My friend Alec walks up to me one day to say “Hey, Cole. Did you hear that Have It All’s new album is actually good?” Knowing how much I loved their old work.
“What? No way.” I reply with the usually air of skepticism that revolves around a statement as such. I mean, the band hasn’t had a good full CD since 2008. They have had occasional songs that reminded me of my former love for them, but nothing substantial that really satisfied my longing for that old sound.
Zack — my other friend — butted in, “trust what he says, Pat. I checked it this morning.”
“Huh. Alright, I guess I have the money to scrounge on a new album…” I still didn’t’t feel good about it, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this.
The rest of the day, I couldn’t get my mind off the album potentially being good. Have It All was my favorite group for a small amount of time, and for good reason. They weren’t the most popular performers in the world, but that is what made them so endearing. Knowing that there were less fans made them have a more personal connection to me. Everyone had every new King James or Black Mamba track in their iPod, but they didn’t pick up Have It All’s stuff until well after their Warrior tour.
That time passed though. Once more peoples were tuned in, they progressively had gotten worse and worse. There were the occasional fans who stuck around listening to the new stuff despite the lower quality and some people who actually believed they were still good, but those people were crazy. There is no way they possibly have made a strong album like this in 2013, not after all the years of maddening mediocrity, could they?
Oh, look. I’m out of class. With nothing else to do, I guess I’ll walk home and download this album. My mind starts racing faster and faster with these thoughts of doubt, I guess I feel the need to guard my heart. Music has a weird power like that over me, I guess. If this goes wrong, I’d be almost be as let down a person I care about breaking my trust with him.
Crap, I almost ran into the door. Mind is wondering with this potential. Where’s my keys, where’s my keys. Ahhh, there they are. Now let’s pull out my computer and check this out.
$12.99 huh? I guess I can pay that but what if it isn’t… I’ve spent my money on dumber things, might as well give this a shot.
Come on… Download faster… I guess I’ll come back to my computer later.
*computer makes a loud ring to signify the download being complete*
Finally! I’m actually really excited for this.
I put my cursor on the first track, but pauses to nervously say ”it’s not that big of deal, it is only music right” despite being alone.
The first song plays, and the intro feels much longer than thirty seconds. Eventually, the delightful music fills the air around me. The banging of the drums, the powerful riffs of the guitar, the artistically brilliant lyrics. They are all there, this is what Have It All may have sounded like had they actually stuck to their sound. More refined and mature, but that original appeal that made them so engulfing as musicians.
The sound soon becomes much more than simple music, this is an audio carnival that fuels the mind. The imagination wonders, and the blissful glee of innocence is achieved. We, as humans, become more corrupt of the mind as time takes its toll. Experience eventually beats out things like hope. It isn’t sad, just natural progression. Yet for these five sweet minutes that doesn’t matter.
As the song comes to a close, the repeat button becomes more enticing. This is so good, why ruin it? There have been single moments of greatness from Have It All, but they haven’t put it all together in so long. This could be yet another one of those moments. Curiosity wins though, and the first song ends without the button being pressed. The name of the second song comes on the screen, and this could go in so many different directions.
Monta Ellis has played 12 games this season, and has looked incredible. His play brings the 2007-08 memories that were thought to be long gone back to life. With 67 games to go, one wonders if this just an intro or a whole body of work? Either way, NBA fans will be paying attention.
We are back with another group of of statistics that found a way to fly under the radar for the week that was in the NBA. No player is exempt from this collection of far-reaching oddities, pointing out trends that you likely missed in the excitement of watching the games. On days with a full schedule, the top five stats are highlighted, and on days with fewer than five games, I’ll give you a stat from each game. One thing to remember: these stats are current on the day listed. That is, a trend can break as the week progresses, but for that moment in time, the numbers held true.
Without further adieu, the always interesting and never replicated Weekly Stat Pack.
Lance Stephenson had 39 assists in the entire month of November last season. After his first career triple double tonight against the Grizzlies, the 23-year old now has 37 for the month with eight games left to be played.
For the second consecutive game, James Harden tallied more assists than FGM, something you would assume is a rarity for one of the league’s elite scorers. Not so fast. He has dished out at least as many assists as FGM in 14 of his last 29 regular season games, with his Rockets winning eight of those games.
Through eight games, Kyrie Irving has missed more shots from the field (96) than Dwight Howard has attempted (90).
Blake Griffin has missed more free throws through eight games (20) than Andre Drummond has missed field goals (18). Teammate Josh Smith, a career 28.3% three point shooter, continues to fire away from downtown and has missed more triples (27) than Drummond has field goals despite 24% fewer attempts. The Pistons impressive forward is missing one shot per 11.8 minutes of game action.
Over the last week (four games) the Timberwolves are outscoring their opponents by 50 points with Ricky Rubio on the court, but they’ve split those four games.
Michael Beasley had his most efficient night as a member of the Miami Heat, as he scored 19 points on 8/12 shooting in just over 19 minutes of action. In the last four games in which he has played at least five minutes and his team has scored at least 100 points, Beasley has scored 67 points in 76 minutes on 30/44 (68.2%) shooting from the field.
For his career, Trevor Ariza averages less than one three point bucket per game. He has connected on at least one triple in 17 straight games, making 41 over that span.
Jermaine O’Neal made seven of his eight field goal attempts, nearly doubling his total November production in a single game. That being said, his deficiencies (four turnovers and five personal fouls) don’t seem to mesh with the Warriors up-tempo style. Golden State was outscored by ten points when O’Neal was on the floor and +28 for the 25 minutes he was on the pine.
The Lakers won for the fourth time this season with a formula that is easy to identify. Through nine games, the Lakers have outscored their opponents by 63 points from behind the arc. How are they only 4-5 you ask? They’ve been outscored by 100 points on two point buckets.
Kevin Love scored 33 points but did not record a double double, something he has done … never.
Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan were expected to dominate the ball in Toronto, but to this extent? The duo attempted 62 shots in 102 minutes of action on Monday against the Grizzlies while the other three starters combined to take 59 shots in their 207 total minutes this week.
Jeremy Lin offered up his second consecutive big performance and now has 65 points, 12 triples, and ten rebounds over the last two games. In the first six games of the month, the point guard totaled 82 points, five made three pointers, and 12 rebounds. Why has the Rockets winning percentage stayed the exact same (.500) over the last two games as it was over the first six of November? Lin has more turnovers (13) than assists (12), offsetting his hot shooting (56% from the field and 57% from distance).
If you’ve read my work over the years, this won’t catch you off-guard. Ricky Rubio is an absolute animal when he is going good. In the Timberwolves last two wins, their stud point guard has scored 28 points (63% shooting from the field, 100% from three point land, and 100% from the free throw line) handed out 30 assists (eight turnovers), 16 rebounds, and eight steals. Let’s compare that to how some of the other “elite” point guards have produced in their teams last two wins.
