Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

January 27, 2009

Value Over Tim Thomas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 6:32 pm

Within mere hours of my intro to our NBA statistics pages being posted, alert reader CW tipped me off to something remarkable. In his 2007-08 regular season review, ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons proposed a new statistic:

I guess the question is this: Is there an NBA forward alive who couldn’t play 31 minutes a game, score 12 points, notch five rebounds and three assists, miss 70 percent of his 3-pointers and allow his guy to score at will? If baseball has VORP (value over replacement player), then basketball should have VOTT (value over Tim Thomas).

This touched off a brief debate at the APBRmetrics forum about whether Thomas was, in fact, a replacement-level contributor. What CW noticed is this: Thomas scores exactly at replacement level by my WARP rating system this season. On its own, that would be a semi-interesting note. However, I went to look up how Thomas rated a year ago and–believe it or not–he was precisely replacement level in 2007-08 too. That can’t possibly be a coincidence.

I suspect Free Darko would view this result as a form of NBA determinism. At this stage of his career, Tim Thomas is replacement level. Replacement level is Tim Thomas. There can be no other way.

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