Just to Make Matters Worse…

As of right this second, the Knicks are tied for the 8th spot in the NBA lottery (ties are broken with coin tosses) with Sacramento. They are a half game ahead of Charlotte (currently 7th) and a game behind Philadelphia (10th).

The Knicks’ remaining games:

At New Jersey
At Toronto
New Jersey
At Charlotte

You have to figure, with the current unit they’ve got playing (no Marbury, no Lee, no Q, no Balkman and no Crawford), they shouldn’t expect to win more than one of the last four.

It ultimately does not matter to the Knicks WHERE they end up in the lottery, as their draft pick was forfeited when they made their trade with the Bulls.

However, it is certainly a bit of an insult added to injury to see the Knicks fall in the lottery standings…

1. Memphis 19-60 .241
2. Boston 23-55 .295
3. Milwaukee 26-52 .333
4. Atlanta 29-49 .372
5. Seattle 31-48 .392
6. Portland 31-47 .397
7. Charlotte 32-47 .405
8. New York 32-46 .410
9. Sacramento 32-46 .410
10. Philadelphia 33-45 .423
11. Indiana 35-43 .449
12. Orlando 36-42 .462
13. New Orl/OKC 37-41 .474
14. LA Clippers 37-40 .481
15. New Jersey 37-40 .481
16. Golden State 38-40 .487

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103 thoughts to “Just to Make Matters Worse…”

  1. With trades, here is how the draft is looking, based on records through April 11 (pre-lottery drawing, obviously). The Knicks could realistically land anywhere from the 4th worst record to the 11th worst:

    1. Memphis
    2. Boston
    3. Milwaukee
    4. Phoenix (from Atlanta) ? top 3 protected
    5. Seattle
    6. Portland
    7. Charlotte
    8T. Chicago (from New York)
    8T. Sacramento
    8T. Minnesota**
    11. Philadelphia*
    12. Atlanta (from Indiana) ? top 10 protected
    13. New Orleans/OKC
    14. Los Angeles Clippers
    15. Detroit (from Orlando) ? top 5 protected (I saw somewhere else it’s top 10 protection)
    16. New Jersey
    17. Golden State
    18. Washington
    19. Los Angeles Lakers
    20. Philadelphia (from Denver) ? top 1 prot.
    21. Miami
    22. Charlotte (from Toronto via Cleveland) ? top 15 protected
    23. Phoenix (from Cleveland via Boston)? top
    10 protected
    24. New York (from Chicago)
    25. Utah
    26. Houston
    27. Detroit
    28. San Antonio
    29. Phoenix
    30. Philadelphia (from Dallas) ? top 7 protected

    * pick goes to Golden State if it?s not in the Top 15
    ** pick goes to Los Angeles Clippers if it?s not in the Top 10

  2. If we give up a #1 pick to Chicago there is nothing anyone can do about it. Its a poorly run franchise from the very top down. The best lesson to be learned is to not trade unprotected 1st rounders next time.

    We could be lottery bound 3 of the 4 next seasons, I’m afraid to know but do we have another unprotected in the future?
    …”just to make matters worse”

  3. We owe a pick to Utah, that’s protected until 2010.

    It’s protected through #23 next year and #24 in 2009.

  4. It was indefensible and undeniably foolish to send unprotected picks to Chicago, especially to as hatable a guy as Scott Skiles.

    Well, although you can’t call it a silver-lining, at least this draft appears to be shaping up as a fairly deep one. We should be able to find someone that can help us late in the first.

  5. Of course it depends on the specific player(s) available – and Team Isaiah has done a lot more scouting than I…

    …but I’d like to see us put together a package to move up higher. Think an offer of our 1st-rounder, Channing Frye and either Malik Rose or Crawford could get us in the top 12 or top 15?

  6. I’m probably the biggest Frye supporter around these parts and even I don’t think he has much value. Add that to Crawford coming off a major injury, and who would give up a pick for either of them?

    But it may not need to come to that if the *&(&*%&^%! Bulls would lose a few of these final games. I’d like our pick to be in the mid-to-high 20s.

  7. Isiah’s explanation before the Bulls game was that he didn’t think the Knicks would be that bad last year. Admirable but amateurish at best.

  8. No one thought they’d be that terrible. Who would have guessed that adding Larry Brown and Eddy Curry would mean getting 10 games worse?

    But, to state the obvious – what a stupid thing to do. It may be unlikely that a tornado will hit your house but you buy homeowner’s insurance, right? right?

    Dave –
    It may be wishful thinking, but Frye looked so good last year, I bet there are teams who still view him as a first-round talent. Offering him plus the current 1st-rounder (#24) is a package of two 1st-round picks. Of course Crawford is overpaid, but he has value, maybe to a team like New Orleans or the Clips (#13 & 14).

    Other teams, trying to escape salary cap hell, would prefer Rose’s expiring deal. Like, Minnesota (#10).

    …or Indiana (although to get us a draft pick, that would have to be a 3-team deal, or offer Lee instead of Frye and start talking about Jermaine O’Neal).

    Who knows? maybe Portland would bite, if we took on the extra years of Darius Miles, or a white elephant like Przybilla, still better than Jerome James. Maybe we could even snag Jarrett Jack in a Portland deal…

    I know Dolan said he wouldn’t take on extra contract years… easy for me to say, bc it’s not my money, but NYK can afford the extra salary more than anyone and we should use that advantage.

  9. “In what trade do we owe Utah a pick?”

    From the excellent site: http://www.nbadraft.net/

    Utah receives a 2007 New York first-round pick (top 24 protected in 2007, top 23 protected in 2008, top 22 protected in 2009 and unproteced in 2010) (Tom Gugliotta trade 021904) via Phoenix (Marbury trade) Phoenix receives a 2005 New York Knicks first-round pick. (010504 Marbury trade).

  10. “top 24 protected in 2007”

    whoa, so if Chicago ends up with a better record than Utah and Cleveland, we have no first round pick in this draft? that’s the first I heard of that possibility, maybe because there was no chance of it happening until recently. now that would be irritating.

  11. BrandonM –

    The Marbury trade. IIRC, Phoenix traded Eisley and two number 1 picks in a salary dump.

    As to being a deep draft -Philly with three number one picks (yeah one is Dallas’s) should really reap the benefits. Charlotte has two number ones also. That could be a lot of talent going to two teams who the Knicks will compete with for the playoffs next year.

  12. Phoenix has multiple picks as well, unless Atlanta moves up to the top 3. The rumor mill has them packaging the pick with Stoudemire or Marion or Diaw, to move up into the top 2.

    Isaiah needs to stop trying his luck in Chicago and try to cut some deals with Billy Knight or Kevin McHale.

    As far as our deal with Utah – even with a deep draft I’d rather give up this year’s pick than give it up later when we are closer to having a serious team and the pick is higher – in 2008, 2009 or 2010.

  13. Do the Knicks really need draft picks or do they now need a Veteran superstar?

    Isiah has stockpiled young talent. The young players have had an opportunity to play and develop. Plus they signed Randolph Morris – who has lottery talent, the Knicks really do not have to worry about Draft picks.

    There has been buzz about Alan Houston’s comeback. His 20 mil/ year comes off the books this August. When healthy he is one of the better shooters in the league.

    There are so many positives for the Knicks. The future is bright.

    Re:” Of course Crawford is overpaid”

    Caleb, overpaid as compared to what? Who would you rather have?

  14. Um, Crawford is overpaid relative to any shooting guard in the league who shoots better than 40% from the field and rebounds at a higher rate.

    That’s a pretty low percentage. And he doesnt make up for it from the 3-point line, where he shoots 34%.

    I would rather give Francis his minutes if he is healthy. Stevie actually has been our most productive guard after Q this year, although fire will rain down on me from hell for saying it. And Nate Robinson offers similar performance statistically, ((44fg% and 38 3pt % but lower FT% with roughly equivalent aux stats) at six million less per than Crawford. Not saying he is better than Crawford, who is a better defender, but Robinson has been more productive on a per minute basis from the WOW perspective.So its a fairly close comparison at the very least.

    If we could package Curry and Crawford for anyone who is above average at the center position that would be the best way to improve our team. With Mr mystery center and Francis, Q, Balkman, and Lee, we would have five above average players to throw out there. and one exceptionally productive player in Lee. That would be a 50 win team.

    Not going to happen though…

    Allan Houston was perhaps the most overrated basketball player in Knicks history. He did quite well in 99-00, when he shot 48% from the field, a considerable improvement on his career average. Other than that he was actually a very mediocre player, especially given his contract. He did very litte on the floor other than score, he was a very poor rebounder for his position with low assists and steals. And he will be 36 next week, so it’s sort of ridiculous to talk about him…

  15. Two articles — good Isiah and bad Isiah — in the NYT this week focusing on Curry and the winner of the Bulls/Knicks. Thomas was let go weeks into the trade for nothing and Sweetney is an incredibly poor fit for this team’s style. So it really comes down to Curry versus Tyrus Thomas and whoever the Bulls get this summer. On the latter, it’s a chance in 30 they’ll get top two, but they should get a decent contributor with size at a minimum. On the former, Thomas shows real on court promise but has some of the head case stuff going on prevalent among his generation a la your Francis and Starbury.

    Watching Curry this week against the Bulls struck me because of his size differential with the Bulls’ bigs. I forgot just how huge he is. On a more mature team that wins more frequently, he may be a huge contributor.

    Point is, neither team saved/killed their franchise with this deal.

  16. Here’s some perspective from Chicago. I think Curry Is a perfect example of a good player that should have played some college ball instead of rushing to the NBA. While he is a huge body, It’s taken so long to develop him that the pick that brought him to Chicago certainly would seem questionable.

    As for Tyrus Thomas, I am really impressed with his play as a rookie. He has good instincts and is proving to be an above average shot blocker in just his first year. I can only imagine Isaiah’s embarrassment if the Bulls luck out and get another high draft pick this year.

    As for the Bulls, they are a well coached team that overachieves and is playing very unselfish basketball right now. I do have to say I kind of miss the old days of the Bulls-Knicks rivalry. The Garden was such a tough place to play that when the Bulls were reigning it made it worth that much more, having won those playoff games in New York.

  17. I actually agree, more or less, with Owen.

    The easy comparison is Nate Robinson – similar strengths and weaknesses to Crawford, but better in every area at 10 percent of the cost.

    I know Francis has his positives, but he is a guy whose game seems to destroy his teammates. I hope we send him home until the 2009 trade deadline.

  18. As for a bright future – this is a .500 team for the next few years. Unless we pull off a surprise trade that really helps us, or a #24 pick turns into a star, the ceiling with this roster is less than 50 wins. It could easily stick at 35.

    Aside from the guys on rookie contracts, there is not a player on this team you could GIVE away at their current contract. So, trades are going to be difficult. We have some young players likely to improve, but they’re not THAT young… and some of the key players, like Marbury, are on the decline. So I don’t see how this current group will ever contend, no matter what Isaiah does.

  19. Owen/Caleb

    Whatever you are smoking, pass it this way.

    There is no way you can say Nate’s value can be compared to Crawford. For you to even muster the strength to say that undermines your sanity. Anyone can see that Nate has caused the Knicks to lose several games this year because of

    1. not knowing the offense
    2. blown defensive assignments
    3. hoisting bad shots

    Crawford has the been the glue on a team that was/has falling apart. As I have said many times on the post. Jamaal is a talent in the making. Enjoy it. The final product is going to be special.

    Your wages of wins cannot measure the intangibles a player brings to a team. Nor can it measure team chemistry. Some factors that play a big part in determining a players success.

  20. If the guy holding this team together is one who doesn’t make any noticeable positive impact on either end of the floor, they’re in worse shape than I thought.

  21. I was going to ignore the rest, but I can’t… “product in the making?” he’s 27 years old and has been in the league for 7 years. What you see is what you get.

  22. Listen to what you are saying, at 27years of age there is no room for improvement.

    OK let me explain how a player can get better at 27.

    1. adding an element to his game to compliment a strength. Stop and pop, putting the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop.
    2. being an all around player, playing both on the offensive end and defensive end of the ball
    3. the game slows down mentally for a player.

    listed are three ways for Jamaal to improve, something that will happen for him.

    I don’t think we will ever agree on this and only time can prove me wrong.

  23. “listed are three ways for Jamaal to improve, something that will happen for him.

    I don?t think we will ever agree on this and only time can prove me wrong.”

    Actually, history can prove you wrong. It is not very often that a player shows significant improvement from year 7 onward; in fact, I can think of only one example off the top of my head and that is Lenny Wilkens.

    It basically comes down to desire. If Crawford wanted to be a better defensive player or add new elements to his offensive game, it would have happened sometime in the last 6 years. But it hasn’t. Crawford is essentially the same player he was 3 years ago, which suggests that this is pretty much what he will be for the duration of his career.

  24. Crawford and Nate have some talent but are flawed. They are complimentary role players or bench players for most good teams but they will never be good enough to rely on for wins on a consistent basis. This is a league with 2 guards like Kobe, Carter, Wade, Redd, Allen and the list goes on. The Knicks are not getting any of those guys or any other great talent this summer short of a miracle.

