NBA Champions and Point Guards Pt. 1

Ok this is going to be a long list. For now I’m going back to 1990. But eventually I’ll get all the way back to the 1946-1947 season, before the NBA was even called the NBA. Back before the original ABA folded (not the one semi-pro one that has been running since 2000). This is a list of every NBA championship team ever, and their point guards to match. We’ll start with Last years Miami Heat. Their point guard was, and still is, Mario Chalmers. 9.8 points per game and 3.5 assists.

2011 Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd. At this point, Jason Kidd was too old to be an all-star. A shell of his former self. Still averaged 7.9 ppg and 8.2 assists with 1.7 steals though.

2010 Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher 7.5 ppg and 2.5 assists.

2009 Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher 9.9 ppg and 3.2 assists.

2008 Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo. This was before Rondo broke out as a star. He was just averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 assists.

2007 San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker. Finally an All Star caliber point guard. In fact Parker was the Finals MVP. He averaged 18.6 points and 5.5 assists.

2006 Miami Heat: Steve Nash was busy winning his second MVP award in a row but his team didn’t make the finals. Jason Williams was the Heat’s point guard. He was a promising talent originally but never quite filled his potential. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.9 assists.

2005 San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker again. 16.6 points and 6.1 assists.

2004 Detroit Pistons: Finally a team that was indisputably led by it’s all-star point guard. How else do you describe this team of misfits? Chauncey Billups was the only player from this team worthy of becoming an all star at any point in his career. And before he got to Detroit, he himself was a misfit. No one wanted this guy. He was too much drama for even the team that had too deal with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. Still, he averaged 16.9 points and 5.7 assists.

2003 San Antonio Spurs (again):  Tony Parker in his 2nd year in the league. He averaged 15.5 points and 5.3 assists.

Have you noticed that none of these point guards, even the all-star caliber worthy ones, get over 10 assists? Through ten championship teams, the best point guards have been Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker, Jason Kidd well out of his prime and Rajon Rondo well before his prime. Billups and Parker were at their peak but they were both more of scoring point guards rather than pass first.

2002 Los Angeles Lakers: This is a split between Derek Fisher and Lindsey Hunter. Hunter started more games and averaged 5.8 points and 1.6 assists.

2001 Los Angeles Lakers: Fisher was injured most of this season but he was otherwise the starting point guard. He averaged 11.2 points and 2.2 assists. Ron Harper also started averaging 6.5 points and 2.5 assists.

2000 Los Angeles Lakers (this is the reason everyone hates them): Ron Harper was the starter. He averaged 7 points and 3.4 assists.

1999: San Antonio Spurs: Avery Johnson. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 assists.

1998: Chicago Bulls:  Ron Harper was the starter. He averaged 9.3 points and 2.9 assists. On a side note, besides the 1989-1990 season, Michael Jordan won every championship of the 1990’s when he wasn’t retired. When he wasn’t in the NBA (instead playing baseball) the championship was up for grabs. Also, from 1996-1998, the second place teams always had a premier point guard. Beat out John Stockton.

1997 Chicago Bulls: Ron Harper (by the way, Harper was a shooting guard primarily and a point guard secondarily). He averaged 9.9 points and 4 assists. Beat out John Stockton.

1996 Chicago Bulls: Ron Harper: 11.3 points and 4 assists. Beat out Gary Payton.

1995 Houston Rockets: in 1994 and 1995 the Rockets seized their chance with Michael Jordan gone. Kenny Smith started. He averaged 10.4 points and 4 assists.

1994 Houston Rockets: Kenny Smith. He averaged 11.6 points and 4.2 assists.

1993 Chicago Bulls: B.J. Armstrong. 12.3 points and 4 assists.

1992 Chicago Bulls: John Paxson with B.J. Armstrong playing significant minutes. Paxson averaged 7 points and 3.1 assists. Armstrong averaged 9.9 points and 3.2 assists.

1991 Chicago Bulls: John Paxson started with B.J. Armstrong playing significant minutes. Paxson averaged 8.7 points and 3.6 assists. Armstrong averaged 8.8 points and 3.7 assists.

1990 Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Thomas. Hall of Famer. 18.4 points and 9.4 assists along with 1.7 steals.

