Yes, Al Harrington is that bad.

I use the “basic” stats for this post to show how terrible Al Harrington is. That said, the Wins Produced numbers have been saying that for years. Why don’t you check out our Wins Produced numbers for yourself!

Some players are terrible. The dangerous players are the terrible players that for one reason or another people think are good. Maybe they have potential or are a game changer or are a shot creator. The thing is none of those excuses can really mask the fact that the players are bad. Still, fandom can have the side effect of rationalizing bad play. Trust me, I’ve been there (I used to think Melo and A.I. were capable of winning a title) So we’ve decided to help. I’ll be looking in depth at a few players that despite the contracts, the crazy claims and other factors are in fact bad.

Al Harrington

Signs people think he’s still good:

  • He’s signed to a contract with 4 years and over $25 million left on it.
  • He’s also still getting over 20 minutes per game.

Why people probably think he’s good:

  • Al Harrington has averaged over 10 points per game his entire career.
  • Al Harrington shoots well from three point land. At his peak Al Harrington was hitting over 45% from distance. Last season he still hit a respectable 35.7% from three.

Al’s not a great shooter

First off Harrington’s impressive shooting? It’s not that impressive. Using the great NBA Geek Player Comparison Engine, here’s how an average power forward’s shooting line looks compared to Harrington the last few seasons

Al Harrington’s shooting compared with an average 2010-2011 PF
Player Two Pointer % Three Pointer % Free Throw % True Shooting %
 Average 2010-2011 PF 49.4% 35.9% 74.1% 54.4%
 Al Harrington 2010-2011 48.0% 35.2% 76.0% 52.7%
 Al Harrington 2009-2010 49.1% 34.3% 75.0% 54.6%
 Al Harrington 2008-2009 48.6% 36.4% 78.6% 55.5%

The truth is that in recent years Harrington shooting has been average to below average. Two seasons ago he was slightly better than the average power forward when it came to getting the ball in the net. I know the phrase that makes me want to throw $30 million at a player is “Slightly above average”

We can view the final effect of Al’s shooting using Points per Shot (PPS). This looks at how many points a player makes per shot they take. A free throw is counted a 44% of a shot because that’s the percentage of the time it ends a possession. Fun right?

Another look at Al Harrington’s Shooting (per 48 minutes)
Player FGA FTA PpS Pts
 Average 2010-2011 PF  17.0 5.4 1.08 21.0
 Al Harrington 2010-2011  19.5 3.4 1.05 22.1
 Al Harrington 2009-2010  22.5 6.9 1.09 27.9
 Al Harrington 2008-2009  22.0 5.7 1.11 28.4

Last season Al Harrington was actually below average when it came to shooting. In exchange for two extra shots per game compared to his fellow power forwards he was able to generate 1 extra point. If that sounds like a bad deal… well it is. Even in 2008-2009 (which was his best season ever as a scorer) he produced 28.4 points per 48 minutes. Had an average power forward taken the same number of shots as Harrington they’d have pulled down 26.4 points per 48 minutes. So at his peak (which has since passed) Al Harrington’s scoring was less than 8% better than his peers. Of course he masked such a small difference with volume. Al Harrington has shot between 15% to 25% more shots per minute than his peers.

Al is terrible at rebounding

Now we might argue alright so Harrington isn’t really above average at scoring but hey average scoring is worth something right? There’s one other caveat and that is rebounding. You see a power forward really has two jobs. They’re close to the hoop so they should be able to score more. Additionally they should get the team the ball in the event of a miss. Per 48 minutes an average power forward should grab around 11.6 rebounds. How has Big Al stacked up?

A look at Harrington’s Rebounding per 48 Minutes
Season ORB DRB Total
2010-2011 2.1 7.3 9.4
2009-2010 1.9 6.9 8.7
2008-2009 1.9 6.7 8.6

In 2011 Al got close to his career high in boards per minute with 9.4. Of course, that still a good two rebounds fewer than an average power forward would be expected to grab. In fact going on the percentages that a good 23% below what’s expected. So at one of his assigned tasks Harrington is not just bad, he’s terrible.

Al’s not good at anything else

So Al is average to below average at shooting and woefully below average at rebounding. The last nail in the coffin is Al is not really good at much else either.

A look at the rest of Al’s stats (per 48 minutes)
Player Assists Turnovers Blocks Steals Fouls
 Average PF 2010-2011 2.7 2.5 1.2 1.2 4.6
 Al Harrington 2010-2011 2.9 3.1 0.3 1.1 5.9
 Al Harrington 2009-2010 2.4 2.9 0.5 1.3 4.5
 Al Harrington 2008-2009 1.9 3.1 0.4 1.6 4.3

If big men are expected to block and rebound then Harrington clearly never got the memo. Last season he was marginally above average when it came to passing, which is of course what you expect of your power forward. Also, it is not actually common as typically Harrington is below average in regards to passing. A few seasons ago Harrington’s stealing was decent. That might almost be enough for me to give him some credit. Of course when we look at his turnovers we find any benefit from his stealing is more than offset by his tendency to give up the ball.

Summing up

Al Harrington is a classic example of the overrated player at the Wages of Wins. By putting up lots of shots he has been able to up his point totals and as we’ve seen time and time again, this is what gets players paid. However, when we break down Harrington we find he was marginally better at scoring and worse at everything else expected of a power forward. So yes, Al Harrington is that bad.

On a final note. A common theme you might see with Al Harrington is that he can “take over a game” or “have a big night when it matters”. I want to stress that virtually any player in the NBA if given enough opportunities to shoot the ball a lot can have a big night. Heck Adam Morrison and Michael Olowokandi were both able to get 30 point games in their careers. So rather than put faith that a bad player may come through in a random game, it may just be a better idea to put the same faith in good players instead.


P.S. When I first threw this idea around I thought I might do it for all players in the NBA that came to mind. Patrick was quick to point out that would take me forever. Instead I decided to do an in depth look at one such player. If you have other overrated players you’d like us to examine then please shout them out. Michael Beasley is already on deck!

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