The Stats Say: Dwight Howard is not yet back to his normal self

Monday’s headline was that Dwight Howard’s health has improved dramatically since joining the Rockets. “His health is 100 percent different,” said Kevin McHale. Dwight added, “I’m moving a lot better. I’m going to get balls that I couldn’t get last season.”

If Dwight Howard is healthy, his stats aren’t yet showing it. According to PER and WS/48, Houston is so far getting the L.A. version of Dwight (actually: slightly worse) rather than the Orlando version of Dwight.

Dwight Howard through week 1.5_2013-14

(Note: his stats improved modestly after the Portland game, but are still around L.A.-level. You can always view the latest data here.)

Maybe it’s just early. Maybe Dwight is just working out the kinks with new teammates and a new system. Maybe one more game like the 17-point, 26-rebound outburst will bump up his stats to Orlando-level.

On the other hand, maybe he really isn’t healthy. Maybe he never will be. Consider this quote from Kevin McHale in the same article:

Last July, when we got him, he was not healthy. When we did a physical after we signed him, I sat down with our training staff and they were all like, ‘Oh boy.’ He had a huge discrepancy in his strength in his right leg and his left leg. His glutes and his hamstrings were really weak and his flexibility was completely … funky.

McHale’s intention with this quote was to emphasize how much Dwight’s health has improved over the past four months, but count me skeptical. If Dwight’s health was that bad 440 days after his herniated disc surgery, can we really expect him to be back to normal now, a summer later? If Dwight’s health was that bad 440 days after surgery, can we expect Dwight to ever return to his normal, superhuman self, or is the L.A. version of Dwight the new normal?

Bill Simmons, our greatest NBA historian, is adamant that once big men start breaking down, they don’t get better. And this is not just one of his pet theories: it might be his most frequently stated claim, and he states it with unnerving conviction and solemnity. I would gladly dig into the data to test the hypothesis if only it were stated in a testable way. (I don’t know what it means for a player to “start breaking down.”) Simmons provided some of his own statistical evidence here (see ‘Reality No. 5’), but it isn’t awfully convincing. For what it’s worth, the godfather of NBA geekery, Wayne Winston, briefly stated a similar argument here (begins around the 6-minute mark) when discussing his predictions for the 2013-14 Rockets.

Theories aside, there’s also the eyeball test. I watched games two, three, and four very closely, and I was not seeing what looked like a healthy Dwight. I was seeing a Dwight who was trailing far behind in transition, who was dawdling under the basket on both ends of the floor (even getting multiple defensive three-second violations), and who was getting caught by the rim on dunk attempts. I was seeing a Dwight who was rarely leaving his feet to grab rebounds or challenge shots, and who seemed reluctant to even raise his arms. (Note: this post was drafted before the Portland game, and I thought Dwight looked a bit better and more athletic in that game.)

Important reminder: The L.A. version of Dwight is still extremely valuable and probably worth max dollars. The L.A. version of Dwight is still one of the best two or three centers in the league. With the L.A. version of Dwight, the Rockets can contend.

Just imagine what they could do with the Orlando version of Dwight.

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Total comments: 76
  • RollingWave says 5 months ago

    For Lebron at least, we should note tha the Heat was around 3 points worse defensively when he left the floor last year, that's significant but hardly other wordly, (Asik and Dwight both had roughly double that effect)

    When speaking in NBA defense it is very difficult to have a full ranging stat to cover everything, because different position do different things.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    Guys, sorry that I have been touchy about this. The reason this is not a lighthearted issue to me is that it seriously hurts my motivation to do interesting analyses when the results are dismissed by respected members of the site as completely useless. I like when people point out the flaws with a metric or with an analysis, but I despise when they leap to concluding that the results are therefore useless. (Your judgment is also flawed [and probably even more so than the metric>, but I am not declaring your judgment useless.) I don't like having to spend my Wednesday afternoons defending my posts against faulty logic (or attacks on my personal credentials), and I don't like feeling that all of my work was futile.
    I will move on now. I'm glad we were able to talk about this.
    (If anyone would like to comment on the original post, I'm still very open to discussing. I'm surprised the Dwight performance issue isn't getting more attention.)

    it's not that your work isn't respected because it is. however nearly all stats can be manipulated so no final conclusions should be drawn from them without also considering the whole picture. I am but a stat infant when it comes to some of you guys. however I use stats to confirm or discredit what the eye test tells me. I am an old timer when it comes to watching basketball. I usually don't need stats to know what I see. I have watched so much until listening to all the announcers have schooled me in what to look for. I like to look at stats but never draw a conclusion solely from them. I think that's the only point that most posters were trying to drive home here. it's nothing to get upset about because others don't share your view. actually I kind of like the work you presented......was good food for thought, but in order to find my own understanding within the stat world I like to take in both the good and bad when it comes to one stat over another and reading some of these post help me do that. in other words I like knowing the limitation I'm dealing with. maybe try just presenting the work without the conclusions and leave the leave the posters to draw their own. however don't be discouraged your work is interesting to me

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    Guys, sorry that I have been touchy about this. The reason this is not a lighthearted issue to me is that it seriously hurts my motivation to do interesting analyses when the results are dismissed by respected members of the site as completely useless. I like when people point out the flaws with a metric or with an analysis, but I despise when they leap to concluding that the results are therefore useless. (Your judgment is also flawed [and probably even more so than the metric>, but I am not declaring your judgment useless.) I don't like having to spend my Wednesday afternoons defending my posts against faulty logic (or attacks on my personal credentials), and I don't like feeling that all of my work was futile.
    I will move on now. I'm glad we were able to talk about this.
    (If anyone would like to comment on the original post, I'm still very open to discussing. I'm surprised the Dwight performance issue isn't getting more attention.)
  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    I know +/- is for both ends.

    What is Chalmer's RAPM? I haven't looked. I spoke of defense because that is what we have been talking about up to now.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I think Chalmers is one of Miami's best defenders...

    Hence the fact he has an incredibly high DRAPM for someone only 6-1, but lets slow down for a second here....When I said Mario Chalmers +/- is incredibly high that includes the offensive end, so I don't get why you think I'm only talking about defense..

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    I think Chalmers is one of Miami's best defenders...

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    Allen and George each play in front of elite front court defenders. Iguodala also had Javale McGee, Fareid, and Corey Brewer to play along with.

    Lebron's got Bosh, Battier, Chris Andersen, Chalmers, and Haslem.

    It's not that I think the first three don't deserve the recognition for being great defenders. It's that a player's individual score is clearly affected by their teammates. Which is why I keep saying it should just be a team stat based on line-ups.

