Since it’s the offseason, and the signing of a player who is likely to only play a few more NBA games than I will this season has caused far more discussion than it really should warrant, I thought it a good time to start ranking the positions so Raptor fans might have an idea of where they stand.

A lot of fans will look at how much a player scores or how many assists a he gets and make a judgement from that. The problem is that basic stats tell very little about a player except what roll he plays on his particular team. It doesn’t say how good that player is.

That’s why advance stats and analytics are used, but basketball doesn’t lend itself to black and white stats like baseball does, because a player is always affected by what teammates he has on the floor, which isn’t the case in baseball.

There are various advanced stats that are popular with different people, but unfortunately all have flaws.  ESPN recently ranked point guards using WARP, but putting too much weight onto one statistic, no matter how that stat is derived, can lead to flawed results.

What I decided to do was look at various advanced stats and look at the patterns, and see if I could rank the players based on that. First up, the point guards.

Note: Due to the injuries to Rose, Nash and Rondo, I’ve used the stats for the previous season.

Player
PER
Rank
WS
Rank
WS48
Rank
WP
Rank
WP48
Rank
Chris Paul
26.45
1
13.9
1
0.287
1
16.9
1
0.348
1
Russell Westbrook
24.15
2
11.6
2
0.195
4
8.6
8
0.144
12
Derrick Rose*
23.19
3
6.0
11
0.211
2
3.9
24
0.135
15
Tony Parker
23.05
4
9.3
7
0.206
3
8.2
10
0.180
9
Kyrie Irving
21.70
5
5.6
16
0.125
14
8.0
11
0.184
7
Stephen Curry
21.41
6
11.2
3
0.180
6
11.4
2
0.124
16
John Wall
21.25
7
4.5
20
0.134
12
4.1
21
0.124
16
Deron Williams
20.52
8
10.9
4
0.184
5
8.8
7
0.148
11
Steve Nash*
20.35
9
5.9
12
0.144
10
10.6
4
0.260
2
Kemba Walker
18.85
10
4.8
19
0.080
23
5.2
15
0.087
20
Jose Calderon
18.80
11
7.4
8
0.165
9
10.5
5
0.233
3
Rajon Rondo
18.21
12
4.9
18
0.121
15
8.6*
8
0.211*
4
Ty Lawson
18.02
13
7.4
8
0.141
11
6.2
14
0.118
18
Mike Conley
17.87
14
9.9
5
0.172
8
11.2
3
0.195
5
Eric Bledsoe
17.58
15
3.7
23
0.115
16
4.9
17
0.151
10
Kyle Lowry
17.45
16
5.6
16
0.133
13
8.0
11
0.190
6
Goran Dragic
17.28
17
5.7
15
0.106
18
7.3
13
0.136
14
Jrue Holiday
16.89
18
3.3
24
0.055
25
4.0
23
0.066
24
Jeff Teague
16.86
19
6.1
10
0.111
17
5.2
15
0.095
19
George Hill
16.79
20
9.7
6
0.177
7
10.0
6
0.183
8
Damian Lillard
16.54
21
5.8
13
0.088
20
4.2
10
0.064
25
Brandon Jennings
16.30
22
5.8
13
0.096
19
4.1
21
0.069
23
Greivis Vasquez
16.25
23
3.8
22
0.067
24
4.5
19
0.080
21
Ricky Rubio
16.09
24
3.0
25
0.085
22
4.8
18
0.137
13
Raymond Felton
15.42
25
4.2
21
0.087
21
3.5
25
0.073
22

PER is probably the most well known advanced stat, and one that got John Hollinger a job with the Memphis Grizzlies (well, not really). The regular suspects are in the top ten with PER, although John Wall and Kemba Walker might be the biggest surprises. Kyle Lowry ends up a little below average, for this stat. The problem with PER, though, is that it doesn’t take defense into consideration, something that would help Lowry move up (a little) and move guys like Walker and Jose Calderon down.

Win Share and Win Share Per 48 Minutes tries to show how many wins a player contributed to, and players like Mike Conley and George Hill move up in the WS and WS48, but it doesn’t help Lowry move into the top ten.

Wins Produced and Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes is another rather complicated formula that, like WP, tries to project how many wins a player produces.

Advanced stat formulas like these love Jose Calderon, who ranks as high as 3 and only as low as 11. While nothing is obviously conclusive, it does back up my defense of him, over the years, and my argument that the Raptors really didn’t upgrade very much, if at all, when they traded for Lowry.

Speaking of Lowry, in terms of these stats, he comes out as a fairly average starting PG except when looking at WP48.

Other interesting things of note:

– Advanced stats either don’t seem to tell Rajon Rondo’s full worth, or he’s simply overvalued.

– New Orleans may have made a huge mistake trading so much for Jrue Holiday, who ends up as a below average PG.

– I’ve never been a fan of Brandon Jennings and these numbers paint him as a below average PG who might not help Detroit as much as they hope he will.

– Russell Westbrook does well in all the categories, but it’s debatable whether he’s as good as these stats show.

Of course, complex formulas aren’t the only measure of a player. For a PG, whose job it is to make sure the offense is as efficient as possible, there are some statistics you can look at.

Player
TS%
Rank
AST%
Rank
AR
Rank
Jose Calderon
65.3
1
39.8
8
39.10
2
Steve Nash*
62.5
2
53.1
1
78.44
1
Chris Paul
59.4
3
46.5
3
36.95
4
Stephen Curry
58.9
4
31.1
18
23.16
22
Tony Parker
58.8
5
40.4
6
27.58
12
Deron Williams
57.7
6
37.5
11
28.52
11
Kyrie Irving
55.8
7
32.7
16
20.05
25
George Hill
55.8
7
23.4
25
24.70
18
Ty Lawson
54.9
9
30.2
19
27.50
13
Damian Lillard
54.9
9
28.8
22
24.01
20
Kyle Lowry
54.2
11
34.6
15
32.84
8
Jeff Teague
54.2
11
36.1
13
30.73
10
Mike Conley
53.9
13
29.5
20
27.50
13
Russell Westbrook
53.3
14
38.4
10
22.73
23
Goran Dragic
53.3
14
35.7
14
31.33
9
Derrick Rose*
53.2
16
40.3
7
33.40
7
John Wall
52.4
17
43.9
4
26.27
16
Kemba Walker
51.8
18
31.2
17
22.70
24
Rajon Rondo
51.6
19
49.3
2
39.05
3
Eric Bledsoe
51.3
20
23.5
24
23.37
21
Brandon Jennings
50.9
21
29.1
21
25.13
17
Raymond Felton
50.5
22
27.0
23
24.41
19
Jrue Holiday
49.9
23
36.5
12
26.94
15
Greivis Vasquez
49.9
23
44.9
4
34.72
5
Ricky Rubio
47.7
25
38.8
8
33.81
6

True Shooting Percentage is easily the best way to figure out how efficient a scorer someone is, because it tells you how many points a player scores in relation to how many shots he takes. And considering the teams at the top of the standings are generally among the most efficient scoring teams, it tells you how important it is.

Kyle Lowry, again, ends up just outside the top ten, in this regard.

Assist Percentage is a better statistic than assists per game because it takes into consideration the pace of team. The pure PGs always do well, in this statistic, and Lowry ends up in the middle of the pack, again.

Assist Ratio is a more complicated method that takes into consideration turnovers, which helps Lowry move into the top ten (he takes care of the ball well) but hurts a guy like Kyrie Irving, who shows to be quite poor, in this regard.

Like the more complicated formulas, these stats don’t show Lowry to be anything more than an average starting PG.

Other interesting things of note:

– Steve Nash and Jose Calderon show they are prototypical PGs, at least on the offensive end.

– Eric Bledsoe doesn’t look good in regards to these stats. He’s a low percentage shooter who doesn’t seem to pass the ball enough.

– While Walker looks good with the formulas, he doesn’t do well at all in any of these categories.

