The Top 6th Man after 41 games

Posted on January 31, 2010 by


Last week I posted the WP48 and Wins Produced numbers for each player on each team in the NBA.   From these numbers we could see that the current MPP (Most Productive Player) is LeBron James (13.8 Wins Produced).  And the current MPP for Rookies would be DeJuan Blair and Tyreke Evans (4.2 Wins Produced).   Today I want to briefly discuss the top players off the bench (Most Productive 6th Man).

Of the 423 players who have played in the NBA this season, 255 have not started at least half their team’s respective games.  This sample of 255 was ranked in terms of Wins Produced (after 41 games), and the top 10 are as follows:

  • Manu Ginobili: 5.2 Wins Produced, 0.266 WP48
  • Anderson Varejao: 4.3 Wins Produced, 0.175 WP48
  • Kyle Lowry: 4.2 Wins Produced, 0.200 WP48
  • DeJuan Blair: 4.2 Wins Produced, 0.273 WP48
  • Andrei Kirilenko: 4.0 Wins Produced ,0.193 WP48
  • Chris Andersen: 4.0 Wins Produced, 0.221 WP48
  • Matt Barnes: 4.0 Wins Produced, 0.191 WP48
  • Carl Landry: 3.6 Wins Produced, 0.161 WP48
  • Omri Casspi: 3.3 Wins Produced, 0.145 WP48
  • Luke Ridnour: 3.3 Wins Produced, 0.167 WP48

A number of sports writers gave out mid-season awards, but I am going to pick on Ian Thomsen (primarily because I could easily find his column today).  Thomsen of Sports argued that the top three sixth men are Jamal Crawford, Carl Landry, and Jason Terry.   As one can see, Landry does make the list of top 10 players.  But Crawford (2.3 Wins Produced) is only the 19th most productive player off the bench.  And Jason Terry (1.0 Wins Produced) is only ranked 57th.  

Not surprisingly, when we turn to points per game we see the following rankings:

  • Al Harrington: 18.2 points per game
  • Jamal Crawford: 17.1 points per game
  • Jason Terry: 16.3 points per game
  • Carl Landry: 16.2 points per game

So what’s wrong with Harrington? Of these four, he is the only one playing for a losing team.  Yes, post-season awards tend to be about scoring and playing for a winner.  Consequently, I expect the eventual winner might come from Thomsen’s list.  But I don’t think any of the players Thomsen identifies will produce more wins than Ginobili.

In my next post I will discuss the Most Improved Player. Thomsen argues for the following three names: Kevin Durant, Josh Smith, and Marc Gasol.  Each of these players has actually improved.  And two of these names would rank among the ten most improved players.  But after 41 games, someone else has actually improved the most.  And as I noted, in my next post I will identify that player (I would do it now, but I have some other work I need to finish).

– 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.