Big 3? Rotation Depth? A Statistical Analysis.

So, there is a lot of talk about the importance of adding depth (JT) versus the big 3 developing (Cousins). I have also seen some debate about whether age is a viable explanation for the Kings struggles. Well, let's take a look! After the jump...

To start, I have ran a pair of regressions on league wide data from 2011-2012. I use PER, I know other stats are available, but that can be for another time. All variables are standardized, so we can properly say these effects are apples to apples comparisons. (These regression coefficients represent a one standard deviation increase in age versus a one standard devitation in PER). Please note, the "Coef" is the size of the effect and "P" is the probability this estimate is not different from 0. In other words is p is very low (like 0.000), then we are very confident the variable is having a measurable impact on win totals.

Regression #1 - Roster Means; Y=Wins; Adj R-square= 0.780. This looks at the impact of age and PER of the whole roster on Win totals... Statistically significant effects are bolded.

Var Coef. P
PER 7.99 0.000
AGE 2.82 0.006

*Conclusion: Your weighted PER and weighted Age both matter; but PER matters more.

So we care about PER and age. But what matters more? Top end guys (Big 3) or rotation guys (4 -8)?

*Regression #2 - Breaking down the roster*; Y=Wins; Adj R-squared = 0.805. I have defined the top 3 on the team (and 4-8; 9-rest) in terms of minutes played. My belief is this will have the biggest impact on win outcomes. A great player doesn't help if he is hurt. Our 3: Evans, Thornton, Cousins. For clarification, the 4-8 PER excludes the big 3 and 9-bench guys. These are three separate average values. The purpose is to identify how important the parts of the roster (big 3, rotation, fill-ins) are. I understand these parts could visualized in other way (top 1, 2 thru 4, and the rest may be an alternative), but I tried to go with the most conventional basketball terms (we hear a lot the importance of a big 3. Set the rotation at 8 because some teams run 7-men, while others run 10-men. This could be further broken down as well, in the future.

Var Coef. P
Top3PER 8.27 0.000
4-8PER 5.80 0.000
9+PER 0.20 0.832
Top3AGE 0.62 0.559
4-8AGE 1.60 0.189
9+AGE 1.69 0.065

Conclusions:

(1) Big 3 matters a bit more, but rotation matters as well. End of the bench is a non-factor.
(2) Age matters more as you head down the bench (Chuck Hayes anyone?)
(3) Production (PER) is way more important than age. Lets compare the Kings to the league on this.

Team PERtop3 Playoffs?
OKC 23.40 Y
LAL 21.77 Y
MIA 20.83 Y
LAC 20.70 Y
SAS 20.37 Y
ORL 20.17 Y
UTA 20.03 Y
PHO 18.97 N
SAC 18.50 N
ATL 18.43 Y
IND 18.13 Y
CHI 17.80 Y
MEM 17.67 Y
DAL 17.47 Y
NYK 17.27 Y
BOS 17.07 Y
PHI 17.07 Y
NJN 17.03 N
CLE 16.90 N
MIL 16.87 N
POR 16.73 N
GSW 16.63 N
DEN 16.30 Y
MIN 15.67 N
DET 15.50 N
TOR 14.67 N
NOH 14.67 N
CHA 13.97 N
HOU 13.77 N
WAS 13.50 N

But... I thought Tyreke is terrible and dragging us down??? Right??? Well, there you go. We should be a playoff team based on big 3 talent alone. Is it poor coaching? Poor rotation? That PER favors offense (see Phoenix up there us well)? All possible. The face validity seems pretty strong to indicate that an above league average PER in your big 3 gives you a strong chance at the playoffs.

Let's look at the rotation numbers...

team PER4thru8 Playoffs?
DEN 16.94 Y
SAS 16.20 Y
PHI 16.08 Y
HOU 16.04 N
NYK 15.90 Y
CHI 15.82 Y
NOH 15.00 N
MIL 14.68 N
IND 14.42 Y
MIN 14.38 N
TOR 14.00 N
MEM 13.76 Y
BOS 13.72 Y
DAL 13.68 Y
PHO 13.55 N
DET 13.54 N
ATL 13.44 Y
GSW 13.18 N
UTA 13.10 Y
MIA 13.02 Y
LAC 12.80 Y
WAS 12.78 N
SAC 12.54 N
POR 12.32 N
ORL 12.24 Y
CHA 12.16 N
OKC 11.76 Y
NJN 11.40 N
CLE 11.14 N
LAL 10.98 Y

So, we are pretty low on this metric. But, as you can see, this matters much less than the Big 3. Look at the Lakers with the worst 4 - 8 rotation in the league. A strong rotation does allow a team like Denver to get in the playoffs, but, a weak rotation can be overcome by great top end players. From our perspective, it is important to note that Salmons and Fredette were both included in this; a bounceback from Salmons and improvement from Fredette could go a long way to pushing our rotation PER towards 14 (league average levels).

Well, there you go. Maybe the Kings (especially the Big 3) aren't as bad as they seem. Maybe, we are just a reasonable team defense away from the playoffs...

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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