Heroes and Goats from Game One of the NBA Finals
There are certainly better metrics you can use when it comes to assessing long term performance in basketball, but when you're assessing performances over a short period of time, especially a one game setting, I haven't run across anything better than Win Contribution.
Win Contribution is based upon the revolutionary Win Score metric. Win Score adds and properly weights all of those positive and negative basketball statistics that correlate with victory. When you adjust a player's Win Score according to average Win Score at his position, and then multiply by 48, it will tell you how well a player played. But it doesn't tell you anything about the impact he had on the game.
Win Contribution essentially takes each player's Win Score and weights it according to his share of the playing minutes. In that way it shows you, I think, the exact positive or negative impact he had on the game. For example, if Sam Cassell came in, made two shots, and then went to the bench, I'm sure he'd have recorded a phenomenal Win Score projected over 48 minutes. But his impact on the game would have been minimal, and his performance would not have been that impressive.
Win Contribution corrects that. Case in point. Kobe Bryant played 42 minutes in last night's game, or roughly 18.3% of his team's total minutes (20% is the maximum minutes any player can consume, because you have to play with 5 players), and his lack of productivity and inefficient use of possessions during that time had a devestating impact on his team.
Here's why. Kobe accumulated -3 Win Score points. Over 48 minutes that would be -3.4 Win Score points. Kobe mixed his time at shooting guard and small forward, and the average Win Score per 48 minutes you would expect from someone playing his mix of positions is about 6.8. Projected over 48 minutes, then Kobe's adjusted Win Score was roughly -10.2. Pretty poor. But that's just half the story.
Because he consumed so much playing time, the impact of Kobe's negative adjusted Win Score on the Lakers magnified exponentially. You multiply that -10.2 by .183, and Mr. Bryant made a negative Win Contribution of -1.866 to Los Angeles last night. What does that mean?
It means Kobe had a major part in the Lakers loss. Think of it this way. Had the team gotten the performance you would expect from an average player, rather than Kobe's subpar performance, the Lakers probably would have won.
When you read Win Contribution, its breaks down roughly like this, 0.000 to 0.200 is average. 0.200 to 0.400 is good. 0.500 to 1.000 is excellent. >1.000 is an outstanding game. >2.000 and you played like a superstar. Read that in reverse for negative numbers, and you can assess the magnitude of a player's negative contribution as well.
Here are the numbers from Game One (negatives in red):
Win Score: 26.9 (Halftime Win Score: 48.6)
Team Win Score: 41.4 (Halftime: 36.9)
Heroes of Game One
1. Paul Pierce
Obviously. He was having a horrible game at halftime, and he completely turned it and his team's fortunes around. That was a little too faux dramatic for my taste, but, hey, whatever floats your boat. These playoffs have shown one thing clearly: as Pierce's Win Contribution goes, so go the Celtics.
2. Doc Rivers
I don't know what he said at halftime, but somehow he got the Celtics to clamp down hard in the second half. They just dominated the second half, with an incredible Team Win Score advantage in the half of approximately 46.4 to 6.3, after getting beaten up by the Lakers in the first half to the tune of 48.6 to 36.4.
3. Kendrick Perkins
Huh? Yeah, once he removed himself from the court, the game turned, didn't it? He was killing the Celtics with his lack of production. Look at the negative impact he had in his limited time. Imagine if he had continued. The Celtics were lucky he didn't.. That ankle injury turned the game just as much as Pierce's "Willis Reed".
4. Rajon Rondo
He was getting killed at half time by Derrick Fisher. He turned that around completely in the second half, and that was key.
5. Ray Allen
I said he had to come up big and he did. Once again, he thoroughly outplayed Kobe. I can hear you out there thinking "HUH? Ray Allen went 5 for 13 for 19 points and you say he played better than Kobe?" He sure did. Most of his positive work was done at the foul line and most of all on the boards. Without any contribution in that area from Kendrick Perkins, Ray Allen's 8 rebounds were crucial to the victory. (ed note: Its a little misleading to say Allen outdid Kobe because most of Allen's best work came when he was matched against Vujacic)
Goats from Game One
1. Kobe Bryant
He'll be back, but for this night Boston completely frustrated him and suckered him into wasteful shot after wasteful shot. And why didn't he do anything else? Is his secondary production dependent on his scoring?
2. Phil Jackson
I think he got snookered by Doc Rivers. Why in the world did he play Vujacic for so many minutes in the second half. First of all, it took Radmanovic, your best Win Contributor, right out of the game. Second, it moved Kobe to small forward where he is not nearly as effective.
3. James Posey
Yeah, his defense was good, and he did hit that late three, but he played only about 10% of the minutes and yet had a monumentally bad impact on the Celtics.
4. The Lakers bench
Where was it?
5. The Celtics bench
Once again the geezer combo of Cassell and PJ Brown doesn't get much done. Why won't Rivers play Powe? Why?!!