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Looking at Statistical Plus/Minus for the Orlando Magic

If you remember a week ago, I went ahead and took a quick look at the aggregate (2003-2008) adjusted plus/minus numbers for each player on the Orlando Magic. The purpose of the exercise was to ascertain the values of the individuals on the team, more so than anything else. Depending on the individual, some stats carried more weight than others. Never hurts to look at the statistics in their proper context.


Well, late yesterday, Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference went ahead and posted his projected 2009-2010 NBA standings using statistical plus/minus (click here). A few surprises in the projections, but what's relevant are the numbers for the Magic players. Taking a gander at their stats will serve as the crux of this particular post.


For those not familiar with statistical plus/minus, here's a breakdown of the metric and what it encompasses, specifically when compared to adjusted plus/minus:

[...] the other day I was fooling around with what's called "statistical plus/minus", which is basically a regression Dan Rosenbaum (the pioneer of adjusted +/-) once ran between "pure" plus/minus -- the kind you find at sites like -- and traditional box score numbers like points, blocks, assists, etc. The original goal of the regression was to try to add a more stable component to player ratings as a counterbalance to the pure +/-, which, while theoretically solid, can be wildly inconsistent for individual players from season to season. I ran the formula for every player over the past few years, but I forced 5 * the weighted average of a team's raw statistical +/- to equal that team's efficiency differential (offensive rating minus defensive rating)[...] 


So is SPM a great boxscore-based method to rank players? I don't really think so, seeing as it's meant merely as a complement to "pure" adjusted +/-. But at the same time, it does exhibit at least some ability to effectively predict a future team's performance based on the weighted projected SPMs of its players. And that means it's worth looking at this summer when free agency is over and you're trying to ascertain which teams will be better and which will be worse in 2010. (Hmm, do I sense a future column topic here?)

Unfortunately, there's no readily available projected adjusted plus/minus numbers for the 2009-2010 regular season to supplement the data but at the very least, here's a look at the projected statistical plus/minus numbers for the Orlando Magic: 


Dwight Howard 7.04
Rashard Lewis 3.25
Vince Carter 3.18
Jameer Nelson 2.66
Matt Barnes 0.63
Ryan Anderson -0.08
Mickael Pietrus -0.30
Marcin Gortat -0.33
Jason Williams -0.67
Brandon Bass -2.20
Anthony Johnson -2.47


Random Musings:


- If one were to go "by the book" or "on paper," it's appears the suggested starting lineup for the Magic should be Nelson/Carter/Barnes/Lewis/Howard. Not bad.


- For those scoring at home, Carter has a better statistical plus/minus than Hedo Turkoglu and Anderson has a better statistical plus/minus than Courtney Lee


- An argument can be made, using statistical plus/minus (and other metrics), that Ryan Anderson would make more sense filling in for Rashard Lewis at power forward for the first 10 games of the year. Not Brandon Bass, who's expected to step in and start.


- Orlando projects to have a strong bench, as expected. Looking strictly at the numbers, several Magic reserve players could start for a variety of NBA teams.


- According to the stats, Dwight Howard is ranked as the fifth-best player.


- Only six starting point guards (Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Devin Harris, Chris Paul, Gilbert Arenas) rate better than Jameer Nelson. 


- Statistically, the battle for back-up point guard favors Jason Williams.