Let's change the pace a bit from all of the talk about Perk, Troy Murphy, and the trades and talk a bit about what we already have in Truth and Ray. About a month ago I did a comparison of Rajon Rondo vs 9 other great point guards in the league according to five different advanced stats (PER, win shares/48 minutes, wins produced/48 minutes, Roland Rating and 1-year adjusted +/-). I showed the raw values for each player in each stat, then at the end rank-ordered how each player ranked in each stat versus the other point guards under consideration. The end result gave several different viewpoints on how Rondo compared to his contemporaries, gave a very rough ranking system that (by-the-numbers) put him somewhere in the top 3-6 point guards in the NBA, and sparked some good conversation on both the forum and the blog site.
So, a month later, I'm back for more. This time I'll be looking at how Paul Pierce and Ray Allen compare with the other top wings in the league, again by the numbers. I expanded it a bit this time, so I'll be looking at 25 other wings in addition to Truth and Ray (instead of only 10 PGs like last time). Also, the more I look at it, adjusted +/- is just not very reliable for less than a year of data so I'm going to use the 2-year APM data for this study. Also, though I have values for all 27 wings for each measure, for the sake of brevity I'll only show the top-15 in each category before putting all 27 into the final rankings. Without further ado, this is what I found:
PER: Hollinger's stat, probably the most popular of the "advanced stats", favorable (compared to other advanced stats) to volume scorers and players that generate a lot of free throws; generally ranks those considered "great" by the general public well, though also will tend to have role players with good scoring-per-minute very highly.
Win Shares: From Basketball-reference.com, emphasizes shooting/scoring efficiency; loves points per shot (thus values FTs drawn). To account for different minutes played, we're going to look at Win Shares per 48 minutes played.
Wins Produced: Dave Berri's controversial stat (most likely to be trashed on an APBRmetric board) is also the one seemingly growing fastest in popular usage; wins produced values what he defines as possessions, so loves rebounds, steals, and blocks and doesn't like TOs; doesn't value shot creation, but does value assists. We'll look at Wins Produced per 48 minutes.
Roland Rating: 82games.com's Roland Rating is based upon a combination of PER and +/- stats. It looks at the individual PER of each player, the PER of their primary defensive assignment, and subtracts the 2 for a 1-on-1 value then they combine that 1-on-1 value with a team-impact based on-court/off-court +/- stat to get the rating. Tends to produce fewest "what???" rankings, because players that rank out highly in both the 1-on-1 and team stats are almost universally who we consider to be among the best in the game...though the order at the top isn't always what you'd expect. (Note: 82games hasn't updated this since Jan. 19, so these results are only current to that date)
2-year Adjusted +/-: This is Basketballvalue.com's APM calculation. As I mentioned above APM is so incredibly noisy that a single year (or less) doesn't give conclusive answers (and too often the answers are nonsensical for my tastes). Even 2 years may be too short for an APM calculation. I like longer APM calculations, 4 years or more, to really clean up the noise and give a robust effect. Nevertheless, we're talking about this year so we'll have to make due on both issues with the 2-year compromise.
|2 yr APM||2 yr APM SE|
Overall Rank orders: Giving each of our 27 guys a '1' through '27' ranking based on where they ranked in each stat, here is a summary of how each guy did. I'll add an average across the 5 stats (with standard error) to give us a better idea how our seat-of-the-pants-advanced-stat-cross-section-view ranks Pierce and Allen with respect to 25 of the best wings in the NBA:
|PER||WS48||WP48||Roland Rating||2 yr APM||Average||Std. Error|
Every stat, no matter how it was measured, agreed that LeBron James has been the best wing in the NBA this year. In fact, LeBron and Dwyane Wade measured out 1-2 overall among wings across the body of stats examined here. Good for them, though no real surprises there.
Behind the Miami boys is a group of 4 guys on the next tier: Durant, Ginobili, Pierce and Kobe. While Kobe and Durant are super-duper stars and Ginobili has gotten some quiet acclaim as a dark horse MVP candidate, it's interesting that the Captain measures right with them this year without nearly the fan fair.
Ray is right behind Kobe, and highlights the next Tier that features eight guys (down to Luol Deng on the list). This tier is an interesting mix of big names and guys that may be having a bigger impact than their names would suggest. New Knick Carmelo Anthony is on this tier with Ray, along with several young scorers and a couple of glue/defensive type players (Deng and Fields).
I'm not going to spend much time with the rest, though it is interesting that guys like Joe Johnson and Monta Ellis are maybe further down the list than you might expect. The take-away for me is that while Miami (obviously) is built around 2 super-wings, the Celtics (and I guess, now, the Knicks) are the only other teams with two wings from among the top 3 tiers. This continues what I would suspect will be a common theme for the Celtics in these statistical measurements...quality and quantity combining to form a potent whole.
Pierce and Allen may not be quite as good as the Miami boys, but they're right there with Durant, Kobe, Manu, Melo and the other wings with an argument for top 5 in the league. Sounds about right to me.
(Side note: I actually did this analysis and the entire write-up on Thursday of last week. It was trade deadline day, but I didn't think anything much would happen so I figured this analysis would give us something to talk about. When I finished, before I hit 'publish', I happened to check the main page and saw all craziness breaking loose because Perk had been traded. That trumped this analysis, so I decided to hold off on publishing for a few days. Hopefully now is a better time for it.)