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Thread: With or Without You - How Does This Core Fit Together?

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    Default With or Without You - How Does This Core Fit Together?

    Hi guys.

    First real thread here, and I hope to get some feedback.

    I've been pondering how to capture defensive impact (and team offense impact) better through stats, and stumbled on a neat stat used in NHL circles called With Or Without You's (WOWYs). It is fairly simple - it just separates a player's stats into how the team and individual performs when he is playing with a particular teammate (or lineup) versus not with that teammate (or lineup).

    Now, as far as I can find, there's no readily available version online for basketball, but I figure I can cobble something together from basketball-reference's On/Off splits and lineup finder. So I thought I'd try to take a look at the Raps and see what impact our players have on their teammates. I won't be able to see individual stats based on lineups (which is what WOWY really is, and I hope to find a way to look at that too), but the way the team performs when the players are on the court together is really what matters, so I'll look at that. This will be similar to the approach taken with adjusted plus-minus and RAPM, except I'll be targeting the impact on lineups with specific players.

    What I'm interested in is how our pieces fit together - not so much the Gray's and Acy's of the world, but how our primary and secondary pieces either help or hinder the performance of our core pieces.

    First, a list of the players and their impact on and off the court last year in general. I've also included the most used guys who are off the team now, as well as the new guys.

    Player - ORTG On - DRTG On - ORTG Off - DRTG Off - Net Impact

    DD: 105.3 / 107.3 / 109.4 / 109.5 / -1.9
    Amir: 109.7 / 104.9 / 101.5 / 111.9 / +15.2
    Lowry: 107.9 / 107.3 / 104.5 / 108.4 / +4.5
    JV: 104.0 / 107.7 / 107.6 / 107.9 / -3.4
    Ross: 106.4 / 109.2 / 106.2 / 107.2 / -1.9
    Gay: 106.7 / 104.0 / 106.1 / 109.1 / +6.0
    Fields: 108.4 / 108.4 / 105.5 / 107.6 / +2.1
    Gray: 98.8 / 107.3 / 107.4 / 107.9 / -7.9
    Acy: 113.8 / 99.8 / 105.6 / 108.6 / +16.9

    Hansbrough: 100.6 / 100.4 / 107.0 / 99.6 / -7.1
    Augustin: 100.3 / 102.0 / 106.8 / 99.0 / -9.6
    Daye (DET/MEM): 107.4 / 105.5 / 104.4 / 104.5 / +1.9
    Novak: 112.2 / 106.5 / 110.6 / 107.0 / +2.1

    AA: 106.7 / 110.3 / 106.0 / 106.4 / -3.1
    ED: 104.5 / 109.2 / 106.9 / 107.4 / -4.2
    Bargs: 104.6 / 110.8 / 106.8 / 106.8 / -6.2
    JL3: 105.4 / 111.5 / 106.5 / 106.9 / -5.7

    So, yeah. I'm pretty glad we got rid of AA, Bargs and JL3. And as much as Eddy was a nice young piece to have, he wasn't exactly setting the world on fire in terms of impact. And those new additions don't exactly inspire confidence (Daye was awesome in DET and terrible in MEM, balancing out to that fairly even score you see above). Now, these are simple plus-minus stats, so mean little by themselves and are prone to problematic conclusions, but that's why I'm going to look at some lineup data next.

    ---

    WOWYs:

    So, what impact does each of these players have on their teammates? Let's use an example to go through in detail. I'm going to use Fields as an example, as he is touted by many (myself included) as an impact guy in spite of his individual numbers.

    Player - ORTG with Fields - DRTG with Fields - Net RTG with Fields - MP with Fields
    DD: 105.3 / 107.3 / -3.9 / 702
    Amir: 109.7 / 104.9 / +4.9 / 516
    Lowry: 107.9 / 107.3 / +4.1 / 475
    JV: 104.0 / 107.7 / -3.3 / 308
    Gay: 106.7 / 104.0 / +3.8 / 162

    From here, we can extrapolate back from their season total numbers to get a "Without Fields" number, and find the difference between playing with Fields and without him. Keep in mind that a positive value in DRTG change is a bad thing.

