When Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 came out, I told you all to buy it, and wrote a painfully eloquent, and personal, review of it for the Works. It discusses the ongoing question of math vs. experience, and how FD fits into. You might be surprised.
The more I talked to Kevin Pelton about the book, though, the more I realized that in many cases, PBP's conclusions (or hypotheses) are FD catnip. In other words, guys, we might be right! Sometimes. Here's his list of the book's Ten Most FD Moments, with some commentary from yours truly. I don't think they are in any particular order.
1. Josh Smith worth 13.5 WARP last season
Should have been an All-Star, kept out only by silly positional categories and a bad reputation he never really deserved. And yet anyone who watched him closely last year would tell you that Smith was absolutely indispensable. Not just because of the kind of team Atlanta had, but for the kind of game he has developed.
2. Rajon Rondo is the Celtics' "best player."
Exhibit A: This season. Maybe the Celtics are healthier, happier, and closer than ever. But when a system gains new clarity from top to bottom, there's no way interpersonal love and joy are responsible. You look to the guy with the rock, the man who sets it all into motion.
3. Rodrigue Beaubois' top comparable is Leandro Barbosa
Bittersweet, since Barbosa's career didn't quite turn out as expected. Still, I'll take a remake of that film any day over just another combo guard whose scoring gives us chills.
4. Monta Ellis used to be efficient way back in 2007-08
Suggesting, thusly, that when the Warriors have some rhythm to then, Monta can put up numbers while being a perfectly reasonable teammate. We're seeing that this year, and it's one of the early bright spots. The man has the tools of a sound, solid player, albeit one prone to fanciness around the hoop and 18-point quarters. Don't judge a book by its style!
5. Lamar Odom: "The unsung hero of the Lakers' back-to-back championships."
This is fast turning into: "Pelton sees the future, and it is very, very good to FD". Odom this season is the best he's been since Miami, and his ability to still step up and contribute shows that, in fact, he's been better integrated into the team's plan than we may have previously thought. His first few seasons in LA stunk, but now, he's settled into a near-ideal role. When "Lamar Odom" is a role, things are right in the world.
6. Brandon Jennings: "You can craft a good argument that he should have been Rookie of the Year."
I like Tyreke Evans a lot, but Jennings is the people's champ -- and sneaky good by the numbers, too. Strange for a player who is seemingly up and down as a pure point, and prone to poor shooting.
7. Anthony Randolph comparables: Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Joe Smith, Josh Smith
Given the season Randolph is having, this inconclusive, boom-or-bust mess -- like something you would understand only while about to slip into a black hole -- makes a certain amount of sense? Will he or won't he? What is that question even about? The best part about Randolph, which we're seeing with the Knicks, is that no one doubts his abilities. It's just totally unclear what the hell anyone's supposed to do with them. He might be the greatest useless player ever.
8. Kevin Durant: fourth-best WARP total of any player younger than 22
As we mention in the book, there's something historic about KD. It's just hard to nail it down. Apparently, the PBP people have.
9. DeMarcus Cousins: "statistical darling of the rookie class."
He is also probably the FD darling of the rookie class, with all the forgiveness, and ambivalence, implies by that phrase.
10. JaVale McGee led the league in block percentage
JaVale McGee is block percentage. What he does with that knowledge is up to him.