    Here’s a thought for next year. How about going forward with a starting five of Collins (at point), Crawford, Balkman, Lee and Curry. (I leave Crawford at 2 over Robinson simply because of his height guarding other 2’s). Give up on the older, overpriced (Marbury, Francis) and chronically injured (Richardson) and just bad (Jeffries, James). See what happens and let these younger guys gell. I’d rather get 25 wins with the young team which can develop together and FINALLY GET A TOP PICK with real talent to build around in 2008 then to get 38 or so wins with Marbury and co.

  25. Here is an assessment from Fox Sports in regards to our beloved Knicks:

    NEW YORK ? F

    Even when everybody was healthy, this bunch of whiners, complainers, and excuse-makers won a few games they should have lost, and lost many more that they should have won. They always hustled most and performed best when they were 20 points down. The Knicks have as much sheer talent as any other team in the league, and less cohesion than most.

    Leave it to the New York media to celebrate Eddy Curry as a franchise center. For sure, he can score if he’s defended straight-up ? but double-teams totally bewilder him, he doesn’t rebound or play defense, and he registers more than four turnovers for every assist.

    Even so, the Knicks are a perfect fit all the way around: Punk players, a punk coach, and an owner who loves to sing the blues.


  26. Al – Kind of harsh, and it isnt true they have as much sheer talent. Right about Curry. Curry is catching it from all sides right now. Harvey Araton wrote about him in his column yesterday absolutely tore him apart. Excellent piece that points out that Curry will cost us Tyrus Thomas and possibly a top five pick in a very strong draft. Also that Curry has 40 block so far this season.


    It also seems I am not the only one who thinks a healthy Nenad Kristic is better than Curry.

    Confucius- What Caleb and Xducks said.

  27. The team played a lot better with Jamal around this year because he was making significant strides in his game and had the best chemistry with Eddy. I think he already has improved a lot and (I hate to say it) I think a lot of it came from Larry Brown.

  28. “If we could package Curry and Crawford for anyone who is above average at the center position that would be the best way to improve our team. With Mr mystery center and Francis, Q, Balkman, and Lee, we would have five above average players to throw out there. and one exceptionally productive player in Lee. That would be a 50 win team.”

    OK. Well, here’s some hard and fast evidence that Wages of Wins is a flawed stat.

    Owen, a team of Francis, Q, Balkman, Lee, and an ‘Above average Center’ (which is easier said than done — The league has good to great centers [Howard, Stoudamire, Yao, Okur, Camby, Shaq, Okafor], lousy space fillers (Blount, Collins, Nesterovic, Magloire, Pryzbilla, and on and on and on] and PF’s playing center [Webber, Perkins, Wallace] but very few players I’d put in the “above average” category – like say Jack Sikma in days of yore). Lets say you put Andris Biedrins as your Center on this team (and we all know how WOW loves Biedrins). That lineup is going to be VERY good at rebounding, OK defensively and would struggle to score even 80 points a night.

    I’m sorry — the team you describe would be hard pressed to win 30 games a year, let alone 50! Seriously, who’s gonna shoot? On that team Francis is taking 20 shots a night. It just goes to show how WOW overvalues rebounding/steals/blocks and undervalues scoring.

  29. Ken – A couple things.

    First off, almost by definition, basically half the centers in the league have to be above average. You don’t need to go all the way back to Jack Sikma. The presence of a few great centers in the league moves the mean a bit, but generally, say 40%-45% of the centers in the league are above average.

    If for instance the Knicks got Pryzbilla, we would have a pretty good squad. This year he has been injured, but assuming he played as well as he did last year, when he was well above average, I think fifty wins would be reasonable. Last year he was at .186, Eddy Curry this year is at .003, with .100 representing average.

    I know you don’t like the WOW, but its not like it was designed to make Curry look bad. Its not the fault of the formula that Curry is the worst rebounding full time center in the league, and second in the league in turnovers, with a .25 assist to turnover ratio, and only forty blocks 77 games into the season.

    Eddy Curry has been the same player this year that he has always been, a not very good player basically, except he is playing more minutes and committing turnovers at a higher rate than ever before.

    But we dont have to worry about anyone trading an above average center for Curry. Did you read the Araton piece? People understand how useless Curry is, despite his 19 points per.

    As for scoring, I dont really understand your logic. You probably believed that without Allen Iverson the Sixers wouldnt be able to score more than eighty points per. “How can you possibly replace one of the top scorers in the league?” The answer? It’s really not that difficult. The sixers haven’t missed him and his ability to generate shots practically at all.

    Scoring is not the be=all in the NBA. There are tons of players who can score. Do you really think David Lee cant average 15-20 points next year if we give him 35 minutes and some of Eddy Curry’s shot attempts? Can we really not replace Crawford’s 40% field goal shooting?

    Look at 82games if you dont like the Wages of Wins. The Knicks score three points more per 100 possessions when Curry is off the court. They allow five more points on defense when he is on the court. Does this suggest to you that we would score less points if he were gone, or more, relative to our opponents?

  30. WOW doesn’t factor in that a player might not fit his team or that the team might not be best utilizing his talents. Curry has been doing his scoring with double and triple teams and no help thanks to the injuries and lack of any kind of shooter. If you add Michael Redd, Ray Allen, or even Jason Kapono to the team you’d see Curry’s turnovers, assists, and team plus/minus shoot up immediately. That’s something that only situational knowledge of the game and Curry’s talents and not WOW can tell you. See what happens if we draft Morris Almond, Brandon Rush, Marco Belinelli, or any of the host of deadeye shooters who should be available around our pick – if their ability to hit an open jump shot is as advertised and they get serious minutes you will see a major jump in Curry’s stats.

  31. Any talk of Curry’s play improving if surrounded by teammates is just speculation and for the most part is nothing more than excuses.

    Curry has always been turnover prone and has never gotten even 1 assist per game. This is his 7th season in the League. It can’t be his teammates fault every single season. The outside shooting of Hinrich, Gordon, Duhon and Piatkowski didn’t help at all in Chicago.

  32. Dan, thank you for articulating my point.

    Owen, I respect the fact that you actually mentioned a player that can replace Curry, than say any above average center. However 2 points and to piggy back off of Dan point. We do not know if Pryzbilla will work in the Knicks Offense which is designed to get pts in the paint. Also, will you game plan around stopping Pryzbilla? We do know that teams game plan to stop Curry.

    xduckshoex, you are so unfair, Curry Hinrich, Gordon, Duhon and Piatkowsk were younger and inexperienced. I think If you put Curry into this years lineup in place of Wallace, you will have a contender. The Bulls are searching for a center that can play with their back to the basket. So although they have Tyrus Thomas, I do believe that would prefer Curry, the way he played this year.

  33. Curry is no better now than he was on the Bulls. His higher per game numbers are the result of increased minutes, not better play. Without looking I’d say this is actually one of the worst seasons of Curry’s career.

    And it’s not unfair. The theory was that Curry would not turn the ball over so much if he had shooters taking away the double teams; the fact of the matter is that he has played with shooters and nothing changed.

    I deal in facts, not excuses. To put it simply, if Curry was as good as you want me to believe he is you wouldn’t have to make excuses to explain his shortcomings or blame them on other players.

  34. So, I was looking at the box score of the latest Knick debacle, and I came across the following at the end of the box score:

    R. Balkman DNP – Coach’s Decision
    K. Cato DNP – Personal Reasons
    J. Crawford DNP – Coach’s Decision
    D. Lee DNP – Coach’s Decision
    S. Marbury DNP – Coach’s Decision
    R. Morris DNP – Coach’s Decision
    Q. Richardson DNP – Coach’s Decision

    Damn…that is a lot of freakin’ talent sitting on the bench.

  35. Did someone just say that if the Knicks had “Vanilla Gorilla” Przybilla they would have 50 wins? That would put them into the top 10 of the league. Are you serious? No, seriously, is that a joke?

  36. “Curry has always been turnover prone and has never gotten even 1 assist per game. This is his 7th season in the League. It can?t be his teammates fault every single season. The outside shooting of Hinrich, Gordon, Duhon and Piatkowski didn?t help at all in Chicago.”

    The offense was not at all like the Knicks then – they didn’t push the ball through him but through Hinrich and Gordon instead so the assist opportunities weren’t the same. And this is not 2007 – Gordon was a god-awful percentage shooter then, as was Hinrich. Even so, the Bulls managed to have a winning season in no small part due to Curry’s extremely efficient offense. Curry was generally praised his last year with the Bulls for fulfilling the role they assigned him perfectly well. He was traded because of his health not because of his skills.

    This “above-average” center talk doesn’t recognize the extreme scarcity of center talent. There are only a handful of true centers in the league in the current era and apart from Shaq almost none of them are genuine post-up threats who command triple teams like Curry. If you could find me a balanced center who was somewhere between Brendan Haywood and Curry on offense and defense and had their size I might be more persuaded. As it is I can’t think of anyone who fits the bill and the few guys who even begin to come to mind would likely wilt as soon as defensive pressure was assigned to them ala Curry.

  37. Curry’s “extremely efficient offense” during his last season in Chicago was actually an average year for him. It was nothing he hadn’t done in the past, so let’s not give him too much credit; 30-win Curry and 23-win Curry were no different from 47-win Curry. The Bulls winning record was in large part due to improvement from Hinrich and the addition of Nocioni, Deng and Gordon. Considering they were 7 points per 100 possessions better WITHOUT Curry I’d say they were in better in spite of him.

  38. Gorky – I said that about Pryzbilla. I did not say the Vanilla Gorilla would make us a fifty win team. I said that he was above average last year, and if he were to replace Curry in the lineup and play above average for the entire season, then we could expect to win fifty games given the rest of the talent we have. Looking more closely at his record, specifically at how may games he has lost due to injury so far in his career, that seems unlikely.

    My basic point. If you replaced Eddy Curry, who is well below average, with a center who is above average statistically, we would be much improved. I tnink that logic works.

    Dan- You and I define center differently. You seem to define a center very narrowly, as someone who commands triple teams and scores a lot. Historically there haven’t been too many guys like that. But historically, someone has played center in every NBA game that has ever been. There are five positions on the basketball court, one is center. On every team some collection of players fills 48 minutes at the position. So when I say that by necessity there must be quite a few above average centers in the league every year, that’s where I am coming from.

    Curry had a nice game tonight. His winscore of 12 in 43 minutes was above the 10.8 per 48 min average winscore production at the center position. His six turnovers really hurt his stats though. Francis had a winscore of 16, which for a shooting guard is terrific.

    Confucius – If you look at this table you will see Xducks is correct, Curry’s production has been very much in line with his past production. Actually, when you look at it on a per minute basis he has been a bit above his average for his career, but he has actually been worse this year than last. This is largely a product of the fact he has committed 282 turnovers and only collected 553 rebounds. That means that he has collected less than two rebounds for every turnover he has committed, to go with his .25 assist to turnover ratio.

    There is no one in the league who plays center or forward who is even close to that inept. In fact, I would wager you would struggle to find anyone in the history of the NBA who played 35 minutes per game at center or power forward and committed that many turnovers while collecting so few rebounds. What Eddy Curry is doing is so amazing that I think we should replace the phrase “Butter Fingers” with “Curry Fingers.”


  39. “My basic point. If you replaced Eddy Curry, who is well below average, with a center who is above average statistically, we would be much improved. I think that logic works.”

    My basic point is that he lineup you proposed –Francis, QRich, Balkman, Lee, and an above average Center (Pryzbilla of ’06 being your choice) — would NOT win 50 games. I’m sorry but that’s utterly ludicrous. To me, that only proves the weaknesses of WOW. That team has NO ONE who can consistently hit a 15 foot jumper and Francis would be jacking up shots and hogging the ball. The main failing of the team this year (aside from an atrocious amount of TO’s) is that this team misses open shots, both from the perimeter and from the line.

    This isn’t baseball, where statistics measure individual accomplishment. Basketball statistics are far too intertwined to take individuals and assume they will function in exactly the same manner when mixed and matched.

    A perfect example is David Lee. When healthy, he’s been great, w/o a doubt. BUT he isn’t a low-post threat or a good shooter. Almost ALL his points come from offensive rebounds and transition buckets. If you run plays for him (pick and roll or in the low post) not only will he convert SIGNIFICANTLY fewer attempts than Curry does, but his shooting percentage will go WAY down, he’ll lose rebounding opportunities and, as a result, the garbage points he now converts at a 60% rate. What would that do to his exalted winscore?

    Curry’s low-post scoring is a significant asset if surrounded by complimentary pieces. If you use the 90’s Pacers as a model, they had a very good low-post center who was a subpar rebounder and defender (Rik Smits) and surrounded him with good defenders/rebounders at SF and PG (Antonio + Dale Davis, McKey), lots of shooters at SG and SF (Miller, Mullin, Rose, Scott) and a great PG (Jackson). That team was a serious title contender for 5 years. Considering that there are both very few good scorers in the post in the league (as compared to 20 years ago) and fewer good defenders of the low post, Curry is an asset you can build around. That doesn’t make him an all-star, but it’s an asset nonetheless. To say that that skill is essentially useless is clearly misguided.

