While admitting that trying to rank the top 593 NBA players of 2012 should be filed under “insane ideas”, Basketball-Reference.com writer Neil Paine has attempted this task using compiled predictions of future performance in four advanced metrics: Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS48), Basketball-on-Paper Statistical +/- (bopSPM) and Multiyear Regularized Adjusted +/- (RAPM). Rankings like these don’t really “prove” anything and are arguably almost as subjective as ranking players based on little more than personal opinion, but they’re usually a starting point for some spirited debate so let’s take a look at how the Raptors fared in this project.
Before I make a few points about the various Raptor rankings, I think it’s worth noting that Paine inexplicably included a number of players who not only won’t play in the NBA next season, but haven’t played in the league in quite some time. I mean, Mouhamed Sene is not only in the ranking based on a 260-minute sample size, but his last NBA appearance was on April 15, 2009.
All that aside, I was interested in this because I wanted to see how the Raptors compared to each other. Let’s go through the notables on the list…
Amir Johnson and Ed Davis: I expected these to be the two highest-ranked Raptors, although I wouldn’t have expected Amir to crack the top 50. As has always been the case with Amir, he can be a valuable player and a good value for his contract if he manages to stay on the floor for 30 minutes per game.
Jose Calderon: Advanced stats have always been kind to Jose, and while that may seem to be the case here, I counted 25 legitimate point guards (meaning point guards who will actually play next season) ahead of him in the rankings.
Andrea Bargnani: Some of you expected to see him near the bottom, I’m guessing. It’s well-known that most advanced stats absolutely murder Bargnani, but it’s really only RAPM (where he ranks 548th) that truly savages him out of the four stats. Paine discards the highest- and lowest-ranked of the four stats in these rankings, so that doesn’t hurt Bargnani here. I like that he’s tied with Joel Przybilla in the overall rankings — imagine the player you’d have if you combined Bargnani’s offense with Przybilla’s defense and rebounding!
Joey Dorsey: I like this guy. If the Raptors don’t re-sign him, I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t catch on elsewhere in the league next season. Every time he gets real minutes, he produces.
DeMar DeRozan: Was his defense that bad last season? I expect that most of you will point to this specific ranking as proof that this list is garbage, but keep in mind that he played the most minutes on the worst defensive team in the NBA. Of course, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon played the second- and third-most minutes. I will be very, very interested to see how much their minutes will go down under Dwane Casey.
Jerryd Bayless: This seems harsh to me. As you’re probably aware, I’m pretty high on Bayless’ potential and I think he should probably be the Raptors’ starting point guard to start next season. A lot of you don’t agree with me and think that he’s a tweener guard and not a very good one, at that.
So there you have it. As you rip into these rankings in the comments — and I fully expect most of you will — keep in mind that I’m not endorsing them, I’m just passing them along because Paine is one of the more well-respected NBA stats people in the blogosphere.