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The Numbers Game

Potential for Offense

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

The inspiration for today's 'The Numbers Game' colum comes from Rotoworld reader Kevin Bott, who asked, "Have you ever incorporated usage, minutes played, and team pace into one stat to measure a player's propensity to accumulate offensive stats?  I feel like this would be a good number to have ... if I'm looking to pick someone up off the wire, I would look to this new stat when making my decision."

 

I rarely know where my analysis will lead and that's never been more true than today. It’s worth noting that this would have been impossible, or at least far more labor-intensive, without the impressive array of stats available on NBA.com. After accumulating every player's raw numbers for the 2014-15 season, I tossed out anyone averaging under 15 minutes per game as well as players who have appeared in five or fewer games. That left a population of 291 qualifying players.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $300,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday's NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $30,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel link.

 

I then determined the means and standard deviations for minutes, usage rates (what percentage of a team's offensive plays end with a given player) and pace (how many possessions are averaged per 48 minutes with a given player on the court). I was then able to combine the three metrics into a single number, though I make no claim that minutes are as important as usage rates or pace, etc. That's a discussion for another day.

 

All I hope to create is a rough guide, as Kevin succinctly put it, "to measure a player's propensity to accumulate offensive stats." Let's see what happens. (*Note: I'm counting each player's full z-score values for minutes and usage, but am weighting pace at 50% to account for its diminished impact on individual production). I've dubbed these combined z-scores (Offensive Metric #1).

 

