share

Insider Help: Top 10 Guards for 13-14 Season

lakeshow22
Registered User
Joined: 06/13/2012
Posts: 474
Points: 418
Offline

roni3
Registered User
Joined: 08/08/2012
Posts: 58
Points: 73
Offline
As we enter the dog days of

As we enter the dog days of the summer -- always a calm time in the NBA -- there are a few notable free agents still out there (Greg Oden, Mo Williams and DeJuan Blair come to mind). For the most part, though, we've got a pretty firm idea what the rosters are going to look like when the 2013-14 season tips off on Oct. 29. As the depth charts have filled, so have the forecasts generated by ATH coalesced. ATH is the projection module of NBAPET, my system of integrated spreadsheets for tracking, evaluating and forecasting all things NBA.

With the pieces falling into place, let's take an early stab at ranking players by position, beginning today with point guards. (Although keep in mind that assigning a primary position to a player in today's NBA is often more art than science.) Over the next two weeks, we'll rank players by position according to ATH's forecasted WARP, or wins above replacement level. WARP is perfect for this kind of exercise because it accounts for a player's efficiency, volume of production and team context.

Here are the projected top 10 point guards for the 2013-14 NBA season followed by the next five and an overview of how some notable PGs fell outside the top 10.

PG | SG | SF | PF | C

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Paul

1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 15.9

This might be the Year of Chris Paul, if the Miami Heat falter a bit in the regular season or MVP voters grow tired of rubber-stamping LeBron James' name at the top of their ballots. With the Clippers poised to build upon last year's breakout season and challenge for the top seed in the West, it could come down to a Paul versus Kevin Durant battle for the coveted Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Paul has finished in the top five of the voting four times and as high as second. Although ATH sees a near replica of Paul's 2012-13 WARP, it's still a figure that will garner lots of MVP chatter.

And why wouldn't ATH see Paul churning out the same season? At 29, he's squarely in his prime and his individual winning percentages the past two seasons (.740 and .739) nicely illustrate just how consistent he is. Paul doesn't use as many possessions as he did in his top seasons in New Orleans, but every other facet of his game has remained intact. Last season, Paul shot a career-low 32.8 percent from 3-point range, although he offset that by doing more damage inside the arc. He has shot as high as 40.9 percent from deep in his career, and, if he has a fluky good-shooting campaign, it could put him over a .600 true shooting percentage for the first time in his career. In fact, ATH sees a regression in the 3-point rate, bringing Paul up to a .600 TS% on the nose. With so many weapons around him -- Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Reggie Bullock -- it will be up to Paul to orchestrate the most high-powered offensive attack he's been a part of to date.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Westbrook

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 11.7

By the time the MVP voting results were released during the playoffs, Westbrook had been knocked out by a knee injury, and, unfortunately, that's probably what we will remember most from his 2012-13 season. Overlooked at the time was the fact that Westbrook finished ninth in the voting despite ranking third in WARP. Although Westbrook's value to the Thunder was apparently overlooked when the ballots were completed, it was abundantly clear when he was absent in the postseason. ATH isn't forecasting a decline for Westbrook this season as much as a regression, and the distinction is important. Regression, in a statistical context, simply means moving toward average. It can be a positive or negative effect, yet many people take the term as a pejorative.

Westbrook took a huge leap last season, and, like Derrick Rose in 2011-12, he's likely to come back to earth just a little bit. ATH sees Westbrook maintaining his roughly 33 percent usage rate of the past two seasons. Given some possible shortages on the Oklahoma City bench, it could climb even higher depending on how many of his minutes come with Kevin Durant off the floor. If so, Westbrook's tepid efficiency could slide into the danger area.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Irving

3. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 11.4

On a per-possession basis, ATH sees Irving bypassing Westbrook as the second-best point guard in the NBA. In general, NBA players experience the most growth in their early 20s, and Irving will be barely 22 by the time the 2013-14 postseason rolls around. His revamped Cavaliers might well be a part of the proceedings. ATH sees a growth in Irving's efficiency inside and outside the arc, resulting in a soaring true shooting percentage of .574. That's all while using the same portion of Cleveland's offense as the other young Cavaliers grow around him. The three-win leap in WARP is doable, but it certainly would help if Irving can make it through a season healthy. After two seasons, his career high in games played is just 59.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Curry

4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 10.7

Curry jumped from 4.7 WARP to 15.8 last season, but of course his health was the driving force in that quantum leap. Curry's winning percentage the past two seasons has been virtually identical: .665 and .669. He'll turn 26 this year, so chances are he has established his level of play, giving him a lower ceiling than someone like Irving. However, that level of play is still really impressive. You can set your watch by Curry's 3-point shooting, but last year he actually shot worse inside the arc than outside it. ATH sees a regression in the right direction in that regard, but a concurrent one in the wrong direction in Curry's turnover rate. If Curry can continue his improvement in ball protection, his bottom-line value will rival that of the non-Paul class of point guards.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Williams

5. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 9.9

With the change in talent around him, Williams will be one of the most intriguing players to watch in the coming season. In his best years in Utah, Williams was an assist machine, but, as a Net, he initially took on a heavy scoring load and his efficiency dropped off the map. Last season, with Brooklyn's roster improved, Williams' usage rate returned to previous levels, and his shooting percentages recovered accordingly. However, his assist rate was his lowest since his rookie season. Williams' turnovers also were down, so he simply had the ball less. With so much talent and so many alpha personalities on the new Nets, Williams can either be more of a cog in the machine or he can become its operator. Given the on-court proclivities of his new coach, Jason Kidd, I'm going to guess it's going to be the latter. If Williams can return to his days of double-digit assists, it will be a sign the new mix in Brooklyn is working.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conley

6. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 8.5

ATH sees Conley's 2012-13 season as a career campaign, but he's not likely to regress much. The biggest uptick in his game last year was shot selection, with a 5 percent increase in the portion of his possessions that ended with a 3-point attempt. That kind of wisdom, once gained, is not easily lost.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rose

7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 8.3

Forecasting games played always is tough, and the formula for doing so leaves Rose with just 61 games in his projection. That's what happens when a guy misses 109 regular-season games over two seasons. His winning percentage is tabbed at .607, down from the .679 he put up in his MVP season of 2010-11. ATH, like the rest of us, believes Rose has plenty to prove in the coming season.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lowry

8. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 8.1

Lowry has put up right around 8.0 WARP in each of the past three seasons. He's in his prime and remains underrated. Could some younger guards behind Lowry climb over him on the value ladder? Sure. There are a number of point guards with higher ceilings, but few who have demonstrated such a consistent level of play.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lawson

9. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 8.1

Lawson is a classic example of the usage/efficiency nexus. His usage rate has increased in every season of his career, and his true shooting percentage has declined. Just as important, though, his assist rate has steadily climbed even as his turnover rate has dropped. This season, ATH sees all those various elements coming together as Lawson steps into his prime.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lillard

10. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 7.8

There is a school of thought that Lillard entered the NBA fully formed and that, as outstanding as he was in his rookie of the year campaign, Lillard is as good now as he's ever going to be. This is the season we begin to find out whether that's true. ATH projects that Lillard will take a significant step forward, with progress in shot selection and especially on the defensive end.

The next five: Kemba Walker, John Wall, Tony Parker, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio.

It's a point guard league right now, so there are some big names that slip outside the top 10. Rubio, who ranks 15th at 6.5 WARP, would rate as the No. 6 shooting guard, for example. So these are actually solid ratings for the up-and-coming Walker and Wall, even though they are both dinged for a combination of high usage rates and low shooting percentages.

Parker's standing represents a slip, but he'll turn 32 during the playoffs next season. That's a rough age for a guard historically speaking, and Parker's forecast sees a regression to what he was before his spike the past two seasons. He's still at 7.1 WARP, which put him in the top 10 of every other position except power forward.

Also: Rajon Rondo's existing injury limits his forecast to 48 games and a 4.7 WARP. It's an uncertain process with guys coming off serious injuries, but the one-year anniversary of his knee surgery isn't until Feb. 12. With a full projection of games played, Rondo's winning percentage would have landed him between Lawson and Lillard in the rankings.

roni3
Registered User
Joined: 08/08/2012
Posts: 58
Points: 73
Offline
That was fun. Nothing stirs

That was fun. Nothing stirs the pot in the sports world more than rankings. On Monday, we began our projected rankings of NBA players by position with point guards, and today we continue with shooting guards. One thing I learned from the series' first installment: Tony Parker has lots of fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Yesterday, that was me running down Lake Shore Drive with an angry, multinational mob of basketball fans in pursuit with torches and pitchforks.

The Mayans, Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce would all agree that projecting the future is an inexact science, even if science is the basis of your forecast. However, one precept that is undeniable is that things change in the sports world, and they change fast. Age, athleticism, skill and luck, these are not static concepts. To illustrate that, let's look at something very simple -- the top 10 shooting guards from the past two seasons in scoring average, among those who qualified in the respective seasons.

Top SGs from 2011-12 and 2012-13

No.

Player 2011-12

PPG

No.

