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Wages Of Wins Keeps Giving The NBA Stat Movement A Bad Name

Do you believe John Wall is the obvious number one pick in this year's NBA Draft? 

Do you believe the Wizards will win more than 12 games next year?

If you answered yes to both questions, then you'll love bashing this moronic Wages of Wins post that suggests the Wizards will go 12-70 even with John Wall on the team next year. Yes, 12-70. That means they will finish with the same record as the New Jersey Nets had last season, and that was a team that had to make a late surge just to avoid having the worst record of all time. 

The evidence, of course, has to do with the ridiculous "Wins Produced" stat, which basically regresses team wins down and applies them to individuals using box score stats. In baseball, this might make sense; in basketball, which is highly contextual, it's ridiculous. But anyway, enough WOW bashing. At least until we hit the jump.

John Wall - relative to the other players considered top choices in 2010 - was not an outstanding college player.  Specifically, his performance at point guard was roughly equivalent to what an average point guard selected out of college since 1995 has offered.     

You're right. John Wall is basically only as good statistically as Jrue Holiday last year. Uh huh. Statistics that actually take context into account disagree. Your argument is invalid.

Derrick Rose also left college after one season and was the number one pick in the draft.  Relative to Wall, Rose posted better numbers in college.  But Rose - despite claims in 2008 that he was sure to be an elite NBA player - has yet to post the numbers you see from an elite point guard.    

I'm sorry, are we talking about the same Derrick Rose that averaged 21 and 6 at age 21 for a crappy Bulls team that he somehow led to a 41-41 record despite the fact that they let their second-best player walk in the offseason and traded their fourth-best player for nothing at the deadline? Oh, that's right, scoring doesn't matter. I forgot. 

Just to be clear, here is what I am NOT saying:

  • Wall will never be an outstanding point guard in the NBA.
  • Rose will never be an outstanding point guard in the NBA.

You're right. Don't take the player who will potentially be an outstanding point guard in the NBA. That's a winning strategy right there.

As for Rose, I get the sense that people think the Rookie of the Year in 2009 and a member of the 2010 All-Star team has already arrived.  I think the numbers, though, suggest otherwise.

To see my point, let's compare Rose in 2009-10 to Chris Paul (who is the top point guard in the NBA) as a rookie. (Pointless stat comparison using Wins Produced).

So because Derrick Rose isn't Chris Paul, it means he isn't good? Deron Williams is very offended.

When you look at the numbers on this team, though, we see that DeMarcus Cousins -despite a reputation that is less than stellar - probably led the team in production per-minute (and might have been the most productive player overall).  Would the Wildcats had been so successful had Cousins spent his freshman year elsewhere? And if the Wildcats were less successful, would people still be sure that Wall was the obvious choice for the Wizards in the NBA draft?    

Don't you think that has something to do with ... gasp ... John Wall creating tons of easy opportunities for Cousins to get his numbers? I know, shocking, right?

Decision-makers in professional team sports must separate a player from his teammates.  If this is not done, the individual player will not be evaluated correctly.    

Pot, meet kettle.

And had Wall spent his one college season at Michigan - or another school that was not as successful as Kentucky - I am not sure everyone would be so certain that the Wizards choice in this draft is so easy.    

If Wall had spent his college season elsewhere, he'd have much better box score numbers, because he'd be using more possessions, and your dumb Wins Produced metric would love him more.

If we make the assumption that the starters play 36 minutes per game while the reserves play 12 (and don't get injured), this team would be projected to go 12 - 70. Obviously that's a very bad mark.    

Good thing no NBA team manages their rotation like that.

 If one is optimistic they might note that a) Andray Blatche did play a little better once he became a starter, b) Arenas wasn't fully healthy but once upon a time (back in 2006-07) was an above average player, and c) the Wizards might make some other moves.     

Saying Andray Blatche played "a little better" as a starter last season is like saying there is "a little anticipation" for Stephen Strasburg's debut. 

Still, if the Wizards do not make drastic changes this off-season expect them to be very bad next season.     

Still, if Wages of Wins does not make drastic change this offseason to their Wins Produced formula, expect it to be very inaccurate next season.