The Most Underrated in the Playoffs (before the playoffs started!)

Tom Van Riper – of Forbes.com – has once again turned to Wins Produced to discuss the NBA.  His latest looks at The Ten Most Underrated Players In The NBA Playoffs.

One can follow the link for the list.  I would like to emphasize, though, the methodology employed.  According to Tom…

With scorers enjoying most of the limelight, we turned to the advanced metrics of David Berri, an economics professor at Southern Utah University and author of the book  Stumbling on Wins, who estimates the number of wins NBA players contribute during a season based on measurements like shooting percentage, steals and rebounds, within the context of each game’s pace (example: a  player’s total rebounds carry less weight than the percentage of all rebounds available that he got while he was on the floor, which varies each game depending on the number of opponents’ shot attempts).

So which players in this year’s playoffs are the most underrated? The answer is always a bit subjective, even with numbers. Unlike the “Most Underpaid” and “Most Overpaid” NBA lists we came up with recently, determining the “Most Underrated” isn’t a pure calculation. Low salaries are a factor here, but generally we went with those who scored very high on Berri’s “Wins Produced” scale who were not All-Stars, and who, by and large, don’t get a lot of acclaim from the press.

Again, the list is quite interesting (at least to me).  It is important to note that this was constructed before the playoff started.  Now that some games have been played, it is possible that some perceptions have changed.

With that in mind, let me offer a note of caution. The NBA post-season is a very small sample.  One should be hesitant to draw strong conclusions from what one sees in a handful of games (or in a handful of playoff minutes!).  What happened in the regular season – which is a much larger sample – is likely more indicative of a player’s value.   Tom’s story is based on the regular season.  So if these players perform differently (i.e. better or worse) in the playoffs, I am not sure that is telling us much.

Of course, judging from what I have seen, this note of caution has been ignored by most everyone commenting on the playoffs.  And I would add, that is not at all unusual!

- DJ

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