The Second Half Suns

Posted on May 13, 2010 by


Of the more than 40 people who volunteered to write about an NBA team (with the Wins Produced numbers provided by Andres Alvarez), no one selected the Phoenix Suns.  So as I watch the final moments of the Cavaliers-Celtics game (damn Cavaliers), I thought I would write a quick post on the Suns.

After 41 games the Suns were a bit better than average.  The team had won only 24 games. And the team’s Wins Produced indicated the Suns should have won 23.3 games.  In other words, this was a team on pace to win about 46 or 47 games.

In the second-half of the season, though, the Suns won 29 games.  And the team’s Wins Produced summed to 30.6.  In other words, the second-half Suns were a team on pace to win about 62 games. That means the Suns transformed themselves from a team that would have likely lost to the Lakers in the first round (as the eight seed) into a team that could defeat the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals (although I picked the Lakers  — as if I would know).

So what happened?  As I watch the Cavaliers lose (yes, like most people not named Jeff Ma, I picked Cleveland) I don’t feel like creating a series of tables.  But I will identify the players who improved with respect to Wins Produced in the second half of season.  The numbers following each player are first half WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes], second half WP48, and the increase in Wins Produced (i.e. second half WP minus what we would have seen if first half WP48 not changed).

  • Robin Lopez: -0.061, 0.115, 2.8
  • Amare Stoudemire: 0.144, 0.197, 1.6
  • Jason Richardson: 0.163, 0.215, 1.4
  • Jared Dudley: 0.094, 0.140, 1.0
  • Goran Dragic: 0.060, 0.121, 1.0

The entire team’s production of wins improved by seven in the second half.  And this improvement can be tied to these specific players.  Surprisingly, Steve Nash actually declined in the second half (0.296, 0.258, -1.0).

So what does this mean for the Western Conference Finals?  Well, Lopez – who has missed the playoffs so far – is finally going to play.  So that should help the Suns.

But one wonders, can Jason Richardson keep producing as we saw across the first two rounds?  Thus far, Richardson has posted a 15.6 Win Score per 48 minutes in the playoffs.  An average shooting guard posts a 6.7 mark, so Richardson has been quite amazing in the post-season.  If this continues, I will probably be wrong about another playoff series.  If not, I get to see the Lakers in the NBA Finals.  Yes, I am not sure this works for me either way.

By the way, if no one volunteers I will write a better post on the Suns later on.  And maybe we should try and get something on the disappointing Cavaliers up soon (at least soon after the numbers are posted on Saturday).

– DJ

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