Lastly, we’ll look at +/- numbers:

Player
Simple
Rank
+/- (Off)
Rank
+/- (Def)
Rank
+/- (Dif)
Rank
Steve Nash*
10.6
1
7.7
6
-2.8
5
10.6
3
Derrick Rose*
10.4
2
5.1
14
3.1
16
2.0
16
Chris Paul
10.1
3
12.2
1
5.4
24
6.7
6
Tony Parker
9.4
4
4.9
15
3.1
16
8.0
5
Mike Conley
8.5
5
8.0
5
-8.1
1
16.1
1
Russell Westbrook
8.1
6
5.3
13
1.8
13
3.5
12
Rajon Rondo
6.1
7
7.7
6
2.1
14
5.9
8
George Hill
5.7
8
10.1
3
-2.4
6
12.4
2
Stephen Curry
5.3
9
8.1
4
5.3
23
2.7
14
Deron Williams
4.3
10
6.6
11
4.6
22
2.0
16
Kemba Walker
3.7
11
0.5
20
-2.9
4
3.4
13
Damian Lillard
3.6
12
11.2
2
2.1
14
9.1
4
John Wall
3.3
13
6.9
8
0.1
9
6.7
6
Kyrie Irving
3.3
13
2.7
18
1.7
12
1.0
19
Kyle Lowry
2.3
15
3.4
16
-1.1
7
4.5
10
Ty Lawson
2.2
16
3.1
17
4.2
19
-1.1
22
Jrue Holiday
2.0
17
0.2
21
-3.7
3
3.9
11
Goran Dragic
1.8
18
6.9
8
1.6
11
5.3
9
Eric Bledsoe
1.7
19
-8.9
25
-5.0
2
-3.9
23
Jeff Teague
0.4
20
1.6
19
0.1
9
1.5
18
Greivis Vasquez
-0.3
21
5.6
12
4.2
19
0.2
20
Ricky Rubio
-0.7
22
-0.2
22
-0.2
8
0.0
21
Jose Calderon
-0.7
22
-2.1
23
3.6
18
-5.8
24
Raymond Felton
-1.1
24
6.6
11
4.5
21
2.1
15
Brandon Jennings
-4.1
25
-3.6
24
9.2
25
-12.8
25

The Simple Rating is a rating from 82games.com, that looks at the PER of a player and the PER of his opponent, as well as +/- rating. The problem with it is that it doesn’t take into consideration whether or not that player defends more productive or less productive players. In the 2012 season, Bargnani’s Simple Ratings looked good in large part because he usually defended the least productive front court player. And players who are tasked to defend the opposition’s most productive players are hurt with this stat.

+/- numbers, in general, are probably the most flawed stats, because it can be affected so much by who the player is replaced by and the style the team plays with and without that player. Bledsoe looks awful mostly because he’s backing up the best PG in the NBA.

It’s interesting to note that only a handful of the teams do worse defensively with their starting PG off the floor compared to on. There are various reasons this could be, but it does highlight the flaw of +/- ratings in the NBA.

So, when looking at the above stats, it’s clear where players like Chris Paul and Raymond Felton fall. Paul consistently finishes near the top whereas Felton always finishes near or at the bottom.

But what about a player like Calderon, whose poor defense is often difficult to measure. And the reverse is true of someone like Rajon Rondo, who is a great defense player, but whose inefficient scoring hurts his numbers.

When ranking each player, I tried to look at the numbers as much as possible, but realized that sometimes they don’t tell the whole story. In the end, ranking players ends up being somewhat subjective, so take the rankings as such. Keep in mind that I am assuming that Rose, Rondo and Nash all return to full strength, although I am taking into consideration the decline of Nash, due to age.

Rank
Player
1 Chris Paul
2 Tony Parker
3 Derrick Rose*
4 Russell Westbrook
5 Rajon Rondo
6 Stephen Curry
7 Kyrie Irving
8 Deron Williams
9 Mike Conley
10 Steve Nash*
11 Ty Lawson
12 John  Wall
13 George Hill
14 Jose Calderon
15 Kyle Lowry
16 Jrue Holiday
17 Damian Lillard
18 Ricky Rubio
19 Eric Bledsoe
20 Jeff Teague
21 Kemba Walker
22 Goran Dragic
23 Greivis Vasquez
24 Brandon Jennings
25 Raymond Felton

Many Raptor fans may not be happy with where I ranked Lowry, but that’s not to say he could not have a better season. Going on last year’s stats, though, I think it’s hard to rank him in the top ten. I also think that All Star projections for him are rather optimistic, with six PGs in the Eastern Conference ranked ahead of him, and that doesn’t take into account the SGs, either.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear your take (but be respectful, please).

  • swiffer

    John Wall is easily a top 10 PG. And Lillard and Jrue>Lowry

  • DanH

    For the plus-minus stats, a good way to adjust based on who the player plays with and against is to look at RAPM. The PG’s rank as follow.

    Chris Paul 8.2
    Westbrook 5.3
    Conley 5.1
    Steph Curry 4.2
    Kyle Lowry 3.7
    Tony Parker 3.3
    Ricky Rubio 3.2
    John Wall 2.9
    George Hill 2.3
    D-Will 2.3
    Dragic 2.0
    Bledsoe 1.7
    Devin Harris 1.6
    Kylie Irving 0.9
    Felton 0.8
    Holiday 0.7
    Nash (last year) 0.7
    Rondo 0.6
    Lawson 0.6
    Charmers 0.5

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Thanks, Dan. I debated whether to dig deeper into +/-, but I ran out of steam, quite frankly.

      • DanH

        I hear you – long post. But the RAPM stats are a bit kinder to Lowry, which makes me happy.

  • raptorspoo

    These stats don’t seem to really take into account how well the rest of the team does with these PGs facilitating.

    Not a stat guy so don’t know if I’m saying something that’s totally retarded but…
    I think there should be a stat on the stats of other players on the floor while the said PG is running the offense / incorporated into defense. Eg. what is the shooting % of players with/without the PG on the floor – a guy like Rose will put so much pressure on the D that they have to collapse and give open looks (I don’t recall there being a lot of open looks when Lowry ran the point, either because he doesn’t pressure the D as much or his inability to find the open man). Can add things like offensive rebounds, defensive %s (to show defensive ability/inability), etc.

    To me +/- doesn’t really do it because it’s over simplified.

    • DanH

      In terms of purely production (points for and points against) +/- is poor, because it doesn’t account for who the player plays with, but RAPM is much better.

      You can look up on/off splits for FG% and such on basketball-reference, but it is on a team by team basis, so it would take forever to compile a ranking.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      There are, no doubt, some stats that take that more into consideration, but I’m not privy to them. RAPM, as a couple of people mentioned, is one way, but like other stats it’s got it’s flaws.

  • jazzers

    Would love to see adding up all the state rankings you used, and then rank them by lowest combined scores.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I debated whether to do this, and it might have been a good idea. Maybe someone can do it for me?

  • Rebuilding

    I prefer bins rather then sequential list. For example, the top 5, 5 to 10, 10 to 15, 15 to 20.
    This avoid saying that Calderon is better then Lowry when due to differences in their game they are similar skilled.

  • Rebuilding

    Also we are missing Brandon Knight

  • alucart999

    “It’s interesting to note that only a handful of the teams do worse defensively with their starting PG off the floor compared to on.”

    You probably could have made this sentence easier to read.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I could have probably made a lot of the sentences easier to read. It was getting late, unfortunately.

  • mountio

    Good article. The reality is, PG is stacked in the NBA now. People get all up in arms when its suggested that KL isnt a top ten PG .. but ho-lee .. its hard to argue with any of your top ten (with the exception of Nash .. and if you buy the notion that his play last year was due to injuries as opposed to age, then there is no doubt he is top ten historically.
    On top of that, John Wall is a no brainer over KL and I could argue Id take many below him (Lillard, Rubio, Holliday I think a strong consensus of GMs would rank above KL). The only two in question are JC and George Hill, neither of whom I would personally take over KL .. but they are basically ranked right beside him, so hard to argue.
    All of this is to say .. its not that KL is bad … just that the position is stacked. If you did this for each of DD and RG, they would rank much higher .. not so much because of their play, but more by comparison.

