Wins Produced Splits Visualized

UPDATE: Post is up on Detroit Bad Boys. Link here.

A full post with comments will be posted to www.detroitbadboys.com. Please feel free to join the conversation there when it’s live. I will link the post here as soon as it’s live.

The splits presented here are from the beginning of the season to the end of March. I will create updated charts at the end of the season.

ADWP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

ADWP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

BG WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

BG WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

BK WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

BK WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

BW WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

BW WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

CV WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

CV WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

DW WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

DW WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

GM WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

GM WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

JJ WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

JJ WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

JM WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

JM WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

RS WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

RS WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

TP WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

TP WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

VM WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

WM WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

WB WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

WB WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

WR WP48 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

WR WP Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

Season totals below.

Season Totals through April 4 Microsoft Excel - Wins Produced Splits TEST

Props to The NBA Geek and Nerd Numbers for the data. Note that I’ve adjusted Austin Daye’s numbers in the season totals to reflect him playing at SF, while the NBA Geek has him slated at PF.

Are there any Free Agent Bigs to be had?

In today’s Pistons Mailbag, Keith Langlois observes:

It won’t be a very robust class of free agents in general, Isaac. Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry, Kris Humphries and Tyson Chandler are among the headliners, but there’s a reasonable chance they all wind up staying with their current teams. The Pistons would have to get creative to land one of them in a sign-and-trade type of deal. Two others who would be attractive have early termination options, David West and Nene. West might not exercise his since teams would be less likely to give him a long-term deal while he rehabs from a torn ACL. Nene probably isn’t going anywhere, either. Yao Ming will be a free agent, but it’s anybody’s guess how that ends – he might not play again. Two restricted free agents, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan, also are unlikely to switch teams.

Admittedly, I don’t know exactly what Keith means by “robust.” On the one hand, I agree with him in that I think it’s unlikely that a lot of big men will change teams this summer, so perhaps what he’s saying is there won’t be that many big men available for the Pistons. In this case, then I agree it won’t be robust.

But, perhaps he’s insinuating that the big men he goes on to list aren’t that valuable, and thus, the free agent class isn’t that robust. If that’s the case, then I disagree. As the numbers will demonstrate, there are several productive big men on the market, and while none of them will blow you away by scoring the basketball, that doesn’t mean their contribution isn’t critically important.

As always, to the numbers, and again as always, powered by NerdNumbers. (I’m excluding David West due to his serious injury)

2011-04-21 FA Big Men

Obviously, this short list doesn’t compare to the bonanza of 2010, and by contrast, it’s not nearly as robust. However, there are several useful big men on the market this summer, and while none of them offers points in bunches, several of them are more than capable of helping their teams win in other ways. And frankly, those are precisely the types of players the Detroit Pistons ought to be targeting.

Hopefully, Pistons management feels the same.

A simple question with a simple answer

Over at Pistons.com, another Q&A with Keith Langlois and Joe Dumars has been released. The first two question drew my attention immediately. Keith asks,

KEITH LANGLOIS: Let’s start with a question I asked some of the players after the win over Atlanta. Was that the type of performance you envisioned when you put the roster together?

JOE DUMARS: Yes. When you put the roster together, you envision that particular team playing a certain style and a certain way. That changes based on your roster. With this particular roster, the idea is to have depth; the idea is to be able to go to your bench and have little to no dropoff. When you see a game like the Atlanta game, you sit there and you say that’s how this team is supposed to play. That’s the game plan right there – to be able to go nine or 10 deep and to be able to sustain for 48 minutes.

Okay, that’s fine as far as it goes. When Dumars was assembling this team, he envisioned a team that would be able to compete with and win against Playoff teams. Got it. Yet, this team struggles to do so, and by my count, the win against Atlanta is the first win against a quality opponent this season.

KL: The followup to that is a simple question and I suspect not a simple answer. Why in your mind has that type of performance been elusive?