    RAPM does a decent job of adjusting for this though. That's why Mario Chalmers has an extremely impressive +/- but a mediocre RAPM

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    JG did bring up an interesting "anomaly" though--Lebron's defense. A DRAPM of 1.5 is obviously good for a SF, but the best defenders like Tony Allen, Paul George, Iguodala all have a DRAPM above 3. Is this really an "anomoly"? Or is Lebron's defense overrated?

    Is it possible? King James defense just good, not elite?

    Once again, RAPM has caused us to ask an interesting question. Lets hear some answers!

    Allen and George each play in front of elite front court defenders. Iguodala also had Javale McGee, Fareid, and Corey Brewer to play along with.

    Lebron's got Bosh, Battier, Chris Andersen, Chalmers, and Haslem.

    It's not that I think the first three don't deserve the recognition for being great defenders. It's that a player's individual score is clearly affected by their teammates. Which is why I keep saying it should just be a team stat based on line-ups.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I agree completely that there is a phenomenal conversation going on here, lets keep the mood light though.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    What I think RAPM claims to do: improved version of +/-

    What silly people think RAPM claims to do: rank players

    And what is +/- for then? 2016, you are being childish and I am done with this. I am sorry I used the word rank--I use that term to point towards the idea of categorically positioning players in terms of their affect on the game. In short, it is a ranking system. That's why when you look at it the players are listed in order from highest to lowest.

    I do not think it ranks players. I think it attempts to capture a players individual contribution to a basketball game on both sides of the ball. I think "silly" people try to use it as a buoy to support their opinions of players. I think it is incapable of dong so because I cannot in good faith take any of the numbers at face value due to my belief that there is a high percentage of numbers that are not in accordance with my subjective evaluation of them.

    I like how nobody has touched Klay Thompson's -.2 ORAPM...nothing to see here....move along. Come on. If you are going to stand behind one you must stand behind them all or they lose meaning. I am not going to take the time to list every single player I think has a glaring discrepancy.

    2016, I see that you are trolling at this point. The bottom line is that of the four main people involved in this discussion you have the least to contribute and must resort to juvenile antics. You are better than this:

    "There's no better stat than RAPM available to the public when it comes to ranking players. I just said that to make the RAPM haters happy."

    So, between the quote at the top of this post to this one you have come full circle. Turns out, much like RAPM scores your words lack any real substance and cannot be taken at face value.

    j_wehr, I don't mean to be rude or dismissive (although I see that I have been) regarding RAPM. I have not closed the door on it and if, in time, it proves to be useful I will gladly acknowledge that. I personally have not yet been satisfied that this is the case. I am interested to see if RAPM's win prediction ability is sustainable or just beginner's luck (so to speak). Perhaps I should sit back and observe for a while and let more data and application come through before re-evaluating it.

    I do rely on my own judgment quite a bit--and I am ok with that. I am open to being corrected at any time, but I need to be convinced--not just told. I feel like my reasons for disliking RAPM are sufficient; obviously, you feel differently about that. I am less interested in win predictions which surely does nothing to bolster RAPM's value in my eyes. I prefer match-ups, strengths vs. weakness, and I suppose a less macro view of the NBA season.

    At this point, I am going to steer away from this conversation. I think I have said about all I can without repeating myself. I'd be happy for others to continue it and I can just observe from the sidelines.

    Also, please don't stop giving us statistical projections and breakdowns, j_wehr. I appreciate the effort you put into them and you never know which one might be the one that converts me :) :P

    One last thought, j_wehr. Did you submit a list to the win prediction thread that Sir Thursday is running? Technically, the entries are closed to members, but I bet he would allow an entry from an objective, stat-generated projection just to see if anyone can beat it. I think a lot of people would enjoy that.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    JG did bring up an interesting "anomaly" though--Lebron's defense. A DRAPM of 1.5 is obviously good for a SF, but the best defenders like Tony Allen, Paul George, Iguodala all have a DRAPM above 3. Is this really an "anomoly"? Or is Lebron's defense overrated?

    Is it possible? King James defense just good, not elite?

    Once again, RAPM has caused us to ask an interesting question. Lets hear some answers!

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I wouldn't argue that RAPM will consistently outperform Vegas or that it's the clear winner over the other metrics, but that's not what we're talking about here. You have concluded that RAPM is useless (have you not?) on the basis of some players' RAPM not fitting with your judgment. But the conclusion simply doesn't follow from the premise.
    There's plenty of evidence that RAPM and other metrics are in fact useful -- if you aren't satisfied with one year's worth of results, go check out ESPN's stat geek smackdown -- and your only response is to keep pointing out cases that don't fit with your personal judgment?
    I find your analysis of basketball very smart and very perceptive, but I'm continually frustrated by how you dismiss statistics as completely useless (or "just fun to play with") without giving good reason.
    ---
    2016, I'd like to hear more about why you think RAPM can't be used to rank players. I understand that it does so imperfectly, but do you have any reason to believe that it's much worse than other methods?

    There's no better stat than RAPM available to the public when it comes to ranking players. I just said that to make the RAPM haters happy.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    If your point is that RAPM is imperfect, then why even waste breath? Of course it's imperfect. But so is your and my and everyone else's personal judgment. The important question is whether RAPM and other metrics are less flawed than your personal judgment. We could test that by having both you and RAPM predict this season's wins. Do you feel confident that you'd win? Want to bet on it?

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago

    Lol. I guess so. My eye test tells me that Parsons is better than Anderson. But RAPM says otherwise.

    I think I'll go with the eye test on that one. Which is my personal judgment. Are you trying to state that RAPM is right in this case. Do you believe that Anderson is better than Parsons?

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    "RAPM is a good metric, but like ALL advanced statistics, is HIGHLY flawed." HIGHLY flawed compared to what? Compared to your personal judgment?

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago

    I'll just point out the flaws in RAPM on our team alone. I'm using last year's stats.

    Chandler Parsons is a horrible player by RAPM standards.

    Negative offensive player, slightly positive defensive player.

    James Anderson was our second best offensive player last year.......

    Need I go on?

    RAPM is a good metric, but like ALL advanced statistics, is HIGHLY flawed. I dislike when people try and treat it like it is something to swear by.

