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Hoops Lab: NBA Hoops Lab-Week 14

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings is a Neural Engineer by day, and RotoWire's senior basketball columnist by night. He's a two-time winner of the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

The Hoops Lab

By Andre' Snellings
RotoWire Staff Writer

25 Things about the NBA (part 1)

Andre' Snellings,

I just got done doing one of those "25 interesting things about me" notes that has been going around Facebook, and I decided to do another one for the NBA. So here is the first half of 25 things that I believe about the NBA. These are a mix of my opinions and facts, some things that I think you should know, and some advice that I would give to get your teams ready for the second half of the season.

1. I would trade Steve Nash if I could get star value for him, because I do not believe things will end well for the Suns and Nash is old enough toe shut it down early if the ship is sinking.

2. Mike D'Antoni has made the Knicks into a much more formidable regular season team than I'd have expected.

3. Perimeter players put up the big numbers and dominate the regular season. The MVP and those considered the best players in the league will come from among this group: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul.

4. Defensive big men are taken for granted, but their teams dominate in the postseason. The last 10 NBA champs have been led by one of this group: Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, and Wallace (Ben and Rasheed).

5. Kevin Durant is the most pure scoring talent that has entered the NBA this millennium, and is already a top-10 fantasy producer at age 20.

6. Ramon Sessions came out of nowhere at the end of last season when the whole Bucks starting backcourt was injured and boosted many fantasy teams to a title. This season looks like déjà vu two months early, with Sessions producing superstar numbers already.

7. LeBron James is a better player than Kobe Bryant.

8. Yao Ming has not played more than 57 games in a season since 2005. He has already played 49 games this season. If I own Yao I might consider trading him before he reaches 57 games. Of course, if I don't own Yao I might quote the Yao owner these stats and try to get him for cheap.

9. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are much, much better players than people give them credit for.

10. The Washington Wizards have 11 wins and 42 losses, and are 14 games out of the last playoffs spot in the East. I have no confidence that Gilbert Arenas will play any significant minutes this season.

11. The Elton Brand injury was a boon for the fantasy prospects of every other player on the team, and also a boon for the 76ers' playoff hopes this season.

12. The Al Jefferson injury was a boon to the fantasy prospects of every other player on the team, and also really boosts the Wolves' chances of holding onto their lottery pick instead of having to send it to the Clippers (the pick is top-10 protected). It was also very sad for Jefferson and the Wolves' fan base.

To be continued next week.

Situations to watch and Quick Hits

Blockbuster Marion/O'Neal swap: The Heat have agreed to trade Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Raptors in exchange for Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon. Marion will be returning to a team with a Suns-like mentality, and he will be playing with two big men that aren't dominating rebounders (Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani). As such, I think his numbers have a good chance to increase north of the border. Meanwhile, on the other end Jamario Moon intrigues me for the Heat. He is a hustle/defensive/athletic wing that seemingly should fit well in the Heat scheme, so he is worth keeping an eye on. I also like this deal for Michael Beasley, as his tweener forward game was a bit redundant with tweener Marion but should fit better next to O'Neal. I still give O'Neal himself Tracy McGrady treatment…he has the talent to play well in this situation, but his injury risk is so high that I don't recommend depending on him if given a choice.

Granger's sore knee: Danny Granger has been playing on a sore knee all season, but the knee has been more troublesome of late. He missed one game and several practices at the end of January, and has been a game-time decision for several February games. He continues to push through it because technically the Pacers are still in the hunt for the playoffs, but keep an eye on it. If it gets worse, or if the Pacers drop completely out of the hunt, Granger could end up being shut down early. Thus, those that have been enjoying Granger's huge break-out season may want to consider trading him now just in case.

Bosh hurt knee: Bosh injured his knee last week against the Lakers, and though tests didn't reveal any structural damage he has missed the last four games and will not play in the All-Star Game. Raptors coach Jay Triano thinks that with the extra rest Bosh should be ready to return to action after the break.

Sessions gone wild: Luke Ridnour broke his thumb in practice last week, and is expected to be out for three-to-four weeks. With both Ridnour and Michael Redd injured, the reins for the team have passed fully to Ramon Sessions. Sessions is averaging 24.8 points, 9.8 assists, 4.6 boards and 2.2 steals in the last five games and the window to get him on the cheap has likely slammed shut.

West getting time at C: With Tyson Chandler still injured, David West got two starts at center last week. If West earns center eligibility it makes him much more valuable, as he would go from a productive forward to one of the most productive centers in fantasy.

Suns Amare trade talk: Trade rumors have been swirling around Amare Stoudemire and the Suns for the last couple of weeks. With the Suns on a downward spiral and an increasingly strained relationship between Stoudemire and the front office, such a trade could make sense for both parties. The Suns have been making Shaquille O'Neal their primary offensive option in the post, which has left Stoudemire with fewer opportunities this season after appearing on the verge of making the superstar leap last year. A trade to a more favorable locale could lead to a boom in Stoudemire's numbers, and could also mean larger scoring roles for O'Neal, Jason Richardson, Leandro Barbosa and Steve Nash in Phoenix.

