Bucks Trimester Grades
At the end of the first "trimester" of this NBA season, the Bucks look like an improving team. This is mostly due to the improved play over the last week and a half of Yi Jianlian and Desmond Mason. Now, if the Bucks could only get better play out of some of their more prominent reserves, they could make a serious playoff push.
Below are my trimester grades for each Buck. The statistics listed under each player's name are the player's "Position Adjusted Win Score", or the extent to which the player's performance has been above or below the average performance at the player's position. In parenthesis next to that is the player's "Win Contribution", which is simply a calculation of the percentage of floor time the player has used up (thus far there have been 6000 minutes of floor time available) multiplied by the player's Position Adjusted Win Score. Win Contribution indicates the extent to which the player has made either a positive or negative impact on the Bucks quest to accumulate victories. The aggregate Win Contribution for a good team should be on the positive side. Thus far, the Bucks aggregate Win Contribution is -.527, which is better than last season's -948, but still needs improvement. It projects to about 35 wins.
Anyway, here are my grades (what do the numbers mean?):
Michael Redd: A-
If you look at Redd's numbers from the previous two seasons, you can see that he has really improved. He is doing all of the things necessary for producing wins. The only reason I give him an A- instead of an even higher grade is because I recently calculated Ray Allen's Win Contributions from his best seasons with the team, and Redd is not quite there yet. But he's on the right track, and is finally contributing like a max dollar player ought to contribute.
Mo Williams: C+
Mo's play has dipped slightly from last season, although he is making a greater Win Contribution because he's stayed healthier and thus played more minutes. The fact is, though, he's basically just an average point guard... which is good for someone coming off the bench, but Mo is supposedly one of our "core" players. Unfortunately you can't win championships when your core players are just slightly above average win producers. To illustrate that point, look one post below and you will see the 2000-01 Bucks. Check out the level of Win Contributions that 52 win team got from their core players. That's what you need.
Andrew Bogut: C
Again, like Mo Williams, Bogut's not a bad player... its just that he's decidedly average, and that's not good enough for your "core" players. Even more ominous, however, is this season he seems to be slightly regressing. He should be going the other way! Yet he'll have a string of super games and then just disappear for a while. That won't cut it. He just has to get it done on a consistent basis. As a means of comparison, here are the Win Score and Win Contributions thus far this season produced by two of Bogut's temporal peers: Dwight Howard...+10.56 (+1.700). Andrew Bynum...+9.60 (+.912). Both of those guys are around Bogut's age, yet they both blow Bogut's numbers away. Obviously, Howard is one of the better players in the game, but Bynum was picked 9 spots below Bogut. Its not that Bogut is incapable... Bogut's numbers from his last game against Sacramento were equal to Howard's season numbers. So he can do it -- but you are what you consistently do, not what you do every once in a while.
Yi Jianlian: B
If he played small forward....+1.24 (+.173)
I'm giving Yi a better grade than Bogut or Mo simply because of expectations, and trajectory. I thought for sure Yi would stink this year, and he hasn't. And he's getting better by the game. Yi was around -3.50 just a couple of weeks ago, and now look at him. He's still making one of the largest negative contributions, but I contend that's not all his fault. I think he's a small forward forced to play out of place at the power forward. If he were a small forward, his numbers would actually be well above average. How would he do on defense at the 3 position? Who knows? But I think he would be a sort of Keith Van Horn type, and Van Horn survived in this league, and was much more productive than many people think.
Desmond Mason: B-
He and Bobby Simmons (especially Simmons) have been a bigtime dropoff from Ruben Patterson... but Mason has improved his personal numbers to such an extent that I had to give him a good grade. Last season he made as great a negative impact on the Hornets as the positive impact Michael Redd has had on this season's Bucks. That's laughably bad. That's why I spent the whole summer questioning why they signed him. But he's been serviceable and I can't believe it. His turnaround at his age is astounding. But can he keep it up?
Charlie Villanueva: D+
Do you notice a trend in Mr. Villanueva's career numbers? He's backing up rapidly. He needs to turn those numbers around. This season he may simply be uncomfortable with his reserve role, but he better get used to it, because it seems like Yi is entrenched at the power forward position. And oh by the way... until his injury, TJ Ford's numbers were heading in the exact opposite direction.
Bobby Simmons: D-
This guy is a total Tim Thomas. He's had all below average seasons except one -- his contract year with the Clippers! What a fraud. This season, though, has been his worst. That -.224 Win Contribution is just killing the Bucks. Given the money they are paying him, he has to b one of the worst free agent signings in team history.
Charlie Bell: F-
What has happened to this guy? For the last two seasons he has absolutely sabotaged the Bucks, and it looks like he is getting worse by the game. Minus 300+?!! Two seasons in a row?!! You can't let a guy on the floor when he's doing that much damage to his own team. What a horrible signing he was. This is his second straight season as the MCB or "Most Costly Buck"... pardon the poor English. And at one time he was actually an above average player. Not any more. Coach K has to think about putting this guy in the dog pound.
Jake Voshkuhl: B-
The Jakester is playing out of his mind... His career numbers suggest he is a severely below average big man, but this season he's almost been average! Can he keep it up? If you believe the phrase "regression toward the mean" is just some communist phooey, then sure he can!
Dan Gadzuric: D-
I added the statistics from further back years to make a point: at one point in his career, Dan Gadzuric was a very valuable player. Look at his 2004-05 numbers! Nobody else on the team has ever touched those kind of numbers... including Redd. Indeed, Gadzuric was once a great rebounder... in 2004-05 he recorded one of the highest rebounding rates in NBA history. If he could just recapture that he could be a huge win contributor to this team. But Bucks management insists on making him into something that he is not... namely, a scoring center. He will never be that. And by trying to make him that they've merely turned him into a confused nonproducer who wears a perpetual look of shell shock and rarely contributes anything. If they would just let him do what he does best, and tell him not to worry about the rest, he can be a valuable contributor again. Will they?
Royal Ivey: C+
Royal kind of is what he is... isn't he? If you want to limit the damage he can do to your chances for victory, you want to limit the time he spends on the floor. But what option does Coach K have other than to play him as his backup?