Based on a traditional measure like, say, points per game, Chicago’s best basketball player is Ben Gordon (20.2), followed by Derrick Rose (16.8), Luol Deng (13.7), Drew Gooden (13.4) and so on. But advanced hoops science tells us that, in fact, that the one guy Vinny Del Negro should most want on the court is none other than Andres Nocioni. No, really.
Based on NBA.com’s Lenovo Plus-Minus Stats – wait, I’m sorry, make that their AutoTrader.com Plus-Minus Stats – the Bulls are +71 points this season when Chapu is on the floor, making him much better than Rose (-127), Gooden (-64), Deng (-62) and Gordon (-11), not to mention Joakim Noah (-11), Larry Hughes (-33), Thabo Sefolosha (-36) and Tyrus Thomas (-98). The only player who comes close to Noc is Kirk Hinrich (+54), and only Demetris Nichols (who has appeared in two games this season) is the only other Chicago player on the plus-side of the ledger (+13).
Now, according to 82games.com, Nocioni ranks 23rd in the league in Net Points Per 100 Possessions at +10.8. Not only does that number place him ahead of high-profile guys like Chris Bosh, Shaq, Dwight Howard, Brandon Roy, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, etc., it makes him by far the top player on his own team. The next closest Bull, Joakim Noah, currently ranks 72nd at +3.0. For the sake of comparison, Rose is way, way down the list at -9.4.
What does it all mean? Should Noc receive more minutes and an expanded role? I don’t know. But when he goes off on one of his bitter rants – for example: “It’s personal, you know? Everybody needs to step up. Everybody needs to take the challenge.” – maybe his teammates should pay closer attention and try a little harder to emulate his passion and intensity. Then maybe they could be immortalized in verse too…