    While I’m ranting, using the Sixers/Iverson trade isn’t a reasonable comparison. One, they got back an underrated PG in Miller. Two, they have a team filled with good shooters from the perimeter (Iguodala, Korver, Miller, Green, Joe Smith) all of whom could pick up the slack for Iverson. If you take away not only their low-post scorer (Curry) but also their best two scorers in Marbury and Crawford as your theoretical Knick lineup has, and they’re gonna struggle. Take Iverson AND Korver and Iguodala off the Sixers and see how many PPG they put up.

    And no again, half the centers in the league AREN’T necessarily above average. They are if you view the centers as a self-containted entity – i.e. measured against one another). But, As other posters have pointed out, there is a serious dearth of capable big men around — so much so that numerous teams are saying eff it and starting a PF at the 5.

    In the 80’s for example, the league had Olajuwon, Robinson, Ewing, Lanier, Malone, Gilmore, Abdul-Jabbar, Parrish and after that a score of centers who were good players (if not all-time greats) like Laimbeer, Sikma, Daugherty, Cartwright, Gminski, Ruland, Smits, Eaton, Edwards, Willis. That list dwarfs the Brendan Haywoods and the Francisco Elsons who are starting these days.

    For every WOW stat, I’ll hit you back with PER rankings, which has had Eddy at 17+ for most of the year — not significantly better than previous seasons, but an above average player nonetheless.

  40. “If you use the 90?s Pacers as a model, they had a very good low-post center who was a subpar rebounder and defender (Rik Smits) and surrounded him with good defenders/rebounders at SF and PG (Antonio + Dale Davis, McKey), lots of shooters at SG and SF (Miller, Mullin, Rose, Scott) and a great PG (Jackson). That team was a serious title contender for 5 years.”

    The difference, of course, is that Smits was a more active defender and less turnover prone. It has nothing to do with the supporting cast, if you put Curry on those Pacers he is still turning the ball over 3-4 times per game and if you put Smits on these Knicks he is still turning it over 1-2 times per game. And regardless of the supporting casts, Smits will block more shots and will likely grab an extra rebound per game. Those Pacers teams would have been significantly worse with Curry.

  41. Rik Smits career
    2.1 ast/40
    8.4 AST-rate
    10.9 TO-rate

    Eddy Curry 2006/7
    0.90 ast/40
    4.1 AST-rate
    17.7 TO-rate

    Dan and Confucius:
    Regardless of what measures he uses as proof, what I think Owen is saying is that scoring can be overvalued because it’s such an abundant talent and if you can’t defend, rebound, or pass you cannot be a great, or even good, center in the NBA. Basically, this is a team game and it?s better to have guys with average talent who are team players and check their egos and fit defined roles than talented, selfish guys. Even if you could surround Curry with 7 shooters, do you really want to build your team around a center who is an historically bad passer, like swiss cheese on defense, and routinely gets out-rebounded by our guards?

    Maybe replacing a great scorer, terrible defender, terrible rebounder, and terrible passer with a guy who?s an above average defender, rebounder, scorer, and passer is a good thing. Just like maybe replacing a guy who shoots 40% from the field and 34% on threes with a anyone who can shoot better even if they don?t have his ?playmaking? abilities or ?athleticism? might be good. The thing I really don?t understand is how people can argue for surrounding Curry with shooters and at the same time argue in favor of keeping Crawford.

    On another note:
    Yes, the Knicks offense is designed around Curry. But the Knicks are a 32-33 win team. Is designing an offense around Curry a good thing??? Maybe designing an offense around ball movement, moving without the ball, and working for easy shots would be a better idea then redesigning the mid-90s Knicks’ offense. This team can?t defend or hold on to the ball, so a ball control offense seems like a pretty bad fit. Curry also seems like a bad fit for an offense relying on his ability to hit open shooters as he?s 7th worst in the league in assists per 48 minutes: even great shooters won?t help much if you don?t get them the ball with the chance to shoot.

    Ken: Consistently missing open shots is a problem. The Knicks are, however, an average team shooting the ball (16th in eFG%) and the second best offensive rebounding team in the league, which should make up for some missed shots with extra chances. I think defense and turnovers are a far bigger problem for this team than shooting. I would also say that ball movement, moving without the ball, leadership, confidence, and general basketball IQ are at least as big a problem with this team as shooting.

  42. Ted – Great Post!

    I think you hit the nail on the head with:

    “Maybe designing an offense around ball movement, moving without the ball, and working for easy shots would be a better idea then redesigning the mid-90s Knicks? offense.”


    “Curry also seems like a bad fit for an offense relying on his ability to hit open shooters as he?s 7th WORST IN THE LEAGUE in assists per 48 minutes: even great shooters won?t help much if you don?t get them the ball with the chance to shoot.”

  43. Here’s a very rough ranking of centers (excluding Curry) designed just to find about where the average is:

    1. T. Duncan
    2. S. O’Neal
    3. B. Wallace
    4. M. Yao
    5. J. O’Neal
    6. D. Howard
    7. C. Bosh
    8. A. Stoudemire
    9. M. Camby
    10. P. Gasol
    11. M. Okur
    12. E. Okafor
    13. T. Chandler
    14. C. Webber
    15. Z. Ilgauskas
    16. S. Dalembert
    17. E. Dampier
    18. A. Biedrins
    19. C. Kaman
    20. A. Bogut
    21. A. Bynum
    22. B. Miller
    23. N. Kristic
    24. Z. Pachulia

    Certainly you can dispute these rankings: I put them together in about 2 minutes and went more on general perception than stats or my own feelings. The point is, however, that the “average” starting center in the NBA looks something like:
    11. M. Okur
    12. E. Okafor
    13. T. Chandler
    14. C. Webber
    15. Z. Ilgauskas
    16. S. Dalembert
    17. E. Dampier
    18. A. Biedrins
    19. C. Kaman

    And above average is something like:
    11. M. Okur
    12. E. Okafor
    13. T. Chandler
    14. C. Webber

    Even if you only look at official starting centers you get something like:
    11. C. Webber
    12. Z. Ilgauskas
    13. S. Dalembert
    14. E. Dampier
    15. A. Biedrins
    16. C. Kaman
    17. A. Bogut
    18. A. Bynum
    19. B. Miller

    Not Hakeem, but not exactly Joel Przybilla or Brendan Haywood.

  44. “Maybe replacing a great scorer, terrible defender, terrible rebounder, and terrible passer with a guy who?s an above average defender, rebounder, scorer, and passer is a good thing.”

    Ok – who is this this magical center you propose adding? That’s the point I was making way back when. Name a guy who’s a CENTER in the league today (or even available in the draft) who has the qualities you name above and isn’t named Yao, Shaq, Howard, or Camby? The above quartet were all on the all-star team (or should have been in Camby’s case — Okur over Camby, my fanny). There aren’t any “above-average” Centers in the league. There are all-stars and space-fillers. C’est tout. Curry, for all his flaws (and I’m not denying his flaws. Nor do I need advanced statistical analysis to see them. Just watch one game this year) has an asset that very few Centers in the league do. Heck, very few players period. And I maintain that HOW Curry scores his points does makes them more valuable in terms of an rare asset you can build around.

    ?Maybe designing an offense around ball movement, moving without the ball, and working for easy shots would be a better idea then redesigning the mid-90s Knicks? offense.?

    I couldn’t agree more. Of course the Knicks need to move better without the ball. The Knicks haven’t had a team that moved well since the 70’s. Every time Curry gets the ball I find myself screaming “Cut, Cut! Cut to the effing basket!” The only one who does this with any regularity is Balkman (and at times, Lee). They’re running the same, ‘stand around on the perimeter and feed/watch the low post’ offense that they did w/Ewing and/or King, which was boring and predictable back then.

    And Ewing turned the ball over at about the same rate that Curry is now (3.5/game)

    But that’s a question of having a coach who can design and implement an imaginative offense, which this team hasn’t had for 30 years.

  45. Interesting list Ted. Again, you’re ranking all the players as a self-contained list and saying compared to one another, half are above and half are below average. Even using those conditions –

    I’d take Bosh, J.O’Neal, Gasol and Duncan off your list since they’re Power Forwards, not Centers. Leaving your 11-14 guys as Ilgauskas, Dalembert, Dampier, and Biedrins. OK. Let’s find an above-average rebounder, defender, scorer, and passer.

    Ilgauskas — fading scorer. Poor defender. OK passer. Ok rebounder. Terrible contract
    Dalembert — below average scorer, below average passer, above average defender above average rebounder.
    Dampier. _ average scorer. above average rebounder. above average defender. average passer. Abominable contract.
    Biedrins. average scorer. Good rebounder/defender. below average passer.

    Even your original 11-14 guys. None of them fit the criteria you originally laid out. Webber’s a stiff on defense. So is Okur. Chandler is a lousy offensive player. Okafor is very solid but is undersized at 6’9, averages 0.3 more assists/game than Curry and VERY injury-prone.

    Like Curry, they all have skills that are useful and can help a winning team, but they have serious flaws in their games. The only point I’m trying to refute here is the notion (via WOW) that Curry is terrible.

    If you want to postulate that you’d rather have a good defender than a good scorer at Center, great. Let’s have a hearty cup of grog and debate that till the wee hours….

  46. “And Ewing turned the ball over at about the same rate that Curry is now (3.5/game)”

    But Ewing also got roughly 3x the assists that Curry does.

  47. “I think defense and turnovers are a far bigger problem for this team than shooting. I would also say that ball movement, moving without the ball, leadership, confidence, and general basketball IQ are at least as big a problem with this team as shooting.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Sadly, defense and turnovers have been a problem for several years. In theory Larry Brown was “Mr. Value every possession and play defense” we all know how that turned out.

  48. Ewing’s career TO-rate was 12.5 compared to Curry’s season average of 17.7.

    I know next to nothing about WOW. But one point I’m trying to make is that Curry is not only bad at his weaknesses, but truly terrible. Of the other top 20 qualifying centers in terms of FG% (probably Curry’s biggest strength) only Bogut, Chris Wilcox, Yao Ming, Mark Blount, and Chris Bosh failed to have both a Reb-rate of at least 14 and block at least 1.3 shots/48 minutes. (Curry’s reb-rate is about 11 and he blocks 0.69 per 48 minutes.)

    Basically Curry has one skill “that [is] useful and can help a winning team” and is atrocious in all other areas of the game while most other centers have several skills that can help a team and are closer to average in other areas.

    This problem becomes worse when you consider that Curry is not asked to provide some inside scoring for 20 mpg, but to carry the offense for 35 mpg. Dalembert being a bad passer (not as bad as Curry) is not as important as Curry being a bad passer because Curry take 50% more FGA/game and the Knicks offense is supposed to be based in large part on him hitting open shooters. Or at least that seems to be the company line.

    Maybe saying an above average scorer, passer, rebounder, and defender was a bit ambitious, but someone who’s above average at two of those things and at least slightly below average at the others seems very reasonable.

    “Even your original 11-14 guys. None of them fit the criteria you originally laid out. Webber?s a stiff on defense. So is Okur. Chandler is a lousy offensive player. Okafor is very solid but is undersized at 6?9, averages 0.3 more assists/game than Curry and VERY injury-prone.”

    Just for argument’s sake:
    Curry is considered to be 6-10 so Okafor’s height isn’t such a big deal. Chandler takes half as many FG/game as Curry but shoots a better % (.624 compared to .577) and his assist rate is 8.8 compared to Curry’s 4.1.
    Webber is considered to be soft, but he consistently plays on good defensive teams.

  49. Ken – How can you look at Tyson Chandler and say “lousy offensive player.” Tyson Chandler is a space filler? He is the best rebounder in the NBA! And one of the best defenders!

    Ted – Another great post. I can’t say it better. I think about Curry’s 1.95 rebounds per turnover and my head starts to steam.

    The WOW’s evaluates players according to a formula. It was designed by a guy named David Berri in order to make Eddy Curry look bad.

    The simple version is

    Points+Rebounds+Steals+.5Assists+.5 blocks – Shot Attempts-Turnovers -.5 Ft Attempts-.5PF = Winscore

    If you run all the centers on your list through this black box, Eddy Curry comes out the worst by a pretty fair margin. This black box also explains 95% of wins in the NBA, i.e. the weights aren’t arbitrary, they actually are regressed to offensive and defensive efficiency, which is a very accurate predictor of wins. So basically, if you look at the stats a team produced over the year through this lens, you can deduce with very high accuracy how many games it won. A bit of a simplification, but that is the gist of it.

    This formula arrives at different evaluations of players than PER or conventional wisdom in some cases. Scorers dont come off as well, largely because scoring, and especially innefficient scoring doesnt correlate all that well to winning basketball games.

