Now that we know Nene is out for six weeks (phew!), we have to worry about who will replace him in the starting lineup. My favorite source of statistics is 82games.com, mainly because when you click on the individual players you can scroll down to the end and get some +/- statistics for offense and defense, which can be really illuminating.
The primary candidates for replacing Nene are Booker and Seraphin. Booker's statistics suffer a little because he had to start in Nene's place a few times and logged some minutes against starters, while Seraphin has played against backups only. So with that grain of salt in mind, let's look at how Booker and Seraphin's statistics so far this season compare.
When Booker is on the floor, the offense scores 2.6 points per 100 possessions more, which is what we all see when we watch. What's harder for the casual observer to see is defense, where Booker is, flatly, putrid -- when he is on the floor the opposing team scores 7.7 points more per 100 possessions. Multiply by pi, carry the two, and Booker's overall +/- rating per 100 possessions so far this season has been -5.1.
Seraphin seems to be a worse player than Booker, according to the eye test -- he has difficulty passing out of double teams and is a dreadful rebounder for his size. And yet he is a much better player than Booker, with an overall +/- per 100 possessions of -0.7. He is LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than Booker. In fact he is the best player on the roster after the starting five and Webster! Wow! Why?
The statistics tell the tale. They tell us what we already know, that Kevin is not so hot on the offensive side -- the team scores 4.2 points LESS per 100 when Seraphin is on the floor. But opposing teams score 3.5 points per 100 possessions less!
This is partly explained by the fact that Booker has had to match up against starters occasionally while Seraphin has not. Still, the story is consistent with what we know -- Booker looks good on offense and awful on defense. Seraphin looks kinda awful on offense and, you know, ok on defense. What is really hard to gauge is what that all adds up to. I think the numbers support experimenting with Seraphin in the starting lineup to see if his defense holds up against starters. You can't do much worse than Booker. I'm pretty sure Seraphin's hook shot will fall just as often against starters as backups, the risk is that his difficulty passing out of double teams will be even more exposed against starters. But when your alternative is Booker, you might as well give Seraphin a try.