Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Inexplicable Signing of McInnis

The Bobcats' string of savvy off-season moves just snapped. The Bobcats inexplicably re-signed Jeff McInnis.

On the Observer website, Rick Bonnell points out that McInnis averaged 4.3 points and 3.3 assists last season. What Bonnell fails to mention is that McInnis made less than 40% of his field goals, made less than 70% of his free throws, and managed only 14 steals in 700 minutes of play. His WP48 rating (discussed in David Berri's book The Wages of Wins), is a meager -0.026. The average NBA player has a WP48 of 0.100, so McInnis is significantly sub-par.

It pains me to see the Bobcats sign Jeff McInnis over Derek Anderson. As I stressed in a previous post, this move will cost the Bobcats wins.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bobcats' Player Efficiency Breakdown

Our friends over at Queen City Hoops recently provided plus/minus numbers for each player on the 06-07 Bobcats roster. Although I prefer the WP48 metric promulgated in The Wages of Wins, I think there is also great value in plus/minus numbers, and I have been anxiously awaiting this column. Some observations:
  • As I noted in a previous post, Derek Anderson played at a very high level last season, and bringing him back to the Bobcats should be a priority.
  • Adam Morrison's rookie season was a slow motion car crash.
  • Walter Hermann was very successful last season. But was his success due to growth as a player, or was it due to playing against tanking opponents' back-up players? Next season will be illuminating.
There's must more to be gleaned from the data, so I encourage you to head over to Queen City Hoops at this link and check it out for yourself.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lock down Okafor. Now.

Emeka Okafor is one of the fifteen best players in the NBA. Want proof? Last season, his WP48 was 0.299. As a point of reference, 0.100 is average, and 0.300 is a superstar. (For a list of each NBA player's WP48, click here and sort by WP48). A WP48 of .299 places Okafor among the fifteen best players in the league.

This next stat is staggering. In a recent post at the Wages of Wins Journal, David Berri noted that in the past 28 years, no team has won an NBA title without a player on the roster with a WP48 of 0.300 or above.

Emeka Okafor, with his WP48 of 0.299, is on the cusp of superstardom. There are only a handful of these superstars in the NBA. If we have the opportunity to lock one down for the next six years, we must.

Thankfully, the Bobcats appear to be making headway in that regard. According to
Okafor is confident that he and the team will come to an agreement soon, keeping him in Bobcat Orange for the foreseeable future. "It's going to happen," Okafor said. "We're in the process of talking about it."

"When the Bobcats and I come to a mutual agreement, it'll be cool," he added.
And one of the league's premier talents will be a Bobcat for years to come. Cool indeed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Diamonds in the Rough

The Wages of Wins Journal recently assessed the available NBA free agents. I hope the Bobcats are paying attention. Quoting WoWJ:
When we look at the 21 unrestricted free agents who played at least 500 minutes this past season (and who had not signed when I created this table this past weekend) we see seven players who were above average in terms of WP48.
The seven available free agents earning an above-average WP48 in 06-07, as of August 1, 2007:

Player: WP48
Dikembe Mutombo: 0.336
James Posey: 0.195
Ruben Patterson: 0.166
Devin Brown: 0.130
Brevin Knight: 0.129
Derek Anderson: 0.128
Chris Webber: 0.108

The Bobcats are likely unable to afford Mutombo, Posey, Patterson, or Webber. Brevin Knight was signed to the Clippers. This leaves Devin Brown and our own Derek Anderson.

Devin Brown is a 6'5 shooting guard who contributed a lot of quality minutes to the NO Hornets last season. He is a strong rebounder who would serve as a nice complement to Matt Carroll. Best of all, he's affordable.

Derek Anderson was highly successful for Charlotte last season. Queen City Hoops recently reviewed last season's most successful Bobcats lineups. The Bobcats three best lineups all featured Derek Anderson. Clearly, Anderson played a large role in the Bobcats late-season success - why not bring him back and build on it? Anderson is affordable, and it's clear that despite his age (33) he can still play.

The final point I'll make is that the Bobcats should not resign their other free agent, Jeff McInnis. Last season, his WP48 was -0.026. He literally cost the team wins. Although the best option at PG (Brevin Knight) is off the table, there are superior players available (Earl Boykins, for one).

Devin Brown, Derek Anderson, and Adonal Foyle are diamonds in the rough, but Jeff McInnis is worthless coal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Foyle to the Bobcats?

