With the major free agency moves behind us and teams starting to take shape for the upcoming season, some oddities are beginning to stick out roster-wise. Whether it be a cluster of players at the same position, the wrong type of player in a certain role or just plain quizzical moves, this free agency period like the rest have spawned a number of questions surrounding most teams in the league. Let’s break it down, shall we?
The Hawks’ Starting Wing
Who are the Hawks going to start alongside Kyle Korver on the wing? Jeff Teague, newly-signed Paul Millsap the improving Al Horford and Korver have cemented their spots in the starting five, but who’s the missing piece? Young pieces Jared Cunningham and John Jenkins are both far too inexperienced and well, bad. Meanwhile DeShawn Stevenson has long outgrown his prime. An option is starting rookie Dennis Schroeder in a dual-point guard lineup, such as the Hawk so often did with Teague and Devin Harris. Another is starting Elton Brand and going big with Millsap at the small forward position, which I discussed at HawksHoop.com.
The Boston Celtics
The whole team. All of them. Just… what? The team’s obviously rebuilding, with maybe a handful of players on this roster being ones they are looking to keep for the future. Where Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries – the two former Nets – fit into this rotation wise is beyond me. It’s just a mess.
The Kirilenko-Pierce Dilemma
Who do the Nets start, Andrei Kirilenko or Paul Pierce? Well, who starts isn’t actually the biggest problem. Who’s going to play the most minutes at the 3? Who’s going to be on the floor in tight games? Each have their pros and cons, there’s no silver lining here. Start Kirilenko and you actually might not have a horrible defensive team, start Pierce and your spacing will be much improved. It would have been ideal for both to be able to play together, but with their playing the same position and All-Stars blanketing the rest of Brooklyn’s brand spanking new starting five, this doesn’t seem to be possible.
The Charlotte Bobcats
The Cavaliers’ Frontcourt
Roll call! Talented young big men, listen for your name! Number one draft pick Anthony Bennett? Here! Improving fourth overall pick Tristan Thompson? Present! Injury-prone rebounding machine Anderson Varejao? Aqui! The second-best center in the league a couple of years ago, Andrew Bynum? Strike! An underdeveloped center who was tossed into the meat-grinder last year yet somehow played well, Tyler Zeller? Here! That Los Angeles Laker that quietly looked good, Earl Clark? Here! Okay now form a single file line, where Mike Brown will try to figure how who the hell will start, play, or ride the bench.
The Denver Nuggets
7/23/13 – Police continue to search for two missing Denver Nugget front office personnel. The first is one George Karl, last seen hoisting a Coach of the Year trophy and getting knocked out of the first round of the Playoffs. The other is upstart GM Masai Ujiri, last seen in Toronto being awesome. If you have seen any of these two men, please report your findings to the police. There is a cash reward waiting.
Smoove at the 3
The Pistons made their splash this offseason with the signing of one Josh Smith, mid-range shawty with a knack for playing terrific all-around defense. He, sophomore Andre Drummond and potential All-Star Greg Monroe all are potent starters, meaning J-Smoove will have to play the small forward spot. Thing is, it’s not his ideal position and will effectively kill offensive spacing. Smith is a 28% career three-point shooter and is best when taking on larger and slower players at the four. He can defend all five positions on the floor though, so at the very least Detroit will have quite the defense and a whole lot of dunks.
A minor quip, but Douglas is replacing Jarrett Jack as the Warriors’ back-up point guard. Although Douglas will bring the defense that starter Stephen Curry doesn’t, Jack oftentimes found himself playing alongside the sharp-shooting Curry and feeding him the ball as he would a wing. Douglas doesn’t have the distribution skills of a Jarrett Jack, hell he nearly ended his possessions in a turnover as much as he did in an assist. The Dubs often went to this look in tight games, and it opened up easy looks for Curry and was overall quite effective for the team so long as Jack wasn’t hoisting mid-range jumpers left and right. In all likelihood we’ll see Andre Iguodala take on this role, but it would have been much easier for the Warriors to have seeked out a better playmaker.
What the heck do the Pacers do with Danny Granger? 4 years ago he put up 26 a night on a 58% true-shooting clip, but then regressed and was strapped to the bench last season due to a tough knee injury. Now young Paul George has stolen the franchise face of Indiana basketball, and Granger could very well be effective next year, but the two play the same position. This is the last year of Granger’s deal, does he get traded? Does he start alongside George? Does he come off the bench, where the Pacers desperately needed help from last year? We shall see.
Kobe Bryant and Nick Young on the Floor Together
SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS EVERYBODY!
Despite this issue, the Grizzlies made it to the Western Conference Finals. Problem being, it’s hard to see them go further if this problem goes untouched. The Spurs were able to leave Memphis’s Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince to go help out down low because the two couldn’t find the bottom of the net if they had their game sliders up in 2K. This will make it all but impossible for the Grizzlies to see the NBA Finals or a championship, and there aren’t many answers. Allen may be a trade asset but he is also Memphis’s best perimeter defender. Prince isn’t someone teams are trying to nab via trade and the young Quincy Pondexter has yet to develop the viable defensive prowess to make him a 3-and-D starter candidate.
All of Milwaukee’s Bigs
What were they thinking? You sign a boatload of bigs then trade the one who has a ton of defensive upside and the best name in basketball? I’m eager to hear how a frontcourt rotation of LARRY SANDERS!, Gustavo Ayon, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia and Ekpe Udoh will be divided.
