Friday, August 27, 2010

2009-10 Player Review: Amir Johnson

Next on the list of players to be reviewed is Amir Johnson:

Johnson has an impressive history of past performance, albeit in relatively limited minutes (last season was the first in which he surpassed 1000 minutes played). Also of note, despite having already played for five seasons in the NBA, Johnson was the last player to be drafted directly out of high school and is only 23 years old. Given that he is so young and has been so productive in the past, I've projected him to have a WP48 of 0.200 next year. With Johnson, though, the question isn't about efficiency or productivity; the question is how many minutes he will play:

As you can see, several aspects of Johnson's game translate rather prominently to these statistics: he is a low-volume, high efficiency player, a poor free-throw shooter, an excellent rebounder, blocker, and possession-getter...and someone who fouls at a ridiculously high rate and has trouble staying on the court. However, if Amir fouls at the same 8.4PF/48min rate next season, he would still be able to play just over 34 minutes a game before he fouls out (if Jay Triano isn't afraid of foul trouble). And 34 minutes/game should be perfectly fine for the Raptors, who will be looking to get rookie Ed Davis some playing time. Playing Davis the remaining 14 minutes/game over the course of 82 games would give the rookie 1148 minutes for the season - enough to see what Davis has to offer.

 - Devin.

Fake Trades with the Nuggets

A while back Andres wrote a post on his blog detailing some trades he'd like to see the Nuggets make as they deal with the Carmelo Anthony situation. One of his scenarios involved the Raptors:

Trade to Toronto for Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson
  • Jose Calderon (0.141 WP48 0.111 WS48 16.5 PER 0.111)
  • Amir Johnson (0.168 WP48 0.150 WS48 16.7 PER)
On talk radio the other night I heard a suggestion was to re-sign Melo and send him to Toronto as punishment for torturing us. I love it, so why not start it this season? The issue is we’d have to wait until December 15th for Amir’s contract to be tradeable. It is doubtful Melo would want to resign in Toronto. It’s also unlikely Toronto wants another star that’s going to leave. Also odds are Calderon will be gone by then. All that said, this would be my favorite trade to take place (with apologies to Devin)

I think it goes without saying that I didn't like this scenario. In response, I'm going to come up with some more palatable options for the Raptors:

  1. Nuggets send Carmelo Anthony to the Raptors for Marcus Banks, Reggie Evans, and Andrea Bargnani
  2. Nuggets send Anthony, Ty Lawson, and Renaldo Balkman to the Raptors for Banks, Evans, Bargnani, and DeRozan
  3. Nuggets send Anthony, Lawson, Balkman, and Nene to the Raptors for Banks, Evans, Bargnani, DeRozan, and Calderon
  4. Nuggets send Anthony, Lawson, Balkman, Chris Andersen, and J.R. Smith to the Raptors for Banks, Evans, Bargnani, DeRozan, and Calderon
Let me stress that none of these trade are rumoured or likely to happen - they are simply wishful thinking on my part. And in two months, when my wishful thinking can start to include Barbosa and David Andersen, there will be more fantasy options available.

 - Devin.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2009-10 Player Review: Jarrett Jack

For this 2009-10 player review, let's take a look at the player who is likely to be the Raptors starting PG going forward, Jarrett Jack:

While Jack has a history of solid production, last year was definitely a career year for him. Up until this past season, Jack had only had one above-average year (although admittedly he was very close in 2007-08). This means that, although his 5 year average WP48 and total WP48 look just about average, they have been skewed somewhat by last year's very good production. Going forward, it is possible that last year was somewhat of an outlier and that his WP48 will be closer to average (0.100) next year, but I'm going to be optimistic and hope that Jack has actually improved; I have projected a WP48 of 0.140 for Jack next year.

Here are Jack's specfic statistics from the past two seasons:

Looking at these two seasons side by side, at first glance it's rather remarkable that Jack's 09-10 season was more than twice as productive as his 08-09 season, given how similar most of the numbers were. Last season he saw small declines in rebounds, steals, net possessions, and blocks, and small increases in TOs and PFs (which decrease productivity), but greatly improved his shooting efficiency and assists. As long as Jack is able to maintain these increases (or to make up for any decreases by improving in other areas), Jack will be as productive next season.

