"Wiggins is the same guy he's always been"

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"Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#1 » by Chris Porter's Hair » Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:54 am

So this argument came up in this trade thread. I'll freely admit my patience has run out for people posting trades under the premise of, "I have a great idea. Wiggins is terrible, so the Warriors should pay a bunch of valuable resources to get rid of him.", when there has been little to no indication that the Warriors agree that he's terrible, or are desperately looking to shed talent to trade money. But in trying to keep an open mind, and learn something, I'm trying to look more deeply at the data presented there. I am a man of science, but I also believe that if stats tell you something that seems counterintuitive, then one of two things have happened:
1) The stats did their job and helped you appreciate something that isn't immediately obvious
or
2) The stat has a flaw that causes it to mislead you in some cases

So. The argument in that thread, presented by bondom34, begins by looking at LEBRON related stats. I wasn't familiar with those, so I spent some time reading up on them. I'd note this:
  • D-LEBRON agrees that Wiggins has been a substantially better this season than ever before. That matches the sniff test, and less nuanced statistics
  • O-LEBRON, however, thinks Wiggins is having his least impactful offensive season yet
  • Put them together, and LEBRON thinks he's having a slightly below average season, and has regressed from the last few years

The idea that he is having a less impactful offensive season does not match the sniff test for someone who has watched him this season, so I want to dig deeper to understand why that might be. The easy thing to poke at would be the boxscore stats, which are one component of LEBRON. Looking there shows us:
  • He's shooting the best FG% of his career by quite a bit
  • He's shooting the best 3FG% of his career by a lot
  • He's shooting a bit fewer free throws, at about the same percentage he always has
  • His rebounding is pretty typical for his career
  • He's down about 1.5 assists per game from each of the last few years
  • His steals are pretty typical for him
  • His blocks are above average for him
  • His turnovers are some of the lowest of his career
  • His PPG are down a bit, despite being more efficient, because he's taking the fewest shots since his rookie year
If I put all that together, it sounds pretty darned good. If it doesn't, then I'd worry that LEBRON is overpivoting on PPG, because that would be the obvious boxscore stat to pull his offensive impact down. The rest of it is either pretty flat or improved. Could also be the assists, I guess?

So for those more familiar with these stats, what do YOU think is the likely reason that he's showing regression in his offensive impact? It factors for stability; possible that it just isn't convinced it has seen enough of him to believe it, after 46 games of 32 minutes? His minutes are also down a bit, notably. The on-off calculations could be getting funny due to Curry being in the math; so much changes with him on the floor, it could be concluding that the benefits of having Wiggins on the floor are actually benefits of having Curry on the floor or something. It adjusts for luck, but without more specifics, I have trouble imagining why this could be undermining his impact. If I understand the role of Wins Added, it isn't so much that it contributes to LEBRON, as much as it is a result/implication of LEBRON/impact. Is that right?

So what clever thing is O-LEBRON doing to make this non-obvious conclusion actually true?
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#2 » by bondom34 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 4:34 am

Actually one thing of note to start this off, but this isn't just LEBRON. Edit: Also, the lost was mainly to hammer home that all metrics I can find are pretty similar. I'm not familiar enough with LEBRON in particular, usually use others more but it's an easy interface and doesn't use tracking data I don't think, which I like.

RAPM, LA-RAPM, 3 year RAPM/LA-RAPM, and RAPTOR (which frankly I don't like at all but FYI) all have this season rated as worse than his last few at least offensively. Know you'd specified LEBRON (and I'm sorry that's just weird to name a stat). It's not a 1 metric issue, they're all following it. Same for BPM.

They also generally have him as similar in terms of overall impact. So a part of the rebuttal is how one would know he's really improved other than having consistently watched him over the last 5 years prior to joining the Warriors.

Per PBP stats, the Warriors have played 555 minutes of no Steph/Wiggins on court and have a 100.0 O rtg. Remove Steph and Oubre and it's 99.69, and to flip that Oubre w/o either Steph/Wiggins is over 109. The offense just dies when he doesn't have the greatest offensive player of the generation there.

He's currently having his 2nd best season by adjusted TS, but nothing terribly out of line and on slightly lower usage with almost no assists.

And using NBA.com's impact stats, the Warriors net rating is better when Wiggins and Steph are both off court than Wiggins on w/o Steph.

It's not really just one metric, he's pretty darn consistent across the board.
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#3 » by bondom34 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 4:44 am

Also didn't really want to go through a big back and forth but will note the highlighted here. And FWIW, using box scores to measure impact isn't really great, but to go with it.


[*]His rebounding is pretty typical for his career
[*]He's down about 1.5 assists per game from each of the last few years


Both adjusted per 100 are give or take in line with his career numbers (off slightly on each, but not much)

[*]His turnovers are some of the lowest of his career


He's at 2.8 TO/100, his career average is 2.9. Per 100 possessions he's had 2 seasons better.


