November 14, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Andre Iguodala (9, left) shoots the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4, right) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 116-115. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors’ Iguodala, Thompson, Curry Among Highest Win Share Totals in NBA


Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry rank in the top 10 for total win shares through the first 11 games of the season, according to basketball-reference.com.

With the offense humming and the defense finally living up to head coach Mark Jackson’s hype, the performance of Golden State’s starting backcourt has been critical to the team’s early success this season. Iguodala, Thompson and Curry’s position in basketball-reference.com’s league rankings, first reported in a tweet from CBS’ Matt Moore, makes Golden State the only team with multiple players in the top 10 at this stage in the season.

Coming it at sixth behind New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, Iguodala leads the team with 2.0 win shares. Thompson and Curry trail him in the eighth and ninth slots with 1.9 WS and 1.7 WS respectively.

A win share (WS) measures how many wins an individual player’s performance has contributed up to that point in the season. If a team wins 55 games across an 82 game season, there are approximately 55 win shares that can be distributed across that team’s roster. I say ‘approximately’ because the algorithm used to calculate the statistic isn’t 100 percent precise. For example, although the Warriors currently lead the Pacific Division with eight wins, their roster has accumulated a total of 8.4 win shares.

For a more thorough explanation of how win shares are calculated (or if you really want to do math that other people have done for you), check out this primer courtesy of basketball-reference.com.

Unlike statistics published in a box score, win shares consider a player’s individual output on offense and defense equally, which becomes particularly useful when comparing players with vastly different skillsets. A gifted scorer can actually finish a season with a negative win share total if they provide no help on defense. The inverse is also true; defensive stoppers who offer no punch on offense end up hurting their team more than they help.

Warriors forward Draymond Green averages fewer points and assists per 36 minutes than former Rookie of the Year (and $44 million man) Tyreke Evans. Green, however, has contributed 0.4 win shares so far this season while Evans has actually cost the New Orleans Pelicans 0.1 wins, according to basketball-reference.com. Although Green will never be a whirling dervish scoring threat like Evans, his ability to rebound, hassle opponents at the rim and remember defensive rotations has actually made him the more effective player through the first 11 games of the season.

It’s not a perfect statistic — Green lacks Evans’ physical talents and natural scoring abilities — but it is helpful to have a stat that quantifies a player’s contributions on both ends of the floor.

It’s also fairly indicative of how players are valued by MVP voters, as you can see below. Six of the players who ranked in the top 10 in MVP balloting also finished the season in the top 10 for win shares (names in bold).

Player MVP points Player Win Shares
LeBron James

1207

LeBron James

19.3

Kevin Durant

765

Kevin Durant

18.9

Carmelo Anthony

475

Chris Paul

13.9

Chris Paul

289

James Harden

12.8

Kobe Bryant

184

Russell Westbrook

11.6

Tony Parker

86

Marc Gasol

11.5

Tim Duncan

65

Stephen Curry

11.2

James Harden

33

Kobe Bryant

10.9

Russell Westbrook

9

Deron Williams

10.9

Dwyane Wade

5

Blake Griffin

10.6

Source: NBA.com, Basketball-reference.com

The Warrior backcourt’s early success has been exciting, but it’s probably not sustainable. Iguodala will almost certainly cool down as a shooter. An injury-prone Curry is already slated to miss his second game, this time because of a mild concussion. And it’s unclear whether Klay Thompson can continue to convert at the same rate if he keeps being challenged with the task of defending opposing point guards.

That said, the hot start from the Golden State backcourt has given the team a significant advantage in what’s bound to be an extremely competitive season.

 

Tags: Andre Iguodala Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson Stephen Curry