Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Off the Index: You Might Need to Hit the Lottery If...

...Your starters are worse than the reserves on the Chicago Bulls. That was the point made on the ESPN 980's  John Thompson Show in Washington D.C. on Monday by Coach Thompson's co-host, Rick "Doc" Walker.

ESPN 980 Audio Vault - Play Now

After watching Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Doc Walker wondered what some of the other NBA General Managers were doing assembling rosters with starting lineups worse than the Bulls' second unit of C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.

Is Doc Walker right? Are there teams with starting lineups that are worse than the Bulls bench? Let's take a look at the wins produced by the Bulls bench and the starting lineups in the NBA.

This article will use Win Score and Estimated Wins Produced, statistical models created by Professor David Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal, to measure how much a player's box score statistics contributed to their team's efficiency differential and wins. An average player produces an estimated 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48), a star player produces +0.200 Est.WP48 and a superstar produces +0.300 Est.WP48. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

Simple Models of Player Performance
Wins Produced vs. Win Score
What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say
Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Lottery Notes:
This spreadsheet (powered by Nerdnumbers) ranks each team's starters and reserves by wins produced.

  • The Bulls reserves produced 15.5 wins this season. 
  • There were two teams with starting lineups that produced less than that this season .
    • New Jersey Nets: 13.4 wins
    • Toronto Raptors: 9.6 wins
  • The Raptors starters were dragged down to the bottom by Andrea Bargnani's -6 wins produced.
  • The Nets starters were sunk by Travis Outlaw (-1.2 wins produced) and Brook Lopez (-1.8 wins produced) as well as not having a lot of time together after making the trade for Deron Williams right before the trade deadline.
To compensate for the starters that may have not played as many minutes with their teams as the Bulls reserves (like Deron Williams with the Nets), let's take a look at per-minute production, i.e. Wins Produced per 48 minutes (WP48).
  • The Bulls reserves produced 0.090 WP48 this season.
  • There were five teams with starting lineups that produced less than that.
    • Cavaliers: 0.087 WP48
    • Wizards: 0.080 WP48
    • Bobcats: 0.077 WP48
    • Nets: 0.067 WP48
    • Raptors: 0.047 WP48
  • The Cavaliers front office surrounded LeBron with garbage, but didn't realize it until after he left.
  • The Wizards front office has stunk for years, but they just might be cursed. Andray Blatche (0.031 WP48) and Nick Young (-0.019 WP48) won't be breaking that curse anytime soon, but maybe John Wall will if he dresses like Irene Pollin did at last year's lottery.
  • The Bobcats traded away their best player to rebuild so they can be given a pass, but they'll take a winning lottery ticket instead.
  • The Raptors starters were so bad that they were less productive than the Miami Heat's bench which produced 0.059 WP48. No wonder they blew them out in the last game of the season.
With the NBA Draft Lottery being held tonight, what are the chances one of these five teams will be able to catch the Chicago Bulls reserves next season? Below is a list of each team's chances of getting the 1st pick in the draft.
  • Cavaliers: 19.9 percent
  • Raptors: 15.6 percent
  • Wizards: 11.9 percent
  • Bobcats: 1.7 percent
  • Nets: Traded their lottery pick to the Utah Jazz for Deron Williams.
Looks like Billy King and crew have a lot of work ahead of them to improve the Nets...

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