The Gordon-Evans Dilemma
The Pelicans signe Tyreke Evans to an $11 million deal this summer, and their intentions with him are unclear. Current starting two (Evans’ primary position) Eric Gordon has injury question marks, but until he’s out, Evans has no true role. He refuses to play small forward, so starting him beside Gordon would be a mistake. Having him come off the bench would be paying a player $11 million a year just to be a sixth man, which is unprecedented especially when you consider just how good of a player Evans is.
The Bargnani-Stoudemire Comedy Show
As of the Knicks’ rotation at the moment, New York has two off-the-bench big men. Andrea Bargnani, a shooting 7-footer who can neither defend or rebound and Amar’e Stoudemire, a non-defending 6’11” big man with the knees of a 70-year old. With no other options to turn to – unless Jeremy Tyler somehow makes the team and jumps ahead of either player on the depth chart – these two will be manning the bench frontcourt for the Knicks. There is the possibility of the Knicks starting one of the two, which would be catastrophic any way you look at it. Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the future. Listen closely. You will hear players dribbling by the Knicks’ bigs and finishing with easy slams. There it is again. And again. And again…
Shot selection and specifically shot locations have become a larger and larger part of the basketball conversation. It’s a topic of great personal interest to me and I’ve written quite a bit about it this season. To add an easily comparably quantitative element to the conversation, I also developed Expected Points Per Shot (XPPS). This metric is based on the expected value of shots from different locations and boils the quality of a player’s shot selection down to a single number. When we talk about high-value shots were usually referring to shots at the rim, three-pointers and free throw attempts. The scale of XPPS is aligned with league averages, numbers which are constantly over and under-performed. For that reason we often compare XPPS to Actual Points Per Shot and look at the difference between the two, which is called Shot Making Difference.
I’ve built visualizations which allow you to explore, sort and filter the XPPS numbers for players, team offenses and team defenses. I know those interactive graphs can be a little overwhelming so I wanted to pull out some of the most interesting numbers from this season and go a little bit deeper with them. Today we’ll be looking at some of the shot selection numbers for individual players, with analysis of teams to follow in subsequent posts.
This first table shows the players with the ten highest and lowest-value shot selections, as measured by XPPS. I separated the players into three groups based on their USG%, to differentiate between players with different roles.
As we mentioned above players over and under-perform the expected values of their shot selection all the time, which is a big factor in evaluating whether they truly understand their offensive roles and strengths. This next table shows the same 60 players, but instead of their XPPS I’ve listed their Shot Making Difference, which is the difference between their XPPS and their Actual Points Per Shot. You can see some players who take high-value shots, but don’t necessarily make them, as well as players who make a lot of low-value shots, usually long two-pointers.
The extent to which XPPS is useful in evaluating shot selection is pretty limited if you don’t also understand the context of their skills, limitations and responsibilities within the team’s offensive structure. Here are few of those numbers, both good and bad, with the context more fully fleshed out.
LeBron James – 1.079 XPPS (8th best in the >24 USG% bracket), +0.202 Shot Making Difference – What James did this season in the scoring efficiency department this season was simply incredible, increasing his FG% from essentially every area of the floor. However, he exponentially raised the impact of those gains in accuracy by improving his shot selection as well. Last season 37.9% of James’ shot attempts were long two-pointers. This season that percentage fell to 29.7%, with big increases in both shots at the rim and three-pointers. He made shots at an incredible rate this season, but he also made an incredible effort to make sure he was taking the right shots.
Tyreke Evans – 1.119 XPPS (5th best in the 19-24 USG% bracket), -0.002 Shot Making Difference – For his first few seasons in the NBA, Evans was the poster boy for unconscionable shot selection. A sensational rookie season was met with criticism of his inconsistent outside shooting. Over the next two seasons Evans seemed determined to prove those critics wrong, spending more and more time outside the paint, and in the process, proving those critics right by missing mountains of jumpshots. This season, he made some huge changes and it showed up in his scoring efficiency. First off, he became a consistent three-point shooter, knocking down 34.2% compared to a previous career high of 29.1%. Also, for the first time in his career he attempted more three-pointers than long two-pointers. Those inefficient and inaccurate mid-range shots made up just 16.7% of his shot attempts this season, by far the lowest percentage of his career. We always find time to celebrate the players who become better shooters, but we should also find time to celebrate players, like Evans, who become better decision makers.
J.J. Hickson – 1.111 XPPS (8th best in the 19-24 USG% bracket), 0.070 Shot Making Difference – Hickson is another player, like Evans, who made dramatic improvements in offensive efficiency by making dramatic improvements in offensive decision making. Last season 51.0% of Hickson’s shot attempts came at the rim. This season that number jumped to 65.3%. By being more selective with his long two-pointers, he also became more accurate. Last season he shot 30.5% in that zone, where this season he made 47.3% with a whopping 71% of his makes being assisted on. Concentrating on what you do well can yield tremendous benefits.
Tyler Hansbrough - 1.135 XPPS (2nd best in the 19-24 USG% bracket), -0.081 Shot Making Difference - How does a player who shoots below the league average from every area of the floor end up with a TS% above the league average? Free throws. Hansbrough took 361 shots from the field this season and 263 free throws. Only Dwight Howard and Reggie Evans had a higher ratio of FTA/FGA. He’s not a great finisher or shot maker from anywhere, but he has really focused on his strengths – getting to the rim and getting to the line. That FTA/FGA ratio was a career-high, nearly 50% higher than in any of his previous seasons. This was also the first season of his career where he attempted more shots at the rim than long-two pointers.
Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman – 0.946 | 0.950 | 0.951 XPPS (3rd, 2nd and 4th worst in their respective USG% brackets) – There is an absolute benefit to having players, especially big men, who can step out and knock down a mid-range jumper. It’s a pressure valve for an offense and can really buoy the efficiency of a group against tough defenses. The problem is when that shot becomes the centerpiece of the offense. Nowtizki is one of the best mid-range shooters in the history of the NBA and having him take that shot on a regular basis won’t break the offense. But the Mavericks stacked their front court with mid-range shooters the entire offense suffered. Last season when Nowitzki was on the floor 21.5% of his teammates’ shots were long two-pointers. This season, alongside Brand and Kaman, 26.8% of his teammates’ shots were long two-pointers. Even making those shots at an above average rate, as Brand, Kaman and Nowitzki can do, provides less efficient scoring that a multitude of other options. The Mavericks’ offense this season was a perfect example of the lesson that, “just because you can make a shot doesn’t mean you should take a shot.”
Evan Turner – 0.973 XPPS (8th worst in the 19-24 USG% bracket), -0.17 Shot Making Difference – Making 36.5% of his three-pointers this season was a big step forward for Turner. He’s also settled into a nice, accurate groove on long two-pointers, making 42.3%. The problem, as always, is balance. This was the third season of Turner’s career, and the third in which his ratio of long two-pointers to shots at the rim was roughly 2-to-1. Those long two-pointers made up nearly half his shot attempts this season and still outnumbered his newly accurate three-point shots by more than 3-to-1. He also shot a career low 47.9% on shots at the rim this season, where the league-average was 64.7%. Turner is a respectable mid-range shooter, but that shot just isn’t efficient enough to be the foundation of a richly versatile offense game. The bottom line is that he simply can’t be a viably efficient offensive player with this shot selection.
Tayshaun Prince – 0.963 XPPS (5th worst in the <19 USG% bracket), 0.008 Shot Making Difference – At this point in his career Prince’s offensive contributions come almost exclusively as a spot-up shooter. For most players this would equate to a lot of three-point attempts, but this season he attempted four times as many long two-pointers as three-pointers. Prince’s three-point attempts per 40 minutes this season were at a career low and even declined further as he moved from Detroit to Memphis. It’s a shame because Memphis is in desperate need of floor spacing and Prince has the skills to have a Shane Battier-like effect in that department. But to make that really work he needs to move a step or two back.
Andrew Nicholson – 0.954 XPPS (4th worst in the 19-24 USG% bracket), +0.154 Shot Making Difference – Including Nicholson on this end of the list may be a little unfair. He actually had a really solid rookie season and proved himself to be a reliable perimeter threat, both spotting up and as the screener in the pick-and-roll. Although his shot-selection looks terrible, with 45% of his shot attempts coming on long two-pointers, he drastically over performed the expected value of his shots and finished the year shooting 43.8% on those long twos. Although his XPPS puts him in the bottom ten, his actual points per shot were higher than Tyler Hansbrough’s, who ranked in the top ten in XPPS. He has the potential to be a supremely better version of Brandon Bass, but if he really wants to push the bounds of his efficiency it would be worth it for him to work on stretching his range out past the three point line. Nicholson didn’t attempt a single three-pointer this season, but shot a reasonable 34.0% from 20-24ft. Besides the added value of potentially earning three points per shot attempt, adding a few feet to his range will also open some considerable space in the paint for his teammates.
This week I decided to take a look at players who rebound, but also score. I charted the total points each team received from players grabbing at least five rebounds in an effort to determine if teams with high scoring rebounders won more often than not.
I figured that winning teams would have a higher average point total from qualifying players, but never did I imagine the difference being this drastic. During the 50 game week, winning teams received an average of 50.8 points from players notching at least five rebounds, a 31.6% advantage over losing teams.
Interestingly enough, the scoring output was more consistent from the losing team than it was the winning teams. The losers had a range of 65 points from their highest scoring game to their lowest (Toronto totaled 75 such points while the Celtics managed only 10) and the victors had a range of 91 points (the Thunder managed 97 points while the Wizards notched only 6). Oklahoma City’s production on Friday night (97 points from players with 5+ rebounds) out did 44.4% of the winning teams total points for the night.
The Miami Heat recorded the second (21 points) and third (22) lowest outputs by a winning team. If you subtract these two games from the study, the advantage for winning teams increases to 37.2%. But they were the exception, not the rule, when it came to elite teams in this study. Oklahoma City more represented the norm, as they tallied high point totals in losses and wins. The Thunder had the second most points scored by their leading rebounders (71) in defeat and recorded the highest total in a victory (97).
Just another step in my effort to understand the game of basketball. Do you have a question you’d like answered? I’ll run your statistical inquiry through the gauntlet for the next seven days and provide you with a bit of insight. Tweet me your ideas @unSOPable23.
With all of that being said, here are your 35 stats from the week that was in the NBA.
As you might know, I try to limit myself to picking national television games in this space. I like everyone to be able to look out for the things I point out, no matter where they live.
One thing that’s lame about that is that the same teams crop up over and over again. I just want you to know that it’s not my fault; blame whomever schedules the games.