The Golden State Warriors cut Adonal Foyle yesterday. The Bobcats should give him a hard look. He's perfect for a number of reasons:
  • Interior defense. As previously discussed, the Bobcats are thin at the five. Primoz Brezec looks to receive significant playing time, which will lead to countless low-post mismatches. Foyle is a famously tough defender and a steady rebounder/shot-blocker. He's 6'10 and 270 pounds. Foyle would be a significant upgrade, and at age 32 he has at least another season of quality back-up play in him.
  • Salary. Foyle could be our Grant Hill - a veteran who takes less money to play for a hungry team. Foyle's contract with Golden State paid him $42 million over the last six years. Foyle may be willing to accept a smaller salary in exchange for receiving consistent playing time. Last season in Golden State, he averaged 10 minutes/game. With the Bobcats, he could play 15-20. The Bobcats must reserve enough cap space to extend Okafor, but there is money left over. A short-term, low-dollar deal for Foyle would be a great use for this excess.
  • Shot selection. Foyle rarely shoots. Throughout his career, he ranked near the bottom of the league in shots/possession. The Bobcats do not need another scorer - Okafor, Wallace, Richardson, May, and Hermann can carry that burden (Felton's omission was intentional). Foyle would step in as a clear role player - defend, rebound, protect the lane. His reluctance to shoot would be a blessing.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. Foyle is a great fit in Charlotte. Will Jordan notice?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bobcats Are All the Rage

Two of the leading NBA blogs assessed the Bobcats in recent days. The outlook is generally quite positive.

Kelly Dwyer at TrueHoop (pinch-hitting for Henry Abbott) summarized our squad as follows: "That's a good team. That could be a really good team. A trade or two, and that could be a 50-win team." You can read the entire column at this link.

Meanwhile, my hero in the field of sports economics, David Berri, not only reviewed the Bobcats, but he steered his readers to this blog. Outstanding! Berri noted that Michael Jordan might be on his way towards rehabilitating his reputation as a lackluster NBA GM. Berri provided the following outlook: "The team has two very productive players in Okafor and Wallace, and Richardson looks like a player that can help. So maybe MJ is on his way to becoming a 'good' general manager." Although there are hurdles to overcome (for example, Morrison), Berri thinks the Bobcats are improving. You can read the entire post at this link.

The subject of this post is, of course, a joke. I am realistic about the level of national interest in the Bobcats. On Entourage earlier this summer, Ari used the Bobcats as the punchline of his "NBA team you don't care about" joke. Although Ari abandoning Bobcats tickets scored laughs in June of 06, I think the days of the Bobcats serving as punchlines are over. We're cellar-dwellers no longer.

Friday, August 10, 2007

WP48 and the Charlotte Bobcats

I am a fervent Wages of Wins disciple. The Wages of Wins is a book written by David Berri that promotes a new formula for evaluation player talent: Win Score per minute. In his book, Berri notes that our tendency as NBA fans is too overemphasize the importance of scoring while underemphasizing the importance of rebounding, ball control, and shooting efficiency.

Win Score per minute is calculated using the following formula: Points + Rebounds + Steals + ½Assists + ½Blocked Shots – Field Goal Attempts – Turnovers - ½Free Throw Attempts - ½Personal Fouls) / Minutes. It is a rough approximation of Berri's metric, WP48. For the purposes of this blog, we will use the terms interchangeably.

Applying the WP48 formula to the Bobcats' 06-07 squad yields the following results (courtesy of Jason Chandler's excellent blog:) (note that 0.100 is average)

Emeka Okafur: .299
Gerald Wallace: .247
Sean May: .187
Matt Carroll: .114
Derek Anderson: .110
Walter Hermann: .099
Brevin Knight: .095
Raymond Felton: .054
Jake Voskuhl: .013
Jeff McInnis: -.044
Primoz Brezec: -.108
Adam Morrison: -.175

Much of this blog will be dedicated to analyzing these numbers. Here are some brief thoughts:
  • Okafur is a superstar.
  • The Bobcats would have been crazy to let Wallace go.
  • Sean May is severely underrated.
  • Raymond Felton must improve.
  • Adam Morrison should be benched.
I will expand on these comments in future entries.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thin at the Five

Behind Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats' depth chart is paper thin - pun very much intended. Primoz Brezec is unquestionably the team's back-up center. Unfortunately, last season proved that Primoz is not physical enough to stand up to the Dwight Howards and Eddy Currys of the Eastern Conference - and Kevin Garnett is waiting in the wings.

Last season, Primoz took a step backwards. He played weak defense, rarely rebounded, shot 63% from the free throw line, and fouled at an incredible rate. When Okafor was injured, the Bobcats looked to Primoz to step up and produce, but Primoz dropped the ball.

These shortcomings notwithstanding, Primoz remains the cream of the Bobcats' back-up center crop. Jake Voskuhl outplayed Primoz last season, but Voskuhl will be playing home games in Milwaukee next season. Ryan Hollins, the 7'0 UCLA alum, has been unimpressive in limited minutes. Othella Harrington was supposed to provide toughness, but instead provided foul trouble.

If the Bobcats are going to be successful next season, Primoz Brezec must step up during this off-season. He needs to hit the weights. He needs to practice free throws. He needs to defend against 6'11, 280-pound competition. And most importantly, Primoz needs to recognize his importance to the team and play like he deserves his spot.

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