Bucks Diary

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Do you believe Charlie Villanueva had a crappy game?

In order to "get" this blog, or the statistics I use here and put my faith in, you have to be able to look at Charlie Villanueva's stat line from last night's game and say he had a poor performance.

Admittedly, its hard for a serious basketball fan to look at that line and not conclude that Villanueva had a tremendous game. Villanueva scored 26 points on 10 for 20 shooting and he grabbed 8 rebounds. That's nearly a double-double. And he made 50% of his shots. How on earth can anyone conclude he had a poor game? Its tough to do. And a stat line like his is exactly why I resisted using the "Win Score" metric for so long. I couldn't wrap my mind around the singular importance of "possessions used" in basketball. But after I reviewed the mounds of evidence supporting its validity, I had to change my thinking.

Villanueva scored 26 points and grabbed 8 rebounds but he used too many possessions to produce those numbers. He wasn't "efficient" enough -- given his position -- to benefit the Bucks, in other words (I hate using that word -- "efficient" -- it sounds so technocratic, but its the only one that really fits).

Using Professor Berri's formula, Villanueva produced 34.5 "Win Score" points for the Milwaukee Bucks last night. But, he had critical 5 turnovers, commited 5 personal fouls, shot 7 free throws, and shot 20 field goals. That means he needed 31 possessions to produce those 34.5 Win Score points. Because of that, he netted only 3 Win Score points for the Bucks in 36 minutes of action. That extrapolates out to 4.6 Win Score points per 48 minutes, well below the average that an NBA power forward would produce for his team in 48 minutes (10.2). And in every sport it seems that production above the average at each position is the key to success (its why Bill Hall and Corey Hart KILLED the Brewers with their underproduction at 3rd base and rightfield... I have to do a post on that some day).

Thus, Villanueva's adjusted Win Score was -5.6, a terrible production. Because he used up so much of the the Bucks player minutes (36/240), that -5.6 had a large negative impact on the team's chances of winning the game. In fact, I calculate his offensive Win Contribution at -0.840, a horrible performance.

And, even though I did not do a complete Defensive Win Contribution breakdown, the team as a whole was awful, and I wouldn't expect Villanueva played dramatically above scale.

But the central point here is that Villanueva's gaudy 26 point, 8 rebound performance, which is being promoted -- predictably -- on Bucks.com as a terrific performance -- was actually not helpful at all to the Bucks cause. Now if you can wrap your mind around that truism (and believe me, it took me a long time to do so) then you get where this blog is coming from, and what I mean when I use metrics like "Win Contribution" and the like.


At October 12, 2008 at 11:26 PM, Blogger Trigorin said...

question, where do you figure in intangibles such as setting a proper pick, blocking out your man so another teammate can get the bound, helping out on defense, quick outlet passes that give the team fast break points, helping out on a double team so a teammate can get the steal, passes that don't count as assists but do keep the ball moving in the right direction? how about motivating other players on the court by just plain effort?

At October 13, 2008 at 10:23 AM, Blogger Joe said...

This post convinced me to buy the book "wages of wins". It's on order.

Great.....now I've got to change my way of thinking!!


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