The biggest losers in the NBA

Losing is a disease as contagious as bubonic plague attacking one but infecting all.
-The Natural (1984)

.0986 Wins Produced per 48 minutes or thereabouts.

What’s that you ask? The average production of player in the NBA for the 2011-12 season as of all games played by February 9th. Why should I care? Because that’s what your team and your players need to beat to be a winning team.

That is the top 6 in terms of minutes for every team in the league as of the morning of February 10th of 2012. Please note the column in the middle called point margin per game. This column has a very simple explanation. Take for example Mr. Nick Young of the Washington Wizards. His point margin per game is -3 points. What does that mean exactly? It means that if Mr. Young plays a game for your team at his average of 30.7 minutes per games at his average level of performance (-.054 wins per 48 minutes) vs average opposition (.0986 wins per 48 minutes) his team, the aforementioned Wizards will be three points in the hole at the end of that game solely because of that player’s efforts.

Simply put playing this particular player is a losing proposition. The interesting bit is that he is not alone. Let’s talk losers.

Here come the losers (Image by Jack "The King" Kirby)

Let’s look at the 20 worse offenders in the league at this point by game and for the season.
How exactly does this kind of thing happen? Of the 30 teams in the league only 16 show up on this list of ignomy. Let’s focus on them.

8 teams show up with one player (Lakers, Raptors, Thunder, Wolves, Mavericks, Clippers, Bucks and Heat).  A few of these are understandable.

  • World Peace is generally undervalued by the model as his contributions are hard to measure. The Lakers get a bye for keeping the Peace.
  • Perk is in a similar category for the Thunder.
  • Wesley Johnson is young and still has room to grow for the Wolves. Norris Cole gets the same pass for Los Heat.
  • Odom is missing the beach apparently and playing way below standard for the Mavs. I don’t expect this to continue indefinitely.
  • Brian Cook is tenth on the rotation for the Clippers and can be considered a warm body at this point.
  • The last two in this group (DeRozan for the Raptors and Captain Jack for the Bucks) are indefensible . Captain Jack should not be #2 on the depth chart for a team with playoff aspirations at this point in his career. As for DeRozan? If he is your number 1 option in the rotation, you have real problems. Then again, sadly this is an old story for the Raptors.

There are 6 teams with 2 players in the Losers’ bracket:

  • Cleveland: It could be argued that they need to have Jamison out there to sell. Mychel Thompson falls under the warm body category to me.
  • Detroit: A rookie (Knight) and yet another warm body (Daye).
  • Houston: A rookie deep in the rotation (Morris) and a player in Scola who seems to be in a precipitous decline.
  • New Jersey: Two bench players on a bad team in Shawnee Williams and Okur who like Scola may be in rapid decline.
  • New York: Amare,who I will continue to argue, is miscast totally in the Melo iso show and could be decent with a better PG, say a Harvard grad and Toney Douglas who is probably out of a job.
  • Orlando: On behalf of all Celtic fans, I’d like to thank the Magic front office for taking Baby off our hands. God bless you and protect you. You’ll need it. Larry Hughes is there collecting a paycheck.

The last two teams on this list are just terrible with three and four players on this list:

  • My old friends the Wizards , have two players in Nick Young and Jordan Crawford who at this point, based on the data, will not ever reach the level expected from a bench player on a good NBA team. Andray Blatche might reach that level but he should not be drawing more than the NBA minimum.
  • The Bobcats, my lord, the Bobcats are a mess. Corey Higgins is a deep in the rotation rookie and given the talent drought on this team they should really be playing him more to see if they have anything. Byron Mullens is another unknown quantity so they might as well play him. Corey Maggette may be ready for the glue factory at this point after a respectable twelve year career which is long. Tyrus Thomas probably needs out of the Queen City.

At the end of the exercise, what can we conclude? There are a few key reasons why these lovable losers get playing time on these teams. Most are understandable (or at least come with a good story): they’re defensive contributors on good teams, they’re having an off year, they’re losing the battle with father time, they’re dealing with injuries, they’re inexperienced rookies or unknown quantities getting their shot at the big time. There’s only a few cases of truly bad management in the bunch.  To me, the Raptors, Magic and the Wizards are all guilty of throwing good money after bad and doing it consistently year in and year out. They pay,play and trade for bad players. Where I a fan of these teams I would be very pessimistic about the near future prospects of my team.



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