    One more thing, here's a list of players BETTER than Parsons based on RAPM

    Delfino

    Anderson

    Salmons

    Biyombo

    Acy

    Beverley

    The list goes on and on.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    I wouldn't argue that RAPM will consistently outperform Vegas or that it's the clear winner over the other metrics, but that's not what we're talking about here. You have concluded that RAPM is useless (have you not?) on the basis of some players' RAPM not fitting with your judgment. But the conclusion simply doesn't follow from the premise.
    There's plenty of evidence that RAPM and other metrics are in fact useful -- if you aren't satisfied with one year's worth of results, go check out ESPN's stat geek smackdown -- and your only response is to keep pointing out cases that don't fit with your personal judgment?
    I find your analysis of basketball very smart and very perceptive, but I'm continually frustrated by how you dismiss statistics as completely useless (or "just fun to play with") without giving good reason.
    ---
    2016, I'd like to hear more about why you think RAPM can't be used to rank players. I understand that it does so imperfectly, but do you have any reason to believe that it's much worse than other methods?
  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    What I think RAPM claims to do: improved version of +/-

    What silly people think RAPM claims to do: rank players

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    JG, I appreciate the thought you put into that. It was good to hear your perspective. While I think all of the points you make about anomalies are reasonable, I think your big error is using those anomalies to conclude that it's just "a big, heaping pile of numbers that can be fun to play with but lack anything resembling credibility or actual usefulness." That's easy to disprove. I'll lay out my premises and conclusion:
    Premise: One thing that's "useful"/"credible" is accurately predicting wins.
    Premise: Historically, Vegas predicts wins more accurately than any individual using his/her judgment.
    Conclusion: RAPM is useful/credible.

    Very concise post. Couldn't agree with you more.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    I admire your passion, and I also find it funny that you're using blocks and steals to measure defensive impact while preaching about the flaws of RAPM. Dennis Rodman averaged less than 1 block and 1 steal per game, anomalies don't get much worse than that :lol:

    You are cherry-picking every post I make to attempt some sort of rebuttal. If that makes you feel better fine. I have asked you to make an actual point. Make the case for RAPM. You can't. I would suggest you leave it to someone else at this point.

    I used a collection of statistics and data to point out that your opinion of Lebron is not shared by many experts nor is it shared by non-manipulated statistics. Further, his team's statistics support the notion that his defense is excellent--especially considering he often guards the opposing team's best player.

    I made it a point to use the per foul committed stats to show that he is able to execute these things consistently in a controlled manner--to me this is a delineation between good and elite defenders.

    Here's something you might find more respectable:

    "SI.com's Zach Lowe saw things similarly, noting James' "incredible speed and deft positioning" (along with more of the same from Miami point guard Mario Chalmers) in forcing just enough hesitation on catch-and-shoot opportunities to turn open looks into contested jumpers and chances for quick ball movement into defended one-on-one isolation plays. Durant hit some of those one-on-one shots, because Durant's fantastic, but the Thunder's offense as a whole slowed, bogged and suffered, which was a big win for Miami. And something that doesn't happen if literally anybody else but LeBron is tracking Durant." (on Lebron's defense against Durant in the '12 finals)

    Believe what you like, 2016, and I will do the same. If you have a point to make that isn't a half-baked attempt to debunk my post I'll gladly hear it. Also, kudos for bringing up Rodman--you have probably forgotten that week long debate as well (or not and that is why you bring it up). We could not disagree more on Rodman so to use him as a counterpoint is either ignorant, naive, or trolling. By the way, your sentence doesn't make sense because you gave no context as to what the Rodman anomaly actually is.

    j_wehr, the win prediction possibility is interesting. Personally, I'm not overly impressed by a one year throw-down between all the advanced metrics where most had their bright spots and xRAPM won, but it's not like no one else was even close. Personally, I would need to see 5 consecutive years to even attempt to draw a conclusion from this notion. I mean, if it's that accurate why aren't we at the sports book right now? :lol: Show me a track record of predictive success and you'll get my attention for sure.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    JG, I appreciate the thought you put into that. It was good to hear your perspective. While I think all of the points you make about anomalies are reasonable, I think your big error is using those anomalies to conclude that it's just "a big, heaping pile of numbers that can be fun to play with but lack anything resembling credibility or actual usefulness." That's easy to disprove. I'll lay out my premises and conclusion:
    Premise: One thing that's "useful"/"credible" is accurately predicting wins.
    Premise: Historically, Vegas predicts wins more accurately than any individual using his/her judgment.
    Conclusion: RAPM is useful/credible.
  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I admire your passion, and I also find it funny that you're using blocks and steals to measure defensive impact while preaching about the flaws of RAPM. Dennis Rodman averaged less than 1 block and 1 steal per game, anomalies don't get much worse than that :lol:

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    OK, so he didn't get a DPOY...lots of elite defenders share that problem. Yet, there are dozens and dozens of players with higher defensive ranks...I'm not going to count them all and this list isn't sortable....does anyone have a link for a better RAPM wesbite? Still, The scores seem to top out around 6.5 or so....are they 4+ times better than Lebron? It's just too simple to do all those calculations and make all those adjustments and then come out of all of that and say, "Lebron is a good defender".

    For the same season (2012-13):

    Lebron was 15th in blocks/personal foul (although I will concede his star treatment on this...still, we have seen him block plenty of shots and they tend to be clean)

    12th in total steals, steals/game, and 2nd in steals/personal foul

    His team was 5th in points allowed/game

    Tied 5th in Opp. fg%

    He sported an opp. PER of 12.7 vs. SF's and an Opp. PER of 17.2 vs. PF's (which may be the crux of the problem as he spent 42% of last season playing PF according to 82games.com. It should be noted Lebron's PER vs. PF's was 36.7...yowza!)

    The bottom line is I think Lebron is easily a top 10 defender in this league. He has made the all-defensive team for the last 5 years. He has finished top 10 in Defensive Win Shares the last 5 years. About the only thing that says he is not an elite defender is RAPM.

    I guess what would be more compelling is to convince me that every player ranked above him deserves to be there....I realize this isn't going to happen, but the point is clear. It's a toss up between George, Iguodala, and James at SF.

    And you seem to be turning a blind eye to the other anomalies I listed....and those are just the ones I listed...there are plenty.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    You make a convincing case, I agree completely that a players role affects his RAPM. I'm not so sure you chose the most convincing anomaly though, I think LeBron is a good defender but not a DPOY caliber defender so I wouldn't call that an anomaly.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    j_wehr, I think we tried a stats thread once with little success, but we can always try again--you are right--we keep missing the forest for the trees.

    2016, your point is valid and I apologize for the heated post. I do want us to be able to use all the tools at our disposal including RAPM.

    For me, RAPM falls short in a few ways that I find intolerable. Two fall on the generating-of-data side of it and one on the application side.

    In the generation of this data, the idea is to adjust the normal +/- stats for a player to account for who is on the court with them. This seems like a good idea in theory. The problem is that each play is a microcosm of randomness that is virtually impossible to assess in a simplified manner. I know the idea is that over a large enough sample these discrepancies will become negligible--and I imagine that for many players this winds up being true. For myself, the numbers ultimately become meaningless without the requisite context. Now, if we took a players RAPM for 1 game and were able to combine it with video support to show what went right/wrong then I could see the merit in its generation.

