he’s not happy with how the offense is being run in Phoenix. 

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has a column on this topic that contains the following quotes and observations:

  • One Western Conference scout, who’s watched the Suns several times, believes that when Stoudemire and O’Neal are on the floor, Porter runs two out of three plays for Shaq. Stoudemire confessed to a level of frustration with a diminished scoring role, but ultimately more offense isn’t what Kerr and Porter have yearned to get out of him.
  • Without getting the ball, without getting his rhythm, Stoudemire insisted that it’s costing the Suns on defense and the boards. “It is harder,” Stoudemire said. “When you’re in the flow, everything flows. When you’re not, sometimes it’s hard to get involved.”
  • Nash sighed.”A lot of mouths to feed,” he said. “I’m willing to just feed and feed. But then they get mad at me because they want me to be aggressive. They want me to make big shots down the stretch, so they need me to shoot periodically during the game.
  • “It’s difficult. It’s difficult for the reasons you said, and it’s difficult to find the balance, that aggressiveness for me.” Nash needs the ball in transition, needs to run, because Shaq clogs the lane in the halfcourt. “Or otherwise,” Nash said, “I’m going to be a little sacrificial. …So trying to get Amare off, getting, Shaq off … getting [Jason Richardson], Grant [Hill], Leandro [Barbosa]. …A lot of mouths to feed.”

In sum, the Suns have problems because they have many players who want to shoot and only one ball.  As a consequence, some players are not happy.

When I see players expressing frustration over their lack of shots, I am reminded of the Wisdom of Red Auerbach

Currently I am reading “Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game” by John Feinstein and Auerbach.  As I have read this book I have become convinced that Auerbach was successful because he understood why teams win and lose in basketball.

Although I highly recommend the book, I think you can get a sense of what I am talking about from the following paragraph (originally posted in this forum a couple of years ago).

Consider the following from a biographical sketch posted at ESPN.com.:  Auerbach didn’t focus on the individuals on his teams. He looked at the “whole package.” While many of his players were outstanding, the Celtics were the first organization to popularize the concept of the role player. “That’s a player who willingly undertakes the thankless job that has to be done in order to make the whole package fly,” Auerbach said. …. Auerbach said that the Celtics represent a philosophy that in its simplest form maintains that victory belongs to the team. “Individual honors are nice, but no Celtic has ever gone out of his way to achieve them,” he said. “We have never had the league’s top scorer. In fact, we won seven league championships without placing even one among the league’s top 10 scorers. Our pride was never rooted in statistics.”

When I look at this quote I wonder what Auerbach would be saying to Stoudemire today.  I can imagine much of it could not be printed in a family friendly forum. And I imagine, the same could be said to a number of other players who think scoring first (and winning and team somewhere down the list).

– 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.