    Player - ORTG impact from Fields - DRTG impact from Fields - Net RTG impact from Fields
    DD: +0.5 / +3.0 / -2.5
    Amir: +1.3 / +1.2 / +0.1
    Lowry: +5.1 / +0.5 / +4.6
    JV: +3.0 / +2.5 / +0.5
    Gay: +0.8 / -0.5 / +1.3

    So you can see that generally speaking, Fields playing in the same lineup as DD is a bad idea - which supports the backup SG role for Fields, letting him play some with Gay while DD sits, or play SF with Ross at SG (as a note, Ross had a +9.7 WOWY with Fields). In fact, of all the players from last year that were retained, only DD had a negative Fields WOWY. The interesting thing of note here is that I expected Fields to hurt the team offensively, and help enough defensively to make up for it. However, the opposite seems to be true in most cases. He's a small negative defensively, and a more significant positive offensively. Note that he has good impacts particularly on Gay and Lowry - two aggressive scorers that draw a lot of attention, and can find a guy on a back door cut. Also note that Gay improves offensively and defensively when playing with Fields.

    So, here's how the rest shape up. I'm looking at how our core fits together, plus how some "core hopefuls" such as Fields complement them. So I'll be doing DD, Gay, Lowry, JV, Amir, Fields and Ross (not Acy or Gray due to small sample size and I don't care, respectively). Plus I'll throw Bargnani on there just to show how much of a detriment he was while he was on the floor (if the first set of stats above wasn't clear enough).

    Player - ORTG impact from DD - DRTG impact from DD - Net RTG impact from DD
    Amir: -2.9 / -6.6 / +3.7
    Lowry: -11.0 / -6.5 / -4.5
    JV: -3.3 / -4.0 / +0.7
    Gay: +0.5 / -1.5 / +2.1

    Does not do well with Lowry. Otherwise is at least passable. Nothing big in either direction here.

    Player - ORTG impact from Gay - DRTG impact from Gay - Net RTG impact from Gay
    DD: +2.2 / -5.2 / +7.4
    Amir: -1.2 / -5.6 / +4.3
    Lowry: -2.3 / -8.3 / +6.0
    JV: +8.7 / -9.4 / +18.0

    Gay definitely had a big positive impact here.

    Player - ORTG impact from Lowry - DRTG impact from Lowry - Net RTG impact from Lowry
    DD: +2.1 / -2.3 / +4.4
    Amir: +5.8 / -1.9 / +7.7
    JV: +0.3 / -5.0 / +5.3
    Gay: -0.4 / -5.9 / +5.5

    Yep, Lowry fits well with this core. Solid PG.

    Player - ORTG impact from JV - DRTG impact from JV - Net RTG impact from JV
    DD: -3.1 / -0.3 / -2.7
    Amir: -1.1 / -6.4 / +5.3
    Lowry: -7.4 / -2.5 / -4.8
    Gay: +5.2 / -4.0 / +9.2

    Big swings here, and I expect a lot has to do with his progress from the first half of the season to the second. I think I'll filter by half season.

    Player - ORTG impact from JV 1st Half - DRTG impact from JV 1st Half - Net RTG impact from JV 1st Half
    DD: -6.5 / +5.4 / -12.0
    Amir: -17.2 / -7.3 / -9.9
    Lowry: -12.6 / +6.8 / -19.4

    Player - ORTG impact from JV 2nd Half - DRTG impact from JV 2nd Half - Net RTG impact from JV 2nd Half
    DD: 0.0 / -5.8 / +5.8
    Amir: -0.2 / -8.1 / +7.9
    Lowry: -4.2 / -12.3 / +8.1

    Yep. What a difference. It helped that he played a lot more with Amir in the 2nd half, though that would definitely not account for these big WOWY changes. Why would Casey only play JV and Amir together a total of 24 minutes in the entire first half of the season? Insane. But still, who sees improvement like that mid season? Crazy pants. If he makes half the same progress in his game between the end of last season and the end of this coming one, we've got ourselves a player, guys.