    In the WOW world, most of the players you think of as being good are still good. Some come of looking a little bit less like the best players in the league, like say Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter, but are still excellent. And some strange things do happen, like Dikembe Mutombo looks like a better player than Yao Ming per minute this year. Some players, like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony and Ben Gordon, are rated as merely average. And some, like Eddy Curry, are rated way way below average. The reason i like the formula so much? David Lee look exceptional and Renaldo Balkman comes out smelling like fragrant roses. Francis and Q look good too.

    I thought originally when I read the book that Berri, an academic economist, was trying to find a fresh way to evaluate basketball players in order to look at myths in modern sports. What I later discovered on this board though is that he was inspired to devise this wacko formula by his hatred of Eddy Curry, who laid his big beefy Curry Fingers on Berri’s sister several years ago. BTW, Eddy Curry also slept with my sister, which is why I think he is a bad player, and not because he is second in the league in turnovers and the seventh worst passer in the NBA.

    Just kidding. If you are interested you can check out the Wages of Wins Journal or go to NBA Babble, which has WOW player ratings for the entire season, and is actually running a very cool little fantasy league based on the WOW for the playoffs.

  50. am I the only one who questions the turnovers stat (in general, I mean)? obviously Curry turns the ball over way too much, but just as obviously, turnovers are quite often the fault of more than one player, and also they’re constantly assigned to the wrong players. again, am I the only one to look at an in-progress box score after Marbury’s thrown it away three times in a three minute span, only to see him only credited for 1 or 2 of those turnovers? it seems that most people here, especially my friend Owen, treats it like it’s written in stone, and that’s not my experience at all.

    rebounds are more cut and dry, and again, obviously Curry is a poor rebounder for a center, but also, obviously (to me), David Lee gets more boards because of all of the attention paid to Curry.

    clearly Curry is an oddball player, both his strengths and weaknesses are off the charts. what some of us are hoping is that he can improve in some of the other aspects of his game going forward, he is still only 24 and he improved a ton this year in terms of stamina, conditioning, ability to avoid constant foul trouble, and drawing double and triple teams (he almost always dominated when the other team left him one-on-one). hopefully he’ll come into next season in even better shape, so he can get off the ground a little quicker.

  51. “am I the only one who questions the turnovers stat (in general, I mean)? obviously Curry turns the ball over way too much, but just as obviously, turnovers are quite often the fault of more than one player, and also they?re constantly assigned to the wrong players. again, am I the only one to look at an in-progress box score after Marbury?s thrown it away three times in a three minute span, only to see him only credited for 1 or 2 of those turnovers? it seems that most people here, especially my friend Owen, treats it like it?s written in stone, and that?s not my experience at all.”

    But you only look at turnovers in relation to other NBA players, and those same anomalies exist for all of them as well. It all evens out in the end.

  52. “Ken – How can you look at Tyson Chandler and say ?lousy offensive player.? Tyson Chandler is a space filler? He is the best rebounder in the NBA! And one of the best defenders!”

    Right. And he is a lousy offensive player. The fact that he’s a very good rebounder and defender doesn’t mean he can hit a jumpshot or score in the post. He can’t. Like Lee, he gets the vast majority of his points via offensive rebounds and garbage buckets. That’s why he (like Lee) shoots 60+%.

    Ask Chandler to play like Curry and you’d see his Shooting % go way down and his turnovers go way up. Thus killing his winscore (or PER rating or whatever statistical analysis you choose). NOr could Curry be effective just as a defender/rebounder. His e lacks the quickness/explosiveness to succeed playing like Chandler.

    Looking at Ted’s list, there are only 4 Centers (assuming that cap restrictions didn’t exist and eliminating PF’s like Bosh/Gasol/Duncan/J. O’Neal from the list) that I’d trade for Curry straight up — Howard, Stoudemire, Yao and maybe Okafor.

  53. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal play more minutes at center than power forward. Tim Duncan plays almost exclusively at center, and Pau Gasol does play exclusively at center. Why would they be eliminated from the list?

  54. Curry’s rebounding is a lost cause (statheads have found that rebounding does not improve throughout players’ careers) but I don’t think it’s impossible to make a serious dent in his turnovers – even get to Ewing/Smits territory.

    Better guard play would help, as I mentioned a few days ago, Curry’s TO ratio went up about 15 percent when he came to NYK. Of course, he also needs serious work on his game. But he’s still pretty young, and if he could lower his TOs by, say, .6 per game – that alone would improve our record by 2-3games. (our point differential would go from -2.8 to around -2.2).

    I don’t disagree that turnovers and defense are the biggest problem here, but it’s misleading to look at our FG% and say that shooting is not terrible. The only reason the overall # is close to average is that Curry and Lee shoot around 60 percent. the guards’ shooting is terrible. JC, I’m looking at you.

    One small point: just because Curry is a terrible passer doesn’t mean other players don’t benefit from his being double-teamed. Another player besides Curry can pass the ball to the open man :)

  55. While we’re making fantasy trades, does anyone think the Lakers would trade Bynum for Curry? (throw in short-term crap deals – like Kwame – for $$).

    Obviously AB’s potential is sky-high but with Kobe and Odom they are in win-now mode. Kobe and Vlad and Brian Cook would love to see more double-teams in the post.

  56. Caleb:
    I’m also looking at Jamal Crawford: I would say that the only reason the Knicks overall shooting can be considered terrible is Jamal Crawford.

    The Knicks are currently 17th in the league in terms of FG% at 45.67%. If you replace Jamal Crawford’s 886 FGAs with about an average starting SG’s FG% (I took the 15th best FG% among SGs which would be Kobe’s 46.08%) the Knicks would be shooting 46.53%, good enough to surpass Miami for 6th in the NBA.

    The Knicks are shooting 34.63% on 3s this year, or 22nd in the league. If you replace Jamal Crawford’s 322 attempts with an average starting SG (15th in this case is Manu at 39.63%) the Knicks would have shot 36.45% on 3s, or enough to pass the Nets for 8th in the NBA.

    So, the Knicks, minus Crawford, actually shoot the ball well above average. Leaving defense, turnovers, and general team play as the biggest areas in need of improvement.

    True, other guys can pass to the open man when Curry’s doubled before he gets the ball, but if the open man’s Jeffries or Collins or Rose or Balkman behind the 3 point line it does little good. If, on the other hand, the Knicks actually moved without the ball in their hands once in a while they would take far better advantage of Curry being double teamed.

    There are a lot of things the Knicks need to do if they want to build an offense, and a solid playoff team, around Curry (while I’m not really in favor of it, I do think it could be done). As Jon and Caleb have alluded to the Knicks need to work on their entry passes, which would instantly cut turnovers and render Curry even more effective. As I mentioned, they also need to move without the ball on offense, getting the right guys open in the right spots: wings cutting to the basket, guards coming off screens for wide open threes, our overabundance of penetrating guards in a position to drive and dish, Frye in the high post…
    Maybe I’m missing it, but I almost never see the Knicks do the things that are necessary to build an offense around Curry. Mostly, I see them standing around and watching him as if he’s some sort of attraction, then they force an entry pass that leads to a turnover or the shot clock starts winding down and Jamal jacks up a 3 with two hands in his face.

    Then there’s the defensive side of the ball. If you move Frye for a defensive minded PF you’re probably not getting someone with Frye’s sweet touch to complement Curry’s inside game, but as neither of them passes well anyway I guess this move makes the most sense. Replacing Crawford with a SG who’s a lock-down perimeter defender and can hit spot-up threes would be another step in the right direction. An attitude change seems to be most important here, as the Knicks look like a decent defensive team when they actually try (5% of the time).

    What really bothers me about Curry and Crawford is their attitudes. Curry has taken to bashing his teammates after losses and openly complaining to the media that he has no good perimeter shooters. Crawford says that his low FG% is because his teammates rely on him to take tough shots as the shot clock runs down. It’s one thing to be a limited player if you recognize your strengths and weaknesses (like Bruce Bowen for example), it’s another thing to be a limited player and think you’re a star.

  57. Passing is more than just assists, likewise defense is more than steals and blocked shots. Curry is a poor passer not because of his low assists totals but because he makes poor passes, in the rare times he passes out of a double its a begruding fling rather than a crisp pass. The defense has time to react reducing the benefit of the double/triple team. As someone once commented about Walter Berry – “Walter doesn’t pass, occaisionally he will surrunder the ball” – it applies to Eddy.

  58. Ken – Seriously, you would rather have Eddy Curry than Tyson Chandler? There is nothing attractive to you about having the leading rebounder in the NBA and one of the top interior defenders? Because he can’t hit a jump shot? I havent seen Eddy canning too many 14 footers this year, or hitting pretty much any shot that doesnt involve him impersonating a snow plough.

    Not that it matters because there isn’t a snowball chance of the Hornets giving him up. You dont trade away the best rebounding center in the league for the worst, or a center who commits 1.7 turnovers per game for someone who commits four, unless his name is Dwight Howard.

    BTW, is Tim Duncan, currently third in the league in blocks, not a center? Who is the center for the Griz, Stromile Swift?

    Also, did you know Yahoo has something called the Eddy Curry Line? It compares positive stats, i.e. assists, steals, and blocks, to turnovers. The creator of this stat suggests that having more positive stats than turnovers is a benchmark of respectability, sort of like the mendoza line for basketball players. Not only does Curry not cross that threshhold, he is fifty percent below it! .50! He has half as many positive stats as turnovers! That’s like batting .110 in baseball. The next closest player who averages 25 minutes per is Hakim Warrick, who is at a .91, then a bunch of people around 1:1. What that stat says is that Eddy Curry is a freakishly bad statistical outlier when it comes to anything other than scoring.

    And yes, he is 27th in scoring average in the NBA. Yet somehow he is rated 269th by Yahoo Fantasy Basketball. I wouldn’t put any stock in their ratings generally, but it tells you something that Curry cant crack the top 250, while Andrew Bynum is at 129.

    Other thoughts – I dont know why people want Channing Frye out there shooting jump shots. The guy has a lower fg% than Nate Robinson this year. Why dont we just let Nate shoot the jump shots? However beautiful a thing it is to see a 6’11 man shoot an 18 foot jumpshot, it nevertheless scores the same number of points as a layup. And Channing is definitely not shooting enough of those. For a power forward like Frye to shoot 43% is just god god awful. Why exactly do we need a jump shooting c/pf? Are these the shots Curry creates for his teammates? If so, I don’t want them.

    Kevin – Right now I am picturing Curry trying to operate the Triangle offense. Smush throws him the ball, and it deflects off his hands and out of bounds. The Knicks come down and Andrew Bynum dunks on Curry. The Lakers come down, in my minds-eye I see Vlad feed Curry in the point, he hesitates for six seconds, trying to figure out how he will get around or through Bynum, whose arms are six inches longer than his. He sees the shot clock has ticked down to 6 while he was daydreaming about the chicken fingers the kid in the third row is eating. He then throws the ball at Kobe Bryant’s feet as the shot clock expires. I see the look or pure venom on the Mamba’s face and a beatific smile creeps over mine.

    These dreams of mine…

    Bynum is still a teenager on a rookie contract and he is already an above average center. He is only going to get better. The Lakers would be nuts to make that trade. Kwame Brown btw would be answer to the question, which player in the NBA has worse hands than Eddy Curry? Such a player does exist. But he still rates higher than Curry.

  59. I think Frye can be effective shooting from mid-range based on what I saw last year, not this year. Last year’s eFG% of 47.9 puts him right about in line with Rasheed Wallace’s since coming to Detroit. Of course, I’d also like to see him attack the basket more like he did last year, but a PF who’s a perimeter threat should (theoretically) stretch the defense giving Eddy more room to operate, give him another “shooter” to kick the ball out to, and be a better complement than a weak shooter who would allow Curry to be double and triple teamed with far less consequence and potentially compete with Curry for space on the low block.

    I’m not saying this is what I want, just what the Knicks should do if they’re really commited to building around Curry.

    Frye and Curry’s strengths and weaknesses kind of mirror each other and I’m not sure Channning is comfortable at the 4, so one of them might have to go. I’d boot Curry as long as his lack of insurance wasn’t too much of a deterent to other teams, but given what Isiah has invested in Curry (his job) I’d say it’s going to be Frye. While I know others disagree, I think a team would be willing to give up a mid first rounder for Frye. Once some of the top bigs are off the board you’re talking about some pretty raw guys with a lot of question marks: Hasheem Thabeet, Spencer Hawes, Josh McRoberts, Jason Smith, Tiago Splitter (who I really like), Marc Gasol, and Aaron Gray. None of these guys is a sure thing and certainly not a sure thing instant contributor, while Frye has already been on the first team all rookie team and proven that when he’s not spending too many minutes on the court with the human blackhole he’s a reliable NBA scorer.

    Isiah could also use Frye to get another young player who needs a change in scenery, or in a package for a veteran, but given that this is Isiah Thomas I think I’d rather see his avoid deals not involving obtaining draft picks.

  60. Owen –

    Good post that I mainly agree with.

    Kevin –

    Good point on Curry’s “begrudging flings” – couldn’t agree more.

  61. OK (Curry argument aside). I was watching the game and I SWEAR, during one of the myriad cheesecake shots of Beyonce, Tyra Banks and Jay-Z that when they cut to a close up of Kimora Lee Simmons, that you could hear Gus Johnson say…(wait for it)

    “Yum. Daddy loves Asians.”

