Z-Score Evaluation of Indy/Goldies Deal

The last few posts have dealt with the z-score method for evaluating NBA players. Today we turn our attention to using this information to assess the recent INDY/GSW trade. The three rotation players from each team to swap jerseys were Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Mike Dunleavy touching down in Indy and Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson and Sarunas Jasikevicius settling into the Bay Area sports scene.

There are three ways to use this tool too evaluate the trade, two of which will be discussed here. The first is to look at overall z-score, the second is to consider per minute z-score and the third is to look at previous years’ z-scores (which I don’t have available right now). So we’ll move forward with this year’s data and see what we can uncover.

First the overall z-scores, which apply only to those who averaged 20 minutes for the first 40 games:

  1. Dunleavy -.99
  2. Jackson -1.04
  3. Harrington -1.39

Recalling that a score of ZERO represents the average player, these three are all below average based on overall productivity. And the difference between them is small. So we did not learn much, except that this trade may be much ado about nothing, with middling players simply changing jerseys.

So instead let’s consider the per minute z-scores:

  1. Ike Diogu 3.47 (56)
  2. Troy Murphy 2.71 (71)
  3. Mike Dunleavy 1.46 (124)
  4. Keith McLeod .30 (178)
  1. Sarunas Jasikevicius .10 (193)
  2. Stephen Jackson -.09 (207)
  3. Al Harrington -.53 (228)

I put the player’s rank in parentheses to make the results even more obvious. Based on this season’s per minute z-scores, the Pacers netted the FOUR BEST PLAYERS in the deal. Included in that haul they got Diogu – the best per minute z-score player, who coincidentally has the lowest salary. Wow! Looks like a real coup for the Pacers.

ESPN.com’s Insider John Hollinger concurs:

“The 6-8 second-year forward has had trouble getting minutes in Nelson’s perimeter-oriented, smallball-friendly system. But while he’s averaged just 13.1 minutes a game in 17 appearances, Diogu has played brilliantly when given the chance.

Ike Diogu

Player Efficiency Rating

18.8

vs. NBA Avg: +3.80

Warriors profiles

–>

Per 40 minutes, his numbers jump off the page — 22.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. He’s shooting 53 percent from the floor and 79.6 percent from the line, with the last number particularly important because he draws so many fouls in the low post. Overall, his PER of 18.8 is easily the highest of any player in the trade.

Based on his rookie season stats from a year ago, this season’s numbers don’t seem like a fluke. Diogu’s rookie year PER of 15.8 also beats the 2006-07 rating of anyone else in the deal, as his percentages were nearly identical and his 40-minute numbers (18.8 points, 8.9 boards) weren’t too far off.”

So why did the Warriors do the deal? Well first and foremost to get out from under the horrific contracts Chris Mullin doled out to Dunleavy and Murphy. The second reason has to do with “playing style”. Coach Nelson plays uptempo and these “athletic” players are a better “fit” with his system. We’ll see. I generally believe “you are what you are” in the NBA. In fact relative to the NFL and MLB NBA players have the least variance from season to season.

So Warrior fans ought to approach the rest of the season with great trepidation.

That’s it for now…Dr. Dick

Jasikevicius, Sarunas
Jasikevicius, Sarunas
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