Monday, June 7, 2010

The Wright Decision

I suspect that the Minnesota Lynx would be a lot better - or at least not as bad - if they could give Monica Wright's minutes to someone else.

Wright was the #2 overall draft pick in 2010. The 5-10 guard has absolutely horrible stats. True, one would expect that a rookie might be underperforming compared to her peers, but her lack of production is at an all new level. Her Adjusted Wins Score is a disaster - there are many "quantify player by one number" metrics but AWS is one of my favorites:

Ten Lowest Values in AWS - 2010

1. Monica Wright, Lynx, -46.0
2. Quanitra Hollingsworth, Lynx, -14.4
3. Marissa Coleman, Mystics, -13.6
4. Noelle Quinn, Sparks, -12.8
5. Nuria Martinez, Lynx, -12
6. Shavonte Zellous, Shock/Fever, -11.7
7. Nicole Ohlde, Mercury, -11.6
8. Roneeka Hodges, Silver Stars, -10.5
9. Katie Smith, Mystics, -10.5
10. Matee Ajavon, Mystics, -8.8

Note the presence of two other members of the Lynx here: Quanitra Hollingsworth and Nuria Martinez. Wright has played more minutes than Hollingsworth and Martinez put together, and here are Wright's stats:

Shooting: 12.1 points per game - but 31.5 percent field goal percentage (40-for-127). All in all, for the 40 shots she made the 87 shots she didn't make put the Lynx at risk. Many of those misses ended up in the hands of the opposing team, probably too many.

A/TO Ratio: 8 assists and 29 turnovers - the only worse player in the WNBA in assist/turnover ratio with a minimum of 20 points per game is Nakia Sanford of the Mystics, with 4 assists and 17 turnovers. Wright is tied for second in overall turnovers in the WNBA with 29, tied with Nicky Anosike (a teammate) and Swin Cash of the Storm, and exceeded only by Lindsey Harding of the Mystics and her 34 turnovers.

Even if Monica Wright were the best defender that ever lived - she was an WBCA Defensive Player of the Year - she is absolutely digging a offensive hole that even a great defender couldn't dig out of. The most glamorous of defense stats is steals. Camille Little of the Storm has 23 steals, leading the WNBA. Tamika Catchings of the Fever has 19 and Angel McCoughtry has 18.

Wright has eight. Put it this way. Erika de Souza and Alison Bales also have eight steals.

I might have only been following basketball for a short time...but what exactly is Wright bringing to the Lynx? In an 81-58 loss to the Fever, Wright went 1-for-13 in shooting. Maybe Wright will warm up and become the great player everyone expected her to be...but I wouldn't be giving her 20 minutes a game to find out.

One of the problems of coaching is called the "principal clerk" problem. Do coaches contribute anything to the success of a team, or is the success entirely dependent on the players? One thing that coaches might be able to do to distinguish themselves is to control the minutes played of players. A coach might have no choice in which players she has. She also might not be able to instruct players or change their bad habits, but the very least she can do is to play the best players and to avoid playing bad ones.

Frisco del Rosario implied that for Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, the "last cigarette and the blindfold" might be coming soon. It wouldn't surprise me. On Thursday night the Lynx will face a real gut-check in Phoenix, but at 2-7 you need to have more than your guts checked. You need your head examined.

1 comment:

Dreamer said...

Well, Shavonte Zellous is getting close to 20 minutes a game, and her numbers aren't great. But her team is winning, so nobody cares.

And when Wright was moved out of the starting line-up, she was replaced by a player who went on to average 3 ppg as a starter--the "much improved" Rashanda McCants. This was a move that fans called for. So where do you turn to rid Wright of her minutes?

I guess there's a reason why the coaches coach and fans are fans. We don't attend practices nor, in your case, are we privy to the details of personnel decisions made in this league. The season is young and we will soon see how everything plays out.