Russell Westbrook: 33 points (25.7% shooting from the field, 40% from three, 92% from the line), four assists (nine turnovers), nine rebounds, and four steals.
Chris Paul: 35 points (41/0/92), 27 assists (eight turnovers), 11 rebounds, seven steals
Tony Parker: 30 points (67/0/100), 10 assists (eight turnovers), four rebounds, zero steals.
A group of five Spurs, including three starters, combined to make 27 of their 34 shots from the field while the other eight players, including a future hall of famer, made just 12 of 43 field goal attempts. How many times can a team win in convincing fashion (they trailed for exactly 0 seconds and won by 13) where players who accounted for 55.4% of the minutes played shot under 28% from the field. Things are not good Wizards fans. Not. Good.
The New York Knicks are yet to win a third quarter against a team not named the Charlotte Bobcats.
Harrison Barnes has been a dynamic offensive talent since high school (he was named a preseason All American in his one season at North Carolina), but he has more career turnovers than assists in the NBA. That problem gets swept under the rug because he can put the ball in the basket, but on a Warriors team that relies on a high volume of shot attempts, that’s a flaw that cannot be overlooked.
The Phoenix Suns have been a surprising team this year in large part due to the play of Eric Bledsoe. That being said, they took the Brooklyn Nets to overtime in spite of their best player. For the 40 minutes he was on the court, the Suns were outscored by 15 points. The cumulative +/- of all other Phoenix guards was +13. Go figure, they lost by two points.
Roy Hibbert swatted eight more shots tonight, giving him at least five blocks in six of nine games this season. The blocked shots are nothing new, but he made all of his free throws, a statistic that he rarely pairs with his paint protection. He had gone 251 straight games without blocking at least five shots and shooting 100% from the charity stripe (minimum five attempts).
Tony Wroten, a second year guard out of Washington, has very quietly been offering strong production for 76ers over the last two weeks. After dropping in 22 points tonight against the Hawks, he now has 91 points over his last seven games (11 days), matching his total number of points in his entire rookie campaign (160 days).
A player who has a well defined role? LaMarcus Aldridge. The Trail Blazers power forward (who, for my money, is one of the most underrated players in the game today) took18 shots in a 27 point effort against the Celtics, the seventh consecutive game in which he has attempted between 17-20 field goals.
LeBron James was insanely efficient on his way to a season high 39 points as he made 14 of his 18 shots from the field, made his only three pointer, and missed just one of his 11 three point attempts. But is “insanely efficient” really the right way to describe this effort? After all, over his last 41 games, The King has scored at least 27 points on 60% shooting from the field almost 32% of the time.
Yea yea yea, LeBron is great. But was he the MVP of Miami’s win over the Bobcats? Consider this: the difference in terms of plus/minus between LeBron (+7) and Charlotte’s starting SF (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, -3) was 10. The difference between Rashard Lewis (+21) and Charlotte’s reserve PF (Anthony Tolliver, -9) was 30.
Monta Ellis failed to make a three pointer for the third consecutive Saturday. The only odder trend than that nugget is the fact that this is his second streak of at least three three pointer-less Saturdays in 2013.
Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith combined to miss one fewer shot (28) than the Hawks three leading scorers took.
John Wall dished out 12 assists while committing only one turnover, a stat line you’d expect to be directly correlated to success. Not so much. The Wizards have lost a game in which Wall notched double digit assists with one turnover in all four of his professional seasons.
The Celtics and Pelicans took the same number of shots from the field tonight. Boston scored 88 points while New Orleans score … 135.
The Trail Blazers won for the sixth consecutive game in which LaMarcus Aldridge made at least ten field goals. That may seem obvious, but Portland had won just one of the previous seven occasions.
Wondering where the difference was in the Grizzlies 11 point win over the Kings was? Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley were Memphis’ top three scorers and managed 60 points on 25/38 (65.8%) shooting from the field. In contrast, Sacramento’s top scoring trio (Travis Outlaw, Isaiah Thomas, and Marcus Thornton) scored 45 points on 16/39 (41%) shooting.
Steve Blake had 16 dimes and four steals in the Lakers win over the Hawks. The point guard had totaled just ten assists and one steal in Los Angeles’ first three wins. From the same game, the Hawks have now allowed at least 34 points in a single quarter in each of their last five losses.
Wednesday against the Hawks, the Mavericks made beautiful offensive music, scoring 118 points in a win. Most of the poetic beauty came from the fingertips of Monta Ellis
, who was (fairly, probably) the subject of all sorts of speculation from Mavericks people and the general basketball world at large. Will he and Dirk Nowitzki find chemistry? Will he become more efficient?
Well, who needs sample size? And who needs stats? Ellis turned it over 7 times, sure, but he finished with 8 assists, too. After just one game in a Mavs uniform, the answer is clear: MontaBall is king.
Seriously, though, Dallas did some clever stuff out of the two-man game. Much was made of Dirk’s motivation level heading into this season, and he looked as ready as ever, so much so that he was being used sort of like a decoy for large chunks of the game.
Before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of the two-man sets Dallas ran with Dirk and Ellis.
This is a pretty standard set anyone who’s been watching Mavs basketball during the last decade would recognize. During their heyday, Dirk and Jason Terry would isolate the right side of the floor and would run screen after screen until one of them found a good look. Terry was especially lethal going off the dribble to his right. Ellis, meanwhile, will shoot anywhere — he’s down for whatever — so the defense has to pay attention to him coming off the Dirk screen/pass. Nowitzki’s aaaaaall by himself once Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap collapse onto Ellis, and Dirk gets an easy look.
Of course, that simple set won’t be effective every time down, but Dallas has wrinkles. Less than a minute later, Dallas ran the identical set, only Ellis faked like he’d take the screen from Dirk, and instead cut away from Nowitzki to the free throw line. Teague abandoned Ellis in an attempt to either jump the passing lane or pressure Dirk, which ended up not working out for Atlanta.
Earlier in the game, Dallas ran a set that, as a defense, would be a nightmare to defend. In this clip, Dirk acts as the ball-handler and Ellis the screener.
My initial thoughts are: “Jeff Teague, what are you doing?!?!?!” Nowitzki isn’t really a threat to drive the ball, and Millsap seemed to be on Dirk’s hip well enough to thwart any type of pull-up jumper off the dribble. Teague was found in no man’s land, and Ellis found an open jumper.
Dirk, himself an underrated passer, finished with 5 assists on the night. One of them came here, off a pick-and-pop action with Jose Calderon.
