I would have guess it the other way around
The NBA Advanced Statistics Thread: Thank You TD - Page 8
San Antonio Spurs: MCMXCIX, MMIII, MMV, MMVII, MMXIV
I Never Cried When _____ Died, But I Definitely Will When Hov Does
When Reggie Miller entered the NBA in 1987 as a skinny rookie with a high-arcing jump shot, about 1 of every 18 field-goal attempts in the league was a 3-pointer. This season, 3-pointers represented almost 1 of every 4 shots taken.
Miller broke Larry Bird’s rookie record for 3-pointers made, with 61. He laughs at that number now.
“Today, Steph Curry, he gets that in a month,” Miller said in a phone interview.
Evidence of the steadily rising influence of the 3-pointer can be seen across the basketball landscape. Teams averaged a record 20 attempts a game this season, and the trend is pushing steadily upward, or outward, really, far from the basket and beyond the line painted 23 feet 9 inches away.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry set a league record with 272 3-pointers this season. Two teams, the Knicks and the Houston Rockets, attempted more 3s than any other NBA teams in history.
All are in the playoffs, where the 3-point shot, a novelty when it began in the NBA in 1979, is the star attraction. Some see it as something like art.
“Did you see the Warriors and Denver the other night?” asked Chris Mullin, who, like Miller, began his career in the 1980s and is in the Hall of Fame. The Warriors tied their first-round series with the Nuggets on Tuesday, 1-1, while trying 25 3-pointers among 79 field-goal attempts. Golden State made 14 of them and cruised to a 131-117 win.
“That was beautiful,” Mullin said. “It was even more beautiful because they were making them. But, still, you’re playing, you’re getting up and down, you’re running and you’re passing. That’s the game, to me.”
Other parts of the postseason have been similarly punctuated by the exclamation point of the drained 3-pointer — as crowd-provoking as a dunk, but worth 50 percent more on the scoreboard. On Wednesday, the Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder both tried 35 3-pointers — 40 percent of the total shots — in Game 2 of their series. The Thunder made 11, the Rockets made 10, and Oklahoma City won by 3 points to take a 2-0 series lead.
The Knicks, who took more than a third of their shots in the regular season from behind the 3-point line — they established league records for made 3-pointers (891) and attempts (2,371) — took a 2-0 lead on Boston as nine Knicks attempted at least one 3-pointer. That sort of across-the-roster barrage was unheard-of only a few years ago.
“That’s pretty much what we do,” Knicks Coach Mike Woodson said this month. “They’re not bad shots. You’ve got guys who can make them. If I didn’t have players who could make them, trust me, I wouldn’t be shooting them. We’ve got a bunch of guys who can make the 3, and we’ve shot it with high percentages this year. When you’ve got them, you’ve got to take them.”
The 3-point line was borrowed from the American Basketball Association, the footloose ’70s-era rival to the staid NBA.
The league was an offense-happy one. In 1975-76, the last season before the two leagues merged, A.B.A. teams averaged 112.5 points per game. The NBA average was 104.3.
The NBA imported most of the A.B.A. stars and four of its franchises: the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs and the New York (later New Jersey) Nets. Also hoping to import some of the A.B.A.’s attitude, it added the 3-point line for the 1979-80 season.
It was largely a gimmick. Even in the freewheeling A.B.A.’s final season, 3-pointers represented only about 1 of every 25 field-goal attempts. They were used in desperation, not as inspiration.
In the NBA’s first season with a 3-point line, overall scoring actually dropped slightly. The average team attempted only 2.8 3-pointers per game, or about 1 of every 33 shots from the field.
When the Philadelphia 76ers won the 1982-83 NBA championship, they shot a total of 109 3-pointers (they made 25) during the 82-game regular season.
It was not until the 1986-87 season that NBA teams averaged more than one made 3-pointer per game.
“Probably my first 10 or 12 years, the whole thing for every team was that you had to pound it inside,” said Miller, who played 18 with the Pacers. “You had to get it to your center. You had to establish the paint first. And the center position really is gone in the NBA., and in college, really. Gone are the days of a David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rik Smits, Alonzo Mourning.”