Player Offensive Metric #1
Kobe Bryant 5.21
Russell Westbrook 4.71
James Harden 4.46
Stephen Curry 4.04
LeBron James 3.81
Klay Thompson 3.59
DeMarcus Cousins 3.56
Michael Carter-Williams 3.51
Blake Griffin 3.50
Tony Wroten 3.49
LaMarcus Aldridge 3.43
Monta Ellis 3.38
John Wall 3.23
Jeff Green 3.16
Kevin Durant 3.16
DeMar DeRozan 3.13
Rudy Gay 3.13
Carmelo Anthony 3.03
Dwyane Wade 2.98
Pau Gasol 2.86
Dwight Howard 2.72
Anthony Davis 2.71
Ty Lawson 2.68
Brandon Knight 2.62
Jimmy Butler 2.56
Derrick Rose 2.55
Kyle Lowry 2.53
Nikola Vucevic 2.48
Tyreke Evans 2.47
Chris Bosh 2.47
Tobias Harris 2.36
Damian Lillard 2.36
Al Jefferson 2.29
Kyrie Irving 2.29
Kevin Martin 2.27
Josh Smith 2.25
Darren Collison 2.19
Marc Gasol 2.18
Eric Bledsoe 2.17
Paul Millsap 2.14
Jeff Teague 2.10
Goran Dragic 2.08
Dirk Nowitzki 2.06
Reggie Jackson 2.05
Thaddeus Young 1.97
Jamal Crawford 1.95
Trevor Ariza 1.93
Chris Paul 1.93
Gordon Hayward 1.90
Deron Williams 1.88
Draymond Green 1.87
Isaiah Thomas 1.85
Gerald Green 1.84
Bradley Beal 1.81
Andrew Wiggins 1.76
Jared Sullinger 1.75
Kemba Walker 1.74
Jrue Holiday 1.74
Kevin Love 1.73
Markieff Morris 1.71
Tony Parker 1.64
Chandler Parsons 1.63
Avery Bradley 1.60
Mike Conley 1.60
Rajon Rondo 1.58
Zach Randolph 1.57
Brook Lopez 1.57
Marreese Speights 1.55
Wesley Matthews 1.55
Victor Oladipo 1.50
Wilson Chandler 1.43
Nick Young 1.41
Tim Duncan 1.35
Arron Afflalo 1.35
Joe Johnson 1.34
Kawhi Leonard 1.29
Jabari Parker 1.27
Mo Williams 1.25
Serge Ibaka 1.16
Evan Fournier 1.11
Greg Monroe 1.10
Carlos Boozer 1.10
Ryan Anderson 1.09
Corey Brewer 1.08
Shabazz Muhammad 1.07
Brandon Jennings 1.06
Lou Williams 0.99
Jordan Hill 0.93
Rodney Stuckey 0.92
David West 0.92
Paul Pierce 0.91
Marcin Gortat 0.88
Lance Stephenson 0.86
Jeremy Lin 0.85
Alec Burks 0.84
Nikola Pekovic 0.84
Manu Ginobili 0.83
Trey Burke 0.83
O.J. Mayo 0.79
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 0.76
JJ Redick 0.69
Giannis Antetokounmpo 0.67
Al Horford 0.65
CJ Miles 0.64
Derrick Favors 0.64
Patrick Beverley 0.61
KJ McDaniels 0.56
Enes Kanter 0.53
Andre Drummond 0.53
Kelly Olynyk 0.51
Nerlens Noel 0.51
Alexey Shved 0.51
DeMarre Carroll 0.51
Harrison Barnes 0.50
Zach LaVine 0.48
Ben McLemore 0.46
Marcus Morris 0.44
Roy Hibbert 0.44
Evan Turner 0.40
Nene 0.40
Nicolas Batum 0.39
Chris Kaman 0.37
Mario Chalmers 0.35
Luc Mbah a Moute 0.34
Solomon Hill 0.33
CJ Watson 0.33
Gary Neal 0.25
Kenneth Faried 0.24
Donald Sloan 0.21
Luol Deng 0.20
Chris Copeland 0.16
Donatas Motiejunas 0.16
Robert Covington 0.12
Joakim Noah 0.09
Taj Gibson 0.08
Brandon Bass 0.06
Aaron Brooks 0.06
Greivis Vasquez 0.05
Perry Jones 0.04
Kyle Korver 0.04
Terrence Ross 0.01
Eric Gordon 0.00
Andre Iguodala -0.02
Wesley Johnson -0.03
J.R. Smith -0.04
Henry Sims -0.05
Mirza Teletovic -0.05
Danny Green -0.07
Dion Waiters -0.07
Hollis Thompson -0.12
Jonas Valanciunas -0.14
Amar'e Stoudemire -0.17
Darrell Arthur -0.21
Kirk Hinrich -0.24
Anthony Morrow -0.24
Courtney Lee -0.26
Jarrett Jack -0.28
Khris Middleton -0.29
Luis Scola -0.31
Mike Dunleavy -0.31
Marcus Thornton -0.34
D.J. Augustin -0.34
Robin Lopez -0.35
Elfrid Payton -0.35
Andrew Bogut -0.36
JJ Hickson -0.39
Randy Foye -0.39
Chris Johnson -0.40
Jeremy Lamb -0.44
Isaiah Canaan -0.45
Gorgui Dieng -0.45
Jason Terry -0.47
Anthony Bennett -0.50
Timofey Mozgov -0.54
Kris Humphries -0.55
Iman Shumpert -0.57
Tyson Chandler -0.57
Jameer Nelson -0.59
Larry Sanders -0.61
Anderson Varejao -0.63
Marco Belinelli -0.65
Brandon Davies -0.66
Matt Barnes -0.67
Kyle O'Quinn -0.68
PJ Tucker -0.68
Kostas Papanikolaou -0.71
Tim Hardaway Jr. -0.71
Boris Diaw -0.72
Dennis Schroder -0.72
Devin Harris -0.74
Ersan Ilyasova -0.75
Bojan Bogdanovic -0.77
Amir Johnson -0.77
Channing Frye -0.82
Marcus Smart -0.82
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist -0.83
Danilo Gallinari -0.86
DeAndre Jordan -0.86
Tony Allen -0.94
Tristan Thompson -0.95
Sebastian Telfair -0.95
Kevin Garnett -1.00
Jose Calderon -1.00
Steven Adams -1.02
Tyler Zeller -1.03
Jose Juan Barea -1.05
Zaza Pachulia -1.11
Spencer Hawes -1.13
Cody Zeller -1.15
Cory Joseph -1.15
Omer Asik -1.28
Omri Casspi -1.28
Gerald Henderson -1.29
Nikola Mirotic -1.31
Rasual Butler -1.35
Carl Landry -1.42
Ben Gordon -1.42
Vince Carter -1.44
Shaun Livingston -1.44
Norris Cole -1.52
Jason Thompson -1.52
Patrick Patterson -1.55
Alex Len -1.55
Austin Rivers -1.56
Beno Udrih -1.56
A.J. Price -1.65
Pero Antic -1.66
Kyle Singler -1.69
Ramon Sessions -1.71
Steve Blake -1.74
PJ Hairston -1.74
Aaron Gordon -1.77
James Johnson -1.78
Caron Butler -1.78
Miles Plumlee -1.81
Aron Baynes -1.82
Jordan Farmar -1.84
Lance Thomas -1.90
Trevor Booker -1.91
Mason Plumlee -1.92
Brandan Wright -1.92
Lavoy Allen -1.93
Brian Roberts -1.94
Tayshaun Prince -1.95
Wayne Ellington -1.97
Marvin Williams -1.97
Shawn Marion -1.97
Ed Davis -1.99
Ronnie Price -2.00
Jon Leuer -2.00
Thabo Sefolosha -2.07
Matt Bonner -2.07
Jerryd Bayless -2.12
Andre Roberson -2.12
Alan Anderson -2.13
Jason Smith -2.13
Kevin Seraphin -2.14
Garrett Temple -2.15
Luke Ridnour -2.15
Drew Gooden -2.20
Kendrick Perkins -2.25
Willie Green -2.29
Shawne Williams -2.38
Rodney Hood -2.38
Al-Farouq Aminu -2.38
Dante Cunningham -2.46
Maurice Harkless -2.53
Otto Porter -2.55
Tarik Black -2.57
Shabazz Napier -2.65
Quincy Pondexter -2.70
Samuel Dalembert -2.72
Shane Larkin -2.72
Jared Dudley -2.80
Reggie Evans -2.81
Quincy Acy -2.82
Nick Collison -2.91
Allen Crabbe -2.96
Luke Babbitt -3.05
Matthew Dellavedova -3.08
Rudy Gobert -3.09
Ian Mahinmi -3.15
Dante Exum -3.27
Pablo Prigioni -3.28
Damjan Rudez -3.29
Kendall Marshall -3.30
Danny Granger -3.30
Josh McRoberts -3.65
Joe Ingles -4.05
Justin Hamilton -4.12
Chris Andersen -4.47

