The Hangover – Tuesday night’s ranking of the NBA’s top players by ESPN was a jumping-off point for some great analysis of how those rankings stack up to the data. Ian Levy at Hickory-High examined those players based on Win Shares, Wins Produced, and VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). Guess who came out smelling like a rose?
Looking at the graph, we can see a few other places where the wisdom of the masses differed significantly from the numbers. James Harden was ranked 8th by the voters, but measures out no lower than 5th in any of the statistical systems.
But here’s the thing: a lot of those measures don’t put a huge weight on defense. Ethan Sherwood Strauss tackled the question of the league’s fourth-best player (top three are LeBron, Durant and Chris Paul) for TrueHoop, and although Harden again could be arguably better than number 8, one half of the game is killing him:
Luckily he talked about that at Wednesday’s practice:
The Beard has probably delivered the best offensive performance this season among listed players, when you add up his production along with his heavy minutes. Many fans hate the whistle-heavy way he accomplishes such efficiency, but a lot of skill goes into all those drawn fouls.The herky-jerky lefty can shoot, dribble, pass and get to the rim with ease. Reading this sentence means you probably just fouled James Harden (he leads all players with over 10 free throw attempts per game).Harden would have this fourth-best distinction locked up, were it not for his abysmal defense. Perhaps because of the massive offensive load he carries, Harden’s D can look like some apathetic lethargy.
“I was thinking about last year pretty much all down the stretch. The six-game losing streak last year, I definitely didn’t want that to happen. We reminded the guys every game pretty much how that happened and how it was a huge meltdown. So it was such a relief just knowing that we’re in. Last year is over with and this is a whole new team this year and I really think we’re a much better team this year.”
Tweet That – After a silence stretching back to February, Thomas Robinson has lifted his Twitter blockade:[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/Trobinson0/status/322048420326043648″]Man, that’s awkwardly ambivalent. I hope he sleeps on McHale’s couch all summer and comes back next season to claim his birthright as a top-5 pick. In the meantime, he has to look on helplessly as University of Kentucky players continue to crush his dreams. As Royce White would say, #BeWell, T-Rob.Got any sweet links or suggestions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or message John Eby on Twitter @EbyNews.