82games.com is pretty bad ass. Basically, they compile every stat imaginable to give a true indication of actual performance beyond the box score. My favorite stat is plus/minus per 48 minutes, which essentially tracks a player's performance, even in limited minutes, and predicts what kind of an impact that player would have over a full game. The plus/minus isn't just about scoring; it's about the overall effect on both ends of the court and how that translates into winning.
Using 82games data, I went through every team in the league and put together what each team's ideal lineup would be based on this theory. This doesn't mean these players should all be starters but it does mean they should get big minutes and be on the floor when the game's decided. I only included players who were already in the rotation since garbage time stats can be misleading.
What I discovered is that several big name stars would better serve their teams by riding the pine (I'm talking to you, AI).
Josh Smith's numbers project to an astonishing +19.4 per 48 minutes. This makes him the 2nd most effective player in the entire NBA right now (Lamar Odom's first with 20.1 but more on him later).
Best lineup- Bibby, Johnson, Williams, Smith, Horford
Kudos to Mike Woodson for knowing the numbers and playing his best unit big minutes.
No surprises. KG leads the team at +15.5. Ray Allen's second at 14.8.
Best- Rondo, Allen, Pierce, KG, Perkins
The entire team is in the negative so it's really just a matter of choosing who sucks the least. Also, basketball is a team sport so one good player can't make the other four not suck. Jason Richardson has their best numbers (-0.9), Matt Carroll, their worst (-10.1).
Best- Augustin, Felton, Richardson, Wallace, Okafor
Andres Nocioni is a winner (+4.8) and should be not only starting but playing huge minutes on a team full of minuses. Thought Derrick Rose was a superstar? Think again- he's -5.5. Vinny Del Negro should also be aware that Drew Gooden's playing 30 minutes a game despite his awful production (-8.2)
Best- Rose, Gordon, Deng, Nocioni, Noah
The King lives up to his title with a gaudy +17.3. Delonte West is right on his heels at +15.7
Best- Williams, West, James, Wallace, Z
Contrary to popular belief, Kidd (+7.5) and Dirk (+6.9) are meshing well. The big surprise? Dampier (+10.5) actually has the best number on the team. Who's got the worst? Jerry Craphouse at an abysmal -24.6. In fact, that number makes Craphouse the league's worst player per 48. He's now out of the rotation and asking for a trade.
Best- Kidd, Terry, Howard, Nowitzki, Dampier
Sorry, Craphouse. No minutes for you.
Chauncey's leading the team at +7.9. That AI trade's looking better all the time. Linas Kleiza is playing over 20 minutes a game but not producing (-2.8)
Best- Billups, JR Smith (not Dahntay Jones), Melo, Martin, Nene
Speaking of AI, he's at -1.7 and his ballhogging has made Rip Hamilton considerably less effective (-2.6). Stick 'em both on the bench. Arron Afflalo has been excellent (+12.8) in limited minutes- give him a shot.
Best- Stuckey, Afflalo, Prince, Sheed, Amir Johnson
Here's a clear case where the suggested change obviously WON'T happen. No way Curry brings AI or Rip off the bench but according to 82games, the Pistons would have a better chance of winning if he did.
Jamal Crawford is a great example of a guy who puts up numbers that don't translate to wins. Since coming to the Warriors, he's at -12.9. Kelenna Azubuike's pretty awful, too (-8.7). Ronny Turiaf, AKA The Chocolate Moose, is the team's most efficient player at +4.7.
Best- CJ Watson, Maggette, Jax, Turiaf, Biedrins
Shane Battier only played in a handful of games before getting hurt but his numbers are off the charts (+16.1). Yao's second at +8.5.
Best- Alston, Battier, McGrady, Artest, Yao
Yep, that's a lineup with Ron Ron at PF. Try it out, Adelman. Move Scola to the bench.
Granger (+3.2) and Marquis Daniels (+2.7) are their only good players. Little wonder they're a mediocre ballclub.
Best- Ford, Daniels, Granger, Murphy, Nesterovic
Nobody on the positive side. Camby's the closest at -1.4. Kaman (-9) and Ricky Davis (-21.3 for fuck's sake!) are the real reason this club is complete dogshit. Other than Craphouse, Ricky Buckets has been the worst rotation player in the game. I say 'has been' not because he IS ONE but because he hasn't seen significant PT in weeks.