This is the end of part one. So far there has been one Hall of Famer, Isaiah Thomas, one for sure future Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd, and two players that might end up in the Hall of Fame. Tony Parker could end up there purely for paving the road for future European point guards into the NBA. Rajon Rondo is currently the best pure point guard in the game right now. But neither Kidd nor Rondo were in their primes when they won the championship.

Part two coming soon…


How the Jazz Got Deron Williams and Traded Him Away

Deron Williams Pre and Post Trade

Deron Williams has not been the same player for the New Jersey and Brooklyn Nets as he was for the Utah Jazz. That fact is indisputable. One need only look at his shooting percentages to discover that. Williams shot 46.6% for the Utah Jazz. With the Nets he has only shot 39.6%. Yet this season marks a new low: Williams is shooting an abysmal 38.8%.

Everyone knows Deron Williams is going through a shooting slump right now. Part of that is due to injuries. Since being traded he has hardly played a single game without one nagging injury or another. But could it be more than just annoying injuries that are setting Deron off? Williams made headlines recently when he compared his days with the Nets to his days in Utah.

“I’ve really had injuries while I’ve been with (the Nets) the whole time. And didn’t have the talent around me that I did (with the Jazz). And that system (in Utah) was a great system for my style of play. I’m a system player, and I loved Coach (Jerry) Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there.”

Deron Williams is currently averaging 17 points per game. The lowest sice his sophmore year in the league. He is also averaging 8.3 assists, the lowest since his rookie year when he wasn’t even a full-time starter.  So how valuable is he to his team? What is his Player Value this year compared to his peak in a Jazz uniform?

An odd statistic is Deron’s turnovers this year. Even with wrist injuries his turnovers per game are at the lowest he has ever had as a starter. He is currently only turning the ball over 2.96 times per game. That is actually one thing that saves his Player Value. Deron Williams is actually just about as valuable in a Nets uniform as he was in a Jazz uniform.

Williams’ Player Value this year is a 6.04, pretty good for a point guard. In his three best years in a Jazz uniform, from 2008-2010, Deron’s Player Value consistently dropped. In the 2008 season his Player Value was 8.29. In 2009 it dropped to 6.6, just slightly better than this season. Then in 2010 Deron’s Player Value plummeted. That year he only had a 5.7 Player Value, less than this season with him only shooting 38.8% and 2.2 less assists per game.

It’s a simple explanation. Williams is injured. After a summer to heal he will be shooting at or near the same percentages as he always used to. His points per game will soar. That will free him up and give him more confidence and his other numbers will rise as well, including his assists. He may or may not average ten assists again, that depends on his teammates. The Boozer and Williams led Utah Jazz teams were a top 5 offensive team in the league every year. It was the defensive end that they lacked on. For now, Deron has to play with sub-par teammates. Brook Lopez has a value of just 9.97–horrible for a center. Joe Johnson is even worse with just a 2.5 Player Value. It doesn’t get much worse than that, yet Johnson and Lopez are considered his best teammates and Lopez is supposed to be the glue to this team with Williams and Johnson underperforming. While Lopez is still slightly more valuable than Deron Williams, that is only because he is a center, and as I explained in my last post, centers are almost always the most valuable player on the court while point guards are the least valuable. Almost any center in the NBA, even a free agent or backup would have a better player value as a starter.

In short, Williams is simply suffering from injuries and mediocre teammates. Staying with the Nets was a questionable move, and now it’s simply looking stupid. Sure the Nets will probably make the playoffs–something they didn’t do last year–but Williams could have done so much more on the other teams that called his name this last summer. But hindsight is 20/20 and it’s too late now.

The Reality of Point Guard Defense–

I liked this article from

Player Value and Adjusted Player Value

Statistics are wonderful. Statistics help provide evidence that the eye can’t provide. Statistics can be chaotic on the small scale but always even out to a neat pattern on the large scale. In the NBA, the largest problem with statistics is minutes per game. A player’s minutes per game can either inflate or deflate a players stats, boosting a player’s image or destroying it. There are ways to get around this though. One way is the great Plus-Minus System. The Plus-Minus System is meant to show what kind of an effect a player has on his team while he is on the floor. Other ways are the Player Value System and Adjusted Player Value System.

The Player Value System is simple. A players positive stats–namely steals, assists, blocks, points, rebounds and shooting percentage–are all multiplied together. The negative stats, turnovers and fouls, are then multiplied together. The positive stats are then divided by the negative stats. The resulting number is then divided by how many minutes the specific player plays. This is then divided by the number of players on the court for one team at any one time (5). It is the same procedure for Adjusted Player Value, except that per 48 minute stats are used instead.

