September 30, 2009

Ben Gordon and the Bulls?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 5:41 pm

On I was (correctly) quoted as saying the Bulls should not have let Ben Gordon go, especially to a bitter divisional rival (Detroit). Gordon’s performance has been erratic but last year was 18th in the league in our Adjusted +/- and he was 4th in Impact, which measure how you change the chance that your team wins. If you saw the Celtics-Bulls series you saw how his clutch shooting can change a game. In 2007-2008 Gordon had a negative impact, but this could be because the team was poor and  many players mail it in when the games have no meaning.  His offense held up in 2007-2008 but his defense was very poor, leading me to believe he might have mailed it in near the end of the season, In 2004-2005 Gordon had the the league’s 2nd best impact!. He plays over 30 minutes a game.   While below average on defense, he is always an above average offensive player.  The Bulls were at their best against the Celtics with Miller, Gordon, Hinrich and Rose on the court. They won by around a point a minute with these guys on the court. This 4 man combo cannot be used anymore. Is Ben a bad influence off the court? I have no idea. But on the court he will be missed.

Looking at his 2007-2008 season Hinrich began the season in a really bad shooting slump  (he shot 33% in November) and Gordon’s offensive rating was poor(Gordon shot 37%), probably because the defense could lay off Hinrich. Gordon’s defensive rating was horrible after January 1, indicating that he may have mailed it in. If he is healthy and wants to play I believe he is worth $10 million a season.


  1. time tells all…

    Comment by bender — September 30, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  2. he did not mail it in on offense and defense is hard to measure

    Comment by wwinston — September 30, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

  3. we look at how chance of winning game changes instead of score. My book Mathletics talks a little about this

    Comment by wwinston — September 30, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

  4. This analysis completley neglects all of the important factors that lead to Gordon’s release; such as: his enormous liability on defense, his horrible ball hogging, and his inconsistant shooting. The Bulls made the right move to let him go. Maybe they should have moved earlier and atleast gotten something for him, but they will be better off without him. LETS GO BULLS!!!

    -Sam C.

    Comment by Sam — September 30, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  5. i also seem to think the bulls made the right move in letting gordon walk….with rose coming on strong, salmons at the 2 guard and luol at the 3, the bulls are a solid versatile team (also don’t forget hinrich)…. noah at the 5 (like a ben wallace impact on the team with shot blocking and good solid defence)….this team is solid and on the way up (and i am not from chicago or a bulls fan, but rather a raptors fan)

    Comment by aditya — September 30, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  6. If he’s a mail-it-in type player, why would anyone think he won’t do that with a team projected to win around 42 and miss the playoffs like the Pistons?

    Comment by Jack H. — September 30, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  7. I’ve argued this fact with many friends over the past couple months. Benjamin Gordon was an impact offensive player for a team that lacks the ability to create offense. The Chicago Bulls were very stagnant on offense and Benjamin is a great one-on-one player. He is a high usage player but what people sometimes fail to recognize is that those players help create for teammates. Statistics can be misleading – none more so that assists. If the offense is stagnant and Gordon comes in and creates 3 straight baskets for himself, the defense then key in on him and the opposing team would put a player that isn’t as strong defensively on another player to have their best player on Benjamin. That then opens up an opportunity for another player. Also, if Benjamin hits three straight shots then the next time he drives or pulls up, a help defender would come over to him and that leaves a teammate open or at best it puts a defender out of position to recover or grab a defensive rebound.

    Comment by CassavaLeaf — October 1, 2009 @ 12:03 am

  8. Hey Wayne, can I get your opinion on defense in the NBA. Do you find interior defense to be far more valuable than perimeter defense (as an interior defender has more involvement with help defense).

    Also, could you just list off Gordon’s Adjusted +/- and Impact rankings for each year in his career.

    As far as the 2007-2008 season, it should be mentioned that Jim Boylan benched Ben Gordon (and note, this is not the same as him being made a sixth man). Boylan only had Gordon playing 24 minutes a game in the final month of the season, which is ridiculous to do to a player of Gordon’s caliber.

    I agree with you that letting Gordon go is a big mistake for the Bulls (unless they can sign a superstar in 2010 free agency, which I would rate as being unlikely). Gordon not only can score at a highly efficient level, but everytime he steps on the court, even if his shot is off, the entire other team’s defense is focused on him.

    Comment by Andrew Wamboldt — October 1, 2009 @ 1:57 am

  9. [...] folks, it looks like someone finally agrees with me on that last one.  And not just anyone, mind you, but Wayne Winston, the official statistics expert of the Dallas [...]

    Pingback by Not Qualified To Comment » Experts Agree With Me About Ben Gordon’s Value — October 1, 2009 @ 9:02 am

  10. I have a few comments about your Truehoop statements that lead me to question how often you actually watched (yes, its still important) the Bulls play last year and how familiar you are with the team generally and what it is trying to accomplish. Your writing strikes me as superficial and, frankly, uninformed. Perhaps its not, so maybe you can clarify it.

    (1) You make no reference to either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons’ ability to replace what the Bulls lose from Gordon (or gain from his loss) on either end of the court. No sound analysis of Gordon’s departure can begin and end with the fact of his departure. It must also consider – heavily consider – who takes his place. Its curious to me that you made these sweeping statements about Gordon and the Bulls, while making no reference to the shooting guards who will fill his minutes – Salmons primarily, but also Hinrich.