    Player - ORTG impact from Amir - DRTG impact from Amir - Net RTG impact from Amir
    DD: +8.9 / -9.7 / +18.6
    Lowry: +11.6 / -8.5 / +20.1
    JV: +7.0 / -11.5 / +18.5
    Gay: +7.9 / -9.6 / +17.5

    Amir is hilariously awesome. He makes everyone around him SO MUCH BETTER. I might have to revisit my stance that we don't need to move Amir to tank - if we want those losses to pile up, he has to be the first to go. And if we want to be good, we've got to have him on the court as much as possible. Just because Amir is so awesome, I'll list his impact on everyone else as well.

    Ross: +15.6
    Gray: +7.0
    Acy: +3.4
    Fields: +9.8

    Seriously. The only player on the roster that had a negative plus-minus while on the court with Amir was Gray (I include all the scraps and garbage like Pietrus I've left out above), and he's just a lost cause.

    Player - ORTG impact from Ross - DRTG impact from Ross - Net RTG impact from Ross
    DD: -5.2 / +2.4 / -7.6
    Amir: +1.3 / +2.4 / -1.1
    Lowry: +3.9 / +3.9 / 0.0
    JV: -11.6 / +5.5 / -17.1
    Gay: -1.5 / -3.0 / +1.4

    Ross and Valanciunas, as you'd expect from two rooks, just proved too raw to be on the court together. Ross does not match up well with DD either. His slight positive impact on Gay suggests either a good fit or improvement towards the end of the year.

    And the piece de resistance... And the single biggest reason to think the team improves this year over last (maybe besides Jonas' insane improvement).

    Player - ORTG impact from Bargs - DRTG impact from Bargs - Net RTG impact from Bargs
    DD: -0.7 / +3.5 / -4.2
    Amir: +0.8 / +4.6 / -3.8
    Lowry: -5.5 / +4.1 / -9.5
    JV: -1.5 / +5.0 / -6.5
    Gay: +0.4 / +7.8 / -7.4

    Fun.

    Anyway, I hope you guys get something from this. Feel free to critique and question - I've got a whole spreadsheet set up and can make changes where you think it necessary or informative.

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    I haven't seen WOWY used with ORT-DRT so that is likely a first and novel. Wowy has been used with often with +- points to show how one set of players point differential compares to a second set. I suppose, you are measure ORT-DRT differential instead of points. The +- wowy points also shows Amir is a very good player. And as I recall Lowry did not work with AA but Lowry + Gay was a great improvement.

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    wow, what a great analysis!! Fantastic job DanH. Great to see a fan here that can produce this sort of post. So, do we really need to go out and get another PF? This analysis really shows how well Amir fits in and the impact he clearly has on the court.
    And I like how you showed the season split with JV, clearly demonstrating his improvement. I was actually surprised to see how much an impact Rudy has had.

    I hope you will do something like this for the upcoming season. Seems like alot of work but would be interesting to revisit the data at different points throughout the season.

    Cheers, keep up the good work!!

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    Commendable work Dan. Seeing that you've been registered with the forum since 2009, I'm glad you finally decided to start posting round these parts! You're contributions are already quite evident. Keep it up please!

    I'll be sitting down with a beer this evening and giving this a good read. Will come back with a better response hopefully too.
    In Masai we Trust.

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    Yeah, it might be something I'd revisit halfway through the season or something. Anything less and the sample sizes with the lineups get pretty small so it is not really something worth tracking too minutely - the random element would create a lot of static until you get enough minutes to balance it out.

    Yeah, I'm a big fan of Amir. Just makes such a big difference.

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    Quote DanH wrote: View Post
    Hi guys.

    First real thread here, and I hope to get some feedback.

    I've been pondering how to capture defensive impact (and team offense impact) better through stats, and stumbled on a neat stat used in NHL circles called With Or Without You's (WOWYs). It is fairly simple - it just separates a player's stats into how the team and individual performs when he is playing with a particular teammate (or lineup) versus not with that teammate (or lineup).
    This is one of the most interesting stats I've seen to assess different line ups. Makes a lot of sense. Very cool, great work.

    I'd be curious what Derozan's impact was, particularly on Gay. This could help resolve that redundancy argument.
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    Excellent piece put together. I’ve seen this stat used in the NHL scene as well but never thought it would work in the NBA scene. I’m glad someone (you) was able to find a way to make it work and from the information given it makes a bit more sense. I’ve always thought that Amir is an impact player, especially last season. Now there’s the stats to showcase it.