    I just can't let go of the notion that defense in basketball is largely a team function and to break it down into individual parts misses the point. I forget who is currently doing it (sorry for that), but one of our members is currently collecting data on our defense using a system similar to what I think is more useful--by watching each play and assigning, as objectively as possible, credit for good play and bad play on defense. Scoring in the NBA happens--even when excellent defense is present--so to use that as the base metric for determining good vs. bad defense misses the mark for me. How many times have we seen a play where a guy does everything humanly possible short of fouling on defense only to see his opponent make a ridiculously good (or lucky) shot? It happens all the time.

    My second complaint is that once these lists come out there are too many players that just do not pass the eye test (I call them anomalies). DRAPM clearly favors bigs over wing players. I will start out by pointing at #1 and #2 overall from last season. Lebron James and Chris Paul--both renowned for their defense--but Lebron sports a 1.6 DRAPM and Paul a .5 DRAPM. What does that mean? It means you have to take what you know and basically over-rule the number. Would anyone honestly suggest Lebron is not an elite defender? Chris Paul? That is a tough sell.

    Without belaboring the point, the list goes on and on with these questionable numbers--on offense and defense. At a certain point one realizes, "Hey, wait a minute...I'm only seeing the obvious misses here....how many of these numbers that appear reasonable are equally off-base?" It is at this point I throw my hands up because there are too many anomalies in the list to be able to trust any of the numbers. Thus, the whole thing just seems like a colossal waste.

    Finally, we come to the application of RAPM. Now, I like that you say it is to be used to ask questions (although I do think most of these questions are things we should already be asking without the need to bring RAPM into it), but more and more it is used as a crutch to help support someone's narrative of what they believe is happening. Oh, Kenneth Fareid has a .6 ORAPM and Al Horford's is only .5--guess that means Fareid is the better player! (and seriously, Horford a .5?!?!?! What does that mean? I'll take that dude's .5 ORAPM on our team all day long thank you very much)

    Here's another one us Houston fans can laugh at--Luis Scola. Last year's RAPM: ORAPM: -.9 DRAPM: +.7. So, based off of this I am supposed to believe Scola is a better defender than offensive player. That does not jive with everything I have seen about Scola on the court.

    Klay Thompson was a -.2 ORAPM last year.... :o What does this tell me? As far as I can tell, nothing relevant.

    Greg Smith last year: ORAPM: -.1 DRAPM -.8 So, either he wasn't one of the most efficient scorers last season with a raging TS% of .636, a PER of 16.1, and on Ortg of 125 while being, allegedly, a revolving door on defense....or something isn't right....which is it?

    By the way, here is the LINK for the list I am using.

    I believe RAPM should only be applied to 5-man line-ups. It's the only thing that makes sense--especially on defense.

    In a nutshell, that's why I view RAPM as basically a big, heaping pile of numbers that can be fun to play with but lack anything resembling credibility or actual usefulness. I may be wrong. I may be missing the point. For now, I haven't seen or heard anything that leads me to believe that is the case.

    I'm fine with advanced metrics being used to play with and predict stuff or whatever, but for me it's all style and no substance. I don't judge anyone for liking it. Just try to use it with context rather than using it as context.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    I'm a little sad to see this thread stray from the Dwight point. And it seems like this is a recurring theme in stats-related posts: the discussion devolving into a debate over the value and appropriate uses of NBA analytics. Could we have a separate thread for that? (FWIW, I find discussion of analytics in general really unproductive. It's very hard to talk about these things in vague terms since so much depends on the particular question/exercise.)

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    JG, you're absolutely right, people do use RAPM the wrong way and that alone is a good enough reason to hate RAPM. Conclusions should not be made based on RAPM alone. And I really did sound unproductive didn't I? It was very rude of me. I'm sure you can agree that a flawed tool like RAPM can still be useful if used correctly within context, and it is undoubtedly better than the primitive +/- or PER if one had to choose. Lets not discourage the use of information just because it's used incorrectly, but rather educate people on how to use that information correctly. I think you're a pretty a pretty smart guy, good writer and influential figure here at Red94, so if you wanted to educate people in how they're misusing RAPM you're definitely the right guy to do it.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    I could be wrong here, but I think what RAPM actually claims to measure and what YOU think RAPM claims to measure are two different things.


    2016, posts like this are not productive. The passive-aggressive innuendo you have written here does nothing for this conversation. You should be able to recall that you and I have personally gone over this RAPM issue more than once and it was I, not you, that delved into exactly what RAPM is and is not. Ignoring its methods (which I do not approve of), the database is filled with anomalies that strain the eye-test beyond belief. So many that it makes it impossible to not question every other player's score.

    Further, it still fails to qualify the fact that a team game like basketball is nearly impossible to individualize--especially on defense with so many moving parts and variables. You always respond with, "it isn't supposed to give us answers, but help us ask the right questions". Which would be fine--if that is what anyone did with it. Instead, much like Rahat said about PER when it first surfaced, people are getting off to this stat at an alarming rate. I have gone into detail time and again about how +/- is abused by people.

    You fell prey to it a couple of days ago when you referred to Greg Smith's performance in game 1 of the OKC series. Go check the game log. I did. Turns out that Greg Smith was the only Rockets' player on the court that did play well during that stretch. His teammates bombed and he takes the blame--and people bludgeon him with that +/- score for eternity. It is a fallacy that helps people tell whatever story fits their ideology while they ignore anything that falls outside of that.

    So, once again, please refrain from your inferences. I've said it before and I will say it again--I am pretty sure I understand this stat better than you. If you want to say otherwise please make an actual point. Starting your sentence with , "I could be wrong here" is nothing but a self-serving disclaimer that allows you to follow it with whatever you like. Much like all qualifying sentence starters, the truth of the statement generally resides there. (i.e., I'm not racist but..... or I don't mean to be offensive but.....,).

    One last thing, I will end with another of your posts in this very thread. Seems a tad bit contradictory...

    "I'm pretty lazy and the quality of my posts suffer because of it, but for those who want to raise the quality of their posts here's my advice: Try to write articles, or think of your posts as mini articles. Attacking someone's credentials is something I never see good writers do so I never do it."

