We have spent a good deal of time discussing Wins Produced in relation to the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns on this site (to some disagreement), but before we move past last year I was curious to see what this stat had to say about the Suns’ run to the Western Conference Finals.
The first noteworthy observation is that Wins Produced estimated the Suns to win 10.08 games during the playoffs …. which is exactly how many they won. They were also expected to win 53.72 regular season games and rounding up a few decimals that’s exactly what they did.
Say what you want about Wins Produced as a predictive tool since especially among young players production can be difficult to estimate at the beginning of a season, but it does a pretty nice job of delineating whose contributions led to victories when analyzing a team after the fact.
During the regular season, Steve Nash far and away led the Suns in Wins Produced, followed by Amare Stoudemire, Jason Richardson and Grant Hill. From there things dropped off significantly, and they dropped off further after Jared Dudley, Lou Amundson and Goran Dragic.
This hierarchy changed a bit in the playoffs, according to the WP estimates developed by Andres Alvarez.
Jason Richardson was in fact the Suns’ top performer during the playoffs, contributing a team-high 3.19 wins to the cause (if such wins correlated to actual games you would have to say Game 3 in Portland was one such game he won). Second was, of course, Steve Nash, just behind J-Rich with a contribution of 3.06 wins.
When Prof. Berri told me about this site, he warned that Alvarez “did the assignment with a formula (based on what people said a player played, minutes on the team, player height, and player weight). I think the formula works pretty well, but it is not perfect.”
His regular-season numbers are a touch different than the ones Berri shared with this site a few weeks ago, variances that could be attributed to what position each model has players getting their minutes at. Nash and J-Rich are both estimated to play about half their time at point guard and shooting guard (when in actuality Nash is a full-time point guard and Richardson a full-time shooting guard), but the differences between these positions is fairly negligible.
Things drop off quite a bit from here. The Suns’ third-highest win producer by this metric was Jared Dudley, who produced 1.40 wins. This is not altogether surprising considering how high Dudley’s +/- numbers were in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but at the same time you would think a particular former power forward would be next in this hierarchy.
Next was Grant Hill with a cool 1.26 wins, and then FINALLY comes Amare Stoudemire with 0.69 wins produced during the playoff run. We know Amare didn’t have the greatest playoffs in the world, but you would expect him to have contributed more than 0.69 wins.
This is where the Wins Produced argument gets a bit tricky. Did the attention paid to Amare help players like J-Rich and Dudley produce more wins than they should be credited for? Perhaps, but even then you would think a max contract kind of guy would accrue more than the fifth-most wins on his team.
Another 2010 free agent who is STILL on the market produced a tenth of a win less than Amare at 0.59. That man, of course, is Lou Amundson, and isn’t it a shame that he isn’t getting any love in free agency.
Finally, Dwayne Jones somehow produced 0.11 wins in his 10 minutes, Earl Clark was at -0.02 in 12 minutes and Leandro Barbosa produced -0.56 wins.
So in that final evaluation, Jason Richardson starred beyond what he normally produces and Jared Dudley picked up his game as well (that Charlotte trade is sure looking good right about now) while Steve Nash was his usual superstar self. On the flip side, Amare Stoudemire produced at a well less than max level and Leandro Barbosa was an altogether negative.
Based on this analysis of win production when it matters the most, the decisions the Suns made in free agency this summer look just a little brighter.