|Team||Star||Games Missed||Record Without Him||Winning Percentage|
|New York Knicks||Carmelo Anthony||11||7-4||64%|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Kevin Love||11||2-9||18%|
|Miami Heat||Dwyane Wade||17||14-3||82%|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Kobe Bryant||8||5-3||63%|
|San Antonio Spurs||Tony Parker||6||3-3||50%|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Zach Randolph||38||24-14||63%|
|New Jersey Nets||Deron Williams||11||1-10||9%|
|Los Angeles Clippers||Chris Paul||6||3-3||50%|
|Chicago Bulls||Derrick Rose||32 (5 post-season)||19-13 (1-4 post-season)||59%|
|Toronto Raptors||Andrea Bargnani||35||10-25||29%|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Kyrie Irving||15||4-11||27%|
Grantland founder and former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons introduced “the Ewing Theory” to the basketball world back in 2009. Though the theory is intended to deal with long-term success like championships, we’ll have updated standings every time a star player misses a game. Just so you know, I am defining a “star” as someone who uses 25% of his teams possessions, so Stephen Curry and Ray Allen just missed the cut.
Here are some notes on the results so far:
The theory was created in the mid-’90s by Dave Cirilli, a friend of mine who was convinced that Patrick Ewing’s teams (both at Georgetown and with New York) inexplicably played better when Ewing was either injured or missing extended stretches because of foul trouble.
Curious to see if this phenomenon applied to other stars/teams, Dave noticed people were pencilling in the ’94-’95 UConn Huskies for a .500 season because “superstar” Donyell Marshall had departed for the NBA. Dave knew better; a lifelong UConn fan, he thought the Huskies relied too much on Marshall the previous season and could survive without him. Like Ali predicting the first Liston knockout, Dave told friends the Huskies would thrive in Marshall’s absence — and that’s exactly what happened. By midseason, UConn was ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time in school history; the Ewing Theory had been hatched.
Dave introduced me to the Ewing Theory three years ago, and we’ve been tinkering with it like Voltaire and Thoreau ever since. Eventually, we decided that two crucial elements needed to be in place for any situation to qualify for “Ewing” status:
A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest, and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).
That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency or retirement) — and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.
When those elements collide, you have the Ewing Theory.