Ah, another Barngani post. Whenever I feel like this site hasn't been getting much traffic lately, I know I can always count on a good ol' Bargnani post to bolster the numbers.
Last time I pointed out that not only should Bargnani not be considered an all-star this season, but that he shouldn't even be on the all-star ballot. Predictably, there were several negative and insulting comments left on that post, but thankfully, there were also some thoughtful comments, including this one by Eugene:
The more I look at bargnani's play this year and look at the relevant stats, the more I have come to a conclusion that is opposite to what has been generally suggested on this blog. That is to say: it is not the case that wp48 numbers show that, contrary to naive opinion, bargnani is an astonishingly bad NBA player. Rather, the fact that bargnani is a reasonably decent NBA player shows that there is something very seriously wrong with wins produced.
This is especially made clear when you look at the raptors front court tandem from earlier in the year. Bargs and Evans played a lot of minutes together, and according to wp48 bargs was mind-shatteringly awful while, simultaneously, evnas was the 4th best player in the NBA. What this demonstrates to me is that wp48 does a very bad job of allocating credit for wins. If you average their wp48 numbers, the average value makes sense, but wp48 gives Evans an unreasonable amount of credit and bargnani an unfair share of blame.Eugene: that was a constructive comment - thanks for leaving it. But it's a common criticsm that us WP writers hear all the time; Arturo of Arturo's Silly Stats has written a bunch of stuff on it lately. Rather than examine WP methodology - I'll leave that Arturo - let's take a look at Bargnani's year-by-year numbers. If the numbers show that Bargnani has significantly improved his playing this year, that might be an indication that WP may have flaws. And if the numbers show that Bargnani has become more productive with Evans out, that might also be a sign that WP is flawed.
First let's look at Bargnani's numbers for the season. In the following table I've compared the stats of each of Bargnani's seasons, his career stats, and his career stats before this season, to the average numbers posted by the average centre and the average power forward (and no, we are not getting into another debate about which position Bargnani plays; he is clearly a PF who spends at least some time playing C). In addition to the things I normally look at, I've also included PER (which I do not endorse, because it rewards players for taking addtional shots, even when those shots miss), Win Shares per 48 (which I do not endorse, although it is much better than PER), and PPG. Here's the table:
What do the numbers say? Of the three comprehensive stats - WP48, WS/48, and PER, all of them say that Bargnani is less productive this season as compared to last season. Let me repeat: all three say that Bargnani is playing worse this season.
So what's changed? While he must be congratulated for getting to the line more often this year (2.5 more FTA per 48 minutes over last year - quite an achievement), making a higher percentage of his free-throws, and incrementally increasing his assists and steals (which remain close to his career averages and continue to be below average), his shooting efficiency has taken a dive, his turnovers have nearly doubled, and his already paltry rebounding numbers have fallen. His usually decent block numbers have decreased quite a bit, and his fouls - while still better than average - have increased.
Hmmm...am I forgetting to mention something? Oh yes: PTS, and PPG. Both have increased substantially. Unfortunately, given that Bargnani's shooting efficiency has decreased this year, he requires more shot attempts to get those points, and each missed shot hurts the team. Sure, he's making more shots and scoring more points, but all those additional missed shots fall into the hands of the opposing teams, which use the extra possessions to score more of their own points. Right now, Bargnani's shooting efficiency is just barely above the average numbers for power forwards and centres, and coming from a guy for whom shooting is supposed to be a strength, that's not a good sign.
Bargnani is a "scorer" who doesn't score very efficiently, one who also falls short in almost every other area of the game. Although his rebounding is particularly poor this year, he has always been a poor rebounder. Rather than hypothesizing that Evans (and Bosh before him) are "stealing his rebounds", perhaps the simpler explanation - that Bargnani simply can't or won't rebound - is the best one? After he's had a few more games without Evans, I'll take a look at his rebounds before and after Evans went down with injury, and I suspect that there will be little difference between the numbers.
After all, with Evans out, all that means is that someone else will be "stealing" rebounds away from him, right? Eventually, one must accept that Bargnani is simply a terrible, terrible rebounder.
Finally, let me address the following anonymous comment:
Wins Produced and defensive capabilities have absolutely nothing to do with making the all-star games. The majority of fans will never vote based on that, and I guarantee Coaches don't break down WP numbers to make decisions in their voting.
It all comes down to who they 'feel' deserves it (although from my experience name recognition tends to be paramount). While more hardcore fans will base decisions on advanced numbers, don't expect an all-star game, that is for fun and completely irrelevant, to be based on that.
If he does make the all-star game (and I'm not saying he will) it will be completely based on his scoring.
I'm also going to laugh my ass off if shaq gets voted to the all-star game by either the fans or coaches.While it is true that the majority of fans do not take defensive capabilities (and certainly WP) into account when they are filling out their all-star ballots, that doesn't make it right. I think it would be better if fans learned to recognize more productive players and rewarded them accordingly. Of course, certain defensive players - like four-time all-star Ben Wallace - do manage to make get fan recognition, so the argument that fans completely ignore defensive is not quite accurate.
It has been shown that, time and time again, fans, coaches, and most members of the media use scoring to determine awards - no question about that. We also know that certain big-name players - Jordan (Wizards-era), Shaq (post Lakers), Vince Carter (most of the time), Yao Ming (while injured), and others - get voted in all the time, even when they don't deserve it. We also always hear arguments about how "entertaining", "exciting", and "fun" some players are to watch, and how that makes them qualify for the all-star game. Here's a shocking idea: how about the most productive players in the league make the all-star game?
Furthermore, do we really need to create all-star ballots in the first place? How many people actually fill out the physical ballots at arenas? I'm certain that most of the balloting happens online. Why not open up the online ballot to every single player in the league, removing the need to write players in? When using an online ballot, it's not like the NBA has to worry about printing costs and must keep the list of players short.
The team stats for week six will be up in a couple of days - I'm having computer problems at the moment. Also in store over the next little bit is the Raptors' all-time wins produced leaders, analysis that will be Powered by Nerd Numbers.