Boozer return on Feb 17?: Boozer is targeting February 17 for his return to the Jazz line-up. That is the team's first game after the All-Star break, which is consistent with what the most recent estimates have said regarding his return. Boozer has been out for several months with a knee injury, and in his absence Paul Millsap has shined. If Boozer returns to the Jazz it would effectively end Millsap's days as an impact player, but Millsap could also diminish Boozer's value if they do more time sharing. The best thing for both Boozer and Millsap owners would be if one were traded, but thus far there is no indication that is in the works.

Jefferson's knee and Smith's Ribs show Wolves the Love: As mentioned above, Al Jefferson is done for the season with a torn ACL. Craig Smith also cracked his rib last week, which has given Kevin Love the chance to move into the starting line-up and get big minutes. Love was a double-double threat even when coming off the bench, and in his first game as the featured frontcourt presence he scored 15 points with 11 boards.

Randolph back on court: Zach Randolph returned to the Clippers line-up on Friday after having missed more than a month with a knee injury. Randolph had been on a scoring binge in December before he got hurt, scoring 30+ points in four of five games before the injury limited him. After his long layoff Randolph has picked right up where he left off, averaging 25.5 points and 11 boards in the four games leading into Thursday night.

New Additions

Joakim Noah (50% owned): Noah has been getting more minutes of late with Drew Gooden injured, and he has been taking advantage of them with averages of 13 rebounds, 10 points, two assists, a steal and a block over the last week.

Beno Udrih (45% owned): Udrih is a bit underwhelming in real life, but he is a starting point guard with reasonable production (13 points, 3.8 assists, 2.5 boards, 1.8 steals, 63% FG in last week) that could make a decent flex option in deep leagues.

D.J. Augustin (40% owned): Augustin has settled back into the line-up after his injury layoff and is producing his best numbers of the year, averaging 19 points with 3.5 assists, 3.3 treys and 3.3 boards in the last week.

Andres Nocioni (33% owned): Nocioni is a solid player with an outside/inside game, and he has shown in the past that he can produce when called upon. He is getting minutes lately, and is averaging 13.5 points. 5.0 boards and 2.0 treys over the last week.

Charlie Bell (6% owned): Bell has been getting consistent minutes off the bench since Michael Redd and Luke Ridnour went down, and he has produced with averages of 17 points, 1.7 treys and 1.3 steals over the last week.

Professor's Crib Notes

"Just like I told you, you must learn!" KRS One, Retrospective, 1989
This week I'll look at Dr. Dave Berri's Wins Produced stat, one of the more controversial and intriguing measures out there... and one of my personal favorites. Dr. Berri, a professor in economics, did a series of linear regressions (read: complex math) on several seasons worth of stats and came up with a statistical model that he says can explain 95% of a team's wins based upon the box score numbers of it's individual players. If you check out my blog entry you'll find more detailed interpretation as well as direct responses that Dr. Berri was kind enough to provide, but I will hit the high points here:

What is it:
"Wins produced" is a measure that looks at offensive and defensive efficiency in one stat. An "average" player has a "wins produced per 48 minutes" (WP48) mark of 0.10, and a "Win Produced" is defined as 0.10 + production relative to position average. Roughly speaking, a good player/starter has a WP48 higher than 0.20, a great player a WP48 over 0.30, and any WP48 approaching 0.40 or higher is historically good. At the other extreme, for very inefficient players it is possible to produce a negative number of wins (or play losing basketball).

1. Assigning a fixed amount of a win to box score statistics
2. Can predict for how a player and team should be expected to produce after player movement (i.e. free agency or trade
3. The concept of scoring being completely overrated as a component of winning basketball is buzzworthy, because to most people scoring is the most important aspect of basketball.
4. The statistical model was developed from mathematical analysis of actual wins and losses, so there is explainable logic for the formula that helps it overcome scrutiny when the measure yields a non-intuitive conclusion.

1. Some argue that it overvalues rebounding. Dr. Berri responded to that criticism here: Do We Overvalue Rebounds?
2. Wins Produced does not give credit to players for creating shots.
3. It does not tell you why. Performance is impacted by age, injury, roster turnover, coaching (in a few cases), and the productivity of teammates which aren't factored into the stat.

Wins produced styles itself to be a total player measure, so in theory one could simply say "player X had more wins produced than player Y so he is better"... but practically, by now we should all know that there is no holy grail stat that is always right. You should still corroborate the wins produced output with a variety of other stats and personal observations before making a final conclusion. Keep the pros and cons of Wins Produced in mind, and decide in your own head how much weight to give to the results of this measure when making your own evaluation.

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Article first appeared 2/13/09