Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison ammunition
Plus/minus is a statistic I use from time to time. I try to not use it much because it requires explanation, and then understanding. It’s a little cumbersome. But as we approach Game 5 of the NBA Finals, now’s the time to bring it out.
Plus/minus measures the score of the game while a particular player is on the court. For example, the Thunder led the Heat 15-10, I think it was, in Game 4 when Serge Ibaka went to the bench with two fouls. So Ibaka at that point was plus-five. His meter started running again when he returned to the court.
Critics say plus/minus is useful only in large doses of data. In other words, one or two games is not enough to be relevant. There’s some truth to that. On the other hand, if your team is wildly successful with you on the court — James Harden, Game 2 — than that has to mean something.
What I like about plus/minus is that it helps measure the intangibles. We hear incessantly from Scotty Brooks how Kendrick Perkins’ screens or Thabo Sefolosha’s defense or Derek Fisher’s floor-spreading helps the Thunder. He’s absolutely right. Those things do help. But we have no numbers to measure them. Plus/minus helps shed a light. If those things are helping the Thunder, it will show up on the scoreboard, which is the most important stat in basketball.
So here’s what the plus/minus numbers show through four games. The Nick Collison supporters, who clamor for more Collison in this series, have some ammunition.
Collison leads the Thunder in plus/minus: plus-10 through four games. Collison was +13, +8, -11 and even in the four games.
Now, don’t go riding driving off the cliff with plus/minus. The most stark plus/minus number in the Finals is Thabo’s minus-19. With Thabo on the court, the Thunder has been outscored by 19 points. Does anyone want to play Game 5 without Sefolosha and his defense?
Anyway, here are the plus/minus numbers for each player, with totals and game-by-game:
Kevin Durant +3: +15, -9, -3, even.
Russell Westbrook +6: +14, -11, +3, even.
James Harden +6: +2, +13, -5, -4.
Kendrick Perkins -11: -2, -16, +3, +4.
Thabo Sefolosha -19: +14, -3, -11, -19.
Serge Ibaka -16: -3, -15, +8, -6.
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