 

Kobe Bryant is a somewhat predictable leader for this offense-only metric, which doesn't include any measure of efficiency (he's shooting just 38.6 percent this season...more on that later). He's followed by Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Carter-Williams, Blake Griffin, Tony Wroten, LaMarcus Aldridge and Monta Ellis.

 

We reach the first surprise with Jeff Green at No. 15 overall. Green has quietly crept into top-50 nine-cat value this season while averaging 20.0 points, 1.6 threes, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals in nearly 35 minutes per game, so his lofty status on this offense-minded list isn't a total shock. After Green comes another string of predictable players including Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Carmelo Anthony and Anthony Davis.

 

Players noteworthy for how high they finished on this list include: Brandon Knight (No. 25), Jimmy Butler (26), Tobias Harris (32), Josh Smith (37), Darren Collison (38), Trevor Ariza (48), Andrew Wiggins (56) and Avery Bradley (64).

 

Players noteworthy for how low they finished include: Kevin Love (60), Brandon Jennings (87), Lance Stephenson (94), Al Horford (104), Derrick Favors (106), Andre Drummond (110), Nicolas Batum (122), Kenneth Faried (129) and Joakim Noah (135).

 

Brandon Knight at No. 25 underscores his central role in Milwaukee's attack, and the Suns' prolific bench scoring is represented with both Gerald Green and Isaiah Thomas making the top-55. At the other end of the spectrum, most Miami Heat veterans fared poorly, and four of the five lowest spots among qualifying players were occupied by Chris Andersen, Justin Hamilton, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. Miami is dead-last in the league in pace, averaging 91.7 possessions per game. Even with pace weighted at half-value, it’s not surprising to see the Heat bench bringing up the rear.

 

This has been an interesting way to quantify players' offensive impact and/or potential, but it doesn't account whatsoever for offensive efficiency. I'll pause here to introduce a new list which represents the summed z-scores for qualifying players' minutes, usage rates and pace (again weighted at 50%), while introducing True Shooting Percentages, which summarize a player's shooting percentage while including the impact of 3-pointers and free throws. The addition of True Shooting Percentages (TS%) adds a measure of efficiency which is almost always a factor in fantasy leagues. For instance, Kobe Bryant's aforementioned poor shooting drops him from No. 1 on the previous list to No. 7 in this new metric (Offensive Metric #2).

 