Best- Baron, Gordon, Thornton, Randolph, Camby
As previously mentioned, Lamar leads the entire league at +20.1. It should be noted that he's frequently matched up with 2nd unit guys now that he's a 6th man so that stat might need an asterisk. Trevor Ariza's also at an eye-popping +18.2. Kobe's just being Kobe (+14.7). The entire rotation has big numbers but these three are the biggest contributors to the team's 17-2 start.
Best- Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Lamar, Pau
'Only 25 minutes a game for me, Phil? C'mon!'
Media darlings OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay (can I just combine their names and call them Ru J Gayo?) get a lot of attention for their big scoring numbers but these two are getting smashed in plus/minus (-7.6 and -8.6 respectively). The team is so bad, they're still the best options for big minutes but neither of these guys should be considered a star by any means. Like Jamal Crawford, they get points but not results. The team's best players? Darko and Hakim Warrick, believe it or not.
Best- Lowry, Mayo, Gay, Warrick, Milicic
Wade (+6.9) and Marion (+5.7) are solid. Michael Beasley's getting ripped in the press but still manages to stay in the black at +1.1.
Best- Chalmers, Wade, Marion, Beasley, Haslem
Sessions is better than Ridnour (+1.1 to -1.1). Charlie Bell is the weak link at -6.7. Rookie Luc Richard Mbaha Moute should be starting.
Best- Sessions, Redd, Jefferson, Mbaha Moute, Bogut
Not that Wittless is gone, McFail decides who gets the minutes. The smart money's on benching Gomes (-8.1) and Assy Telfair (-4.9).
Best- Foye, McCants, Miller, Love, Jefferson
Devin Harris is the only starter playing winning ball. Expect the losses to start piling up any day now. Their best chance of winning is with this lineup (seriously).
Best- Harris, Carter, Hassell, Yi, Lopez
No positives. Tim Thomas is the worst at -16. Harrington's at -6.9. Blech.
Best- Duhon, Q, Chandler, Lee, Harrington
Earl Watson (-19) and Nick Collison (-22.5) are playing CBA ball out there. Russell Westbrook and Joe Smith are much better options at those positions.
Best- Westbrook, Mason, Durant, Smith, Wilcox
Michael Pietrus was playing beautifully before getting hurt (+11.8). Good acquisition by Otis Smith (can't believe I just wrote that!).
Best- Nelson, Pietrus, Turk, Rashard, Howard
The numbers seem to indicate that the Sixers are losing mostly due to poor play by their bench, specifically Louis Williams (-6.9). Iggy leads the team at +4.3.
Best- Miller, Iggy, Thaddeus, Brand, Dalembert
Nash is the best starter at +3.4. Shaq's breaking even. Leandro Barbosa's fallen off a cliff at -7.2. His mother just died so maybe he's having trouble focusing.
Best- Nash, Bell, Barnes, Diaw, Stoudemire (sorry, Shaq)
Nic Batum (+9.3) and Aldridge (+9.2) lead the team. Prezbo (+6.1) is outplaying Oden (+0.3).
Best- Blake, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, Prezbo
Their 'best' is Beno Udrih at -4. Bobby Brown (and I'm not being cruel) is at -12. Rookie Jason Thompson is deserving of some extra burn.
Best- Beno, Salmons, Thompson, Mikki Moore, Brad Miller (in your face, Lil' Brad Hawes)
Bonner! +11.7! I'm speechless. Ime Udoka's next at +8.8. So why the slow start? Amazingly, Duncan and Parker are both in the red for the year.
Best- TP, Ginobili, Udoka, Bonner, Duncan
Kris Humphries and Jamario Moon have been their only good players. Bosh and Calderon are both hovering around -2. Jermaine is a weak -5.3.
Best- Calderon, Parker, Moon, Humphries, Bosh
AK47 and Paul Millsap have been excellent. DWill and Boozer, even when healthy, have been only so-so.
Best- Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Millsap, Okur
You know you're fucked when Nick Young and Andray Blatche are your best players. Deshawn Stevenson (-12.1) better grow his beard back or something.
Best- Juan Dixon, Butler, Jamison, Songaila, rookie Javale McGee
So there you have it. Again, not necessarily the best starting units but a strong recommendation for who should be out there in the 4th quarter when the game's on the line.
Thanks, 82games. You rock.