Season is getting close! I, for one, feel more optimistic than recent years. In addition to our improving stable of talent, it really seems like we have an outside shot at the playoffs this year when you consider the injury bug that has hit the low-end playoff hopefuls in the western conferences (Nowitzki, Love, Curry/Bogut). From my count, that makes 7 teams that we can realistically jump if everything breaks right (POR, PHO, GS, HOU, DAL, NO, MIN). 8 seed here we come! That said, thought I would provide some stats analysis to help us have more reasonable expectations about performance by position. After the jump!
What I have done is a simple calculation: (ORTG - DRTG)/100. What does this do? Well it tells you what % a player is above or below an average player (on this particular measure). Now, there seems to be a lot of talk about whether we should throw out certain seasons (e.g. Hayes last year) based on unfortunate circumstances. So, I provide (1) last years data and (2) a 3 year moving average.
Pos Name 1-Year 3-Year
PG 1 Thomas (+3%) (+3%)
PG 2 Brooks (-11%) (-5%)
PG 3 Fredette (-14%) (-14%)
SG 1 Evans (-8%) (-7%)
SG 2 Thornton (-1%) (-1%)
SG 3 Salmons (-13%) (-3%)
SF 1 Johnson (-3%) (-7%)
SF 2 Garcia (-7%) (0%)
SF 3 Outlaw (-19%) (-14%)
PF 1 Thompson (+6%) (0%)
PF 2 Robinson (NA) (NA)
C 1 Cousins (-2%) (-7%)
C 2 Hayes (-11%) (+5%)
Things that jump out at me are this:
(1) Hayes really did perform well the 2 year prior. To get a 3 year moving average to +5, when the most recent is -11, he had to perform very well (+14 & +3). Note these are minutes weighted, not year weighted. So, it is really the sum all minutes in the last 3 years, Hayes is a +5% player on this metric.
(2) We have a lot of minus players... but they are close to average: Johnson, Brooks, Garcia, Thornton, Cousins, Evans all fit this bill. To me, that means that these guys are legitimate rotation guys, but have not yet rounded off their games to become impact starters. Remember, league average is not a negative term. A league average player is a full-on rotation player. Doing better then that means you are an impact player. There is reason to believe though, with better shot selection and more defense that this group could truly be a surprise. If you had Thomas, Thompson, Thornton, Cousins, Robinson, Evans and Johnson get into the black (with one or two them taking leaps to impact starter/borderline all-star), now you have 7 core guys that are positively impacting games. A nice veteran contribution from 1 or 2 of Hayes, Garcia, Salmons, Brooks or a surprise like Fredette and all of the sudden you actually have a full rotation of good players.
Speaking of Robinson, if you look at prior similar draft picks (top 10 pick, rebounding PFs), they always seem to come out with slightly below league average to league average rookie seasons. (Al Horford is about the best here coming out at +2% in his rookie year). They are remarkedly safe choices for instant contribution. For estimation sake, I place him here at the equivalent of possibly the most disappointing of such recent choices (Tristan Thompson): -10%. It is always good to make conservative estimates. Using that....
Assume: starters = Thomas, Evans, Johnson, Thompson, Cousins
2nd unit = Brooks, Thornton, Garcia, Robinson, Hayes
Giving 28 min to the starter and 20 min to the 2nd string, we get the following positional averages...
Pos 1yr 3yr
PG (-3%) (0%)
SG (-5%) (-5%)
SF (-5%) (-4%)
PF (-1%) (-4%)
C (-6%) (-2%)
Slightly below average at every single position. Not too bad. Again, a couple of jumps (especially by Evans and Cousins) and we are close to a low end playoff team. Every position here as the realistic possibility of considerable improvement as the key cogs are generally young players. I think a team commitment to defense could be the legitimate difference here between below average and average across the positional board. Hope this spreads some optimism on the Kings fan base, even if that optimism gets crushed by the end of November.