This is true love. You think this happens every day? – Wesley “The Princess Bride”
Basketball Reference is a big part of my life. Some one asks a question about basketball and it allows me to find answer 95% of the time. All the data from 1986 to now in one convenient searchable database. Add in the fact that it makes Automated Wins produced possible and this blog could not exist without it. It let’s me analyze. It let’s me compare. It let’s me make crazy points.
It also let’s me answer reader questions.
Reader ilikeflowers asks:
“Can we get a post on Love’s performance versus Kobe’s 81? I’m thinking that if the average starter stat line for each player’s position is known, then each stat line can be translated into points above average for a direct comparison of which performance was better.”
You certainly can my friend.
So quantifying Kevin Love’s big night by comparing it against Kobe’s, let’s put things in perspective.
Both nights were unique in Basketball reference’s database. Kobe’s is the most points scored in any game in that data set. Kevin’s is the only 30/30 night. That’s right the only ones. No MJ or Barkley’s or Birds. No Dreams or Patricks or Shaq. Love and Kobe stand alone.
But how do they stack up to each other? Let’s look at the tale of the tape:
Impressive stat line right? But they don’t tell us much by way of comparison. Luckily we have a handy dandy metric that can help us out. Wins Produced (go here for the Basics). It let’s us translate stats to wins and then compare players. Now if you read the Basics, you know there’s all sorts of complicated stuff that goes into calculating it.
I could go through the trouble of working out the game splits but that’s more trouble than I’m willing to go through on a saturday night before bed.I’m going to cheat a bit. I’m going to project out both stat lines for an 82 game season and then I’m feeding it into a WP breakdown sheet I have lying around. The results:
Kobe’s best game in his career was better than KLove’s big night. You would be expected to win every game with a performance like that. Love’s only wins at an NBA record pace. The big difference is that Kobe’s Defensive win production is better than Love’s Scoring production. One huge caveat is that Kobe had his night at 27 and Love is 22. We have not seen his best as of yet.
Kevin Love is a transcendent and unique basketball talent. I am of the opinion that he’s the kind of player you can build a champion around. He is a superstar big. The problem is that his team does not deserve him. In a few years, when he’s taking a big market team to the playoffs, I will feel for the Minnesota fans but the front office will only have themselves to blame.