“Skinny” Kyle Lowry has been lighting it up this season. This we could have expected somewhat – based on his age, skill set, and prior seasons, I projected his Box Plus Minus (BPM) contributions to jump from +3.6 per 100 to +4.1 per 100 this year. But with career highs in scoring, (21.1 points per 36) efficiency, (TS% of .587) block% (1.3), along with his 2nd-best ever Steal% (3.8), Kyle Lowry has trounced his projections with a Box Plus Minus of +9.0. His Value Over Replacement Player (VORP)[1. This is BPM’s measure of TOTAL contribution to a team’s Point Differential per 100 possessions] of 1.8 translates to about 4.9 Wins Above Replacement already in just 18 games, wedged between Curry/Westbrook and LeBron/Kawhi.
Here’s each team’s biggest gainers and losers by BPM minus my projection (minimum 200 minutes played)[2. Also note that for all these charts any rookie appearance is based on a BPM estimate via Kevin Ferrigan’s RAPM projections].
Believe it or not, there are a couple other players whose box-score contributions have exceeded my model’s projections more than Lowry’s: Hassan Whiteside and Paul George. Paul George’s case is pretty easy: my model unfairly regressed him to the mean based on only 91 minutes played in 2014-2015[3. I am going to fix this next season]. Whiteside’s is a little more based in reality: BPM saw a “mostly-defense player”[4. And the box-score is extremely limited at doing even that] anchoring the…uh… 26th-best defense in the league. But currently allowing just 97.9 points per 100, Miami has taken a quantum leap to the 2nd-best defense in the league! Combine that with his NBA-leading (and mind-boggling) block percentage of 12.5%, and BPM feels a little more comfortable “divvying out” points to Whiteside.
Here’s the full top 25:
Holy Tyler Johnson![5. My only NBA player that I can call a friend-of-a-friend / acquaintance-of-an-acquaintance] Speaking of exclamations…here’s the bottom 25.
We can expect players to regress to the mean somewhat, especially since my projections are for the end of the season numbers. So don’t be surprised if your least/most favorite player on this list trends a little toward the “Projection” column. But we can easily eyeball what players have under or over-performed early in the season by using BPM.