Elfrid Payton over Andrew Wiggins? No. No. No.


Sometimes, advanced statistics are good, useful and helpful.

Sometimes, advanced statistics are bad, useless and unhelpful.

I read an article last week about Basketball Power Index numbers stating that Elfrid Payton is a more deserving candidate than Andrew Wiggins to win the Rookie of the Year award.

That’s where advanced statistics are least helpful.

I view advanced statistics as a way for general managers and owners to figure who to sign and for how much, and for coaches to know who to play and when during a game.

It’s absolutely ludicrous that this article said Payton deserves to win an award over Wiggins when their teams are nearly identical in record. Orlando is 22-50 and Minnesota is 15-54, despite Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio missing a total of 121 games this season. Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris have missed a total of 31 games this season.

Payton plays point guard, a loaded position in today’s NBA if a player is in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, Payton has to go up against Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Jeff Teague.

The Western Conference features Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, Tony Parker, and Stephen Curry.

Maybe if Payton was in the Western Conference, there would be an argument.

Wiggins has had his share of fine moments against the NBA’s best perimeter players. He normally guards the opposing teams best offensive player and has had two spectacular games against LeBron James.

From my simple evaluation and over the course of almost five months, Wiggins has had a better season than Payton.

Over their last 43 games, Wiggins has been better. Wiggins is averaging 17.9 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and .7 blocks on shooting splits of .457/.308/.754. Payton is performing well; too, averaging 10 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.8 steals on shooting splits that are dramatically worse .442/.250/.566. Wiggins is also averaging 38 minutes per contest compared to Payton’s 33.

Payton has come on strong-er lately as Wiggins’ minutes are probably catching up to him, but Wiggins has managed to grab every Rookie of the Month honor and MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge, not that it means a lot since it’s an exhibition game.

Payton’s numbers look better than Wiggins’ Per 36 minutes because Wiggins nearly plays 36 minutes per game. It’s deceiving because NBA players usually pace themselves throughout the course of a game. Wiggins hasn’t fully figured out how to do that just yet, which is weird because he should know the routine by now. He usually plays the entire first quarter, gets a short rest in the second quarter, and then comes back in. Starts the third quarter, plays the entire quarter or most of it, then sits for the start of the fourth quarter until the under nine-minute timeout. He usually finishes out the game.

I think Wiggins’ scoring totals would be more impressive if he didn’t play with Kevin Martin. Martin has attempted the 22nd-most field goals Per 36 minutes this season (17.4) and he attempts 16.2 field goals per game.

I think Wiggins need to become more consistently aggressive, and then I think he can take the next step.

I think Payton will be a good NBA player, but Wiggins has “superstar” potential written all over him.

If Payton “deserves” to win the ROY, then why didn’t Rubio win ROY in 2012?

Rubio was 10th in assists per game (8.2) and tied for second in steals (2.2). He played in 41 games, starting in 31, before tearing his ACL. He averaged 10.6 points per game, too.

Kyrie Irving won ROY that year and his team won 21 games. Minnesota won 26, and finished 5-20 after Rubio got hurt.

He finished second in ROY voting. Irving won in a landslide and it wasn’t because of team success. He was simply the best rookie.

Statistically, Payton is a better defender.

Realistically, Wiggins is a better player.

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