    • DDayLewis

      With the exception of Rubio and Lillard, you might be falling prey to points per game bias. Yes, Wall and Holiday score a lot of points, but they all turn the ball over too much and shoot poorly to get there.

      Average PG (per 48): 52.7% TS% and 3.3 TO
      Holiday: 49.6%/4.8 TO
      Wall: 52.1%/4.7 TO

      • mountio

        First .. when “with the exception of” relates to half the people I quote .. your point of trying to generalize that Im falling into a ppg bias doesnt hold much weight. As you said, two of the four ppl i said should be ahead of KL are not based on PPG .. so not sure how you conclude this.
        Anyways .. even if we want to focus on Wall and Holliday, they are simply better players than KL. Being able to score is absolutely part of that (I love how guys who like to quote advanced stats want to ignore scoring as if there is something wrong with it). If guys are worse scorers, they better bring a lot in other areas to make up for it. Lowry is not only an inferior scorer, but also an inferior assist guy to both of them (both in APG/AP36 and assist %age). Yes, the tradeoff is little less efficiency .. but thats a trade I (and many others) would be willing to make.

        I also look at value in the league. Wall just got an $80 mm extension and the haul that NO gave up for Holliday is way more than Lowry could get any day of the week.

        • DDayLewis

          Dude, relax. I said you might. You mentioned you’d rather take Holiday, Wall, Rubio or Lillard over Lowry. 3 of those guys score more than Lowry (per game). I made an assumption. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Don’t get so upset by it.

          Scoring should be looked at as a function of at least two things; how much, and how efficient. A baseball player could have 2000 hits in his career, but what’s his average (for the record, batting average is not the most accurate representation of a player’s offense)?

          Lowry shoots a higher percentage than both of them. Wall is okay, but Holiday’s shooting is downright awful (and has always been). Lowry has had many seasons where he’s been productive where Wall has registered one (last season) and Holiday has always been unproductive.

          As for the other things, you can’t simply encapsulate them with assists and points scored. There’s the rest of the boxscore to look at. There’s also defensive synergy stats to consider. How much weighting should be given to each stat? How much is a rebound worth in relation to an assist?

          That’s why stats like wins produced exist. Someone did the due diligence, combed through swaths of data and experimentally determined the value of everything in the boxscore (points, rebounds, assists, fouls, turnovers, everything) and framed it in the context of how much it affects winning. It’s rigid and accurate. It’s scientific.

          Tim W recognizes this. He looked at a whole tonne of metrics, and even incorporated his own version of the “eye test”. His conclusions are solid. Yours are opinions formed around your own observations and filtered by your own biases. That’s not a knock against you; everyone’s biased. That’s why these metrics exist, because we want to get as close to truth as possible.

          So if you want to evaluate what “other things” that these players bring, look at wins produced or win shares. They’ll give you a good picture of objective reality. They’ll tell you that Lowry has historically been more productive than Holiday and Wall.

          And it’s ridiculous that Holiday landed Noel + a 2014 1st rounder. The Pelicans management is pretty bad. Imagine if Stern had let them make that terrible deal to trade Chris Paul away for Lamar Odom, Scola and assorted crap. They wouldn’t even have Davis.

          • mountio

            Im plenty relaxed .. just annoyed when advanced stats people tend to focus on everything except points .. when points, while not the be all and end all, are still the most important stat in basketball. BUT – just because one weights the ability to score highly, doesnt mean they blindly ignore the other stuff.
            Your points on win share and wins produced are reasonable in that those stats are the best thing we have to try to encapsulate a whole bunch of different things to evaluate a player. But, they are very very far from perfect. They assume that all of these stats (rebounding, TOs, assists, shooting %ages etc) have the same effect on winning regardless of situation. As has been pointed out above .. for example, rebounds may or may not be a great thing for a PG (especially offensive). These methods are scientific, as you suggest .. but that doesnt mean they are correct. For example, one of those methods (it may have been updated since) overvalued rebounding and put Reggie Evans in the top 5 players in the league a few years back. There is subjectivity in terms of assigning weighting to each category, despite the fact of the methods being applied without bias once the formulas are determined.
            In addition, your point on total hits and batting average is not a very good one as it relates to basketball. In basketball, you (or one of your teammates) have to create a shot somehow – every player doesnt have the same chance to score. In baseball, average (or OPS .. whatever you prefer) is absolutely relevant because all hitters have the same one on one situation x number of times per game (slanted slightly for at bats given where you hit in the lineup.. but you get the point).
            I bball .. guys like Westbrook and Wall create WAY more shots for themselves and others than guys like Jose (or KL, who would be in the middle). As a result, they score more in aggregate .. but tend to shoot a lower %age and turn the ball over more. Are the TOs and the lower %age good? No. But you have to evaluate them relative to the extra shots and opportunities that those guys present. I dont know of a stat that properly does that (maybe its out there,,,?)

            Anyways .. im getting longwinded ..

            • DDayLewis

              You’re right. I shouldn’t have suggested that you were biased.

              I’m no expert on the methodology behind advanced stats like wins produced, so I can’t fully speak to them. However, the wins produced model does explain 95% of wins on the team level. Personally, I don’t use it as a tool to tell me who’s “good”, but rather it tells me who’s “productive”.

              Your point about Reggie Evans is very poignant, and it has been fixed. Essentially, they reviewed rebounding, and concluded that there were some diminishing returns to rebounding (diminishing returns being that let’s say you were hungry and I gave you a basket of apples. The first apple makes you really happy. Eating the second a little less happy, etc etc until the 10th apple is basically killing you). They’ve incorporated that into the model. That’s science, and that’s how scientific models are formed and molded. It’s not perfect, but it explains a whole lot and it is very useful.

              My point about baseball was regarding efficiency. A lot of people overlook it (not including you in this) and just ogle over points per game. It’s not that scoring points isn’t important, but how effectively you can do so is also very important. This point is lost on a lot of people.

              I get what you’re speaking about. The book on “how usage affects efficiency” isn’t out yet. There’s lots of arguments going back and forth on the subject. Some believe there’s no (or a negligible) effect, some believe it’s significant (as in more usage means a drop in efficiency). The answer isn’t conclusive, but you can find them online if you google “usage vs efficiency NBA”.

              To your point though, wins produced (and it’s little brother win shares) do answer your question about how much is everything relatively worth. They are outlined in the coefficients on this page:

              http://wagesofwins.com/how-to-calculate-wins-produced/

              • ppellico

                really nice discussion here. But I tend to agree that advanced stats are just piles of interchangeable numbers.
                I just know what is good when I watch the game. Sort of like pornography…can’t define it but know it when I see it.
                And Lowry bothers the shit out of me.
                I think he complains to the point of embarrasment.
                I think he is blind to open players.
                I just do not see a solid floor leader in the kid. Leaders don’t always walk around griping at every call.

                • DDayLewis

                  I get you. The eye test cannot be discounted.

                  I’m a big Lowry fan. I can’t speak to your personal problems with him, but this breakdown should explain why he’s a productive player:

                  http://btphard.blogspot.ca/2013/08/kyle-lowry-is-probably-better-than-you.html

                  The idea that he isn’t a good passer is particularly false. his assist rate is excellent.

                • ppellico

                  no…ya. do understand the need for stats and perhaps lowry has the numbers as shown.
                  I just don’t like him. likely his play style and as I said…his pouting and griping.
                  I have always liked the more silent, stronger leader types.
                  Guess that was why Ryan Sandberg of the old Cubs was always a fav of mine.
                  But it seems this crybaby complaining after every damned call is the NEW NBA style. Seems a standard reaction thing.
                  Doesn’t it seem after every layup they fall to the floor and cry foul? OIs this a special shoot then fall down class they take nowadays???

          • Robert Archibald

            Relax dude,
            If you seriously think fans can’t express their opinions based on their own observations, but should instead refer to the official ranking; then you entirely miss the point of watching sports.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Nash was difficult and but I think he’s still worthy of a top 10 ranking, at this point.

