Camby, Roy and the Blazers

The All-Star break –and being done with midterms—presents a good time to go over some stats from the Blazers’ first 56 games. We’ve seen many different lineups this year, especially with midseason surgeries for both Camby and Roy, and yet the Blazers are still 32-24 and fifth place in the Western Conference. So here’s a question I’ve heard a lot: are the Blazers better without Roy? And then you could ask, are the Blazers better without Camby?

I think one of the best ways to look at the impact of a certain player in a given season is to look at how the team did when that player was in the lineup versus how the team did when he was out of the lineup. What confuses our situation is that there are many games where both Camby and Roy showed up in street clothes, and this makes dividing out blame and praise more tricky. Another variable to consider has been the recent increase in the size of LaMarcus Aldridge’s balls. So let’s dive into some numbers and see what happens…

Last season Camby’s influence on the Blazers’ play was as obvious in the stats as it seemed on the floor. The team instantly became better defensively, and finished the season on a 15-5 run. This season, at first glance, it would be easy to say Camby hasn’t helped out much at all. In the 38 games he’s played, the Blazers are 18-20 with a -0.7 average margin of victory (MOV). When he doesn’t play at all, Portland is 12-4 with a +3.2 MOV. (He played parts of two games where he left early with injury if you were trying to figure out how 16 + 38 = 56).

Roy’s splits are similarly bad. With him, the Blazers are 9-10, sporting a +0.4 MOV. Without him, the Blazers have gone  22-11 with a + 1.9 MOV. Then we can look at their combined influence. Because I’m a Venn Diagram fan, here’s a nice summary:

The Blazers have been a shit-ton better in the 16 games without both Camby and Roy, but concluding that we’re better without both is still a long jump. While I think it’s been pretty obvious that Roy is not the same player he once was, I’m not so sure that’s the case with Camby. Camby’s rebounds, blocked shots and steals are all very close to last year’s averages. There’s no indication that he’s a different player, so his splits are likely due to an outside source. This source goes by titles such as “LA” and “The L-Train.” Aldridge has played out of his mind when his fellow big man is not in the lineup. In the 16 games that Camby sat out, Aldridge averaged 25.6 and 9.9, recording a true shooting percentage of 59.4% (league average is around 54-55%). It’s hard to argue that Camby holds Aldridge back—except for rebounding, of course—seeing how he only shoots about six times a game. I would also be hard-pressed to argue that Big Joel/Cunningham/Marks is a more valuable combination that Camby. So it seems like Aldridge’s maturity strides are making Camby appear to be insignificant, when in fact the Blazers will probably play better with a healed Camby and this new Aldridge we’re seeing.

What’s harder to predict is Roy’s impact on the team. He has claimed that he’s willing to play a different role to help the team. Can he be a second or third option? Will he settle for being an outside threat? He can say all he wants, but I want to see it on the floor.

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