Player

Offensive Metric #2

Russell Westbrook 5.69
Stephen Curry 5.59
James Harden 5.13
Kevin Durant 4.94
LeBron James 4.58
Kobe Bryant 4.37
DeMarcus Cousins 4.36
Klay Thompson 4.24
Kevin Martin 4.19
Anthony Davis 4.09
Blake Griffin 3.67
Jeff Green 3.61
Kyle Korver 3.56
Jimmy Butler 3.54
Dwight Howard 3.37
Dwyane Wade 3.34
Rudy Gay 3.27
Monta Ellis 3.26
Brandon Knight 3.24
Damian Lillard 3.18
Carmelo Anthony 3.09
Chris Bosh 3.03
Jeff Teague 3.01
LaMarcus Aldridge 2.99
Kyrie Irving 2.99
John Wall 2.99
Chris Paul 2.97
Marc Gasol 2.88
Tony Wroten 2.85
Goran Dragic 2.83
Wesley Matthews 2.74
Jamal Crawford 2.72
Kyle Lowry 2.69
Tobias Harris 2.67
Pau Gasol 2.67
Nikola Vucevic 2.63
Derrick Rose 2.60
Draymond Green 2.59
Mike Conley 2.57
Dirk Nowitzki 2.56
Eric Bledsoe 2.53
Gordon Hayward 2.46
Tony Parker 2.39
Isaiah Thomas 2.38
Kevin Love 2.38
DeMar DeRozan 2.37
Paul Millsap 2.34
Tyson Chandler 2.28
Gerald Green 2.21
Darren Collison 2.18
Marreese Speights 2.17
Harrison Barnes 2.07
Bradley Beal 2.04
JJ Redick 2.03
Michael Carter-Williams 2.02
Ty Lawson 2.01
Deron Williams 2.00
Courtney Lee 2.00
Victor Oladipo 1.93
Arron Afflalo 1.91
Chandler Parsons 1.87
Brandan Wright 1.82
DeAndre Jordan 1.80
Jrue Holiday 1.73
Tyler Zeller 1.71
Al Jefferson 1.69
Wilson Chandler 1.62
Lou Williams 1.60
Markieff Morris 1.60
Trevor Ariza 1.60
Nick Young 1.56
Tyreke Evans 1.56
Brook Lopez 1.50
Marcin Gortat 1.46
Jared Sullinger 1.45
Reggie Jackson 1.44
Zach Randolph 1.44
Paul Pierce 1.41
Robert Covington 1.41
Derrick Favors 1.40
Evan Fournier 1.38
Kawhi Leonard 1.36
Patrick Beverley 1.36
Ben McLemore 1.33
Shabazz Muhammad 1.33
Joe Johnson 1.30
Tim Duncan 1.29
Serge Ibaka 1.28
Jonas Valanciunas 1.23
Avery Bradley 1.20
Kelly Olynyk 1.18
Danny Green 1.12
Jeremy Lin 1.11
Jabari Parker 1.09
Al Horford 1.04
Greg Monroe 1.03
Enes Kanter 1.01
Rasual Butler 1.00
Giannis Antetokounmpo 0.94
Jordan Hill 0.93
Thaddeus Young 0.93
Carlos Boozer 0.92
Amar'e Stoudemire 0.89
Luol Deng 0.88
Mike Dunleavy 0.87
Ryan Anderson 0.85
DeMarre Carroll 0.83
Manu Ginobili 0.82
Aaron Brooks 0.77
Terrence Ross 0.74
Mario Chalmers 0.70
Alec Burks 0.66
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 0.65
Alexey Shved 0.62
Andrew Wiggins 0.58
Amir Johnson 0.57
Matt Barnes 0.52
Kemba Walker 0.48
Mo Williams 0.48
Taj Gibson 0.48
CJ Watson 0.45
Donatas Motiejunas 0.42
Isaiah Canaan 0.39
Kenneth Faried 0.38
Omri Casspi 0.36
Timofey Mozgov 0.36
Mirza Teletovic 0.34
Nikola Pekovic 0.32
Brandon Jennings 0.30
Gorgui Dieng 0.28
Corey Brewer 0.24
KJ McDaniels 0.24
Rodney Stuckey 0.23
Marcus Morris 0.23
O.J. Mayo 0.22
Evan Turner 0.22
Gary Neal 0.21
Josh Smith 0.21
Anderson Varejao 0.20
Henry Sims 0.20
Chris Kaman 0.10
Patrick Patterson 0.07
Perry Jones 0.04
Aaron Gordon 0.03
Marco Belinelli 0.03
PJ Tucker 0.01
Brandon Bass 0.00
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope -0.07
Jeremy Lamb -0.07
Aron Baynes -0.08
Roy Hibbert -0.08
Robin Lopez -0.11
Jason Terry -0.14
Kyle O'Quinn -0.17
Channing Frye -0.17
Wesley Johnson -0.23
Ersan Ilyasova -0.23
Anthony Morrow -0.27
Devin Harris -0.30
Marcus Thornton -0.30
Joakim Noah -0.32
Andre Drummond -0.36
Andrew Bogut -0.37
Nene -0.37
David West -0.44
Dennis Schroder -0.46
Hollis Thompson -0.50
Solomon Hill -0.51
Tristan Thompson -0.55
Khris Middleton -0.58
Rajon Rondo -0.59
Boris Diaw -0.60
Cory Joseph -0.60
Nikola Mirotic -0.61
Andre Iguodala -0.64
Zach LaVine -0.64
Jose Calderon -0.68
Darrell Arthur -0.68
Trey Burke -0.69
Randy Foye -0.69