    Question, I know this may be far fetch but I was wondering if you would be able to put this stat together for this year’s summer league games. It may be next to impossible but I’m curious to see how JV stacked up to the D-League players. It’s fairly evident that he’s above and beyond the competition but to see the stats to back it up makes it so much fun!
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    Quote hateslosing wrote: View Post
    This is one of the most interesting stats I've seen to assess different line ups. Makes a lot of sense. Very cool, great work.

    I'd be curious what Derozan's impact was, particularly on Gay. This could help resolve that redundancy argument.
    Here you go:

    Player - ORTG impact from DD - DRTG impact from DD - Net RTG impact from DD
    Amir: -2.9 / -6.6 / +3.7
    Lowry: -11.0 / -6.5 / -4.5
    JV: -3.3 / -4.0 / +0.7
    Gay: +0.5 / -1.5 / +2.1
    The team was 2.1 points better per 100 possessions with both Gay and DD on the floor than they were with Gay on the floor and DD off.

    Mind you, other players had bigger impacts on Gay - Lowry was +5.5, Jonas was +9.2, Amir was +17.5. Ross and Fields had slightly lower but comparable impacts to DD in the +1 to +1.5 range.

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    Quote RPT23 wrote: View Post
    Excellent piece put together. I’ve seen this stat used in the NHL scene as well but never thought it would work in the NBA scene. I’m glad someone (you) was able to find a way to make it work and from the information given it makes a bit more sense. I’ve always thought that Amir is an impact player, especially last season. Now there’s the stats to showcase it.

    Question, I know this may be far fetch but I was wondering if you would be able to put this stat together for this year’s summer league games. It may be next to impossible but I’m curious to see how JV stacked up to the D-League players. It’s fairly evident that he’s above and beyond the competition but to see the stats to back it up makes it so much fun!
    Sadly, there is zero information available for Summer League games.

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    Wow, this is absolutely exceptional work. One of the things I like about it is that it passes the eye-test; it backs up a lot of what I think most of us observe and adds more explanation of those things, rather than contradicts those things. For example, some of us have mentioned that Gay looks to involve Valanciunas better than anyone else on the team, and sure enough, there it is in your stats. Amir's general usefulness? Check. Bargnani bringing everyone down? Check. DeRozan actually thriving alongside Gay? Check.

    Since this is based on on-court/off-court ratings, would it be true that part of the reason the Amir's stats are so good is that this is comparing him to the other options (which were basically Bargnani, Acy, or playing a SF at PF). It's very possible that his WOWY stats come back to earth a bit this year simply through having a second useful PF on the roster.

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    Everything must be run through Amir, there's no other way!

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    Quote octothorp wrote: View Post
    Wow, this is absolutely exceptional work. One of the things I like about it is that it passes the eye-test; it backs up a lot of what I think most of us observe and adds more explanation of those things, rather than contradicts those things. For example, some of us have mentioned that Gay looks to involve Valanciunas better than anyone else on the team, and sure enough, there it is in your stats. Amir's general usefulness? Check. Bargnani bringing everyone down? Check. DeRozan actually thriving alongside Gay? Check.

    Since this is based on on-court/off-court ratings, would it be true that part of the reason the Amir's stats are so good is that this is comparing him to the other options (which were basically Bargnani, Acy, or playing a SF at PF). It's very possible that his WOWY stats come back to earth a bit this year simply through having a second useful PF on the roster.
    With Amir, what you say is true. He was backed up by Gray, Bargnani, Davis and Acy, all of whom performed poorly in terms of plus minus and adjusted plus minus. But Amir's history, even going back 3 or 4 years, if you look back at APM and RAPM, suggests that no matter who he plays with and against, he's just plain exceptional. I agree that the crazy numbers you see here will probably regress, but I have no doubt he'll still be best on the team.

