The Top Rookies, Again

Way back on November 16 I posted the following column:

Choosing the Best Rookie in November

Almost two weeks have passed since this comment, so clearly it’s time to write an update on the rookies (sarcasm alert).

This time I want to build upon the weekly rankings of top rookies provided by David Thorpe of ESPN.com (Insider Subscription Required). Hopefully I am not violating anything by revealing a few of Thorpe’s choices:

1. Juan Carlos Navarro

2. Kevin Durant

3. Al Horford

4. Yi Jianlian

6. Jamario Moon

I am not going to list all of Thorpe’s choices or repeat his reasoning (you should read the article for this).  But I do want to note the projected Wins Produced (for the season, assuming per-minute peformance doesn’t change) and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes) of all the players Thorpe listed in his top ten.  One should note that these calculations do not include Wednesday's games.  

1. Al Horford [10.3 Wins Produced, 0.188 WP48]

2. Jamario Moon [8.4 Wins Produced, 0.239 WP48]

3. Sean Williams [5.1 Wins Produced, 0.192 WP48]

4. Juan Carlos Navarro [3.8 Wins Produced, 0.104 WP48]

5. Luis Scola [3.2 Wins Produced, 0.094 WP48]

6. Joakim Noah [2.8 Wins Produced, 0.204 WP48]

7. Daequan Cook [1.8 Wins Produced, 0.109 WP48]

8. Jeff Green [0.2 Wins Produced, 0.005 WP48]

9. Yi Jianlian [-0.1 Wins Produced, -0.002 WP48]

10. Kevin Durant [-2.4 Wins Produced, -0.041 WP48]

If the Rookie of the Year must score at least ten points per game, than Thorpe placing Navarro at the top of the rankings makes sense.  Of these ten players, only Navarro, Cook, Yi, and Durant are averaging more than ten points per game.  Of course, even if scoring is a pre-requisite, it’s hard to see how Durant ranked second (a point made earlier in the week).

I don’t want to re-hash the Durant story in this post.  Such re-hashing can wait for my next column.

For here I just want to note the abundance of productive rookies this year.  An average player has a WP48 of 0.100. Of the ten rookies listed, six are above average and Scola is getting close. 

Of these, Al Horford is projected to produce the most wins.  So Horford is currently the favorite to win the prestigious Wages of Wins – Most Outstanding Rookie award (WOW-MOR).

Of course, if Jamario Moon can match Horford’s minutes – and he might – then Moon will win the WOW-MOR.

It‘s important to note that neither Horford or Moon are scoring in double figures. So given the value placed on points, it’s very unlikely that Horford or Moon will win the actual Rookie of the Year award.  And I am pretty sure, the WOW-MOR will not be much consolation.

Let me close by noting the same thing I have said all November. It’s still very early.  These rankings are going to changes as the season progresses.  All we are seeing right now is who has gotten off to a good start (and who hasn’t).

- DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.

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