Diving into More On-Off Numbers: The Beard and Two Cavs

Published on 25-Dec-2016 by Colin Chiles

Basketball - NBA    NBA Daily Opinion

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Diving into More On-Off Numbers: The Beard and Two Cavs

Following on from my first installment -- where I featured Russell Westbrook and Giannis Antetokounmpo -- I'm turning my sights onto a trio of the NBA's A-listers here.

The lens I'm using is the on-off statistic, gauging how a team does with and without a given player on the floor.

These dudes come with an aura of greatness: James Harden, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving.

First up: James Harden down in Houston:

HOU with Harden on the floor   HOU with Harden off the floor
  Offensive rating ... 117.8     Offensive rating ... 105.7
  Opponents offensive rating ... 108.0     Opponents offensive rating ... 103.4

Nothing's all that surprising here, but it’s still interesting to see the splits.

The Rockets are better defensively when Harden isn’t playing, but that's clearly mitigated because dude adds so much to the offense. His difference comes in at +7.5.

Another interesting note: Houston's still better than their opponents when Harden's on the bench. This is the hallmark of a good team; it shows Harden has something my first installment's pairing do not.

Time to check on LeBron Raymone James.

CLE with James on the floor   CLE with James off the floor
  Offensive rating ... 118.2     Offensive rating ... 108.4
  Opponents offensive rating ... 105.3     Opponents offensive rating ... 111.7

Well, this is a shocker: Dude's really, really good.

I wouldn't have guessed him as out-pacing Harden and the Rockets on offense, but there the Cavaliers are at 118.2. LeBron’s difference is +16.2.

While we’re here, we might as well check on Kyrie Irving.

CLE with Irving on the floor   CLE with Irving off the floor
  Offensive rating ... 115.6     Offensive rating ... 114.8
  Opponents offensive rating ... 108.3     Opponents offensive rating ... 105.0

Dude’s difference: -2.5.

But we’re sure he’s a megastar, right?

As much as I’d love to bash Kyrie for this, it highlights one of the problems with on/off the court numbers.

You've gotta consider that the Cavs almost always have one of Irving, LeBron, or Kevin Love on the floor. So even when he’s sitting, the team out there is still really, really good.

I do think the Cavs' success with or without James on the floor says a little something about Irving, just not so drastic as his having a negative impact on the team overall.

Dude fits well within team chemistry, and that's something that's hard to measure.