We love to be surprised. At Basketball Prospectus, we go to the trouble each season of generating projections for both players and teams in the NBA. Projections can be used in countless ways, but perhaps the most important consequence of doing them is to set a baseline of expectations. In other words, we want to know what to anticipate because when we're wrong, that's when the issues we love to analyze bubble to the surface.
The bottom-line number to watch for in our SCHOENE projection system (developed by my colleague Kevin Pelton) is WARP (Wins Above Replacement), which measures how many more wins a player adds to his team's total than a freely available guy plucked off the scrap heap. Replacement level, a concept borrowed from our baseball-analyst brethren, is an essential part of evaluating player value. All the WARP numbers you see in this article have been prorated to 82 games.
While no single number can capture everything that happens in an inter-dynamic team sport like hoops, WARP points you in the right direction. When you see a WARP number that surprises you -- and remember, we know when to be surprised because we've predicted all these WARP scores -- the next step is to ask why. That's what we're doing right now -- looking for surprises and then asking, "Why?"
Better than we thought
Statistics have tended to do an injustice to Chandler, as they do to any player whose value is strongly tied into his individual defense and ability to set screens. There are measurables he has always excelled at, namely offensive rebounding and field goal percentage, but this year Chandler's overall contributions have far outstripped what anyone could have reasonably expected.