The Magic and Pistons Go Different Directions

Posted on July 19, 2009 by

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The Detroit Pistons defeated the Orlando Magic in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Since this victory, each team has gone in very different directions.  The Magic advanced to the NBA Finals in 2009, and given the moves made this summer (moves I will discuss in a moment) should be even better in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, the Pistons have essentially blown up their roster.  At this moment, only four players – Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, and Jason Maxiell – remain from the team that advanced to the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals.  And the new players should hardly inspire confidence.  With the signing of Chris Wilcox, the first and second string on the Pistons (yes, I know I said this a few days ago, but I am a Pistons fan) is now as follows (with 2008-09 Wins Produced and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] reported for each veteran player): 

First Team:

PG: Rodney Stuckey [4.0 Wins Produced, 0.077 WP48]

SG: Richard Hamilton [1.9 Wins Produced, 0.040 WP48]

SF: Tayshaun Prince [7.3 Wins Produced, 0.114 WP48]

PF: Charlie Villanueva [3.6 Wins Produced, 0.082 WP48]

C: Kwame Brown [2.4 Wins Produced, 0.117 WP48]

Second Team:

PG: Will Bynum [1.2 Wins Produced, 0.071 WP48]

SG: Ben Gordon [4.9 Wins Produced, 0.078 WP48]

SF: Austin Daye [Rookie]

PF: Jason Maxiell [2.9 Wins Produced, 0.098 WP48]

C: Chris Wilcox [0.2 Wins Produced, 0.008 WP48]

If you add up the 2008-09 Wins Produced by the veteran players all you get is 28.4.  So unless Austin Daye is suddenly one of the top five players in the NBA – or these veterans become much more productive players — it looks like the Pistons are in trouble.  At a minimum, this team is far removed from the Orlando Magic.

To see this point, here is what the Magic’s first and second team looks like today (again, Wins Produced and WP48 are reported):

First Team:

PG: Jameer Nelson [7.0 Wins Produced, 0.256 WP48]

SG: Vince Carter [9.3 Wins Produced, 0.152 WP48]

SF: Rashard Lewis [3.5 Wins Produced, 0.060 WP48]

PF: Brandon Bass [1.9 Wins Produced, 0.057 WP48]

C: Dwight Howard [24.6 Wins Produced, 0.418 WP48]

Second Team:

PG: Anthony Johnson [2.2 Wins Produced, 0.071 WP48]

SG: J.J. Redick [1.0 Wins Produced, 0.041 WP48]

SF: Mickael Pietrus [1.3 Wins Produced, 0.048 WP48]

PF: Ryan Anderson [1.2 Wins Produced, 0.045 WP48]

C: Marcin Gortat [5.2 Wins Produced, 0.316 WP48]

If you add up the Wins Produced you see 57.2, or an average of 5.7.  This mark, though, understates the quality of the Magic. 

First of all, Nelson only played 42 games last season.  Had he played the entire season, and his per-minute performance didn’t change, he would have produced nearly seven more wins.

And then there is the case of Rashard Lewis.  Lewis spent most of his career as a small forward, but was moved to power forward by the Magic. The move, though, didn’t dramatically change his production.  Lewis posted a 9.8 Win Score per 48 [WS48] minutes with Seattle.  With the Magic in 2007-08 his WS48 was 9.6 and last year it was 9.8.  An average small forward posts a mark of 7.3, so was Lewis was above average in Seattle.  An average power forward, though, has a 10.3 WS48.  Consequently, Lewis was below average these past two seasons with Orlando.

The acquisition of both Bass and Anderson – coupled with the re-signing of Gortat – suggests Orlando is going to move Lewis back to small forward.  Had he played small forward last year, Lewis would have posted a 0.177 WP48.  If he can maintain that production next year – and the same holds true for Nelson, Carter, and Howard — then the Magic’s starting line-up next year will feature four players with a  WP48 mark in excess of 0.150. 

Now at this point, ESPN.com says the Magic’s roster only consists of the ten players listed above.  Not knowing the rest of the roster limits are ability to speculate about next season.  That being said, the Magic look very much improved. 

In fact, I think the Magic are at least twenty games better than the Pistons, and that margin could grow to more than thirty.  The Pistons could still make the playoffs next year.  But a more likely scenario is a trip we haven’t seen since 2001.  Yes, the Pistons could actually be visiting the lottery next year.

This means fans of the Pistons are becoming like fans of the Lions.  In other words, before the season even starts, thoughts turn to the next draft.  For those who can’t wait, DraftExpress has already posted a 2010 mock draft.  And judging by 2008-09 numbers, Cole Aldrich might be someone to keep an eye upon.  At least, his Wins Score per 40 minutes suggests he might be a productive NBA player (unlike many of the players currently employed by the Pistons).

– 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.

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