JD: Tough answer. The Atlanta game is how it’s supposed to work. When we have these lulls and these droughts, when we have games where we don’t close out the fourth quarter like we’ve done so many times this year, you sit there and you look for answers. I can’t give you a simple answer why that is, but the Atlanta game is – if you just look at that – that is the game plan of how we’re supposed to play.

So our inability to compete isn’t lost on Langlois or Dumars, but the reasons why appear to be.

Winning in the NBA

I started this blog in order to offer a very specific type of statistical analysis, and that analysis might illumine these reasons. That analysis also suggests a very simple answer. The reason that victories similar to the one over Atlanta remain elusive is that the collection of players Dumars has assembled simply isn’t effective at doing the things it takes to win in the NBA.

I’ve provided several tables (like this one) detailing the individual win contributions of each player. (If you’re interested in a more recent table, you can check out Dr. Berri’s recent analysis here)

For this post, however, instead of creating another such table, I thought we could look at some very simple team stats and compare those team stats to the rest of the league. Where do the Pistons as a team rank relative to other NBA teams? (All statistics courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com)

Before we get to the stats, let me state in my own words my understanding of what NBA teams need to do in order to win basketball games in very basic terms:

  • Make efficient use of their own possessions, i.e., score the ball efficiently and maintain possession of the ball (not give possessions away via turnover, in other words);
  • Secure possession of the ball effectively (which also denies the opponent possession of the ball), because you can’t win in basketball without having the ball, i.e., grab plenty of rebounds and the get the occasional steal;
  • Make it difficult for the opponent to make efficient use of their possessions, i.e., play good defense.

Regardless of one’s feelings on how successfully Wins Produced allocates win production to individual players, the three points above appear to be generally well accepted. So with that in hand let’s explore how the Pistons are performing as a group relative to these three things.

Efficiently Using Possessions?

When it comes to making use of our own possessions, we can examine three things easily. First is how efficiently we are scoring the ball. Looking at effective field goal percentage (explained here), the Pistons are shooting 48.2%, good for 22nd in the league (league average 49.7%).

Second is turnovers. The Pistons are better at taking care of the basketball than they are scoring it. Given that the pistons play at a relatively slow pace, it will be more useful to consider turnover percentage instead of totals, where the Pistons 13.1% turnover rate is good for 8th best in the league.

Finally is free throw attempts, but thus far the Pistons aren’t exceptional at getting the to free throw line — one of the most effective ways to score in the game.

So in sum, while we are good about retaining possession of the ball when we have it, we’re not very good about putting the ball in the hoop.

Securing Possession of the Ball?

When it comes to securing possession of the ball, we can examine rebounds and steals. When it comes to rebounding totals, the Pistons are 22nd in the league — not very encouraging. However, rebounding totals are also affected by the fact that the Pistons are currently playing at the 2nd slowest pace in the league — so again, we can compare rates over totals for a more complete picture.

Relative to offensive rebounding, the Pistons are respectable, posting numbers only slightly below the league average (25.9% relative to 26.3%). Given that we miss our fair share of shots, it’s nice to have players who hit the offensive glass. Relative to defensive rebounding, however, the Pistons are struggling mightily, posting numbers that rank them 22nd in league and well below the league average.

How about steals? In terms of totals, the Pistons rank 22nd in the league. Cellar dwellers, as it were.

So in sum, the Pistons are not very good at securing possession of the ball. The Pistons are respectable on the offensive glass, very poor on the defensive glass, and not very good at forcing turnovers.

Making Things Difficult for Opponents?

When it comes to making it difficult for opponents to use possessions efficiently, we already know that our defense doesn’t force many turnovers, and we can add that we rank 24th in the league in terms of blocked shots. Further, we know that the Pistons allow opponents to shoot 47.7% from the field and score 100 points per game (relative to our 44.5% and 94.7ppg). Moreover, our poor defensive rebounding means that we surrender the 11th most offensive rebounds to our opponents, i.e., we give the opposition several free possessions each game (in spite of not turning the ball over at a high rate). So the story the statistics tell is that we don’t make it very difficult for our opponents to do what they need to do to win.