The Player Value System is great for comparing players who play similar minutes. The Adjusted Player Value System is great for comparing players who get different minutes per game, sometimes with surprising results. For example, Derrick Favors, of the Utah Jazz, gets 22.8 minutes per game. Paul Millsap, also of the Utah Jazz, gets 30.7 minutes per game. But the Jazz might want to think about giving Favors some of Millsap’s minutes because Favors’ Adjusted Player Value so far this season is 25 while Millap’s is just 23.87. On the other hand, Enes Kanter might want to take some tips from Favors. Kanter gets just 14.2 minutes per game, and with good reason. Kanter’s Adjusted Player Value is just 5.26. Part of this can be explained by his tendency to foul and turn the ball over. Kanter averages 4.056 turnovers per 48 minutes. Even worse, he averages 6.76 fouls per 48 minutes, which means he wouldn’t even be able to make it the full 48. This in turn can damage his Adjusted Player Value even more as a person takes into account that Kanter wouldn’t even play the full time.

Player Value can also be used to compare players of different positions. This breaks an old basketball myth. Point guards are often times called floor generals or basketball’s quarterback. The Point guard is also generally considered to be the most important player on the floor. Player Value not only busts this myth, but proves that point guards are actually the least important player on the floor. The center, often shoved from the spotlight much as NFL linemen are, is proven to be the most important player on the floor, closely followed by power forwards and then by wind players. Even a player like Derrick Favors, a power forward who often plays center and who is by no means a superstar, has a better Adjusted Player Value than the best point guards. John Stockton at his best only had a 10.47 Player Value. Magic Johnson had an 18.49 Player Value in his best season. And that was largely because he got more rebounds and blocks than most other point guards. Big point guards such as Magic and Oscar Robertson are thus proved to be much more valuable than a normal point guard. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest centers of all time, had a whopping 198.55 Player Value in his best season. Michael Jordan, in his best season, had a 152.02 Player Value. Michael Jordan was most likely the most talented basketball player of all time, but was he the most valuable?

Player Value and Adjusted Player Value don’t necessarily prove that one player is better than another, but it does prove which player is the most valuable. A player can be immensely talented, and may even be the best player on the planet, but is not necessarily the most valuable. MVP voters often get confused between most valuable and most talented. Thus, players who aren’t necessarily the most valuable often win the MVP award.

Player Value and Adjusted Player Value can be used on a career scale as well. After finding the Player Value or Adjusted Player Value, the number is simply multiplied by how many seasons a player played and then divided by 5. The number five separates a players career into divisions of five. Thus it is best used with players who are already retired. It also gives a slight edge to players who played longer. A player’s Career Player Value is often higher than any particular season’s value. John Stockton’s Career Player Value, for example, was 27.43. Obviously, a player who plays 15 seasons is more likely to win an NBA championship than a player who only plays 10. Thus players who play longer are usually rewarded with higher player values, especially if they keep up their performance. A player who does not keep up his performance over his career is then rewarded with a lower Player Value, balancing out the longer career.

The Player Value and Adjusted Player Value Systems can be used in many ways. From comparing players who play vastly different minutes to players who play different positions. As the names imply, these systems prove which players are the most valuable as opposed to who is the most talented. When combined with the visual aspect of basketball–used to determine speed, motor and other such talents–the Player Value System can be used to put out the best lineups possible.

Statistics and Sports

Sports and statistics go hand in hand. You don’t get one without the other. Stats are the primary evidence of how well a player or a team plays. Simple statistics suggest that an NBA player averaging 20 points per game must be better than another player scoring just 10 points per game. The further you delve into statistics, the more information about a player or team you will get. Many baseball teams use statistics to help put together a winning team.

Sadly, many journalists, bloggers, color commentators and people in general like to gloss over stats and generally try to ignore them. They think statistics are too complicated and sometimes even misleading. These people will be called Visualists. Visualists believe that there is more to be gained by simply watching a team and making judgments based on what they see. Thus, statistics have often been pushed to the background and ignored. When statistics do pop up in an article or a commentary, they usually take the form of either outrageous facts and records or simple, base stats that don’t hold much substance.

My writings will be focused on statistics and why stats and visual results actually go together.