The City’s 2012 Rookie Review

Kyrie Irving is the presumptive 2012 NBA ROY.

Kyrie Irving is going to win Rookie of the Year, and he would get my vote, even though as you’ll see it’s not quite that clear cut from an advanced stats perspective. Here, we’ll look at how this year’s freshman class performed in three of my homegrown statistical metrics: ezPM, A4PM, and PSAMS.


(Note these data are also always available in the “ROY” page.)

From the table one can see that Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard did most of their damage in the rebounding department (REB100). Rebounding will likely always make these two box score studs. Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, perhaps, predictably, have very unbalanced ratings between the offensive and defensive side of the ball, with both being offensive standouts and defensive liabilities. It doesn’t help playing on really bad teams, since the defensive rating is largely shared by teammates. Iman Shumpert, conversely, appears to be a future defensive star, assuming his recent ACL injury doesn’t significantly affect his physical gifts. Ricky Rubio, despite being mostly known for the offensive flare in his game, also had a very high defensive rating according to ezPM. Note that Klay Thompson, who by all accounts will be among the first or second All-Rookie teams, comes in at #16 and had a fairly negative ezPM rating. The box score doesn’t seem to like him at this early point in his career.


Go to Google Spreadsheet

PSAMS is all about scoring. Three players really shined here: Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, and Isaiah Thomas. Kyrie appears to be the rare player who will be able to do damage in every area of the court. He can get inside, hit the mid-range jumper, and shoot beyond the arc. He also has the ability to get to the line. In fact, as I wrote about recently, Kyrie arguably had one of the greatest rookie scoring campaigns in the 3-pt era. Klay Thompson, while not (yet, anyway) having the inside scoring ability that Irving does, is undoubtedly going to be a 3-pt assassin and mid-range threat in this league. I think to say teams will have a tough assignment defending Klay and Stephen Curry is putting it mildly. Can you think of a backcourt combo that had this much pure shooting potential? I’ve thought about it, and honestly, have not been able to come up with a good comp yet. After Klay, we have Jimmer Fredette, oh, wait, Isaiah Thomas, who turned out to be a steal as the last player drafted. He needs to work on his mid-range game, but other than that, Thomas looks like he will be a very productive scorer. Other observations…Alec Burks really needs to improve his jump shot or teams will inevitably play well off him to force him to shoot it, as opposed to driving to the basket. Same with Kenneth Faried. He can score inside, no doubt. But if he can develop some kind of mid-range game, he can go to the next level offensively. Oh. Why doesn’t Jon Leuer play more on a team that needs better shooters? That’s a bit of a head scratcher.


Go to Google Spreadsheet

In terms of the adjusted four factors, Irving is not among the top rookies, due to his poor defensive rating (the worst of the 20 rookies with >1500 possessions played this season). Hopefully, that is something he can improve, because he is such a special offensive player. His offensive rating is the highest on the list. I don’t think it’s a completely untold story that Irving’s defense is a liability, but it’s pretty clear that ROY voters tend to overlook such things. “All rookies suck at defense.” Not quite true according to these data. Chris Singleton, as advertised, put up a good defensive rating on a very bad team. That’s impressive. It will be interesting to see what happens with him if the Wizards get the #2 pick and do the sensible thing and draft Kidd-Gilchrist. I know at least one team out West (located currently in Oakland) that could use a guy like Singleton. The other defensive standouts were mentioned earlier, Shumpert and Rubio (thus giving some more confirmation). Unlike the box score stats, A4PM does like Klay Thompson. Phew.

In terms of individual factors, I’ll point out some notables. Faried and Burks are monsters on the offensive glass. Klay Thompson, touted for his size compared to Monta Ellis, appeared to somehow be an even worse rebounder his rookie season. I can’t imagine that not improving, but somebody on the Warriors staff needs to give him that message strongly. Going back again to defense, you can see the specific negative effect of both Irving and Thomas on defensive eFG% (remember a positive rating here means the opponent shot better!).

Now, for completeness, here are the ratings for players with less than 1500 possessions. You should probably take these with a grain of salt given the small sample size.
Go to Google Spreadsheet

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