With opening night in the NLL upon us, I thought it would be fun to highlight a couple of items that came out of the LaxMetrics projection models for the 2022-23 season. As has been noted on Twitter, there are some interesting, if not unbelievable, projections for players who we generally expect to produce at a certain level. The models are an experimental effort at dabbling in predictive stats that should be taken as nothing more than an exercise in having fun. Don’t be too serious about them. Enjoy what they had to say, get excited over the projections you like, and laugh at the ones that are outlandishly bad. Cheers to the NLL’s return!
WHERE THE MODEL WAS INTERESTING
Rob Hellyer (LV) – 30.53 / 71.01 / 101.55
The formulas love Las Vegas forward Rob Hellyer. Looking at the former Toronto Rock player’s projections, the model expects Hellyer to return to his 2016-level play in year one for the Desert Dogs. I don’t know how likely that is, but if it actually materializes, then you heard it here first.
Reid Bowering (VAN) & Zach Currier (CGY)
Providing both players stay healthy, the model thinks that it will be a two-player race for Defensive Player of the Year, as both guys are in position to have monster seasons once again. Of course, Currier set the league’s CTO record last year, while Bowering broke the rookie LB record. They’re the two most comparable projections at the top of the list.
Tony Malcom (PCLC)
The model loves it some Tony Malcom! This isn’t news, however, as Malcom fared supremely well in the advanced metrics last season, grading out as a top-10 player in LaxMetrics WAR. If Malcom stays healthy, the model is accurate, and Panther City makes some serious noise, he has a chance to be a dark horse TPoY contender.
Dobbie & Dickson for 40+
Given the tremendous collection of offensive talent that San Diego has amassed, it’s hard to see a scenario in which any one player throws up crazy numbers. They’re going to score a lot of goals, but I don’t know how both Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie can cross the 40-goal threshold with Wes Berg, Kevin Crowley, and Austin Staats all gobbling up scoring opportunities alongside them. This isn’t Calgary in 2019.
Cam Holding (SD)
The guy is probably one of the most underrated players in the league. Part of that is the team-oriented defense that they run in San Diego. The rest is probably a function of Holding not being a huge stat sheet stuffer. That said, the model thinks Holding is primed for a huge season, ranking his LB projection in the top-10. Health is the only question for Holding after missing a small portion of last season with a wrist injury.
WHERE THE MODEL SUCKS
Jesse King (CGY) – 22.34 / 50.05 / 72.43
I don’t think there is a projection that I agree with less than that of Jesse King. The model seems to fall short in recognizing King’s increased role in 2021-22 was not an outlier but rather a new beginning. As one of the best passers in the league, it’s hard to imagine King getting stuck at 72 points unless his health unexpectedly comes into question at some point.
Dan Craig (TOR) – 17.01 / 31.16 / 48.17
Craig had a breakout season for Toronto in 2021-22, and one would think he is well-positioned to build upon that success in the upcoming season. The model thinks that Craig’s scoring output from last season was an outlier. Barring something wildly unforeseen, I can’t imagine seeing a slash line from Craig like the one produced by the formulas.
Will Malcom (PCLC) – 12.85 / 19.13 / 31.97
You could make a case that no player was more disrespected by the formulas than Panther City’s Will Malcom. After a breakout season in PCLC’s year one, Malcom figures to see his role develop further alongside Patrick Dodds and rookie Jonathan Donville. It’s hard to imagine Malcom’s production dropping by more than 50% unless injuries become an issue.
The modeling produced some comically low assist numbers for a handful of players. Chase Fraser, Charlie Kitchen, Connor Robinson, Ryan Smith, and Zed Williams will all surly have significantly greater outputs than the projection suggests. At the end of the day, the projections are far from perfect, and these numbers should be a reminder of their shortcomings. Clearly there are areas for improvement for the 2023-24 projections 12 months from now.