Reviewing the Southwest Division

Four divisions have been reviewed (Atlantic, Central, Southeast, and Northwest). All that’s left is the top two divisions in the Association, the Southwest and Pacific.  Today we turn to the very top, the Southwest.

Wins and Efficiency Differential

As I have done with each division, we start with the current standings and each team’s efficiency differential (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency).

San Antonio: 18-7, 7.1

Dallas: 18-9, 3.8

New Orleans: 16-10, 1.8

Houston: 12-13, 0.3

Memphis: 8-17, -2.4

There were no more than two teams with a positive efficiency differential in the divisions reviewed thus far.  In the Southwest, though, four of the five teams have a differential that’s above zero.  And so far, ten of the teams examined have been worse than the Memphis Grizzlies.  In sum, this is one tough division.

Wins Produced and WP48 for the Southwest Division

And when we look at each team’s Wins Produced – reported in Table One – we can see who is responsible for each team’s level of success.

Table One: A Team-by-Team Review of the Southwest Division

As I have done with each previous division review, here are a few brief notes on each team.

San Antonio Spurs

With the exception of the strike shortened season of 1998-99, Tim Duncan has led the San Antonio Spurs in Wins Produced every year of his career (David Robinson led in 1998-99).  When we look at Table One, we see a new leader might emerge this season.  Currently Manu Ginobili is on pace to lead this team in Wins Produced in 2007-08.  

Of course, as noted, this is a simple projection.  All I did was multiply 82/25 (number of games in season divided by number of games played so far) by how many wins each player has produced.   Such an approach assumes Duncan is going to miss nine more games.

If we assume Duncan and Ginobili play the rest of the season, and minutes per game and per-minute performance do not change, then Duncan will finish with 15.4 Wins Produced. This will just beat out the 15.2 projected for Ginobili.

Again, this assumes minutes and performance don’t change. Certainly it’s possible for Ginobili to get a bit better and/or play a few more minutes (or Duncan to get a bit worse and/or play less minutes). So it’s possible that the Spurs will have a new leader in Wins Production in 2007-08.

Dallas Mavericks

A few weeks ago I offered the following column on the Mavericks.

Are the Dallas Mavericks Doomed? (November 28, 2007)

This column argued that the Mavericks are fine.  Once Erick Dampier comes back this team will be basically back where it was last year.

Well, Dampier is back and this team is not.  And of course we wonder why.  I think I know, but I am going to hold off on saying for another column (look for this in a few days).

New Orleans Hornets

The top player in the top division is Chris Paul.  Yes, he’s currently more productive than Duncan, Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, etc… What’s surprising is that the second most productive player in this division also plays for the Hornets.  Currently Tyson Chandler is on pace to produce 16.4 wins in 2007-08.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, once we get past Paul and Chandler, the cupboard is a bit empty.  Morris Peterson is the only above average player on this roster.  The combination of Paul, Chandler, and Peterson is on pace to produce 42.7 wins.  The rest of the roster is on pace to produce 2.8.

Part of the problem is Jannero Pargo.  Pargo does only one thing well, hit free throws.  Unfortunately, he only gets to the line 2.7 times per 48 minutes, which is below average.  Other than the ability to hit a rare free throw, he’s well below average with respect to shooting efficiency (adjusted field goal percentage of 36%).  Additionally, he’s also below average with respect to rebounds, turnovers, steals, and personal fouls.  To illustrate how poorly he has played, if the Hornets replaced Pargo with a player whose WP48 was 0.000, this team’s projected Wins Produced would rise to 51 and the Hornets might be able to surpass the Mavericks. 

Houston Rockets & Memphis Grizzlies

The Rockets – whose data does not include Thursday night’s loss to the Nuggets — have clearly underperformed.  Meanwhile the Grizzlies have improved.  Previously I have discussed each of these facts in the following posts:

The Houston Rockets Fail to Launch (November 23, 2007)

What the Box Score Data Says About Shane Battier (November 1, 2007)

Getting Too Much to the Point in Memphis (December 3, 2007)

My plan is to write a specific column on each of these teams that will re-visit the Shane Battier for Rudy Gay trade.  Look for that column in a few days.

Ranking All Players

Before I close this post, here are all 70 players ranked in terms of Projected Wins Produced.

Table Two: The Players of the Southwest Division

Again, as noted, the top two players are with the Hornets.  Unfortunately, the lowest ranked player also plays in New Orleans.

One last note, if you calculate the weighted average WP48 for this division, you get a mark of 0.112. This is the highest mark we have seen for any division, which is not surprising since this is the best division. 

The next – and last – review will cover the second best division.  Look for me to post the review of the Pacific division on Christmas Eve (assuming I get a chance).

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at 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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