The defenders trapped Calderon in the corner, which is exactly what Atlanta wanted. But that defense isn’t always as effective against a popping big man as it is against a rolling man, so Calderon is able to find Nowitzki at the 3-point line, who then pump fakes Millsap and rises for a shot, only to pass to Sam Dalembert in mid-air for a dunk. In this action, Al Horford is to blame. He left Dalembert to contest a possible Dirk drive, leaving Dalembert alone under the basket against a sealed-off DeMarre Carroll.
After more than three quarters, Atlanta finally made defending the Dirk jumper its top priority, and that didn’t work out either.
After Vince Carter takes Millsap to the rim in a favorable matchup off the dribble (Kyle Korver had committed to guarding Dirk, remember), Carter finds Shawn Marion alone in the corner. Teague then leaves Calderon alone at the 3-point line to contest a Marion 3 (definitely the wrong decision, as Calderon led the league in 3-point shooting last season). Once Marion swings to Calderon, though, that’s when the Dirk Effect comes into play. It’s Korver’s responsibility to close out on Calderon, but because Dirk was money all night on open jumpers, Korver instead chooses to play the passing lane while Carroll rotates over to Dirk. Basically, the Hawks are giving Calderon an open look in favor of letting Dirk even get his hands on the ball. The savvy Calderon immediately ball fakes Korver to give himself more room before taking the shot. To that point, Calderon had not made a field goal. One could argue Atlanta made the right decision in preferring he shoot rather than Dirk, but those are the types of choices teams will be forced to make against Dallas this season.
The Mavericks’ pick-and-roll stuff with Dirk has never been especially complex, but unlike last year Dallas finally has the pieces that work in the system. Not every shot Ellis put up last night was wise (this jumper with 7 seconds left on the shot clock comes to mind) but for the most part Dallas was able to produce clean looks in favorable locations for its best players. The starting lineup, for example, shot 15-of-21 while on the floor together and was a +20 for the game.
When Dallas signed Ellis to pair up with Dirk, the offensive intent was clear: two-man, two-man, two-man, with a little Calderon and Carter sprinkled in. And after one glorious night, MontaBall is off to a scorching debut.
This year, for the first time, Hickory-High will be tackling the challenging of crafting season previews for all thirty NBA teams. Beginning today we’ll be rolling out these previews, one each day, leading up to Opening Night. This was a task of considerable size and complexity and it required the help of every member of our staff. The only guidelines given were that each writer approach team by staying true to their own style and the result is season previews of a difference sort. We hope you enjoy!
It was Christmas Day 2011, and the Miami Heat were thrashing the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were very angry. (Chris Bosh was considering the feeling of anger, what it meant to him, and how it affected those around him.) Dirk Nowitzki was out of shape, the players around him were aging, and the players who weren’t around him – namely, Tyson Chandler – received the most attention.
Nowitzki, the reigning Finals MVP, spent his offseason basking in the glory of winning his first title. He’d shed the “soft” label, the “choker” label, and the “old” label in one swift, historical surge. The Mavericks were champions, but the team’s future was cloudy. Following the lockout, fiscal conservatism became all the rage in the NBA. In the past, owner Mark Cuban could spend and spend and spend without remorse. But the times, as Bob Dylan once groaned, were a-changin’.
So midway through the third quarter, when an offensive run put Miami ahead of Dallas by 35 points, I turned to my panicked sister at the American Airlines Center and told her not to worry. The first few games might be tough. After all, the Mavericks had brought in a few new faces. Lamar Odom and Vince Carter replaced Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea. New teams need time to adjust. The next night, Dallas was rolled again. The scary thing about that season was, for the first time in my Mavs basketball life, it happened again and again. And again. I attributed it to the lockout, because that’s what confused people do. I also thought two or three new faces in the rotation makes winning significantly tougher, a theme I’d become awfully familiar with.
But then 2011-12 became 2012-13, and the Mavericks’ roster became even more unfamiliar. Jason Terry and Jason Kidd became O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison. Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi became Bernard James and someone resembling Chris Kaman. Mike James found significant playing time. And Dirk grew older. Dallas, in two years, devolved from the defending champion to a 0.500 team with just four players from the title team, and only two (Nowitzki and Shawn Marion) are still employed. Within the last two calendar years, no less than three big-time stars chose to play for a team not named the Mavericks.
A rough stretch I expected at the end of 2011 to last just a few weeks ended up lasting two entire seasons. The only solace Mavs fans felt was accepting that a bad two years came on the tail end of 10 years of winning basketball. Also, it beats being the Charlotte Bobcats. But, really, if that’s what kept people from staying up at night, then life as a Mavericks fan was as dark as it had ever been. Or at least that’s what it seemed like from reading Facebook and Twitter.
Though it might be almost counter-intuitive, the optimistic way (and, really, the only accurate way) to dissect the Mavericks’ upcoming season is to look at what happened last year. Dallas had a surprisingly efficient Vince Carter, a PER god in Brandan Wright, an unreasonably motivated Shawn Marion, a bunch of one-year rentals playing for contract money, and a pissed-off Dirk. (That is, after he returned from injury.) The one thing Dallas sorely lacked was any semblance of effective guard play. Collison, Mayo et al simply could not take care of the ball. The Mavericks committed 20+ turnovers in nine games last season, a nadir they stooped to only 12 times total from 2007-2012. But those days are gone now.
Why? After watching Dirk night in, night out for more than a decade, it’s easy to see that he’s a simple man who asks for simple favors. Give him a point guard and an off-guard and he’ll be happy. It worked with Steve Nash/Nick Van Exel, Jason Terry/Devin Harris, and finally Terry/Jason Kidd. The Collison/Mayo pairing didn’t work. (It took a James/Mayo duo to drag the Mavericks back to .500. Mike James!)
So, after the nightmare of 2013, Dallas spent wisely on Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon, two of the most different people I can imagine, to bring firepower and savvy back to the guard positions. Interestingly enough, Calderon and Ellis closely resemble Kidd and Terry. One’s a slow pass-first guy who can shoot the 3, and the other is a small shooting guard with irrational confidence, an iffy shot selection, and blazing speed. Add in the returning Harris to give his best Barea imitation, and Dallas is trying to put a 2011 tribute band together.
Instead of turning the ball over four times in six possessions like last year’s Mavs did in Portland one fateful night in January (and seemed to do in every close game), Dallas will be able to execute down the stretch. Improved guard play complements Dirk’s insane spacing ability as well. Last year, playing without shooters, Dirk’s on/off numbers were dreadful compared to recent years in his career. Not surprisingly, Dallas found out last season that passing matters. After all, that’s how the Mavericks won the title two years prior.
And Dallas doesn’t make its late-game stuff a secret. We all know what they’ll be doing. And it’s all so simple.
The two-man game has long been the foundation of the Mavericks’ late-game offense. It started with Dirk and Nash, then moved to Dirk and Terry. Because of the matchup problems Dirk presents, Dallas has almost always been able to get a good shot out of the set, even against very good defensive teams. Take this clip, via Beckley Mason, as an example.
