Thursday, June 01, 2006

Limitations of Statistics

Michael, I appreciate your take on the Chicago Bulls. I am unsure what direction John Paxson will take. There are several players available in the draft who I would not be disappointed to see wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey in the fall. There are also several free agents who could be good role players and there a few trade scenarios that would make sense for the Bulls. However, I don't believe that Kevin Garnett is one of those good scenarios. The Win Shares theory about KG, which calls him the most valuable/best player in the NBA for the last several years running was no doubt created by some person or people that are much smarter than me. However, individual statistics in what is the quintessential team game can only take us so far in identifying a player's worth. Although there are many good statistics to describe what a player does on a nightly basis, designing an equation with those stats on one side and team wins on the other side is a dicey proposition. All of these statistics are relative to the player's surroundings. Take any player in the league and put him on a different team and his numbers would most certainly change, some more than others. What I take away from the win shares formula is not necessarily that KG is the best player in the NBA at winning games, but that he is perhaps the best player at winning games relative to the other players on his team. He puts up very solid, efficient, all around stats, and no one else on his team really does that, so that is going to inherently give him a high percentage of his team's win shares. But using that number to compare him to a player on a different team is a questionable exercise, just as judging a player by his fantasy stats is not always the best idea.

Most people that follow basketball to any reasonable extent can tell that Kevin Garnett is a very productive player. However, there are a lot of other very good players as well, and attempting to definitively answer who is the best is a exercise in futility. Just like it is not fair to judge him solely on his lack of team success, it is not fair to other great players to use KG's relative individual efficiency as the only measuring stick.

Overall, while a fantastic player and intense competitor, KG has a lot of miles on his body and I feel the Bulls would have to mortgage too much of their future to acquire him.


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