January 5, 2011

Is Amare the MVP?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 5:00 pm

The Knicks are much improved, no doubt about it. Amare is getting MVP buzz. While I am sure that his off court contributions have been large, on the court Landry Fields has been far more valuable. Let’s look at how the Knicks play (adjusted for strength of opponent) for various combinations of players in and out.

  Fields Fields Amare Amare Felton Felton
In in out in out in out
Chandler 10.66438 -6.05138 7.673903 -6.36403 2.617886 11.85024
Felton 5.638172 -12.3608 3.693118 -18.9955 0.034845 dnp
Fields 6.904535 dnp 7.387693 3.951502 5.638172 13.84392
Gallinari 6.351701 -6.31495 4.368919 -8.92398 0.853244 14.7098
Stoudemire 7.387693 -5.88418 3.732041 dnp 3.693118 3.988804
Douglas 14.47917 -10.2877 0.127635 -1.89155 -7.64972 9.619348
Wiliams 2.46 -23.88 -9.48 -24 -2.46 -47.51
Turiaf 6.158925 1.965292 6.70552 -0.31522 -4.82142 24.71568
Mozgov -11.5203 -21.2245 -11.2943 -19.0214 -18.2633 -7.29916
Randolph 1.033955 -29.6029 -60.9264 -10.0715 -30.8805 -16.2787
Mason -71.0422 -22.5412 -45.6676 -21.306 -71.3564 -25.9837
Walker 13.65583 -2.73657 -2.02586 5.006023 -1.76351 4.516012

We see that with Amare in and Fields in Knicks play 7.4 points (all numbers areper 48 minutes and adjusted for strength of opposition) better than average but with Fields out Knicks play 5.9 points worse than average. With Fields in and Amare out the Knicks play 4 points better than average!. Comparing the first column of numbers with the 2nd column you can see that just about anyone goes better with Landry in than out. A few more numbers:

  • With Fields in Knicks are 7 points better than average; with him out Knicks are 9 points worse than average. This is consistent with Fields’ adjutsed +/- rating of +14. Amare’s adjusted +/- rating is +2.
  • With Amare out and Fields in Knicks are fine: 4 points better than average.
  • By the way, you can see that from the last 2 columns the Felton for all-star buzz is not justified. In many cases the Knicks are better off if Felton is out rather than in.

The nice thing about this is that an unheralded 2nd round pick who does the “little things” can make a big difference!


  1. I’m a big fan of this kind of analysis because I think fitting players together properly is a big part of basketball success and know that some things are very difficult to measure via the box score. However, I don’t know what to think of the results on some occasions. Felton has been fairly impressive both visually and via the boxscore. He’s not an all star, but when you are used to Duhon, it’s very easy to get overly enthusiastic :-) . I just can’t reconcile Felton’s poor adjusted +/- with what I see and his stats.

    Comment by Italian Stallion — January 5, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  2. Wayne, considering that Douglas is sub for Felton, should we assume that with Douglas in NYK is doing much better than out? In other words – is douglas impact the same as Fields?

    Comment by avatars — January 5, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  3. With Douglas in game Knicks play 1 point below average. But when Douglas is in with turiaf and/or Fields Knicks are great: 10 points better than average, but other minutes Douglas is in Knicks are horrible : 22 points worse than average.

    Comment by wwinston — January 5, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

  4. wayne, what is the definition of an ‘average’ player in your ratings? Like if Landry Fields’s rating is +14, I know he’s doing 14 points better than average, but what is average?

    Comment by mutalu — January 5, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

  5. A player with adjusted +/- of 0. all players average t o0 when weighted by minutes.

    Comment by wwinston — January 6, 2011 @ 12:08 am

  6. wayne,

    so for example, if the knicks replaced all of fields’s minutes with a player who had an adj +/- of 0, would this mean that the knicks’ overall point differential would be 14 pts worse so far this season? right now their differential is 1.2 and without fields it would be -13?