On that note, I’m writing today about the Knicks, who are on national television twice this week. They play the Pacers on Thursday and the Bulls on Friday.
They are both good matchups, but Bulls have had the upper hand so far this season, winning the first two meetings with the Knicks. I think this will be a great game. These teams are just starting to really dislike one another.
Without their superstar point guard, the Bulls have relied on grit to put their winning record together. Joakim Noah has exemplified that. He covers up for the subpar defenders the Bulls employ at guard as well as frontcourt partner Carlos Boozer. With Derrick Rose out, he has also taken a bigger role on offense, particularly as a distributor, though his efficiency has dropped off and his turnovers have increased as a result. Bulls fans have to worry if he can hold up. He shoulders a lot of responsibility and plays 40 minutes a game, near tops in the league. He played even more minutes in two games against the Knicks. But despite the lack of rest and the presence of Tyson Chandler, he managed to muscle his way to the line six times a game against New York. He doesn’t have to shoot well, but if he can keep Chandler occupied and play his normal stalwart defense against the Knicks, the Bulls have a good chance of notching a third win over New York.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially with how well Carmelo Anthony has played of late. Melo is in the midst of his finest season, and looks completely in command as a scorer. With Amare Stoudemire still recovering from a knee injury, Anthony’s usage percentage has ballooned to a league-leading 34%, but he has proved worthy of that level of offensive responsibility, shooting more efficiently than ever, particularly from three. He’s also taking care of the ball, which is huge for someone who has it as much as he does. This looks like the season in which Melo fulfills his considerable potential. All that said, he has really struggled against the Bulls. Chicago has managed to slow down every facet of his game in their two meetings. Anthony particularly struggled at the basket, shooting just 42% against the Bulls, well off his normal 51% clip. If those struggles continue, it will be very difficult for the Knicks to win.
What to Watch For
The Bulls are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and a big part of that is how they defend the three-point line. Teams shoot just 32.9% from three against Chicago, the third-lowest rate in the league. The Knicks shoot more three-pointers than anyone else in the league. The Bulls did an excellent job of limiting the Knicks from distance, particularly in the corners, where the Knicks shot just 1-10. That number needs to improve if the Knicks are going to threaten this stingy defense.
Although the Knicks have played small most of the year, they have been a strong defensive rebounding team. But the Bulls have won the rebounding battle over two games. The Knicks need to play up to their standards on the defensive glass, because the Bulls are among the best offensive rebounding teams in basketball. The battle under under the rim will be decisive in this game.
Why Else Should I Watch?
Because J.R. Smith keeps doing ridiculous things in the air.
How to Watch
ESPN, Friday, 8 p.m. ET
League Pass Bonus Game
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies, Friday, 8 p.m. ET. You can practice your channel flipping skills with this game Friday night.
NBA basketball is going to be here before you know it and the staff of Hickory-High
is licking their chops. This is the second installment of our “Previews Of The Roundtable” series where we’ll take you division by division, through some of the things we’re most looking forward to. Monday we looked at the NBA’s Northwest Division
. Today we’re continuing with Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Brooklyn and Toronto in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.
1. What is the most intriguing storyline in the Atlantic Division?
Ian Levy – @HickoryHigh - The Raptors’ resurgence. There’s plenty to be fascinated with in the Atlantic Division, but I won’t be able to take my eyes off the Raptors. In his first season, Dwyane Casey took them from 30th to 14th in Defensive Efficiency, shaving 8.2 points per 100 possessions off their average. The addition of Kyle Lowry‘s bulldog intensity in the backcourt, Landry Fields‘ and Terrence Ross’ defense on the wings, and Jonas Valanciunas’ relentlessness in the paint makes me think this team could take a giant step forward. I expect them to be fighting for a playoff spot, but either way they’ll be a regular in my League Pass rotation.
Matt Cianfrone – @Matt_Cianfrone - Can Andrew Bynum be trusted as THE guy? There are plenty of questions and story lines in the Atlantic division but the one that intrigues me the most is if Andrew Bynum can be trusted to be the best player on a team with no really clear leader. To me it can go one of two ways – Bynum can relish the opportunity, stay healthy and play better than we have ever seen him before. Or he can get injured, lose focus, and become Eddy Curry 2.0. The fact that Bynum is already going to be missing some time during training camp because of the German witchdoctor knee treatment may answer some of those questions right away. Will he come back in the expected time and play well, or will things drag on for a while? Once he gets back will he be the dominating force he was for the Lakers, even with less talent around him? Things will be very interesting in Philly this year.
Myles Ma – @mylesmannj - The Brooklyn Nets. They’ve got a new stadium, new unis and an expensive new shooting guard. Joe Johnson will eat into the minutes of MarShon Brooks, who showed talent on offense, but nowhere else. The Nets are getting a similar package in Johnson, for 20 times as much money. He had one of his best seasons last year, but still did not come close to earning his pay. Still, he’s an upgrade, and Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, who now also have bonkers contracts, are due for bounce-back seasons. The Nets should be better than they were last year, and owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s money will at least stimulate the local economy. Off the court, I’m curious to see whether Brooklyn hipsters will start wearing jerseys unironically, and whether Jay-Z invites Kanye and Kim to watch Kim’s ex-husband play basketball.
