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Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson are Canaries, Gordon Hayward is a Road Warrior, and Other Observations

Years ago mining workers would carry caged canaries with them into the tunnels. These canaries acted as an early warning system to the miners. If dangerous gases such as methane and carbon monoxide leaked into the mine shaft, the canaries would die before the miners would.

The Jazz have their own canaries – they are Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson. Before I explain that logic, let me give you some background. As you may or may not be aware, I have kept track of two different statistics this season - the Larry H Miller batting average (LHM) and approximate value (AV). The first of these statistics is an efficiency measure (i.e. it measures how efficient a player is during the time he is on the court); the second statistic is a measure of a player’s value to his team (i.e. the player’s overall contribution to the team’s performance for a game).

Having said that, I’ve looked over the data and found that if Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson die statistically for a game, then the Jazz lose; whereas, if Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson reach enlightenment statistically, then the Jazz win.

Let me explain.

The Jazz have played twelve games to date. In those games twelve games, Marvin Williams has averaged a .219 LHM and a 7.15 AV, with medians of .255 and 7.02, respectively; meanwhile, Big Al has averaged a .382 LHM and a 12.52 AV, with medians of .368 and 12.27, respectively. However, if you drill into the numbers a little bit you find that both players have performed significantly different in wins and losses.

Below are Marvin’s and Big Al’s LHM and AV averages for wins:

Marvin-

.339 LHM

9.67 AV

Big Al-

.522 LHM

15.30 AV

And here are their average stats for losses:

Marvin-

.099 LHM

4.64 AV

Big Al-

.242 LHM

9.73 AV

Okay, that’s a lot of numbers. Let me give you a frame of reference. According to Larry Miller, an LHM of .300 meant a player was approaching All Star status; an LHM of .400 meant a player was definitely an All Star; and an LHM of .500 means a player is playing at a level of a likely MVP. Dean Oliver’s AV system is a bit more complex in its break down then the LHM; below is Dean’s break-down:

  • A score of about twenty indicates an exceptional MVP season.
  • A score of seventeen or eighteen indicates a strong MVP candidate or an ordinary MVP season.
  • A score of sixteen indicates an MVP candidate.
  • A score of fifteen indicates a definite All-Star who is a marginal MVP candidate.
  • A score of fourteen indicates a probable All-Star.
  • A score of thirteen indicates a marginal All-Star.
  • A score of twelve indicates a very fine season; an All-Star candidate.
  • A score of eleven indicates an above average regular; an excellent player playing about 1800 minutes.
  • A score of ten indicates an average regular or a very good sixth man.
  • A score of nine indicates an average regular or a good sixth man.
  • A score of eight indicates a fair regular or an average sixth man.
  • A score of six or seven indicates an average bench player or a good player playing under 1500 minutes.
  • A score of four or five indicates a player who plays about 1000 minutes and who doesn't deserve many more.
  • Scores of three or less usually indicate players who are unimpressive in limited playing time.

So in wins Marvin is performing at a near All-Star level per LHM, and an average regular/good sixth man level per AV; and Big Al is performing at a level of a likely MVP per LHM, and a definite All-Start/marginal MVP level per AV.

Alright, now you’ve got some background; now I’ll explain how Marvin’s and Big Al’s stats are the Jazz canaries in a coal mine. I correlated each game’s point margin to Marvin’s and Big Al’s LHM and AV scores and found the following:

Marvin-

LHM to point margin correlated .7202 or 72.02%

AV to point margin correlated .7404 or 74.04%

Big Al-

LHM to point margin correlated .7437 or 74.37%

AV to point margin correlated .7303 or 73.03%

Correlation shows the interdependence of variables (i.e. changes in X affect changes in Y). In this instance, changes to Marvin’s and Big Al’s efficiency and game performance explain a significant amount of the overall point margin in Jazz wins and losses.

Here’s the evidence. When Marvin’s LHM score is more than his average of .219, the Jazz are 6-1 (this goes to 6-0 if we use his median LHM of .255). When Marvin’s AV score is more than his average of 7.15, the Jazz are 6-0 (there’s no difference if we use his median AV of 7.02).

Similarly, when Big Al’s LHM score is more than his average of .382, the Jazz have a record of 5-0 (this goes to 5-1 if we use his median LHM of .368); and the Jazz have a record of 5-0 when Big Al’s AV score is more than his average of 12.52 (there’s no difference if we use his median AV of 12.27).

This got me thinking. Most of the Jazz wins have been at home this year; meaning it appears Marvin and Big Al are home bodies (i.e. they have better stats at home then on the road). Well, duh…don’t all players play better statistically at home then on the road? Wrong. In fact, when I ran the numbers I found some players played better at home (Marvin, Big Al, Kanter, Tinsley), some players played statistically the same on the road and at home (Millsap, Mo, Favors, Foye, Carroll), and one player played better on the road then at home (Hayward).

This brings me to my next point, Hayward is a road warrior.

Mad Max Road Warrior (Trailer) (via LucianoVicSo)

Yes, Hayward statistically does better on the road then at home (at least this year). Here are the numbers:

Overall averages-

.205 LHM

8.30 AV

Home averages-

.045 LHM

5.36 AV

Away averages-

.285 LHM

9.77 AV

Clearly, at home Hayward’s stats have been fairly pedestrian; however, they dramatically jump on the road. Because of this, Hayward’s stat correlation to wins is negative (i.e. when Hayward plays well statistically, the Jazz lose). Seems counterintuitive, but here’s the evidence. The Jazz are 0-5 when Hayward’s LHM score is more than his average of .205; and they are 1-5 when Hayward’s AV score is more than his average of 8.30.

Before all the Hayward homers jump on me, let me say this. I’m not sure what the Hayward win/loss stat correlation is telling me. I understand the correlation part, but I don’t understand the why. For example, it’s possible Hayward picks up his game on the road because the players that normally fill out the stat sheet aren’t and he’s picking up the slack. It’s also possible that as a starter (up until two games ago) he is the third or fourth option and at home he isn’t needed as much as on the road.

I do know that Yucca Man is following the Wins Produced stat (here's the numbers through 11 games), and he's showing Gordon with the third highest total on the team with .96 wins produced behind Millsap's 1.33 and Favors 1.32 (of note, Yucca states that Al's stats are "indicative of a guy who has performed below expectations." I suspect this will change as the Jazz get more home games under its belt.) Anyway, it's worth a read.

Well, this post went a little longer than I anticipated, but keep your eye on those two canaries Marvin and Big Al - as they go, so do the Jazz (at least through the first 12 games).

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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