1-year APMs for Bulls players since 2004-2005, along with their overall weighted average:
APM numbers have flaws, mainly their variance from year to year (Gordon from -8.84 to +2.66 and Hinrich from -3.4 to +7.7 overnight), but it's probably not a fluke when a player is consistently positive or negative. Luol's doing something right, and to judge him with just box score statistics and isolation ability is leaving something out.
Luol's team-first mentality makes up for his lack of athleticism/talent
I've been working on a statistical plus minus, and when I use basic stats, my system always underrates the Dengs, Battiers, Stojakovics while overrating the Gordons, Salmons, Durants. And then I saw this article on 82games that shows the effect of a good passing in an offense. They sum it up nicely in this chart:
|.01 to .14||25%||.442||.31||.15||92.8|
|.15 to .24||32%||.441||.27||.13||92.9|
|.25 to .34||23%||.505||.23||.12||105.6|
|.35 to .44||7%||.519||.28||.09||114.1|
So if a possession takes 20 seconds and there are 3 touches (2 passes), that's 3/20=.15 touches/sec for an expected 92.9 offensive rating. If a possession takes 11 seconds and there are 5 touches (.454 touches/sec) the expected rating increases to 122.5.
That doesn't mean it's "pass back and forth a lot then shoot and you'll do better!" but it may mean there's a reason why players who play a team-first offense (high % of shots are assisted, decent passers, few turnovers, move well off the ball) have consistently higher than expected APMs.
Here's a look at the % of Team Field Goals Assisted when Miller, Deng, Gordon, and Salmons have been on vs. off the court in the past three seasons, along with their raw averages:
The chart leaves a lot out (who plays with who, usage rates) but it gives a general sense of how a single player can affect a team's passing. Looking at the on court vs. off court Team Offensive Ratings the past three years:
Gordon is so freakishly talented he seemingly helps the offense despite lowering its AST%. But Miller and Deng may be making up for their lack of talent and athleticism by playing team-first ball. Although it's not like Luol can't do anything on the offensive end...
Luol showed signs of his old self in 2009
I think the tendency is to look at 2009 as a lost season for Luol. It's easy to look at his overall numbers - mainly his .511 TS% and 9.0 AST% - and conclude that he didn't mesh well with Rose. But we forget that he was his old self in January before getting hurt a month later.
Here's Scotter's post reviewing that month. Deng averaged a .568 TS%, 10.5 AST% and 6.4 OREB% - numbers nearly identical to his ones in 2007 - and added a new element to his game: a 21.3 DREB% which topped Noah's and Tyrus's (think how much that would've helped in the Boston series). His raw averages from that month: 17.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.3apg on 50.3 FG% (at just 24 years old) remind us why Paxson gave him the big contract.
That said, I don't think Luol's worth $12 million a year. But I also don't think we're helping ourselves by trading him for an expiring contract like Camby's or Shaq's. We bought ourselves a role player for $71 million, but we bought ourselves a damn good one whose game, I think, fits well with Rose, Tyrus, and Noah going forward.