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    Rahat, do you believe that Dwight is doing MORE of those uncaptured things (setting good picks, intimidating ball handlers) in Houston than he was in Orlando?
    I agree that RAPM is an overall better metric and that it does a better job of capturing Dwight's total influence. I'm only using PER because of its availability and better reliability over small sample sizes. And since Dwight's PER and RAPM have been so highly correlated over his career -- as evidenced by the charts in the original post -- I don't think there's any problem with using PER for this analysis unless you believe the answer to the question I posed above is yes.
    Personally, I think it's more likely that he's doing less of those uncaptured things in Houston. I don't think ball handlers are nearly as intimidated of him as they used to be (but I didn't watch him all that closely in Orlando so I don't really know, just my nostalgic perception).
  • Rahat Huq says 5 months ago

    My problem with PER is that I see it as a baseline...a beginning point. In the olden days, people would point to simple basic per-game stats like "20 and 10" and masturbate to them as if it meant something. Luckily, we're past that. PER helped us get past that point in providing context to those numbers in helping us understand what they truly meant. But beyond that efficiency, I don't know what its really telling us. It's certainly not doing much in the way of telling us about the overall impact certain players have. That's why I'm fundamentally against using PER as an evaluation on how a player is playing etc etc. It can tell you if a player is scoring efficiently and rebounding well, but it's not capturing the little things. I know RAPM isn't perfect, but it atleast makes an attempt at capturing the player's overall impact on the court.

    A guy like Dwight may not be scoring the way he used to or boarding the way he used to, but he's setting some great picks which is opening up the offense...and people also aren't driving the lane when he's in there (and he's not getting a block for it.). PER isn't capturing any of that.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    I dug into the numbers a bit. I looked at all 18 players who finished one of the last three seasons with a PER above 24 (one of whom is Dwight). Through their first six games, all but one had a PER above Dwight's current PER, most of them well above. The exception: 2010-11 Durant (he had an unusually low FG% and an unusually high turnover rate to start the season, and had a PER of 17 through six games).
    So 1/18 (=6%) is the best quick-and-dirty estimate you're going to get that Dwight will have Orlando-level stats by the end of the season.
    And that's being generous.
    On the flipside, you could ask, "what percentage of players who have a PER around 18.3 through 6 games (or 200 minutes) end up finishing the season with a PER at or above 24?" The answer would certainly be much less than 1%.
  • NorEastern says 5 months ago

    Okay. I just think all advanced nba statistics are flawed and the key is to be the least flawed. Small sample sizes are to be avoided at all costs.

    After this post I am done here. Move on people.

    The least flawed by far of course is xRAPM, then WS, then WP ~= PER. For last season. xRAPM typically even beats the Vegas odds makers many years. PER should not be confused with Hollinger's actual NBA season forecasts, which approached xRAPM in accuracy. But the guy is a NBA GM so it comes as no surprise that Hollinger had better unpublished metrics.

    http://ascreamingcomesacrossthecourt.blogspot.com/

    xRAPM available here:

    http://stats-for-the-nba.appspot.com/

    Going back and recreating years of PER data at the 100-200 minute mark would take me days. I do not care enough to do that. However this season a person who very well could make an incredible turnaround is Derrick Rose. His current PER is 3.10. Most experts writing about his season start expect him to be a much better soon. Will he reach 24? Probably not. In his MVP season he only just exceeded 23.

    I find it interesting that Rose is perhaps the player who most closely resembles Howard's situation this season. The major difference is that Rose delayed his return to the NBA until he was 100% healthy (much to the chagrin of Bulls fans since he could have come back late last season). Howard stepped on the court as soon as he was able. Just a passing thought.

    fyi. I do have a math degree. But not in statistics. However I spent years data mining gigabyte Oracle DB's and doing analysis (statistical and otherwise) on the resulting data sets. I am not talking out of the wrong end of my body here. With statistical analysis one always needs to err on the side of caution. It was painful to have to tell upper management that I don't know. But then as now I can always say "I don't know YET".

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I'm pretty lazy and the quality of my posts suffer because of it, but for those who want to raise the quality of their posts here's my advice: Try to write articles, or think of your posts as mini articles. Attacking someone's credentials is something I never see good writers do so I never do it.

  • Rahat Huq says 5 months ago

    P.S. - This goes to everyone but especially NorEastern: When you disagree with me, please try to disagree with my statements rather than criticizing my "knowledge" or "understanding." It's really irritating when you make it personal. I do not want the discussion to devolve into citing credentials in some sort of power play.

    I need to second this.

    This is a very interesting discussion, but could we please stick to the substance of Justin's posts rather than attacking his credentials? He's an economist by profession so that shouldn't even be in question.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    How about responding to my actual point? I'll make it very precise for you:

    What percentage of players who finish the season with a PER at or above 24 start the season with a PER at or below 18.3 through 204 minutes or fewer? I don't have the data to answer the question, but I'm confident that it's pretty tiny.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago Okay. I just think all advanced nba statistics are flawed and the key is to be the least flawed. Small sample sizes are to be avoided at all costs.
  • NorEastern says 5 months ago

    Yesterday the founder of Wages of Wins wrote an article titled "The Standard Small Sample Warning!". This man does have a PhD in stats and is respected by basketball analytic authors around the globe (but hated by some but that is another story.) A few quotes:

    "It really is going to be a few weeks before we can start to make sense of the 2013-14 season.

    And that means we need to keep this disclaimer in mind: Just because you see some numbers right now, it does not mean those numbers can tell us much. Or as I tell my students, sometimes the answer is “I don’t know.” We are often reluctant to say this. But when the samples are small, that is often the best we can do."

    Those statements should put this entire discussion to rest. So I guess my position "I don't know yet and neither can you" is correct. You cannot draw any truly meaningful conclusions from the current sample set. But it is a free world and I guess you can jabber away all you want. When will be the appropriate time to start drawing inferences from the advanced stats? Ideally one waits for 29 games to be on the books. But one has to at least wait until the PhDs start dipping their toes into the data.

    http://wagesofwins.com/2013/11/07/the-standard-small-sample-warning/

    Timetodie: No. The argument is over the influence of small sample size.

    j_wehr: No I will not be PMing you. I learned a long time ago that one can talk sense all day long to a brick wall. It will never make that wall knowledgeable.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago
    As far as advanced metrics go, I dislike PER less than RAPM. This is because PER does not attempt, nor claim, to measure what it cannot.

    I could be wrong here, but I think what RAPM actually claims to measure and what YOU think RAPM claims to measure are two different things.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    JohnnyGold, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Just to add to that: NorEastern, I'd request that you either PM me or refrain from commenting on my posts at all if your intention is only to make vague claims about the integrity of my analysis or my personal credentials.

    To bring it back, I think this might be where people are misinterpreting what I'm saying, or I might not be explaining myself clearly. I am not suggesting that we should expect Dwight's PER (or other stats) to be where it is now by the end of the season or by the All-Star break. It could easily move 3 points in either direction. But what seems unlikely is that it will jump all the way up to Orlando levels, which provides an EARLY but strong indication that Dwight is not back to his normal self, which is contrary to what media reports have been saying. If anyone would like to provide evidence against that argument, please do!

