Mar 30

As Bucks Win, Jennings Loses Ground for Rookie of the Year


And I do not care.  Individual awards are great for baseball or contract incentives.  In Football and Basketball they mean very little to fans who care about their team winning.  The pointlessness of the Rookie of the Year award could not have better evidence than this season.  Two weeks into the year the award was Brandon Jennings to lose, especially after his 55 point explosion, but as the year has went on Jennings scoring numbers have dropped while the wins have piled up for his team.

Jennings is the starting point guard for a team that will likely finish in the top six of the Eastern Conference, something the team has not accomplished in almost a decade.  That alone is not enough for the ROY award, but when you add in his numbers with the winning I still think he should be given more consideration than he now is.

I have even seen Ty Lawson ahead of Jennings in some ESPN ratings.  THAT IS INSANE!!!  Lawson has good numbers, for a backup, who gets a lot of his stats against backups and not in pressure-packed moments.  The fact that Lawson could at any point be ahead of Jennings just shows how ridiculous this award can be.

Basketball Prospectus

Bradford Doolittle has an article on Basketball Prospectus where he continues to push Jennings for the award.  In the article he is more than willing to admit Jennings shooting numbers are not as good as they need to be, but there are plenty of numbers that should support Jennings case:

  • Jennings has the highest usage rate.

A high usage rate can obviously be a double-edged sword. Using and squandering possessions doesn’t help a team, but someone’s got to use possessions, or an offense will grow stagnant. Jennings has proven that he can get offense when he wants, even a little more so than Evans, which is a surprise. His shooting numbers, which are admittedly poor, are mitigated by how well he passes and takes care of the ball. The gap is closing, but it’s still undeniable.

  • Jennings has a better +/- than Evans.
  • Jennings been responsible for more points through scoring and assists than Curry, and not far behind Evans.
  • Jennings defense is much better than Curry’s

The winners here are clearly Evans and Jennings and it’s primarily because of defense that I think Curry should be slotted as third in the rookie race. The +/- figures here are again from BasketballValue.com and reference the one-year, unadjusted on-court/off-court difference in defensive rating of each player. I’ve taken each figure times minus 1, as BV expresses it the opposite way that I prefer. A positive rating is good on this chart. dMULT is my metric, found on our player cards, that measures the production of a player’s box score counterparts against their season norms, with 1.000 being average. Evans and Curry come out very close in dMULT, with both figures qualifying as outstanding. However, Jennings’ Bucks are 1.3 points better in Defensive Rating when he plays, a 0.8 point advantage over Evans’ showing with the Kings. Also, it’s no small detail that Jennings’ team ranks sixth in Defensive Rating, while the other top-scoring rookies all play on teams that rank 20th or worse. As a player that’s logged over 2,300 minutes already this season, Jennings deserves a good deal of credit for Milwaukee’s defensive success.

  • Jennings performs really well in a stat the writer labels WP82.

WP82 aims to be exactly what you’d think it would be. It estimates the wins produced by a player over the course of a full season. I make this estimate in a few steps: 1. Estimate a player’s raw points created; 2. Adjust this figure based on how efficiently a player used his offensive possessions; 3. Adjust this figure a second time based on how much a player has held his counterparts above or below their expected production; 4. Square the result of each player’s adjusted points created figure; 5. Calculated the percentage of each player’s squared points created of the team total; 6. Multiply the percentage calculated in Step 5 times team wins. Thus, a player’s WP82total is hard-wired into the team total. Does this give an advantage to players on good teams and hinder the Brook Lopezes of the world? You bet it does.

Those that have spoken out in favor of Brandon Jennings for the Rookie of the Year Award have cited his contribution to helping his team to a breakout season. This is the sort of intangible-based media-speak that makes statheads cringe. However, WP82 is telling with numbers the same story those people are telling with anecdotes.

I agree with the writer.  He closes by stating the numbers between Evans and Jennings are closer than people think, close enough that it should come down to the fact Jennings is leading a team that could win 46 games.


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