Friday, April 3, 2015

The 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year is...

Noel should be the NBA R.o.Y.
Let's face it, this 2014-15 class of NBA rookies has been disappointing as a whole. In a league of grown men, the NBA rookie is lucky to get minutes on a good team. On a bad team, a rookie may find it easier to play extended time. This fact muddies the water when trying to sift out which rookie has been the league Rookie of the Year. In many cases, activity is confused for achievement. For franchises that are in rebuilding mode, the coach may be encouraged to play rookies as many minutes as they can handle. 

So how do we decide who should be Rookie of the Year? I want to go deeper than simply giving it to the guy with the highest scoring average. This is where our efficiency rating (per-minute) comes in handy. The "EFR" tells us who is actually achieving out there. We then will multiply the EFR number by the number of minutes played to find out who has actually produced the most. 

Defense is usually not considered much when thinking about Rookie of the Year. But it should be. It's half of the game of basketball. And I also think we should consider the team's record. 

The candidates worthy of consideration are: Jordan Clarkson, Zach LaVine, Nikola Mirotic, Nerlens Noel, Jusef Nurkic, Elfrid Payton, Marcus Smart, and Andrew Wiggins. 

Using a simple point system, we will rank each player in the three categories we mentioned above. The most important category is total production, followed by defensive rating, and then team record. We will weigh the point system so that team record is worth only half of the value of total production and defensive rating. 

Total production: 

Noel: EFR .508 x 2240 = 1137.9
Wiggins: EFR .370 x 2683 = 992.7
Payton: EFR .427 x 2225 = 950
Mirotic: EFR .564 x 1494 = 842.6
Nurkic: EFR .583 x 984 =  573.6
Clarkson: EFR .470 x 1218 = 572.4
LaVine: EFR .348 x 1621 = 564.1
Smart: EFR .351 x 1597 = 560.5

The EFR suggests that if Mirotic played for a team other than Chicago, where he plays behind Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and Taj Gibson, Mirotic would likely stand out more. 

 Mirotic on a bad team = numbers would swell.
Defensive Rating:

Noel 98.1
Nurkic 98.6
Mirotic 101.5
Smart 105.1
Payton 106.9
LaVine 112.3
Clarkson 113.6
Wiggins 114

Team Record:

Mirotic 45-30
Smart: 34-41
Nurkic 28-47
Payton 22-53
Clarkson 20-54
Noel: 18-58
Wiggins 16-59
LaVine 16-59

Using the method described above to come up with a total for each player, we find that Nerlens Noel comes out as our choice for Rookie of the Year, narrowly edging out Nikola Mirotic. (Totals: Noel 17.5, Mirotic 17, Nurkic 14, Payton 12.5, Smart 9.5, Wiggins 8.75, Clarkson 7, LaVine 5.75.)

The points system we used was harsh to Andrew Wiggins. But that is why we do this. While Wiggins has had more highlight dunks than any of the other rookies, his defense has been horrid, and his team has lost more games than any of the other candidates (except his own teammate, LaVine). 

...So voters go forward with Nerlens Noel as your 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year. He has the most total production AND the best defensive rating among those considered. Those are two good reasons to give Noel the nod. 

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