Danny Granger is the Most Improved?

Danny Granger was the subject of the following two posts in the month of March.

There is Not Much Difference Between Danny Granger and Kobe Bryant?

Bob Newhart, Danny Granger, and Group Therapy in Indiana

Of these two, I really like the one connecting the Bob Newhart show to Danny Granger.  In fact, it’s such a good post (well, I liked it) that I should move on to another subject.  But the sports media has decided that Granger is the Most Improved Player in the NBA in 2008-09.  And after looking at the data, I think I have to comment on Granger again.

Table One: The Last Two Years of Danny Granger Basketball

Table One reports what Granger has done the past two seasons.  Let’s start with the non-scoring aspects of his game. Granger did manage to improve with respect to blocked shots, assists, and personal fouls.  But he got worse with respect to rebounds, steals, and turnovers.  And the decline with respect to the net possession factors trumps the improvement in blocked shots, assists, and personal fouls.

What about scoring? Granger also increased his scoring totals.  But his level of shooting efficiency really didn’t change.  So Granger’s scoring totals only went up because Granger took more shots.

Now Granger is an above average scorer, so more shots from Granger will increase his Wins Produced and Win Score.   The overall improvement, though, is rather small.  As a small forward Granger posted a 0.148 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] this year.  Last year his WP48 at small forward was 0.124.  Had Granger spent all his minutes at small forward (he also played power forward, which is not a good idea), this improvement would result in 1.2 additional wins for the Pacers.  So yes, technically Granger’s additional shots did mean he was more productive.  But the difference seems rather small.

Of course it’s possible that the sports media looked at every aspect of every NBA veteran and this is the biggest improvement they could find.  I suspect, though, that something else is going on.  I think many members of the sports media saw that Granger increased his scoring average from 19.6 to 25.8 points per game.  This scoring leap was enough to impress these members of the sports media who often only look at scoring totals in evaluating players.

Now if I was really working hard at this blog tonight I would go look at every player who played in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and discover the one player who was the Most Improved.  Unfortunately, I am less committed tonight and think I will just end the post here (if you need more, please go re-read the Bob Newhart post…. I really like that particular story).

- DJ

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

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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