The first question you probably have is, why the hell is Jame doing end of season grades now? Here’s why, the last 5-6 games of the season are always a bit wacky due to tanking teams and resting players, on top of that Charlotte have been heavily banged up the past few weeks which has led to a drop in both offense and defense, this was beginning to have a large effect on the On/Off numbers, skewing the data which is vitally important for how I’m going to award my grades.
The difficult thing with player grades is it all comes down to prior expectation, so Person A might have thought LaMelo was going to be a bust and give him an A+ for his season as he exceeded his expectations. However, person B might have always thought LaMelo was a generational talent, and seen this year as a solid start to his career and given him a B+. So how can we overcome this unconscious bias? I’m not going to issuing my opinion at all, for this year I’ve decided to award grades entirely based on where each player ranks in the most important offensive and defensive statistics relative to other NBA players at their position as per Cleaning The Glass. Each grade given to a player will be relative to the other players at their position in the entire league, with this reliability on statistics being the driving force it does unfortunately mean Carey Jr, Richards, Riller & Darling will all go ungraded as they haven’t played enough minutes to be awarded a fair grade.
I didn’t want to overcomplicate this too much, I used four different statistical categories for my “offense” ratings; Usage %, Points per Shot Attempt %, Assist % & team points scored per 100 possessions to account for how an individuals play affected the team’s offense as a whole. For defense I used Block %, Steal %, Defensive rebound % and opponent points allowed per 100 possessions to account for how an individuals play affected the team’s defense as a whole. Sure there are more categories for both offense and defense I could have included, foul rate, offensive rebound rate, turnover percentage etc. However, I felt the data sets I selected above were the most important to measure to grade an individuals play over the year.
So how did I decide on converting a player’s rank relative to other NBA players at their position to a grade? As you can see below, depending where a player finished with their overall net score from the four different categories on offense and defense I awarded them a grade. For all the Americans out there asking “What is an E?” it’s a a grade used in sparingly in the UK worse than a D.
So enough with all the scene setting and waffle, let’s see some player grades!
For those who are interested in seeing the details behind the grades above I posted them on my twitter timeline:
Decided to do my end of season player grades differently this year. I decided to give grades solely based on positional percentile ranks for key offensive & defensive statistics from @cleantheglass— James Plowright (@British_Buzz) May 8, 2021
The full grades will appear in my article coming soon for @At_The_Hive pic.twitter.com/rwvP3wYAE8
- Charlotte’s best overall graded players are LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges & PJ Washington. That group feels about right.
- Zeller should be logging minutes over Biyombo at centre, in fact Cody doesn’t even rank out any worse defensively than Biz.
- LaMelo Ball scored as the best defender on the team due to his good steal, block and defensive rebounding rate relative to his position. However, from the eye test it’s clear he isn’t this team’s best defensive player, in fact he’s been pretty poor on ball most the year.
- Charlotte doesn’t have anyone who is elite and offense or defense on their roster, we don’t have a single player who finished in the top 20% of players in their position using the offense/defense catch all statistics from Cleaning the Glass. This meets the eye test, Charlotte is definitely greater than the sum of it’s parts.
- Charlotte may not have any elite players in offense or defense, but they also don’t have any disastrous ones either. Biyombo ranks out the worst significantly here at a D-, they don’t have anyone who’s in the bottom 20% of players at their position.
- Some of the players who have got more run down the end of the season seem to have their numbers impacted E,G, Jalen McDaniels. Even though he’s been playing relatively well recently, his points scored and allowed per 100 possessions with him on the court is really low, this is mostly due to him logging most of his playing time over the past month when Charlotte have been struggling.