In that video, the Mavs only ran two variances off the Dirk screen. In one, he handed off to Terry, who then penetrated. In the other, Nowitzki popped to the three-point line and got an open look. But Dirk and Terry didn’t always shoot out of those sets. Here’s a Two Man Game clip that illustrates Dirk and Terry’s ability to move the ball out of that set around the floor, despite essentially sending everyone else to the opposite side.
Occasionally, Dirk will slip the screen and roll to the corner for a jumper. (He’s never been a big roller to the basket, which sometimes he uses to his advantage. For the most part, though, he’ll roll to get a jump shot.) Most importantly, this clip (begin at 1:16) lets me revisit Game 2.
The next clip, from late in Game 5 of the same series, begins with the same exact play Dallas ran in the last clip. Dirk slips the screen and rolls to the corner, then receives the ball from Terry. Miami recognized the play, rotated accordingly, and still got burned.
During the very next play (which starts at 16 seconds), Dirk again slips the screen, receives the ball, sets his left foot like he’s about to shoot, and drives for the dunk. Miami, an excellent defensive team, is making adjustments in real-time and the Mavericks still have an answer. Skip ahead to 1:02, and Dallas runs the same exact set again, this time with Dirk rolling to the corner (though it happens during the camera cut), the defense collapsing on the driving Terry, who then finds Kidd for the open 3. (For what it’s worth, I was sitting behind Chandler’s family at that game, and when Kidd hit the 3, I think I might have hugged every one of them. Also, it was the last time my voice worked that night.) Just for fun, go to 2:22 and watch Terry drain the 3 out of a failed two-man set. I almost passed out when he made it.
The point of all of this is simple: it was crunch time of the biggest game in franchise history against a developing dynasty that has always been a defensive powerhouse, and that team had weeks to examine and prepare for that precise set, yet Dallas ran that exact set with literally NO adjustments for half a dozen consecutive possessions. That’s what watching the final five minutes of Mavs basketball had been like for almost 15 years before last season. Neither Collison nor Mayo could ever mesh well enough with Dirk to make it work. (Collison could also never do this.)
Calderon and Ellis, while they obviously do not share a conscious with Kidd and Terry, will be able to make it work. They’re veterans, they’re not playing for a contract, Dirk is healthy, and Dirk is even more revved-up, only this year it isn’t out of blind rage toward the front office. He’s ready to play, unlike he was last season, and unlike he was on Christmas Day 2011. It’s at least reasonable to plug in Calderon and Ellis into those situations and still visualize the same results. Calderon led the league in 3-point shooting last season, and Ellis, at his most devastating, slashes and creates.
Ellis’ largest limitation, which goes without saying, is his 3-point shooting, which was perhaps Terry’s most dangerous skill, as it relates to defending their screen-roll stuff. Ellis also shot a disturbingly low 40% out of pick-and-roll plays as the ball-handler last season, according to Synergy, but Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t setting those picks. (For what it’s worth, he shot below 40% on almost every other conceivable play, except for in transition, so, uh, that’s when he’s at his most efficient. Gulp.)
How much of this is fact-based and how much is unbridled optimism? That’s up to you, but in 2009, Dirk carried a stoned Josh Howard and an underperforming Terry to the second round. It can be done. The formula is simple, and it’s been simple for a decade. Give Dirk a couple guards, and let Dirk dictate the defense. It won Dallas the title – along with a ton of other factors, sure – but the least common denominator has always been Dirk’s ability to space the floor. Now, after two years, he finally has guys around him who can take advantage of that luxury. And after starting 13-23, Dirk and last year’s bunch of misfit toys finished the season 28-18, good for a 50-win pace. Remember, Mike James started most of those games.
Throughout the bulk of Nowitzki’s career, he’s been surrounded by players who, for the most part, complement his greatest strengths. That’s been the blueprint of Dallas’ lengthy run of success, a run that, until recently, every team save the Spurs and Heat would be envious of. Last season was the first in which Dirk didn’t have the supporting cast to hold him up when he was at his most vulnerable. Dirk is aging, but he isn’t slowing down.
This year’s collection of talent is objectively and subjectively better than last year’s, and despite the Western Conference’s never-ending Renaissance, Dallas can make the playoffs if the Dirk/Calderon/Ellis nucleus can stay healthy. The Mavs might not win a series, but, unlike last season, they have a good chance of at least playing in one. And they’ll do it by getting back to the basics.
We still have nearly two months until the return of actual NBA basketball games. If you’re like me that feels like an interminable stretch, a monumental journey across a nightmarish, post-apocalyptic landscape. The staff of Hickory-High has been languishing as well, struggling to preserve an oasis of creativity in this arid hellscape. I decided to share some of the meager reserves I’ve been rationing and tossed out a few questions to be discussed, roundtable-style. Here’s what we’ve got.
1. Last week Michael Beasley was bought out by the Phoenix Suns. I won’t ask you to rehash the circumstances of his departure from Phoenix, or wade into the incredibly complicated and ultimately unknowable question of whether his career is salvageable. But at this point, would you be interested in having your team take a flyer on him?
Kris Fenrich (@dancingwithnoah): Yes, I’d be interested in having him on my squad as long as there’s some level of veteran influence. If I’m the Bobcats or Sixers or Kings, no thanks. If I’m Memphis or Brooklyn , let’s roll them dice.
David Vertsberger (@_Verts): I’ll have to take a pass. If by ‘your team’ you mean my favorite team, well let’s just say the last thing the Knicks need is a patch-up job for a troubled young player.
Jacob Frankel (@jacob_frankel): There’s never really any harm in a one year deal. I wouldn’t want a young team to pick him up but I see no ways in which it hurts an established team.
Kyle Soppe (@unSOPable23): My team? No. The Raptors are not exactly a stable franchise that can take on a player with this sort of baggage. That being said, if you gave me an elite level franchise/ownership, I’d at least bring him in for a look. He’s 6’19” and athletic, something that has the ability to speak louder than any past transgression. Still only 24 years of age, Beasley is a 14-and-5 guy who has (in theory) untapped potential. I get that the off the floor stuff is troubling to say the least, but in a vacuum, is he more of a risk that Greg Oden?
Cole Patty (@ColePatty): Most teams, I say yes. People are worried about the kind of pull Beasley would have in a locker room, but I feel like someone like Anthony Bennett would listen to Kyrie Irving 99 times before he takes any Beasley advice. NBA players – like any profession ever – have had some sticky situations, but I’m sure young players are fully aware, or could be made aware, of what kind of trouble Beasley has gotten himself into. There are many risks that can be worse than fielding him on your team as a 13th man at a minimum salary for the year to see if he gets it.
