Final thoughts on DJ, and beyond
- I was surprised when I saw an article lamenting the omission of
Dennis Johnson from the NBA alltime Top 50. I certainly did not
predict any statistical evaluation could place him near that level.
DJ played among talented players in all 3 of his NBA locations, and
he was instrumental in each case, as Robert says, by deferring to
the "real stars" of those teams. Part of the reason DJ enhanced each
team he played for was that he was the ultimate player who would do
whatever was most needed.
A bigger scorer with the Suns, but a bigger playmaker with the Celts,
I seem to remember him taking, and making, an inordinate number of
buzzer-beaters, with the shot-clock winding down. And his playoff
numbers were generally superior to his regular seasons'.
Why are K.C. Jones and Bill Bradley in the Hall, except that they
were major contributors to champions? They took care of the ball,
and did what they had to do.
DJ played 13 productive seasons, and 16% of his minutes were in
postseason (only Magic, Bird, Jordan, and Pippen, are higher).
Oddly, his biggest numbers were in Phoenix, where his 3 playoff
outings were very brief.
I was not a fan of Dennis Johnson, until he had proven over and over
that he could hit the big shot as regularly as any member of those
great Celtic teams of the '80s.
You can add playoff numbers into the regular season numbers, thus
giving credit to players on good teams: if you are getting big
minutes with better players around you, you must have something going
on. You might even assign greater value to postseason minutes; I do
this by adding the square root of the regular season totals to the
square root of the playoff totals.
The average player (good player, not scrub), plays 90% of his minutes
in the reg. season, and 10% in the postseason: a 9:1 ratio. So, on
average, only 1/10 of a player's lifetime production shows up in the
"games that count".
Comparing square roots, however, changes the 9:1 ratio to a 3:1
ratio, and so 1/4 of a typical player's career might be his playoff
record. This sounds about right to me.
Magic, Bird, Jordan, Pippen, Russell, Shaq, West, McHale, Worthy,
Horace Grant, Mikan, DJ, and Sam Jones, played 15-18% of their
minutes in playoff competition; and as such, their playoff careers
count, in my system, between 28-33% of their totals.
Very few players in history consistently did better in postseason;
but the ones who have, increase the worth of their playoff minutes,
in estimating their careers. Jordan, Hakeem, Russell, Elvin Hayes,
Rick Barry, Isiah, Reggie Miller, Cowens, Worthy, Mikan, and others
excelled at the increased level of competition, over their careers.
> > So how then to reflect this value? I have toyed with the idea ofan
> > creating a system called "karma points" that add extra value to
> > players on winning teams to adjust formulas. (This really just
> > extended version of what others of you have done when you mightYou
> > points to a player making an all-defensive team for example).
> > can award points for significant contributions of complementaryof
> > players on playoff bound and championship caliber teams. This is
> > course potentially arbitrary in application. Indeed, the formulastackhouse
> > might bear out that aaron mckie is too close in value to
> > or that avery johnson or eric snow have a value over marbury.detract
> The way I have interpreted players like DJ is that they don't
> from a good team and they have the ego to accept that. Ron Harperhis
> turned out that way, though who would have suspected it with all
> awful shooting early on in his career. Give Harper/DJ karma points
> for their championships, but they still contribute a net of about
> 20-50 pts/season with his best teams (or 1-2 extra wins) and are
> pretty replaceable (not easily because they _are_ starters, but
> Dean Oliver
> Journal of Basketball Studies