Saturday, January 7, 2012

Season at a Glance (1/10)

It's been a number of months since my last post here, as most of my new stuff is being published on the Wages of Wins Journal. But there are some Raptor-related things I want to write about that aren't really suitable for that audience. After all, how many people care to read a regular review of the Raptors' season progress?

Speaking of regular, my plan is to post ten summaries this season, so each one will represent approximately 10% of the shortened season (which amounts to 6-7 games per summary).

So, how are the numbers after the team's first seven games?

Thanks to Patrick Minton's site, The NBA Geek, we now have an easy way of compiling player and team Wins Produced stats. It makes reviewing team progress really quite simple. For example, take a look at the site's Raptor page, and you'll come up with the following:

Patrick has almost everything you would want to look at all on one page! Right now there is a tiny problem with wins totals, but that should be fixed up shortly. Luckily, it's also quite simple to calculate, so here they are:
  • Jose Calderon: 1.8 wins
  • Ed Davis: 0.6 wins
  • Amir Johnson: 0.5 wins
  • Andrea Bargnani: 0.5 wins
  • DeMar DeRozan: 0.2 wins
  • James Johnson: 0.1 wins
  • Rasual Butler: 0.1 wins
  • Anthony Carter: 0.0 wins
  • Solomon Alabi: 0 wins
  • Jerryd Bayless: -0.0 wins
  • Jamaal Magloire: -0.1 wins
  • Gary Forbes: -0.1 wins
  • Leandro Barbosa: -0.6 wins
As I expected, the team is being led by Jose Calderon, Ed Davis, and Amir Johnson. Calderon is actually the 5th most productive player in the league so far. And as a nice bonus, Bargnani has actually managed to hover around average for the first seven games! Bringing up the rear is Leandro Barbosa, who is currently the 7th least productive player in the league. The number one least productive player so far? Not one of the usual suspects -- it's actually Lamar Odom, which is a reminder: beware the perils of small sample sizes. Many of these numbers will change significantly over the remainder of the season. After all, 90% of the games have yet to be played.

Want to look at individual players? Patrick has you covered there, too; just click on a player's name and you will be taken to their individual page. For example, here's Jose Calderon's page so far:

You can see all of Calderon's totals, plus a comparison against the average PG. Right now Calderon is playing 3.5 times better than an average PG. Why? He's above average in almost every statistical category. His shooting is looking far more Calderon-like than it has in the last couple of seasons; his rebounding is up; assists are well above average, as usual; his turnovers are at a ridiculously low level for a PG; his fouls are down too...the only areas where he is below average is blocking shots and getting steals.

There are only two other players I'd like to take a closer look at so far: Barbosa and Bargnani. Why has Barbosa been so bad, and why has Bargnani been so average?

Barbosa is still getting his points -- he's at 22.3 per 48 compared to an average SG's 20.4 -- but he's doing so rather inefficiently. An average SG shoots a TS% of 51.4, but Barbosa is only at 49.3 so far. At that percentage, Barbosa hurts the team every time he shoots the ball, and unfortunately he does so very often. He's also below average with respect to rebounds, assists, turnovers, blocks, steals, and fouls. Yes, Barbosa has been below average in every statistical category so far this season. While the small sample size may be a part of the problem, Barbosa's rebounding is in line with his historical numbers. As far as all the other categories go (including shooting), while I expect him to improve significantly over the course of the season, I'm almost certain that he will continue to remain below average. If he even makes it out of the red, that is.

Another guy still getting his points is Andrea Bargnani. And boy, is he ever! Right now he's at 30.7 per 48, which is much more than an average centre's 17.6 per 48. Sure, Bargnani takes a lot of shots to get his points -- 20.8 FGA/48 compared to an average centre's 14.0 FGA/48 -- but he's shooting incredibly efficiently right now. Bargnani's TS% is at 63.1; the average centre shoots a TS% of 53.7. At that efficiency level, every additional shot Bargnani takes helps his team. Unfortunately this mark is far above his historical levels. Bargnani's FG% is 54.1 right now; for his career, Bargnani has struggled to hit that number as a TS%. Remember what I said about small sample sizes? Bargnani is almost certain to begin shooting like his normal self again. And when that happens, the rest of Bargnani's game won't help him, because he is currently below average with respect to rebounding, turnovers, blocks, and steals.

Right now the team as a whole is on pace to post a 28-38 record. As everyone regresses back to their normal levels, I expect to see that number shrink towards 19-20 wins.

- Devin

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