Such a metric would make it more obvious Balkman was a great asset who’s been largely wasted by the flak between D’Antoni and Isaiah Thomas surrounding his first round draft. This was a bad break for Renaldo and inexcusable for D’Antoni and Thomas in my opinion. My wife and I have followed Renaldo since his college days when he was MVP in the NIT which USC won two years in a row – and “probably” where Isaiah saw this talented player and decided to pick him in the first round. Does anybody remember? Isaiah said he used a first round pick because D’Antoni was going to get him. I guess we’ll never know since D’Antoni saw all the flak Isaiah was getting and denied it vehemently. When D’Antoni took over from Isaiah Thomas he shipped Renaldo off to Denver and why he got him back in the Carmelo trade I’ll never understand.

But take a look at Renaldo’s stats and divide by the minutes he played per game. Admittedly you can’t even get going in 2 minutes but you will see many games in which he scored a “point per minute”. But 6 points in 6 minutes (Detroit on 1/31) is still only 6 points per game and that’s all most people seem to be looking at. Take a look at the Oklahoma City game on 1/14/12: 12 points in 12 minutes with 67% shooting (100% for both 3 point and free throws) plus he got 4 rebounds and 2 steals all in 12 minutes but that’s still only 12 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, and 2 steals per game. That doesn’t jump out does it but what if he could do that for 34 minutes?

Would 34 points, 11 rebounds and 6 steals impress you?

Many seem to think Carmelo is the best player on the Knicks so let’s compare Renaldo’s stats. Would you believe Renaldo’s overall shooting percentage is actually “higher” (50% versus Carmelo’s 40%)? No one seems to think Renaldo should take 3 point shots but his 3 point % isn’t that much lower than Carmelo’s (22% versus 29.7) and Renaldo has more rebounds per minute (.23 versus Carmelo’s .17) and more steals per minute (.04 versus Carmelo’s .03) and twice as many blocks per minute (.02 versus Carmelo’s .01). Carmelo comes out ahead in overall points per minute (.65 versus .36) but in my metric Renaldo’s .36 is better than Carmelo’s .65 due to his 50% versus 40% shooting percentage.

Here’s a simple explanation of the metric:

If all players make 50% and miss 50% of their shots and the opposing team always gets the rebound and has the same 50% shooting percentage they will get a point off every miss. That ratio effectively halves the net value of that shooters points after considering his misses that were converted by the other team.

If all players on both teams had the same 50% shooting percentage we can only win the game by getting more shooting opportunities (through rebounds, steals, blocks, etc.) But if a player has a lower shooting % (say 40%) and the opposing team converts those misses – even at 50% – we’re giving them more shooting opportunities to start with. When the metric subtracts a point for every miss Renaldo’s 50% shooting gives the other team we get an adjusted value per point scored of .5 point but when you do the same for Carmelo’s 40% shooting it yields a net value of only .25 points per point he scored.

That means Carmelo’s .65 points per minute would only gain .16 points per minute (.65 X .25) over the opponent whereas Renaldo’s .36 points per minute would gain .18 (.36 X .5) points per minute over the opposing team. If you throw out games Renaldo played less than 5 minutes his points per minute jump to .49 with a net gain over the opponent of .25 per minute which is over 1.5 times Anthony’s .16.

If you did not follow the adjustment consider ten shots by Renaldo. He makes 5 and scores 10 points and the opponent scores 5 off his 5 misses (50%) so we gain 5 points over our opponent. We gain 5 points over our opponent for every 10 points Renaldo scores so that’s 5/10 or .5 point gain per point scored.

The same 10 shots from Carmelo will yield 8 points (40%) and the opponent will score 6 points off his 6 misses so we only net 2 points (8 – 6 = 2) over our opponent. We gain 2 points over our opponent for every 8 points Carmelo scores so that’s 2/8 or .25 points gained per point scored.

In other words a 40% shooter’s points will only give us a .25 point advantage per point he scores while a 50% shooter’s points give us a half point advantage per point he scores – “twice” the advantage per point scored! (under these assumptions).

This simple metric illustrates what I am saying but it assumes the 50% shooting ratio for the opposing team and assumes each team always gets the defensive rebound. A more sophisticated metric would actually include the “real” shooting percentage and rebound percentages as well as blocks and steals stats for the two teams to more accurately model what will happen for a miss and factor in rebounds, blocks and steals when valuing a player. It would therefore be different for every game played.

Clearly if you are up against a good rebounding team with a high shooting percentage you need players who make most of their shots and don’t give the opponent misses to convert. Winning a game is often more about “not missing” than firing a barrage of shots and only counting the ones that go in to value a player.

In conclusion I’d simply ask you to look at Renaldo’s pre-season game against New Jersey on 12/17/11: A 70% shooting percentage (50% for his 3 point shots). He scored 20 points in 22 minutes so .9 points per minute which is 38% higher than Carmelo’s average. Adjusted for his 30% misses (assuming the same 50% shooting % for the Nets) that’s a net gain of .786 points per point he scored which is over 3 times Carmelo’s .25 point per point average. Extrapolate his 22 minutes to Carmelo’s 34.5 and Renaldo might have scored 31 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals and given the opposing team 16 fewer points in the process than Carmelo.

I watched the video on the NBA site for that outstanding play and he got no credit! They don’t even mention it although his play alone – his 20 points – accounts for a 16 point net gain over the Nets (using the metric) and they only won by 9!

Look at Renaldo’s FIBA play the past two years. It’s outstanding – Gold Medal outstanding!

I’m looking forward to a team with smart enough management to recognize Renaldo’s talent and let him be the star we saw when he played in college and in the few NBA games they’ve actually let him play long enough to do something.

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