A Familiar Award Story

This story sounds very familiar, so I will make this brief. Jamal Crawford was the overwhelming choice of sportswriters for the 6th Man Award.  Of the 122 sportswriters who voted, 110 chose Crawford for this award. 

The official press release from the NBA explains why Crawford was so popular with the voters.

Crawford, Atlanta’s second leading scorer at 18 points a game, led the league in that category among players who didn’t start a game and paced the team in scoring 27 times.

So once again, scoring dominates an NBA player evaluation.

According to the above press release, this award works as follows: In order to be eligible, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Last season, 268 players were technically eligible for this award.  From this sample of players, Table One reports the top 40 in terms of Wins Produced.

Table One: The Top 6th Men in 2009-10

Topping the list is Lamar Odom, who did receive one first place vote and consideration from nine of the 122 sportswriters.  In other words, Odom was ignored by 113 voters.  More sportswriters paid attention to Manu Ginobili.  But the winner of this award in 2008 only received votes from 33 of the participating writers.

Much more attention was paid to Jason Terry, who won the award last season.  Only 22 sportswriters didn’t think Terry deserved consideration this season.  What does Terry do to deserve such love from the writers? Yes, like Crawford, Terry is also a scorer.

There is some hope.  Anderson Varejao is not considered a scorer.  And two sportswriters thought this particular non-scorer deserved the award.  Furthermore, 52 more writers – or about 44% of the total – thought Varejao ranked in the top three among all 6th men.   Maybe in a few years (or decades), players like Varejao – who produce many wins without scoring – will get a level of attention from sportswriters that is proportional to their productivity.

Let me close by noting that I have completed my analysis of every player in the 2009-10 regular season.  So as each player award is announced I will be offering similar comments.  And I will also be offering reviews of the 2009-10 regular season for each individual team.  These posts should be the primary offering this summer.

- DJ

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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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