Win-Share (NBA)

Win-share is a statistic that is used in the NBA to determine how much a single player contributes to their team’s win total.

Basketball Reference has an in-depth explanation on how win-shares are calculated SELRES_df777756-9b4d-4c05-9164-49c1313da5b2SELRES_09e54016-a24b-4835-8998-86051fc174e9hereSELRES_09e54016-a24b-4835-8998-86051fc174e9SELRES_df777756-9b4d-4c05-9164-49c1313da5.

Win-shares work kind of like this: In 2018, LeBron James had a win-share of 14.0 while the Cavaliers won 50 games. Taking LeBron out of that equation, the rest of the team would contribute a total of 36 wins. Lebron would be responsible for 28% of his team’s success, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

There are of course a number of limitations when taking into account win-shares:

  1. Win-shares don’t give a full account of the impact a player has.
    • Some players work on intangibles, like setting screens, that may not necessarily show up on the stat line, but can help other players improve their stats by scoring points, for example.
    • Others, like LeBron, are terrific passers who can set up plays for their teammates, and that won’t necessarily be captured in the win-share statistic.
  2. Injuries resulting in less playing time can reduce the win-share total.
    • Minutes played” is a factor in calculating win-shares. If a player misses significant time due to injury, their minutes played throughout the season would decrease, resulting in less total productivity and thus, a lower win-share score.
  3. Taking a player out of the equation does not mean the team will only win the games they contribute. 
    • In the example stated above, we saw that the other Cavaliers would contribute 36 of their 50 wins without LeBron. If we’re to look at it practically, taking LeBron out of the equation would not mean the Cavaliers would only win 36 games. Others would get more playing time and would be able to contribute more, raising their individual win-share scores.
    • On the other hand, LeBron could realistically contribute more than the win-share score predicts. The team might actually end up performing worse without that centerpiece star, and their individual and total win-share scores could decrease.

*This post may be subject to regular updates.

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