    Maybe this Knick season has finally got to me and I’m hearing things. But I SWEAR he said that. I don’t know whether to be appalled by Gus’ racial fetishizing/”Yellow Fever” (with the extra added kick of referring to himself in the third person as, “Daddy”). Or just nod and say, “Well, of course he does.”

  62. Good call Ted – though I have to say, from the looks of nbadraft.net right now most of the players I’d want most for the Knicks (besides the obvious Oden and Durant) are in the 16-26 range, right where the Knicks pick. It would be nice to trade up if we could score someone handy like Brewer, Conley or Noah, who’s rapidly dropping in draft value, and I’d gladly give up Frye for someone who fits better in general, especially on the defensive end. Noah in particular would be a great PF for the Knicks and I think if we could move to 10-12 we might have a chance at him.

  63. Could we move high enough to get Hibbert? It seems like a bit of a reach.

    Thinking about your remark Ted, vis a vis a motion offense that generates high percentage opportunities, I thought of Georgetown. I just loved their style of play this year. It was wonderful to watch. I was particularly impressed with Hibbert’s passing and basketball IQ. I don’t know if that style of play really can translate to the pros, I dont see why not though, and it sure was fun to watch.

  64. Hibbert has nice footwork and a nice touch and he’s huge, but he moves like molasses and I wasn’t so impressed by his passing. He’ll get picked way too high, hopefully by Chicago.

    Speaking of G’town, I love Jeff Green and I ran one of Chad Ford’s lotto simulators and Green went all the way down to 13, somehow. Brewer is probably a fantasy but this draft is so loaded I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of those great forwards drop down.

    If Frye was in the draft this year, he’d probably go in the mid-20s.

    If we offered Frye + Curry and/or Crawford and/or Rose* + our current pick or Mardy Collins…

    …I think we’d have a good shot at getting into the Top 10 or 12, clearing salary room at the same time. Minnesota, Sacramento, LA Clippers seem the most likely suspects.

    If we can get in the game for someone like Jermaine O’Neal it will similar, but Lee instead of Frye.

    Two of those assets might get us into the top 20, say from Golden State or even Philly or Jersey.

    *Malik will be very tempting to any team trying to cut long-term payroll.

  65. Let’s not talk about moving Lee. Even if he isn’t a top five player as his WOW stats suggest, I think his ceiling is high enough to the naked eye that letting him go would be stupid, especially since he isn’t the kind of player who will be very costly to re-sign. Thankfully, he isn’t a pure scorer, a talent which is overrated and overcompensated in the NBA. He is also my favorite player in the league, and I would hate to have to root for him on another team.

    Corey Brewer looks overrated to me. He looks like Tayshaun Prince. Actually, that’s a compliment of sorts, but if Prince is his ceiling he doesnt look like an NBA star to me. I think the player he should hope to be is Josh Howard, but he doesnt look that good to me. It will be interesting to see how he pans out. Vis-a-Vis the knicks, he isn’t really a terrific outside shooter, he shot only 33% from the college 3point line this year. If that’s our biggest area of need, I think we should go with someone more proven.

    I find two time NCAA titleists with freakish bodily proportions as exciting as the next guy, but I also think we can probably stand pat with Balkman, who is a two time NIT titleist with freakish bodily proportions after all.

    He only played 1000 minute this season, but his WOW stats have been really really good in that admittedly limited action. He is a .272, where .100 is average and Tayshaun Prince is a .134. I am not sure he is that good, it’s a small sample, but even if you don’t buy into the WOW, it’s clear he is a very promising player.

    He did well enough this year that I predict he will be a better pro than Brewer.

  66. Caleb:

    I disagree about Frye’s worth. This is a guy one year removed from a PER of 18 and a First-Team All-Rookie selection. Even in the deepest of drafts there are a few lottery picks who never have a year like Frye’s 05-06. He clearly isn’t a good fit on this year’s Knicks and has seemingly lost all his confidence. Any team looking to get a bigman who can score knows that if they can restore his confidence and put him in the right system he can be that player for them. This might be especially important for teams who just made or just missed the playoffs who feel that they’re one piece away from making the playoffs or the second round. In the draft they run the risk of getting someone who never produces or doesn’t produce for several years. Of course, they also have the chance of finding a great all around player. If they feel that’s the case they’re obvoiusly going to be aware of Frye’s shortcomings and have no interest.

    So, depending on what other teams are looking for I think Frye’s value could be significantly higher than the mid-20s.

    Brewer may not be the next Jordan, but he has a chance to be a sane, good teammate Artest. If you’re looking at him, Wright, Green, and Batum he clearly has the best defensive potential, and while he’s not the point forward that the other three are I think he has as much chance as the others (maybe not Batum who’s the only strong perimeter shooter right now and may have the best chance to develop into a primary scoring option in my opinion) to develop into a scorer. Green and Wright also look a bit like tweeners, while Brewer can clearly play the 3 (especially if he develops a perimeter shot).
    I don’t think you’d be going wrong by adding any of those 4, depending on what kind of a team you’re constructing.

    In terms of the Knicks, if we had a chance at trading up I might like to see more of a point-forward, but a lock-down defender and hard worker like Brewer would also be nice. As far as three point shooting, Batum’s your only option. However, I don’t think the Knicks are such bad perimeter shooters if you replace Crawford with a shooting guard who can actaully shoot.

  67. Ted, it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a GM who agrees with you on Frye. I’m not totally down on him, but he’s superflous on the Knicks. He’ll never be as good as David Lee and he rebounds and defends too poorly to be an above-average center. I say see what he’s worth – and while we’re at – even though many here will disagree – see if we can find a GM who thinks Eddy Curry is a top-five center. You only need to find one sucker. Maybe shopping those guys together would land a really high pick, a Noah or Horford or Julian Wright… or an established young star in the league.

    One thing limiting Frye’s value is that he only has two years left on his rookie deal, versus four years for a draftee.

    Owen, I am a huge David Lee fan and would not trade him except for someone at least as good and young as Jermaine O’Neal. But let’s use JO as an example… is Lee’s ceiling really much higher? I think he will be a multi-time all-star, but Jermaine is there right now, and with his size will probably always be a better defender than Lee. It’s probably a moot point; I doubt most league decision-makers think as highly of Lee as we do.

    re: Brewer, his offense really improved this season, even if he wasn’t always dropping threes like he did on Championship night. He looks like Josh Howard or better to me – easily worthy of the top 5 or 6.

    p.s. Does anyone here like Andrei Kirilenko? He’s only a year older than Curry and Frye, you know.

  68. Kirilenko’s 26 actually, has a deadly contract, and looks like he’s never fully recovered from his knee issues. I’d pass on AK-47.

    As far as packaging Frye to move up, it makes sense, especially if Joakim Noah keeps slipping. What about making an offer to Sacramento at (presumably the 10th pick)

    Pick # 24


    Pick #10

    We take Ron-Ron off their hands. They get a young C/F to replace Miller and a defender (sort of) at SF. That’d make the rotation…’

    PG Marbs/Collins
    SG Craw/QRich
    SF Artest/Balkman
    PF Lee/Draft Pick
    C Curry/Morris

    Tru Warier is risky (to put it mildly) but the last time we traded for a SF w/”issues”, we got a cat named Sprewell, who turned out rather nicely…

  69. Sacto might go for that, and it’s not a bad calculated gamble for us. (altho I think Isaiah really hates Arest – even wanted to ban him from the playoff roster one year, before he went publically nuts).

    So Kirilenko is 2 years older…

    True, his contract looks bad, but at his age and past performance (aside from 2006-07) it’s a heck of a lot better than some deals we might unload – say, Rose, Crawford and a pick. If he ever returns to form he’d be worth it.

    Have you seen him play recently? I have no idea myself, but from reading blogs and ESPN I had the impression his problems were moer from not getting along with Jerry Sloan, and from being utilized differently i.e. as an outside jump shooter.

    It reminds me of John Starks. #3 never looked the same after getting knee surgery in ’93-94, even though he came back for those unforgettable playoffs. The rest of his career he was a jump shooter. Still a smart, decent player but never again an All-Star, the guy who threw it down on Horace Grant. I always assumed it was the knee, but the media forgot about that and blamed Starks’ problems on going psycho from going 0-for-infinity vs. Houston.

  70. That would be a good trade for the Knicks talent wise. I don’t think Sacramento would do it though. If nothing else, it would sure be interesting to see what Artest does the first time he gets booed at the garden.

  71. Ron ron would have to commit something wso heinous as to be banned from the league before Sac would trade for a player who has been sub-par since the first two months of his rookie year, a role player masquerading as a starter in Jeffries and dropping 14 spots in a strong draft. Stranger things have bhappend but this would be up there. Maybe throw in the rights to Frederic Weis, if they still exist?

  72. I haven’t see Kirilenko much this year but against the Knicks he looked pitiful on offense. Travels, missed FTs. An uneducated guess would be combo of knees and getting a little too full of himself have turned him into Jared Jeffries with more blocked shots.

  73. Ken – My sense in that Isaiah has I think a laudable focus on character. I don’t think he would bring in Artest. And I dont think Sacramento would make the trade for essentially garbage.

    Kirilenko is interesting. To throw some WOW at you, he was a .295 last year, where .100 is average. That is truly outstanding. This year he has been a .166, above average, and definitely worth having for almost any player other than Lee or Balkman, but not as good. Who knows what he will look like next year. In an injury situation, the stats can’t really tell you much.

    In general, I think the Knicks out to look at the Center position, rather than trying to get help for Lee at the Power Forward position with Kirilenko or Noah, unless you guys think those guys are potential centers, in which case it sounds fine. As long as someone is taking Curry off the court I am happy.

    Ted – I enjoyed watching Frye last year. Average PER is 15, so he was a bit above average in that metric But PER arguably overemphasizes shooting, which is something Frye did a lot of. You only need to shoot 30.4% to show a profit on your shooting on that metric, after that you are rewarded for taking more shot attempts rather than for scoring efficiently. It’s the major weakness of Hollinger’s approach, which is admirable in other ways.

    In the WOW scheme Frye was a bit below average at .70, where .100 is average, but he was hurt in the WOW evaluation by being rated a pf/c. If you consider him a true power forward, or even a sf/pf mix, which is what his game looks like, he might actually have rated a bit above average last year.

    Basically that is to say, I agree with you. I also think Frye can still be an above average player if he can play as well as he did last year, and if you dont try to play him as a true center, where he just doesn’t fit due to poor rebounding and defense. He has been really horrible this year though. Too many jump shots.

    Caleb and Ted – It will be interesting to see how things work out with Brewer. So many players are so highly touted coming out of college, think Marvin Williams, and turn out to be busts. Corey Brewer could come in anywhere between Stacey Augmon and Josh Howard, or end up somewhere in the middle as a Tayshaun Prince type. I dont think however that Artest is a good comparison. Artest is a huge, powerful guy. His defensive style is completely different than Brewer’s, who btw is listed as weighing 30 POUNDS LESS than Prince, who is one of the skinniest, gangliest looking dudes I have ever seen. I wonder if Brewer has the necessary physicality to thrive in the NBA. Look at Bruce Bowen, putatively the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and much much stronger than Brewer looks to ever be. I dont think he projects to look like Scottie Pippen either.

    The WOW has anecdotally had some success using the method on college stats, though he hasn’t done anything systematic. He projected Paul Millsap and Brandon Roy before the year started as the two most productive rookies based on their college numbers, and those have turned out to be very accurate predictions. Based on a WOW analysis of college stats, Renaldo Balkman was also the highest rated small forward in college last year, which is sort of surprising. But he has basically matched that output in the pros.

    Berri is going to take a crack at evaluating college players later in the year and it will be interesting to see what he thinks of Brewer and how his college stats match up with Balkman’s.

    Caleb – I am obviously a thorough Wages of Wins fanatic, and those number say David Lee is the most productive player per minute in the NBA. Sounds a bit wacko, but it’s not really that crazy when you think about it. He averaged a double-double this year without having basically any plays run for him and led the league in shooting efficiency as well. His per minute rebounding is near the top of the league. His FT shooting skyrocketed this year so that his TS% was 65%, much higher than Curry’s. He is quite a good passer. His steals and blocks are nothing special and he isn’t a great”lock-down” defender, but he doesn’t seem to me to be as bad in that dept. as some on this board think. He has a high basketball IQ and has improved a lot this year I think. And just by virtue of being a great rebounder he contributes significantly on the defensive end simply by ending opponents possessions. Another major strength is that he commits very very few turnovers, which is a huge asset.

    Leaving WOW aside, Lee has a higher PER this year than Oneal, despite the fact that he scores much less. Since the metric is weighted toward absolute scoring, that suggests that isn’t just the WOW that indicates Lee is possibly already much better than Oneal. But it has been a down year for Jermaine. He was much better last year and in the past obviously, he is a bona fide star.

