I got an email from Crow (former frequent poster here)which among other things pointed out the really impressive rookie numbers for our “other” rookie D.J. White. I realize that the sample size is ridiculously small being only 7 games and 130 minutes, but I like crunching numbers and I enjoy writing and talking about basketball so bear with me. It’s a weak time of the year for Thunder news.
There are a ton of “one number” NBA metrics out there that essentially add up all of the players positive statistical contributions on the court and subtract the negative ones to come up with a number that tells us “how good” one player is, and then allow us to make comparisons with other players. What usually differentiates one metric from another is the weighting or value that is given to each stat. Is a rebound worth as much as a steal? Is a blocked shot more valuable than an assist. That’s the rub.
What I’m leading up to is that all of these metrics have some value, but you’ll never get consensus over which is best. John Hollinger is all about the PER. It’s everywhere you look on an ESPN site since that is where Hollinger is employed. Dave Berri is all about Win Score and Wins produced. The NBA has it’s own NBA “Efficiency” metric. I think PER and Win Score are about on par with each other, but I enjoy the ease of using the PAWS (position adjusted win score) because it’s quick, easy, and can be done in a few seconds with a calculator, and it adjusts for position played; calculating the PER is like going to the dentist for a root canal. The NBA Efficiency stat doesn’t account for missed shots, just made shots, so it rewards gunners. Just my 2 cents there.
So with regard to the 2008-2009 Thunder players, I stacked them all up side by side and let the numbers fall where they may. Just for fun I also added in each player’s points per shot (points divided by fga’s) and their individual offensive rating and defensive rating. I created a table and you can view it here.
Here are some observations:
- Again, of course the sampling is very small, but DJ White was one of, if not the best player on the team during the games he played. Look at the numbers. #2 in PER, #1 in PAWS and EFF.. He was among the leaders in PPS, offensive rating and defensive rating.
- D.J. White was second on the team in scoring per 36 minutes (17.2) behind Durant, but ahead of Westbrook and Green. Yet, he did it all with a lower usage % than any of those guys. So he flat out puts the ball in the bucket with the greatest of efficiency, without having to use tons of possessions to do it. And he did it late in the season, as a rookie, against playoff teams for the most part that were very serious.
- By most standards, Jeff Green is at best, an average Power Forward. Per the NBA Eff, he ranks out as the #20 NBA starting Power Forward. His ranking would be lower if you included backups with superior production, like Paul Milsap or Lamar Odom. Just so you know, on NBA Eff/48, D.J. White ranks out as the #10 NBA Power Forward, and Jeff Green the # 52. D.J.’s ranking puts him just below Carlos Boozer and Paul Milsap.
- Robert Swift is a legitimate backup NBA Center, which says more about the lack of big men in the association than it does about Robert. He will definitely get a job next year.
- Collison is again the “glue guy”, the unheralded dirty work, quiet contributor. I don’t know this for certain, but I would guess that smart people who crunch numbers see a lot of value in Collison and that he has a very high trade value in the league.
- Westbrook played like a rookie, but he sure has a lot of potential. He definitely justified his high draft selection.
- Weaver and Sefolosha are going to be part of a great “bench mob” for this team.
- Livingston is a very nice pickup. Offensively he is a mile better than Earl or Chucky as a backup 1.
- Chucky should be released. He has no value whatsoever to this team.
I could say a lot more, but brevity is the soul of wit. I just use this post as a discussion starter. It is clear that D.J. needs to be given every opportunity to get on the court next season as much as possible. D. J. may indeed be another example of Presti pulling a rabbit out of a hat.