Sunday, May 3, 2009

Houston Rockets "Total" Production per-Minute

"Total" Production Per-Minute (A Simple Model)

A lot of people are surprised by Luis Scola's "emergence" during the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs. They wouldn't be if they had been looking at the stats that I track. You could make a strong argument that Luis has been the second most productive Rocket all season -- at least on offense. If you're surprised by the guy in first place, you haven't been paying attention.

The most reported measures of basketball productivity are points, rebounds and assists. Since these have been typically regarded as the primary measures of the contribution of a player, it makes sense that a reasonable first approximation of a player's total contribution is a combination of these three stats. However, normally the NBA reports these stats on a per-game or season-to-date basis. I prefer to look at these stats on a production per minute or per 40 minutes basis (my approximation of the results for a full game). This helps me adjust for the significant differences in minutes played -- especially by starters vs bench players. In the first post in this series, we looked at the Rockets' points, rebounds and assists per 40 minutes played.

Houston Rocket's "Total" Production Per-Minute

Below is a table summarizing the Rockets' "total" production per 40 minutes of playing time. The top 3 are Yao Ming (37.3 units of production per 40 minutes of playing time), Luis Scola (30.3), and Tracy McGrady (29.6). As I mentioned, the "surprise" is Scola in second place. If T-Mac had been healthy, it seems reasonable to assume that T-Mac would have come in second, given his 35.9 average last year. However, even in third place Scola would be a surprise to some.

The traditional NBA reported statistics essentially ignore defense -- primarily because a) it's not "sexy", and b) it's difficult to measure. In effect, this "total" metric assumes all of the players are equally effective on the defensive end. As a result, it undervalues players if a major portion of their contribution comes on the defensive end of the court. For the Rockets, this means it especially undervalues players like Chuck Hayes, Shane Battier and Ron Artest; maybe Yao as well -- though probably not relative to other centers.

Houston Rockets Offensive Statistics Per Minute Table
Houston Rockets Total Production Per Minute Statistics

Since the Rockets are about to go into the second round facing the LA Lakers, you might be interested in how Kobe Bryant stacks up against the Rockets using this metric. With 2201 points, 429 rebounds and 399 assists in 2960 minutes, he'd be first -- with a rating of 40.9 per 40 minutes of playing time.

Related links:

Houston Rockets "Per-Minute" Statistics (points, rebounds, assists)
More Houston Rockets "Per-Minute" Statistics (blocks, steals, FTAs)
The 10 Best NBA Players Ever calculates "total production" for some of the all-time greats.
The source of my data is

Last updated 2/15/2010

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