Bucks Diary

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ranking the NBAs Centers

Today I ranked the NBA's projected starting centers for 2008-09 according to the Overall "Win Rates" (wins they produced every 48 minutes) each had last season. A player's "Win Rate" is not the same as the statistic I have been using for my previous rankings -- his "Win Contribution".

There are a couple of similarities, though. Both statistics are based on Professor Berri's Win Score metric. And both measure a player's average Win Score production per 48 ("his offense"), and weigh that against the Win Score production per 48 that he allows his Counterpart Opponents to amass ("his defense"). But Win Contribution also factors in a player's percentage of his team's overall playing time in order to measure that player's relative impact on his team's overall success, whereas Win Rate simply measures how the player's efficient productivity per minute translated into the wins he was able to produce -- every 48 minutes -- for his team by converting the player's offensive and defensive Win Score averages into Offensive and Defensive HalfWins, and then averaging those two numbers to arrive at the overall number of wins I estimate the player produced (all using Professor Berri's original "Wins Produced" mathematical formula, of course).

Those three numbers are then converted into 3 sets of individual "Win Rates" (Overall, Offensive, and Defensive), by dividing each of them by the number of minutes the player played and then multiplying that by 48. The NBA average in all three "Win Rate" categories is 0.100 (which makes sense because if every player on the floor produced at that rate, the team would have a .500 record -- ie, exactly average). Any Win Rate above 0.100 represents, obviously, above average win or halfwin production in the particular category, and vice versa.

Notes on the Center Rankings

1. Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut ranked lower than I expected he would. His overall Win Rate ranking was 23rd. That placed him behind a slew of converted power forwards such as Andres Biedrens, Nick Collison, Joakim Noah, and Al Horford. Bogut ranked 19th in Offensive Half Win Rate, with an above average mark of 0.125, and 20th in Defensive Half Win Rate, with a below average mark of 0.068. He needs to produce more if the Bucks are going to be successful with him as their primary center.

2. It appears as though playing a power forward in the center position can pay dividends on offense, but that those dividends are somewhat mitigated on defense. If you look at my chart, most of the "power forwardish" starting centers (Jeff Foster, Andres Biedrens, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Nick Collison, Al Horford, and Al Jefferson), have exceptional Offensive HalfWin Rates -- together those 7 have an outstanding average Offensive HalfWin Rate of 0.180 -- but each of them also carries a below average Defensive HalfWin Rate -- their average on defense is 0.052. Thus, I'm guessing that increased mobility probably aides a center's personal productivity, while size and bulk aides him in limiting his opponents productivity. That's what it seems like (there are exceptions to that of course).

3. Nene Hilario recorded the best Defensive HalfWin Rate, but that must come with a huge asterisk attached. Hilario played only 200 some minutes last season, and I do not trust defensive numbers that come from such a small sample size. They can be distorted either way, and I think Hilario's probably were.

4. If Al Jefferson could just get his defense back to "somewhat" respectable, which is where it was in Boston, he would skyrocket up the charts. His offense is outstanding, but counterpart centers rebounded and scored at will on him last season. Ditto for Andres Biedrens of the Golden State Warriors -- but even more so. Biedrens is an outstandingly efficient producer of Win Score statistics, but its also pretty easy for his opponents to produce a pretty efficient Win Score when he is guarding them.

5. For some reason I expected Dalembert, Haywood, and Bogut to rank much higher than each of them did. They're all good centers, just not great in either area.

6. Don't blame Shaq for the Phoenix Suns' failure to advance. As you can see from the chart, he played above average basketball in both phases. The problem for Phoenix was twofold: 1. Amare Stoudamire's defense is terrible; and, 2. To get Shaq they had to trade away a tremendous Win Producer in the person of Shawn Marion.


At October 3, 2008 at 7:26 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Nice analysis. I linked to it. Thanks.


At October 4, 2008 at 12:00 PM, Anonymous paul said...

