Bucks Diary

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Total Win Contribution Boxscore from last night's Bucks exhibition

I've discovered a quick way to develop a serious headache. Create a Total Win Contribution boxscore by reconstructing an entire game using only an NBA.com "Play-by-Play" transcript as your guide.

Nevertheless, I like doing them because I think they provide extremely useful insight to Bucks fans. It is one of the few methods available to hold players accountable on both ends of the basketball court. In that way, it gives a complete assessment of each player's full contribution to the game's outcome.

TWC is also playing time neutral. I find that useful because I have a tendency to disregard the contributions -- either negative or positive -- of players who play only a few minutes in any particular game. Yet those players can still make a very large impact on the game's outcome. TWC helps to quantify that impact.

Here are my notes from last night's exhibition:

1. Redd gives it back on defense
If you look only at his Win Score productivity (or, what I call "Offensive Win Contribution"), Michael Redd appears to have had an above average game last night. However, if you include the production of his counterpart opponents (the guys he covered throughout the night), that impression changes dramatically. Redd's counterparts outproduced him decisively. As a result, Redd had an overall negative impact on the Bucks in last night's game.

2. Bogut vs. an actual opposition center
The presence of a real live counterpart NBA center on Golden State's side caused an inversion of Andrew Bogut's Total Win Contribution from the last exhibition game. If you remember, in the first Chinese exhibition game, Bogut had an unbelievably positive Total Win Contribution. But, in that contest, the Warriors regular center, Andres Biedrens, did not play. Instead, in typical Don Nelson style, the Warriors went with a collection of small forwards (Kurz) and power forwards (Hendrix) in the center spot. Those replacements produced next to nothing, and they could not stop Bogut or even harass him on the other end. His numbers reflected that. But the story was much different last night... Bogut was destroyed by Biedrens (and others) on both ends, and it REALLY hurt the Bucks cause.

3. The old RJ may be gone for good
Richard Jefferson continues to struggle offensively, and its beginning to look as though his last two seasons with the Nets (in both of which his offensive efficiency declined dramatically) represented harbingers rather than aberrations. Of course, last night his defense (or rather what I call "defense" -- its actually more accurately described as his "Opponent Win Score Prevented" I guess) was much improved over the first Chinese exhibition. Sure, that's partially the result of fewer minutes played by counterpart Corey Maggette as well as the total absence of sometime counterpart Kelenna Azubuike, but nevertheless it was an improvement. Still, he hasn't had a good offensive game yet this preseason, and that is really troubling.

4. Lue did a lot of damage
Tyronn Lue played only a few minutes last night, but he did severe damage to the Bucks chances for victory. A player should have a -0.570 Total Win Contribution when he only consumes 5.0% or less of the team's total playing time, yet somehow Lue did last night.

Here's how. His producivity did not compare well to the average player at his position, point guard. In fact, in the 12 minutes of action Lue had last night, the average NBA point guard would have produced at least 1.7 net positive outcomes. Last night Lue produced -3.5 net positive outcomes.

You can see that by examining his statline. Last night Lue scored 4 points, but he needed to take 5 shots and 2 free throws to get that amount. Meanwhile he turned the ball over once, had no rebounds, no steals, no blocks, 3 assists, and 4 personal fouls.

As outlined in the Wages of Wins, NBA basketball games are decided by three things: Possessions, Crimes, and Points. Last night Lue used up 7 possessions (5 shots, 2 frows, and 1 turnover), while creating zero (0 rebounds, 0 steals). He also committed 4 "crimes" for a total of 9 "costly events", and he only counterbalanced that by producing 4 points and 3 assists, for a gross total of 5.5 valuable events, which left him with a net total of -3.5 positive events.

Thus, in 12 minutes Lue produced 5.2 fewer net positive events than the average NBA point guard would have produced in that same amount of floor time. Stretch that performance out over 48 minutes and you get a net deficit of 20.8 positive events (technically, 20.9). That's huge. And that kind of underproduction hurts much more than a cursory scanning of a traditional boxscore line would normally reveal (I'm speaking for myself here).

5. Joe Alexander: deceptively bad?
I'm worried that Joe Alexander is going to look deceptively productive. If he accomplishes that illusion, and he will if he continues to produce stat lines like he did last night, the vast majority of BucksNation will regard him as a net positive. That's dangerous. Its... what's the word I'm looking for? Subversive! That's it. It will subvert the Bucks chances at success.

That's because a "14 points on 7-for-13 shooting" night is widely considered a decent game. Yeah, that's okay for a shooting guard. But the Bucks employed -- Alexander for most of the night -- at power forward. In that role, he has to do better.

Alexander produced 1.3 points more per shot than the average power forward, but he produced nearly 4 rebounds per minute than the average power forward. And though he produced slightly more steals than the average power forward, he shot 4 fewer free throws (indicating he is not comfortable with physical play), blocked fewer shots, handed out fewer assists, and committed more turnovers.

All in all, his offense has been a net deficit all exhibition season. And his style of play indicates he will never produce like a true power forward. Yet I'm worried that's how the Bucks will continue to deploy him, and its going to gut them in the long run.

6. Moute at the 2: brilliant deployment!
On the other hand, there apparent decision to use Luc Moute as a shooting guard is a stroke of strategic brilliance. I think we were led to believe early on that he was a power forward. But the fact of the matter is, his predraft "standing reach" (8'7'') -- which I consider a player's "basketball height" -- does not even meet the NBA average for small forwards (8'8'') to say nothing of power forwards (8'10''). So he's at a disadvantage when he plays those two positions (but he is not at a weight disadvantage at either of those positions -- and I am beginning to believe weight is just as important as height in basketball -- but leave that point aside for now).

On the other hand, he's got a large advantage over the average NBA shooting guard (8'5''). So as long as Moute proves he can hang with shooting guards quickness, which he seems he can, the Bucks are smart to use him at that position.

7. Amber Alert: Have you seen this player?
If so, please contact your Milwaukee Bucks authorities, as he is presumed to be missing and is in grave danger of becoming permanently irrelevant.

I wondered at the beginning of preseason how Charlie Bell would fit into Skiles plans and whether he would be considered something of a redheaded stepchild because he was a Harris signee. Unless he didn't make the trip to China for health reasons that I am unaware of, I think I'm beginning to get my answer. He's been DNPed two nights in a row, while other players who have no chance of making the team (Ron "Richie Cunningham" Howard for instance) have gotten floor time.

We'll continue to follow that one.

8. Sessions makes his move... but did Skiles notice?
Ramon Sessions has clearly outplayed Tyronn Lue in the last few games, but he may not be leaving that impression with Coach Skiles. That's because in last night's game Sessions turned the ball over 5 times in his limited amount of action. And while he overcame that huge problem with the rest of his stat line, sometimes sore thumbs like turnovers just stick out in a coach's "Can I trust him?" memory bank.


At October 19, 2008 at 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another nice post, thanks. Bell didn't travel to China. He stayed home to rehab his surgically repaired ankle...which should have healed by now.

At October 19, 2008 at 10:51 AM, Blogger Joe said...

If you don't mind me asking, where do you find your "average point guard" stats or your "average power forward" stats?

I would really love to get my hands on that.

Thank you.



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