      Rubio was a difficult one for me. I’m a big fan of his and would have ranked him much higher had he better advanced stats. I think recovering from his injury hurt them and I do feel he’ll improve vastly this year, which is why I put him on my breakout list last month.

      George Hill I think is underrated, even though he’s not really a pure PG. He’s one of the best defensive PGs in the league, and he’s an efficient offensive player.

      As for Calderon, he was probably the most difficult to rank. His stats alone make him top ten, but obviously that’s not the case. I had him lower than Lowry at one point, but couldn’t keep him there. I think his ability to make his teammates better has been vastly underrated throughout his career.

  • elkabong

    yes sir you can look at numbers and crunch them a zillion different ways but there is no sport that those personal stats aren’t affected greatly by the other 4 guys on the floor with you. i am not a big stats guru and as a casual fan yes points scored mean a lot to me since that determines the W + L for the team

    Lowry to me looked good when he played with the other 4 best players from last year and the 5 man combination numbers back it up. as a group they were +7.2 in FG while being -0.5 in FGA so is that efficient enough for you? does the +14.2 in PTS not jump out at you? personally i think if you put him on the floor with better options to play with i think he’ll perform just fine. when you look at the minutes played per group he had 343 minutes with Demar/Rudy/Amir/val and then his next highest total is 79 minutes! (in 68 games) and then it drops from there is a steady decline of mishmash crap so my take is he needs to play more with the other best players and we need a bunch more better players besides the obvious 4 to play with him before we can make any solid evaluations

    ps,
    when people get to hammering on the “inefficient” Rudy Gay he falls exactly into the same category……….. he looked real good in the right unit to me

    stats taken from http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/l/lowryky01/lineups/2013/

    • 2damkule

      ‘points scored…determines the W + L for the team’

      how efficiently points are scored matter more, which was sort of the whole point, no?

      and i agree with the lineup configuration, but he did play the overwhelming majority of his minutes last year with the 4 other ‘best’ players (per the #s you provided). i’m not sure how much more it’s possible for him to play with the ‘top unit’ (as a %) than he did last year (notwithstanding the fact that gay was a late addition to the team). part of what makes a top-tier PG a top-tier PG is his ability to mesh cohesively with lesser players & make those players better than their peripherals suggest they should be (i.e. instead of letting them drag him/his stats down, it’s on lowry to pull those players up). if KL’s #s show a significant drop when he’s not playing with the best possible lineup (note: a larger drop vs. the top PGs), then that says something about his ability/quality as a PG, and is likely justification for where he ranks.

      • elkabong

        i really could care less where he’s ranked but since he’s ours i try to evaluate on his performance. i guess you have a point where by he should be able to perform at a top level regardless of who he’s playing with but i just think he’d be fine with some more viable options after the first unit. i like how Thibideau operates and if you look at a Bulls starter and their 5 man unit times it goes 428 – 296 – 236 -218 147 -128 minutes for Boozer

        the point is i think it’s extremely difficult to develop any type of chemistry and familiarity which to me are very important for a basketball team when you get thrown into crappy lineup after lineup. the disparity between those Bulls 5 man minutes and ours leads to believe our better players can actually perform like better players given a better and more consistent environment to perform in. evaluating win shares and other advance metrics seems like a pointless effort to me when i look at how they were handled last season

        • DDayLewis

          Minute distribution are subject to myriad of factors. The Bulls win more games than the Raptors and so they play their starters more minutes. Also, Thibs is notorious for playing his guys too much. Plus, the Raptors are one of the most foul-prone teams in the league which forces their hand when it comes to substitutions.

          Chemistry is tricky. You’re definitely right. However, how much of that can we actually see? I’d think chemistry manifests itself in a good rotation, or a really good angled cut to the basket. It’s really hard to keep track of these occurrences.

          Finally, I’d really caution against using +/- based stats like 5 man +/-. They are subject to wild fluctuations from year to year. The premise of +/- stats is great, but it’s simply a stat that depends on too many variables. Who are the opponents? Who are their backups? Etc etc. Each variable introduces fluctuations and randomness. The end result is that +/- stats fall victim to small sample size issues, and that a reliable reading can’t be gauged until you have 3 years of data. There’s just too much randomness to make any kind of inference.

          You can read more about +/- flaws here:

          http://wagesofwins.com/2011/03/05/deconstructing-the-adjusted-plus-minus-model/

          • alucart999

            More importantly, are you Daniel Day-Lewis?

            • DDayLewis

              When I’m not winning Oscars, I post on message boards. It balances me out.

          • elkabong

            i think you can see lots even on TV that helps to indicate whether or not a unit is cohesive and meshing. for me our #1 unit passed the eye test with flying colours. i don’t think + – is the be all and end all and as your link talks about it is almost totally useless as an individual stat. for me basketball is all about the 5 man unit and those stats are for the group. are we the Heat or the Spurs when those 5 are on the floor? goodness no but they looked to me to be a unit worthy of more time together and with a bench more constructed to complement their strengths so the moving pieces mesh better.

            69 minutes as your #1 point guards 2nd most used 5 man unit seems like a ridiculous number to me and makes evaluating his and the rest of team’s performance value extremely difficult so i’m going mostly by what my eyes told me i was watching

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      THose lineup stats are a nice guide, but don’t put too much weight on them. Especially since a good portion of those minutes were played at the end of the season when the opposition was either resting their starters or had pretty much given up on the season.

      And Gay’s inefficiency doesn’t belong in quotes, I’m afraid. He is incredibly inefficient in reality.

      • elkabong

        ok so we’ll evaluate Lowry on his pre-Rudy performance then? his most used 5 man unit was only 61 minutes and it include Bargs+ Mcguire along with DD + Val … yikes! for me the whole season was almost a throw 5 guys on the floor and let them play season. if you want to crunch numbers there should be a solid basis and foundation to do that from shouldn’t there? i can’t see where you can extrapolate anything worth it’s weight it paper clips from the mish mash that was the 2012 Raptor season other than one 5 man unit looked promising is basically the point i’m trying to make

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          No, we evaluate Lowry over the course of the entire season. But looking at 5 man lineups, especially when those numbers may be flawed, probably don’t give the best indication of how good a player or team is.

          The big problem is that most of those 5 man unit minutes came from the last eight games of the season, which should really be thrown out because of when the games were played and the circumstances in which they were played. And once you do that, the sample size is WAY too small.

          • SR

            I’m not as optimistic as elkabong, but there was a ridiculous amount of turnover (entire schematic shifts, even) in the Raptors’ starting 5 last year. On paper, there’s something intriguing about Lowry/DD/Gay/Amir/JV, especially if Gay’s underrated defense comes through and JV can avoid foul trouble – in which case that could easily be an above-average defensive unit, which would play to Casey’s strengths. We might actually see some synergy there. The two big questions for me are whether or not we’ll see much chemistry on the offensive end, and how much their lack of perimeter shooting will hurt them. Teams will quickly learn to clog the paint against that unit, and they’ll be happy to watch DD and Gay shoot long two’s all day long.

            • DDayLewis

              Two things. First, Gay’s defense is not underrated. It’s just very average. You can look past the average rebounds/steals/blocks/fouls. You can even look past his 107 defensive rating (100 is average). All you have to do is look at his synergy numbers, and see that he’s not in the top 100 for defending ANY play (except isolation where he was 97th)

              https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlYMOKoVqHSjdGh2WmNmLXl3MF9jTHhJc3ZGR1ZGbGc#gid=1

              Personally, a lineup of Lowry-Gay-Novak-Johnson-Valanciunas intrigues me. Novak stretches the floor and Johnson and Valanciunas are great offensive rebounders who can put back all the misses from Gay. All kidding aside, the lineup should be good and Novak should help the Raptors immensely. I broke it down below:

              http://btphard.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-secret-mitzvah-of-steve-novak.html

              • SR

                I’m also really interested in seeing how Novak fits. I’m hoping he doesn’t become Kapono 2.0, who became completely ineffective when teams played him tight. The Raptors need the 3-pt threat, desperately.