    (2) Instead, which is even more curious, you identify Jannero Pargo as Gordon’s replacement, which is either uninformed or disingenous. It is well-known and reported that Pargo will be the Bulls fourth guard. So why focus on the 9th man in the rotation?

    (3) Your reference to Deng further suggests either an agenda or ignorance with regard to the Bulls and its roster. You write: “I looked at their lineups, and I guess that they’re expecting that Luol Deng can play his [Gordon's] position.” By looking at the Bulls’ “lineups” how did you reach the conclusion that the Bulls expect Luol Deng to slide into Gordon’s shooting guard spot? Any reasoned view of lineups, or even a brief review of any Bulls pre-season media coverage, would definitively reveal that John Salmons, and to a lesser extent Kirk Hinrich in a reserve role, will play Gordon’s former position and that Luol Deng is slated in his natural position as the starting 3 while occassionally sliding to the 4.

    (4) Finally, you ask why the Bulls let Gordon go and label it ridiculous. Another reason that raw metrics are inadequate to explain team building is that it ignores economic realities and, more importantly, free agency. It is widely-reported, and acknowledged by Bulls management, that they intend to have adequate capspace to attempt to sign a max-contract free agent in the summer of 2010. Letting Gordon walk was a critical element of that plan the Bulls believed was reasonably available to them due to the presence of John Salmons.

    I look forward to your responsive comments because, frankly, your Truehoop bit smacks of deliberate sensationalism or just over-reaching about a topic you have only a superficial appreciation for. I disagree with your conclusions about Gordon’s significance, but would at least respect them if I felt they were informed with an adequate underlying basis.

    Comment by Duck — October 1, 2009 @ 10:56 am

  11. On the Ben Wallace – Joe Smith issue, Ben Wallace had the better Adjusted +/- at for the regular season by a good margin (+3.99 compared to -3.75). For the full playoffs at the same site Smith only has a 0.4 advantage over Wallace. So if Wallace had a horrific series against the Magic and Smith didn’t then he probably was ahead on Adjusted in the playoffs til that series started. Should they have known Wallace was going to fail in the Orlando series or moved to stop after 20 minutes? I don’t know that right now. Haven’t look at all the data on that match-up or the tape. But I’d say you’d have to be pretty sure that the data of the one match-up was compelling (even though small sample) or the first 20 minutes of tape was compelling to throw aside what all of the regular season and the rest of the playoffs said about which guy should play.

    Really the answer may have been more Varejao at PF or even some James there.

    I have an idea of a way to address the which to pay attention issue- the whole dataset vs the one match-up. You categorize players on some similarity system and then when you match-up against a particular guy and team you weight the data more toward the performance against guys who are most similar and perhaps on team similarity too. How much more to weight and how to set up the similarity systems, there are many ways and opinions. But that is the way forward, in my opinion.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  12. Things are not going to be completely transitive. But I think that using a similarity system might improve things in many cases. Or at least it is worth a look.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  13. But I’d be interested in seeing your Smith vs Wallace Adjusted numbers regular season and if you have them for the playoffs or even by the last series itself.

    And any reaction to a weighted blend based on similarity of opponent system as a step beyond just using the direct match-up data. It would increase the sample size a good deal. And perhaps lower errors, depending on how good your similarity system modeled the reality.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  14. Looking a little closer I see Varejao didn’t have much foul room left at the end of the games but you could have tried to squeeze a little more out or have him play a little more careful. Z could have played big Z a bit more too and that would have allowed Varejao more time at PF. Sliding James over would have required using Sasha more. I’d have done the first two things and maybe the third. Probably would have been better than what happened, I agree there.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

  15. Cleveland also had several bigs that they carried on the roster part or all of the season, presumably to possibly help with situation like this, and never tried even a minute against Orlando. If they were the wrong guys then there should have been a different roster move to help cover this situation.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  16. Wallace was used as a backup center against mostly Howard, actually. Position does matter. Did Smith ever guard Howard? Might it have been even worse than Wallace trying? I’m asking, not sure. Smith might have been better in the series for his time mainly or exclusively at PF but unless he would have been better against Howard then the choice was Wallace or the options I described.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  17. Unless you blend the two approaches by sliding Varejao over to mostly or exclusively center. I thought they had used him there without checking but it looks like it was a lot of time at PF at least in that series.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  18. Reviewing the data at I only see 4 quarters in 6 games where Howard scored big against Wallace. Now it is about everything but unless you have Adjusted +/- on Wallace for just that series and report the error we don’t know how much of that 57 point loss in 58 minutes should be assigned to Wallace. Even roughly. Maybe it is a lot. I don’t know from the raw data.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  19. If position matters for Antonine Wright so dramatically between SG and SF then the molds aren’t entirely stupid. Sometimes they matter, sometimes they don’t. They certainly matter on defense, who you mostly guard. On offense there is leeway but often coaches have roles for guys and roles in part based on who is guarding them.

    If the offensive guys called the 4 and 5 are equally capable great but if their opponents are different then how you use your guys in a called play might vary in some cases.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

  20. Oh and thanks for the Gordon follow-up.

    The Wallace-Smith issue and related issues come out of the ESPN talk and making comments and raising questions about that here appeared to be the best place to put them, until it gets its own thread.

    Comment by Crow — October 1, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  21. Team building is really necessary for a very successful implementation of business plans.*~-

    Comment by Skye Hussain — July 4, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  22. team building is always needed wether you are in a corporate world or just want to promote more synergy in a group,.”

    Comment by Money Market Account  — October 13, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

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