Patrick Redford (@patrickredford): Totally. Perhaps this is a product of cheering for terrible teams for years, you find things that distract you from how poorly you’re doing in the win-loss column. Beasley has a real bummer of a narrative, but none of us really know a whole lot about what makes the dude tick (EXHIBIT A). He won’t cost much, and at worst he is a more colorful, talented, fun version of the flotsam available still.
Andrew Koo (@akoo): On a good team, give him a strict rotation role. If he doesn’t cost much, there’s minimal harm in a tryout. Easy enough to cut him.
Andy Liu (@AndyKHLiu): Sure, if you’re a team that enjoys terrible shot selection and lack of defense. Luckily, my team isn’t the New York Knicks. In all seriousness, the Warriors could use someone of Beas’ potential and ability to create for himself. There aren’t many, or any, iso players from the perimeter on the team. And given the strong leadership and core (MJax, Curry, Lee), there’s a chance he could pan out. I just don’t want to find out, no matter the cost.
Kevin Ferrigan (@nbacouchside): Yes. The talent is there, and with the risk being so low- a roster spot and likely minimum salary money- it’s basically a no lose proposition. I’m almost always in favor of betting on talent, unless the talented person is some sort of terrible monster, which Beasley is certainly not. He’s more of a misguided soul, in my view, than a bad guy.
Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla): I can’t think of an environment in which Beasley could perform well today. He appears to be uninterested in playing for a losing team, but why should a winning team waste a roster spot on a guy who’s two years removed from being merely a league-average player? At this point it’s too difficult to forecast his physical upside (there once was plenty) and mental upside (if there is any) to even consider signing him to a minimum deal. I’d let another team take a flyer on him.
Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin): No.
Matt Cianfrone (@Matt_Cianfrone): Definitely not on the Bucks. They just purged the locker room of some obviously bad chemistry and are clearly trying to bring in good, stable people to influence guys like Larry Sanders and John Henson. Beas is clearly the farthest thing from stable. Also the guy pulled the Mookie Blaylock (hat tip to Andrew Lynch for the term) and had more shot attempts then points scored last year so I wonder if the talent is actually still there.
2. Which connective tissue has more pressure on it going into the 2013-2014 season – Russell Westbrook’s ACL or Kobe Bryant’s achilles?
Fenrich: I’m not really sure what this means. The Lakers have the look and feel of a lame duck season while OKC’s going to be in the competitive mix out west. OKC needs Russell’s ACL more than LA needs Kobe’s achilles.
Frankel: Westbrook’s and it isn’t close. Count me shocked if the Lakers win more than 35 games.
Soppe: Kobe and the Lakers will put more pressure on him to return, but the answer here is Westbrook. Westbrook and the Thunder can be title contenders when he is right, and that’s a lot of pressure. That being said, they are a playoff team without him, so the pressure is more long term than anything. Pressure is felt when one has something to lose. The Thunder could lose a shot at taking down the potentially dynastic Heat. Kobe has nothing to lose, as we expect the Lakers to struggle and for him to try to carry them. If he fails, it’s the rosters fault. If he succeeds, we all hail Kobe. That’s not pressure.
Patty: Westbrook, but I also really don’t think the Lakers will be relevant in May unless they are next to the name Andrew Wiggins.
Koo: Westbrook. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kobe plays less games though.
Liu: Pressure to succeed? Westbrook. He’s on a playoff team. Pressure to push himself to play a certain amount of games or to score a certain amount of points? Kobe.
Ferrigan: This one seems pretty simple. It’s Westbrook’s knee. The Thunder are legitimate contenders to win the title, whereas the Lakers almost certainly won’t make the playoffs.
Karalla: Westbrook’s ACL. Westbrook’s entire game is predicated on his unbelievable athleticism. If his knee problem limits his explosiveness, OKC will have a hard time competing in a stacked West. Even if Kobe comes back at full strength on opening night, the Lakers still probably won’t make the playoffs. There’s no pressure there.
Cianfrone: Westbrook. With THE Westbrook we have grown accustomed to seeing the Thunder are title contenders. Without that version of him or better, they are still really good but I don’t think they could realistically be considered title contenders.
Redford: Westbrook. There’s been a lot of guff about how the Thunder are slipping and could fall victim to their now highly-motivated ex-compatriot in Houston. Narrative-wise, Westbrook’s knee is essential to any chance the Thunder have of reasserting superiority, whereas there are almost no real expectations of greatness or even goodness for L.A.
3. O.J. Mayo and Monta Ellis essentially swapped places. Who landed in a better situation? Which team is better off?
Fenrich: This is an apples and oranges thing. Not to turn this into a civic issue, but Ellis landed in a better city. The brief time I spent in Milwaukee was unilluminating. A traffic cop hassled me for jaywalking across a trafficless street at midnight on a weeknight. But Mayo didn’t go there because Milwaukee’s tough on crime. He went there for the money whereas Ellis took a paycut to go to Dallas. I think what we have here is a case of young men with divergent motives. “Better” means different things for each man. And the same can be applied to the teams.
Frankel: I’ve actually grown a fair bit on the Ellis signing in Dallas. He should play off Dirk well, won’t be the primary option in the offense, and I think Rick Carlisle will reign in his shot selection a bit. Mayo may be the top option on the Bucks offense, which makes me shudder.
Soppe: Ellis is probably in the better situation, but is either team any better off? Mayo is two years younger, so I guess I like what Dallas did better? I’ve got very little faith in either one of these “professional bucket getters”, so if you assume both volume shooters play to the same age, the Mavs sped up the cleansing process by two years. In all seriousness, I would prefer Mayo as a player, I just don’t think this swap moves the needle much for either squad.
Patty: I’ll take Mayo, if only because he’s younger and statistically had a decent year for the Mavericks last season. I don’t know if either player will actually get it, but I really don’t see teaching an old Monta new tricks anytime soon. Even if Mayo is just as apathetic on defense as he has been in the past, Larry Sanders playing behind him should help. Plus, I’ll take a guy who shot 40% from three over any long-two aficionado.
Koo: Dallas is the better situation as long as Dirk plays. I’m not sure Milwaukee wins 30 games. Ellis in Dallas with Rick Carlisle is an interesting season storyline. Maybe this is trusting Cuban and co. too much, but they wouldn’t have signed him to be that same player, right?
Ferrigan: Monta went to a team with an established, if aging, superstar and a good shot at the Western playoffs. O.J. went to a hot mess of a team in the Bucks, who I’d be surprised to see win 35 games this year. I’d say Monta wins because, though the longer term picture for both teams is pretty mediocre, Dallas will more than likely be better.