Is the answer simple or not?

Okay, this post claims it will offer a simple answer. Here goes…

KL: The followup to that is a simple question and I suspect not a simple answer. Why in your mind has that type of performance been elusive?

Keith, the answer is actually quite simple. This type of performance has been elusive because the current cast of Pistons players hasn’t performed well — neither this season nor historically — relative to the things NBA teams must do in order to win basketball games. We don’t score the ball well, we don’t rebound the ball well, and we don’t defend well, and as a result, we don’t win much.

Ultimately, it’s not magic, rocket science, bad chemistry, or bad coaching, Keith and Joe. It’s just not-very-effective players playing not very effectively.

A familiar story unfolding in Motown

One of the findings of The Wages of Wins is that minutes played, player salaries, and points per game are correlated with one another. Put simply, players that score a lot of points tend to play a lot and make lots of money. What Dr. Berri and his colleagues discovered, however, is that winning games doesn’t necessarily correlate with the factors above. Or put simply, employing and paying players who score lots of points a lot of money and playing them big minutes doesn’t necessarily mean that your team will win lots of games.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is precisely what’s happening in Motown. The table below attempts to illustrate that the Pistons employ several players that manage to score points without helping the team win many games – and they pay many of these unproductive scorers plenty of money to do so.

2010-11-18 Points Minutes WP48

As we can see quite clearly, of the top 5 Pistons scorers, only one is above average for his position relative to WP48 (the per minute derivative of Wins Produced. Yet, all 5 are among the leaders in minutes played, and with the exception of Stuckey who is on the last year of his rookie deal, they lead the team in terms of salary.

Unfortunately for the Pistons, after 12 games their top scorers are not performing particularly well relative to any of the other important aspects of the game (i.e., rebounding, steals, blocks). Stuckey’s shooting has cooled off, Charlie V either won’t or can’t grab enough rebounds, and Tay and Rip can’t throw the ball in the ocean. To his credit, BG continues to play relatively well, although he still isn’t playing up to his contract.

It’s precisely because our management has opted to employ too many relatively unproductive scorers and not enough productive scorers and non-scorers (i.e., Ben Wallace, Jonas Jerebko, Tracy McGrady) that we find ourselves where we are – right where we were last year, on the outside of the Playoffs looking in and hoping for a lottery pick that can help turn the team around.

(Salaries taken from here and here)

Is Austin Daye Turning the Corner?

Commenter and fellow Pistons and Wins Produced aficionado Gabe recently pointed out that Austin Daye has been playing well recently (even if out of position). Gabe says,

It looks to me like Daye might be turning a corner. His non-scoring stats are holding steady, and his scoring efficiency is trending way up because of a hot streak from 3. Daye’s 3 point shooting % will go down, but there’s still some unrealized potential as he’s barely gotten to the line at all, if he can improve even a little bit at drawing free throws, his scoring efficiency should stay pretty good. He’s definitely not a PF, but paradoxically (to go back to a debate we had about a week ago), because of the crap-ness of the Pistons other candidates for minutes at PF, I think there is a chance that Daye is Q’s best option at PF on the roster.

I decided to take a quick look at some numbers, and Gabe’s absolutely right that Daye’s recent performance has been good. Because the season is so young, even a handful of games of good play can cause a large jump in WP48, and that’s exactly what’s happened.

After 3 games, Daye was producing in the negative range (-.174 WP48). After 10 games, Daye had moved into the positive range, but barely (.014 WP48). Now, only 3 games later, Daye has jumped to .068 WP48. Gabe is right to observe that this is largely due to a hot streak in shooting which will level off over time, but it’s encouraging nonetheless.

