Lawson Regrets and the Amazing Tyreke Evans

Posted on December 22, 2009 by


From a statistical perspective – as Table One illustrates — Ty Lawson was the most productive point guard drafted out of college last summer. 

Table One: Ranking the Players Selected from College in the 2009 NBA Draft

Despite his college production, though, Lawson lasted until the 18th pick in the draft.  Five point guards – or at least, players who can play point guard – were selected before Lawson went to the Denver Nuggets.  And now that were about one-third of the way through the 2009-10 season it seems like a good idea to look at the early returns on these point guards (well, it may not be a good idea but I am going to do it anyway).

The Early Returns

Before we look at the Wins Produced – and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] – numbers, we should note that it’s very early in these player’s careers.  Young players do get better, so players who don’t look good today might look better later on (of course, players who don’t look good today might not look better later on). 

With this caveat in mind, let’s look at the numbers.  The following lists where each point guard was selected, how many minutes he has played (as of Monday night), his WP48 at the point guard position, and his projected wins.  The latter is calculated by simply assuming the proportion of minutes assigned each player at this point will be the same the rest of the year. Since this proportion will probably change, these projected wins should be thought of as rough estimates (and given trends in performance, perhaps very rough estimates).

4. Tyreke Evans [945 minutes, 0.126 WP48, 9.3 Projected Wins]

6. Jonny Flynn [820 minutes, -0.026 WP48, -1.3 Projected Wins]

7. Stephen Curry [841 minutes, 0.076 WP48, 4.7 Projected Wins]

10. Brandon Jennings [928 minutes, 0.101 WP48, 8.5 Projected Wins]

17. Jrue Holiday [343 minutes, -0.044 WP48, -0.9 Projected Wins]

18. Ty Lawson [576 minutes, 0.152 WP48, 5.3 Projected Wins]

An average rookie posts a WP48 mark of 0.042.  So Evans, Curry, Jennings, and Lawson are above average.  In fact, Evans, Jennings, and Lawson are above average when compared to all players (average WP48 is 0.100).  If we look back at Table One we will see that Evans, Flynn, and Holiday were below average in college while Curry and Lawson were above par.  Thus far, four of these five players are maintaining their position relative to an average player at his position.

So it looks like a few teams who passed on Lawson might begin to feel some regrets.  In terms of WP48, Lawson tops this entire sample.  Evans and Jennings, though, have been above average thus far.  So it’s likely the Kings (who took Evans) and the Bucks (who took Jennings) are looking not looking at envy at Lawson (as noted in a moment, this is especially true for Evans).  Even the Warriors (who took Curry), are probably are somewhat happy with their choice.

The Timberwolves and 76ers, though, would probably be better off with Lawson.  This was the story before the draft.  And it looks like this story can be told today.

Jennings and Evans go in Opposite Directions

Let me close by noting the play of Jennings and Evans.  A few weeks ago I noted that Jennings had posted a 0.181 WP48 after 15 games.  His mark today – when we factor in his time at shooting guard – is 0.111.  This means that Jennings has posted a 0.026 WP48 across the past 11 games. As we go forward it will be interesting to see which player is the “true” Jennings.  Will Jennings return to what we saw earlier in the season? Or are the comparisons to Allen Iverson accurate?

While Jennings has been getting worse, Evans has been getting much better.  After nine games, Evans had a mark of 0.058.  When you factor in his play at shooting guard, his current mark is 0.155.  This means Evans has posted a 0.205 mark across the past 17 games.  In sum, Evans looks like the early favorite for Rookie of the Year (Lawson is probably not going to play enough to seriously contend for this award).  At least, the amazing Tyreke Evans looks like the early favorite for ROY for guards (I haven’t looked at other positions yet). 

–  DJ

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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.