One of my favorite players is Renaldo Balkman. On his brief stint with the Nuggets he played very well in limited minutes to help the Nuggets to one of their best seasons. Before that he played well in limited minutes on a terrible Knicks team. Unfortunately his NBA career is likely over (or at the very least he will reduced to being a bench warmer). When I tell people Renaldo Balkman played great for the Nuggets I often have my sanity questioned and frankly that’s not hard to believe. Here’s Balkman’s per game stat line during his best NBA season (which was with the Nuggets in 2009)
- 14.7 Minutes per game
- 5,0 Points per game
- 6.0 Rebounds per game
- 0.9 Steals per game
- 0.6 Assists per game
- 0.4 Blocks per game
- 0.7 Turnovers per game
- 1.8 Personal Fouls per game
These numbers do not exactly scream greatness. However if we look at his per minute stats and his “advanced” shooting numbers we get a different tale
- 0.225 Wins Produced per 36 minutes (0.299 WP48)
- 12.2 Points per 36 minutes on 58.5% TS
- 9.4 Rebounds per 36 minutes
- 1.6 Assists per 36 minutes
- 2.2 Steals per 36 minutes
- 1.1 Blocks per 36 minutes
- 1.5 Turnovers per 36 minutes
- 4.5 Personal Fouls per 36 minutes.
However Balkman made several crucial errors in his career that have resulted in him becoming a bench warmer.
- He contributed in ways other than scoring. Scoring gets you noticed. Other things may not.
- He played for a bad team initially.
- He played limited minutes.
What we can notice about these “mistakes” is that none are really Renaldo’s fault. As he was drafted by the Knicks he had no choice but to play for them. Balkman also can’t help that popular perception is on scoring. Finally, it turns out coaches decide who gets minutes and who doesn’t (and not always correctly).
I was very excited to hear that Balkman was playing for Puerto Rico in the FIBAS Americas tournament. If he played well then there might have been hope for him to rekindle his NBA career. It turns out if we look over his numbers, Balkman is actually playing rather well
- 15.0 Points per 36 minutes with a 53.9% True Shooting
- 10.3 Rebounds per 36 minutes
- 1.7 Assists per 36 minutes
- 4.8 Personal Fouls per 36 minutes
- 2.6 Personal Fouls per 36 minutes
- 3.3. Steals per 36 minutes
- 1.9 Blocks per 36 minutes
Of course the real issue comes down to minutes. Balkman is not playing 36 minutes a game. Instead he is playing 18.9 minutes a game. He is also not playing on a team that is destroying the competition. While Puerto Rico did make the semi-finals, they have lost their shot at an Olympic bid via this tournament (I think, please correct me if I am wrong). So Balkman ends up in the same spot. He is playing productively. But again, he is not playing enough minutes or on a team with a high enough profile to help his case. So I suspect my dreams of a Balkman comeback will not come to fruition. I’ll always have 2009 at least.
Dre Alvarez (@nerdnumbers) is a Co-Editor for the Wages of Wins Network and is also in charge of handling the stats data. He’s a long time fan of Colorado Sports, depending on the weather. He’s an even bigger fan of the stats, data and all things nerdy.