Replacing lost point production

I posted this as a comment, but I've been thinking more about it and am interested in what Hoopus' take on this is: what is our confidence level that the Twolves will be able to adequately replace the production of Foye, Miller, Telfair, and Rhino?

What I said before:

I’d also suggest that the complexity of adding and subtracting points based on player’s historical contributions is shaky at best, especially given we don’t even know what style the HC will want to play offensively.

It also discounts the contributions of Flynn and Ellington, which I believe should be included in the rough calculations. Had Foye/Miller stayed, and we had still added Flynn/Ellington, both rookies would have had dramatically less minutes, and thus opportunity to influence point production. With Foye/Miller gone, Flynn and Ellington get a lot more minutes to make a difference.

So, just to have a little fun, what if we suppose:
-Rubio doesn’t come over this year
-Foye/Miller still get shipped to Washington
-Flynn/Ellington still get drafted.
-Flynn/Ellington produce at 90% of their college levels, but get Foye/Miller’s minutes to do so.

Results: pts/game fga/game pts/min
Foye 16.3 14 .458
Flynn 14.9 10.7 .419
diff: -1.4 -3.3 -.039

Miller 9.9 7.5 .307
Ellington 15.1 11.2 .468
diff: +5.2 +3.7 .161

Net difference? Flynn/Ellington would score +3.8 pts on +.4 fga more per game than Foye/Miller did last year, at 90% of their college production and w/o Rubio.

Now who knows what will actually come to pass, and this doesn’t take into consideration any defensive abilities (although that’s probably a wash), but for what it’s worth Flynn looks to be a more efficient scorer than Foye, and Ellington’s dominance over Miller just illustrates how hesitant Miller was in shooting the ball last year. Ellington has the potential to be what Miller was supposed to be—even at 90%, Ellington’s points/minute value of .468 was still better than Foye, Miller, and Flynn’s (unadjusted college value).

Flynn and Ellington won’t come close to averaging almost 68 minutes of burn between them next year, but even at 48 combined minutes their scoring (in this for fun analysis) would only be 4.9 pts/g less than Foye/Miller last year. I think we’ll have less of a scoring drop off than you suggest, and more flexibility in handling the growing pains of our young guys as they adjust to the NBA (that is, there won’t be as much pressure on them to score as we may all think).


Again, it's important to remember that this analysis doesn't factor in defensive contributions/limitations, although I think it's reasonable to assume that defense will be comparable between these players.

I also found, while trying to find some research on the correlation between college stats and NBA stats, this interesting piece. The author compared the production of NBA players with their college production and produced correlation values. For players who make it to the NBA (which is an important distinction), certain partsof their college production translate very strongly:

Assists (88% correlation)

Rebounds (83%--Kevin Love anybody?)

3 pt percentage (79%)

FT percentage (76%)

What this suggests to me is that counting on Flynn and Ellington to replace Foye/Miller's production really is a solid proposition, especially over the long term. Again the biggest difference is Ellington's ability to hit the three on a minimum of shots.

The two players that pose different challenge in replacing are Bassy and Rhino, and to a lesser extent Carney (who's production, if he's not resigned, I think will be absorbed by Brewer/Richardson). Bassy excelled at the dish, providing 20.5% of the team's assists at a rate that was (per minute) over 93% than the team average. If we consider Rubio to be Bassy's replacement, his assist rate should arguably be the primary metric for comparison, as Bassy was 13% below the team's average in pts/min scoring rate. Bassy took 10.3% of the team's FGAs last year, more than Miller (8.3%) in fewer minutes, (although Bassy's FGA/min rate was actually just below team average, further highlighting Miller's absolute reticense (sp?) to shoot the ball last year). At worst, and even as a rookie, I think Rubio can produce similar assist rates and scoring rates as Bassy, while perhaps providing better (or at least more opportunistic) defense.

Rhino is an interesting case, as the dude can simply score. He was 26% better than the team average in pts/min scoring (better than Foye), and significantly more efficient than Foye in pts/fga (1.225 vs 0.98). In only 7.4% of the team's minutes he produced 9.3% of its points, more than Bassy or Miller (man, that guy just wouldn't shoot!). Defensively I think we all can agree that he wasn't, shall we say, ideal. The question of who--from the Washington trade--will replace his production isn't, however, I think the appropriate question for Rhino. My take on Rhino is that he received a lot of his production via being the featured matchup, and less as a quality rotation player.

So replacing him becomes as much of a philosophical question of offensive strategy as a question of apples to apples comparison. In essence, the position/role Rhino played on the team last year won't exist this coming year. Rhino's contributions often seemed to come at the expense of the team in the sense that it was either all about Rhino scoring or it wasn't. In those games he'd either score 20+ or he'd score 4. I'm not really sure what happens next year with the subtraction of Rhino, and I'd be very interested to hear y'all's take on it. Songaila, Thomas, and Pech will all cover some of his production, but I wonder how much production will actually be made via addition through subtraction: Rhino is a great one-dimensional player who couldn't/didn't play defense and didn't make the players around him more effective. Does better team play among scrubs trump one individual's stellar ability against scrubs? I guess I don't really know. Thoughts?

In summary, Foye could score a lot and dish fairly well too (18% of team's assists), but wasn't a particularly efficient scorer. Flynn should dish better but will probably score less despite a more efficient line. I personally would call this one a draw, as I think Flynn's ability to involve others better, score more efficiently (meaning waste fewer possessions on his own shot), and better ability to get to the line will collectively offset Foye's superior scoring totals.

Miller simply wouldn't shoot the ball last year. He actually was pretty efficient when he did (11% above team average), and he dished quite a bit too (19.5% of team's assists), but he just wouldn't shoot! Ellington's ability to hit the three, and any open shot for that matter, more than trumps Miller's contributions here. Ellington won't dish nearly as much, but will do what Miller was supposed to last year far better than Miller did.

Bassy dished well, but took far too many shots for being such an inefficient scorer. Rubio might not score very well either, but should be able to improve upon Bassy's dishing and Bassy's defense. We need Rubio and Flynn to dish well next year, as well as Love, as we traded away 58% of our assist production from last year. I suppose a lot comes down to offensive philosophy, but that's a big question mark.

Rhino? Not really sure what to make of him. My gut suspicion is that we won't miss him very much because the role he played last year won't exist in the offense this year. I guess we'll see.

Sorry for the length of the post. Congrats if you made it this far. Please comment, as I think this really illustrates how important offensive philosophy and roles will be next year.

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