I have a feeling you may get some strong feedback on this one Ty. The problem here is that, and I want to try to say this without sounding demeaning in any way, in my opinion everyone who understands the game of basketball and has a good grasp of it, as you clearly have, knows that Bogut and Kaman in particular are clearly superior players and more valuable, than Diop, Dampier, Foster, Pryz, Perkins, Noah, Nene etc etc. Like I said I don't mean this in an offensive way, but I'm not buying this one. I know our eyes can be deceiving but clearly in this case it is the stats that are doing the deceiving. I would think if you were to ask any GM or coach who they would prefer out of those guys and a few others listed, Kaman and Bogut would be the first two picked, like I said just my opinion.

Also not to nitpick but it is my opinion that Bynum should be left off any analysis of last season that is longer than 35 games or should at least get an asterisk, I assume he played many many less minutes than most others sampled there. Anyway just my opinion, keep up the good work.

At October 4, 2008 at 12:03 PM, Anonymous paul said...

Sorry just to clarify a point I wrote very badly, I meant Kaman and Bogut would be the first two picked out of the players I listed there, certainly not above Dwight, Duncan, Yao etc.

At October 4, 2008 at 1:18 PM, Anonymous J Rock said...

I think you are correct all around in this analysis, Ty. This is exactly why I said repeatedly on RGM, prior to the draft, that the Bucks should trade Bogut for the 2nd or 3rd pick in the draft. Rather than overpaying him for mediocrity.

As to Paul's comment, like it or not all of those players you listed are either better defensively, better rebounders, or more efficient offensive players.

It matters not whether they are or are not 'traditional' centers. As long as a guy is 6'8" or taller and either has great strength or great length, that guy can be a center. Orthodoxy is dead.

Regarding Bynum, has anybody seen the media day pictures of this guy? He is absolutely jacked. I'm a believer.

I hate to say it and think about it, but it is such a shame that the Bucks passed on Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Andrew Bynum.

Great work as always Ty.

At October 5, 2008 at 5:03 AM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

I think we've brought the RealGm debate over to this board.

This season will be a massive one for the Dave Berri winscores approach.

Bogut either will be the guy who get's the Bucks over the hump, or part of the long line of overpaid Bucks players who put up "stats" but not the type that help you win games.

Jrock...let's just not think about the Bucks passing on Paul, Williams and then Bynum falling into the Lakers lap at pick #10. The 2005 draft is just too painful to think back on.

At October 5, 2008 at 11:40 AM, Blogger TCW said...

All right, we've got some debate going!

Remember that anything having to do with "Defensive Win Score" is not endorsed by Berri, that's my own concept. So the heat is on me with that one.

That said, DWS seems to actually mitigate some of the more controversial results. By Prof Berri's measure, Biedrens and others, whom you would not think were dominant, would actually be higher. By considering defense, if you accept my definition of defense, their rankings fall.

Final point. Pressey is right. This will be an interesting season and Milwaukee will be a great testing grounds for my version of Win Score, mainly because of Skiles. He and the Bucks may answer the question whether Defensive Win Score is a legitimate concept or not.

At October 5, 2008 at 7:59 PM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

Ty...I get mixed up on which winscores are yours and which are Berri's.

I do know though that Berri probably wouldn't have traded for Richard Jefferson, calling him the most over-rated player in the NBA (or something like that)

And you've now got Bogut at the 19 hole as far as centers go.

Add in few winscore performers of any note on the roster, and it's clear those metrics would predict a 30-win or less season (has Berri made his predictions yet?)

So if this team rises up into the 42-45 win range, I think the analytic approach loses traction. If the Bucks win 30 games, it probably gains traction.

At October 7, 2008 at 9:11 PM, Blogger TCW said...

Paul, and everyone,

Seriously, never feel as though you have to hedge your comments or criticisms on this blog to spare the authors' feelings. I'm not a prima donna know it all. I'm just a sports junkie who's curious. Besides, the policy here is "you read the blog, you got a right to boo." And more than that, this is a sports blog concerning -- lets face it -- a relatively unpopular team -- and if it ever want aspires to get out of the sticks, I have to up the juice on some of the debates and that means attracting the haters and that means taking some shots in the stomach from time to time. I'm a big boy. I can take them. But thanks anyways.



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