[*]He's shooting the best FG% of his career by quite a bit
[*]He's shooting the best 3FG% of his career by a lot
[*]He's shooting a bit fewer free throws, at about the same percentage he always has


All in all, grouping these 3 together gives him a relative TS of 99. He's been around 95-100 most of his career (1 year below I believe). So pretty much in line.

Adding in a lower usage:
[*]His PPG are down a bit, despite being more efficient, because he's taking the fewest shots since his rookie year[/list]


Would probably be negative, he's the same efficiency but lower usage.

[*]His steals are pretty typical for him
[*]His blocks are above average for him


In general, box score defense is sketchy at best. Higher blocks/steals that don't correlate to better team defense could just be gambling (see bigs gambling for blocks for example). But to combine these, hes at 2.7 combined/100, career average 2.3.

All in all, nothing here seems much changed even by basic box score measures adjusted for pace.
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#4 » by bondom34 » Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:48 am

FYI: Edited above as well, but got bored and checked. DARKO projections agree as well.

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Mainly, going specific to the BBall Index metric, I'm not overly familiar with it but don't believe it uses tracking, which I do like (I don't really care for/use RAPTOR/RPM much anymore for that reason, though they're user friendly interfaces, but did list RAPTOR just again to hammer the point that nothing shows up differently). I've used RAPM/PIPM in the past a bit more but don't have access to PIPM now since Goldstein went to the Wizards analytics team.

The point of the original post was just to say by any means I can find, there's no real change. Including box score stuff, and sometimes its just like 1 or 2 metrics (like RAPTOR is really high/low on a guy), and I can understand it but in this case they all say pretty much the same. And I'm at the point I've just started sort of looking up almost anything I can find even if its something I don't necessarily even like/trust/use, but from advanced to box score, nothing's changed much if at all in any way that seems to be a big outlier. And if it was, he'd probably get at least a little attention in MIP type topics which from what I've seen died out after the hot start (which again, I believe he'd done before in short spurts from what I think others had said).
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#5 » by payitforward » Mon Apr 5, 2021 12:12 pm

It's possible to play the best basketball of your career & still be lousy. That's what Wiggins has been doing for GS this year & last.

It's hard to see where the controversy could come from. His TS% this season is the highest it's ever been. Both his 2pt & 3pt. FG% are way above his career average (esp. his 3pt. %). & his rebounds are 20% above his career average. The rest of the numbers, OTOH, hover around his career averages.

Only problem: improving on "bad" doesn't make you "good." Wiggins is having the best year of his career, but he still sucks.

"Best year" -- yes. But the best stretch of play he's posted (at least that's easy to separate) was his 400 minutes for GS last year. & he still sucked.
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#6 » by VanWest82 » Mon Apr 5, 2021 7:34 pm

He is still the same guy in terms of his inability to lift line ups. The disconnect imo is in his role change this year on both ends and the fact that Bazemore and Toscano-Anderson are quality back ups which have provided a boost to the non-Wiggins mins. That and he's played over one third of his mins with Wiseman.

So you have line up data that says it's not always great with him in there and things improve (vs. back ups) when he hits the bench, and that he isn't a floor raiser when Curry is out. But when he plays with Curry and Draymond he gets wide open shots and can focus on the one thing he does do well defensively which is guard POA because he isn't spent from shot creation responsibility.

Drop off from raw box (mostly assists) + continued non-needle mover line up data = bad advanced stats. Meanwhile the eye test is worlds different because he's only doing things he's good at so Warriors fans are left telling NBA fans things are different but it's falling on deaf ears.
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#7 » by JonFromVA » Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:58 pm

82games.com has a whole lot of lineup and on/off data that verifies Wiggins still has a slightly negative impact and provides very little during "clutch time".

There is a teeny tiny sample set that suggests he might have a future at C, though. :o
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Re: "Wiggins is the same guy he's always been" 

Post#8 » by Skybox » Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:06 pm

If Wiggins is 10% better than he was but his situation and role in GSW is 150% less dysfunctional than his time in MIN...

I'm an optimist, people grow and learn and mature (sometimes). The really telling thing will be at his next stop or if he were to land in a rebuild/young situation where he is asked to be a lead scorer and or (shudder) veteran leader. I know this is the advanced statistical analysis thread, but there's lots of variables that are, perhaps, challenging if not impossible to quantify. For example...

-Impact of Draymond Green physically threatening to punch you with his championship rings if you're caught out of defensive position
-Impact on shot quality when you're playing with the best shooter in NBA history and a team ethic of ball-movement
-Impact of believing you've got a "Big 3" composed of ultra high draft picks who don't play defense and are all around 22 years old (MIN)
-Impact of Jimmy Butler laying waste to your starting line up while making his way out of town (taking your testicles with him)
-Impact of getting to a championship contender that can live with or without you (he seems to have responded positively-but how much)

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