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    I'm not going to say we're off topic.....but are we still talking about basketball here?

    NorEastern and Wehr, if you guys wish to debate the merits of each others' statistical approach and ability I think it would be better if it was done by PM. This is especially true if your intention is to get a bit personal.

    Now, back to this statistical stuff. I am in agreement with both parties here. Wehr, I agree that the outliers exist on both sides--this is why I have not dropped certain players from my fantasy roster for their poor performance and also why I haven't added others for their good performance. I believe that when the dust settles everything will be in its right place.

    As far as advanced metrics go, I dislike PER less than RAPM. This is because PER does not attempt, nor claim, to measure what it cannot. I understand that it ignores defense. I can use my own knowledge to fill those gaps. Those who have been around here a while know how I feel about RAPM. :angry:

    As far as this small sample size thing goes. It would never need to be said if people weren't constantly trying to force their opinions down others throats with them. We all know the effects of small samples; yet, we don't all exercise discretion when using that data. I believe Mr. Wehr is fully aware of this, but loves numbers and is using what he's got to give us something to think about and talk about--I appreciate that. Just take it with a grain of salt and let's all try to be more constructive with these by contributing and building on ideas rather than just tearing everything to shreds.

    Here's something I'd love to see some info on if anyone wants to take on the task: I would like a measure of how much time Harden spends ball-watching on defense and not paying attention to his man paired with a direct correlation to shots taken by his man once he loses him and the TS% on those shots. You're going to need a stopwatch.... :P

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago

    "Throws hands up in the air". But I disagree with the basic precepts of your analysis. A regression to the mean analysis would help your argument immensely using the last 3 years of data (like RAPM) but that would hurt your Howard case. I am holding off from any analysis of this young season because I just cannot accept PER data that lists Jordan Hill as having the 9th best PER in the league as of early yesterday evening. "Alarm bells go off". When a data set has demonstrable flaws any analysis of that data set will by extension be flawed. When approximately half the data set used is obviously flawed is there anything of value to be garnered from an analysis of that data? Perhaps, but the confidence interval would be atrocious.


    Are you saying stats are worthless? because ALL advanced stats are flawed. Garbage In Garbage Out. Let's just stop using stats altogether and go back to the eye test then.
  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    You aren't disagreeing with any of my statements. You're just continuing to cite the doctrine of small sample size.

    I also find it amusing how you are so high on RAPM and so critical of PER. Like I said, career PER and career RAPM have something like an 80% correlation. How do you respond to that? And how do you explain Michael Jordan's RAPM? Doesn't that put you into a bind if you believe that "When a data set has demonstrable flaws any analysis of that data set will by extension be flawed."

  • NorEastern says 5 months ago "Throws hands up in the air". But I disagree with the basic precepts of your analysis. A regression to the mean analysis would help your argument immensely using the last 3 years of data (like RAPM) but that would hurt your Howard case. I am holding off from any analysis of this young season because I just cannot accept PER data that lists Jordan Hill as having the 9th best PER in the league as of early yesterday evening. "Alarm bells go off". When a data set has demonstrable flaws any analysis of that data set will by extension be flawed. When approximately half the data set used is obviously flawed is there anything of value to be garnered from an analysis of that data? Perhaps, but the confidence interval would be atrocious.
  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    Small sample size = higher variability = less precision = less trustworthy results. Of course. No where did I disagree with that.
    But then there's the radical view, which some of you seem to hold, ...
    Small sample size = completely meaningless = run away.
    People make the same mistake with "correlation does not equal causation." They think that means that correlations are meaningless. Fun way to intimidate a grad student during an interview: Ask them, "Doesn't the absence of correlation imply the absence of causation?"
    The more important point, which no one other than Johnny Rocket has yet latched on to, is this: "With small sample sizes, the issue is that not-so-elite players temporarily look elite (e.g., CJ Miles, Zaza Pachulia), but there isn't so much of an issue with the reverse: in other words, you don't usually see that elite players temporarily look mediocre." It's a hypothesis and it may be wrong, but I'm pretty confident in it for reasons I gave in my reply to Johnny Rocket.
    ---
    NorEastern, Harden's PER is right in line with the last two years (despite his unusually poor 3-point shooting thus far), so I don't see what you're trying to get at.
    P.S. - This goes to everyone but especially NorEastern: When you disagree with me, please try to disagree with my statements rather than criticizing my "knowledge" or "understanding." It's really irritating when you make it personal. I do not want the discussion to devolve into citing credentials in some sort of power play.
  • NorEastern says 5 months ago I did not post that lightly. It was unfortunate that I felt that it was necessary. Mr. Wehr could be a valuable addition here, if only he would acquire a bit of perspective.
  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I have considered this for hours, but I have to say Mr. Wehr that you do need to examine your understanding of statistics. I pointed out that almost half of the top 20 PER leaders have no business on that list. That does not trigger "insignificant data" alarm bells in your head? At that point most statisticians just throw up their hands and walk away from the data. Nothing to be seen there. It is vitally important that statistical examinations of data err on the side of caution. Small sample size is just the most basic and trivial red flag.

    I've always felt the same way. It should be brutally obvious that small sample sizes exaggerate effects, so obvious it should go completely without saying.