                • DDayLewis

                  Novak is only good for one thing, and that’s spot up shooting (ie: corner 3’s). If teams play tight on him. he’ll be largely useless. However, the book on Novak has been out for years, and he’s always been able to get open shots, and he’s always knocked them down at a league leading efficiency. NBA offenses are clever and I’m guessing that he knows how to get open.

                  Plus, Novak is able to stretch the defense and give guys who like to drive (DD, Gay, Lowry) room to operate. It passes the stats test, and the eye test.

                • DDayLewis

                  Your Kapono comment compelled me to compare the two players. Turns out, all they do is shoot (duh), but they both shoot the same percentage (.442 FG, .434 3FG%), although Novak shoots more 3’s than Kapono, therefore Novak has the higher TS% (62% vs 57%), but they’re basically the same player when it comes to shooting.

                  However, Kapono got a 4 year deal for 24 million and Novak has been an NBA journeyman. Just another reason why Bryan Colanagelo was not a good GM.

                • SR

                  Novak is a bit taller – he ought to be able to shoot over guys better than Kapono. I’m certainly hoping he’ll be able to contribute to the rotation.

                • DDayLewis

                  He should probably be the first wing off the bench. He replaces either one of Gay or DD.

              • SR

                I like the Novak post.

                Here’s a couple thoughts – will his efficiency decrease with the Raptors? You plotted a few ways for the offense to get him open looks, but do we know how that compares to what he got with the Knicks? Here’s my concern – Kapono got great looks in Miami by playing off Dwayne Wade, who forced defenses to collapse and got Kapono those shots. The Knicks had a very similar situation with Melo, a world-class offensive force who can cause the whole defense to shift. Will Rudy Gay & Raptors schemes be able to get Novak similar looks with similar efficiency? I doubt it. I expect him to have less of an impact here.

                Also, those offensive pie charts for Toronto vs. San Antonio are pretty amazing. That just goes to show that the role of the coach is overvalued in a lot of ways. Who would have thought that Dwayne “Defense First” Casey was getting similar offensive opportunities to Greg “May Be the GOAT” Popovich? The biggest difference, as you note, is the roster’s ability to execute.

                • DDayLewis

                  Thanks for reading!

                  His efficiency may very well decrease with the Raptors. However, he’s been on a lot of different teams in the NBA (Rockets, Clippers, Mavs, Spurs, Knicks) and his shooting percentages has been consistently excellent,

                  http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/n/novakst01.html

                  As to your point of how the Raptors will get him his shots, I’m not quite sure. I came up with one very simple example in my post. Novak is clearly a player whose performance is heavily dependent on game-plan and the performances of his teammates (ie: they need to get him the ball when he’s open). Hopefully the coaching staff will come up with something.

                  Yeah, it’s crazy to think that the Spurs offense (and the Heat, and whoever you look at) breaks down in such a similar way to the Raptors. It’s probably just what the equilibrium of offense and defense dictates. Coaching is one thing, but execution is definitely the most important thing.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  I think most coaches are replaceable because they have no more effect than most other coaches. But I think there are a handful of coaches that aren’t in that category, and Popovich is one of them.

              • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                I would actually say Gay’s defense is vastly overrated by most Raptor fans.

                • DDayLewis

                  Yeah, that was my point too. He’s pretty average.

                • DDayLewis

                  We agree on some things Tim.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  We actually agree on a lot of things, I think. I read your Rudy Gay article and completely agree. There are just a few things that we have completely opposing views on.

                • DDayLewis

                  Thanks for the read. I was just poking fun at the fact that we butt-heads a lot in these comment sections. I respect your takes because you try to back your claims up as much as possible with evidence (either logic, history or numbers).

                  Now if only I can convince you that tanking is a bad strategy…

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  We butt heads on a few things, but we do it while respecting each other, which I enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with different opinions, in fact it makes for more interesting conversation.

                • onemanweave

                  Post this on your fridge and read occasionally. Although your enjoyment level should not be the measure of a post’s intrinsic worth, the rest of it indicates growth.
                  Good article that generated interesting discussion.

          • elkabong

            well Rudy was only here for 33 games and that #1 unit somehow managed to outplay any other 5 man combo by a whopping 264 minutes so i’m having trouble seeing any sample size anywhere else that isn’t WAY too small to analyze with some context to it

            • DDayLewis

              Exactly. You need like 3 years worth of data before you can say anything definitive about a 5-man lineup based on +/-.

              • elkabong

                so that brings us back to my eye test which i fully endorse 😉

                • DDayLewis

                  Lol, eye-test has limitations too. I like to get wow’ed by a lineup, and then rush over to my laptop and check their stats. A mix of the two is probably more accurate than either one alone.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  They looked great playing against teams that were resting their starters or had given up on the regular season. Otherwise, I don’t think they looked as great as you, apparently.

                  I think that five man unit is LOOKS good on the surface, but not when you look closer.

                • elkabong

                  well that unit looked so far superior to anything i’d watched prior to the Rudy deal i spent many moments hollering at the TV as to WTF Casey was thinking not playing them more but that’s just my fan’s eyes take on it. i may have even considered a hockey type change where we tried to survive for 2-3 minutes at a time since the options available removing even one at a time looked pretty sad to me

  • SR

    I like the top 8, but I’d mix it up after that. Specifically, I’d rank Wall and Holiday a lot higher.

    How underrated is Tony Parker? How is it possible for him to be so underrated after everything he’s done? Three-time champion, Finals MVP, five-time all-star, All-NBA 2nd team twice, third team once…. Is it only because he plays on the Spurs? They have such a great system and a remarkable organization from top to bottom, in some ways it seems like the individuals don’t get enough credit for how good they are. Put Tony Parker on a garbage team that he had to carry for the last 10 years, and wouldn’t his stats be insane? Just look at how Bosh’s numbers have fallen off when he’s focused on playing within Miami’s system. Parker’s also done whatever the Spurs need him to do.

    Glad you had him 2nd!

    • robertparrish00

      That is a talented group of players. Funny Chalmers is the lowest of the low-yet is the current world champ. Wait is he even on the list….what am I missing?

      • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

        I kept the total to 25 players because, quite frankly, it was easier. I probably could have added Chalmers instead of Felton, but both would have ended up at or near the bottom.

        • robertparrish00

          Indeed. The irony being if Miami did have a good point guard it would probably screw up their chemistry. Crazy league.

  • DDayLewis

    Excellent article Tim. I appreciate how you took most advanced stats into account (and explained the pros and cons of each one). On top of that, there’s some darn good analysis in here.

    Given that Lowry is an above average NBA point guard, and that he’s currently signed for a reasonable contract, wouldn’t it be prudent that the Raptors lock him in at his current price (if possible)? Every point guard above him on your final list is getting paid 10+ (Irving will receive the Derrick Rose max; Calderon is getting old).

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I think this list probably says the Raptors shouldn’t be in any hurry to lock him up. THe 15th best starting PG is middle of the pack, and you could argue that both Lillard and Rubio will probably surpass him this year (although both Calderon and Nash will probably fall).

      The one thing that I really don’t like about Lowry is that his biggest “strength”, the way he plays with a chip on his shoulder, is also his biggest weakness. He makes boneheaded decisions WAY too often, especially when the game is on the line. People love it when he hits the big threes, but too often he’ll launch them at the worst times. And that something that comes from his personality, so I don’t think it can be coached away. If he’s your starting PG, I think you struggle at the end of games. The difference between winning and losing in the NBA is often based on which team makes the fewest mistakes in the last few minutes, and Lowry just makes too many mistakes.

      • DDayLewis

        Top 15 is pretty good considering there are ~60 point guards in the league (30 teams, 1 starter, 1 backup).

        It’s quite possible that Lillard and Rubio pass him this season (Rubio being healthy, development with age with both of them). However, there’s reason to believe that Lowry can bounce back too. If he’s fully healthy and in peak physical shape, there’s reason to believe that he’ll be better. He has had a proven track record of being productive.

        The most productive point guards are getting paid to be so. Certainly, a Brandon Jennings type contract (24 M over 3) is pretty reasonable.

