Monday, July 23, 2012

Norris Cole: Summer League Isn't Enough, Show & Prove Is A Must


The Vegas Summer League stats don't provide insight into whether Norris Cole improved.



This article uses Win Score and Estimated Wins Produced, statistics created by sports economist David Berri. Since an average team's winning percentage is 0.500, an average player produces 0.100 est. wins per 40 minutes (est.WP40). A star player produces 0.200 est.WP40 and great players produce 0.300 est.WP40. Win Score = PTS+ORB+DRB/2+STL+AST/2+BLK/2-SHOTS-FTA/2-TO-FOULS/2. See the HEAT Produced Page for more information on Win Score and Est. Wins Produced.


Cole in the Regular Season, Playoffs and Summer League
Norris Cole was an unproductive player in the regular season with -0.049 est.WP48. In fact, he ended his rookie season as the least productive player on the HEAT roster with -1.3 est. wins produced.

Cole continued to be unproductive in the playoffs with -0.049 est.WP48. Once again, he was the least productive HEAT player on the roster.

The Vegas Summer League was a different story. Cole was more than twice as productive as the average guard in a HEAT game at the 2012 Vegas Summer League with 0.230 est.WP40. He ended his first summer league as the 2nd most productive player on the team (behind Terrel Harris).

Does that mean Cole got better since the HEAT won the franchise's 2nd title?

Summer League Success Doesn't Equal NBA Success
In 2008, sports economist David Berri analyzed the relationship between production in the Vegas Summer League and the NBA and did not find a statistically significant relationship between the two. He provided several explanations and caveats for his analysis that can be found in the article, Playing With Vegas Numbers.

Personally, I have a problem drawing conclusions about NBA performance from the Vegas Summer League stats because the competition was so much different than what Cole faced in the NBA. A good illustration of the difference in competition is the Win Score per 48 minutes (WS48) of opposing guards the HEAT faced at each level of play.
  • Regular season: Opposing PGs produced 2.8 WS48
  • Playoffs: Opposing PGs produced 5.3 WS48
  • Vegas: Opposing Gs produced -2.4 WS48

Guards playing the HEAT in Vegas shot 6% worse, scored 1.7 less points, made 1.8 more turnovers, dished 3.2 less assists and committed 1.5 more fouls per 48 minutes than PGs the HEAT faced in the regular season. HEAT fans already know Cole can dominate weaker competition because he did that in college.

Berri stated in his article that players' college production does indicate how well they will perform in the NBA, but it's not a guarantee. In Cole's case, his above average college numbers didn't translate into a productive rookie season and we don't know whether his summer league numbers will either.

The only way for HEAT fans to know if Cole improved his game is to see him show and prove next season.

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