One weakness that’s bothered me in Dave Berri’s analysis of the NBA is the tendency to measure players relative to “average” rather than looking more closely. His own research on the low supply of tall people suggests that an average center is actually a pretty valuable commodity, which if true should be taken into account when evaluating moves.
Arturo Galletti has a smart post trying to extend the Wins Produces analysis to include a concept of a “replacement level” player. If you do this “based on the bottom tier of players based on minutes played at each position up to the point where 20% of all player minutes at the position for the season are accounted for” it becomes clear that an average center is normally a good deal more valuable than an average wing player:
The really interesting thing about this, to me, is that point guards also stand out. This is something that I think an intuitive basketball fan would predict but that unlike the center thing isn’t specifically predicted by anything else in the Wages of Wins land of analytics. But a good model should let you confirm unexpected hypotheses, and that’s what we’re seeing here.