Not long ago we watched Idiocracy (2006), a pretty average movie, with an average IMDB rating of 6.6, and with pretty average cast (including Luke Wilson). The movie was about an average American, selected to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program, but they forgot about him and he woke up five centuries in the future. While most of the NBA media writes about the best players and the richest team owners on one hand, or the worst contracts and draft picks on the other hand, in contrast we decided to write about the most average NBA players in this blog post. Which might consequently turn out to be quite average. But nevertheless.
A few weeks ago we developed a package of advanced offensive indicators, which we will use to find the most average NBA players in the 2016/2017 regular season on offense. The following three indicators will be analyzed in order to compare all qualified players (500+ minutes played):
- Involvement Rate (INV Rate),
- Direct Offensive Contribution (DOC),
- Direct Offensive Efficiency (DOE).
To find the most average offensive players, we calculated how much values of those offensive indicators for individual players differ from the averages for all qualified players, using medians and standard deviations for calculations. In the end, the analysis revealed that the following 10 players were the most average.
The most average player on offense seems to be Meyers Leonard. When we checked his regular offensive stats we figured out that he was not a good shooter and his PER was very low this season, but in-depth analysis showed that he was, on the other hand, one of the best screeners in the league with screen-assists/minute averages close to DeAndre Jordan numbers. Interestingly, his team Win% was exactly 0.500 in 2016/2017, the league average (mean)! The other 9 players are very average as well – even the 10th most average offensive player Willie Cauley-Stein has all of his indicators’ values between 2nd and 3rd quintile.
To find the most average player(s), not only offensively but also defensively and salary-wise, we included defensive statistics Defensive Win Shares (DWS) and Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) in our analysis, as well as salaries in 2016/2017 for those 10 most average offensive players in the NBA. Again we used medians and standard deviations for all qualified players to identify players with the most average values. In the end, we selected the All-NBA Average Team.
If we didn’t take into account his very low $0.7 million salary, the most average player in the NBA would be Spencer Dinwiddie. Not only that his offensive numbers are average, even his advanced offensive stats are very close to DWS and DBPM medians. However, with his quite average $3.6 million rookie contract salary, the most average NBA player, the “Average Joe” of the NBA would be… Willie Cauley-Stein! The All-NBA Average Team also includes Austin Rivers, Bojan Bogdanovic, Matt Barnes and Aron Baynes. All those players mostly come off the bench, they are occasional starting-5 players, therefore they average low starting unit-high 2nd unit minutes.
While most of our average players earn relatively average amounts of NBA dollars, there are also exceptions, positive and negative ones. Spencer Dinwiddie, who we mentioned before, is an average contributor with average efficiency and defensive presence, but he does that while earning the minimum salary. On the other hand we have Timofey Mozgov who is almost as average as Dinwiddie, but he is making more than 20 times as much, $16 million in the 2016/2017 season to be precise. However, before signing this lucrative contract in the salary cap boom offseason 2016, he was making money just below the league median. And we are back to him being quite average!