November 22, 2009

Can the Bulls Play Better?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 11:01 am

So far the Bulls have a .500 record and (after adjusting for schedule strength)  are playing at an average NBA level. It looks like this level of performance puts them on the bubble for making the playoffs, so it is imperative for the Bulls to up their level of play. So what can they do?

     Most fans think Noah is having a great year. He leads the league in rebounding. Deng is shooting 36% on jump shots, so most fans probably think he is playing poorly. We will soon see Deng is having a great year and Noah hurts the team’s performance.

NOTE ALL NUMBERS BELOW ARE per 48 minutes and are ADJUSTED FOR STRENGTH OF OPPONENTS.

       When Deng is in the game, the Bulls play 4 points better than average. When Deng is out the Bulls play 14 points worse than average. After adjusting for who he plays with and against we find that so far Deng has been the NBA’s 2nd best player (Dirk Nowitzki is far and away #1).

     Now let’s look at Noah. Since Deng is the key we note note that with Deng and Noah in the Bulls play at an average level. But when Deng is in and Noah is out the Bulls play 14 points better than average. When Noah is in and Deng out the Bulls play 30 points worse than average. So it is not surprising that Noah has a poor Adjusted +/- rating. Here are some other key facts about Bulls lineup combos:

1. Hinrich Noah and Deng in plays 18 points worse than average. Rest of time Deng is in Bulls play 11 points better than average.

2.  Deng Miller Salmons and Noah is great: 61 mi, 20 points better than average. Rest of time Noah plays Bulls play 9 points worse than average

3. Deng Hinrich Noah and Rose without Salmon is a disaster:  In 37 minutes the Bulls play 49 points worse than average.

4. The Bulls two best lineups are Deng          Hinrich       Miller        Noah          Salmons        and Deng          Rose       Miller        Noah          Salmons  . Both lineups play 20 points better than average yet together these lineups only have played 61 minutes. The Bulls three most used lineups have played 216 minutes and average 3 points better than average.    Why not play the better lineups more?

15 Comments »

  1. Mr. Winston, do you think you can comment on the Heat this year? I see on basketballvalue that four starters are in top fifteen or so of adjusted plus minus. It seems clear the bench is the killer. But, in these situations, how do you discern which of wade, o’neal,richardson and chalmers create the wins, when their playing time is basically in lockstep?

    Comment by Brian — November 22, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  2. I’m a little confused when you assert that Noah hurts the Bulls but you put him in your two best lineups? Is that because the alternative (Taj or Aaron Gray) are so much worse? I’d be curious to know how Taj affects Noah’s performance, since Noah seems to be much more of an asset with Miller in the game.

    Comment by Mark — November 23, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  3. he does well with miller but otherwise he drags them down

    Comment by wwinston — November 23, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  4. Do you actually watch games, or just look at stats? I’ve seen every Bulls game this season and I can assure you that Joakim Noah has been their best player to date. There is a reason you run your own site and are not employed by any meaningful basketball site. Try watching the Bulls play once or twice before you comment on them to no end.

    Comment by Brian — November 23, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  5. Looking at the data at basketballvalue every Bulls player’s estimated Adjusted +/- has swung violently from last season including Noah. I don’t think they’ve all changed that much but maybe the way they’ve been used has changed substantially and changed the opportunities and the results substantially. The errors are still quite large, at least there. Probably clearer by January.

    Comment by Crow — November 23, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

  6. so how come with noah in and deng out they play so poorly?

    Comment by wwinston — November 23, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  7. But standard deviation on how a combination plays is 12 points per 48 minutes.

    Comment by wwinston — November 23, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  8. how about noah alone 15 min miller alone 15 min and both 18 min

    Comment by wwinston — November 23, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  9. Right now I guess they are only using Noah-Miller about 9 minutes a game. The raw +/- isn’t favorable on that pair at almost -8 per 48. With time maybe the stories reconcile and maybe the minutes go up.

    I’d share mark’s interest in the raw and Adjusted on Noah-Gibson. For the long run.

    Comment by Crow — November 23, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

  10. Deng at PF is working this season according to 82 games and your Adjusted +/-.
    Absolutely didn’t from a net counterpart standpoint last season or from a team standpoint the season before. But it was great on both counts in 2006-7. Though it was just a bit better than ok in 2005-6. Hard to get a handle on this. Lots of other factors beyond mere position or classified position.

    Comment by Crow — November 23, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  11. Teammates in the lineups used with obviously matter a lot. Role assignment, coverage or competition and fulfillment. People that say players are basically static and you can just add up there individual stats are being too simplistic.

    Comment by Crow — November 23, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  12. “But standard deviation on how a combination plays is 12 points per 48 minutes.”

    Okay, so looking at a combination, there’s a 95% chance the actualy per48 is +/- 24 points. Don’t you think that’s a little bit uncertain?

    Comment by Jon — November 23, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  13. Speaking of Bulls players, do you have any data from Michael Jordan with adj plus/minus. Perhaps even for his time with the Wizards?

    Comment by Jevan — November 26, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  14. we start in 98-99. Jordan was +2 and +4 with Wizards.

    Comment by wwinston — November 26, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  15. From Crow above: “Looking at the data at basketballvalue every Bulls player’s estimated Adjusted +/- has swung violently from last season including Noah. I don’t think they’ve all changed that much but maybe the way they’ve been used has changed substantially and changed the opportunities and the results substantially.” Yes, it’s the “Ben Gordon” effect. Ben averaged 20 points per game last year and now he is gone. The Bulls have scored over 100 points in only 3 games out of 18 this year and are ranked 28th out of 30th in ppg. Players are in different roles because their main scorer is gone. I claim you could see that this was going to happen but management didn’t bring in a shooter to fix it. They had better fix it soon or there is no chance for the playoffs.

    Comment by DrJohn — December 6, 2009 @ 2:43 am

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