Challenge: Choose an NBA team. Think about the team’s strengths and weaknesses during the 2011-12 season. What needs do you think the team should be addressing in free agency?
- If the team has already signed a free agent, how would you evaluate the fit of the signed free agent with the team’s needs? If you agree with the signing, why do you think it was a good move? If you disagree with the signing, which player should the team have signed instead?
- If your team has not yet signed any free agents of note, who should they be chasing?
- Please support your response with an analysis of the team’s strengths and weaknesses and how the particular player fits in with those strengths and weaknesses. Feel free to focus on players acquired through trades as well.
In both the Unpacking Challenge #2 and Getting Started With Challenge #2 hints we talked about the idea of team weaknesses being found in “clusters” and used the team stats pages at HoopData to focus in on them. For example, if the team you are focusing on struggled to rebound effectively and also allowed their opponents to shoot a high percentage from the field, a defensive-minded big man may be where they should focus this off-season.
If you would really like to take your analysis to the next level you may try to look at how one cluster can affect another. How effective a player is at doing his job can impact how effective other players are at doing their jobs. The idea of this challenge is to focus on one player who can make the biggest difference for your team. If you can find a player who can affect many areas of weakness your team should be better off.
Going back to the example of the Charlotte Bobcats from the Getting Started hint we found that the league’s worst offense was also the worst three-point shooting team.
In the last hint I suggested that maybe the solution to that problem would be pursuing players who are solid outside shooters. But addressing that cluster of weakness directly may not be the only way to make a difference. In addition to struggling from the outside, the Bobcats also struggled to score on the inside. They had the 4th lowest FG% in the league on shots at the rim, 58.8%, and the lowest FG% in the league on shots from 3-9ft, 31.5%.
Inside scoring is not a cluster of weakness that you would usually address by adding a good outside shooter, but inside scoring and outside scoring are related. If the Bobcats were to acquire a dominant post scorer it would make their opponents pay more defensive attention to what’s happening closer to the basket. That may create better shots for the outside shooters they already have.
This could also work in the opposite direction. Acquiring a dead-eye shooter would make it more difficult for an opponent to focus on the interior, and should give more space for less accomplished post scorers to make a difference. The relationship between inside and outside shooting is not the only way addressing one need can make a difference in others. Think about the effect a terrific pass-first point guard could have on both the Bobcats inside and outside scoring; or a big man who blocks shots and allows them to go out in transition.
This challenge can be as simple as finding a hole and plugging in a player. Taking it a step further may mean thinking about how to plug more than one hole with just one player.
- List of Free Agents – List of restricted and unrestricted free agents eligible for consideration
- Data Resources - Links to statistical websites that may help in answering Challenge #2
- Unpacking the Challenge – Questions to help you begin thinking about Challenge #2
- Getting Started with the Challenge – A guide for beginning to locate statistics, helping you choose and support an answer for Challenge #2