 - Devin.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2009-10 Player Review: Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan

For our next 2009-10 player review, as requested, let's take a look at the Young Gunz, Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan:

Weems doesn't have that much of a player history beyond what he did last year. In very limited minutes in Denver he was not very productive, but this past season he neared the production of anaverage player. At only 24 years old, it is likely that he will improve on last year's WP48, but we'll have to wait and see how much; I have conservatively projected him to reach a WP48 of 0.080 next season.

DeRozan's rookie season was rather underwhelming - he was about as close to producing 0 wins as Weems was to producing at an average level (so...not that good). But he is only 21 years old, and should improve next season to an even greater degree than Weems. I have projected DeRozan to reach a WP48 of 0.050, but young players can improve by leaps and bounds, so his improvement could be more pronounced. Then again, DeRozan wasn't that productive in college.

Here are the advanced stats:

Weems is clearly the better of the two; his shooting, points scored, rebounding, stealing, blocking, assisting, and fouling are better than DeRozan. DeRozan has the edge in FT attempts, TOs, and, consequently, a slight edge in net possessions. Neither player should be spending much time at SF, but DeRozan may be spending some time there this season.

For the Raptors to be putting so much hope into these two players is somewhat unsettling to me as a Raptor fan. Neither is likely to be producing at a "star" level (WP48 of 0.200) - let alone "superstar" level (WP48 of 0.300) - this upcoming season. Rather than retain these players (and, in the case of Weems, overpay to retain him next offseason) and hope for improvement from within, the Raptors should look to replace them with players who have a history of efficient production.

 - Devin.

Friday, August 20, 2010

2009-10 Player Review: Jose Calderon

For our second 2009-10 player review, let's heed Andres' (over at Nerdnumbers) request and take a look at Jose Calderon. Here is his summary table:

As you can see, Calderon has a history of good performance. The fact that Bryan Colangelo wants to get rid of him is puzzling to me. Yes, his production has decreased for three straight years, but injuries were partly to blame last year. In my projections for next season, I have Calderon performing at a WP48 of 0.210, which is somewhere between last year's 0.154 and the previous year's 0.245.

What changed for Calderon these last three years? Let's take a look at some more specific statistics from the past three seasons:

Wins for average PG calculated from a WP48 of 0.100 over a season of 1968 minutes

Calderon is still an efficient shooter, but he has been getting worse each of the past three years. His free throw percentage dropped from an all-time NBA record of 98.1% in 2008-2009 to a strangely average 79.8% this past year. Rebounds, steals, and assists were all down, and fouls were up (not a good thing). While his shooting efficiency is down, FG and FT attempts, as well as points, have been rising. It's almost as if Calderon has been neglecting to do all the things that made him an efficient player in favour of taking more shots - or maybe his injuries cost him some athleticism and forced him to take more jumpshots. Either way, here's hoping Calderon returns to form next season.

I'm also hoping Calderon will at least split the PG minutes with Jack this upcoming season, but I'm betting that he'll be traded either before the season starts or a few games into the season. If Calderon does get traded, it would be nice if he gets traded for someone who is productive (and not, say....Carmelo Anthony), but the Raptors (and Bryan Colangelo) haven't had the best track record lately when it comes to personnel moves.

 - Devin.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time to Make a Trade

So, following up on my last post, the Raptors have too many guards and need to make a trade. I've put together a list of players that I think might help the Raptors; to get on this list, each player had to fit certain criteria:
  1. A 2009-10 WP48 of 0.140 or above, with three exceptions (which I will explain below)
  2. A Wins/$Million ratio of 0.5 or above, with three (technically 5) exceptions (which I will explain below)
  3.  Shouldn't be older than 30, with one exception (which I will explain below)
  4. Can't be considered a "star" (from a media standpoint)
Why should all the players on the list have a 2009-10 WP48 of 0.140 or above? The Raptors have a couple of players around the 0.050 - 0.100 range, including some starters. In order to improve, they need to trade several of those types of players for a single, more efficient player.

Why should all the players on the list have a Wins/$Million ratio of 0.5 or above? Much less than that and the Raptors won't get good value for their money. The Raptors are over the cap and need to find some inexpensive talent.

