Ain’t No Luck

By Mike Begley

As a card game aficionado if I’ve learned anything it’s that anyone can win but some tend to win more hands than others. No matter the cards, we make our own luck. In my WBA playing days I noticed some players would only care if they showed up grabbed a few boards scored a few baskets put on a good show. Others wouldn’t care if they missed every shot so long as they won the game. Back then, before advanced stats, it was based on intuition, some players tend to win, others not so much.

These days the plus minus stat seems to have this intuition covered. I don’t understand the math behind it all but it would seem to explain, as best as anything, how well a team does when a particular player is on the floor- by how much does our team outscore the opponent or by how much are we outscored when x is on the court?

A humbling stat that won’t make GSPN highlights any time soon but one that deserves attention. Is Joe Role Player averaging 5 points a game the real star of the show? Does overpaid scorer need to have his minutes lowered? Is it time for a legend to call it a career? We’ve all wanted certain players to be goners but that plus minus stat really makes me ponder… I’ve taken a look at each team and pointed out a player that stuck out. Let’s find out who’s who:

Midwest Division

Fanatics (+7.2) / Boom Boom Casey (0.2): Significant dip with Boom Boom. My guess is the legend is pacing himself or could it be that father time has claimed another great?

Wild (2.8) / Charles Cushman (10.6): Overall team plus minus 2.8 with Cushman an outstanding 10.6! This one is simple bros those boards translate into more scoring opportunities for the Wild and less for the competition.

Sun Warriors (-2.8) / Rick Shulz (-4.6): It may not be the Sun Warriors season, with Rick Shulz in the game it DEFINITELY is not the Sun Warriors season.

Pioneers (-9.6) / Bill Yeager (-2.3): It’s clear Yeager has heart keeping games competitive when he is on the floor in clearly a rebuilding season for the Pioneers. Let’s hope Yeager has another shot at competing for a championship.

Stingers (-12.3) / John Greene (-3.2): On a team with few strengths, a player with few weaknesses is a blessing who merits more time.

Pacific Division

Bears (6.6) / Art Campbell (-2.3): Does Oregon need Campbell’s rebounding off the bench? His strengths as a player may be offset by the preset strengths of the team.

Fighting Cocks (2.4) / Evelio Jackson (6): This kid fights through screens. Has a hand in your face. Plays D and it shows in the final score.

Dragons (-4.1) Tristen Collins (-4.9): Collins doesn’t seem to be helping his team either offensively or defensively. Safe to say, probably not helping his team in any way.

Snow Bears (-14.6) / Ed Rhodes (-9.9): Not his fault. It’s EVERYONES fault.

Gamblers (-5.4) / Felipe Juarez (1.4): One of the more athletic players in the league proves conditioning is not just for highlight reels. His hustle keeps his team in the game.

World Division

Zulus (6.2) / Eric Manning (-0.4): He can’t shoot. Never could. Never will. Eric Manning, don’t shoot.

Giants (11.4) / Elvis Harris (4.4): He’s counted on for instant offense but not quite delivering compared to the playing level set by the rest of the team. Still, +4 equals a win.

Outlaws (9.9) / Parker Mason (9.9): Stalwart, the model for consistency. Is there an award for most consistent player of the year?

Hellcats (-2.2) / George Holt (0.8): Full time starter throughout his career. Holt gobbles up shot attempts but also gets to the line. Hellcats outscore opposing team with him on the floor. It’s simple, unleash Holt!

Tigers (-15.1) / Jack Spiegel (-6): Strong big man, gets to the line. With Spiegel on the floor the Tigers go from terrible to simply bad.

Northeast Division

Dinos (12.4) / Walt Jackson (14.1): In case anyone was wondering. Yes, this kid is for real with the highest plus minus in the league. Domination with him on the floor.

Rage (8.7) / Mario Bailey (9.3): Some say media darling but this undrafted kid shows what hard work can do. While he may not have the glitz of a Jackson he has blossomed into a force to be reckoned.

Raiders (1.9) / Heiko Van Brandt (-0.6): Playing the most minutes of his career with numbers down across all levels there is no doubt Heiko is a valuable player though at his age this may be too much to expect of him.

Mayhem (-0.2) / Wayne Taylor (3.1): They say defense beats good offense. They also say every rule has an exception. You can call this exception Wayne Taylor. Perhaps the most dominant scoring force in the league. If only he could play all 48 minutes. Wait, he just may in the playoffs. Watch out.

Liberty (-7.1) / Darond Lyons (-7.5): No doubt this kid is talented. But when you’re the best player on the team shouldn’t you be helping your team win? Lyons will be an all-star for years but there are holes in his game that need to be filled evident when your team does better with you on the bench.

Atlantic Division

Xtreme (11.1) / John DIblasi (1.6): Safe to say, Diblasi probably shouldn’t be getting any minutes if the Xtreme are really set on winning a particular game. For the sake of depth throughout the season, that’s another question.

Hitmen (-1.7) / Tyler Durden (1.5): With a trusty jump shot it’s clear Durden helps his team win games.

Massacre (-3.1) / Al Rozier (-5.9): Ok this kid is young cut him a break. There will be growing pains. The difference in play between him and Hameleers though is clearly night and day.

Pirates (-4.9) / Arturo Fonzarelli (-1): Supremely talented offensively with conditioning and defense he will be leading the Pirates to the playoffs for years to come.

Crusaders (-8.8) / Marques Feldman (3): If the Crusaders wish to win a few more games may as well give Feldman a few more minutes.

Euro Division

Disco (6.5) / Sherman Mahara (6.8): As steady a hand as it gets. The ball is in good hands with Mahara in control. I see his minutes increasing come playoff time making the Disco even more dangerous.

Juggers (6.1) / Anthony Curtis (0.9): After playing a pivotal role in the last WBA championship, the freeze has not been well for Curtis, ten years of Parisian debauchery perhaps will do that ahem his commitment to the game has been questioned and appears to be in the doghouse playing only 23 minutes a game and not helping his team win much during those minutes. Still a talent.

Highlanders (0.9) / Nikos Atirides (-1): The enigma that is Atirides. The team statistically does better when he is on the bench. However, Atirides’ true damage is at the free throw line causing opposing coaches to abandon game plans and juggle minutes due to foul trouble. This would naturally lead to better bench performance for the Highlanders. So? Who knows, I’m lost.

Burning Hell (-2.3) / Walter Walter (-2.8): Some GM’s would argue the worst fate for a team is to be .500 with little chance to compete for either a championship or to land a top pick. I would say the worst fate for a team is to lose game 7 of the finals or to draft a bust as the number one pick. Not sure which is worse. Pedro Alcaraz is a competitor, his team has never missed the playoffs. However, if he insists on playing Walter Walter, who remains somewhat of a project, his team may indeed miss the playoffs for the first time.

Fury (2.8) / Whole team (2.8): The fury are the only team with a team positive plus minus yet oddly remain at .500. The reason? Likely conditioning (I hear those Frankfurt hot dogs are delicious). The team has much talent yet they just seem to run out of gas letting close games slip by. What’s the solution? Get in shape.

That’s it folks. This may or may not have sat well with some players. It may even provoke some trade talk. It just is what it is. Numbers don’t lie but they can mislead. At the end of the day it’s still all just intuition, one thing is for sure it ain’t no luck.

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