Bucks Diary

Monday, December 31, 2007

Worst loss in Milwaukee Bucks history?

I remember at the bell to end the 7th round of the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson fight, when it was clear something historically significant was unfolding, HBO announcer Jim Lampley said "You begin to search your memory for the greatest upsets in heavyweight championship history." Listening to the Bucks-Pistons game today, around the middle of the fourth quarter, when it became clear that something historically bad was clearly happening, I began to search my memory for the worst loss in Milwaukee Bucks history.

Today's game has to be the worst. The hapless Bucks scored 69 points and lost by 45. It will almost certainly go down in Bucks infamy as the New Year's Eve Massacre. I wouldn't be surprised if it costs someone, upstairs or on the court, his job.

But who was to blame?

The beauty of this "Win Contribution" calculation I'm in love with comes through in games like this. When you're mad as hell at the Bucks and don't know who exactly to blame, it can tell you with a high degree of mathematical certainty who to target. To me, that provides a certain cathartic release.

Let me first tell you who you shouldn't blame. Yi Jianlian, Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and Jake Voskuhl all had above average games. That's actually the scary part. 4 Bucks had above average games and they lost by 45 points. The rest of the numbers reveal how that happened.

The Bucks cumulative "Win Contribution" for the game was -7.324. Let me put that into perspective. Before today's game, I didn't know you could have a Win Contribution of -2.000 or less. Let me put it into further perspective. Last year's Bucks team had a cumulative "Win Contribution" at season's end of -0.959, which calculated into a 29 win season. They actually won 28 games, so the calculation was, and is, very accurate. (Here's how the calculation is done.)

If you put that into whole numbers, it means a team with a Win Contribution of -959 is a very, very bad team. Today the Bucks had a Win Contribution of -7,324. That is seven and a half times worse.

If you look closer, it gets uglier. If you ignore the positive Win Contributions from Yi, Redd, Bogut, and Voskuhl, then the cumulative WC for the rest of the 7 players who were paid large money to represent the Milwaukee Bucks in Detroit today was, in whole numbers, -8,425.

How bad is that? I consider any Win Contribution of -500 or lower to be a very bad game. Furthermore, I find that if you have one guy with a Win Contribution of -1,000 or lower, its extremely hard to win. Today the Bucks had 4 guys who contributed -1,300 or worse. They had one guy, Royal Ivey, who contributed -2,183. That's impossibly bad. Coach K may need to be put on suicide watch.

The Mathematical Carnage

Here's the story told with numbers. The first number you'll see below is the player's "Position Adjusted Win Score per 48 minutes", which means the Win Score amount that player contributed above or below the Win Score an average player at that player's position would provide his team prorated over 48 minutes. 0.00 is perfectly average. Anything positive indicates an above average performance, and anything negative indicates a below average performance. "Very good" and "Very bad" games start at around +/- 3.00.

The number next to that in parenthesis is the player's Win Contribution. Win Contribution is the product of the player's "Position Adjusted Win Score per 48" multiplied by the amount of overall playing time (which is 240 player minutes per regulation game, or 48 minutes x 5 players) that player is allotted by the coach. Thus an above average performance is magnified by extended playing time, and vice versa.

The opposite is also true -- a very good or very bad performance can do a lot of damage even if the player is alloted a seemingly small amount of courttime. In fact, Win Contribution shows how very valuable every court minute is. If a player goes out and fucks the dog badly enough (see Storey, Awvee) he can do a lot more damage to a team's chances for victory than you would imagine, even if he only gets a cup of coffee. Or he can do his team alot of good (see Voskuhl, Jake) if he is way above average. That fact surprised me, for sure. (This game is a bad example of that, though, because Storey's bad performance only made the game historically bad rather than just "run-of-the-mill" bad... but the point still stands.)

How to lose a game by 45 points

1. Jake Voskuhl....................+15.38 (+0.704)
2. Yi Jianlian.........................+1.41 (+0.182)
3. Michael Redd...................+0.86 (+0.111)
4. Andrew Bogut..................+0.81 (+0.104)
5. Michael Ruffin..................-4.30 (-0.143)
6. Charlie Bell.......................-6.30 (-0.734)
7. Dan Gadzuric...................-12.00 (-0.999)
8. Bobby Simmons..............-15.29 (-1.338)
9. Awvee Storey..................-27.99 (-1.399)
10. Charlie Villanueva........-23.00 (-1.629)
11. Royal Ivey.....................-20.14 (-2.183)


At January 1, 2008 at 2:09 AM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

We can only hope this is the loss that leads Herb Kohl to fire Larry and hire a new GM. Give that GM full power....and carte blanche to start remaking the team his way....right now.

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