Oui, oui!

The emergence of Nicolas Batum the last few weeks has been quite the bright spot in a somewhat disappointing season. His 13.9 points-per-game represents the best scoring average of his career, and that’s even more impressive when you consider that he has averaged less minutes this season than last. But point-scoring is a primitive way to look at a player’s contribution, so let’s throw a few other stats out there.

His true shooting percentage, which takes into account the added value of free throws and three pointers, is 60.1%. That beats his All-star teammate, Lamarcus Aldridge, by 5 percentage points, though it’s harder to compare players across positions.

I decided to create a little toy statistic of my own that builds on TS%. My goal is to measure a player’s offensive contribution through points and assists, and compare that to the estimated number of possessions he uses up. A shot taken or a turnover represents a possession used, but an offensive rebound or steal is a possession regained, for example.  Here are all the Blazers’ efficiency figures this season, complete with true shooting %, defensive rebounding rate, and my own efficiency score:

Player

GS

TS%

DRB%

E-Score

LaMarcus Aldridge

32

55.3%

17.5%

1.24

Jamal Crawford

2

51.2%

8.1%

0.96

Gerald Wallace

33

56.9%

16.9%

1.23

Nicolas Batum

7

60.1%

11.7%

1.39

Wesley Matthews

30

53.0%

8.7%

1.17

Raymond Felton

32

45.7%

6.6%

0.85

Marcus Camby

31

42.0%

32.7%

2.18

The first thing that stands out is how badly Felton and Crawford are playing compared to the rest of the team. This formula definitely makes it hard for guards to compete with other positions, but the NBA average and median E-scores for just guards is about 1.0. That puts our points guards on the south side of mediocre.

But back to Batum. His E-score takes second on the team behind Camby–who benefits from the offensive rebounding component in this formula. One thing not accounted for in E-score was defensive rebounding, so I threw that into the chart separately. I was actually a little surprised to see Batum’s rebounding rate significantly higher than that of Matthews. I don’t think of Batum as a rebounder, and he defends opponents’ point guards a lot, but he’s holding his own in that department.

When we look at what Batum has done as a starter this season, it becomes fairly obvious that he should have been starting from day one. His efficiency numbers do actually slip a tiny bit as a starter–59.7 TS% and 1.33 E-score–but that’s natural when a player’s role in the offense is increased. He’s scoring nearly twice as many points, and doing so with almost the exact same efficiency as he did from the bench.

Now, can we just get a point guard?

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