In today's downbeat some people went loco (which is fine, we're all sports fans here). The end result is wondering about Utah Jazz guard / forward / everyman Gordon Hayward. In order to see how volatile he is (does he display steady improvement, or he is two steps forward, one step back?), it was suggested that we look at the Go Ratings. I was flattered.
Let me first preface that GO Rating is a specific measure that looks at how much pressure you put on the defense. It's not more important than things like fg%, ppg, apg, or whatever. It's not more important than PER. And for me I think it's just one thing to look at when looking at stats, you still need to look at things like USG% and ORTG, etc. Stats are fine, but they also don't tell the whole story. For example, I'd love it if there were stats for attempted screens set, and successful screens set. GO Rating works with the stats we have handy now -- and as a result, most of the offensive stats skew towards players with the ball in their hands. Right now that works out because Go Rating essentially measures how much aggro you have with the ball anyway. A guy like Allen Iverson is going to draw more defensive focus than Ray Allen -- though Ray is a more dangerous shooter.
I've written about GO Rating a bit, and the links are in my sig. But here's a quick primer on what the numbers get us, they get us different ranks. I've inputted the info for every All-Star over the last 30+ years and I have a huge chart. Let's make it easy by looking at some of the values as a frame of reference:
- 151+: Michael Jordan, Pete Maravich, LeBron James, etc; once in a lifetime players
- 140-150: essentially just Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; epic scorers who drew triple teams
- 130-139: some of the most talented offensive players ever, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Allen Iverson, Bernard King, Julius Erving, Adrian Dantley, Dominique Wilkins.
- 100-129: almost everyone here will one day be in the HOF, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Dirk Nowitzki, Clyde Drexler, Isiah Thomas, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan
100 is the base line for a super star / go to guy. When I last charted him Tim Duncan was 100.811 (100.8, or 100), which is about right. He's great for his offense and defense, but on offense he's like the cut off point for someone you can build your team around. Point of comparison, Jordan is almost 200 (191.841, or 190), and Shaq is 150.783 (150.7, or 150). There were more offensively focused players who were worse defenders who have a better GO Rating than guys like Duncan (Iverson is about 135 (134.883)). Below 100 you have different stratification as well.
- 90-99: these people were "almost great", guys like Chris Webber, Deron Williams, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett (that's "almost great" just for offense -- KG is great on defense, and his offense is more and more an after thought). You can't build a winner around Ray Allen's offense, but you can out of Tim Duncan. The numbers put them in different groups
- 70-89: these guys are legit second options on good teams -- Yao Ming, Gary Payton, Kevin McHale, Pau Gasol, Scottie Pippen, Manu Ginobili, etc. Some of them were first options on teams that went no where (like Patrick Ewing). Some of them were third options on great teams (like Jeff Hornacek)
- 50-69: these are legit third options on good teams -- Dale Ellis, Terry Porter, Robert Parish, Detlef Schremph, Danny Manning, Mehmet Okur, Sean Elliott. Some were second options on okay teams, some were first options on horrible teams.
- 49 or lower: everyone else, 40 is the cut out point for an offensive specialist (Dan Majerle, Kevin Willis, Andrei Kirilenko, Brad Miller, Brevin Knight) -- but all of these players aren't complete offensive forces. Guys lower than 30 are replacement level on offense. Ben Wallace was a 17.181. Kyrylo Fesenko was a 6.197.
So, let's look at Gordon, shall we? (Note: these charts and tables aren't fancy . . . but I instead took the time to double check the numbers instead of making it pretty.)
In each of his years Hayward starts off slow, and builds up towards the end. In his rookie year his first month (Oct 2010) had him getting a 15.1 GO Rating. He ended it in April 2011 with a monthly GO Rating of 76.4. So according to the frame of reference, he starts off playing like a replacement level player, and finishes his rookie year as a legit 2nd option. His second season has him starting off in specialist territory, dipping down, and them returning to the land of legit second options.
Third season? He started out as 3rd option material, dipped down to specialist, and has arisen to playing (in 4 games, so sample size alert) like an All-Star. Paul Pierce has a GO Rating of 108.7. So far this month Gordon's at 109.2. Will it last? I really don't think so as a huge part has been his amazing three point shooting this month (9/14).
This is what it looks like month by month:
Months 1-7: Rookie Year; Months 8-12: Soph Year; Months 13-16: This year
Every season he starts off slow, but the closer we get to March madness the better he gets. That's not really it though, it's that he's given more MPG and can do more and has more responsibility with the ball. It's hard to have a great GO Rating when you're the 4th option and chopped liver on the floor. When you put the ball in Gordon's hands he's more able to prove his worth on the court with his assertive play.
It really seems like there's is a pattern though, to slow starts and strong finishes. Let's compare the three seasons by month:
(Blue = Rookie year, Red = Soph, Green = this year)
Yes, it seems like he crescendos every year. He's doing it a little early right now -- but again, this January is only 4 games long so far. STILL, it seems to suggest that he's not super consistent, but gets better as the season goes on. We'd hope that this would mean he's awesome for the playoffs -- but last seasons' playoffs wasn't anything to write home about. It was over before it started so I didn't bother to find out his GO Rating for the playoffs. Everyone on the entire team played poorly except Al Jefferson, so I'd throw that data out for Gordon, but keep that feather in the cap of Big Al.
Monthly variations will occur for every player though, the season is long and there are ups and downs. Let's look at Gordon's progress (if any) from season to season:
So there it is, he gets better. His cumulative Go Rating was replacement level as a rookie, and he worked towards specialist level in his soph year. Right now he's a legit 3rd option. Or at least that's what the data tells us, and the data is built upon frames of reference that's finding out the career Go ratings of every All-Star player (and many non-All-Stars) from the last few decades. He's getting better on offense, and it shows in the box score, in the spread sheet, and on the court.
And that's kinda what we want. Out of all four of our C4 players you could argue that Hayward should end his career with the highest GO Rating, and right now he's showing that he's competitive. Who's in that 53-59 range in Go rating (because he's at 56 this year)? Guys like Rasheed Wallace, Mehmet Okur, Vin Baker, Wally Szczerbiak, Otis Thorpe, Rickey Green, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Danny Manning, David West, and our very own Devin Harris / Josh Howard crew. WOO! HE"S FINALLY AS GOOD AS JOSH HOWARD, CAN HE HAS THE BALL PLEASE NOW?