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).