Swapping the King and Batman


There’s a new statistical tool I came across of after reading a wonderful post by Ian Levy. It was the player-swap tool over at Queen City Hoops, a Charlotte Bobcats blog that is part of ESPN’s TrueHoop network. I fell in love with it after making different combos.

Then at one point, I decided to swap two star small forwards in Danny Granger and LeBron James. First, we’ll start with how LeBron James affects the Indiana Pacers, if he were to magically come over in a simple trade for Granger. Before we start that, here are both of the player’s efficiency stats:

To actually get a good view of that, you may want to click on the photo in order to see it. No let’s get to the analysis.

With Danny Granger. the Indiana Pacers Pythagorean record is 38-44. That is good enough to sneak them as an eighth seed. Hey, it’s possible. But it doesn’t work all the time. His offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency is alright, I would say. But when it comes to doing the net efficiency, it isn’t so good, going down to a negative 1.1.

If Granger were to be replaced by LeBron James, James would have brought 107.8 offensive efficiency, a plus 2.7 better rating that Granger’s. James’ defensive efficiency, though, is slightly different from Danny’s, negative 0.4 off his. But the King has a net efficiency of 1.2 which brings a positive 2.3 difference there.

If we total it up, James make a difference, bringing a 44-38 Pythagorean record. That’s opposite of Granger’s, That’s good enough to bring seeds of between eighth through sixth! After looking at that, here’s the difference:

But there’s many questions that come to my mind when seeing this?

  • Can a change of one star small forward to another really effect the wins to a team?
  • Can LeBron actually produce in real life like this, maybe all on his own?
  • Do the players contribute to his performance?

The first question is a yes. I really couldn’t say Danny Granger is a superstar small forward, but is going to become one. He’s your average star SF. Though he is kind of like that, since his name became widely known during the 2008-09 season, we would still put Granger as one of the Top Ten in the league in that position.

But back to my point.

LeBron is simply better. He once brought 60 wins to the Cavs all on his own. So the first question answers a yes for me. So what if it is 44 wins? The Cavs did in fact had better weapons, which also changes it. But can LeBron actually change Indiana like this in real life? I think so. He is a younger Shaq-like guy in Roy Hibbert. A good power forward in Troy Murphy and two good guards in Dahntay Jones and T.J. Ford.

Maybe LeBron is the big difference.

And yes, I think the players can strongly contribute to the performance here. Like I said before, there’s some good weapons.

Now the last thing to discuss is the Actual stats for the Pacers under LeBron. Now let’s count LeBron’s last 16 games he played in. Why 16? Because the Pacers had a great run towards the last 16 games. Since the season is over for LeBron and the Pacers, it’s hard to make a chart out of it with remaining games. So let’s do it this way. The Pacers went 11-5 in their last 16 games they played in.

How about LeBron? James did okay, I would say. He led the Cavaliers to a 10-6 record in the games he played in. Now the Indiana Pacers finished with a 30-52 record. So let’s add it up: The Pacers would have actually finished with a 40-42 record, maybe. That’s actually good enough to make the playoffs this year. But Chicago is up there at 41-41. Maybe it could have changed something there, you never know.

So here is how we can conclude this: besides Indy winning 30-35 games for the past few years, swapping Danny Granger for LeBron James could add 8-15 more victories to the team. I could take that.

Now for the Cavaliers. What if Cleveland suddenly decided to just swap LeBron James for Danny Granger? Hey, maybe they could do it. I probably wouldn’t, but let’s just say they did. You can check out the actually efficiency charts for both players from the starting of this post. Remember to click on the photo so you can see it well.

The Cavaliers have a 114.7 offensive efficiency, 103.2 defensive efficiency, and a 11.5 net efficiency under LeBron James. This gives the Cavs a 67-15 Pythagorean record. Now if the Cavaliers decide to trade for Granger, it doesn’t make much of a difference. The Cavs slightly drop in offensive efficiency by two points, gain 0.4 in defensive and lose 1.8 in net. With that, the Cavs are 64-18 under Granger, which is a three-win difference. Could it really be that bad? I don’t think so.

So this is how it all lays out:

This also brings questions:

  • Can the Cavs be a quality playoff time with Granger?
  • Can Granger produce?

The Cavs can be a quality playoff team, maybe even better with Granger actually. Now you probably might think I’m crazy, but hell, it might work. Here’s one thing here that can be un-statistical that brings James down in some playoff games: pressure. Think about it. The whole city and millions of people from all over the world are relying on one person to bring a team home a championship.

For Granger, yes, there can be pressure but fans can’t put too much fate in him. Granger is able to rely on his teammates way more. Now I’m not saying LeBron is selfish or anything, okay. But Granger will pass more often and let Shaq take a dish in or two and help Antwan Jamison. But things may be different. But still winning 60 games is still pretty good, and under Granger, it may be good.

That other question: Can he produce? Yeah, he can. The passing but other than that; this guy can really score, no doubt. The Cavaliers finished 60-21 this season. If Granger were to come in, the Cavs actual Pythagorean record would be 61-21, according to the results calculated. Take a look:

It’s crazy to me. Swapping LeBron for Granger can benefit both teams’ records?? I know, right? So this is a first edition of swapping players for me. I look to do this more often with the Pacers roster and see how things turn out. To conclude this, here is a picture of Granger and LeBron fighting at a rebound:

We don’t know who will live on to have a better career and who benefits each other or their own teams more, but we all know one thing: they are headed for a very bright future.