The Unsung Hero: Brendan Haywood Is The Dallas Mavericks Best Player In Recent Weeks

Hold on: What?!?

But you read that right. Doing my tweets about interesting statistical bullets after every game, I realized that Brendan Haywood never puts up flashy stats, but he always performs at least solid, if not better. He usually is the Mavericks best rebounder on the field and is always in the Top3 or so in terms of defensive +/-. You won't notice his presence sometimes, but he is doing work night in and night out.

Let's begin with the starting units: Brendan Haywood is literally a big part of these lineups and among all teams, Dallas starting units rank 1st in the league in Efficiency Differential (+17.48), Defensive Efficiency (88.12), Defensive Rebounding Percentage (79.37%), Opponents Average 2FG Shot Distance (10.45 feet) and Opponents Assist/Turnover-Ratio (0.97). That's remarkable even without mentioning that last years starting unit also was a force defensively, but couldn't outscore anybody.

More than that, Haywood is part of the two best starting groups of the league. From all starting units throughout the league that played at least 100 Possessions together, the current lineup of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood ranks 1st in terms of EffDiff (+40.98 Points Per 100 Possessions) and the lineup the Mavericks have used in Kidd's absence consisting of Delonte West, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood ranks 2nd (+35.88). Although Haywood is only a small part of what the Mavs do offensively, it cannot be denied that he surely is a silent contributor of the success these units have and had.

Moving on to personal stats, Haywood has put together a string of strong performances in recent weeks. Starting with January, 18th - a game at the Staples Center vs. the Clippers - he leads the team in WP48 (0.220), TS% (58.55% - despite his poor FT shooting), TRB% (16.67%) and TOV P100 (1.94) and is second in WS48 (0.186) and unadjusted +/- (+15.81 Points Per 100 Possessions when he is on the floor vs. off the floor). He only averages a PER of 14.91, but that's a reflection of his lack of scoring and he's obviously not asked to carry the offense at all.

The best part of the big man's play is consistency, though. The Mavericks can rely on him night in and night out. Looking through the gamelogs, he really only had three bad games since January, 18th. Otherwise, he has constantly put up a WS48/WP48 >0.200 and a PER of at least 13, making him the most consistent player on the roster. In a season in which the condensed schedule leads to varying performances from game to game throughout the complete roster, Haywood provides stability at the important center position.

So while his achievements might be overshadowed by the impact of Brandan Wright or the stellar play of Dirk Nowitzki lately, Haywood has stepped in just nicely after the departure of Tyson Chandler. He has quietly emerged as one of the better centers in this league, ranking 11th in WS48 and WP48 since January 18th among all players that played at least 200 minutes at that position.

He has come a long way from being the Mavericks third best center during their Championship campaign last year and proves to be what the franchise thought he would be when signing him to a six-year $55 million dollar deal in 2010.

Hats off to the Mavericks best player in recent weeks!

Please note, that WS48 refers to WinShares Per 48 Minutes (a metric developed by Bill James - more to be found on www.basketball-reference.com) and WP48 to WinsProduced Per 48 Minutes (more to be found on www.wagesofwins.com). I currently only use an estimation for WP48, but it's pretty close.

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