Bucks Diary

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Kobe's not No.1": Ranking the NBA's Shooting Guards by WinRate

I guess I assumed Kobe Bryant had the highest WinRate among shooting guards in the NBA. In fact, that honor belongs to Manu Ginobli. Actually, Ginobli is the only player in my rankings who is number one at his position in all three of my categories: Overall WinRate per 48 minutes, Offensive HalfWinRate, and Defensive HalfWinRate. At the moment he is pretty dominant, but Kobe is right on his heels. Below is the complete Shooting Guard List:

Whether Ginobli can keep up his Win Production or not remains the question. You saw what happened when he couldn't produce at all against the Lakers in the Finals. The Spurs had no chance. Few recognize just how productive Ginobli has been, or how much the Spurs have relied upon his productivity to succeed. I would argue that his unrecognized overproduction has masked the poor contributions made by some of his underproductive teammates during the Spurs championship era (namely Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, and Robert Horry).

What the game of "21" teaches us about the value of possessions

Bucks fans should take note of where I have our maximum dollar superstar Michael Redd... 20th among NBA shooting guards. He's paid the maximum amount, and I contend there are at least 19 better players at his position. He should never have gotten a maximum dollar contract. But, people see scoring totals and they think those translate into wins. They do not. But its hard to see why not. I think its because fans like myself tend to undervalue possessions.

Why do we do that? There are a number of reasons. But I think the primary reason is that, in the game of basketball, you automatically get possession back if you fail (if the other team scores). That alone tends to cause a psychological undervaluing of a possession's worth. There's an easy way to test the validity of that hypothesis.

Remember the schoolyard game "21" or "Hustle"? It was essentially "One-on-One" except you had 3 players all going against one another. Under the traditional rules of 21 as I played it, if you "made it" you "took it". Meaning, if you had possession of the basketball, and you successfully scored, you kept possession of the basketball. Thus, each player's opportunity to possess the basketball was no longer guaranteed.

As a result, if you watched a game of"21", you would notice players going after loose rebounds like hungry Rottweilers chasing after raw meat. And you would notice players who possessed the basketball working patiently for the best shot they could possibly get... generally, the closest shot to the hoop (unless they were tired or trapped, if which case the strategy was to launch a shot that would make you the likeliest person to obtain the rebound). Contrast that with a traditional game of 5-on-5. There the participants are nonchalant about rebounding, and indifferent about the success rate of most of the shots they attempt. That's because in "21", unlike in the traditional "5-on-5", the rules makes the value of possession -- which is present in both variations -- crystal clear to the participants.

That's just my theory.


At October 13, 2008 at 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great lists! One thing though, I can guarantee you that Mickael Pietrus will be the starting 2 guard for the Orlando Magic.


At October 21, 2008 at 11:56 PM, Blogger tanyaa said...

NBA player rankings are based on fantasy value expectations for the upcoming 2008-2009 season. Rankings will be updated to reflect news and related pre-season developments. Probably the most exciting position in the NBA, and clearly has some of the most talented players. The shooting guard position provides a mix of slashers, shooters, and even combo point guards.
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