Supplemental Player Production Update: 12/21/18
Understanding The Production of Non-Star Units
Supplemental Player Production Explained
The NBA is ruled by the best players in the league. At team level, it’s easy to identify two to three players that fit the description of high impact players. These we call a team’s “Big 3”.
The remaining 10-12 players on each team’s roster are what we call “Supplemental Players”. Their duty is to support, complement, and supplement the production of the team’s “Big 3”.
We’ve designed a system to monitor the production of these “Supplemental Players”. We call it the “Supplemental Player Production”.
To see a detailed explanation of this metric, the statistics, and details for each team, visit our Google Sheet HERE.
Today’s article details some important notes relating to the Utah Jazz and other noteworthy teams based on this metric:
Utah Jazz: Stuck in the Middle
The Utah Jazz currently rank 17th in “Supplemental Player” NRTG with a -4.0. The offense from their “Supplemental Players” ranks 19th and their defense slots in at 15th. Overall their bench unit is average in every sense of the word.
To further the point, they also rank 17th in “Supplemental” player reliance. They may need to lean more heavily on combinations involving two or more members of their “Big 3” on the floor at the same time.
The biggest culprit to the negative “Supplemental Player” lineups for the Jazz have been the minutes played with Donovan Mitchell on the floor with the other members of the big three are off.
In 145 min. of Mitchell on the floor without Gobert and Ingles, the Utah Jazz are a -18.9 in NRTG. The Jazz can’t seem to score the ball and are also giving up big points on the other end.
The Jazz’s struggles would appear much worse without the steadying presence of Joe Ingles. When Joe is on the floor with Utah’s “Supplemental Players”, the team is a +4.2…in 376 possessions. Rudy Gobert has a greater impact when he takes the floor but sees much fewer possessions with the “Supplemental Players”.
Without a great “Big 3”, Utah needs their bench to pick up some of the slack if they want to fulfill their expectations of a top team in the West.
Toronto Raptors: Don't Buy the Narrative
For all the talk that the Raptors have the best bench in the league, their “Supplemental Player” lineup numbers aren’t proving that adage true.
The Toronto Raptors currently rank 22nd in the league in “Supplemental Player” NRTG with a -5.5. They have a bottom 5 offense when one member or fewer of their “Big 3” are on the floor. Their defense squeaks into the top 10 but overall, these lineups are disappointment.
Toronto relies on these “Supplemental Player” lineups 8th most of any team in the league. Only three other are ahead of them in usage of their “Supplemental Players” that also yield a negative NRTG in such lineups.
The biggest bright spot has been the impact of Pascal Siakam. Not only has his individual play catapulted his name to the top of the Most Improved Player award projections, he’s the only reason the Raptors’ “Supplemental Players” haven’t dropped even lower. In only 186 possessions, Toronto is boasting a +14.2 NRTG when Siakam shares the floor with “Supplemental Players” only.
The Raptors are leaning heavily on lineups without any of their “Big 3” on the floor (469 possessions) and are also negative in those lineups. They should trust Siakam to run the show more often.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Who Would've Thought?
Despite the ineptitude that has accompanied the Timberwolves all season, it doesn’t have much to do with their “Supplemental Players”.
Minnesota currently boasts the 8th best “Supplemental Players” NRTG at +2.1. Their offense is nothing to brag about at 21st in the NBA, but their defense ranks top 5 in the league. They rank 11th in reliance of their “Supplemental Players”.
Where Minnesota really gets their “Supplemental Player” help is from lineups featuring none of their “Big 3”. They’ve played 500 possessions without Towns, Teague, or Wiggins and are holding their own with a +3.8 NRTG.
Even lineups featuring Andrew Wiggins have been positive this year. Out of just 183 possessions, Wiggins and “Supplemental Player” lineups are boasting a +9.2. It’s unclear if this is sustainable, but for now, it’s great value.
Oddly enough the lineups featuring Towns or Teague are the only downsides to their “Supplemental Player” units. Credit Minnesota for only sending Teague out alone with the “Supplemental Players” for 34 possessions.
Minnesota may not figure it out this year but their “Supplemental Players” should get all the credit for not allowing a worse start.
Indiana Pacers: Quiet Domination
Indiana isn’t being talked up enough. They missed their best player, Oladipo, for a large portion of their season and yet are still a Top 4 East team with a .624 win % and Top 6 NRTG in the league.
Thank you “Supplemental Players”. Indiana shares the crown of most dominate supporting cast in the league with Denver, both of whom boast a +7.6 NRTG. Indiana owns the league’s best “Supplemental Players” offense and slots in, respectably, at 10th on defense.
556 possessions have been played by Indiana without the help of Bogdanovic, Collison, or Turner (Oladipo doesn’t qualify having missed significant time). In such possessions, Indiana is a +19.1. Indiana is dominating at a such a level that even lineups featuring Turner that are a -26.6 aren’t having that detrimental of an affect.
Indiana could prove extremely dangerous should Oladipo stay healthy and qualify for the “Big 3” in place of Collison or Turner. In just 88 possessions without the current “Big 3”, Indiana is a +29.7 with Victor on the floor with “Supplemental Players”.