Friday, November 16, 2007

Karl May be on to Something

(Boulder-CO) Many of you know this, but I’m not a completely sold believer in some varieties of statistical analysis and the Lenovo +/- has always been one I have been skeptical of. Not that it doesn’t make perfect sense, mathematically speaking, but I’m just kind of an old school guy that believes what my eyes tell me over what some fancy algebraic formula tells me to believe.

But does that mean this old dog isn’t capable of learning a new trick? Hardly. And from the latest Lenovo breakdown, George Karl may be the same way.

For the majority of the first nine games, Coach Karl has been starting AI, Yakhouba Diawara, ‘Melo, Kenyon Martin, and Marcus Camby. And according to the Lenovo +/- measuring stick, he has some good reason for doing so. This starting five easily has the most positive differential when using the Lenovo stat and comes in at +39 points. Coming in a distant second at +17 points is the five of AI, Linas Kleiza, Carmelo, Camby, and believe it or not, Nene. But seeing how that five can not be played right now with Nene being sidelined with yet another injury, the next best combination is AI, Camby, Eduardo Najera, J.R. Smith, and Carmelo Anthony with a +16 point rating. Coincidentally enough, that third group of five is the exact rotation that Karl seems to be pulling off his bench with Nene sidelined.

I also found it coincidental that the first three combinations I mentioned are also playing the most minutes together starting with the best playing the most minutes and so on and so forth down the line.

But unfortunately for all those Linas Kleiza fans out there, substituting LK for Yakhouba into Karl’s most frequent starting line-up of AI, Carmelo, Camby, and Martin has only provided a +3 differential in the 28:27 minutes that group has played together, which is only five seconds less than the second best combination I just mentioned that has a rating +17. Leaving me to deduce that Nene may be more valuable to this team than I first may have thought and even more so in complimenting LK’s game.

And just to prove to you that I’m not going to completely abandoned my old school ways of evaluating things…

The Nuggets best Lenovo +/- team per minute is Kenyon Martin, Mike Wilks, J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, and Bobby Jones with a +7.7 point rating per minute they play together. So, does that mean the aforementioned five is the best five-player combination the Nuggets have? Once again my answer to that is an emphatic, “Hardly!” Which should mean to all of you stat geeks out there that while there may be some truth to things like the Lenovo. There will never be a substitution for good old fashioned seeing is believing NBA analysis!

Go Nuggets!

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