Ari Caroline Helps Dre Explain why George Karl is Horrible

Sometimes you get lucky and get something amazing and unexpected. Much like the Denver Nuggets got Iguodala, the Wages of Wins Network got some amazing analysis from Ari Caroline (@aricaroline),¬†Director of Quantitative Analysis and Strategic Initiatives at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Using his expert skills and tools, Ari decided to help me explain why George Karl is a horrible coach — which I may have mentioned once or twice.

2012 Denver Nuggets. Click on image to get larger version.

The basic cheat sheet is this: good players are to the right, bad ones to the left. Players with more minutes go to the top and players with fewer minutes go near the bottom. Ari also added color coding for position and the size of each circle shows how many wins the player earned the team. Above we get a nice snap shot of the Nuggets. Something troubling is a lot of the best players are lower in minutes (Kenneth Faried got a criminally low number of minutes) and some bad and terrible players (Al Harrington and Corey Brewer?) get more minutes. Let’s put this in perspective.

NBA minute allocation for the 2012 season. Click on image for a larger version.

The image above is all the players in the NBA ordered by their skills and minute played. Ari shows that better players tend to get more minutes (to a statistically significant tune!) Sure, some bad players get more minutes than they should but on the whole if you’re a good player in the NBA, you get played. Unless you’re George Karl.

George Karl is horrible! Click on image for a larger version.

While not statistically significant — which isn’t a surprise given the small sample size of a single team — George Karl is pretty much the inverse of the rest of the NBA! While the norm is to play good players more, George Karl likes to buck expectations. In spite of this, the Nuggets still sported a winning record and made the playoffs. Ari left me with on an optimistic note.

2012 Denver Nuggets based on 2012 numbers. Click on image to get a larger version.

As Ari put it “Here’s next season, after Billy Beane takes away the coach’s crutch.” Taking away Al Harrington and inserting Andre Iguodala makes the Nuggets look great! That is of course, if George Karl makes sure to take advantage. The end message is that George Karl is a terrible coach and next season the Nuggets look like a strong team. We’ll have to see what happens.

-Ari and Dre

Ari put together the above charts using data from and

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