    Basically, do I think Lee is a better player than Oneal? I do, hesitantly, but I definitely think he will be better over the next 5 years. I think his ceiling is very high actually. While I am not a fan of jump shots generally, I think Lee is very likely to develop a pretty decent one and have some plays run for him in the near fuure. If Oakley could do it, Lee certainly can. This will hurt his true shooting percentage (Oneal is just at 50% this year btw) and help his scoring. Given 35 minutes, a few years down the road I think David Lee will probably average 18 and 12, shooting 55% from the field with low turnovers and good assists. Those are really good numbers, definitely All-Star numbers. Winning numbers too. He looks like a future top ten player, though he may never be recognized as such given how we idolize scorers.

    But if someone said I was stupid for thinking that, I would have to shrug and say they were definitely entitled to their opinion. Jermaine has been a monster his entire career and he is only 29. And it’s possible being paired with Curry during his “breakout” season has helped Lee’s stats a great deal this year, although personally I think Lee helps Curry much more than the other way around.

    Certainly if you could re-sign Lee after next year to a reasonable contract extension, he would definitely represent a much much better value financially than O’neal. You would have a lot of money available to pay for another productive player.

  74. Considering that Artest’s been completely unreliable in what was supposed to be a second chance and blown the chemistry of a moderately talented team to threads I’d say the Kings would have to give Artest away if it weren’t for a contract that allows him to be a free agentafter next season. Maybe some team would take a one year risk if the asking price was right, especially because he’s playing for a contract. There’s no way I would take the risk if I were the Knicks, though. Artest’s ego to complement the ego’s of Isiah, Marbs, Francis, Crawford, Curry??? No thanks. It’s like bringing in Francis and asking him to be a third guard: they both want to be stars and won’t show up for work if they don’t get at least 20 shot attempts per game. Of course, Isiah knows Artest and had some success molding him into a very good player, so he’s in a pretty good position to make this decision.

    Ak-47, on the other hand, makes some sense for the Knicks as he’s not only a strong defender when healthy, but also a very good passer (although he turns it over at a pretty bad rate). That’s a combination they could use at the 3, especially if they replace Crawford with a shooting guard who can shoot. I have a feeling AK’s knee problems are similar to Steve Francis’. A physical would probably determine if there are any real lingering effects.
    Really depends what Utah’s asking for. SG, and if AK’s gone SF as well, seems to be their weakest position. Crawford doesn’t seem like a Jerry Sloan player, but he did enjoy maybe his best season under another old-school coach: Larry Brown. Maybe we could trade our injury concern for theirs by giving them Q, but he’s one of our top three perimeter shooters.

    In either an Artest or Ak-47 trade I fear that Isiah might get into another bidding war against himself, as he did with the Crawford and Curry deals.

    I threw the Brewer-Artest comparison out there not to say that Brewer will play exactly like Artest, but just to say that he might have a similar impact on a basketball game as a lock-down defender and raw but productive offensive player. Gaining stregth is a matter of work ethic, and Brewer seems to have a strong one. At the same time, mass and strength are not necessarily the same thing: your gangly friend Prince is considered to be a pretty good defender. I would say Brewer is one of the most physical perimeter defender in this draft and with his off the charts athleticism I see no reason he should struggle physically in the NBA. I do, however, think he’ll struggle initially if he’s asked to create for himself.

  75. But who is higher profile than David Lee, Jon? I mean, if it is KG, I wouldn’t mind it, ya know? :)

  76. so, Lee, Frye and Francis for Garnett? would you guys do that? Garnett and Curry would complement each other really well, I think.


    Jeffries, Robinson, James, 1st round pick, Rose

    I love Lee as much as anyone, but that might be a trade that makes sense all around.

  77. I hate to do it, but I think it’s time to try to derail the burgeoning Mardy Collins bandwagon. Howard Beck had a piece about Collins in today’s NYT that might have been the least insightful and most bizarre pieces of basketball journalism I can remember reading. This was the lead in…

    ?Mardy Collins? recent emergence as a shooter has been a rare bright spot for the Knicks. Yet Renaldo Balkman and David Lee still lack an outside shot??

    I posted the following earlier today over the WOW Journal in a comment thread, so the stats don’t include tonight’s game.

    Collins has played more than 30 minutes in each of the last ten games. He averaged just under 15 points in that stretch on 52-134 from the field with nine three pointers and 34-51 from the line. This 39% shooting performance apparently proves to Howard Beck he has hidden dimensions as a scorer. The Knicks lost every one of those games except the Bucks contest, (where Curry went hog wild against a front line of Ilyasova and Gadzuric.) Looking at NBA Babble, (a website that tracks WOW results) it seems Collins is in the negative zone overall for these ten games.

    What?s interesting from a WOW perspective is that Collins has put up robust totals for a point guard in every other category, (including unfortunately turnovers.) He is averaging 5.8 asts, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 3.8 turnovers. It seems the obvious conclusion from looking at his stats would be that he
    might be a valuable contributor if he could turn the ball over a little less and shoot much less, while continuing to rebound, assist, and steal at a high rate.

    Yet what we are urged to take away by Beck is the exact opposite conclusion, that he is an emerging and surprisingly effective scorer whose jump shot ?is on the rim” and ?looks good? according to Malik Rose.

    His thinking about Lee and Balkman is very typical also. The party line in New York seems to be that the Knicks have failed because they don?t have enough dead-eye outside shooters for Eddy Curry to generate open shots for by commanding double and triple teams. In this narrative, Lee, Balkman, and Jeffries are culprits since they can?t shoot outside jump shots. Given that the first two are the best and very probably second best players on the Knicks I find this entire line of reasoning more than a little bit preposterous. There clearly is a powerful myth of the jumpshot. Apparently, you can?t really be judged to be an effective player in the NBA if you don?t have one, unless you are a true center. And if you do have one, even if you only connect on it 39% percent of the time or less, you get credit for being a shooter. People instinctively prefer players who score on the perimeter, even if they do so with much lower efficiency, since this ?stretches the defense? and ?opens things up for other players.? Whether this actually helps offensive efficiency or leads to winning doesn?t seem to matter at all. It seems pretty clear to me Mardy isn’t helping the Knicks win basketball games. But by virtue of having the courage to miss a lot of jump shots he has become a “rare biright spot” and somehow deflected the blame on Lee and Balkman. It’s a ridiculous piece I think.

    I like Mardy and I hope he makes it, but nothing in his statistics thus far suggest he can be a productive NBA player. A 45% TS% is just too low.


  78. Lee vs. O?Neal:

    As I?ve written here before, I think WOW seriously inflates the value of rebounding. On a team level, it is largely measuring defense by counting the number of rebounds, which correlate closely to opponents? missed shots. On an individual level, this is problematic because centers and PFs rack up rebounds no matter who on the defense is responsible for the missed shot. If rebounds were valued more reasonably, David Lee would still be impressive but wouldn?t rank as the best player in the NBA.

    Also, WOW ? like other stats ? has virtually no way to measure defense. Subjectively, O?Neal is awesome, even before you factor in that he?s top 5 in blocks. I was at a game in Indy this year when he covered Amare Stoudamire 1-on-1 the whole game, and more than held his own. Based on TV viewing, it was no aberration and for what it?s worth, Hollinger picked him as Defensive Player of the Year. (the article is a pretty interesting discussion of defensive stats and their limitations).

    As for Lee, he?s solid guarding power forwards and will probably improve as he gets stronger, but he?s too slow to guard 3s and not big enough to guard most centers. On offense, if he ever develops an Oakley-esque jump shot, watch out. Until then… he won’t stay a 60 percent shooter if he starts taking 15 or 20 shots a game.

    True, Lee gives much more bang for the buck than O’Neal, but we?re so far over the cap through 2010 it doesn?t matter much. JO?s contract is huge but it?s a heck of a lot more valuable than whatever contracts we would ship out in the deal. And if it doesn?t work out, as an asset O?Neal won?t depreciate much ? in two years he?ll still be 30 and valuable. Also, while Lee has more upside, it?s not like he?s 21 and sky?s the limit. Bottom line: I?m in no hurry to give him up, but I?d seriously consider it for a top-5 pick this year, or an established All-Star in his mid- to late-20s. Shawn Marion?

    p.s. Just as context, Lee is 24. These are some peers ? other hot ?young? forwards:

    Boris Diaw 25
    Drew Gooden 25
    Zach Randolph 25
    Amare Stoudamire 24
    Anderson Varejao 24
    David Lee 24
    Emeka Okafor 24
    Gerald Wallace 24
    Chris Bosh 23
    Al Jefferson 22
    LeBron James 22
    Luol Deng 22
    Renaldo Balkman 22
    Joakim Noah 22
    Josh Smith 21
    LaMarcus Aldridge 21
    Andris Biedrins 21
    Al Horford 20
    Marvin Williams 20
    Tyrus Thomas 20
    Kevin Durant 18

  79. Caleb – Good post.

    First off, if JO covered Stoudamire that game he did a great job of keeping Amare’s scoring in check, since he was just 8-22. However, he forgot to box out apparently, which is the other major part of defense. Stoudemire racked up 18 rebounds, including ELEVEN at the offensive end. This is such a good example of how rebounding IS important to defense, possibly more important. It’s not enough to just force a miss. NBA teams dependably miss shots. You also have to help end your opponent’s possession. Although Stoudemire didn’t shoot well, he increased his team’s scoring output with his boarding. And that is Jermaine Oneal’s fault, if as you say he guarded him all game.

    I think if you look at the stats for THIS season, its very clear Lee was much better than JO. Lee’s TS% was 65% Oneal’s was 50%. Lee rebounded at a rate 33% better than JO. Those are not academic differences, those are enormous differences, the kind of differences that JO’s undoubted edge in defensive abilities cannot compensate for.

    Your belief that in order for Lee to increase his scoring average nine points to match JO’s he would have to sacrifice 15% of his TS% is highly questionable. But even if it turned out that way, Lee would still have a major edge in rebounding in his favor. JO’s defensive abilities would have to be worth 3-4 possession per game just to make him as good as Lee was this year.

    Looking at 82games also, it doesnt seem like there is much to choose between them this year.

    In JO’s favor, this year is a very small sample. He has a demonstrated track record over many years. Lee has sixty games basically, so his performance this year could be an aberration. Of course in Lee’s favor, JO may be passing his prime. Throw salary considerations out the window and that helps JO a lot also, though I think its silly to disregard the fact that Lee is as good as he is for 13 million less.

    I would like more data on Lee, but if he performs next year as he did this year, I think we would severely regret making the trade over the course of the next five years.

    My issue with this trade talk is that adding Garnett or JO at the expense of Lee is not going to improve this team, very much if at all. All it will do for a while is improve how we think about the team and about ourselves as Knicks fans. Garnett IS a better player than Lee, but bringing him here wont make a huge difference in Wins. The difference between them is not enough to transform the Knicks into a contender. It’s probably not enough to get them into the playoffs next year.

    Curry/Garnett/Marbury/Crawford/Balkman, is the recipe for another 35-40 win season. We may be more watchable by virtue of having a major star out there, but we wont be much better.

    In order for us to have a good team next year, we need Lee and another player of similar or higher caliber. Good teams in this league have at least two good players. Dirk and Josh, Nash and Marion (and Stoudemire), Shaq and Kobe. Duncan and Ginobili. The Knicks won’t improve much by switching one excellent player for another. What I like about Lee is the he is sufficiently good, cheap, and currently underrated, that pairing him with another star seems very achievable. Once you take on Garnett of JO it becomes harder to find a horse for them to run with than it presumably should be with Lee.

    My basic hope is that we lock up Lee, and a few years down the road pair him with Lebron. That is could be a championship combination. JO and Garnett will be washed up by then.

    The major problem with the Knicks, for the five hundredth time, is Curry, who is completely unproductive, and untradeable apparently due to his heart. As long as he plays 35 minutes per game, the Knicks will struggle.

    Caleb – Re the WOW and rebounding. I remember when you made that comment. I also remember responding to it with a barrage of links and what I felt was a pretty thorough explanation of why you were incorrect. I dont remember your response however. I dont think you wrote one.

    Since then, Berri has taken his method further. Using 82games he created a defensive adjustment, in a way that even Rosenbaum agreed made sense on the APBR board. You can take it or leave it, but it showed the non-box score individual defensive impact of players was statistically significant but very small. Here is Berri’s post on the subject.


    If you want his explanation re rebounding, read the WOW post, Do We Overvalue Rebounding? Just punch that into google.

    When you say to me, the WOW overvalues rebounding, my response is very simple. No it doesnt. The truth is, you overvalue scoring. What the WOW shows by looking at many kinds of evidence, including, salary, awards, wins, attendance, WOW stats, jersey sales, and other measures, is that scoring is systematically overvalued in the NBA. Overvalued relative to what? Overvalued relative to winning basketball games, and overvalued relative to rebounding.

    What people think they like in a basketball player and what actually produces wins are often two very different things. Kevin Durant is going to get a huge shoe contract, Greg Oden is not. It’s pretty clear who the more exciting player is to nearly everyone on the planet. Furthermore, Durant was invited to try out for Team USA, an honor not extended to Oden. Durant has unlimited range, talk about a jumpshot!, is a great college rebounder, hit clutch shots this season, can create off the dribble, and thrives in an uptempo basketball scheme. That is what people love to see.

