Hey, it's a CP3 thread! Let me in!
Dr Positivity wrote:My bigger argument is wondering why CP has become such a lightning rod. He is now on the 1st team All Player Comparison arguments with players like Hakeem and KG. With KG for example it makes perfect sense why he divided people so much since he's basically the perfect guy to argue stats vs count the ringzzz. Paul though? His +/- stats aren't that dramatically different than general opinion of having him as a top 3-5 player at the time. Does it have more to do with his skillset that people are impressed? Two way player and all time playmaker? Like almost Magic + elite D?
His +/- stats are rather excellent.
From 2013-2017, the 5 year RAPM we have available on nbashotcharts.com places him first in the league at 11.73. LeBron is second with 10.84, Curry 9.73, Durant 8.08 and then Green, Rubio, Leonard, Iggy, Korver and Ginobili following. So, out of all "primary shot creators" that played large minutes, there's a clear top 4 in that span, and CP3 actually comes first.
In the smaller, 3-year RAPM samples, CP3 is second to LeBron from 2013-15, first from 2014-2016 and 3rd to Curry/LeBron in 2013-2017 (and aside from Kawhi coming in at 4th, nobody is even remotely close to the top 3 there).
In that 5 year span, the RAPM data would paint him as the second best player in the league (although Curry also partially overtakes him, which one could also argue Jordan, perhaps Magic did to Bird in 1987/1988).
We don't have the same information about Bird, and I'd imagine that Bird is a top 2 player with Magic in that timeframe too, so I would
give Bird the hypothetical advantage, but I don't think it's a ridiculously large gap that's worth scoffing at.
Some of the larger RAPM samples out there also place CP3 in a similar tier to Duncan/Nowitzki, and above the other great guards of his era:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CA4KxmzjZrTlYqxNU85jkUnCcqvJjsP5LT818LSYjkk/edit#gid=0https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-R9RXLp6eYuRcptQIQVTBIkLrxvrTCfLh_WB2P-DBwE/edit#gid=0
One of those is age adjusted, and the other isn't. These don't necessarily reflect my personal rankings, but CP3 is almost like a mini-KG here. Not quite
as crazy on the impact stats as KG is, but nobody is arguing CP3 to be as good of a player as KG, including myself. CP3 has put up fantastic impact stats over a long period of time - impact stats that imply that he should probably rank somewhere near Dirk, clearly above all other guards since 2001 (once you factor in his longevity over Curry, of course), clearly above Durant (the guy that was often seen as second to LeBron until Curry came along) and this is far from what the consensus is. Heck, I'm probably the most vocal champion of CP3 on this board, and I
don't put him above all these guys. But, CP3 is often placed outside of peoples' top 30 and beneath players that his box score composites, impact metrics and longevity imply are clearly
FWIW, even though I do side with Bird's 5 year sample in this comparison without too much thought, there's reason to at least consider
CP3's worth here. Not only because I believe he was the second best player in the league across 2013-2017, but because even though Paul's crappy health record stopped him from playing games, his playoff sample (when you look at the games he actually played, lol) was statistically better than his regular season sample, and quite comfortably so. And even the most controversial series (e.g. the Thunder in 2014, Rockets in 2015) actually wound up with the Clippers outscoring their opponents when CP3 was on the court, but being outscored when he wasn't (IIRC, in the Thunder series, it was something like +9 per 100 with CP3 on, -38 per 100 with CP3 off). The box score composites for him improve - 26.1 PER and 7.8 BPM to 26.5 PER and 9.3 BPM (WS/48 is utterly useless in the playoffs).
Thanks to a bar fight and injuries, Bird's composites actually drop - 26.1 PER and 8.7 BPM to 22.7 PER and 7.6 BPM.
I don't think the box score accurately reflects Bird, or at least, I don't know if happens to do so by pure chance or not. He has some really impressive box score stats, but the fact that he is an off ball master, the fact that his numbers may have been somewhat suppressed by playing on an incredibly strong Celtics team (with 2 other +10 per game rebounders, for example) and the fact that the guy was an incredible floor spacer in an era where nobody cared about 3s (i.e. it's not properly recorded in the box score) all point to the possibility of latent value that may not be captured in the box score. And I'd believe it, because Bird was that damn good. However, if we do
value changes between the regular season and the playoffs, these changes are a data point to consider.
I don't think Paul has a very good case above Bird in these respective samples, but I also don't think it's a huge gap. Injuries make it fairly clear cut for me that Bird had the better stretch. I'd probably take Bird even if CP3 didn't miss games either, but the fact that CP3, surprisingly, has less imprint of a playoff dropoff than Bird (with the obviously limited records that we have) and the fact that he was, IMO, the second best player in the league in this stretch probably places his raw level of play not too distant from Bird.
You also alluded to his skillset, and that's a big thing for me too - the guy is absolutely an underappreciated elite shooter (his shooting splits, from what I've seen, are roughly Durant/Irving level!), elite passer, arguably
the best defensive PG of his generation (although Rubio/Holiday give strong competition), has elite handles... his skillset corroborates very well with his high level production and impact data.
As for WOWYR, yes I would care more about boxscore, MVP votes, and general opinion of the time, all of which I value in some varying form or another, over the WOWYR stat you linked, which I literally do not value at all, nor do I put value into any stat that poster has created. It was made by someone with literally the worst radar for small sample size problems I've ever seen on RealGM which already is a complete deal breaker for me when it comes to stat guys, and also someone with a habit of making stats that are at the mercy of confirmation bias. His WOWYR list combines both as it both uses small stretches of how a team played when they are injured, with personally hand picking which stretches don't count cause too many of their teammates were injured. When his spreadsheet was public it was obvious to me there was no consistent method used to the samples he was removing, I could instantly spot comparisons where two players with seemingly equal amounts of injuries on their team would be treated differently with one counting and the other not. It made a stat that was already flawed for small sample size problems into being completely useless in my opinion. His other big thing has been measuring players by hand tracking, which is a concept that totally falls apart if the person has confirmation bias, much like hand picking which injuries count and don't.
That may seem like a lot, but I've been holding my tongue while this guy gets lauded every second day by people who understand stats better than him and are demeaning themselves linking his work that has holes all over it. In my opinion he is a fantastic video editor and good speaker, I couldn't be impressed more by the production quality of his youtube videos, but I could not rate his actual stats work any lower.
I don't blame you on this one, because the more I've looked at them, the more I question how much value these WOWY stats actually add.
In particular, some players had absurd changes when looking at prime vs career WOWYs, even though their games played barely changed. For example, Reggie Lewis played 413 prime games, 418 career games in his sample, and yet the prime vs career WOWY dropped from 7.1 to 4.0 in the career sample. DeAndre had 479 and 518 games respectively, and his prime/career WOWY results were 6.5 and 1.6. That's just waaaay too much variance for the stat when there really shouldn't be.
I mean, a lot of the right names pop up in the places I think that they would, but the results are more like, "oh! that player's WOWY is suspiciously high/low, so I might look further into some of the more basic data like team success/changes, ORTG and what not" rather than anything definitive from me.
I do enjoy the tracking stuff of his a lot more - confirmation bias is
an issue, but the tracking data is at least informative of tendencies that we might not actually notice without doing tracking ourselves, and then we
are prone to confirmation bias ourselves. Way better than the WOWY data, IMO. And to be fair, he has also provided many YouTube examples that show these tendencies (e.g. "weak rotations" and what not) so we at least get a gauge for what his barometer is for each player.
Sometimes, we don't have to agree with the statistic themselves, but the statistic can provide food for thought, allowing us to look deeper and make our own conclusions.