Let me pretend to be a sports reporter tonight and post my comments on Game One of the NBA Finals this evening.
Coming into tonight’s game LeBron had played 16 games in the 2007 NBA Finals. In fifteen games he was above average. Tonight he would have had to play quite a bit better to get to average. His final Win Score was zero. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. So his PAWS (Position Adjusted Win Score) was clearly in the negative range (-0.152 to be exact).
In contrast, Tim Duncan offered his third highest production level of the 2007 post-season (game two against Utah and game three against Phoenix were each higher). Duncan, though, was not the most productive player in the game. That honor falls to the man named Boobie. Daniel Gibson took nine shots and hit seven. He also nabbed four steals. When the game was over, his PAWSmin stood at 0.351 while Duncan’s was only 0.285. Unfortunately for Boobie, he was the only player with a positive PAWSmin. In other words, he was the only above average player on the Cavs. And when you only have one above average player, that probably means you get to lose.
Duncan was not only great, but as usual, also got help. Francisco Elson, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker were each above average as well (PAWSmin of 0.275, 0.140, and 0.027 respectively).
And to repeat, LeBron was both “not great” and played without much help. Yesterday I compared LeBron to Dwayne Wade. Last year Flash was the “next Jordan” and was also making a first appearance in the NBA Finals. Although it ended very nicely for Wade, like LeBron, Flash struggled in Game One of the 2006 NBA Finals. He also struggled in Game Two. Fortunately for the Heat, in the last four games of the Finals, Wade was amazing.
Can LeBron prove to be the next “Flash”? Or will he be the next “Flash-in-…”? Okay, dumb question. Regardless of how this championship series goes, LeBron is still going to be an extremely good player. He still is not playing for an extraordinarily good team (a good team, but not extraordinary), but King James is still a damn good player.
In closing tonight, I wanted to call attention to the NBA coverage offered at NBA Babble and Win Score. Jason Chandler has two excellent posts covering both the top playoff performances (before the Finals) and the top players in the regular season.
Beyond the work of Chandler, I also wanted to note Bill Russell’s blog. Yes, the immortal Bill Russell is now offering his thoughts on a blog. I am quite sure that Russell has never heard of The Wages of Wins. Still, he is the embodiment of the NBA story our book is telling. Wins in the NBA are not just about scoring. Russell was not a scorer, but his team still managed to win consistently because Russell was a phenomenal rebounder (among other fine defensive attributes).
Hat tip to Pacifist Viking for the link to Russell (and a number of fine comments in this forum).