Kyle Soppe – @unSOPable23 - The Nets moving to Brooklyn. This could be a changing of attitude for a team that has missed the playoffs for 5 consecutive seasons. They brought in Joe Johnson from Atlanta and will have a healthy Brook Lopez when the season begins this year, giving the city of Brooklyn a reason for optimism. The Nets have quietly improved each of the past 2 seasons, increasing their win percentage by 228% from 2009 to last season. The continued growth of MarShon Brooks is another reason to keep an eye on this team, who should have plenty of support from the home crowd.
Matt Swiman – @MSwiman - The Sixers’ new team. They totally remade their team and it won’t take long to see if it all paid off. Adding Nick Young to replace Lou Williams, has to be seen as a downgrade in the 6th man/scoring spark are. But adding Dorrell Wright and Jason Richardson, two serious three-point threats for Bynum to kick out to when he is double or triple teamed, will end up playing a key role in the Sixers success this season. Also adding tough nosed Kwame Brown to give Bynum a breather now and again should allow the Sixers to keep up their stout defense. Also with the loss of Elton Brand and Iguodala, Thaddeus Young will finally receive more minutes at both the 3 and the 4 spots, minutes which he should have had the past two seasons. The only real thing the Sixers did not do in the offseason is sign a backup point guard, which makes it clear that when Jrue Holiday needs a rest Evan Turner will bring up the ball.
Kris Fenrich – @DancingWithNoah - How big can the collective media’s erection get before it explodes in an ejaculation of millions of squiggly little sperms all over the tri-state area, dressed in Knicks and Nets jerseys, striving in vain for a title they can’t reach?
Last week, I laid out a theoretical experiment
at Hardwood Paroxysm for the basketball laboratory of Dwyane Wade
and LeBron James
. Prompted by Wade’s somewhat bizarre assessment of his own jumpshot, I put some numeric value to what both he and James accomplish in the paint compared to what they accomplish from the outside. Both players pair incredibly efficient finishing at the basket with a lengthy history of shaky outside shooting, an assessment that was borne out by the stats. Last season, Wade averaged 1.295 points per shot inside the paint; James averaged 1.429. Outside the paint those numbers fell to 0.805 and 0.923 respectively. That means the trade off for both players between a jumpshot and layup is roughly half a point, an extremely significant difference. My intellectual proposal was for James and Wade to avoid that negative trade-off and simply refuse to shoot unless they had an opportunity in the paint.
In preparing for that piece I ran the same numbers for a much broader sample of players and thought it might be interesting to look at how the patterns revealed themselves for a bigger section of the league.
Creating all the offensive distribution graphs for my Offensive Geometry
post yesterday involved hours of tedious, manual scanning of possessions statistics from mySynergySports
. The upside is that I ended up with a wealth of data on individual offensive outcomes (player/possession type) organized in a spreadsheets. These numbers are all available from mySynergySports
, but not in a sortable format that lets you compare or rank players by possession type, frequency of possession or possession efficiency. If you ever wanted to find the top five players in scoring efficiency in isolations it involved lots of guesswork and an equal amount of searching. Luckily for you, I’ve now done most of that guesswork and searching.
I’ve taken all the outcomes I grabbed for my radar graphs and put them together into one table. Because I only grabbed data that fit the parameters of my offensive distribution project, this only includes offensive outcomes that occurred at least 100 times this season. I was also focused on intentional half-court decisions so there is no data for offensive rebounds or transition possessions. In looking at this data it also helps to keep in mind the league averages for each possession type:
- Cut – 1.18 PPP
- PnR Screener – 0.97 PPP
- Spot Up – 0.94 PPP
- Off Screen – 0.87 PPP
- Hand Off – 0.87 PPP
- Post Up – 0.82 PPP
- PnR Ball Handler – 0.78 PPP
- Isolation – 0.78 PPP
To sort the table by frequency or points per possession within a possession category, first sort by either frequency or points per possessions, then sort by possession type.
Here’s the link to the entire table.
The table can be awkward to manipulate so I pulled out the top and bottoms of some of the categories.
Top 5 Overall
- 1.55 ppp – Andrew Bynum – Cut
- 1.51 ppp – Steve Novak – Spot Up
- 1.51 ppp – Tyson Chandler – Cut
- 1.46 ppp – Blake Griffin – Cut
- 1.38 ppp – Chris Bosh – Cut
Top 3 PnR Ball Handler
- 1.04 ppp – James Harden
- 1.04 ppp – Isaiah Thomas
- 0.97 ppp – Kyle Lowry
There is plenty here to look at, but here are a few things that struck me:
8 players scored at a below-average rate on spot-up opportunities and used at least 200 of those possessions. Alonzo Gee is young and played on a bad Cavaliers team. Because of their lack of offensive weapons, he was probably asked to shoot more often than is ultimately good for him or the team. Most of the rest of the list is made up of players who at one time carried reputations as reliable outside threats, but appear to have undergone a surprising regression – Tayshaun Prince, Antawn Jamison, Jason Richardson, Marcus Thornton, Landry Fields and Chris Bosh. Finally we arrive at Josh Smith. He used a total of 377 spot-up possessions, by far the most of any player who scored at a below average rate. In fact only player in the entire league, Caron Butler, used more spot-up possessions this season than Smith. He used more spot up possessions than Kyle Korver and Steve Novak combined!