        I think Lowry has many strengths. He takes good care of the ball and generates a lot of blocks and steals. He’s a good rebounder and a passable shooter.

        His defense, which is often the achillies heel of these advanced statistics, certainly passes the eye test. It’s backed up by his synergy stats. He ranked 40th in the league for defending the pick and roll (which was ~40% of the plays that he defended). He was also a good defender in isolation (78th). These things are hugely valuable. I love advanced stats as much as the next guy, but good lord, Calderon was 138th on defending the pick and roll and 192nd for isolation.

        And winning and losing in the NBA is determined just as much in the first quarter as it is the last. The points all count the same, no matter when they were scored.

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          I actually disagree completely with your last statement. Obviously all points are worth the same, but in a league where the margin of victory is often only a few points, good execution in the final minutes is usually the difference between winning and losing.

          The NBA, and basketball in general, is about streaks. Which team is up after one quarter is not usually any indication of who will be up at the end of a game. You obviously need to get to the end of the game, but once there, it’s about minimizing your mistakes. That’s why young teams struggle to win and veteran teams usually win more than they should.

          It brings up the oft stated argument that because the Raptors lose so many close games, it must mean they’re close to being a much better team. I don’t believe that’s entirely true. The reason the Raptors lose so many close games is because they have a lot of mistake prone players who don’t execute well at the end of games. Gay, DeRozan and Lowry all play poorly in crunch time.

          • SR

            Tim W. – I agree. All the talk of creating off the dribble is relevant here, and it’s the reason I’d have Calderon lower in spite of his ability to shoot well, pass well, and run offensive sets. It’s also why guys like Wall, Holiday, Lillard, and Lawson are so highly valued in spite of having some big holes remaining in their games.

            To counter my own point, I don’t think a PG needs to be great at creating off the bounce if the team has a wing player who can do that (see: Heat, Miami). Unfortunately, the Raptors haven’t had somebody who can do this at an above-average from any position rate since….Vince Carter? Until that and their ability to clamp down on a single defensive possession change, the Raptors will always lose more tight games than they win. To that end, I agree with you that it’s not that the roster is close to getting over the hump – it’s that the roster is lacking a skill that’s critical for winning in crunch time.

            http://www.empowernetwork.com/drstevesmiley/files/2012/11/michael-jordan-last-shot-anniversary-1.jpg

            • DDayLewis

              Except “creating off the bounce” is basically isolation, and Gay is one of the best in the league at isolation (0.94 points per play)

              https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlYMOKoVqHSjdGh2WmNmLXl3MF9jTHhJc3ZGR1ZGbGc#gid=0

              • SR

                @ DDayLewis – Sometimes. I think the end-of-game variables are a lot different than pure iso, though. This also connects to the “all points are the same” discussion.

                I look at it this way – EVERYTHING changes in the final minutes (seconds) of a high-stakes game when a quality opponent is completely dialed-in defensively and completely prepared get a stop in the next possession (in fact, they’ve probably had a time-out to discuss their strategy). This situation is VERY different than Gay getting an iso in the second quarter in Milwuakee in the middle of Febraury. Completely different.

                I don’t think the Raptors have any above-average creators in that situation. Gay/DD have clear range issues – a good defense will force them into a low percentage long 2. Lowry has a hard time finishing in traffic at the rim. The help comes quickly in these possessions, and none of these guys are great at passing out of double-teams to find open shooters (which the team lacks anyway) cross-court.

                At least that’s my eye-test opinion! I don’t have the stats you guys are pulling out like candy on Halloween…

                • DDayLewis

                  I agree that end of game situations are different from the aggregate. However, I’m not sure exactly HOW different it is, but I do concede that the stats shouldn’t be taken purely at face value.

                  Gay and DD certainly have range issues. They both settle for and take way too many long twos. Demar can’t shoot 3’s (which creates spacing issues). However, Lowry is a pretty good finisher. He shoots 57% at around the rim (which is impressive given that he’s less than 6ft tall).

                  Important offensive possessions should probably sport something like Lowry-Gay-Novak-Johnson-Valanciunas. Two great offensive rebounders, enough ball handling and creativity from Lowry and Gay and a deadly spot up shooter to stretch the floor. Leave Demar on the bench.

                • mountio

                  I agree with the point on the end of game / important offensive possessions point wholeheartedly. DD and RG can probably co-exist over the course of a game given all the ebbs and flows and having them sit at different times. They also complement eachother quite well in transition.
                  However, in key possessions, they are a detriment to each other, because if either beats their man off the dribble, help comes and we arent able to punish other teams for that. Result equals long, low percentage jumper.
                  Other question of course will be what type of offense / sets Casey will run in these type of situations. Last year, we didnt run much of anything .. and if Casey (or the new offensive coordinator guy) doesnt change that .. the results probably wont be much better.

                • DDayLewis

                  Hopefully Nick Nurse (new offensive coordinator) will run some better sets. There were a lot of late game isolation plays drawn up for Gay and Demar last season. That’s got to change, or at least they need to put the right lineup on the floor to allow it to succeed.

                  If Gay sticks around all season, I can see the the Raptors’s late game offense succeeding. Gay is actually one of the best isolation players in the league (ranks 29th), so he should get the lion’s share of the late game iso-plays, especially if you stick two great offensive rebounders in the paint (any two of JV, Hansborough or Johnson).

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              “…it’s not that the roster is close to getting over the hump – it’s that the roster is lacking a skill that’s critical for winning in crunch time.”

              I think that’s probably a better way of putting it than I did.

          • DDayLewis

            Yes, but the margin argument is encapsulated in the “all points are worth the same” argument. In a close game, the first quarter performance can also “decide a game”, We only see the last couple of minutes as deciding a game, but in reality, every minute decides a game.

            The NBA is streaky. However, that point about veteran teams vs young teams smells of bullshit NBA wisdom to me (not a slight against you, but the idea of it in general). Last year’s celtics were certainly an old team. They were 41-40 last season.

            I think the NBA is dominated by productive players. Their productivity is partly affected by age, but isn’t determined by age. Teams with more productive players win more often than not.

            Rudy Gay not clutch? Are we forgetting about this?

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK7lIjFsGvg

            All kidding aside, Gay is one of the league’s best in isolation. He should be good for the traditional isolation clutch offense.

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              The thing is that most games are winnable by either team in the last five minutes of the game. Good teams that minimize their mistakes with players that execute well will win most of those games. Team that don’t execute well with players that make mistakes will lose most of those games.

              The thing about basketball is that the final score isn’t always the best indication of how close most of the game was. All points are worth the same, but shots at the end of games usually hold more importance in the final outcome of the game.

              • DDayLewis

                See, my belief is that good teams are good because they successfully execute throughout the entire game, including the end. Likewise, bad teams don’t. Throw in a lot of randomness is thrown in (this should not be discounted) and you have yourself an outcome.

                The final score is definitely not always indicative of how close the score was. Obviously, baskets scored in the fourth quarter of a blowout means very little. However, in a close game, every basket counts, regardless of when they were scored.

                I feel like we’re going back and forth on this issue without making much progress. To make a baseball analogy: you’re a fan of WPA (win probably added) and I’m a fan of WAR (wins above replacement)

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  I know very little about baseball, quite frankly. I stopped following it not long after the Jays changed their roster after winning their second World Series.

                  I agree that how a team executes throughout the entire game usually says how well they will do over the entire season, but with a caveat. I don’t think how a team does in the regular season is the best indicator of how well they will do in the playoffs, because the playoffs is a different animal than the regular season. And I also think that some players simply don’t execute as well in crunch time as others. When the game is on the line, many players’ personality will take over, and that’s the case with Lowry.

                • DDayLewis

                  The stupid depreciating of Canadian:US dollars really fucked Canada (Jays having to cut payroll, losing the Grizzlies).

                  Basically, WPA accounts for “WHEN”, as in if a guy hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth of a tied game, he gets a lot of WPA. Conversely, WAR is oblivious to “WHEN” and just says that all home runs are roughly worth the same to a team.

