The Wages Of Wins’ Nets Article

This is something that was posted a little while ago and that was just brought to my attention (Big ups NetsDaily).  David J. Berri of Wages of Wins wrote a fascinating article on the Nets.  The gist of it, Jason Kidd made the Nets:

This reaction begins with what the Nets looked like before the 2001-02 season. Across the Nets first 24 seasons in the NBA the team averaged 32.9 wins per season and only won more than half their games seven times. And never once did the team win more than 49 games.

In 2001 Jason Kidd arrived. Across the next seven seasons the Nets averaged 45 wins per season (winning 52 games in 2001-02), won at least half their games six times, and reached the NBA Finals twice. Kidd was a big part of this success. As a Net, Kidd produced 135.4 wins and posted a 0.347 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes]. To put that number in perspective, the Nets have won 1,128 games since the franchise entered the NBA. Twelve percent of these wins can be linked back to Kidd.

To see how much Kidd meant to New Jersey, let’s look back to these seven years and imagine what the Nets would have looked like had Kidd been replaced by a player who was just as productive as Kidd’s actual teammates.

Projecting the Nets without Kidd

2001-02: 37.5 Wins Produced

2002-03: 40.3 Wins Produced

2003-04: 37.1 Wins Produced

2004-05: 20.9 Wins Produced

2005-06: 24.6 Wins Produced

2006-07: 17.2 Wins Produced

2007-08: 15.9 Wins Produced

Average performance without Kidd: 27.6 Wins Produced

Looking at the numbers, it appears the Nets from 2001-02 to 2007-08 without Kidd look similar to the Nets from 1977-78 to 2000-01 (when Kidd didn’t play). In sum, the Nets have historically been a bad NBA team. And only the play of Jason Kidd changed that reality.

At first read, I thought something that some of you are probably thinking right now.  Devin Harris has to be close to as productive as a Net right?  Well, David Berri then adds a spreadsheet to make you feel stupid.  Harris’ WP48 was 0.154.  Kidd more than doubled that in his career as a Net.

Sure Kidd’s WP48 in his final half season as a Net was .0633 (Devin doubled that last year), and Devin is younger.  The Nets clearly upgraded, but I don’t think that was Berri’s point.  I think Berri was just pointing out how important Jason Kidd was for the Nets as a franchise.  As someone who hasn’t been a big Kidd fan throughout the years (It is strange I know…I should love that guy…I don’t know…I just never grew a fondness for him), this really makes his impact sink in for me.

However, there is one point I disagree with Berri on (I am just taking on all the stat gurus today huh?).  This article is all based on a piece done in August.   This piece paints a bleak outlook for this year, but talks about a bright future.  So what does Berri think?  He thinks that is way off:

When we consider past performance, though, the Nets this next season look quite similar to the historical Nets. This team has a few productive players. But no one on this roster has shown that they can produce wins in large quantities.

To illustrate the problem of not having one extremely productive player, let’s imagine that Devin Harris is as productive in 09-10 as he was last season and everyone else on the roster manages to match the productivity of Bobby Simmons [the second most productive returning veteran with a 0.119 WP48]. Such a roster, consisting entirely of slightly above average players, would only be expected to win 51 games.

Of course, the Nets don’t have such a roster. What they have is a roster where the second most productive returning player is Bobby Simmons, and every other returning veteran offered less. And this means the 2009-10 season will not likely be a happy one for Nets fans.

Looking back at the words of Howard-Cooper, it doesn’t appear we disagree on the likely outcome of the 2009-10 season. Where we differ is on the assessment of where this team is going. Howard-Cooper sees some building blocks in place and consequently sees a glass that is half-filled. When I look at this roster, though, I see one huge building block that is missing and therefore the glass is more than half empty. And until a truly productive player is added to this roster, the Nets before Kidd will once again be the norm.

I agree with both Howard-Cooper and Berri on this year.  The Nets, despite being real fun to watch, may not put up a ton of wins.  Berri claims that there is one building block missing, and he talks about the Nets adding a truly productive player.  I guess he doesn’t think the Nets will land any big free agents in 2010 huh?

What I think Berri is missing is that the Nets have put together a terrific young core.  A young core that is still developing and that is full of potential.  That being said, this squad probably won’t have anyone putting up huge individual numbers, but going into the future the Nets may have a few of those (Lopez, Harris, TWill, CDR, Lee), and going into the next off-season they will have a ton of capspace to add a truly productive player, as Berri puts it.  That is why many, including myself, see the glass half-full.