Thursday, January 30, 2014

Halfway. Power forwards. Notes from NBA stat audit

Every year after each team has played their 41st game of the NBA season, I do a statistical audit of the players in the league, looking specifically at efficiency per-minute. I analyze each player that has logged at least 300 minutes, plus a select few players of note. Here are some tidbits I found interesting about the current NBA landscape at power-forward...

Power Forwards
Love is #1, Aldridge #3 in PF efficiency.  
The highest rated power forward is Kevin Love at .825. The battle for the runner-up spot in efficiency per minute is a tight one right now. Anthony Davis is fractions ahead of LeMarcus Aldridge, while Blake Griffin ranks solidly in fourth.  ...The crop of efficient power-forwards is deep. Unlike the small forward position, the "four-spot" in the NBA is crowded with players who statistically are not THAT much different from one another. 

We are about to get into some math here - so hang with me... 

The difference, in efficiency points, from the top player at point guard to the 30th rated player at point guard is .335. The same math at small forward produces a result of .454. Meanwhile, the difference, in efficiency points, from the top player at power forward to the 30th rated player at power forward is .299. This means that the range from best, to "30th best", is not as wide at power forward as it is as point guard or small forward. (In case you wondered, the smallest gap is at shooting guard. #1. Dwyane Wade .597 to #30 Eric Gordon .402 = a difference of .195.)

Jordan Hill needs minutes!
Give them some more minutes!

Who are the players who rate in the top 30 at power forward but do not (yet) play heavy minutes? There are 16 players who have yet to have a chance to shine with consistency. 

  • Jordan Hill - Lakers. .657 (ranks 4th) ...He gets spotty, inconsistent minutes from Mike D'Antoni but Hill produces more often than not. 
  • Brandan Wright - Mavs .652 (ranks 7th) ...He is seemingly always hurt. If he could stay healthy and have a coach trust him, Wright is capable of producing. 
  • John Henson - Bucks .629 (ranks 9th) ...Henson has had his share of starts but he still doesn't play heavy minutes with consistency. That happens when you play on a bad team. 
  • Kris Humphries - Celtics .625 (ranks 11th) ...Humphries too has had a handful of starts in Boston but enough to establish a real groove. 
  • DaJuan Blair - Mavs .613 (ranks 12th) ...Blair may not be able to play heavy minutes due to his knees. 
  • Kenneth Faried - Nuggets .609 (ranks 13th) ...One of the real travesties of the 2013-14 NBA season is Faried only averaging 24 minutes per game. 
  • James Johnson - Grizzlies .577 (ranks 15th) ...If Johnson could shoot the long-ball better, I'd call him a small forward. But he can't. The 2014 James Johnson is more physically fit, and more efficient. Can he maintain this and get a contract for the future? Stay tuned. 
  • Markieff Morris - Suns .574 (ranks 16th) ...Markieff plays. But he doesn't get to play enough in our opinion. 
  • Michael Beasley - Heat .553 (ranks 20th) ...Nobody ever questioned his talent. He is in good condition presently. It's great for Miami to get 16 minutes per game off the bench at this efficiency level (similar to how Chris Andersen does it for them at Center). 
    Evans is long and quick!
  • Jeremy Evans - Jazz .549 (ranks 21st) ...Evans is still trying to bulk up. It might be time for a team to give this kid a chance to play meaningful minutes. His ability to 'quick-jump' is elite. He could be a shot-blocking presence in the future. 
  • Jon Leuer - Grizzlies .547 (ranks 22nd) ...Leuer is a skilled BIG but he has trouble as a defender with quicker FOURs
  • Thomas Robinson - Blazers .546 (ranks 23rd) ...Robinson will most likely never be a player that a team runs any plays for. He is an elite NBA athlete, and his activity level, and rebounding prowess may earn him more minutes. It is worth remembering that Robinson is just 22 years old. 
  • Elton Brand - Hawks .541 (ranks 24th) ...In the absence of Al Horford, Atlanta has juggled their lineups and Elton Brand is proving he can still hold his own. 
  • Trevor Booker - Wizards .540 (ranks 25th) ...Booker is just 26 years old and he still has upside. He is strong willed, and "no nonsense". 
  • Ed Davis - Grizzlies .539 (ranks 26th) ...Ed Davis is still a prospect that may, one day, play BIG minutes in the NBA. He needs to gain weight. 
  • Mike Scott - Hawks .531 (ranks 29th) ...Scott is small to be a power forward but he has shown that he can be relatively efficient. 
Thompson gets rejected
Do they play too much? 

The list of power forwards who play heavy minutes, yet are outside of the top 30 in efficiency at the position: David West (31st), Carlos Boozer (32nd), Ryan Anderson (36th), Tristan Thompson (45th), Josh McRoberts (51st), Glen Davis (52nd), and Jason Thompson (55th). ...David West is a premier defender at his position, and a tough-guy that we have no problem with. Boozer's efficiency has slowly slipped the last couple of seasons. We're keeping an eye on it. ...Ryan Anderson can really shoot and his overall efficiency would be nice as a small forward. As a Power Forward, where the landscape is filled more tightly with efficient players, he is just 36th (or a top-tier reserve player). ...Tristan Thompson simply has never been very efficient. Right handed or left handed, Tristan Thompson hovers around the same "mid-tier backup" efficiency. ...McRoberts simply gets out-muscled as a power forward. ...Glen Davis doesn't rebound well enough. 

What about the Kings? 

Sacramento Kings power forwards do not rate well vs. the rest of the NBA's FOURs. Quincy Acy is ranked 54th, and Jason Thompson is 55th. 

Derrick Williams is 67th. As a Small forward, Williams would rank 35th with a .381 EFR. With improved three point shooting, and better care of the basketball, Williams may indeed, one-day, be looked upon as a legitimate Small Forward. So far, he has not achieved that status in our book. (This is a topic that requires more writing than I am willing to do right at this moment. It's about CONSISTENTLY being able to stretch a defense with reliable, accurate deep shooting. And it's about your small forward being the "second point guard" and having the skill and patience to make plays for others with CONSISTENCY. Derrick Williams continues to turn it over more than he assists it, and he is shooting 27% from beyond the arc.)


The highest rated rookie power forward is Kelly Olynyk. He rates 50th out of 76 PF's we examined. A 50th rating at any position equates to a "low-tier backup" ideally. 

Read Point Guards
Read Shooting Guards
Read Small Forwards
Read Centers

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