Who is the “most average” NBA player?

Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis: Mr. Average.

Most average sounds like an oxymoron. Let me explain.

The RotoPoll player rankings are based on the statistical distributions, in each stat category, of the top 180 NBA players. This means that the “average” player, at least for the purposes of roto leagues, would have a score of 0.0 in each category. To put it another way, the “most average” player is the one closest to the league average in all categories.

Obviously, nobody has perfect zeroes across the board, but who is the closest? Let’s take a look. So far this season, the Top 10 Most Average players are:

Monta Ellis
Lamar Odom
Tayshaun Prince
Troy Murphy
Luke Walton
Mike Dunleavy
Mo Williams
Andre Iguodala
Jameer Nelson
Luke Ridnour

(These rankings are created by measuring the absolute value of the standard deviation from the mean, in each category, and summing them for each player.)

I guess a more positive (and flattering to the fine men listed above) way to describe average would be well-rounded, although I’m kind of partial to the way The OCC put it, fantasy-neutral.

Why is a score of zero good for 40th in the rankings, not 90th?

As of today, a player with a score of 0.0 would be ranked 40th, right between Deron Williams and Amare Stoudemire. Clearly, those guys are not “average” players in any sense of the word. So why aren’t their scores higher? Why is zero such a good score?

This is an interesting question. Since the rankings are based on the top 180, you’d expect the 90th-ranked player (or someone thereabouts) to have an overall score of zero. It turns out that, as with most statistical populations, the stat categories are skewed toward the top of the distribution. That is, the top few guys are way out ahead of the pack, and it levels off after that. When you add up all the categories and their skews, you get a top-heavy list. This doesn’t mean the results are inaccurate. Rather, it highlights the overwhelming value of the elite players. Experienced fantasy owners already know this, and therefore try to be on the slim end of unbalanced (2-for-1, 3-for-2, etc.) trades.

I wonder how Amare would react if I told him he was an average player. Mabye you should tell him instead.


3 Responses to Who is the “most average” NBA player?

  1. […] Statmongers declare that Golden State’s Monta Ellis is the most average player in the NBA. (Roto Poll) […]

  2. Patrick says:

    Ah, but Amare Stoudemire is average in only 28 minutes a game, which, I would guess, makes him spectacularly unaverage. At least that’s how I would rationalize it to him.

  3. rotopoll says:

    Good point. We’ve been meaning to get minutes worked into the ratings somehow too, but it’s a little tricky.

    Amare is awesome. Actually, it looks like he played 38 tonight.

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