And for Pistons fans, at least there’s something to be interested in and excited about – a young player playing well isn’t something we’ve seen much of in recent years, and it certainly bears watching over the next several games.

Can Daye can continue to rebound well, keep blocking shots, keep knocking down open jumpers, and improve relative to getting to the FT line? I’m obviously biased as a Pistons fan, but I remain optimistic that Daye can do at least some of these things consistently, and if he can, I think we’ve found a very nice player who can be part of a core moving forward.

Ten Games In: About where I thought we’d be, sort of

One week into the young season, this team looked like it could lose all 82; in the midst of that dismal beginning, I offered some analysis that suggested the Pistons might win 34 games (or be a .415 ball club). After 10 games, the Detroit Pistons are 4-6 (or a .400 ball club). Yes, the sample is small, but our record thus far corresponds with what I anticipated in terms of winning percentage and record. However, the performances of individual players doesn’t, at least not in every case.  Here’s what the Automated Wins Produced Numbers tell us about the players’ performance through 10 games.

2010-11-15 Wins Produced

I thought an interesting approach to reviewing the team after 10 games would be to revisit some of my thoughts about individual players to see what I got right and what I got wrong. Complete box score stats here, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

Rodney Stuckey: Will the real Rodney Stuckey please stand up? Or thinking pessimistically, is he already standing? After a blistering start, Stuckey has regressed significantly. While what we’ve seen on the whole is better than what we’ve seen historically (at least a little bit anyway), the past several games have been relatively poor – and that up and down play is something that’s plagued Rodney his entire career. Three games of brilliant play followed by seven of mediocre or worse.

Austin Daye is not a PF. He’s playing most of his minutes out of position (in spite of the automated numbers having him at SF 49% of the time), and he’s struggling mightily. It would be nice to see him get minutes at SF and SG, but that seems unlikely to happen barring a major roster overhaul. I’m still optimistic about his future, and he has dug himself out of the negative range of late. Still, it’s not what I expected.

Ben Gordon is playing some of the best ball of his career and certainly the best we’ve seen from him as a Piston (barring the start of last season pre-injury). My only concern with Gordon is that his spike in productivity has been tied to almost superhuman shooting percentages for a guard whose game is predicated on jump shooting. Can he keep burning up the nets, or will he eventually cool off?

Charlie Villanueva: in spite of shooting the ball and scoring very well, Charlie’s not having the career year I’d hoped for, at least not yet. This is largely due to the fact that he appears to have an aversion for rebounding the basketball, and rebounding – especially from your big men – matters.

Tracy McGrady has made me enjoy eating crow so far. He’s looked much better than I thought he could, and that’s been reflected in the numbers. Per minute, he’s been the second-best player on the team; unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to play big minutes, and it’s not clear if he will. In any case, I had him completely wrong.

Greg Monroe: after a miserable start, Monroe continues to play … well, not that good. However, he has been a much better rebounder than I anticipated, which is an excellent sign. He’s struggled to finish around the rim (and, well, from everywhere else, too), and he doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a shot-blocker. But he’s showed that he can and appears to have a desire to rebound the basketball, and that’s a good place to start.

Rip and Tayshaun: Ugh. I’m not sure what else to say. They look miserable on the court, both in terms of demeanor and performance, and the numbers don’t provide any consolation. As much as I’ve pulled for these players for the better part of a decade, it appears their time in Detroit is coming to an end quickly.

Ben Wallace: The Benaissance continues! That is all.

To conclude this rather lengthy post I’ll revisit the three questions that I think are key for the Pistons this season:

  • Can our productive veterans (Big Ben and Tay) stay healthy and productive? Yes (!!) and no respectively.
  • Can some of our new pieces (McGrady, Gordon, Charlie V) return to form? More than yes, more than yes, and not even close.
  • Can even even one of our young players (Daye, Stuckey, and I’m adding Monroe) take a significant step forward? Not yet.