Defending the Indefensible: Marvin Williams over Chris Paul

In recent memory, a bad transaction move as perceived by many that NBA GM’s have made is the selection of Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, and Deron Williams over Chris Paul in the 2005 NBA Draft, particularly Marvin Williams.  Even Deron’s greatest defenders probably would not state that he is better than Paul after his self-destruction as a Net, Bogut is oft-injured, and Marvin Williams is often derided as a bust.  Well, as you can see from the title, I am not calling the selections of Bogut and Marvin bad moves.  While not “must-takes”, they were certainly not unfathomable.

On his old website, the URL’s namesake has the initial calculations of his draft predictors, Yogi and Booboo.  Yogi and Booboo are two separate systems designed to predict an NBA prospect’s rookie year Wins Produced based on his college statistics, height, position, and age.  If they rich certain thresholds-I think it is .070 WP48 for one and .080 for the other-the system “picks” the player.  The formulas have a correlation with actual Wins Produced levels in the 40% range.  In a post from October 8, 2010, Arturo lists all the “picks” dating from 1997-2009 using Old-Style Wins Produced.  Considering that that was the formula used at the time, that is the formula that I am going to use.

Do you know who the picks were from that season?  They were, in order from greatest to least average Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes: Marvin Williams (.139), Paul (.122), Bogut (.121), Danny Granger (.115), and Nate Robinson (.106).  Robinson was a bust, but the others have all been dependable players.  Considering that Granger and Robinson were mid-round prospects, let’s leave them aside.

When you really look at it, the differences in projections between Williams, Paul, and Bogut are almost inconsequential, so that’s certainly not a factor.  Now, let’s move on.  Williams was a 6’9″ forward who had just been the sixth man on the national champion North Carolina Tar Heels and was 19, Paul, aged 20, was the star 6′ point guard on a Wake Forest Demon Deacons that was a 2 seed but upset by 11 seed West Virginia in the second round, and Bogut would turn 22 in November and was a 7′ center on a Utah team that rode a 6 seed to the Elite Eight.  As far as I can tell from his Wikipedia page-yes, I know-Bogut’s injury issues had not cropped up yet.  So far, I still cannot make much difference between the three, aside from the fact that Bogut is older.

Milwaukee had the first pick.  They really looked a team that would have a first round pick, as the often under-appreciated Dan Gadzuric was their only real player of note.  Really, I can’t make any difference between the three candidates.  Hindsight is weighing heavily on me taking Paul, but I probably still would have gone with Bogut because a) you need a decent center in order to win the championship and b) as good as his Wins Produced numbers are, I just can’t picture a team winning a title with Dan Gadzuric as its starting center.

Atlanta.  They have Josh Childress and Josh Smith, who look like their starting wings forever and all-time.  Josh Smith was really good when evaluated as a small forward for that rookie season, and he could have been like LeBron light, and I have written about Childress before.  Marvin Williams looks a little excessive, but this is why the move is defensible from a Wages of Wins standpoint:

  1. Josh Smith is really a power forward.  Adjust his numbers to the 4 for that season, and his numbers become average, but his ultimate future was as a 4 because of his shotblocking prowess.  If he had acted like a 4, the man would have been a superstar.
  2. Williams may have been a sixth man and Paul a star, but their Arturo numbers are virtually identical.
  3. Williams is a year younger than Paul.  That gives him an extra year at a growth at an ever-so-slightly-accelerated rate.
  4. Williams has/had a reputation as a good defender.

I still want to say that I would take Paul, as Childress and Smith can both play the 3, Marvin’s natural position, and because of our good friend hindsight.  But I just can’t do it.  It would have been so much waffling back and forth that I honestly have no idea which player I would have picked!  Regardless, if I’m Utah, I’m picking the other guy third.  It would not have been Deron Williams, as his stardom was unexpected if not particularly long-lasting.   Thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.

P.S. I may do a mini-series of posts like this.  I don’t know; if I do though, you can count on Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant being featured.


2 thoughts on “Defending the Indefensible: Marvin Williams over Chris Paul

  1. Good stuff. One of the all-time gaffes here, and a great example of being seduced by potential. The Hawks obviously botches several drafts in a row during this time period but none worse than this. No matter how you spin it, there’s simply no excuse for them not going for a PG here. Even Felton would have worked out significantly better than Marvin Williams, who turned out to be the next Tim Thomas, a supremely talented player who can hardly be bothered to do anything more than be an average NBA player picking up a paycheck.

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