You know that the Golden State Warriors aren’t good. You don’t need numbers to tell you that.
Of course, if you wanted numbers to tell you that, you could look at winning percentage (29th in the league), point differential (28th), or net rating (28th). Those do the trick.
But what about the individuals that make up the team? How are they doing, in a quantifiable way?
Well, let’s find out. Sort of.
On Wednesday, ESPN roll out their first RPM calculations of the year. RPM, which stands for Real Plus-Minus, is a stat that combines box score data with plus-minus to rank players. It’s fun. It’s useful. And it comes with a lot of caveats.
Caveat #1: Advanced stats are awesome, and most require a ton of context. All-in-one stats, such as RPM, require the most context. The makers of the stat would not suggest that you use RPM as a strict ranking of players in the league - so don’t!
Caveat #2: RPM notoriously struggles with defense, which is why Klay Thompson has always graded out as a mediocre player and subpar defender, which we can all agree he is neither of those things.
Caveat #3: There are other stats that attempt to accomplish the same thing as RPM (more on that in a bit), and the results are often different, so take that into consideration.
Caveat #4: Did I mention the need for a few heaps of context?
Okay, with that said, let’s see where the Warriors players rank in RPM so far this year. As a barometer for what the numbers mean, the top three players in the league (LeBron James, James Harden, and Giannis Antetokounmpo) have RPMs of 9.70, 6.73, and 6.72, respectively.
Here are the Warriors, in order of best to worst:
Steph Curry (84th in the league, +1.54)
Ky Bowman (158th in the league, +0.50)
Alec Burks (190th in the league, +0.19)
Omari Spellman (214th in the league, -0.10)
D’Angelo Russell (257th in the league, -0.62)
Jacob Evans III (300th in the league, -1.02)
Damion Lee (321st in the league, -1.22)
Marquese Chriss (345th in the league, -1.45)
Draymond Green (350th in the league, -1.49)
Willie Cauley-Stein (356th in the league, -1.57)
Kevon Looney (375th in the league, -1.92)
Jordan Poole (401st in the league, -2.31)
Eric Paschall (406th in the league, -2.51)
Glenn Robinson III (414th in the league, 2.73)
Of course, you’re probably looking at Paschall being ranked among the very worst players in the NBA and remembering what I said about context. This doesn’t paint a whole picture; but it doesn’t paint a pretty picture, either.
Now, RPM release day is fun, but many who are heavy into advanced stats prefer PIPM (Player Impact Plus-Minus), a similar stat designed by Jacob Goldstein. So let’s see how the Dubs do there.
For the same barometer as before, PIPM’s top three players (Antetokounmpo, Harden, and Luka Doncic) have ratings of 8.57, 7.20, and 6.18, respectively.
Now, for the depressing results!
Draymond Green (129th in the league, +0.10)
Marquese Chriss (134th in the league, +0.05)
Steph Curry (198th in the league, -0.06)
Jacob Evans III (231st in the league, -0.14)
Omari Spellman (253rd in the league, -0.26)
Willie Cauley-Stein (271st in the league, -0.36)
Kevon Looney (282nd in the league, -0.41)
Damion Lee (294th in the league, -0.52)
Alec Burks (300th in the league, -0.57)
D’Angelo Russell (322nd in the league, -0.80)
Ky Bowman (342nd in the league, -1.04)
Eric Paschall (426th in the league, -2.20)
Glenn Robinson III (446th in the league, -2.82)
Jordan Poole (457th in the league, -3.54)
Well, that’s equally ugly!
Again: Context. And salt. Lots of both. But in the cases of many of these players, the numbers match what we’re seeing.