Karalla: From a lifestyle standpoint, the only places I’d rather live in America if I made $8 million per year than Dallas, are New York and L.A. Maybe Miami. On the floor, Dallas is the better situation and quite honestly it’s not close. It’s unclear if Dirk’s game will mesh immediately with Monta’s, but Dirk has never had a problem making adjustments to play with a small guard. Dirk, when healthy, had Dallas playing 50-win ball during the second half of last season with a roster that by comparison to this year’s was pitiful. Sanders and Knight are nice pieces, but I’d rather play for three years in Dallas with Carlisle and Old Dirk than four years in Milwaukee.
Cianfrone: Honestly I am not sure either situation is all that good but I guess since Dirk is the best player on either team Monta is in the better one. But by virtue of no longer having Monta the Bucks are better off. But the real winners and losers in this swap are Ian and I. He now has to watch plenty of Monta in Dallas which is pretty terrible and I get Monta off my favorite team and can probably not worry about hating basketball when the Bucks play. I can’t wait.
Liu: Monta Ellis. He doesn’t have to do more than he has to, though I’m sure he’ll want to. The Mavericks will be sneaky good while the Bucks will be blatantly bad.
Redford: Monta. There are a lot of guard-bros on the Mavs, but they likely won’t push Monta too hard for minutes. Plus playing with Dirk and Carlisle always helps. Meanwhile, Mayo is guaranteed slightly more touches, but there’s something too nonsensical about Milwaukee to convince that this is more than a pile of tires about to be set on fire.
4. Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings. Same question.
Fenrich: These older, upper-midwestern cities just depress me. I already referenced my Milwaukee experience. I also got lost in a parking lot after a Brewers game once and needed a stadium employee to give me a lift in a golf cart to help me find my car. Detroit is depressing for obvious reasons. When I think about Detroit and Milwaukee, I picture post-industrial wastelands where the sun’s been blotted out by lingering smog from long dead and rusted out factories. I don’t think hope is riding into town on the backs of Brandon Jennings or Brandon Knight. Hoop-wise, I’m more interested in the cozy relationship between Joe Dumars and his former assistant GM, John Hammond who’s now running the Bucks. I wonder how the politics of their personal relationship could bleed into their professional relationship.
Soppe: I prefer adding Knight as a piece to the future to Jennings, but Detroit is in better shape here.The Pistons are building an odd roster, but I trust Big Shot Billups and believe he’s got as good a chance to help develop a still raw Jennings as anybody.
Patty: I’ll take Jennings, which sucks to feel like I’m writing a 21 year-old Knight off so soon. This is more about Jennings however, and how I feel he has become slightly underrated. He’s a much better passer than Knight and his efficiency was killed by playing such a huge offensive role in Milwaukee. On a team that has more offensive options – even if most come close to the basket – I like his potential improvements with less usage.
Ferrigan: Jennings is more talented than Knight, and the Pistons’ roster is now more talented than the Bucks by a pretty clear margin. Jennings running pick and rolls with Andre Drummond should be pretty fun. Fit-wise, there are some worrying things with Jennings and Josh Smith’s potential for chucking and bricklaying, but hopefully having more talent around him will make Jennings more judicious with his shot selection, even if already we know it won’t stop Josh from continuing to lob up ill-advised J’s.
Karalla: Detroit is in better shape in the short-term. Now that Jennings finally has a couple bigs to feed, he might not feel the need to jack up six 3s a night… OK, OK, who am I kidding? He’ll still let ‘em fly, but Drummond and Monroe will be there to eat up the leftovers. Milwaukee, meanwhile, might be able to find a decent offensive rhythm now that every possession won’t end in a forced 20-footer, but if I’m Knight, I’d wish I was still in Detroit.
Cianfrone: Jennings is in the much better situation. Remember as a rookie with a healthy Andrew Bogut behind him Brandon was actually at least an average defender if not better. The past few years he was miscast as a number one option and the frustration was evident. Now as the third guy things may go back to that rookie year. Honestly I hope so because I really like the guy. Detroit clearly is the better situation too. The team is more talented and should have a clear offensive hierarchy which will put Jennings behind Josh Smith and Greg Monroe and should curb some of his bad shots. If he at least makes efforts again on defense the Pistons should be a playoff team.
Liu: Brandon Jennings will now have the ability to brick not one jump shot, but two in a single possession, thanks to Smith, Drummond and Monroe manning the boards. Also, the pick-and-rolls and defensive prowess will cover many of Jennings’ flaws. Ultimately, talent wins out. It usually does.
Redford: Definitely Jennings. Unlike the Bucks, Detroit makes sense and has a heap of talented contributors in the fold now, rather than a set of skinny dudes with potential. Jennings is the perfect dose of pyrotechnics on a team that’s been too earthbound for a while.
5. Challenge: Convince me that DeMarcus Cousins is anything but a heaping pile of inefficiency, in ten words or less.
Vertsberger: If you say he is he will dunk on you.
Fenrich: Inefficient production is still production … you just need more.
Frankel: 20 points per 36 minutes on 47% shooting. Lots of offensive rebounds.
Soppe: 20-10-5 upside in the right situation/city.
Patty: Efficiency is hard in Sacramento.
Redford: Numbers are boring. Celebrate subversives. Fun matters.
Ferrigan: Rightly or wrongly, teams double him. Opens opportunities for teammates.
Karalla: Almost unfair to judge him when playing for that franchise.
Conlin: “Inefficient” and “not valuable” should not be synonymous.
Cianfrone: What Cole said.
Liu: Trade him to the Spurs.
6. Which problem would you rather have – trying to create offensive spacing in Detroit with Jennings, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe? Or trying to defend the rim in Los Angeles (Clippers) with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins?
Fenrich: Oh, if I could pick and choose all my problems in life. In this wonderful world you’ve dreamt up, I’d take the Pistons problem. Offensive spacing is something that can be taught, drilled, repeated, learned. Defensive protection is more dependent on the opposition and with the Clippers, the opposition is led by the great deceiver, Chris Paul.
Soppe: I’d rather work with the Pistons offense. With this option, you have a fallback plan: just roll the ball out there. Spacing would be tough, but maybe the lack of space will finally give J-Smoove some sort of limited area to work, increasing his efficiency in the process. On the flip side, if you don’t have the bodies to matchup with Lob City, what in the world are you supposed to do? I guess you go with one of two plans: foul them every time or hope they foul you every time on the other end. Either way, that mixture of size and athleticism is something I want no part of defending. In this day and age of social media, the odds of a poorly run pick and roll is a lot less likely to define your legacy than an … uhhh … Brandon Knight moment.
Patty: One of these teams has CP3, but this is a vacuum question. I’ll take the spacing issues in a vacuum because the Pacers and Grizzlies just had playoff success with this set of problems. Spacing makes the game beautiful and for that we love it, but not being able to protect your own rim can get any team in a heap of trouble in a hurry. I’m also really interested in what any coach not named Vinny Del Negro can do with DeAndre Jordan.
