Bucks Diary

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A possible radical lineup change for the Bucks

The economists who wrote the terrific book "The Wages of Wins" came up with a basketball efficiency formula that improves upon the NBA's Eff48. They call it "Win Scores".

It is better than Eff48 because it relies on data that more precisely calibrates each statistical category with the contribution it makes toward an NBA victory.

The Win Score formula is: Points + Rebounds + Steals + 1/2 Assists + 1/2 Blocked Shots - Field Goal Attempts - 1/2 Free Throw Attempts - Turnovers - 1/2 Personal Fouls / Minutes Played.

The raw "Win Score" statistic is then adjusted for position to create the statistic the authors refer to as "Position Adjusted Win Score" or PAWS. The Win Score number is adjusted for position because... for instance... centers do more of the things that contribute to winning than point guards do, but you can't play a lineup of centers, so it makes sense to compare position against position.

I have calculated each Buck players PAWS for this season and for the player's career. I modified the resulting number by multiplying it times 48, because I hate working with integers (I did the same for each average PAWS score for every position and compared the Bucks' number against the average number for his position).

The resulting positive or negative number represents how the player's Win Score, or contribution to winning, compares against the average contribution made by a player at his position. You should just read it like a report card: the higher the positive, the better the player is doing, and vice versa.

The first number is the player's PAWS score for this season, the number in parenthesis is his career score. I have some observations below the numbers.

1. Michael Redd...+4.93..(+2.35)

2. Andrew Bogut...+0.96..(+1.05)

3. Maurice Williams...+0.78..(-1.13)

4. Jake Voskuhl...-0.55..(-2.45)

5. Desmond Mason...-1.05..(-1.99)

6. Bobby Simmons...-1.05..(+0.09)

7. Dan Gadzuric...-2.42..(+2.21)

8. Charlie Villanueva...-2.51..(-0.66)

9. Royal Ivey...-2.65..(-3.93)

10. Yi Jianlian...-2.81..(n/a)

11. Charlie Bell...-2.94..(-0.64)

12. Michael Ruffin...-3.13..(-1.25)


1. The Bucks are obviously getting killed at the power forward position. Or, more to the point, they are playing without a power forward... Yi is more or less a small forward, or at least that's where his production level is at right now. Yi might get more productive, though. Villanueva is way under his career norms.

2. I was stunned to see that Dan Gadzuric's career Position Adjusted Win Score is comparable to Michael Redd's. Why did it surprise me? Simple. I, like most basketball fans and basketball executives, wildly overvalue scoring and undervalue rebounding. That said, Gadzuric is having a poor year on top of the poor year he had last year. But I think he's confused more than anything. They need to figure out a role for him, and then just turn him loose.

3. Bogut is a slightly above average center, but his numbers are slightly down this year. He would be an excellent complimentary piece on a championship team, but with the Bucks he's a "core" player. Your core player's simply must have higher PAWS than ours do. We have one guy who's way up there (Redd) and two guys who are just slightly above average, with everyone else below average. Those are Lottery numbers.

4. Michael Redd is having a terrific season. He has basically doubled his career Win Score numbers, more or less by simply going to the boards an by getting to the foul line.

Possible Radical Lineup Change for the Bucks

Based on the above numbers, here's a lineup change I would make, or at least think about. I would start Gadzuric and Bogut at the 4-5. Its a horse a piece which guy starts where. Then, I would move Yi over to the 3 spot. At the moment he's playing like a 3 so why not just put him there? The upside could be big. If he produces the same numbers he is now, he would be an above average small forward rather than a severely below average power forward. I would then move Desmond Mason to backup 2, with Simmons remaining as backup 3, and Villanueva backing up at 4 per usual.

The obvious rebuttal is "Who's Yi going to cover?" Well, I concede that to be a legitimate point, but given the fact that opponent 3s are currently shooting a collective effective field goal percentage of a whopping 56.3% against the Bucks, I ask you how much worse could Yi possibly be?

And if Gadzuric finds his confidence and sense of purpose (rebounding!!), and he merely returns to his career contribution levels, and if Yi contributes around the same numbers at 3 that he's producing at 4, then the Bucks will have a triple tower frontline, and a lineup that features 5 above average contributors... one at each position.

I think its worth a try. What they are doing now simply isn't working.


At December 4, 2007 at 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely worth a try. I like the logic.

At December 5, 2007 at 12:07 AM, Anonymous Glenn said...

Sounds interesting. But Gadzuric starting is a scary proposition.

At December 6, 2007 at 6:55 PM, Anonymous Scott H said...

Two thoughts:

First, Gadz lifetime rating may be higher than Redd's because, as a backup, if Gadz isn't effective he often gets a quick hook, but if he is really effective he gets left in longer. Or perhaps because Gadz is an energy player who can come in for short spurts of productivity.

Second, Gadz is looking horrible this year, but Voskuhl is much higher in your rankings. Why not put Voskuhl at PF?

At December 6, 2007 at 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Glenn, if you think Gadzuric starting is scary, Scott wants to start Jake Voskuhl based on 15 games out of each player's careers!

PS I am in on this, why not give it ten games? Even though a couple bonehead plays right out the gate isn't a likely option you want to look at, and even if he plays roughly the same minutes per game now as he does off the bench, there's a better chance of him finding some kind of productive groove than there is that Mason will. Ty if you felt like it you could link back to a lot of things you wrote last year and maybe farther back, about how PFs have been consistently demolishing/putting up HOF numbers on the Bucks at their "deepest position" for a while now.


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