Are We Overly Critical of Big Al?

This year, I've been keeping track of the Larry H Miller average (LHM) and Approximate Value (AV) statistics for our team. The LHM is an efficiency mearsure (i.e. it measures how efficient a player is during the time he is on the court); the AV measures a player's value to his team (i.e. the player's overall contribution to the team's performance for a game).

The LHM is calculated (Pts + Rbs + Ast + Stls + Blks - TO - PF - Shots) all divided by minutes. The AV is a derivative of Martin Manley's credit formula by Dean Oliver and is calculated (((Pts + Rbs + Ast + Stls + Blks - TO - Missed Shots - Missed FTs) times 82) raised to the power of 3/4) all divided by 21. Please note that the AV stat is meant to be used for a seaon's worth of stats, I multiply a games stats by 82 to normalize the stat for the game.

For puposes of my analysis of this post, I used player stats from Yahoo with data through January 20, 2013. Yahoo breaks players into the following positions:

PG, SG, G (combo guards), GF (shooting guards/small forwards), SF, PF, F (combo forwards), C, and FC (power forwards/centers)

As of January 20th, the average AV, LHM, and minutes by position was as follows (ordered from highest AV to lowest):

FC (76 players) - AV 7.9, LHM .272, Minutes 22.13

PG (57 players) - AV 6.74, LHM .191 Minutes 22.09

C (47 players) - AV 6.39, LHM .226, Minutes 17.05

PF (30 players) - AV 6.26, LHM .236, Minutes 18.13

SF (25 players) - AV 6.19, LHM .331, Minutes 18.68

G (54 players) - AV 6.15, LHM .147, Minutes 20.71

SG (28 players) - AV 5.95, LHM .145, Minutes 20.84

GF (81 players) - AV 5.89, LHM .159, Minutes 21.18

F (46 players) - AV 5.88, LHM .199, Minutes 18.51

Now let's look at our team's averages (I've noted Yahoo position, AV rank for that position, AV average, LHM average, and average minutes for each player):

Big Al (FC #5 of 76) - AV 12.96, LHM .374, Minutes 32.9

Millsap (PF #2 of 30) - AV 11.57, LHM .376, Minutes 30.3

Mo (G #8 of 54) - AV 9.24, LHM .210, Minutes 31.4

Favors (FC #35 of 76) - AV 8.42, LHM .319, Minutes 21.6

Gordo (GF #19 of 81) - AV 8.16, LHM .226, Minutes 26.6

Foye (G #22 of 54) - AV 6.8, LHM .123, Minutes 26.9

Marv (SF #10 of 25) - AV 6.52, LHM .180, Minutes 25.6

Carroll (F #19 of 46) - AV 6.29, LHM .272, Minutes 17.3

Tinsley (PG #28 of 57) - AV 6.11, LHM .230, Minutes 20.4

Kanter (C #24 of 47) - AV 6.06, LHM .243, Minutes 14.8

Watson (PG #40 of 57) - AV 4.53, LHM .164, Minutes 17.1

Burks (SG #22 of 28) - AV 3.53, LHM .062, Minutes 13

Evans (F #39 of 46) - AV 2.81, LHM .350, Minutes 6

Murphy (G #54 of 54) - AV N/A, LHM -.385, Minutes 2.6

I would note that Hayward is only 1.83 AV away from the fifth place GF; also that we've played significantly more road games than home games to this point and road games tend to weigh on a player's stats. AV is an interesting stat as it increases as you collect positive stats. Based on that, there is a good case for Hayward and Favors to play more minutes as each has good efficiency for the position that they play. Likewise, Foye's and Marvin's efficiency is poor relative to the positions they play and there could be an argument to cut back there minutes. What really jumped out at me though are (a) there are relatively few AV superstars in the league and (b) how Big Al measures up.

There are only twelve players in the league with higher AV's than Big Al. They are:

LeBron James (F) -17.17, Minutes 38.4

Kevin Durant (SF) - 17.01, Minutes 39.7

Kobe Bryant (SG) - 14.38, Minutes 38.8

Anderson Varejao (FC) - 14.55, MInutes 36

David Lee (FC) - 14.33, Minutes 37.5

Chris Paul (PG) - 14.07, Minutes 33.5

Carmelo Anthony (F) - 13.94, Minutes 37.3

Tim Duncan (FC) - 13.94, Minutes 30.1

Russell Westbrook (PG) - 13.76, Minutes 36.4

James Harden (GF) - 13.45, Minutes 38.5

Dwight Howard (C) - 13.36, Minutes 35.6

LaMarcus Aldridge (FC) - 13.09, Minutes 38

The only player playing fewer minutes than Big Al in that list is Tim Duncan. Most are playing 36 to 39 minutes a game. Also of note, the stats show how shallow the pool of super talents is in the league - two players with AV of 17, four players with AV of 14, and six players with AV of 13. The next tier of talent (AV of 12) has seventeen players listed in it and includes Big Al (FC), Joakim Noah (FC), Tyson Chandler (C), Rajon Rondo (PG), Al Horford (FC), Blake Griffin (FC), Jrue Holiday (G), Zach Randolph (FC), Tony Parker (PG), DeMarcus Cousins (FC), Stephen Curry (PG), Kevin Love (FC), Chris Bosh (FC), Kyrie Irving (PG), Dwayne Wade (G), Marc Gasol (C), and Brook Lopez (C).

The tier AV of 11 has twenty four players; with Millsap being ranked 10th out of the 24. The nine players ahead of Millsap are Carlos Boozer (FC), Paul George (GF), Nikola Vucevic (FC), Serge Ibaka (FC), Nicolas Batum (GF), Andrei Krilenko (F), JJ Hickson (FC), Greg Monroe (C), and David West (PF). Who are the rest of the players in the AV 11 tier? They are Paul Millsap (PF), Paul Pierce (SF), Josh Smith (F), Thaddeus Young (F), Nikola Pekovic (C), Kenneth Faried (PF), Kyle Lowry (PG), Marcin Gortat (F), Greivis Vasquez (G), Deron Williams (PG), Anthony Davis (FC), Brandon Jennings (PG), Damian Lillard (PG), Kevin Garnett (FC), and Pau Gasol (FC).

The knock on Big Al is his efficiency. Hollinger has Big Al ranked 24th in PER. Those players ranked higher than Big Al in PER include four players playing 20 minutes or less (Andray Blatche, Andre Drummond, Brandan Wright, and JaVale McGee); so it could be said that Big Al is ranked 20th in PER for players playing similar minutes to him. How many of those 20 play the PF, C, FC positions? I counted 8 - Brook Lopez (C), Tim Duncan (FC), Blake Griffin (FC), Anderson Varejao (FC), DeMarcus Cousins (FC), Tyson Chandler (C), Anthony Davis (FC), and Chris Bosh (FC).

Another interesting point from Hollinger's PER stats. If you filter the results by Estimated Wins Added (EWA), Big Al has an 6.8 EWA and that is good for 14th in the league.

Can you imagine (as automatic as Big Al is from the free throw line) where his stats would be if he figured out how to get to the charity stripe consistently?

I would also note that based on this analysis, Millsap would be more replaceable than Big Al (please note that I really like Millsap; I like his work ethic, what he represents, and what he means to the team). Further, we already have a player on the bench that could fit into Millsap's slot in Favors. Having said that, it makes more sense to me that if the Jazz have a financial crunch at signing time or if they are looking to make a trade, that they would be more apt to focus on keeping Big Al over Millsap.

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

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