A Look at the Pelicans Through the RAPM Lens

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012-13 season RAPM data was recently released. How do the Pelicans look?

Basic plus-minus stats reflect the team's performance while a player was on the floor. An individual plus-minus rating, however, is not necessarily indicative of a player's true value. A bad player sharing the floor with four good ones could have an undeservedly high plus minus rating, while a good player playing with lesser teammates could have an unfairly low rating.

Earlier this week, Jerry Engelmann released his Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus (RAPM) calculations for the 2012-13 season. RAPM attempts to isolate a player’s individual plus-minus contribution, and tends to better in predictive studies than PER, Wins Produced, and Win Shares. Here and here are more complex and thorough explanations of RAPM.

So, how does RAPM rate the Pelicans?

Player

Offense (Per 100 Possessions)

Defense (Per 100 Possessions)

Total (Per 100 Possessions)

Rank

Average NBA Player

-0.62

-0.44

-1.06

Eric Gordon

2.3

-2.1

0.2

123

Tyreke Evans

0.6

-0.8

-0.2

143

Jrue Holiday

0.2

0.5

0.7

99

Ryan Anderson

3.3

-2.9

0.4

119

Anthony Davis

-0.3

1.1

0.8

92

Al-Farouq Aminu

-1.9

3.6

1.8

63

Greg Stiemsma

-4.1

3.4

-0.7

173

Jason Smith

-1.4

0.9

-0.5

159

Austin Rivers

-2.3

-2.6

-4.9

452

Anthony Morrow

-0.7

-4.3

-4.9

457

Brian Roberts

-0.3

-3.4

-3.7

418

Darius Miller

-2.7

-0.9

-3.6

413

RAPM rates several of the key Pelicans lower than their reputations would suggest, while Al-Farouq Aminu is ranked higher than players such as Kawhi Leonard, Zach Randolph, and Al Horford. Of course, like any other stat, RAPM should not be used as the definitive judgment of a player. It does, however, lend a perspective on a player’s impact that can be adjusted through observation.

A few notes:

In a cruel twist of fate, Evans came in exactly one spot behind former Hornet Greivis Vasquez. However, despite the similarities in their total RAPM, they rate as very different players. Evans’ offensive RAPM is slightly above average, while his defense was slightly below. Vasquez offensive RAPM of 2.2 is far above average, while his defensive RAPM of -2.4 was far below.

If the NBA decides to scrap the regular season in exchange for a tournament between each team's bottom three players, the Pelicans are in a very bad position. With two players, Austin Rivers and Anthony Morrow, and potentially a third pending a team decision regarding Xavier Henry, the Pelicans tie the Phoenix Suns for most players ranked in the bottom 20 in the league.

While RAPM may leave you pessimistic (the Pelicans’ positive contributors' combined RAPM of 3.9 is only slightly better than Danillo Gallanari, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and LaMarcus Aldridge are by themselves), the Pelicans have a strong talent base that has the potential to bring a level of success not previously expected for several more years.

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