Player 2012-13

PPG

1 Kobe Bryant 27.9 1 Kobe Bryant 27.3
2 Monta Ellis 20.4 2 James Harden 25.9
3 Joe Johnson 18.8 3 Dwyane Wade 21.2
4 James Harden 16.8 4 Monta Ellis 19.2
5 DeMar DeRozan 16.7 5 DeMar DeRozan 18.1
6 Tyreke Evans 16.5 6 J.R. Smith 18.1
7 Arron Afflalo 15.2 7 Klay Thompson 16.6
8 Jason Terry 15.1 8 Jamal Crawford 16.5
9 Louis Williams 14.9 9 Joe Johnson 16.3
10 Jordan Crawford 14.7 10 O.J. Mayo 15.3

The lists are completely different. Only five players appear on both lists, and only Bryant was within a point of repeating his scoring average. Things change. Wade missed 17 games in 2011-12 and didn't qualify. Harden changed teams and took a giant leap forward. Thompson improved upon a solid rookie season. The moral is that the NBA you saw last season, the one that ended less than six weeks ago, no longer exists. Each year, a new league is born, and it's a mistake to believe that the hierarchies that emerged before are going to remain unchanged.

As the depth charts have filled, so have the forecasts generated by ATH coalesced. ATH, you may recall, is the projection module of NBAPET, my system of integrated spreadsheets for tracking, evaluating and forecasting all things NBA.

Here are the projected top 10 shooting guards for the 2013-14 NBA season followed by the next five and an overview of how some notable SGs fell outside the top 10. Keep in mind that assigning a primary position to a player in today's NBA is often more art than science. Players are ranked according to ATH's forecasted WARP, or wins above replacement level, which accounts for a player's efficiency, volume of production and team context.

PG | SG | SF | PF | C

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wade

1. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 11.8

Wade is entering a perilous time of life for 2-guards, but the trends in his game are so stable, ATH is predicting an exact repeat of his .658 winning percentage from last season. His knee problems could undermine his value in a couple of ways. His block rate dropped last year and might be a sign of defensive slippage. Also, he may not play as much, and I've been watching for an Eric Spoelstra quote saying as much.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Harden

2. James Harden, Houston Rockets
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 11.7

The winner of the most improved player award is often just the guy who got the opportunity he always deserved. Harden finished seventh in that voting last season, so there wasn't as much recognition for how good he was in Oklahoma City as there should have been. The biggest uptick in his game was the fact that he played nearly 1,000 more minutes than he ever had before. This season, I wouldn't expect that playing time to dip, and while a high-volume perimeter player would be hard-pressed to be more efficient than Harden already is, it will be fascinating to see if Dwight Howard's presence propels him to the front of the MVP race.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ginobili

3. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 8.0

While ATH sees Tony Parker taking a slight, age-related step back in 2013-14, the older Ginobili has long since passed and, in effect, beaten the aging curve. Playing time has been the major concession in Ginobili's game, and it's the only reason that he doesn't project to challenge Wade and Harden for the title of the NBA's best 2-guard. Ginobili's winning percentage did dip a little last year, and at age 36, there's no guarantee he'll recover the lost efficiency. However, part of it was due to 3-point shooting and if you look at his career, it's been an every-other-year proposition for Ginobili in that category. If the pattern holds, this will be one of the "up" years.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bryant

4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 7.0

Bryant should change his uniform number to a question mark, because that's how much confidence I have in this projection. When will he return? How much, if anything, will he have lost from his game? Nobody, not even Kobe, knows the answer to these questions. What I do know is that last year, amid the rubble of the Lakers' lost season, he was as good as ever before wearing down towards the end of the campaign. 17-year veterans should not be hitting the 3,000-minute plateau.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beal

5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 6.1

I love it when the youngbloods crack these lists, and ATH loves Beal. I'm not thrilled the system is forecasting Beal to knock down 43 percent of his 3s, even though that's a strength in his game. That category is the most variable on a player's stat line, and I distrust such bold predictions. However consider this: The only teenager to ever shoot a higher percentage from deep with an above-average usage rate was Kyrie Irving. Beal is off to a great start.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Williams

6. Louis Williams, Atlanta Hawks
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 6.1

Williams is tough to classify in terms of position, but I think it's safe to say his game is more of a 2-guard than a 1. When healthy, Sweet Lou is one of the most efficient scorers in the league, with a terrific complement of volume, foul-drawing, playmaking and a solid, but not spectacular, deep stroke. He's also coming off a major knee injury, and you have to be concerned that the quickness and explosion Williams has relied upon will be diminished. For what it's worth, I saw him walking around my hotel in Las Vegas and he looked fine. Unfortunately, it wasn't on a basketball court.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Smith

