As much as advanced statistics are allowed a seat at the table in 2012, there is still a general perception among mainstream journalists and talkers that it is something of a parlor trick- a path to understanding among many paths. Inevitably, it is said, "sure, your numbers say Jason Kidd at 39 years old is still a top 5 point guard, but you don't actually believe that, right?" Well, with very few caveats, I do actually believe that.
What better case study on win-based metrics could we possibly have than the 2012-2013 New York Knicks? The Knicks, seemingly since Ewing hung 'em up, have been the poster children for bloated, ultra-conventional team management...and they usually blow a ton of money on it too. From the inexplicable signings of Eddy Curry and Jerome James, to the 'Starbury' deal, to the more recent progress-stunting Carmelo blockbuster, the Knicks have gotten very little right this century.
Coming off a first round sweep and saddled with two max contracts and another big one in Chandler, the Knicks entered the off-season with limited options for improving their roster. In acquiring Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas, all for peanuts, the Knicks had a David Berri wet dream of a summer. If they were to contend for a championship for the first time in a over a decade, wouldn't that strike a heavy blow in the name of numbers?
I would say so, and though it is very early, the 5-0 Knicks are grabbing headlines and look like the second-best team in the Eastern Conference by not a little bit. Let's go to the numbers.
Player Wins per 48 minutes (league average .100)
J. Kidd .540
J.R. Smith .314
T. Chandler .269
P. Prigioni .147
C. Anthony .118
R. Felton .76
R. Wallace .74
S. Novak .60
K. Thomas -.01
(numbers through 11/15/12 - taken from www.thenbageek.com)
We can already hear the ESPN debate: to whom
do we attribute the Knicks' success? The huge
scoring totals of Carmelo Anthony, the absence
of Amare, Mike Woodson for some reason...
What do you think, Stephen A. Smith?