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Roy, Underrated? What About Andre?

Brandon Roy is a good basketball player, a very good basketball player. I just want to get that out of the way before we get into the meat of this post. In no way am I saying he is anything less than that. However, I do have an issue with calling him underrated. The guy has made the All Star game two years in a row, he's pretty much a media darling and ESPN take every opportunity to let everyone know just how good he is.

John Hollinger's PER Diem column today features Roy, and Hollinger makes the argument that Roy is the 7th-best player in the league (behind LeBron, Wade, Paul, Kobe, Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan). Take a look at the article, we'll discuss after the jump.

First, I don't disagree with Hollinger's opinion. Roy's numbers have been amazing this season and he's taken great strides in several key areas. That's not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is where Andre Iguodala should fall on this imaginary list, because every word Hollinger writes about Roy's exceptional play applies to Iguodala as well.

Before we talk about how the two players are alike, however, let's talk about how they're different. In a nutshell, Roy is a better jump shooter, Iguodala is a better finisher. Roy is a slightly better ballhandler, Iguodala is a slightly better rebounder.

Now, let's use Hollinger's article to guide our discussion.

One thing he's (Roy) added this season is a vastly improved ability to get to the rim and finish, something he and McMillan credit to an offseason strength program. Roy is shooting 56.9 percent in the immediate basket area, a phenomenal mark for a guard, and has taken 42.0 percent of his attempts from that distance this season -- compared to only 34.2 percent last season.

First of all, I'm not sure where Hollinger is getting these numbers. The best I can come up with is 82games.com, and the numbers don't match, but they're close. Let's use 82games, here's Roy's profile. They have him with a 59.3% eFG from the inside (dunks, layups, tips), on 35% of his attempts (eFG is an advanced stat which takes field goals, three pointers and free throws into account). Impressive numbers, without a doubt. Now let's look at Andre Iguodala. Andre's numbers in the same categories? 71.4% eFG on 35% of his attempts. Absolutely unbelievable numbers.

Similarly, he's (Roy) drawn .397 free throw attempts per field goal attempt this season, compared to .297 last season.

Again, Hollinger's math appears to be off here. Basketball-reference.com has 356 free throws attempted and 957 field goal attempts. That works out to .372 FTA/FGA. Iguodala has attempted 347 free throws and 808 field goals. Which gives him a .429 FTA/FGA ratio. Both numbers are excellent for a wing, Iguodala's number is just more excellent.

As a scorer, Roy separates himself from Iguodala from the line (nearly 10% better), from three (over 8% better) and in advanced stats, his eFG is 8% better on jumpers. What does that advantage equate to in terms of efficiency as a scorer? Well, Brandon Roy averages 1.33 points per shot, Andre Iguodala averages 1.32 points per shot. Not much of a difference there.

If you look at the box scores, or the traditional stats, Roy is scoring 4.7 more points/game than Iguodala. What you wouldn't notice, however, is that he also takes 3.4 more shots per game. If Iguodala matched Roy in shots attempted (17.1 per game), and kept the same level of efficiency, he'd be averaging 22.5 points/game. Roy averages 22.7.

I'm going to run through some more advanced stats from 82games.com, BasketballValue.com and Basketball-Reference.com in bullet form now:

Stat - Roy / Iguodala
  • Offensive Rating (points per 100 possessions) - 123 / 110
  • Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) - 111 / 105
  • Passing Rating - 8.6 / 9.6
  • Rebound Rating - 14.4 / 16.3
  • Block Rating - 1.3 / 1.4
  • Hands Rating - 21.8 / 19.4
  • Adjusted Plus/Minus (2-year) - 3.76 (4th on the Trailblazers) / 13.58 (4th in the entire league)
  • Offensive Win Shares - 7.5 / 3.4
  • Defensive Win Shares - 1.4 / 3.1
  • Total Win Shares - 8.9 / 6.5
  • Hollinger PER - 24.13 / 18.17
When you look at the full statistical picture, you can see how heavily raw scoring is weighted in Hollinger's PER equation. You can't discount scoring, especially not when a guy is doing it as efficiently as Brandon Roy is, but a difference of 5.96 in PER seems a tad outrageous for these two players.

I'm not saying Hollinger was wrong, Brandon Roy may very well be the 7th-best player in the league. I guess my contention is that if Roy is #7, where does that put Iguodala? He can't be that far behind.