  • NorEastern says 5 months ago I have considered this for hours, but I have to say Mr. Wehr that you do need to examine your understanding of statistics. I pointed out that almost half of the top 20 PER leaders have no business on that list. That does not trigger "insignificant data" alarm bells in your head? At that point most statisticians just throw up their hands and walk away from the data. Nothing to be seen there. It is vitally important that statistical examinations of data err on the side of caution. Small sample size is just the most basic and trivial red flag.
  • NorEastern says 5 months ago Harden is not there. Is there a "good chance that means he won't be getting there anytime soon"?
  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    Chichos, I thought I was already being kind of conservative by putting the numbers where I was. I was using the minimum of his last few years in Orlando rather than the average. He had about 4 years where he performed above those stats, so I don't know why people wouldn't want to take that bet if they truly thought he was healthy. It's not like he's old. This should be the prime of his career.
    Johnny Rocket, great reply, and I'm glad you pushed back on that. Here's how I'd put it: The best four or five players are so much better than ordinary players that they are rarely going to have a five-game stretch where they look statistically ordinary. They will regulary have five- or even twenty-game stretches where they perform well below average FOR THEM, but rarely will they go so low to cross into the "ordinary" realm. You're right that it would be very interesting to look at the data to see just how rare that is, but I'm confident that it is in fact rare. It's the nature of outliers. (Unfortunately my database is season-level rather than game-level and it would take a long time to collect, clean, and analyze game-level data.) What this all means for the Dwight discussion is that it's probably pretty unlikely that Dwight is still one of the best 4-5 players and that he just happens to be in an early season slump. I think it's more likely that he's just not going to be as dominant as he was.
    Rahat, I know your comment on PER was kind of an aside, but I wanted to respond anyway. I can understand the distrust of PER since it only uses box score data and so pretty much ignores defense. I think this oversight is particularly salient for us Rockets fans since Asik looks like just an average player according to PER. But it's important to note that Asik is one of the biggest statistical enigmas in NBA history. He and Ben Wallace are the only players in my database who have HOF-level career RAPM while looking barely above average in career PER. Historically, the correlation between RAPM and PER is something like 80%. So this is all just a long-winded way of saying that I think PER is a fine metric if you just keep in mind that Asik is really weird. :)
    NorEastern, being "the Man" is not going to affect these metrics much. They are measures of efficiency more so than total production. As one example, LeBron's Usg% dropped after he joined Wade and Bosh in Miami, but his PER and WS/48 did not.
    Also, it looks like you might have missed my earlier comment on sample size, so I'll paste it again:
    Re: small sample size, all of the "elite" players that Dwight gets mentioned with -- Lebron, CP, KD, Love, Curry -- have a PER above 26 already, and they all have an even smaller sample size than Dwight because they played fewer games. With small sample sizes, the issue is that not-so-elite players temporarily look elite (e.g., CJ Miles, Zaza Pachulia), but there isn't so much of an issue with the reverse: in other words, you don't usually see that elite players temporarily look mediocre. The LeBrons of the world statistically float to the top pretty quickly. Dwight isn't there yet, and there's a good chance that means he won't be getting there anytime soon.
  • NorEastern says 5 months ago Here I am again arguing against small sample size. Statistics does have some tools that can be used to handle small sample size. But they are generally reserved for experimental data where collecting more data is extremely difficult or expensive. Examples would be Stage 2 drug studies and MRI images. Also the confidence interval of these statistical analysis methods generally are 20-30% or more.

    How I hate PER. Let me count the ways. Never mind.

    1zunHM6.png

    How do you account for the 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th ... ranked players according to PER? Well at this point we all just point a finger to "small sample size". That cuts both ways, and certainly will apply to Harden and Howard at this point of the season.

    Will Howard's advanced stats return to their glory days like in Orlando? Probably not. But for a different reason that most believe. In Orlando Howard was "the MAN". That is just not going to happen Houston. The likeliest stat to approach the 2008-2009 is RAPM because of the way it is calculated.
  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    It's a good point. Wasn't it last February that Lebron basically said, "Eff you" to the laws of physics and averages by posting the single most efficient stretch in basketball history? Here is the LINK to Lebron's splits last season. Scroll down to the monthly splits and let that all soak in. I don't think there is any question he dominated the league last season. To relate it back to this topic, we can look at his first and last month's stats--a total of 5 games. Clearly, those stats deviated from his average, but the thing is we can only see that in hindsight. Alas, the same is true here. I say the odds are Dwight's final averages will be very good, but we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

  • Johnny Rocket says 5 months ago

    Justin--I really appreciate the article and your follow up, as it is a classic case that sometimes the eye test (lots of observers say that Howard "looks" better this year) differs a lot from the statistical test (especially the PER numbers). I'm stuck on the sample size issue, though. Are you really saying that superstars like James and Paul don't have five-game slumps in which their numbers are significantly below season and career averages? I'm willing to believe it, but my guess would be that even these elite performers have slumps, and it is a possibility that Howard is going through one such slump right now (though it is nice to have a PER of almost 20 and be in a "slump"). It would be really interesting to examine the consistency of elite players, and how much their numbers vary over a season.

  • Chichos says 5 months ago

    How many of you would be comfortable betting that Dwight will be playing at Orlando level by the All Star break? We could define that as at least two of the following three things being true...

    PER at or above 24
    WS/48 at or above 0.22
    RAPM at or above +8

    Personally, based on the Simmons/Winston big-man theory, the eyeball test, and the stats to date, I would be very comfortable betting against that. But I'm curious how many of you are optimistic enough to take that bet.

    It's too safe to bet the under on his Orlando numbers as they were so insanely high. But what if you took 10% off them...

    You would be betting he can get to

    PER 21.6

    WS/48 .198

    RAPM 7.2

    That is a much more interesting bet. I still think he falls just short of those numbers. But I believe he will get very close.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I'd side with you on that - I don't see his PER ever climbing back to that level. But to that end, I'm just not a fan of PER at all as I don't think it does much to capture his impact. I think the best metric we have available is RAPM...and if we're betting on that, I also don't think he'll get back to his Lebron-level measures from his Orlando days. But he'll look better than PER is showing him to be. I think.

    I agree completely. I'm kinda hoping Dwight proves me wrong though and does go back to his Lebron-level measures.

  • Rahat Huq says 5 months ago

    I'd side with you on that - I don't see his PER ever climbing back to that level. But to that end, I'm just not a fan of PER at all as I don't think it does much to capture his impact. I think the best metric we have available is RAPM...and if we're betting on that, I also don't think he'll get back to his Lebron-level measures from his Orlando days. But he'll look better than PER is showing him to be. I think.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    How many of you would be comfortable betting that Dwight will be playing at Orlando level by the All Star break? We could define that as at least two of the following three things being true...

    PER at or above 24
    WS/48 at or above 0.22
    RAPM at or above +8

    Personally, based on the Simmons/Winston big-man theory, the eyeball test, and the stats to date, I would be very comfortable betting against that. But I'm curious how many of you are optimistic enough to take that bet.

  • TC-GOneBLUE says 5 months ago

    i think alot of the theblow backis from "the stats say" which implies a conclusion when infact we should be watching where the stats are trending... even then, whether four games is enough to note a trend is debatable to me.

    when i see an incomplete graph, i think.. i wonder where that point will be as t increases. and make a prediction or decide on possible outcomes. but not reach a conclusion.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    I don't have the stats to prove it and I could be wrong, but I think most of our opponents points so far have come off fast breaks and long range shots, I don't see a whole lot of attacking the rim when Dwight's there.

    I agree...........just his intimidation will keep many from even attempting to enter the paint

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I don't have the stats to prove it and I could be wrong, but I think most of our opponents points so far have come off fast breaks and long range shots, I don't see a whole lot of attacking the rim when Dwight's there.