Why not older than 30? After 30, players have a tendency to fall of a cliff in terms of production. The younger the player, the better.

Why not a media "star"? If they are considered "star" talent they will be hard to trade for. The players on this list shouldn't be all that difficult to obtain through trade.

With that out of the way, here is the list, sorted by Wins/$Million:

Now, onto the exceptions:
  • The three players on the list didn't manage a WP48 of 0.140 or above last season, and they are James Singleton, Jonas Jerebko, and Taj Gibson. Jerebko and Gibson are rookies who will probably improve (and are on very cheap contracts). Singleton has a history of performing much better than he did last year (although he is starting to near 30). Regardless, all would be welcome additions to the team.
  • The three players who didn't manage a Wins/$Million of 0.5 or above were Andris Biedrins, Andrei Kirilenko, and Tayshaun Prince. Kirilenko and Prince are in the final year of their deals, and as such, have extra value. Any trade involving those players would save some long-term money. Biedrins is a different story - last year he was injured and didn't play his usual number of minutes. Biedrins is very productive, plays centre (bonus), and will only be 24 next season. If the Warriors are dumb enough to let him go (and they probably are) he would be a very valuable player.
  • The one exception to "don't trade for anyone over 30" is Nazr Mohammed. Last season Mohammed was very productive (WP48 of 0.199) for the Bobcats, although I don't expect him to reach that level again this year; he will probably fall back around 0.100 next season. But he does have a one year contract and plays centre.
That being said, there are some players on here who will be difficult to pry away from their teams - Gibson, Jerebko, and (maybe) Iguodala are probably such players. There are also some players who may not maintain their value next season  - Mohammed, Ridnour, Singleton, Moon, and Prince are such players. Then again, they might end up having a few more great seasons.

Here are the Raptors guards:

I've ordered them from most tradeable (top) to least tradeable (bottom).

Barbosa is rather expensive and isn't likely to contribute very many wins next year. He has a reputation as a productive player and should be easy to trade. Banks isn't expected to play many minutes or be very productive, but he has an expiring contract and could prove to be useful to a team looking for cap relief. DeRozan is a young, exciting player who should improve next season. Unfortunately, he probably will still be a below-average player. Teams looking for young athletes with "potential" and "upside" may be interested in him.

Kleiza is a bit of a mystery because his contract details haven't been reported yet (as far as I can tell). He's probably signed to around $4 000 000 - $5 000 000, and at his rate of production that's somewhat reasonable. But the Raptors need to obtain more players with WP48s in the 0.140 or higher range; if he must be traded, then so be it.

Jack has a very reasonable contract and is rather efficient. Weems is close to an average player in terms of production, but he is in the last year of a very inexpensive contract and shouldn't be traded. Calderon - despite the rather large contract - is a very efficient player. If he can stay healthy, he will be well worth the money.

Possible trades
None of these are rumored - or even likely - I'm just throwing them out there, in no particular order:
  1. Barbosa to Bobcats for Nazr Mohammed
  2. Trade exception to Warriors for Andris Biedrins
  3. Banks and Jack to Warriors for Biedrins and Reggie Williams
  4. Barbosa to Cavs for Anderson Varejao
  5. Banks, Reggie Evans, and DeRozan to 76ers for Andre Iguodala
  6. Jack, Evans, and DeRozan to Bulls for Luol Deng and Taj Gibson
  7. Banks, Evans, and DeRozan to Pistons for Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko
  8. Banks, Evans, and DeRozan to Kings for Samuel Dalembert
  9. Evans, DeRozan, Jack, and Wright to the Kings for Samuel Dalembert and Omri Casspi
  10. Calderon, DeRozan, and Wright to the Magic for Jameer Nelson and Marcin Gortat
  11. DeRozan to the Blazers for Rudy Fernandez and Jeff Pendergraph
  12. Calderon, Banks, and Evans to the Jazz for Andrei Kirilenko
In a couple of months - once players who signed new contracts over the summer are able to be traded - there will be many more opportunities for the Raptors to improve via trade. Let's hope that the Raptors make some wise choices this time around.

 - Devin.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another updated team projection

Just noticed that I still haven't included Linas Kleiza in my team projections. So here is the current team projection:

Trying to fit another G/F into the mix really makes it obvious that the Raptors are planning to trade away one of their guards, because right now the minute distribution doesn't really make any sense. If they trade away Calderon - as I expect -  the Raptors will be losing a significant number of wins. It would be better to package a couple of players - any one of Weems, DeRozan, Barbosa, Kleiza, and Banks (expiring contract) - to get one more productive player.

In the next post I will have a more detailed list of some players the Raptors might want to target.

 - Devin.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2009-10 Player Review: Andrea Bargnani

For our first 2009-10 player review, let's take a look at Andrea Bargnani. Here is his summary table:

Bargnani's first two years were dreadful, particularly his 2007-08 season, when he produced -3.84 wins. He showed some signs of improvement during the 2008-09 season, but any progress was lost after this year. Charitably, I have predicted a WP48 of -0.010 for next season, but given his age (he's turning 25 in October) and past performance, the reality for next year could be even worse.

Why is Il Mago such an inefficient player? Let's compare him to an average PF and an average C, and throw in Troy Murphy as a comparison. Why Troy Murphy? Murphy is the player that Bargnani was supposed to be:

Average stats have been "borrowed" from The Wages of Wins. All stats are per 48min.

As you can see, Bargnani is actually above-average when it comes to shooting efficiency, FG attempts, points scored, TOs, and PFs. Where Bargnani falls short is FT attempts, assists, and especially net possessions (Reb + Stl - TO). To quote Bill Walton, Bargnani is a terrrrrrrible rebounder. He barely manages to out-rebound an average SF (7.6 Reb/48), despite the fact that he is 7ft tall. By contrast, Troy Murphy is an excellent rebounder (and a better shooter).

Bargnani is a 7ft tall player who plays PF and C. In order to improve his efficiency, he has to start rebounding like a PF or a C, because his numbers are compared to all the other PFs and Cs in the league, nearly all of whom are better rebounders. Rebounding adds possessions to a team; possessions are very valuable.

Next season, I'm penciling Bargnani in as the Raptors starting centre due to his height, size, and the fact that it is very likely he will be defending opposing teams' centres. Unless the Raptors trade or sign someone else, Bargnani will be the Raptors' centre. If that comes to pass, his WP48 and Wins Produced could be significantly worse than what I've included in my projections.

That concludes the first 2009-10 Player Review. I'll be taking requests for the next player review in the comments.

 - Devin.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Step in the Wright Direction?

As kind of a side-deal to the big four team trade that was all over the internet this Wednesday, the Hornets are reportedly shipping Julian Wright to the Raptors in exchange for Marco Belinelli. How does this look from the Raptors perspective?

Here are Belinelli's numbers:


And here are Wright's:

Julian Wright is a slight upgrade over Belinelli. Belinelli has never been a productive player, and at age 24, is not likely to become one in the future. While it seems like Wright has regressed a little bit over the last two years - let's hope that a change of scenery returns him back to his old self - he is a year younger and has been a productive player in the past. Overall this trade isn't likely to make any significant difference in the Raptors' win totals next year, but it is a step in the right direction. If the Raptors continue to make trades like this, perhaps there will be fewer unproductive players on the roster when training camp rolls around.

Combine this trade with the waiving of Dwayne Jones (expected in the next couple of days) and here is the updated projection for the Raptors' upcoming season:

Belinelli's projected minutes went to Wright, and the minutes Dwayne Jones was using were split between Weems and DeRozan. Despite the changes, the Raptors still figure to win around 35-36 wins.

 - Devin.

Canadian Connection

The idea and data for this post have been gracefully donated by Andres Alvarez over at Nerdnumbers.

Let’s take a look at two mystery players let’s be unoriginal and call them “Player A” and “Player B”:

They seem remarkably identical in terms of production, don’t they? Player B was a little more consistent and offered two more wins and a better WP48, but the difference is quite small.

So what’s the big deal about this? The interesting thing is who these two players actually are. One of them is a former NBA MVP (guess which one). One of them is a former Toronto Raptor (guess which one). Give up? The answers are below.

“Player A” is Chris Bosh. “Player B” is Steve Nash. Bosh’s numbers are taken from his last four years in Toronto, while Nash’s numbers are from his last four years in Dallas (before he moved on to the Suns and won back-to-back MVP awards). This brings up several points in my mind:
  1. How amazing is Steve Nash? He was a pretty good player up until age 29, and then he really took off. The guy is 35 years old and still has a WP48 of around 0.300.
  2. How dumb is Mark Cuban for letting Nash leave? He decided that Nash was too risky to sign for $10 million at his age (30)...and then proceeded to sign Erick Dampier (then age 29) to a 7 year, $73 million contract in an effort to replace Nash’s production. Remember, Nash had just come off four years of production similar to Bosh's last four years in Toronto. Bryan Colangelo has certainly made his mistakes, but can you imagine BC walking away from the bargaining table at $10 million/year for four years?!?
  3. Bosh’s last four years were as good as the four years Nash had right before his first MVP award. Does Bosh have what it takes to improve to the degree that Nash did? Just for fun, let's compare Nash's number's with Bosh's:

If Bosh can improve on his production in Miami (which may be a distinct possibility, due to the impact that Lebron and Wade will have on his shooting frequency and efficiency), maybe Bosh's career will be able to approach the career of the greatest Canadian NBA player of all time.

If you want to see more about how great of a player Steve Nash has been over the course of his career, check out the work that Andres Alvarez has done over at Nerdnumbers.

 - Devin.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mission Statement

Thanks to an (of course) anonymous commenter, it has come to my attention that some people may misunderstand what it is I am trying to achieve with this blog.

So, what is it that I'm trying to do here? This blog will cover the performance of the Toronto Raptors using (almost exclusively) data from a Wins Produced perspective. Information on the Wins Produced methodology can be found at The Wages of Wins Journal.

What is it that this blog (and by extension, me) is not trying to do? This blog will post very little (if any) novel ways of looking at basketball statistics, and by that, I mean that all the statistical methods that will be used on this blog will have already been developed by someone else. I am not an expert in the field of statistics; I have taken (and passed with flying colours, thank you) university classes on statistics and excelled in math during my formative years, but I will not pretend to hold expertise when I do not. Now, just because I am not an "expert", that does not mean I am ignorant to statistical arguments. As a general rule, I try to make sure that nothing that comes out of my mouth (or my fingers) is stupid, and I do my homework before I say something. That being said, if you ever see me write something that isn't completely true, let me know via comments.

But please, rather than assuming complete incompetence, give me the benefit of the doubt and assume instead that I was simply being lazy and/or careless. While those are not necessarily the best qualities either, we can all admit to having lazy and careless moments on occasion.

 - Devin.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Projections for the 2010-11 NBA season

Without further ado, here are my projections for next season:
The projected WP numbers are based on a very complicated formula....Well, actually, I averaged each player's yearly WP for the last 5 seasons, calculated their total WP over the last 5 seasons, and then used that data to come up with my own educated...projections. Guess wouldn't be an appropriate word in this context, because WP tends to be relatively stable over time, but yes, my projections include a tiny bit of "guessing".

The projected minutes is where it gets interesting. The Raptors aren't exactly renowned for their player usage, and they have several players who are interchangeable. My projected starters are in bold in the chart above. Note that I project Andrea Bargnani to be the starting centre - not Amir Johnson. Calderon and Jack split the PG minutes, but either could be designated as the starter.

There is also the matter of the rookies. How well and how many minutes will they play? Based on his college performance, I've projected Ed Davis to be an average NBA player in his first year. Based on the playing time the Raptors gave DeMar DeRozan last year, I'm predicting that Davis should see around 1600 minutes of playing time. Solomon Alabi does not project to have a good season, and I doubt that he will see much court time this year.

So, without Bosh (and Turkoglu), the Raptors project to win around 35-36 games. If rookie Ed Davis has a good season and/or the Raptors pick up a few "lucky" wins, they might actually sneak into the playoffs as an 7th or 8th seed.

In the coming days I will start posting my individual player "reviews" for the upcoming season, where I will discuss each player in greater detail.

 - Devin.