                  I’ve tackled this “playoffs is different” thinking a few times and I just can’t get my head around it. I understand that teams shorten their rotations and only play their best players (except if you’re George Karl), and that obviously the competition is harder. But what else is significantly different? And if so, how different and how can we quantify it?

                  Usage certainly changes with the situation of the game. Consider this excellent paper submitted at last year’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:

                  http://www.sloansportsconference.com/?p=11265

                  Unfortunately, I don’t know where to find the stats for Lowry. I’m guessing that his usage does go up. For what it’s worth, the Raptors were the second worst team in crunch time:

                  http://stats.nba.com/leagueTeamClutch.html?sortField=NET_RATING&sortOrder=DES&SeasonType=Regular%20Season&MeasureType=Advanced&PerMode=Totals

                  I did look into certain players who I suspected used a lot of clutch possessions (Gay, DD, Lowry, Bargnani).

                  PlayerOffRtgDefRtgBargnani101.6107.3Gay102.199Derozan102104.3Lowry104.6104.3Team91.2118.1

                  Again, small sample size issues apply, but the Raptors issues probably ran deeper than those four.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Ya, I was disappointed when the Jays roster started getting populated with guys I didn’t know and all the guys I knew were gone. Obviously not a huge baseball fan but one year I watched every single game and went to game five of the first World Series.

                  The playoffs are more than just about tighter rotations. The game slows down and the defenses get better (partly because players play harder, but also because teams are scouted more heavily), possessions are worth more (not statistically obviously), mistakes get magnified. Team’s take advantage of players’ weaknesses, which is why I’ve never been fans of guys like Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith, no matter what they do in the regular season. The deeper their team gets in the playoffs, the more poor defensive players, or players with major flaws, hurt their team.

                  Denver is a good example of a team that is made for the regular season, but not for the playoffs.

                  Denver runs a lot, but they aren’t a good half court defensive team, so they won’t be able to run in the playoffs as much. They also don’t have anyone who can score inside consistently, another must for the playoffs.

                • DDayLewis

                  Went to game 5 of the first world series? Shit, I wasn’t even born until 2 months after that game.

                  I don’t think play actually slows down. I took the due diligence of breaking down the numbers. The average pace for the playoff teams was 92.6. The average pace for the regular season was 94.4. The difference is not significantly significant (ie: high probably of random fluctuation, especially with the small sample size issues of the playoffs). Data set is below

                  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlYMOKoVqHSjdDIxVUx3Y2NkUURqSXVBZU96eFRJanc#gid=0

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Well, I guess I can say I’ve been watching and playing basketball since well before you were born. Thanks for making me feel old.

                  Interesting stat on the pace, but did you look at field goal percentage? I’d suspect it goes down in the playoffs, which would account for the smaller difference than I would have anticipated. I’d also like to see stats for deeper in the playoffs. The first round, I’m guessing would have a faster pace than in later rounds.

                • DDayLewis

                  Sorry pops.

                  The thing is the stats are from NBA.com’s advance stats page and the formatting on that page is horrible. Some websites (ie:BR, thenbageek, hoopdata) allow you to copy the data really easily, NBA.com stuff is the exception.

                  Nevertheless, I did look over the numbers. The results are below:

                  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlYMOKoVqHSjdDIxVUx3Y2NkUURqSXVBZU96eFRJanc#gid=3

                  A couple of things of note. One of the biggest discrepancies was the Thunder, who lost Westrbook, so they skew the stats a bit. Otherwise, the difference in offensive efficiency is about 1 point of OffRating.

                  Interesting to note that your comment about teams that go deeper into the playoffs might be right. The Heat and Spurs both saw a big drop off (San Antonio: -7, Heat:-10). However, the conference runner ups in the Pacers and Grizzlies saw almost no difference (0 for Indiana, -0.3 for Memphis). My guess is that the Heat played the majority of their games against the Pacers and Spurs who were both top 5 defensive teams. Same for San Antonio (played Miami and Memphis). Ultimately, the sample is really small and there are very few conclusions to be drawn.

              • GoingBig

                OK, so where’s our last-5-minutes stat?
                I would say
                Points – 2 x TO + assists + 2 x (steals/blocks) when games are less that 10 points at the 5 minute mark left
                Solved!!!

                • DDayLewis

                  Clutch stats exist. You can even play around with the criteria if you want. They can be found here:

                  http://stats.nba.com/leagueTeamClutch.html

                  There’s also clutch stuff for players, but you need to set a whole bunch of filters so you don’t have your leaderboard flooded with the likes of Amir Johnson and Tyson Chandler (who are clutch, but their TS% is like 90+% in these scenarios).

      • thegloveinrapsuniform

        I think you also have to consider that Lowry was playing for the Raptors for the first time, 12 new teammates to play with, considering a so-so training camp because of an injury, where he was supposed to be the starter but mid way through the season was pitted against Calderon in a PG controversy, in a team with 6 or something new players and no identity, and dealing with a major roster shake up in the middle of the season. oh and injuries.

        i think it was evidently clear last season that he was playing his own game and at the same time playing the game that Casey (or BC..who knows) wanted him to play.

        I think the only fair thing to do is see what he can do when he’s injury free, with a rotation that has undergone a full training camp and a team that has at least a stable and set core.

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          I don’t think Lowry being new to the team has any effect on how he plays at the end of games. I think it comes down to the type of player he is. Lowry believes he’s as good as anyone on the court, which can be a mixed blessing.

          • thegloveinrapsuniform

            Of course it does. If you’re in a new team, you dont know your teammates that well, you dont know who to trust in crucial situations. you know how the saying goes, if you want done something right, do it yourself. and thats a mentality that a good coach, camaraderie between teammates can definitely correct.

            i agree, it is a mixed blessing. i actually prefer that he think of himself as the best player on the court rather than just as good as anybody. you need confidence down the stretch. not just confidence to score the basketball, but confidence in your teammates and your ability to pass to the right player at the right time at the right spot. you dont want to be second-guessing yourself in crucial situations. and again, this develops through good coaching and chemisty with the team.

            • thegloveinrapsuniform

              *something done right.

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    Good article Tim. As somebody who is not much of a stats guy, i understood quite well the way you explained the stats.

    I think i’d put wall as 9th, Lowry as 10th and slide everybody down as is.

    I value guards who have the ability to rebound better than the other guards.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I think rebounding is probably one of the least valuable skills for a PG. In fact, offensive rebounding might be a negative, because it hurts the team defensively, putting the PG out of position if the other team gets the board. Steve Francis was a great rebounding PG, but I really didn’t like him as a player.

      Defensive rebounding is a nice bonus, from your PG, but I don’t think it’s important in the least. John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash and Tony Parker are/were all below average rebounders, yet are some of the best of all time.

      • DDayLewis

        The book on crashing the boards isn’t quite out yet. This is a great place to start:

        http://www.sloansportsconference.com/?p=10196

        For what it’s worth, Toronto was pretty great at offensive rebounding last season. Also, Lowry grabbing more offensive rebounds is probably a result of 1) coaching strategy (ie it’s not his doing) and 2) him attacking the basket and being near the boards.

      • thegloveinrapsuniform

        Leaking in the NBA is a bit rare, specially because guards are far more committed to staying with their man rather than leaving them just to get an easy basket at the other end. Good guards dont leak out, they wait for their bigs to get the rebound, then go closer to them to secure the ball and call out plays. Rebounding guards put their teams in a better position to score, one, because they get a second opportunity to get the ball and set plays, and two, it puts the bigs in a position inside to just catch the ball and score.

        the guards you have mentioned have played with dominant bigs for the most part of their careers. theyre either not built to chase down rebounds, or they dont have to because of the dominant bigs theyve played with. furthermore, these guards were not really known for their defense. rebounding guards such as oscar robertson, magic johnson and the great gary payton at not only good rebound guards but defensive specialists as well. i would say chris paul and rajon rondo are good rebounding guards too, two of the best PGs of our time.