    Comment by mutalu — January 6, 2011 @ 12:53 am

  7. Yes if Fields replaced average player for 48 minutes the Knicks would be 14 points better. Double digit guys are rare

    Comment by wwinston — January 6, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  8. Just one question: Do you really believe in this? I think this thing with advanced statistics is going too far. You can’t tell me that it would be better for the Knicks to sit Felton for the whole time and let Douglas, Fields, Chandler, Gallinari and Turiaf play – which is a possible lineup in terms of positions and the best they could play related to your advanced stats. It’s in my opinion a matter of sample size (and I guess that he’s not that bad since all starters – who get the most playing time with him, naturally – have an above-average +/- WITH him) and the conclusions you can draw from that are very raw. Just an example: It took me 10 seconds to find out that Felton plays seven more minutes than Fields per game, which is a factor you should count in (since more playing time means that the chance your +/- is nearer to the “natural” score of the game is higher). It’s not rocket science that Fields is a valuable Player for the Knicks and that Felton isn’t the type of playmaker who turns chicken shit into chicken salad. Agree with that. But to think that Fields is that great is – in my opinion – ridiculous. He’s a great team player and it’s easy to understand that when you put the only good defender in this team in, who’s a good rebounder and do so both minimzing the opponent’s opportunities to score and increases the opportunities of his own team – thee’s a good chance that he’ll have good +/- ratings. And let’s not forget that there has to be someone who creates shots, puts the ball in the basket and draws attention from opposing defenses. And that’s not Fields but Felton and Stoudemire in case of the Knicks, so you can debate whether or not Fields is the team’s most important on-court player.

    Comment by blablubb — January 6, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  9. I’ve watched every Knicks game.

    The Knicks do not have a very good rebounding front line regardless of whether they play Turiaf/Amare/Gallinari or go small and play Amare/Chandler/Gallinari. Since Fields is a great rebounder at the SG position, he’s pretty vital to the Knicks not getting crushed on the boards. When you add in the fact that he’s very smart, rarely turns the ball over, understands his offensive limitations and scores very efficiently (at low usage levels), it’s hard to imagine him being anything other than a fairly large plus for the Knicks. I suspect he wouldn’t have nearly as positive an impact on some other teams even if he remained highly productive. He’s simply a perfect fit at the SG position for the Knicks given the makeup of the rest of the team.

    I still can’t explain Felton’s +/- performance, but perhaps this is it.

    The Knicks entire offense is predicated on the pick and roll between Amare and Felton. Amare often draws double teams and gets good looks for everyone else (especially Chandler lately). During the first 10-11 games the execution was dreadful and the Knicks were 3-8. Then Felton worked it out and they’ve been playing way better ever since. Perhaps perceptions of Felton are based on everything after the 11th game and most of his bad performance on +/- is based on a horrid performance in those early games.

    It might be interesting to see his adjusted +/- broken out between games 1-11 and the rest.

    Comment by Italian Stallion — January 6, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  10. [...] Wayne Winston crunched some numbers and determined Landry Fields has actually been far more valuable than Stoudemire. The Knicks are seven points better than average with Fields playing but nine points worse without him, while Winston has STAT’s adjusted plus/minus at +2. The Suns¬†strongly considered Fields with their No. 46 overall pick in the second round and very well may have selected him if New York hadn’t already, so perhaps there should be some groans in Phoenix about his absence as well as Stoudemire’s. [...]

    Pingback by Amare Stoudemire's advanced stats show New York hasn't changed him — January 7, 2011 @ 3:52 am

  11. I have no problem with the statement that Landry Fields is very valuable to the team, but with the conclusion from ONE stat-sample that he’s the Knicks’ MVP. You can’t say that about an barely above-average role player. I like him very much, no doubt, but he isn’t as good as some may suggest. He’s been doing one thing really fine (Rebounding) and some other well, but not great (defense, 3pt-shooting), but that doesn’t translate into Team MVP for me.

    Comment by blablubb — January 7, 2011 @ 7:14 am

  12. Wayne, over the years have you noticed dramatic change for adj. +/- for a player during the season? I know that Durant was suspect of poor +/- and improved in this area during off season, but it would be interesting if any player has done it during the season (i.e. because coach put some starter as 6th man etc.)?

    Thank you,

    Comment by avatar — January 7, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  13. blablubb,

    here’s adjusted +/- data from basketball value for the knicks: http://basketballvalue.com/teamplayers.php?mode=summary&sortnumber=94&sortorder=DESC&year=2010-2011&team=NYK

    raymond felton is clearly the worst player who is getting consistent minutes. it seems like his rating is so low because he has a terrible defensive rating. the team allows 8 ppg more when he’s on the floor. his offense isnt too bad.

    Comment by mutalu — January 8, 2011 @ 3:56 am

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