Bucks Diary

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The NBA's 20 Most Harmful Players in 2007-08

In order to make my list of The NBA's 20 Most Harmful Players, it is not enough for a player to suck.

(Please read this short explanation of Win Contribution, the statistic the list is based upon, to understand what it is, what it is meant to measure, and how it is calculated). He must consistently suck... and yet somehow not get benched. That's not an easy feat.

The prototype for the "Most Harmful" player list is former Milwaukee Buck Tim Thomas. In theory, Thomas creates "matchup nightmares" for opponents because of his length, shooting ability, and ball skills. And he occasionally scores a lot of points. So teams dole out a lot of minutes to him. And then they watch their record decline.

In fact, the only disadvantage Thomas creates on a basketball floor is a statistical disadvantage for the team that employs him. Tim Thomas is a power forward/small forward who cannot guard either position. Those he is assigned to cover consistently outproduce the average player at their position. Meanwhile on the other end, Thomas shoots a very poor percentage for a frontline player, he turns the ball over too much, and he rarely rebounds. And thus his team's do not win, unless the other players around him are productive enough to make for the gap he creates.

That is the essence of a "Harmful Player". Someone whose presence on the court makes it harder for his team to win.

Notes on the "Most Harmful Players" List

1. You notice Bruce Bowen on the list? His defensive contributions to the Spurs are a total myth. They don't exist. The fact is he drags the Spurs down on a nightly basis. Yet they trot him out there again and again because the NBA has no good method for evaluating defense. If you look like you fight through picks, you are considered a good defender, regardless of your counterpart's statistical output.

2. Jeff Green brings home the Gold for the United States. He received a great challenge from the bookend foreign stiffs, but his utter lack of production in nearly every phase of the game (including defense) clinched it for him. Don't laugh Bucks fans. The player from this year's draft who might be the most similar to Green is Joe Alexander.

3. How good would the Raptors be if they would just glue Andrea Bargnani and Jason Kapono to the bench? They made the playoffs with these two guys receiving substantial time. What could they have done without them? I estimate they would have been a 53 win team had they just given the duo's minutes to two average players.

4. Why did anyone ever believe Darko Milicic or Andrea Bargnani would be productive basketball players? It staggers the mind to think of the legitimate players passed over to pick these two stiffs.

5. The most inexcusable player high on the list is Royal Ivey of the Milwaukee Bucks. You can make an argument for playing all of the players in the Top 10 except him. He should never have gotten the minutes he got. That's a deriliction of coaching duties.

6. This list shows why Bulls fans should have tried to persuade Ben Gordon NOT to accept the team's qualifying offer. He plays no defense, and his offensive game is based almost solely on volume scoring -- a killer combination.

7. Welcome to the NBA Oklahoma City. You landed 3 players on the "Most Harmful" list. I THINK Kevin Durant will be coming off this season, but I was obviously wrong about him last season, so who knows. I have no such hopes for Green or Wilkins.

8. If and when Tim Thomas retires from his life of crime (stealing money from NBA franchises), the new poster child for the "Most Harmful" player will undoubtedly be Knick center Eddy Curry. Except I think people are finally catching on to the fact that he is a highly ineffective center.


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