  • dribbles

    I have a hard time assessing Lowry. Advanced stats tend to be very friendly to him, and guys whose opinions I respect, like Haralabos Voulgaris, love him. I remember watching him those first few games last season and thinking the guy was an absolute beast. He was putting up monster numbers even with the team losing. When he’s on, he’s easily a top 10 PG to me because he can impact the game in so many ways. He sneaks in for rebounds he has no business getting, he disrupts the other team’s offence, he gets to the FT line, he can shoot the 3, etc. He can remind me of a less athletic, better shooting Westbrook that way where’s he’s just all over the court. There simply are not many other PGs who can play with that kind of broad impact, and I think too many fans discount that.

    In the end though, I just don’t love him as my team’s starting PG because he succumbs to hero-ball madness at bad times, doesn’t run an offence all that smoothly (in his defence, Casey didn’t have an offence), and has been injury prone. His body language ain’t great either but hard for me to tell how good or bad he really is for team chemistry.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      That’s always been my big problem with Lowry. I don’t you can win consistently with a guy like Lowry, who simply makes too many bad decisions down the stretch. I think his ego gets in the way, too much.

  • KuH

    Good article. Two sentences jump out, though:
    – ‘Advanced stats don’t seem to tell Rajon Rondo’s full worth’ (WP48 ranks him #4)
    – ‘It’s debatable if Russell Westbrook is as good as these stats show’ (WP48 ranks him #12)

    Many stats emphasize total points scored. WP emphasizes TS%. It may be worth grouping the ‘points-based’ stats like PER and WS48 as one class of stats, the ‘efficiency-based’ stats of WP48, TS% and AR as a second class, (and the ‘doesn’t predict a player’s future success’ metric of +/- as a third class of stats.)

    You could then make clearer statements like: ‘points-based stats don’t seem to tell Rajon Rondo’s full worth the way efficiency-based stats do’, and the crowd could split into supporters of ‘points-based’ vs. ‘efficiency-based’ stats, which are very different types of ‘advanced’ stats.

    P.S. The weakness of +/- that you didn’t mention is that it doesn’t predict a player’s future success. Calderon, for instance, according to 82games.com (I’m not sure what you used) had defensive +/- scores of +2.0/+6.9/-1.0 in the past three years. Either he was a better than average defender two years ago who magically became crappy … or the stat itself has a random walk, and doesn’t predict anything about the player’s performance next year, hence doesn’t measure a property of the player.

  • johng_3

    Good article but I would have Lillard a little higher. He just really impresses me and I would take him over Holiday, Calderon, Hill, Lawson, Wall and Nash.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      At this point, Lillard reminds me too much of Damon Stoudemire. Plus, Lillard’s defense is beyond awful, right now. Awful.

      • johng_3

        Is his defense more awful than Calderon and Nash? The guy played the most minutes in the NBA for a rookie. I see some Gilbert Areanas in his game. The guy can drop 40 at anytime because he can create off the dribble and shoot from anywhere from the court.

        • DDayLewis

          His backups were Ronnie Price and some guy named Nolan Smith. I dunno how much credit Lillard should get for getting the lion’s share of the minutes.

          • johng_3

            But for a rookie to be played almost 40 minutes a game and to produce 19 and 7 is impressive. I surprised he didn’t get injured playing that many minutes (unlike other rookies like Anthony Davis)

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              And this is exactly why he reminds me of Damon Stoudamire. Honestly, I’d never compared their stats until just now, but it’s shocking how close they are:

              http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=stoudda01&y1=1996&p2=lillada01&y2=2013

              • johng_3

                Interesting but I think Damon was a better playmaker for others than Lillard as a rookie.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  And Damon couldn’t find a role when he was on a better team and couldn’t dominate the ball. Lillard is allowed to dominate the ball, so puts up great stats, but he isn’t good enough to dominate the ball on a contender, so what happens when he plays with better players?

            • DDayLewis

              Rookies get hurt as much as anyone else. For example, MKG played 78 games last season. So is he impressive?

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          I would say it’s on par with them. But he’s not even remotely as efficient offensively.

          • johng_3

            Ok Lillard put up 19 and 7 with 43% shooting (which is tough for a rookie coming in)
            Comparing to the others
            Lawson: 17 and 7 and 46% shooting
            Nash: not even playing half the season
            Calderon: 11 and 7 with about 50% shooting
            Holiday: 17 and 8 on 43% shooting
            Wall: 18 and 8 on 44% shooting playing about the second half of the season

            The only player I might choose over Lillard is Lawson

            • DDayLewis

              When you’re comparing players who shoot a lot of 3’s, FG% doesn’t cut it. TS% takes into account 3point shooting and free throws. Calderon’s TS% was 61.6% last year compared to Lillard’s 54.6%. Calderon was also the better distributor (38% assist percentage for Calderon, 28% for Lillard).

              You’ll get fooled if you just look at per game stats. A lot of those raw numbers are a result of minutes played, not effectiveness. Calderon was much better last season.

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              And that’s exactly why surface stats, like points assists and field goal percentage, are not good ways to judge a player.

  • Jay

    So basically this list is saying Jose Calderon is better than Jennings, Rubio, Lillard, & Jrue Holliday?

  • Anon

    Anybody who thinks Lowry should be higher would be saying so based on their expectation of his potential to play better because based on his season with Toronto, that’s simply not right. I think you’ve ranked him right.

  • Will BearsNation Williams

    Interesting as you have Kyrie Irving listed at #7 considering the fact that he was surrounded by such a horrible roster. Numbers can only give you data. The 6 players you have listed above Irving are surrounded by other talented players and All-stars therefore this list is already jaded. Look past the numbers and look at the overall aspect of the pg guard position and i think Kyrie is at the very least 3rd or 4th on this list (talent wise).. But this list isn’t based on talent, thats the problem you run into when you use stats.. The Title Should read “Ranking the NBA Point Guards According to stats”

    sportsunbiased.com/nba

  • DrKnucklez

    John Wall is better than a lot of the players above him, hes a top 10 talent.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Wall certainly has the POTENTIAL to be better. Could be by All Star break. But right now, he’s not.

  • Mike De Moor

    What basketball crack have you been smoking? Damian Lillard is the 17th best PG? Are u serious? I love Calderon, but to compare Lowry, Calderon, George Hill and old Steve Nash to him is insane…. the top isn’t bad though

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Lillard had a good rookie season, but he lead a roster with some pretty good talent to a very underwhelming record and the Blazers were an average offensive team.

      What I’d like to see is that he’s more than just another young point guard who can put up gaudy stats on a bad team (Damon Stoudemire. Darren Collison).

      • Mike De Moor

        So you think Lillard is gonna end up like Collison? He kept Portland, who had no bench, in the playoff race until late March… If you’re gonna use that logic on Lillard, how can you put Bledsoe over guys like Teague or Vasquez, who have already proven something as starters? It’s hard to stay consistent when you’re encapsulating the whole league, and I’m not criticizing you; I’m just high on Lillard haha

      • Mike De Moor

        Eek… Lillard kept them in the playoff race last season until March (they lost their last nine games or something) and they had absolutely no bench all season long… How you can look at Lowry’s one half of a successful season as a starter (in 2011-12 with Houston, before he got hurt and lost his job to Dragic, then came back, made a stink, and helped the Rockets miss the playoffs) and say that he’s better than Lillard, who was playing mid-major competition two seasons ago… You really think Lillard’s going to be like Collison? I say he’s a top-five PG in a few years… Oh, and Rondo has proved nothing, so him at 5 is a little nuts to me

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          Where Lillard will end up doesn’t matter. He may very well end up as a top five point guard, but the rankings are for this summer.

          And I’m not sure how ROndo hasn’t proven anything. I’d say a Championship ring and his playoff stats proves a little something.

          • Mike De Moor

            Yes, it does… But he was the fourth best player on the C’s that year… Just like Mario Chalmers was the fourth best player on the Heat last year…. I don’t fully understand the summer rankings idea; I figured you were projecting this season…. But if it is a summer rankings, coming off a bad year, how can you say Lowry is better than Holiday, Lillard or Teague? Lowry has had 1/2 of a great year in his career; other than that, it’s been wasted potential

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