7. J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 5.4

Smith is yet another player who enters the 2013-14 season with an injury cloud hanging over his head. When healthy, he's one of the most explosive bench scorers around, though his streakiness means sometimes his impact affects the wrong team. Nevertheless, on a Knicks squad strapped for shot creators, he's in a perfect situation for his skill set. Smith, believe it or not, decreased the frequency of 3-point shots taken in relation to possessions used last season, which undermined his winning percentage. However, Knicks fans will take whatever regular-season performance they can get if he can only translate it to the postseason. As a Knick, Smith has shot 32.6 percent from the field in 16 postseason games.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Green

8. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 5.2

The top shooting guards are the guys who have the ball in their hands a lot and make plays for others as well as themselves. Green, though, is a perfect example of how you can still offer premium value by being uber-efficient and being a threat without the ball. As we saw in the latter part of the Finals, there is a ceiling to how much offense Green can create for himself, but teams have to account for him at all times. It doesn't hurt that he plays big minutes on one of the NBA's elite defensive teams.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ellis

9. Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 4.8

Did you know that in his third NBA season, Ellis put up a .580 true shooting percentage while playing 3,073 minutes? Last season, he played 3,076 minutes, and his TS percentage was .493. If Rick Carlisle can somehow extract Ellis' youthful efficiency, the Mavericks will really have something.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Martin

10. Kevin Martin, Minnesota Timberwolves
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 4.7

Martin's value has always been enhanced by his ability to attack the lane off of close-outs and get to the line. Now that he's entering his age-31 season, you do have to worry that that skill is diminishing, as his foul-drawing rate has been way down the past two years. Minnesota signed Martin for his floor-spacing ability, and he's solid at that, if a bit up-and-down. It'll be essential that he stick to the role he's given, playing off Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Next five: Vince Carter, Wesley Matthews, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Eric Gordon

Like Smith, many of the more prolific 2-guards in the league are used in instant-offense bench roles. Three of our next five will fit that bill this season, perhaps more if Matthews is beaten out by C.J. McCollum in Portland. Carter was one of the league's top bench players for Dallas last season and, as old as he is, his athletic indicators are remarkably strong for a player with that much mileage. Matthews and Thornton are fairly steady in their production. Evans, on the other hand, is a wild card as he's never been used in a sixth-man role. Gordon is coming off a major injury, which makes his playing time forecast murky. More than that, his incessant physical woes have stunted his development arc, and Gordon could use a big season to improve his baseline as he nears his prime seasons.

Also notable: Klay Thompson, Joe Johnson, DeMar DeRozan

These are the torch-and-pitchfork guys, the ones many are going to howl about because of their omission above. Thompson is the one guy that, subjectively speaking, I think will take a big leap in value. So far though, Thompson's stat line does not elevate him beyond the status of role player. He's great in his role, with a high volume of extremely efficient 3-point shooting, and there's not a team in the league that wouldn't want to have him. However, he hasn't done much inside the arc during his career and needs to become more a threat off the dribble. Not only will that get him to the line more often, but he'll become a better playmaker as well. That will enhance his value. Of course, team context matters, too, and with Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala around, the Warriors might not need Thompson to do more than he does.

We've long warned about the perils of age 32 when it comes to shooting guards, and Johnson hit that age just after the Finals ended. His value dropped like a stone last season, with a winning percentage that dipped from .564 to .443. With so many alpha-personality players to share possessions with in Brooklyn's new lineup, Johnson has entered the role-player phase of his decline. As for DeRozan, I've written it many times: Until he proves otherwise, he's just an empty scoring average.

roni3
Registered User
Joined: 08/08/2012
Posts: 58
Points: 73
Offline
I personally do not agree

I personally do not agree with the WARP calculations. There is no way Manu Ginobli is the 3rd best shooting guard in the game, if anything he is taking a step back this year. Another year older and more injury prone not to mention he had a forgettable playoff run last year. Secondly come on Kyle Lowry is a top 10 point guard and Mike Conley is a good player but no way is he better then Rose, Lillard, Wall or Rondo.

jmarg25
jmarg25's picture
Registered User
Joined: 03/01/2011
Posts: 470
Points: 952
Offline
Tony Parker not in top 10?

Tony Parker not in top 10? Comical. Because for some reason when you hit age 32 you just suddenly drop off the face of the earth. He may have had his best season last year too.

Chilbert arenas
Chilbert arenas's picture
Registered User
Joined: 06/22/2009
Posts: 2569
Points: 5995
Offline
Klay Thompson is not in to

Klay Thompson is not in to 15? So he's below average? Hmm..

RSS: Syndicate content