Ferrigan: I’d rather have that Pistons problem. Although, I will say that Blake Griffin and DeAndre are rather underrated defensive players. Not perfect or anything, but they are not nearly as bad as their reps suggest. It’s more holdover from being awful when they were younger, I think. Plus, most people look worse when Vinny Del Negro is their head coach. Just look at how much Derrick Rose improved defensively once VDN was sent packing.
Karalla: I’d rather have the Pistons’ problem. Even if those four guys don’t run a single set all game, they’d each still score at least 12-14 points every night. The Clippers play in a conference with a dominant interior team (Memphis), a phenomenal pick-and-roll team (San Antonio) and a team with perhaps the best isolation center in the game (Houston), all of which demand excellent post defense. It’s difficult to envision the Clippers beating any of those teams in a seven-game series without someone to protect the rim, let alone worrying about LeBron in a potential Finals matchup.
Conlin: In previous years, teams like Miami and Washington (2013 version) and Philadelphia (2012 version) have shown that well-coached defenses can find ways to close off the paint and the front of the rim through non-traditional means. For that reason, I’d rather have the Clippers problem. It seems like it’s easier to construct a cohesive defensive unit than it is to manufacture space on offense.
Cianfrone: Give me the Clippers front line but just barely. This time last year it seemed like Larry Sanders may be on his way out of the league. Then the games started and he suddenly became one of the best rim protectors in the game. Sometimes bigs just take time and maybe this year with Doc Rivers at the helm DAJ finally gets it.
Liu: Would I rather coach a playoff team with championship aspirations and talent or a middling fringe contender in the crapshoot portion of the Eastern Conference? I’ll take the team with Chris Paul, even if he doesn’t tangibly help defend the rim. As for the question itself, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have the talent to protect the rim, in theory. Detroit can’t shoot and that’s hard to fix, given that their big men aren’t high-IQ guys anyway. That Memphis solution isn’t happening. Give me the team that actually has the talent to fix their problems.
Redford: The one that involves Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Spacing and rim-protecting are essential tasks, but both can be softened with strengths in other areas. I would feel much more confident if I could soften my team’s problem with Chris Paul.
7. Brad Stevens, first ballot Hall-of-Famer?
Fenrich: Assuming he’s getting in for contributions as a pro coach, the odds have to be significantly stacked against Stevens. To be a first ballot guy, he’s got to win a title — or multiple titles — or die at a young age, promise unfulfilled. Without researching, I don’t think there have been many college coaches who won pro championships. Larry Brown is the only guy who comes to mind. So here’s to hoping for a long, healthy, non-first ballot life for Brad Stevens.
Soppe: To my knowledge, no member of the Hall-of-Fame has lacked the ability to grow facial hair. If he accomplishes that feat, I don’t see why not. At the very least, he has a long leash given the Celtics offseason moves, so he won’t flame out. That being said, he needs to succeed sooner rather than later, it doesn’t take long for people to forget about success at the college level.
Patty: Likely not, because we get many washout coaches before any Hall-of-Famers. I’m just going to say yes, but just because he’s a stats guy that I’ve always liked.
Redford: Who is Brad Stevens?
Ferrigan: Can we let him coach one pro game before we ask insane questions like this? Okay, like probably more than one. Many. I’d like to see many, many games before I even begin to contemplate such a question. I’m on his side, though, just because he listens to and incorporates quantitative analysis of the game into his coaching approach.
Karalla: I wonder what he’d have to accomplish to get in on the first ballot. Two consecutive Final Fours in college is a heck of a feat. He’d have to win at least one or two titles, but unfortunately because of Boston’s dreadful roster he might get canned before he gets the chance to build a consistent contender.
Cianfrone: Predicting coaches is really hard so I will say no. But he seems to be the kind of guy who has a chance to be really good. The fact that he buys into analytics in this day and age is huge and he has proven he can win with inferior talent, even if it was at the college level. It may take a bit of time but I am actually kind of excited to see what he can do with a talented roster.
Liu: I’m all-in on Stevens. College success doesn’t portend pro success. A roster filled to the brim with no-namers means a tanking season for the Celtics. And yet, a guy that is only 36 years old (just 5 years older than Gerald Wallace), was one of the best leaders in college hoops. Take a look at this. So no matter how hard it is to project not just his coaching, but the players that come through Boston in his career, I expect him to lead, and win. If it isn’t Boston, it’ll be somewhere else.
April 3, 2010 is a sad day for me as a basketball fan.
Because on April 3, 2010 things one freak accident changed the career of a player that was quickly becoming second to only Ray Allen on my list of personal favorites.
Before that fateful day Andrew Bogut was doing everything he could to carry that special “Fear the Deer” mishmash of players to what looked like a potential first round playoff victory and the designation of a team people didn’t want to see in the playoffs.
Then everything changed.
Bogut slipped off a Milwaukee rim and came crashing down, destroying his right arm. Elbow, wrist, hand; everything was just a mangled mess.
Finally after another freak injury on March 13, 2012, this time to his ankle, put Bogut out of action, the Bucks decided it was time to move on, trading him to the Golden State Warriors for a package built around Monta Ellis.
It was move, universally questioned. How could the Bucks give up such a dominant inside force just because of a few freak injuries and pair their small, ball dominating, streaky-shooting point guard with a small, ball dominating, bad-shooting, two-guard?
Bogut can never stay healthy was the answer that was eventually settled on. The Bucks couldn’t trust him to do so.
Now, finally healthy again, Bogut is the dominant inside force on a running, gunning Warriors team capturing everyone’s imagination after dismantling the Denver Nuggets in a six-game series.
Bogut averaged 8.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and almost a steal a game in the series, capped off with a monstrous 14 point, 21 rebound, 3 assist, 4 block, 1 steal, 39 minute masterpiece in the series clincher.
The dominant defensive force, with a bit of a nasty streak and the incredible understanding of what every offensive player on the opposing team wants to do is back.
That “Fear the Deer” Bogut is back except this time he “Believes.”
The Bogut I wished would always be back has been back, and yet I can’t fully enjoy it. Because deep down the thought that as this was building, I was watching Monta Ellis ruin things in Milwaukee still lingers.
This run should have been ours.
Monta didn’t exactly help when he Monta’d things up as the Bucks got swept by the Heat; shooting 43% from the field, 16% from the three-point line and 36% from the free throw line in the series.
The differences in the way the two players affected their series couldn’t be more perfect.
Monta, missing shots from everywhere on the floor, yet never stopping those shots from going up, while Bogut scoring when he gets a chance but mostly stopping Denver from relentlessly attacking the rim and finishing; one guy preventing his own team from getting good shots and scoring, while the other prevented his opponent from doing the same.
Bogut wouldn’t have helped this Bucks team defeat Miami, and he probably wouldn’t have allowed LARRY SANDERS!, the bright point an otherwise bleak Bucks season, to develop into the force he has today.
