Team vs. Superstar: The Answer

Some teams have players that lead in several statistical categories. Others don't. Which have better records so far? The answer is inside.

Some teams have players that lead in several statistical categories. Others don't. Which have better records so far?

These statistics are all based on statistics as of Friday, December 10th, 2004, before any of that night's games. While the leaders for each team might be currently injured (e.g. Baron Davis), the fact that they lost a leader in multiple categories hurts more than if they had lost a leader in a single category so I have left it in the same category as it would have been if the player were not currently injured.

Teams With One Main Superstar
Atlanta Hawks (3-15, 15th in the East): Antoine Walker leads the team with 22.4 points and 8.80 rebounds.
Charlotte Bobcats (4-12, 13th in the East): Emeka Okafor leads the team with 13.8 points, 10.90 rebounds, and 1.60 blocks.
Chicago Bulls (3-13, 14th in the East): Kirk Hinrich leads the team with 14.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 1.25 steals.
Cleveland Cavaliers (12-7, second in the East): LeBron James leads the team with 24.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 2.32 steals.
Dallas Mavericks (13-8, sixth in the West): Dirk Nowitzki leads the team with 27.7 points, 10.60 rebounds, and 1.40 blocks.
Houston Rockets (9-11, 11th in the West): Tracy McGrady leads the team with 22.2 points, 5.4 assists, and 1.39 steals.
LA Lakers (10-8, ninth in the West): Kobe Bryant leads the team with 26.4 points, 7.1 assists, and 1.33 steals.
Memphis Grizzlies (8-12, 13th in the West): Pau Gasol leads the team with 19.1 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Miami Heat (13-7, fourth in the East): Dwyane Wade leads the team with 23.9 points, 7.4 assists, and 1.61 steals.
Minnesota Timberwolves (12-6, fifth in the West): Kevin Garnett leads the team with 23.3 points, 14.70 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.72 steals, and 1.83 blocks.
New Jersey Nets (5-13, 12th in the East): Richard Jefferson leads the team with 21.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists.
New Orleans Hornets (1-16, 15th in the West): Baron Davis leads the team with 24.6 points, 8.0 assists, and 1.60 steals.
New York Knicks (9-9, third in the East): Stephon Marbury leads the team with 20.2 points, 8.9 assists, and 1.61 steals.
Orlando Magic (12-6, first in the East): Steve Francis leads the team with 20.7 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.72 steals.
Philadelphia 76ers (6-12, ninth in the East): Allen Iverson leads the team with 25.1 points, 7.1 assists, and 2.18 steals.
Portland Trail Blazers (9-8, tenth in the West): Zach Randolph leads the team with 21.3 points and 11.40 rebounds.
San Antonio Spurs (16-5, third in the West): Tim Duncan leads the team with 23.3 points, 12.90 rebounds, and 3.24 blocks.
Utah Jazz (8-11,12th in the West): Carlos Boozer leads the team with 20.0 points and 9.6 rebounds.
Washington Wizards (10-6, fifth in the East): Gilbert Arenas leads the team with 22.3 points and 5.3 assists.

Teams Without One Main Superstar
Boston Celtics (7-11, eighth in the East): Paul Pierce leads the team with 21.4 points, Raef LaFrentz leads the team with 8.10 rebounds, and Gary Payton leads the team with 6.4 assists.
Denver Nuggets (11-7, eighth in the West): Carmelo Anthony leads the team with 20.5 points, Marcus Camby leads the team with 8.70 rebounds, and Andre Miller leads the team with 5.5 assists.
Detroit Pistons (10-8, seventh in the East): Richard Hamilton leads the team with 20.1 points, Ben Wallace leads the team with 11.90 rebounds, and Chauncey Billups leads the team with 6.6 assists.
Golden State Warriors (5-13, 14th in the West): Jason Richardson leads the team with 19.3 points, Troy Murphy leads the team with 10.10 rebounds, and Speedy Claxton leads the team with 4.6 assists.
Indiana Pacers (10-8, sixth in the East): Reggie Miller leads the team with 27.5 points, Jermaine O'Neal leads the team with 9.60 rebounds, and Jamaal Tinsley leads the team with 8.1 assists.
LA Clippers (11-7, seventh in the West): Corey Maggette leads the team with 20.3 points, Elton Brand leads the team with 8.10 rebounds, and Marko Jaric leads the team with 6.7 assists.
Milwaukee Bucks (5-11, 11th in the East): Michael Redd leads the team with 21.8 points, Keith Van Horn leads the team with 8.20 rebounds, and Maurice Williams leads the team with 6.9 assists.
Phoenix Suns (16-3, second in the West): Amare Stoudemire leads the team with 25.8 points, Shawn Marion leads the team with 12.10 rebounds, and Steve Nash leads the team with 10.9 assists.
Sacramento Kings (13-5, fourth in the West): Peja Stojakovic leads the team with 21.0 points, Chris Webber leads the team with 10.30 rebounds, and Mike Bibby leads the team with 6.0 assists.
Seattle SuperSonics (17-3, first in the West): Ray Allen leads the team with 24.2 points, Reggie Evans leads the team with 8.50 rebounds, and Antonio Daniels leads the team with 4.5 assists.
Toronto Raptors (7-14, tenth in the East): Vince Carter leads the team with 15.9 points, Chris Bosh leads the team with 7.00 rebounds, and Rafer Alston leads the team with 6.7 assists.

One of the most important conclusions to be drawn from this data and analysis is that Kevin Garnett is far and away the MVP. He is the only player to lead his team in all five positive statistical categories (no one else has more than three). His statistics are better than most team's combined tops in each category (for example, comparing him to the Denver Nuggets, KG gets more points than Melo, more boards than Marcus, and dishes out more assists than Miller). Plus, his team is fifth in the West with a 12-6 record.

Another interesting aside is that Phoenix is the only team whose top players together average a triple-double.

The next most important conclusion is the answer to the question: is it better to have just one main superstar? For that we can calculate the cumulative win-loss total for each category.

For teams that play with one main star, their overall record is 163-185, a losing record of 46.8 percent.

For teams that play without one main star, their overall record is 112-91, a winning record of 55.2 percent.

So the conclusion from this analysis is it's much better to spread the talent than to concentrate it. In other words, it's better to be a team than a superstar. Note that Detroit is clearly in the non-single-star category, as are Seattle and Phoenix, the league's two best teams.

Note also that teams that are in that category have something going for them that their records might not yet indicate. In other words, don't start counting out Boston, Denver, Golden State, Toronto, or Milwaukee. They still have a chance to improve and surprise since they have multiple players getting the numbers, and not just one star.

It's all just simple mathematics.