  • Rahat Huq says 5 months ago

    Agreed - I'd put Asik above him.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    2016, I would be more apt to agree with your last statement if you substituted the word "rebound" for "defender." Right now, Howard wouldn't even get my vote for the Rockets' DPOY. That would go to Asik. I get that Dwight has an "invisible" effect on the game with players less willing to drive or pulling up for long twos or not even trying to crash the boards, but I don't think that effect is nearly as strong as it used to be. If I had to choose either him or Asik to get one big stop at the end of the game, I'd choose Asik.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    Even at 70-80% Dwight is still the best defender in the league, and right now he looks about 90%.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago

    @j_wehr

    totally disagree with your rebuttal. while you may not like it.........the two reasons given are valid. now if you had some kind of physical matrix for us to look at showing he couldn't jump as high or run as fast it would lend more creditability to your point of view, but emerging from the gate a little slow on the season stat wise doesn't prove that point.

    But......stats are god, aren't they???

    My whole world was just shattered.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @j_wehr

    totally disagree with your rebuttal. while you may not like it.........the two reasons given are valid. now if you had some kind of physical matrix for us to look at showing he couldn't jump as high or run as fast it would lend more creditability to your point of view, but emerging from the gate a little slow on the season stat wise doesn't prove that point.

  • Cooper says 5 months ago

    He's still PROBABLY a top 10 defender? Whoa.. I don't even see how it's a question whether or not he's top 1 let alone top 10..

    Ehh it wasn't meant to be a super bold statement but I don't think he's clear cut best defensive player like he used to be.
  • j_wehr says 5 months ago
    It seems like the most common responses to this post are: (1) small sample size, so it's too early for these stats to mean anything, and (2) new team/new system, so it's too early for these stats to mean anything.
    I have a couple of rebuttals.
    Re: small sample size, all of the "elite" players that Dwight gets mentioned with -- Lebron, CP, KD, Love, Curry -- have a PER above 26 already, and they all have an even smaller sample size than Dwight because they played fewer games. With small sample sizes, the issue is that not-so-elite players temporarily look elite (e.g., CJ Miles, Zaza Pachulia), but there isn't so much of an issue with the reverse: in other words, you don't usually see that elite players temporarily look mediocre. The LeBrons of the world statistically float to the top pretty quickly. Dwight isn't there yet, and there's a good chance that means he won't be getting there anytime soon.
    Re: new team/system, let's look at some other marquee-ish names playing with a new team this season. Andre Iguodala so far has career high PER and WS/48. So does JJ Redick. So does Paul Pierce. Their numbers will certainly drop down, and I'm cherrypicking a bit, but I'm just giving evidence that being on a new team does not necessarily mean that you're going to struggle initially. On the contrary, maybe being on a new team makes players want to play harder and win over the fans/coaches/teammates, so maybe there tends to be an early, artificial spurt in stats. Which would be bad news for Dwight...
    I don't mean to suggest that anyone should draw conclusions from these stats, but I also don't think they should be dismissed outright as meaningless. They give an _early indication_ that Dwight might not be back to his Orlando self. That's all.
  • Chichos says 5 months ago

    So I decided to answer my own question

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/howardw01.html#advanced::none

    scroll down to see advanced stats. His usage is actually up slightly from LA. As his rebounding numbers have actually improved I am inclined to believe his physical abilities are coming back. I don't take too much from his block numbers dropping off as Asik's did the same (his steals % dropped off significantly as well)when he transfered to Houston's system. I think this might be more of a schematic issue than a physical one.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/a/asikom01.html

    In the end I agree that he doesn't look quite right to the eye. He just doesn't seem as bouncy as I remember him. But his points per game will come back to Orlando levels if he can just hit 70% of his free throws even if his athleticism never returns.

  • Chichos says 5 months ago

    How does his usage rate compare in Orlando vs LA vs Houston?

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    Dwight isn't a Wow like a lebron or Westbrook athlete anymore and that's the biggest difference. He's still probably a top 10 defensive player but he won't be as dominant

    He's still PROBABLY a top 10 defender? Whoa.. I don't even see how it's a question whether or not he's top 1 let alone top 10..

  • John P says 5 months ago

    Does it make that much of a difference if we make it to the WCF or the NBA Finals?

    But in the spirit of the debate, a lot probably depends on feeling out the team dynamic and getting on the same page with everyone.
    Working along side Asik has to suck for both of them when it is probably so much easier for both of them to just play the 5 without having to accomidate the other.
    That still leaves questions about explosiveness and just examples of pure athletics but for now I am willing to wait until the all star break.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    I disagree Howard is looking like the LA D-12. to many things these stats don't account for like how trying to experiment with Asik may be affecting him or fitting into a new team with other good players who also are scoring options, in addition sample size. we are just 5 games deep into the season. way WAY to early to be drawing conclusions. D-12 if watched seems to be returning to the Orlando D-12 to me. I see the explosiveness that he lacked for part of last year..........may be it just takes a little longer for the stats to prove this out

  • Cooper says 5 months ago Dwight isn't a Wow like a lebron or Westbrook athlete anymore and that's the biggest difference. He's still probably a top 10 defensive player but he won't be as dominant
  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    I've noticed some mis-communications where Dwight was hesitant to hedge, hesitant to help in certain situations, but he certainly looks like he is moving a lot better than he was in L.A. He definitely has my honest vote for DPoY. I feel like he was more active when he was in Orlando though, I doubt he will lead the league in RAPM like he did back then.

  • Alituro says 5 months ago

    The sample size thus far is just way too small to be using those metrics to draw any type of conclusion, in my opinion, esp. if one more big game is capable of shifting the entire assessment.

    Exactly my thoughts, we should revisit this again in January and see what shows. Remember "Orlando Dwight" had years with the same coach and mostly the same teammates. Give this roster time to figure itself out and save this assessment for mid-season. It is a team game after all, so also remember that in ORL Dwight deferred to no-one, here and in LAL he is the second offensive option. Quality of team surrounding Dwight needs to be factored in also. T-mac was once the league's leading scorer but resided on the league's worst team, so when he moved to a better team (Rockets), his points naturally dropped off because he didn't have to go it alone.

  • j_wehr says 5 months ago

    While I agree that it's too early to conclude on the basis of stats that Dwight is not (or will never be) healthy, it's not too early to say that Dwight has not been playing up to Orlando-level. That's not a conclusion, just a statement of fact.

    What I find especially interesting is that his stats are so un-Orlando-like despite having a huge first game and pretty big fifth game. With two out of five big games, if anything, you'd expect the early results to be exaggeratedly positive, but they're not.

  • Rahat Huq says 5 months ago

    The sample size thus far is just way too small to be using those metrics to draw any type of conclusion, in my opinion, esp. if one more big game is capable of shifting the entire assessment.