Bucks Diary

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Bucks best weren't good enough, and the rest were just weak

One day early, I've done the final "Win Chart" for the 2007-08 Milwaukee Bucks. The Win Chart once again uses the Win Score algorithm developed the authors of "The Wages of Wins". My chart purports to show who did what in terms of Wins Produced for the 2007-08 Milwaukee Bucks.

My method of arriving at Win totals is slightly different from the authors, because I try to include defense in the equation. Thus, 50% of the wins credited to each player come from that player's position adjusted Win Score, and 50% come from the cumulative position adjusted Win Score of the opponents that player was assigned to cover. The ending number is referred to in the same manner as the player's "Wins Produced".

This particular chart also includes the player's Win Contributions -- both offensive, defensive, and cumulative. Win Contribution is merely the position adjusted Win Score multiplied by the player's percentage of overall playing time. Win Contribution is meant to reflect approximately the same thing as baseball's "Replacement Value over the Average Player". The player's Win Contribution is, in other words, a comparison of that particular player's production to the production the team would expect from an average NBA player consuming the same amount of time. The average player's Win Contribution is .000, so anything above that is, obviously, contributing to a winning team, and anything below is contributing to a losing team.

For the final chart, I also translated those Win Contribution numbers into specific numerical Win Totals representing the player's "Win Value over Average". That is, how many more wins did this player provide the Bucks than they would have received if they merely had Joe Average taking that player's minutes? Here's a specific example. I took Royal Ivey's Win Contribution of -.282 and translated that into the number of extra games the team lost because they employed Royal Ivey instead of an average NBA player. That turns out to be 3.8 games. That may not seem like a lot, but consider the situation if the entire team were as bad as Ivey. The team's expected record would be in the negative numbers. So Ivey had a terrible season. But the Bucks problems are more fundamental than that. And they begin at the top.

The Top of the Roster: No Head Start

The Bucks are a terrible team because their top isn't good enough, and their bottom can't make up the stagger.

Here's what I mean. Professor Berri has shown that most NBA rosters -- because of the salary cap and the distribution of talent and other things -- operate according to the Pareto Principle. In other words, your top 3 or 4 players will generally produce around 80% of your victories. So your goal should be to have a team with 3 or 4 players who are quite productive, and then the rest of the roster should be as close to average as you can get. If you think of a winning team like a relay race, your top 3 or 4 have to build a big lead (through wins above average), and the rest of the team then needs to erode that lead as little as possible.

Take the Celtics. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce together provide 15.5 wins above the average player. That translates into a 56.5 win season. Then you throw in Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, and I would venture to guess you are somewhere in the 64 win range. Then the rest of the team is built mainly on players who hold that advantage through superior defense.

The Bucks are a different story. Their three most productive players have a combined WVOA of only -0.6. That's terrible. You're through the heart of your roster and you've already got a losing team. (Its simply unacceptable that Michael Redd delivers only 0.4 victories over average and yet makes maximum dollars). That just won't work.

That's why earlier this year I suggested we ought to explore trading Bogut. It wasn't because I disliked Bogut. In fact, I like him very much. He's a pretty good player. The problem is, we desperately need a couple very good players, and Bogut's about the only attractive thing we could dangle to get those players. Redd's salary makes him unattractive. The word is out on Villanueva. Maybe Yi could attract some interest, but I kind of doubt it.

Once we put a couple of high value players in place the rest should actually not be that difficult. Why? You can build your roster through some offense and a whole lot of defense, like the Celtics did. Defense is incredibly cheap, and, if you have the guys on the top of your roster who can produce, defense is just as good as offense.

No matter what, this should be an eventful off-season for the Green and Red.


At April 17, 2008 at 3:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its official http://stocklemon.blogspot.com/2008/04/breaking-news-bucks-fire-krystkowiak.html

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