johnnyvann840 wrote:I agree with this and understand that. However, there are some players where they are consistently one way or the other. With Zach, he has been very consistent since he came into the league as a net negative.
That's irrelevant though. Raw +/- has been shown to be awful, non projective, and have no value. Out of 500 players, some will be always good or always bad by random chance. If a stat is lousy, then it's lousy. I don't find much value in saying "Well I know this stat is lousy, but I'm going to use it here because it supports my case". That doesn't make sense.
RPM used to be of value until they took defense heavily out of the equation. It's become a stat that only emphasizes offensive numbers. Zach went from one of the worst players in the league in RPM to not bad because of this change.
They didn't pull defense out of the stat. They added box score contribution, so it now combines contribution (causal) as well as just regressed plus minus numbers (correlation). The new RPM much better reflects the eye test IMO and removed the ridiculous outliers of things like saying David West was a top 10 player in the league two years ago.
No matter what stat you look at, I agree that context is very important. Zach has been around long enough and has enough minutes on two different teams with many different teammates and the results have been very much the same for the vast, vast majority of his time in the league. He just isn't a positive impact player when it comes to the scoreboard. He's that rare player who looks great, has a beautiful shot, he's an athletic freak, he's pretty efficient and can score with the best in the league. Yet, somehow, his play just doesn't translate to wins and it never has.
I share concerns here, but I don't think they're nearly as damning as you do. He came into the league as an extremely raw project, and he's improved every year. He had an interruption due to injury, but even his numbers across these stats have generally improved over time and his defensive metrics have improved over time. His role shifted from off ball 3rd option and bench player to on ball first option with high volume and good efficiency.
He's made absolutely tremendous strides and to just sum it up as "he just doesn't win" I think does a disservice to the improvements he has made and has vastly over simplifies the situation.
That said, I'm not going to suggest to you that Zach is a star and is a guy you build around or a legit #1 option in the league. However, he hasn't stopped improving yet and has made absolutely massive strides since his rookie season. There's every reason to think he can be a good contributor IMO. Now if some other team said "That Zach Lavine's a star player, I'm giving up the farm for him!" then I'm all in on trading Zach away. I don't actually expect his value around the league to be that high due to the same reasons you don't value him and expect his trade value is actually fairly low (also due to the fact he only has 2 more years of control left).
I guess in the end, I don't think Zach is the answer, but I don't think he's the problem either. Of the guys on this team, I think he's still their best player and the one that has the most obvious long term fit and quality. It's just that that isn't saying much on this squad.