TK76 takes a close look at how Doug Collins doles out his minutes and perhaps why he makes the rotational decisions he makes. Think of it as fodder for argument, or a much-needed therapy session to brighten up your Valentine's Day. Enjoy.
Individually, who drives the Sixers success? Who has earned Coach Collin's love. And who earns their minutes?
There has been a lot of heated discourse recently about the minute distribution of the Sixers, particularly in regard to a certain player. This led me to look a bit into player minutes and team success- because we know that Collins is very much a numbers guy when it comes to how he evaluates the team. I wanted to share a few interesting numbers that may or may not surprise you- and hopefully give some insight into why Collins professes his "love" for certain players,
Here is a graph of Sixers minute distribution:
Iguodala and Jrue get heavy "starter's minutes at about 35 minutes a game. Then six players (Hawes, Brand,Thad, Lou, Meeks and ET ) get key rotational minutes raging from about 24-28 minutes a game. The three bench bigs (Vuce, Layoy and Battie) have been getting variable minutes in the teens to fill in for Hawes and Brands- mostly due to absences due to injury. Collins used a similar type of rotation last year, except that Brand joined Iguodala and Jrue and Jrue as 35 minute starters.
Next we look at team performance for each player based on the adjusted +/- rating as of Feb 12th. These numbers are from basketballvalue.com and probably need a bit of an explanation. Basically it takes net +/- for when a player is on and off the floor and normalizes based on minutes players and quality of teammates. Here is the adjusted +/- as defined by 82games.com:
"Adjusted +/- ratings indicate how many additional points are contributed to a team's scoring margin by a given player in comparison to the league-average player over the span of a typical game (100 offensive and defensive possessions). These ratings are considered "adjusted" since they start with the simple +/- rating and apply a regression model as outlined by Rosenbaum
to adjust for the impact of all other players on the court. All players in the top 75% in minutes during the season have been modeled, and the results have been centered so that the league-average player has an adjusted +/- value of zero."
No stat is perfect, but this is one of the best available methods to look at an individual's impact on their team performance. This rating tries to partly balance out some things like pace of play, minutes played and strength of teammates so that you can compare all players regardless of minutes played.
Here is the unaltered +/- for the 2011 and 2012 Sixers. Note how much better the team is performing with Hawes and ET as compared to last year.
And here are the Sixers corrected +/- numbers over each of the past two seasons (per basketballvalue.com) This tell you how the team performs when a player is on the floor as compared to when that player is on the bench. Some of the results are really surprising. Players are sorted by miutes played from most to leas so as to compare Collins distribution of minutes with how a player effects team performance:
I hope the trend is clear. Jrue, Thad and Brand all are strongly positive. Meeks, Lou and ET are all strongly negative in their net impact on the teams performance. Iguodala is about zero. Hawes was a negative last year but a positive this season. In general the players who have the best adjusted +/- play the most minutes. My guess is Thad would play even more minutes if he could, but his size limits his minutes somewhat. You can also see that the team's success is almost completely driven by a few players. And with everyone else the team does about as well with or without them on the floor.
Now this is not to say that one statistical measure is the end all. But this specific measure tells us how the team performs when that player is on the floor- which is something every coach wants to know when deciding whi gets minutes. There are lots of other stats that measure individual production (pts, rebounds, PER, etc) but none of those measure the team's success the way adjusted /- does. And it is a coaches first goal to put out line-ups that have the most success on the floor, as opposed to line-ups comprised simply of the best individual talents.
More Numbers Showing Jrue's Impact
Another interesting breakdown is to look at basketballvalue.com's 5-man units. The Sxiers have 18 5-man units that have played 20+ minutes. Of these 18 only 11 are highly successful (adjusted +/- of +10) while the other 8 range from +2 to -25. Here is a breakdown of how many times individual Sixers appear in one of their 11 successful 5-man units:
9X: Jrue and Thad
7X: Iguodala and Lou
2X: Hawes and Allan
Also: Looking and raw +/- numbers from NBA.com:
the best 2-man combos for the Sixers are:
Jrue-Thad: + 160 in 524 min
Jrue-Iggy: +160 in 800 min
Jrue-Meeks: +133 in 526 min
Jrue-Brand: +130 in 641 min
Iggy-Meeks: +127 in 577 min
And for their best 3-man units:
Holiday is part of 7 of the top 8 3-man units. Iguodala is part of 5 of those 8. No other player part of more than 3 of the top 8.
So the numbers strongly suggest Jrue is the driving force for this team's success. probably more-so than you would think.