By Scott Lauer
November 29, 2012
Scott Lauer is the radio play-by-play voice of the Charlotte Bobcats. His column will appear on bobcats.com on Thursdays throughout the season. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bobcats organization.
On this idle Thursday, the Bobcats settle back into Charlotte in preparation for a three-game homestand starting on Friday night against Philadelphia. They’ll seek to move the mercury over the .500 mark for a fourth time this season, currently sitting at 7-7 overall.
Please don’t judge my late evening dives into the stats sheets, but one of the formerly-quirky-turned-accepted statistical categories that I love is the +/- margin for each player. It simply indicates how the team scores against an opponent when that particular player is on the floor. For example, if I’m on the floor for the first seven minutes of a game, and my team is up by 10 points while I’m in there, then my +/- is +10. If I play the last stretch of that game, and over that period of time my team scored eight fewer points than the opponent, then for that window of time, I’d be tagged with a -8. For that full game, I’d have registered an over all +2. There’s NOTHING more important than the score, so a player’s impact on the scoring margin is obviously paramount. Naturally, it can be a skewed stat, because if I played with MJ and Pippen against second units, my +/- would be very high, and I would likely be receiving too much credit.
Some players just have a knack for winning, regardless of personal individual stats, and that’s why this category is very important. Over the long haul, players with high + scores generally are winning ingredients, and in many cases, are more valuable than teammates who may average 20 points for example.
Through 14 Bobcats games, I guessed to myself that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the Bobcats rotation leader in this category… and I was right. He’s actually a dead-even +/- player, which has greater value considering that his teammates are south of that line. MKG is averaging over 11 points and six rebounds per game. He’s also getting over a block and a steal too. I simply like the fact that when he’s on the floor (he plays an average of half of a game’s worth of minutes), the Bobcats are right there with the opponent. His competitive, winning spirit is defined and pronounced in no better way than through this ultra important statistical lens. In last night’s loss in Atlanta for example, MKG was +6 – just one of two Bobcats with a positive line. When his minutes grow this season and more importantly, beyond, this stat will help reveal how much of a contributor he is to a winning team.