    I am a bit of a scientist. I think that perhaps rating players according to how much they get for their shoe contract, might not be the best method of determining their value on the basketball court. It’s clear to me and many others that Greg Oden will be a much better player and win many more games in the NBA, despite his small shoe contract.

    Watching the Mcdonald’s All-American game, it was also clear that OJ Mayo is going to be on TV a lot, score a lot, and get a huge sneaker contract too. But its very clear to me that Kevin Love, plodding, ugly white guy, is going to be a much better player.

    The NBA has generated a huge data set since it started keeping track of the full box score. Berri has shaken all that data out. Basically he said, what stats lead to wins, and what stats don’t. If you look at stats and wins, where does the data take you? The conclusion was fairly resounding. Shooting, especially inefficient shooting, does not lead to wins. That is why Allen Iverson’s teams have won so few games in his career. However, players who rebound extremely well often seem to be on winning teams though. Perhaps that is why the Sixers best season was when Dikembe Mutombo and George Lynch were on the team and in their prime.

    You can say rebounding is overvalued, but the test is very simple. Let’s give Berri the stats for each team. Lets indulge him and his “overvaluing” of rebounding. And then lets see if he can use his method to “predict” how many games they won. If he can do this, and in fact he can with 95% accuracy, wouldn’t this suggest that rebounding is not overvalued? That there is in fact a relationship between rebounding and winning? Or perhaps that good defense is more about getting rebounds, and less about creating bad shots?

    Let me try another tack here. I think the strong point of the WOW is that it has proved surprisingly good at objectively solving analytical puzzles. Puzzles like for instance:

    How is it that the Houston Rockets had a better record for 32 games without Yao Ming this year, than they had with him before his injury?

    You answer that, then I will provide the WOW answer, and perhaps the discussion thereafter can shed some light on whether the WOW or any method of statistical analysis of basketball data has any merit at all when it comes to figuring out what wins games in the NBA.

  80. Of course the WOW formula accurately correlates wins and team rebounds – it’s based on the relationship between various team stats and wins, so that’s a circular argument.

    The problem or challenge comes in translating the team stats to indivudual ratings. I didn’t find “Do We Overvalue Rebounds” convincing but I haven’t read Berri’s update or the others who chimed in. I’ll have to get back to you.

    In the meantime, I’ll just say that a) Berri’s work is good; b) it leaves a lot of questions, for example: Would a team with 5 Dikembe Mutombos be successful? Or 5 Renaldo Balkmans? Those are extreme examples, but I think the answer is obviously – no. Do you disagree?

    I believe there is plenty of evidence that basketball players affect each other’s stats on the court, and that their performance depends in part on their role on the team… NOT like baseball players who, based on a large body of research, produce results almost completely independent of their teammates.

    Re: the Rockets, Berri made a convincing argument for Mutombo, although you don’t need his formula to figure that out. I suggested on the WOW board that some of it has to do with McGrady and Yao stepping on each other’s strengths. The law of diminishing returns that Berri has pointed out is especially obvious in this case. The simple version: Yao playing = fewer shots for McGrady = not maximizing his value. Not a problem with Deke.

    Re: Lee, I’m not saying that even a trade for O’Neal is a slam dunk. BUT,
    1) you assert, subjectively, that O’Neal’s defense and defense in general doesn’t make much difference. Maybe, maybe not.
    2) You’re ignoring a side benefit, that to make any deal work we would be shipping out some terrible contracts.
    3) I think you overestimate Lee’s likely improvement as a player. He’s terrific now, but he’s not so young that he’s going to a whole new level.
    3a) I think you understimate the number of good years O’Neal has left. I don’t think we’ll see much decline until his current contract runs out.

  81. p.s. in that Indy/Phoenix game, Stoudamire had single digit points and rebounds through 3 quarters. Indy was killing them. Then, mainly through Nash and Marion, Phoenix came from 18 down… and Amare really padded his #s in the last few minutes. I forget if O’Neal was still playing him. Amarea is a great player, but it wasn’t his night most of the time.

    Obviously one game is a ridiculously small sample; otherwise, JO would be averaging 7 blocks a game.

    If I remember right, that was the start of Indy’s 12 game losing streak.

  82. Berri does connect individual stats to wins through offensive and defensive efficiency. I am not sure this makes his method circular.

    If you can find my original response to your comments, the other links are there. Or if you search for hollinger on the WOW site, you will find some useful stuff going back several months.

    I dont disagree that a team of five Mutombo’s would not succeed. I don’t think that really has anything to do with anything though. Basketball requires several classes of players. Berri’s model is built around a traditional five player lineup. All of his analysis is driven by the comparison of players to the mean for their position. Eddy Curry’s stats would look a lot better if he were a point guard. But he isn’t.

    I do think players are affected by their teammates. It is different from baseball in that sense. But I think this effect is generally quite small. Basketball is also different from baseball in that players are measurably very consistent year over year. Tim Duncan has been pretty much the same player his entire career, despite having a constantly shifting group of teammates. So has Kevin Garnett. Michael Jordan was the same outrageously productive player with Horace Grant, Kerr, and Bill Wennington as he was with Rodman,Kukoc, and Longley, if I have those lineups right. Overall player performances does vary a bit, but so little that it indicates convincingly that the effect of teammates on performance is statistically very slight.

    Re Mutombo, first off, I forgot you posted over at the WOW, thanks for doing so. Didn’t you post under a different name? Confusing…

    You talk about the Rockets question as if everyone agrees its completely obvious that Mutombo was responsible for there continuing succes, i.e. “although you don?t need his formula to figure that out.” I think you do need a formula to figure it out. I didn’t see one sportswriter give Mutombe the lion’s share of credit he deserves. Bill Simmons said this yesterday, which I think perfectly reflects the conventional wisdom:

    “When Yao went down for 32 games with a fractured kneecap, T-Mac carried the team to a 20-12 record and boosted his stats to a 29-6-6 for that stretch.”

    The major point from my perspective, and Berri’s also, is not simply that Lee is this much better than Curry or JO or whatever. It’s pointing out how people evaluate the world using various heuristics and biases, and how quite often they therefore completely miss out on what’s really going on. People clearly evaluate the NBA and compensate players using the heuristic “scoring is the most important thing, regardless of shooting efficiency.” All you have to do is look at salaries, shooting efficiency, and scoring totals to see that. Trust me, it completely checks out. There is also no correlation between salary and wins. So they arent paying for performance. Individual scoring, absent shooting efficiency, has nothing to do with winning basketball games.

    Of course, its also interesting that the WOW might provide some insight into how to improve the Knicks.

    Vis a vis JO and Lee –

    1) I wasn’t asserting it subjectively, I was asserting it objectively, based on evidence from Berri and 82games. And I wasnt asserting that defense it unimportant, but that defense not already measured by defensive statistics is relatively unimportant, a qualification which I made in my original post. In any case, I dont hear you denying that Lee was statistically much better than JO this year, which he certainly was. If you want to say that JO’s off box score defensive contribution was so large as to make up the substantial difference between them, I cant really argue with you. Let’s say we agree that Lee’s statistics are much better than Jo’s, but that JO’s But off-box-score defensive impactcloses that gap. And JO makes more than 10 million more.

    2) I suppose I am ignoring that side benefit if it in fact exists. I am not that up on it. But you were the one who pointed out that money seems to be no object here. At any rate, I wouldnt trust them to sign a good player once they got flexibility. Isaiah only drafts well, which is ridiculous considering it should be much easier to find players once they have a track record in the NBA.

    3) I dont know that I overestimate his improvement. I have already said his WOW stats show he is the best player in the league on a per minute basis. In my view, he doesn’t need to improve. If he does what he did this year for the next five years somewhere else, we are going to be very unhappy we let him go, especially if we could have signed him to a reasonable extension.

    The beauty of David Lee is that he would be the perfect complement to many star players in this league. Like Shawn Marion, he doesn’t need the ball to thrive. I read in a recent article that Marion scored 19 points in a game and had the ball less than 60 seconds for the entire game. That is the kind of player Lee is too. (I know Hollinger has statistics, (usage?) that bear this out.

    I will say it again, I think the best long term hope is Lee and Lebron. They would pair perfectly. We can sign Lee for a pittance. And Lebron wants to be here.

    3a) I dont know about JO’s future. You are right he probably has two more good years at least. Certainly he is younger than Garnett, and only five years older than Lee. He does have a lot of years on his odometer though. He has been in the league for a long time and that takes its toll. (unless that is another myth)

    It just makes sense to me to keep a budding star still on a rookie contract, and who you could possibly resign next year for much less than he is worth. That is how you build a championship team. You find someone who is undervalued and take advantage of that.

    Finally, vis a vis the details of the Suns-Pacers game, you are right that one game statistically means nothing. However, I do think it brilliantly illustrates the point that rebounding is extremely important to defense. If you allow the player you are guarding to collect 11 offensive rebounds, that is a serious deficiency in your defensive game, regardless of your on the ball skills. And this is an effect that is fully captured by your box score. In general, I just don’t buy the argument that off box score defense is anywhere near as important as box score defense, blocks, steals, personal fouls, and rebounds. I think that captures most of what is going on out there.

    Teams do affect opposing teams FG%, but I suspect its much easier to impact offensive efficiency by limiting second chances than by lowering FG%. Hmmm, I would have to think about that actually. I am sure someone has, something to research.

    I have also noticed anecdotally in perusing lists of all defensive teams that there is a strong correlation between rebounding and defense in those awards. I dont have hard numbers but looking at the list of all defensive guards for instance, it seems most if not all are excellent rebounders for their position, Kidd, Billups, Bryant, Jordan, for instance. Perhaps the physical tools and basketball instincts necessary to rebound well and to same as those required to defend well. If true, rebounding would be a case of correlation not being causation, which would support your point.

    Just thinking about this, first piece of evidence, Steve Francis, great rebounding guard, not a good defender…

  83. One point in your favor, Caleb. Jermaine may have quit trying or been hurt this year, which would explain why Lee was so much better statistically. According to Berri, who was responding to a comment about how he did not get the GS-Ind trade right.

    “Two key players on the GSW-IND trade. Jason Richardson and Jermaine O?Neal. Richardson got much, much better in the second half (returning to what he did in 05-06). O?Neal got much, much worse. Was O?Neal hurt? Did he quit trying? Something was very different about O?Neal in the second half.”

  84. I think the article on defense is inane beyond belief, over simplified and self-serving. By the measure of divvying up defense based on minutes or mintues played means that if we did that with offense a Jason Collins is as much a contributor on offense when he is on the court as is Jason Kidd or Vince Carter. Kwame Brown and Kobe and Smush Parker all get credited equally for time spent on the court together. So on and so on and so on. Its an interesting stat but trying to make it the be all and end all is a gross oversimplification.

  85. Nick – Do you mean the Berri piece? You don’t divide offensive output based on minutes played because its very easy to do so looking at offensive statistics.

    Trying to isolate individual defensive impact is more difficult, since defensive box score statistics, rebounds, steals, blocks, and personal fouls, dont seem to capture everything; for instance they dont measure on-the-ball defense.

    In the post you criticized, he was taking the opposite approach to “divvying up defense based on minutes played.” He was incorporating data from 82games that looks at opponents points per 100 possession on an individual basis and apportioning credit according to players success relative to the team average. I.e. if Haywood is on the floor and his team allows four less points than average, he should receive credit for that. Jarvis Hayes who allows two more points than average should receive a deduction.

    If the 82games data is good, that seems like a logical approach.

  86. But it oversimplifies becuase there are minimal individual defensive stats. My point was, throwing aside the fact that there are offensive stats, if you used the approach that is used for defense for offense it is ludicrous. Seeing as how score is kept for each team the other teams score is just as important as yours. So to effectively fluff off half the game in a stat and then present it as some sort of near ultimate measure of player effectiveness seems disingenuous at best.

    Another point as far as defensive rebounds to some extent they are similar to rushing attempts or yards in football (generally you run in the fourth when you are ahead and pass when you are behind). They are in large part a byproduct of something else. You can’t rebound without a missed shot. Obviously this is oversimplifying but if your team defense forces a lot of misses there will be more rebounding opportunities. Generally the team that has forced the most misses will have the most rebounds and win (obviously there are FTs, 3s, TOs and off. reb. to complicate things). This will be more a factor of defnese and opportunity than rebounding aptitude.

  87. I appreciate the long reply –

    re: Houston, I guess I am ignoring a lot of the static out there. It’s true that the vast majority of writers covering the game are oblivious. To me what happened in Houston was a huge surprise because Mutombo is about 50 years old but somehow played the way he did back in Philly. And Yao – I haven’t even glanced at his stats this year – but isn’t his imapct basically Eddy Curry without the turnovers?

