Using my modified Dean Oliver Four Factors methodology (for details on the method see the preceding article in this series, i.e. the Pete Maravich effect), I concluded exactly that.
First, lets check out the laundry list of candidates. The criteria to get on the watch list was to be among the top 30 in the league in minutes per game. Those 30 guys are (listed by mpg).
Using this list I ranked each of the 30 guys based on the scoring production (points and assists), turnovers (steals, blocks, turnovers, and fouls), rebounding (offensive and defensive), and free throws (free throws per field goal attempt). Here are the top ten from the list in each category.
For the All Around ranking, I weight each of the above categories (I’m only listing the top ten in each category but when I do the weighting and ranking I am using all 30 players). The top ten from that list are:
I’m sure the name at the top of the list is going to raise a few eyebrows. But, I’ve said many times, the purpose of all this number crunching isn’t to just reaffirm what conventional wisdom says. It’s to open the mind up to additional possibilities, it’s to make you think. And I would hope that any list with Raymar Morgan’s name at the top would get you thinking.
The quickest and easiest way to evaluate any proposed new methodology is to ask “Does it pass the “Sniff Test””? When your first reaction here is “something smells”, you should dig deeper into the data.
With the way that Eric Gordon topped each of the other lists, the initial reaction here would have to be “something seems a little fishy”. However, when you look past Raymar Morgan, the typical names are there. #2 DJ White and #3 Geary Claxton are on everyone’s list of the top players in the league. I doubt that many would argue against Drew Neitzel being one of the top players in the league. Craig Moore placed #5 on each of the other three evaluations (NBA efficiency, Game Score, and Win Score). And Raymar Morgan, himself , was 2,3, and 4 in the other three rankings. So the basic methodology doesn’t appear to have a fundamental flaw.
So why is Eric Gordon so low? Perhaps because, as proficient a scorer as he is, he just isn’t solid enough in the other parts of his game to claim the best overall player crown. He’s clearly the best scorer in the league, by far, – and that huge scoring edge is what carries him to the top in the NBA, Game Score, and Win Score ratings. Gordon is also the best in the league at getting to the free throw line and making his shots, so where does he fall down?
The problem comes from the other two factors. Gordon doesn’t rebound well (25th) plus he’s significantly minus in the turnover department (24th). Interestingly, several of the other top candidates have flaws too. Morgan is below average in the turnover rankings (18th) but rebounds well (5th). Claxton, similarly has a turnover problem (27th) but also rebounds well (4th). Moore and Neitzell are the reverse. They protect the ball well (2nd and 8th) but don’t rebound all that well (17th and 28th). But Gordon is the one that comes up short in both.
That does raise another question? Is there anyone who does all four well. The answer to that is yes. DJ White really has no deficiencies in his game. He’s 10th in point production, 11th in turnovers, 3rd in rebounding, and 4th in free throws. While no one on the list is in the top ten in all four categories, DJ White comes the closest. Unfortunately, the two categories that he’s the lowest in, i.e. point production and turnovers, happen to be the two that carry the most overall weight (about 70% combined) in the equation so he comes up just short of Morgan.
So for the time being at least, Raymar Morgan gets to hold the crown of Best All Around player in the league. My gut feel, though, is that DJ White is going to lay claim to it during conference play. We shall see.
I’ll continue to update all on any changes to the rankings at various times during the season. Nobody is a runaway leader in this system and the rankings could change several times during conference play.