Thursday, July 17, 2008

Great for the Sixers. Great for Brand? -- Part III

The Sixers are clearly a better team with Elton Brand than they were without him. In my last two posts, I've investigated the related question of whether Elton Brand made the right decision (in terms of being on the better team) by choosing the Sixers over the Clippers.

What I've found so far is that both PER and Adjusted +/- indicate that Brand made the correct choice in signing with the Sixers. To finish my trilogy of posts on the subject, today I'm going to see what Wins Produced (WP48, to be precise) has to say about this analysis.

And related to Wins Produced, Professor Berri put up an article the other day on how Brand's presence will help the Sixers. In addition to being as interesting as all his posts, his post made it very easy for me to find all the Sixers' WP48 information in one location. Thanks, Professor!

(He also put one up that details how the Clippers acquisition of Camby helps make up for the loss of Brand, but how the Clippers still aren't a particularly good team.)

Professor Berri also put up a post in May that looked at the Clippers' season, and that article was my source for the Clippers' WP48 information. I got my Baron Davis numbers from here.

We begin, as always, with the point guards. As with PER (but quite different from adjusted +/-), WP48 ranked Baron Davis (.177) and Andre Miller (.167) as very comparable point guards, but with Davis having the slight edge. At shooting guard position, Cutino Mobley (.029) held a slight advantage over Willie Green (-0.019). Andre Igoudala (.172) was, once again, ranked substantially ahead of Al Thornton (-0.081) (Corey Maggette, no longer with the Clippers, had a WP48 of .132). Finally, Chris Kaman (.233) was ranked ahead of Samuel Dalembert (.197), with each player having the highest WP48 on their respective teams.

As a result, based on WP48 the Clippers have an advantage at three positions while the Sixers have an advantage at just one position. However, the Sixers hold an overall edge in WP48 of .517 to .358. Thus, while a position by position comparison favors the Clippers based on WP48, the overall strength of the "other" starting four (excluding Brand) favors the Sixers.

If you move Thaddeus Young (.099) into the starting line-up as the SF and shift Andre Igoudala to the SG as seems likely to happen this year, then all of a sudden the Sixers and Clippers are back to having an advantage at two positions each. And the Sixers overall WP48 increases to .635 (increasing their advantage from .159 to .277. Again, even if Thornton improves, there's no reason to believe that he'll improve more than Young does. And I also don't think there's any reason to believe that Eric Gordon will have a better rookie season than Thornton did (or than Willie Green did last season). So if you move Young into the Sixers' starting line-up, I'd call the comparison a clear win for the Sixers.

So what have we learned?

Based on the advanced statistical metrics, it looks like the Sixers' "other" starters (excluding Brand) are better than the Clippers' "other" starters. With PER, the Clippers and Sixers each hold an advantage at two positions. With adjusted +/-, the Sixers hold an advantage at three positions. With WP48, the Clippers hold an advantage at three positions (although the positional advantage disappears when Young is inserted into the Sixers' starting line-up as seems likely to happen this season). In all three cases, the overall strength of the Sixers "other" starters is stronger than the overall strength of the Clippers "other" starters.

The verdict: Elton Brand made the right call. Welcome to Philadelphia, Mr. Brand.

(One final note: I did the comparisons using all three metrics comparing Igoudala to Thornton as the small forwards and Green to Mobley as the shooting guards because that seemed like the most accurate way to do it. Considering how interchangeable the wing positions are at times, I could have compared Igoudala to Mobley and Green to Thornton. For PER and
adjusted +/-, this change would have made no difference. For WP48, this change would have benefited the Sixers. Igoudala was better than Mobley and Thornton on all three metrics. Green was better than Mobley on two out of the three metrics, and Green was also better than Thornton on all three metrics. Considering the relatively low regard in which I view Green as a player, I found it a little shocking that he "outscored" Thornton on all three metrics, especially when you consider how well-regarded Thornton appears to be among Clippers fans. Statistical measures aren't the be-all and end-all (and Thornton was just a rookie), but if I were a Clippers fan I think these results would make me seriously question my belief in Al Thornton as a savior of the franchise.)


Louis said...

Welcome to Philly Mr. Brand where even the players we are thrilled to have get their judgment questioned for choosing to come play with us. You won't find many 76ers blind-to-reality-believers but you'll find plenty of fans and passion.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this article? Cheeks sounds really sure that Iggy will be back next season.