    Berri: This might be outrageously stupid of me, but isn’t his formula derived by correlating team statistics to wins, then applying those correlations to individual stats? (plus correcting for position, in a way that seems a bit arbitrary)

    Lee & O’Neal:
    1) that’s basically what I’m saying – that JOs non-box score contributions are significant, though obviously very hard to measure. As an exercise, if you take Hollinger’s measure – that Indy saved 342 points by having him on the floor – that’s 4 points a game, a huge contribution. In fact, it seems too huge, but I still ahve a feeling that defense (aside from blocks and steals) varies considerably from player to player.

    2) My point about salary is that the guys on the team right now are not just highly paid but untradeable. You couldn’t give them away, without including sweeteners like draft picks. O’Neal, even at his huge salary, is not untradeable. Many teams would like to have him, which would give us more flexibility down the road.

    2a) My point in the anecdote about the Pacers-Suns games was that Stoudamire didn’t have as good a game as it looked in the box score – he padded his stats in the last 4 or 5 minutes after it was basically over. I think he literally had 8 or 9 rebounds in that time.

    3) I just don’t believe that Lee is the best player in the league. Sorry. Partly the small sample size, partly my issues with WOW, partly the defense issue, etc. But I do agree that he is very valuable right now, and probably should have made the big boy All-Star game.

  88. Eddy Curry v Yao? They have almost exactly the same TS%. Since they are both above average shooters, this helps both of them in terms of WinScore, but Yao scores 6 points more per game, so his scoring helps him more. Yao is better in every other category and the differences are substantial. They are pretty far from basically the same.

    I made this table using the Hollinger stats on this site. I dont quite understand the TO statistic, since I know Mutombo commits very few turnovers. And Lee’s assists seem very high. Perhaps it’s relative to usage. Either way, its pretty clear why Eddy Curry falls so far short of being an average center. As has been said many times before he is not simply bad, but dramatically, even historically bad as a passer. He rebounds like a SF, and he turns the ball over like a point guard.

    Yao Curry Lee Mutombo
    reb 16 11.9 20.7 21.9
    ast 7.5 4.1 15.5 5.4
    TO 13.2 17.7 13.7 15.7

    Re Mutombo, yes it is amazing that he is playing as well as ever.

    “…isn?t his formula derived by correlating team statistics to wins, then applying those correlations to individual stats? (plus correcting for position, in a way that seems a bit arbitrary)”

    No. He begins with the fact that offensive and defensive efficiency (i.e. points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) predict wins with 95% accuracy. If you score as many points as you allow over a season, you should on average win 41 games.
    This is an approach Oliver worked out, not Berri, and is a cornerstone of basketball statistics.

    Berri took another step, connecting individual stats to team efficiency using regression analysis. I wont explain it very well, I think the post below does a good job. The basic point. You can look at the box score stats, and if you value them properly, you can accurately estimate how many wins a team had. And given that basketball players are very consistent year over year, this implies you can use the same method to predict future wins. That is in fact what Berri did perfectly after the Iverson trade. He was the only person in the entire world who said, the Sixers will go 37-42. And they did.

    It’s these kind of successes that convince me his approach is useful. Obviously this kind of forecasting has difficulties. Players get injured, rookies arrive who dont have a track record to plug in, coaches play players on the floor for different amounts of time than expected, and player performance varies. But from what I have seen, Berri is quite accurate. And his approach as I said yields much more convincing answers to puzzles like the Rockets question and also allows you to guage management decisions much more accurately.

    Again, he explains it better than I do, (though not as well as he might) in this post. Really, it helps to see the whole argument laid out in the book, but I dont expect anyone on this board to take things that far. :-)


    One more point re our original discussion over whether rebounding is overvalued. In his system a point and a rebound are worth the same. But a player who scores ten points and player who collects ten rebounds have not necessarily made the same contribution to winscore. Shooting efficiency matters a great deal.

    The ten rebounds are counted directly to winscore. However those ten points scored have an associated cost, the shot attempts necessary to accumulate them. If a player scores ten points on perfect 5-5 shooting, this only nets five units of winscore, because he is deducted for his 5 shot attempts.

    In brief, scoring only contributes positively to Winscore above a 50 ts% threshold. Curry scores a lot of points, but they are all two point field goals. And his Ft shooting doesnt help him much, So his relatively prolific scoring does not help his winscore very much.

    Lets look at an average Curry game using winscore. It might make clear how Curry can score so much, yet be so unproductive.

    To make the example simple lets say he plays all 48 minutes of the game. He shoots 12-20 from the field. He scores 24 points but is deducted 20 shot attempts. Therefore this part of his scoring only contributes 4 points to winscore. He goes 7/10 from the free throw line. This nets him another two points, since you deduct .5Ft attempts (10 attempts/2 = 5) just as you would with shot attempts. So with his total scoring, since he hasn’t taken any three point attempts, he has netted six units of winscore.

    The average winscore for the center position per 48 is 10.8. This is not arbitrary, but reflects the average historical production of centers over the past 25 years in terms of winscore. Obviously the center position is always played by a platoon of players, no one plays all 48 minutes. But lets just continue the comparison, acknowledging that he doesnt play 48 minutes. It’s instructive.

    So again, despite scoring 31 points Curry still has a way to go to match the average. Having netted 6 units towards his goal of 10.8, he needs six more. He needs to make up the difference with his possession statistics, by accumulating rebounds, steals, and blocks without committing turnovers or fouls. If you know Eddy Curry, you know this is a major problem.

    Lets say he collects eight rebounds and commits four turnovers. This gives him four more units of winscore. He is at a total of 10, so close! He records one assists and one block. This gives him another unit of Winscore. 11. But during the game he commits four fouls, and is deducted a .5 units for each(since a personal foul is worth half a point or a rebound). Therefore when all is said and tabulated he ends up with a winscore of 9.

    At the end of the game he has played 48 minutes, scored 31 points with 8 rebounds, but is still below the average production for his position.

    This sounds crazy to people I know. It gets crazier. In the same game, Samuel Dalembert also plays 48 minutes. He collects 15 rebounds, goes 3-4 from the field, with two blocks, 2 steals, two assists, one turnover, and four personal fouls. In this game, with those stats, he is twice as productive as Curry and with a total winscore of 18 is way above average.

    That isn’t how people generally think about basketball. However, the numbers work. Take a player who is better, i.e. on average he gets better Winscores, and substitute him for someone who is worse, and you will not only win more games, you will win them roughly in proportion to how much better he is.

    That is actually exactly what happened with Iverson and Miller. Berri looked at the data, which said Miller was much better tahn iverson, nearly twice as good, and predicted based largely on this that the Sixers would go 37-42. And they did.

    I have simplified things a bit here. Winscore is a proxy for the final, slightly more complicated, metric Berri uses, Wins Produced. They are a little bit different, but the gist is the same regardless. It is very possible to score 31 points on above average shooting, with eight rebounds, and be half as good as a player who only scored 6 points.

    Does that make sense to you Caleb?

  89. The Hollinger turnover statistic is a “rate” stat. It measures how many times per 100 possessions a player turns the ball over.

    It’s not a counting stat, like turnovers per game. Mutombo commits very few turnovers per game because he almost never touches the balls on the offensive end.

    When he does actually touch the ball, he has about a one in seven chance of turning it over. But he only touches the ball seven times a game, so it shows that he averages about one turnover per game.

    If you look at a player like Kobe or Nash or Wade who touch the ball for about forty plays per game, they would average between five and six turnovers at Mutombo’s rate.

  90. I read Berri’s online explanation and it skips over the way he initially devised his formula. (It just says: “The analysis reported in The Wages of Wins indicates that points, rebounds, steals, field goal attempts, and turnovers have basically the same impact ? in absolute terms ? on team wins….”)

    I’m being lazy – I’ll have to re-read the book – but I thought I recalled his starting point as being team statistics. Did he really type in every individual’s box score line for an entire season?

    p.s. “This is an approach Oliver worked out, not Berri, and is a cornerstone of basketball statistics.” (Bill James and Pete Palmer did the same thing in the ’80s, in baseball)

    p.p.s. I am still suspicious of position adjustments, since there’s such variety in the roles various teams give each position. e.g. NYK vs. Golden State.

  91. “Since then, Berri has taken his method further. Using 82games he created a defensive adjustment, in a way that even Rosenbaum agreed made sense on the APBR board.”

    Owen – can you link me to this?

  92. Caleb – This posting has taught me a few things. First, I am apparently incapable of saying anything about basketball statistics or Eddy Curry with ten words when a thousand will do.

    Second, I clearly didnt understand this as well as I thought I did, He does in fact proceed from team statistics. He finds a point and a possession are worth the same in terms of team wins using regression analysis. Increase the number of points a team scores or allows by 100, holding everything else constant, and the team will win 3.3 more games. This gives a value of .033 wins for a point scored and -.033 for a point allowed. The same logic works for possessions. A possession employed is worth -.034, and a possession acquired is worth +.0344. From there, they either use regression to determine the value of each individual action available on the court, or they simply take the values found for points and possessions and apply them. Either way, a point, a shot attempt, steal, turnover, and rebound are all found to have equal value in terms of team wins.

    He then takes that logic and it applies it to individual statistics.

    Alright, I think I have it right and now feel absolved from trying to explain this again. It was an interesting experiment, clearly I need to delve back into my old statistics textbook.

    On page 109 of the book “Summarizing all our Steps” might help. The entire Shaq or Kobe chapter is really what you need, if you still care. :-)


  93. Own –

    That transition – converting team stats to individual ratings – is where I see most of the potential weak points/blind spots, although my free time and math powers are not sufficient to sort them all out. I’ll play with a few numbers and try to write a more substantial post.

    I actually find much to admire in Berri’s work. Your previous post reminded me that many writers, and posters, are not even talking the same language. If the Crawford-Collins backcourt breaks through and leads us to a title next year, I’ll have to join them.

  94. If a point and a possession have a certain value at the team level, and if you can use regression to find the values of rebounds, turnovers, and points at the team level, it makes sense to me they would have the same value at the individual level. And the fact that applying this logic to the individual stats allows him to estimate wins with 95% accuracy retroactively, suggests that stats really do tell us something about the value of basketball players. But evaluating the statistics are perhaps beyond me at the moment too.

    I was an all-league HS basketball player once. I scored 14 points per game on 55% shooting, I never made a shot outside the paint. And I was second in my league in rebounding to a player who is now in the NBA. This bsckground I think predisposed me to the WOW, and also perhaps explains my vast affection for David Lee.

    These stats guys arent going anywhere. I think most people will cotton to it eventually. Many baseball fans have started to understand that batting average and RBI’s are less important than OBP and slugging. And I think basketball fans will slowly internalize the truth that high scoring, electric 42% shooters dont really help their teams win games and understand that Curry Fingers is not a great player even if he can fill it up. If they do, we might eventually see a better quality of play out on the court.

  95. Owen:

    You do a good job of supporting WOW, so much so that I think I’ll check it out.

    One question, I sort of breezed through everyting you wrote so maybe I missed the logic behind it, but:
    Why do made FGAs count against you? If everything goes according to plan is seems one player should take a shot for your team everytime down the court. If you happen to be that player, and you make the shot, why are you penalized (I guess not really penalized, but why does it count against you)?

  96. Ted – Sorry for the misunderstanding, a player isn’t penalized for making a shot, he is credited the value of that shot in points, but then deducted the value of the possession employed, which is equal to one point.

    So a two point field goal will yield you one unit of win score, and a three point field goal will yield you 2. Free throws work the same way basically as two point field goals, you are credited for the points you score but deducted a sum equal to half your total ft attempts, the logic being that two free throws have the same cost as one shot.

    Lets take for example Kobe’s game against the Rockets on Mar. 30. He scored 52 points. Amazing right? But let’s look at his winscore.

    Scoring – He scored 53 points on 44 shots and 14 fts. So divide the ft’s by 2, and you come up with a deduction of 51 possessions employed. So all that scoring netted him just 2 units towards his winscore.

    Gaining and maintaining possession – Kobe was exactly even on this metric, which isnt very good either. He had two rebounds, and two assists, which are half as valuable as a point or possession, for a total of three. However, he is deducted three for the cost of his three turnovers.

    Crimes and Rejections – Kobe gets deducted 1 for committing two personal fouls, which like assists and blocks are worth half as much as a point, rebound, steal or turnover.

    So for the entire game Kobe accumulated just one unit of winscore, and despite scoring 53 points, he was actually well below the average winscore production for the shooting guard position.

    It sounds a bit heretical doesnt it, but I believe this logic is quite sound. You CAN score 53 points in a game and yet still hurt your team’s chances of winning the game.

    Of course quite often when you when you have a fifty point game you DO help your team. On April 15, Kobe posted a winscore of 28, on 18-25 shooting, 11-13 ft, and a net of 10.5 towards winscore from gaining and maintaining possession. That was his best game of the season and one of the top 15 in the league this season. I am not saying scoring is a bad thing, just inefficient scoring.

    Kobe is a great player btw, but strangely most of his value comes not from his scoring, but from his above average ability for his position to gain and maintain possession.

    If you want to check out a great website, which has win score stats for every game and every player this year, go to:


    Hope that helps…

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