The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Thoughts on Larry Hughes

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 March 2007

[finals are over, which means more posting in the immediate future]

For a while I have used the statistical measures developed in The Wages of Wins to assess the Cleveland Cavaliers. (1) The most basic of these measures — Win Score — is very easy to calculate. The more robust measure — Win Score –is cumbersome to calculate, which is why I have only provided a couple of WP updates this season.

Each time I have sat down to calculate Wins Produced over the last few months I have wondered if it were possible for someone to devise a program that would automatically generate the calculations necessary for Wins Produced. Apparently devising such a program is possible, and now there is a database. The database includes traditional box score statistics with WoW statistics and is updated automatically. For the moment, the stats that follow in this post have been culled from this database. That’s a good news (and it’s pretty freaking great, to be honest). Of course, there’s some bad news (just a little though). The problem with the Wins Produced stats from this database are that they aren’t as accurate as they could be. To calculate WP one has to assign the minutes each player plays to a particular position. Since some players play multiple positions — and since WP assumes that all positions are always represented on the court — allocating minutes is more an art than a science and really works best when the person allocating the minutes is familiar with the team. The statistics in the database are not super refined because the players’ minutes have all been allocated based on just one position, which lessens the accuracy of the WP by a small margin. So that’s the bad news, but it’s just a minor spot in an otherwise remarkable service.


I was planning on writing about how moving Larry Hughes to the PG spot has really allowed him to flourish. (I was also planning on avoiding tooting my own horn by linking to the analysis I did of Hughes before the season started where I suggested that Hughes not be used as a SG. Oops.) But after going 2-17 against the Jazz on Saturday I think it’s worth waiting to see how Hughes does over a larger sample of games. He’s had undeniable success as a PG, but now it seems worth to wait to see if the results stick. I agree with Ben that when Hughes plays PG his poor shooting performances are easier to swallow because he’ll also dish a few assists and collect a few boards (5 and 8 respectively against the Jazz), two things he didn’t do much when he was used strictly as a SG. But 2-17 is unacceptable, especially against a sluggish Jazz team that was coming off of a tough stretch of games. At some point (like when he’s 1-10 or something) it might be worth having Mike Brown tell Hughes that he’s not allowed to take any more jump shots. Just say something like: “Everyone has off nights. You have more than most. But whatever. Everyone has them and it’s worth acknowledging them when they are happening so that you don’t hurt the team. Stop shooting jumpers, Larry. At least for tonight.” So a few more games will have to be played before judgment is rendered on Hughes the PG.

1: For what it’s worth, Dan Rosenbaum, an economist the Cavs employ as a statistical consultant, has major qualms with the WoW statistics.


2 Responses to “Thoughts on Larry Hughes”

  1. Will said

    What sort of qualms does Dan Rosenbaum have with the WOW? That is not good news. Is there a link verifying this that you can post to?

  2. Rosenbaum as a lot of qualms with the WoW statistics. He even told me so in an email. I might try to get into detailing the arguments on both sides, but suffice it to say that one of Rosenbaum’s big problems is in the WoW team adjustment measure, which Rosenbaum says that if applied to just about any statistic it will yield results similar to the WoW stats. Just today Dave Berri has posted a rebuff to this argument on his blog, which can be read here:

    Berri is directly referring to Rosenbaum in his post, even if he doesn’t say so.

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