James Johnson -0.73
Chris Copeland -0.73
Carl Landry -0.73
Luis Scola -0.77
Jarrett Jack -0.78
Kirk Hinrich -0.82
Ed Davis -0.84
Ben Gordon -0.84
Alex Len -0.85
J.R. Smith -0.85
Eric Gordon -0.86
Bojan Bogdanovic -0.87
Nicolas Batum -0.88
Beno Udrih -0.88
Kyle Singler -0.89
Tony Allen -0.90
Donald Sloan -0.92
Nerlens Noel -0.95
Tim Hardaway Jr. -0.96
Lance Stephenson -0.96
Shawne Williams -0.97
Luc Mbah a Moute -0.99
Greivis Vasquez -1.01
Jameer Nelson -1.11
Cody Zeller -1.12
Omer Asik -1.14
JJ Hickson -1.14
Larry Sanders -1.17
D.J. Augustin -1.18
Steven Adams -1.18
Dion Waiters -1.28
Rudy Gobert -1.28
Shaun Livingston -1.30
CJ Miles -1.31
Anthony Bennett -1.37
Spencer Hawes -1.38
Matt Bonner -1.42
Jose Juan Barea -1.44
Iman Shumpert -1.49
Gerald Henderson -1.55
Jerryd Bayless -1.55
Kris Humphries -1.57
Pablo Prigioni -1.60
Allen Crabbe -1.67
A.J. Price -1.69
Marvin Williams -1.70
Zaza Pachulia -1.70
Brandon Davies -1.71
Danilo Gallinari -1.71
Trevor Booker -1.80
Wayne Ellington -1.81
Miles Plumlee -1.83
Marcus Smart -1.87
Kevin Garnett -1.87
Kostas Papanikolaou -1.94
Sebastian Telfair -1.96
Lavoy Allen -2.03
Jordan Farmar -2.07
Luke Babbitt -2.10
Alan Anderson -2.10
Kendall Marshall -2.11
Steve Blake -2.14
Jason Smith -2.20
Kevin Seraphin -2.20
Caron Butler -2.23
Dante Cunningham -2.23
Shabazz Napier -2.24
Chris Johnson -2.32
Tayshaun Prince -2.33
Josh McRoberts -2.39
Austin Rivers -2.42
Pero Antic -2.44
Tarik Black -2.48
Luke Ridnour -2.52
Quincy Acy -2.56
Ian Mahinmi -2.58
Brian Roberts -2.61
Norris Cole -2.61
Al-Farouq Aminu -2.63
Elfrid Payton -2.66
Jon Leuer -2.74
Otto Porter -2.75
Jared Dudley -2.76
Shawn Marion -2.78
Garrett Temple -2.84
Jason Thompson -2.85
Drew Gooden -2.89
Maurice Harkless -2.97
Damjan Rudez -3.03
Ramon Sessions -3.15
PJ Hairston -3.24
Reggie Evans -3.27
Shane Larkin -3.27
Andre Roberson -3.30
Vince Carter -3.43
Mason Plumlee -3.55
Kendrick Perkins -3.78
Samuel Dalembert -3.98
Matthew Dellavedova -4.01
Lance Thomas -4.18
Dante Exum -4.21
Thabo Sefolosha -4.38
Rodney Hood -4.45
Quincy Pondexter -4.49
Nick Collison -4.53
Ronnie Price -4.62
Justin Hamilton -4.62
Joe Ingles -5.09
Willie Green -5.31
Danny Granger -5.44
Chris Andersen -5.46

 

I mentioned above that Kobe drops from No. 1 to No. 7 when you add TS% to this analysis, but there are 58 players who fare even worse. Lakers' starter Ronnie Price and Magic backup Elfrid Payton are among the five players whose TS% takes the biggest toll, but other serious offenders include Nerlens Noel, Mason Plumlee, David West, Nicolas Batum, Andrew Wiggins and Andre Drummond, as well as usual suspects Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young and Kemba Walker.

 

I also ran z-scores for Offensive Efficiency and you can see those results and more by viewing or downloading my spreadsheet from Dropbox.com. Different combinations of z-scores result in new and intriguing lists of players, exposing nuances in fantasy values while emphasizing the value of attributes like 3-point shooting, high-volume FT shooting or a high usage rate. I plan to re-visit these concepts to refine and enrich them, and I encourage you to share any other interesting findings.

 

I'll be back with another 'Numbers Game' next Wednesday, until which time you can communicate with me on Twitter @Knaus_RW, where I often chat through Direct Messages.

Ryan Knaus

Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for NBC Sports Edge since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.