Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How the Warriors with Bogut Will Be Exactly the Same

The Warriors have been blessed with a return from Andrew Bogut, the defensive ace imported from the midwest. They beat the Raptors on Monday, not exactly the greatest of quests, but Bogut did look spry and active on defense collecting four blocks. With the team's current status in the middle of the pack at the fifth seed in the competitive western conference and the fact that they've resorted to Festus Ezeli, the short Carl Landry and Biedrins at center, people are starting to wonder just how good the team can be at full strength. With Curry (mostly) healthy and a defense free from the delusions of the Don Nelson years, fans are not only surprised, but downright shocked.

Unfortunately, the team's win loss record is outperforming their point differential, even adjusted for strength of schedule. Based on the commonly used formula for converting point differential to wins, they should be 25 and 20, not 28 and 17. Three wins may not sound like much, but over the course of an entire season that balloons to about six wins and potentially three or more playoff spots. It's a winning percentage of 62.2 versus 55.4.

If Bogut's playing time on average is in the mid 20's (so this includes his inevitable missed games), we can calculate how much better the Warriors will be as he displaces the other guys. Using an estimate for Bogut's value from RAPM and the minutes adjustment, trying out conservative, simple assumptions, this is a pretty decent approximation. For one, RAPM loves Bogut, so this errs on the side of the Warriors improving more than they would in reality. I took away minutes from Ezeli, Landry, Biedrins, Draymond Green and Jeremy Tyler in decreasing order at the center position to make way for the Australian big man. This is also assuming the same sort of minutes distribution for everyone else, including Curry's high minutes per game mark.

And the results? Well, from their current win percentage of 62.2, the Warriors with Bogut would substantially improve their point differential (by 2.2) and their win percentage as estimated from their point differential would be ... 62.2. Yes, they would improve enough so that if they didn't outperform their point differential they'd have the exact same win percentage, and I didn't tweak the results to do this either; it was my first try. Objectively, they would be better if Bogut can provide the same sort of defensive value he had in Milwaukee, but you "better" does not mean an increase in win percentage. For Warriors fans, this is a strange case of stasis; but to look on the sunny side of life, the Warriors point differential right now, +1.3, is the same as the Lakers.

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