But what if he had been healthy? What if the run these Warriors were on now was instead a magical run those 2010 Bucks went on led by the big Aussie?
They probably wouldn’t have beaten the two-seed Orlando Magic, just like these Warriors probably won’t beat the two seed-San Antonio Spurs.
But maybe with the excitement built around that run things would have been a bit different. Maybe Brandon Jennings never becomes Monta light, as Bogut possibly found a way to reel him in. Maybe then the Bucks would have been on the upswing instead of the perpetual battle for the eight seed we seem to now find ourselves in, despite not having many young players on that roster. In the end, maybe nothing would have changed outside of a series win against the Atlanta Hawks we ultimately took to seven games.
But I wish we got to find out.
This isn’t to say I am not enjoying what Bogut is doing, because I am.
The rim protection, the passing, the general nastiness; I love it. Bogut is showing flashes that the old dominant force we all saw is still there. Maybe he only will be able to unleash it for a few games a year. It isn’t the perfect situation but one I would enjoy just for those dominant moments.
But every time I start to smile as he does something good I can’t help but shake that feeling.
This should have been the 2010 “Fear the Deer” Milwaukee Bucks. This should have been that Andrew Bogut.
This should have been us.
This week I decided to take a look at the impact of free throws on the final outcome. Is getting to the line more important than taking advantage of the freebies when a team gets there?
During a 54 game sample, I recorded the free throws attempted and the free throw percentage for every team. Winning teams shot an average of 77.1% on 21.9 free throws per game while losing teams made 76% of their 21 free throws per game this week. That equates to less than one point per game gained by winning teams, hardly enough to call free throws a consistent deciding factor. In fact, on three of the seven days this past week, the losing teams totaled a higher FT% than the victors.
Are free throws overrated? We know that foul trouble can land a teams star player on the bench for an extended period of time, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Does it matter how a team scores? Obviously, you’d like to make your free throws (especially down the stretch), but statistically speaking, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation what so ever (for this week at least) between free throws (attempts or percentage) and team success.
With that knowledge gained, here are 35 stats from the past week in the Association.
For this week I decided to chart the importance of turning turnovers into points. In the 52 games this week, the winning team scored 18.12 points per game off of turnovers while losing teams managed just 14.02 points. That may not seem like much, but when you consider that 17.31% of the games this week either went to overtime or were decided by four or fewer points, the ability to score points off of turnovers is a game changer.
The victorious team averaged 1.23 points directly the result of a turnover, 13% greater than the rate at which losing teams converted turnovers into points. This week long study strengthened the common thought that forcing “live ball” turnovers is the best way to get easy buckets and win the game, especially for undermanned teams.
One more full week of the regular season which means one more chance to suggest a #StatStudy. Shoot me ideas @unSOPable23 and we can work out the details for the next seven days. Here are some stats you may have missed from the last seven days:
This week’s Stat Study was done with the intention to determine the impact of playing a back to back in terms of total shooting percentage (TS%) and turnover rate (TOR). To understand this study, one must be familiar with these metrics. Total shooting percentage created a total metric of shooting accuracy looking at three-pointers, two-pointers and free throws. Turnover rate is a simple tally of the percentage of possessions that end in a turnover.
TS% = Points Scored / (2 * FGA (0.44 * FTA)))
TOR = (TO * 100) / (FGA + (0.44 * FTA) + TO)
David Vertberger (@_Verts), was confident that a study along these lines would prove that fatigue does in fact set in, and that a team playing on the second night of a back to back is at a distinct disadvantage. But not so fast.
Surprisingly, 60% of teams had a greater TS% and 62.1% of teams had a lower TOR on the second day of a back to back (this week) than their season average entering action. On the week as a whole, the average team playing on consecutive nights saw their TS% jump 0.9% and their TOR get worse by 8%. The increase in TS% may not seem like a lot, but the fact that teams were more efficient this week when playing the night before is stunning.
The Los Angeles Lakers (Monday) and Toronto Raptors (Sunday) were the only two teams all week (there were 30 instances in which a team played the second game of a back to back this week) to buck the trend and support the common train of thought (decreasing TS% and increasing TOR). On the flip side: Dallas, Brooklyn, Minnesota, Portland, New York, Memphis, Chicago, and Sacramento all increased their TS% and decreased their TOR in such games this week.
Product of a small sample size? Maybe. But is it possible that we are over-blowing the impact of a back to back? The numbers would indicate an over reaction by the general public, myself included. An interesting result from a great study topic paves the way for another set of 35 unique stats and trends from the week that was in the NBA.
This week, thanks to the suggestion of David Vertsberger (@_Verts
), I decided to take a look at the top assist men on each team and how they contributed to each game this week in terms of percentage of total points scored (PS%) and percentage of total assists handed out (A%). I constructed a spread sheet that detailed the top dime dropper on each roster along with the PS% and A% for that player entering this week. For example, the Hawks representative in this study was Jeff Teague
, who averaged 29.2% of Atlanta’s points scored on a nightly basis and 14.8% of their assists coming into this week. For every Hawks game, I charted the result of the contest and whether Teague went over or under his season percentages. I did this for all 30 teams in an effort to determine if win percentage was correlated to a team’s assist leader scoring more than normal or assisting more than normal.
The results were inconclusive for the most part, but one slight trend was established from this 50 game sample size. Winning teams saw their leading assister score a higher percentage of the teams points in 54% of the games while losing teams saw their representative underachieve in the points department 46% of the time. The correlation isn’t that strong, but the fact that 27 of 50 winning teams had their player go OVER the projected point total and that 27 of 50 losing teams had their player go UNDER the projected point total is interesting.
The percentage of assists had no correlation whatsoever, as 26 of the winning teams had a player go UNDER the projected assist total and 25 of the losing teams had a player go UNDER.
Teague was the model player for what I anticipated may happen, but very few players followed suit. The Hawks point guard went OVER his projections in both victories and UNDER in both losses. Steph Curry and Brandon Jennings single handedly disproved my hypothesis, as their teams success didn’t reflect their PS% or A%. Curry went OVER in all four games this week in both categories, but the Warriors dropped all four games. In contrast, Jennings went UNDER in five of six categories, but the Bucks won all three games.
The one week sample size is a bit small, but the beginning of a trend started to show. Given a longer range of data, I would not be surprised if in situations in which the assist leader scored OVER his projected point total, his team won upwards of 60% of the time.
Clay Pittinaro (@C1ayMitche11) has suggested I follow the winning percentage of teams that shoot more three’s and out rebound their opponent. To attack this inquiry, I will chart both as individual statistics as well as a combined statistic, and see if we can make some conclusions. Tweet me @unSOPable23 for stat questions or to line up you statistic to be a part of the next stat study.
Here are some more stats you may have missed from the previous week: