Wins Produced per 48 Minutes (WP48) – The number of wins a player produces in 48 minutes of play. 0.100 is average and 0.250 is considered the “superstar threshold”. A player a WP48 of 0.000 produces no wins, and any player with a negative WP48 produces a negative number a wins (or, if you prefer, a positive number of losses)
Over on TrueHoop today, Zach Harper writes that we shouldn't call Andrea Bargnani a bust just yet:
In the last 10 drafts, Oden, Andrea Bargnani and Kwame Brown are probably the only players considered a bust. While Oden’s injury issues and Kwame’s issues with being able to play NBA basketball at a high level are the reasons for their bust label, trying to determine why Bargnani is a bust might be as simple as figuring out if he’s even been playing the correct position.
The reason I bring this up is because of the reputation Bargs has garnered in his short career. Is he simply a case of Kwame Brown, in which he’s just not good enough? Or is he more like an Andrew Bogut-type of first pick that was playing out of position early on and needed the right fit to start to blossom?
And additionally, Zach Lowe of The Point Forward, after talking at length about how poorly Bargnani has played thus far in his career, writes:
Still, through four seasons, Bargnani has proved to have a single valuable skill: an ability to score from the perimeter, both off the catch and off the dribble. That’s a great and unique thing for a 7-footer to be able to do, but it will not be enough anymore. The Raptors need more from Bargnani, and it’s unclear if he can give it to them.
I have already taken a look at Bargnani's production before, but sure, let's go ahead and revisit this issue.
"Bargnani is not a bust"
A first overall pick is expected to not only be a good player, but a great player, and, hopefully, better than any other player in that year's draft. Although NBA teams don't always get it right, the productivity of first overall picks is much higher than the productivity of any other pick. Arturo Galletti has done a lot of work on the productivity of draft picks, and he determined that the average WP48 of the first pick (for the years 1977-2006) is 0.169. The next most valuable pick is the third pick (yes, ahead of the second) at a WP48 of 0.133. The best player in the draft usually has a WP48 around 0.278, and the 20th best player usually has a WP48 of around 0.048. With that in mind, who were the last 12 first overall picks in the NBA draft (12 because John Wall and Blake Griffin have yet to play in a regular season game), and how productive have they been over the course of their careers?
Hmm. So Bargnani doesn't really compare very well to those players, or to what we should come to expect from a first overall pick? Who would've known. Bargnani and Bogut are not even remotely comparable (Bogut has almost 34 wins on him). In his first four years, he actually managed to produce a number of losses even greater than the number of wins that Kwame (who is popularly - and deservedly - regarded as a bust) produced in his first four seasons. You think that's bad? It gets even worse for Bargnani when you consider that:
- Bogut, Howard, and James all improved significantly in the years following their 4th season
- Rose and Oden improved on their rookie years during their second seasons
- Blake Griffin is on the cusp of what appears to be an excellent rookie season
- Without playing a single game, Griffin and Wall have been more productive than him
Nope, I think I'm going to have to pull a Bill Walton again: Andrea Bargnani was a terrrrrrible first overall pick. In fact, the expectation to be productive magnifies his lack of production, and so Arturo ranks him the tenth worst pick - at any draft position - of the last 30 years.
Let me let reiterate: the choice to select Bargnani as the first overall pick was worse than every other draft decision made in the last 30 years, with the exception of the drafting of the following players:
- Maurice Taylor
- Lancaster Gordon
- Tom Hammonds
- Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
- Doug Smith (no, not that Doug Smith)
- Brad Sellers
- Joe Wolf
- Dajuan Wagner
- Nikoloz Tskitishvili
- Adam Morrison
"Bargnani has a single valuable skill"
Basketball is about scoring more points than the other team, something I've written about before (and you should probably read that if you haven't already). In order to win, you have to be good at both scoring and preventing your opponent from scoring. Andrea is not good at preventing others from scoring; he doesn't rebound well, pass the ball well, or steal well, and is around average when it comes to getting blocks. He doesn't turn the ball over. His defense is below average; he's improved over the years and isn't as bad as he used to be, but no one is going to mistake him for Dwight Howard. The one advantage Bargnani has over other bigs is his shooting, as he is above average with regards to Adj.FG%, FT%, FG attempts, and points scored.
The problem is that Bargnani's "unique and valuable skill" of perimeter shooting...isn't all that valuable. If you want to score points, there are two areas on the court you should be shooting from: 1) the immediate basket area and 2) the three-point line. All those deep twos and midrange shots? Inefficient. That's because the farther you get from the basket, the harder is is to make your shots, and the lower your percentages get. The reason why three-point shots are useful is because of the extra point. If you are shooting from somewhere other than the immediate basket area, it should be from the three-point line.
How have Bargnani's shot attempts changed over the years?
As you can see, shot attempts increased everywhere on the court, except for 3pt shots. The shots that increased the most were <10ft and 16-23ft shots (also of note: his percentages for shots other than threes and layups were abnormally high. I expect that, while part of the increase may be due to true improvement, most of it was due to random luck). He takes deep twos at almost the same rate that he takes threes; if you are going to be taking long-range shots, why not take a few steps back and go for the extra point? So, while Bargnani is a good shooter, he'd be even better if he started taking more threes and driving to the basket more often, and cut back on the other types of shots as much as possible.
And I think that's the reason why deep-shooting big men are so rare: big men are the tallest players on the court, and as such, are able to park themselves right next to the basket and score a bunch of easy points. A big man who doesn't do this is wasting his key talent - being tall. The big guys on your team must be able to rebound and get easy points next to the basket and Andrea doesn't do either of those things. Until he learns how to do those things, he will forever be an inefficient, unproductive player.
- All basic NBA stats, including play time, salary, and age, are from Basketball-Reference
- Shooting data by location are from Hoopdata
- The Wins Produced (WP and WP48) metric is the work of Berri and Schmidt. I use the Automated Wins Produced site, which is powered by data from Basketball-Reference and Yahoo Sports and put together by Andres Alvarez.
- Positional averages (for PPS, etc) are from The Wages of Wins.
- All of the draft data is the work of Arturo Galletti