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.