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    Quote octothorp wrote: View Post
    Wow, this is absolutely exceptional work. One of the things I like about it is that it passes the eye-test; it backs up a lot of what I think most of us observe and adds more explanation of those things, rather than contradicts those things. For example, some of us have mentioned that Gay looks to involve Valanciunas better than anyone else on the team, and sure enough, there it is in your stats. Amir's general usefulness? Check. Bargnani bringing everyone down? Check. DeRozan actually thriving alongside Gay? Check.
    Excellent point made here. I am not a big fan of all the arcane regressions used by economists (economists, are there more worthless creature?) to try analyze the terribly complex workings of a NBA game. I've always thought that the real trick to trying to come up with a system was to evaluate the impact a specific group of players had on the game in a specific time and place. 5-man unit analysis, on-off numbers and the type of stuff DanH did here is far more useful. I find that it also is a much more useful predicting tool than most of the various metrics.

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    Brilliant!!! You have me drooling and staring like Vince Carter in Mr.Z's avatar

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    Great job Dan.

    Loved how you showed the Fields impact. A lot of people had the thinking that Fields should be ahead of Ross anyways, regardless of improved jumpshot or not. You just proved it.
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    I too really like this analysis. The only thing that doesn't appear to be captured - and I'm not sure how you could - is the relative strength of opposition. For instance, two lineups could have equivalent stats, but if one consistently played against opposition starters and the other against opposition 2nd units, then one could argue that the first lineup was actually better (despite similar statistical results). Overall, I really like looking at the impact one player has on other players/lineups, with offensive output being factored in (sometimes a good offense really is the best defense).

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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I too really like this analysis. The only thing that doesn't appear to be captured - and I'm not sure how you could - is the relative strength of opposition. For instance, two lineups could have equivalent stats, but if one consistently played against opposition starters and the other against opposition 2nd units, then one could argue that the first lineup was actually better (despite similar statistical results). Overall, I really like looking at the impact one player has on other players/lineups, with offensive output being factored in (sometimes a good offense really is the best defense).
    This is definitively true. I can't see a way to capture the opposition. That is why I used WOWY for particular players though - the assumption being that, for example, Gay plays against roughly the same level of opposition night in and night out and throughout his minutes. So the impact his teammates have on the team while he is on the court should be at least a little bit normalized to the level of opposition Gay typically faces (for example, he plays typical starters minutes - the 1st, a bit in the 2nd, half the 3rd and half the 4th). It's not perfect, but it is a bit of a buffer against the reality that I just don't have access to opposition strength data.

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    This gives a ton of ammunition to those who want DD sold high while young.
    Ross is a better fit with Rudy defensively and Demar has the worst impact from pretty much everyone.

    I also think this shows that a lineup with Lowry - Rudy - Amir - Val in it can grow to have good chemistry and pretty much make each other better.
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    Trade DeMar for expirings.

    S&T Lowry + Rudy for 2014 picks, move forwards with Ross-JV core. Tank in 2014, snag Wiggins, Andrew Harrison and Dario Saric

    Andrew Harrison-Ross-Wiggins-Saric-JV

    Tank again in 2015, grab Jahil Okafor.

    Harrison-Ross-Wiggins-Okafor-JV with Saric and others off the bench. Perfect championship contender for the future.

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    Quote octothorp wrote: View Post
    Wow, this is absolutely exceptional work. One of the things I like about it is that it passes the eye-test; it backs up a lot of what I think most of us observe and adds more explanation of those things, rather than contradicts those things. For example, some of us have mentioned that Gay looks to involve Valanciunas better than anyone else on the team, and sure enough, there it is in your stats. Amir's general usefulness? Check. Bargnani bringing everyone down? Check. DeRozan actually thriving alongside Gay? Check.

    Since this is based on on-court/off-court ratings, would it be true that part of the reason the Amir's stats are so good is that this is comparing him to the other options (which were basically Bargnani, Acy, or playing a SF at PF). It's very possible that his WOWY stats come back to earth a bit this year simply through having a second useful PF on the roster.
    Indeed, the Rudy-JV tandem is what I'm most excited for this season.

    With regard to Acy, though, he didn't play much but when he did he was great.

    Player - ORTG On - DRTG On - ORTG Off - DRTG Off - Net Impact

    Acy: 113.8 / 99.8 / 105.6 / 108.6 / +16.9


    This is in line with the raw +/- data--I can't find it now because nba.com is being weird, but the top 3 Raptors in +/- were (in order) Amir, Quincy and Rudy. They were all in the positives (I believe Amir was +200-something and Rudy was +100-something) while most of the team was in the negatives

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