It can not be understated how much Steve Novak did with his first opportunity at playing significant NBA minutes. The 1.51 points per possession he averaged on spot ups was the second most efficient offensive outcome in the entire league. It was also nearly three times as efficient as his teammates Baron Davis or Iman Shumpert were in the pick-and-roll. The difference between Novak and the next most efficient spot up shooter, was equal to the difference in efficiency between Kobe Bryant in the post and JaVale McGee in the post.
Looking For Weapons In Cleveland
Kyrie Irving had an incredible rookie season, and at 1.03 points per possession, was the third-most efficient isolation scorer in the league. However it was difficult to find many other positive offensive outcomes. The Cavs had two of the three worst post up scorers in the league in Tristan Thompson and Samardo Samuels, who used a combined 208 possession on the block. Omri Casspi, Jamison and Gee were all below average spot up shooters. Jamison also ranked as the least efficient screener in the pick-and-roll at just 0.67 points per possession. The Cavaliers could take a big step forward next year but they’ll need to find some more scorers to support Irving.
A few players stand out as incredibly efficient in multiple categories. James Harden was top three in both isolations and as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls. He also scored a well-above-average 1.16 points per possession in spot up opportunities. Marc Gasol was another who could hurt a defense in multiple ways. Gasol was terrific in the pick-and-roll, 1.05 ppp, and as a cutter, 1.10 ppp. He was also one of the most efficient post scorers, averaging 0.93 points per possessions, more than Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, Zach Randolph and Luis Scola.
I hope this data is a useful resource for everyone, I know in the past I’ve found it frustrating to not be able to compare a player’s Synergy numbers to their peers. If you have trouble finding something specific let me know and I’ll try to help locate it. If you find something interesting please share it in the comments or pass it along on Twitter, @HickoryHigh.
Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
There are a slew of basketball analysts out there, and if you’re so inclined, you can find a respectable personality predicting almost every single outcome. I try to limit myself, listening to a consistent chorus of voices that I have particular respect for. The numbers side of me loves John Hollinger, while my heart likes listening to Michael Wilbon and Chris Broussard. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a close friend, Drew Shaner, who has the rare combination of appealing to both. He’s a friend that I would place my absolute trust in if my basketball fan-hood was on the line. I’d like to introduce you to a numbers-based rating system, developed by Mr. Shaner, that helps rank the remaining playoff teams.
“Defensive Rating and Experience Wins”, DREW for short, helps the common basketball fan determine the most likely winner of each series, and finally, the NBA title. This system may not appeal to everyone, but my experiences rooting alongside Drew give me a lot of faith in his method.
The first step to crowning a champion is rating each player on each teamss starting five on a scale from 1-10. Drew used a simple grading system: a perfect 10 for MVP candidates, 8-9 for all stars, and onward down. This system rewards balanced teams that have five viable threats, you know, the type of team that tends to succeed in the summer months.
Drew’s ratings per player in the 2012 postseason, from best to worst.
Boston Celtics (38) – Rajon Rondo(9), Paul Pierce (9), Kevin Garnett (8), Avery Bradley(6), Brandon Bass(6)
Miami Heat (38) – LeBron James (10), Dwyane Wade (9), Chris Bosh (8), Udonis Haslem (6), Mario Chalmers(5)
New York Knicks (37) – Carmelo Anthony (9), Amare Stoudemire (8), Tyson Chandler (8), Baron Davis (6), Landry Fields(6)
Indiana Pacers (35) – Danny Granger (8), Paul George (7), David West (7), Roy Hibbert (7), Darren Collison(6)
Chicago Bulls (34) – Luol Deng (8), Joakim Noah (8), Carlos Boozer (7), Richard Hamilton (6), C.J. Watson(5)
Atlanta Hawks (33) – Josh Smith (8), Joe Johnson (8), Jeff Teague (7), Kirk Hinrich (6), Jason Collins (4)
Orlando Magic (32) – Hedo Turkoglu (7), Ryan Anderson (7), Glen Davis (6), Jason Richardson (6), Jameer Nelson (6)
Philadelphia 76ers (32) – Andre Iguodala (8), Jrue Holiday (7), Elton Brand (6), Evan Turner (6), Lavoy Allen (5)
After calculating the team score for each roster, Drew factors in coaching and defensive tenacity. With the worst player being ranked 4, he made +/- 3 points maximum for “intangibles”, as it’s hard to quantify intangibles as being more valuable than any specific player.
The Bulls (“huge credit to Thibs and their lock down defense”) were the only team in the East to max out on intangible credit, boosting their total score to 37.
The Celtics and 76ers both gained 2 points, while the Hawks, Magic, Heat, and Pacers all gained 1 point.
The Knicks lack of aggression on the defensive end (no bonus points for dominating fire extinguishers) and a fill-in head coach left them as the only playoff team with a negative intangible score.
Celtics (40), Heat (39), Bulls (37), Pacers (36), Knicks (36), 76ers (34), Hawks (33), Magic (33)
Now we can determine how the Eastern Conference should play out. A bonus advantage to DREW, is that we can even forecast the probable number of games the series’ will take. The difference in total score indicates how many more games the winning team will win than the losers. Any difference greater than 4 means that baring an injury/suspension, a sweep is likely.
That makes your 2012 Eastern Conference results:
EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
- Chicago(37) v. Philadelphia(34) — Bulls in 5 games (Rose throws this one off)
- Boston(40) v. Atlanta (34) — Celtics in 4 (Ray Allen and Rondo messed this one up)
- Indiana(36) v. Orlando(33) — Indiana in 5
- Miami(39) v. NewYork (36) — Miami in 5
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
- Chicago(37) v. Boston(40) — Boston in 5
- Indiana(36) v. Miami(39) — Miami in 5
- Boston(40) v. Miami(39) — Boston in 7
Of course, we’ve got a Western Conference to determine. With the Celtics a surprise winner in the East, who would oppose them in the first ever NBA playoff bracket determined by DREW.
Oklahoma City Thunder (39) – Kevin Durant (10), Russell Westbrook (9), Serge Ibaka (8), Thabo Sefolosha (6), Kendrick Perkins (6)
LA Lakers (39) – Kobe Bryant (10), Andrew Bynum (9), Pau Gasol (8), Devin Ebanks (6), Ramon Sessions (6)
LA Clippers (38) – Chris Paul (10), Blake Griffin (9), DeAndre Jordan (7), Nick Young (6), Randy Foye (6)
Memphis Grizzles (37) - Rudy Gay (8), Marc Gasol (8), Mike Conley (7), Tony Allen (7), Zach Randolph (7)
San Antonio Spurs (36) - Tony Parker (8), Tim Duncan (8), Manu Ginobili (8), Boris Diaw (6), Kawhi Leonard (6)
Denver Nuggets (36) – Ty Lawson (8), Danilo Gallinari (8), Arron Afflalo (7), Kenneth Faried (7), Kosta Koufos (6)
Dallas Mavericks ( 35) – Dirk Nowitzki (9), Jason Kidd (7), Shawn Marion (7), Delonte West (7), Brendan Haywood (6)
Utah Jazz (33) – Al Jefferson (8), Paul Millsap (7), Devin Harris (6), Gordon Hayward (6), Josh Howard (6)
The Spurs’ attention to detail and the Coach Of the Year gave them a 3 point intangible bump. The defending champion Mavs joined the Lakers and Thunder as teams to garner 2 bonus points. Every other Western Conference team gained 1 point besides the Jazz, who lacked the consistency to do any better than break-even.
Lakers (41), Thunder (41), Spurs (39), Clippers (39), Grizzles (38), Mavs (37), Nuggets (37), Jazz (33)
Your 2012 Western Conference results:
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
- San Antonio(39) v. Utah(33) — Spurs in 4 games
- Memphis(38) v. LA Clippers(39) — Clippers in 7
- LA Lakers(41) v. Denver(37) — Lakers in 4
- Oklahoma City(41) v. Dallas(37) — Thunder in 4
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS
- Spurs(39) v. Clippers(40) — Clippers in 7
- Lakers(41) v. Thunder(41) — Thunder (Home-court wins in game 7)
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
- Clippers(40) v. Thunder (41) — Thunder in 7
- Celtics(40) v. Thunder(41) — Thunder in 7
There you have it, by the DREW projections, the 2012 champions will be the OKC Thunder. They may even be underrated using this statistic, as James Harden comes off of the bench.
What does the creator think of this result?
“I think it could happen. I almost gave Parker a 9, which would have bumped them to the conference finals, only to face the same fate as the Clippers. Would this result surprise me? No. The Celtics have so much heart, and the Thunder are as talented a team as there is in the NBA.” - Drew Shaner
We’ll come back throughout the playoffs and check in to see how these picks turn out. Stay Tuned!
Matt Cianfrone is the newest contributor to Hickory-High. He’ll be handling the Friday links in Rants, References and Revelations, and offering longer pieces whenever the mood strikes. You can follow him on Twitter, @Matt_Cianfrone.
The highlight video we have all been waiting for.
A great breakdown of how Mike Conley navigated a double pick-and-roll for a bucket in Game 2.
Steve McPherson reacts to the Amar’e Stoudemire vs. the fire extinguisher with more than laughs.
The Heat seemed to have figured out the best way to utilize their array of weapons with some simple plays.
Paul Pierce‘s shooting chart shows why it is so hard to stop him. He can shoot from any side of the court.
According to surgeons the recent rash of injuries probably had nothing to do with the compressed schedule.
Two looks at the epic comeback in Game 1 of the Grizzlies Clippers series.
NBA Playbook breaks down the Spurs “weak” offensive set.
Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
The first weekend of the NBA playoffs is off to a flying start, and here are the players who stood a step above the rest.
Player: LeBron James
Standout Stats: 32 points, 71.4 FG%, +35 plus/minus, 4 steals
- James played like a man possessed on Saturday, as he ripped the heart and soul out of the New York faithful with a dominant performance. This game was never close; the Heat used a 32-4 run bridging the second quarter to the third to quickly making this a laugher.
- Sure, LeBron’s 32 points on 10/14 shooting is impressive, but the Heat will only go as far as their defense (and ability to turnover their opponent over) will allow. The King had 4 steals as part of a Heat transition attack that turned 27 Knick turnover into 38 points.
- The Heat are as talented as any team, and if they are getting easy shots (shot 53.1% from inside of the arc), they are near unbeatable. LeBron has proven the ability to take over early series’, and this was another prime example of just how gifted he is.
Player: Andrew Bynum
Standout Stats: 10 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocked shots, 71.4 FG%
- Bynum led the Lakers to a 20 point edge in the paint, as they physically abused the aggressive Nuggets.
- In a game with no shortage of solid big men, Bynum clogged the paint in no way any Laker, statistically speaking, ever has. He set a franchise record for blocked shots in a playoff game, and became only the second player to record a playoff triple double that included blocked shots.
- Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant struggled to shoot 45%, but it didn’t matter, as the Nuggets (who average 104 ppg) couldn’t get good looks at the rim. The Lakers won the first quarter and third quarter by a combined 16 points, and it is no coincidence that Bynum swatted 7 shots in those quarters.
Player: Serge Ibaka
Standout Stats: 22 points, 75 FG%, 5 blocked shots, team high 3 offensive rebounds, 0 turnovers in 39 minutes
- I’m as big of a Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook fan as there is, but without Ibaka in the middle, KD doesn’t have a chance to play hero. Ibaka controlled the paint for the entire game, resulting in a 12 point edge for the home team.
- The blocked shots are one thing, but his ability to intimidate has more of an impact than the 5 blocks indicate. With Ibaka inside, it allows the Thunder defenders to press Dirk Nowitzki and put ball pressure on Jason Kidd. Remember how the Green Bay Packers could take chances on defense because Aaron Rodgers would make up for it? It’s the same idea, as Ibaka allows the other four defenders to take chances, knowing that the shot swatter is patrolling the paint.
- On the other end of the floor, Ibaka scored 2.5 times his regular season average, and the Thunder had 4 players scored 94.9% of the teams points. Everybody knows about the Thunder’s big three, and if they get this type of production out of option number four, they are the most complete team in the NBA.
Player: Andre Miller
Standout Stats: 12 points, 8 rebounds (2 offensive), 7 assists, 0 turnovers
- This just in; Andre Miller can lead your basketball team. He isn’t a piece you build a winner around, but he is certainly a piece that a winning team can use. This season, Andre Miller trails only Rajon Rondo and Jason Kidd in Assist Rate among regulars in this postseason. He matched Andrew Bynum when it comes to offensive rebounds and managed to not turn the ball over a single time in his 26.5 minutes of action. Miller’s Nuggets were physically dominated, but he was living the High Life with a solid effort in the series opener.
Player: Richard Hamilton
Standout Stats: 19 points, 92.9 eFG%, +15 plus/minus, 4:1 assist to turnover
- On a night where the Bulls had to say “rest in peace” to Derrick Rose‘s season, Rip Hamilton stepped his game up to the level it’ll take for Chicago to advance. The ultra-efficient shooting guard played within himself, and ran off multiple screens to get good looks at the basket. He will be counted on more and more as the postseason progresses, a role that has seen him thrive in seasons past. He isn’t DRose, but he is a leader who I’d trust to lead my team. Don’t throw in the towel quite yet Chicago, Hamilton has a postseason run left in him.
Player: Roy Hibbert
Standout Stats: 9 blocked shots and 13 rebounds
- The Pacers may have lost the battle, but I am still confident that they will win this war. Hibbert is a big reason why. His performance was overshadowed by the big numbers of Bynum, but Hibbert wasn’t far off. He absolutely dominated the painted area, something that will result in wins sooner rather than later. The Magic made three-pointers (+15 from distance) and that is going to happen over the course of a series, but Hibbert’s ability to alter shots is something that is far more consistent.
- The Pacers are a solid team, and should make adjustments to better contest the Orlando shooters, and much like Ibaka, Hibbert gives his teammates a chance to take risks. He may not block 9 shots again this series, but he won’t be held to 8 points either. With the Pacers lacking a true star, expect Hibbert to see increased post touches as this series progresses, thus resulting in Pacer victories.
Top Lineup: Every Clipper reserve
If you’re going to come back from 27 down on the road, you need a few performances that surprise everybody. The Clippers got exactly that from efficient bench, as LA stormed back to take Game One in Memphis. Nick Young led all scorers with 19 points, but the bench’s impact goes much further than that. Their combined plus/minus ratio was +69, with every player registering a positive figure. Compare that to the starters (a total of -68 with all negative ratios) and you’ve got yourself a boxscore that was as rare as the game itself. The reserves made 18/29 shots from the field, with every player shooting at least 50% while the starters shot 20/47, with no players shooting better than 50%. The super subs made more three pointers, grabbed more rebounds, and blocked more shots despite playing fewer minutes. If this isn’t the definition of “stealing” a game, I’m not sure what is.
Honorable Mention - Top Lineup: Lakers duo succeeds due to violent World Peace
Devin Ebanks and Jordan Hill filled in for the suspended forward, and played a big role in LA’s ability to beat the Nuggets. The increased role fit these two nicely, as they shot 62.5% on their way to 22 points. They also managed to haul in 15 rebounds and both players produced a positive plus/minus ratio. Hill grabbed as many offensive rebounds (4) as Bynum and Gasol combined. I equate them to a “game managing” quarterback, as they are asked to play within themselves, and not lose the game. The duo didn’t turn the ball over a single time and gave the Lakers solid bench minutes. If the Lakers have more depth than we thought, there is no reason they cannot make a move this postseason.
Top Flop Lineup: Knicks starters other than Baron Davis
Yikes. With Melo coming off of his best month of the season, and Amare Stoudemire as healthy as he has been, the Knicks truly thought they could hang with the Heat on Saturday night. Their starters doomed them from the get-go, as they shot 18.5% from the field on their way to an anemic 20 total points. That is one more point than Dwayne Wade scored and 12 less than LeBron poured in. They recorded 3.5 turnovers for every assist, a ratio that is nearly impossible to overcome. They need to rebound quickly, otherwise this is going to be a quick and painful series.