Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is Jason Collins Playing Too Much?

I was thinking about an article I read last year over at Wages of Wins that compared the number of minutes allocated by various teams to what it termed "bad players." The main thrust of the article was to praise the Chicago Bulls for making personnel decisions that resulted in the fewest "bad players" on its roster, and for allocating the fewest minutes to those players.

It got me thinking, could Jason Collins be the most over-used bad player in NBA history? The table below shows how Collins ranks, according to John Hollinger's Player Statistics, in lowest Player Efficiency Rating over the last 7 seasons among players to play in at least 10 games and average at least 10 minutes per game. The only season in which Collins failed to rank in the bottom 5 in this category was 2009-10, when Mike Woodson blessedly allocated only 4.8 MPG to Collins.

Lowest PER among players w/ 10 MPG and 10 GP:

Year GP MPG PER Rank

2011-12 15 10.0 0.97 1st

2010-11 49 12.1 5.37 3rd

2009-10 24 4.8 0.96 NR

2008-09 31 13.6 3.29 1st

2007-08 74 15.8 3.40 4th

2006-07 80 23.1 3.02 2nd

2005-06 71 26.7 5.49 5th

Once again, my interest here is not to engage in a discussion of the valididty of Hollinger's PER statistic. The argument is frequently made that certain players (such as Bruce Bowen) contribute to winning basketball in ways that are not reflected in the raw statistics that PER compares. If anyone would like to make an argument that Collins makes a Bowen-like defensive impact that's not given justice by this post, please have at it in the comments.

Here's my argument: In Monday's game against the Celtics, Collins checked in with 6:16 to play in the third quarter after Jeff Teague's monster dunk over Ray Allen. The Hawks led 47-40 after Allen's technical free throw. Over the next 3:34, the Celtics rattled off 5 unanswered points. Collins' plays looked like this: offensive foul, turnover, defensive rebound, missed a pair of free throws, offensive rebound, traveling, defensive rebound, missed a pair of free throws.

That's what the eye test shows you. The raw stats for Collins, as reflected in the table above, are also stunningly-consistent over 7 seasons.


Bret LaGree said...

I won't argue that Jason Collins has played too much as a Hawk (too much consisting of anytime Dwight Howard is not on the floor) but I think it's definitely plausible he was, despite being a terrible player in the boxscore, at least a useful player during his prime.

One of the presentations at Sloan suggested that Collins, late in his career, was so committed to boxing out opponents that his teams rebounded much better with him on the court even though he rarely grabs a rebound himself.

Those early aughts Nets teams were really good defensively and Collins surely had something to do with that. Given how long guys can trade on their offensive reputations beyond their ability to contribute positively, I guess it's interesting to see a guy trade on a defensive reputation for employment after those skills have diminished even if it's a wash evaluation-wise.

Buddy Grizzard said...

"Collins increased his team’s defensive rebound percentage by more than any other player from 2006-07 through 2009-10 despite never grabbing more than 14.4 percent of available defensive boards."

Wow! Hush my mouth!

Bret LaGree said...

Not being at Sloan this year, I have no firsthand knowledge of that presentation so I don't know if its authors solved the problem of the vagaries of scorekeepers notching team rebounds when an opponent misses his first free throw or not. Collins has always had a healthy foul rate. Though not nearly 14.4 percent of defensive rebounds worth.