Teams, historically built around the center, began to turn themselves inside out behind the shooting touch of big men like Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. Slowly, power forwards within a couple of inches of 7 feet began to hover near the 3-point line, pulling defenders with them.
The rise of the “stretch 4,” as power forwards who play mostly far from the basket are called, may have propelled the proliferation of the 3-pointer more than anything. The defensive slogs of the 1990s gave way to persistent motion and more long jumpers. Defend too close, and the shooter has more room to drive past. Stay too far back, and he has room to shoot something that, in the case of Curry, he makes about 45 percent of the time.
“It’s an exciting brand of basketball,” said Mark Jackson, Golden State’s coach, who played point guard for 17 years in the NBA “ Who wants to see a point guard back down for 20 seconds? It’s a different game. It’s much more enjoyable — talking as someone who did that.”
It has helped raise scoring, which dropped to 91.6 points per game in 1998-99, to about 100 points per game — still 10 points shy of the averages in the 1980s.
A growing ratio of those points comes from 3-pointers. Making them was never the issue. While it took a few seasons to find the shooting form, success on 3-point attempts have been above 30 percent every season since 1986-87. For more than two decades, it has settled around 35 percent. This season, the field-goal percentage for 3-pointers was 35.9, typical of the past 10 years.
What has changed markedly is the number of attempts. They have risen steadily.
Coaches have found that the 3-pointer can be a more efficient way of scoring points — far more so than midrange 2-point jumpers. In the simplest terms, making one-third of your 3-point shots adds up the same as making half of your 2-point shots.
The Knicks made 37.6 percent of their 3-point shots, and 48.7 percent of their 2-point attempts. Their total output (minus free throws) would seem to rise when they shot more from behind the arc than within it.
But that can be a fickle way of scoring, undermined by streaky shooting — a potential downfall in a taut playoff series. But coaches worry about that less than ever, since rosters are filled with 3-point threats. The Rockets and the Knicks, for example, each had more than 10 players average more than one 3-point attempt a game in the regular season — and more than 10 who made more than 30 percent of them.
The two teams had a combined eight players with more 3-pointers made than what Miller had 25 years ago, when he broke the rookie record.
Miller retired in 2005 with an NBA-record 2,560 3-pointers. Ray Allen, now with Miami, has since moved into the top spot. Miller laughed when considering whether he was simply ahead of his time, now that the NBA seems to have fully adopted his long-range game.
“If I would have played in the last five years,” Miller said, “Ray would never have passed me.”
I think over the next few years, we'll see the three being taken even more, like one of every three shots will be a three point attempt.
San Antonio Spurs: MCMXCIX, MMIII, MMV, MMVII, MMXIV
I Never Cried When _____ Died, But I Definitely Will When Hov Does
San Antonio Spurs: MCMXCIX, MMIII, MMV, MMVII, MMXIV
I Never Cried When _____ Died, But I Definitely Will When Hov Does
The first reason I like Steph Curry is that he's a relatively normally sized human being who has figured out a way to become an NBA superstar. When you look at guys like Dwight Howard, LeBron James, or Dirk Nowitzki, it’s easy to see why they might be incredible basketball players. Stephen Curry doesn't look like those guys; someone with his exact figure could walk into any pickup gym in America and few people would notice. Curry is skinny and shortish by NBA standards, but pound-for-pound he is probably the best scorer the league has seen since Allen Iverson.
It’s Curry’s tiny frame and the current NBA injury plague that make what happened the other night in Denver more bothersome. Kenneth “Manimal” Faried stuck out his foot, in what was possibly an attempt to trip Curry, who could easily be nicknamed “beanpole.” I love Faried as much as anyone but was repulsed to see him resort to that. To me it seemed out of character and dickish (or malicious), which is a word I would never use to describe Faried or his game. Why would he resort to tripping? Those saying fouls like that are part of the game neglect to mention that this exact move could easily start a fight at any level of basketball. Tripping is never part of the game and it never should be.
A lot of people have argued, “Well, this is playoff basketball and hard fouls are the norm.” They cite the Pistons beating up Michael Jordan as an example. They imply that there’s some old-school cred associated with this stuff. There’s not, and thank god the days of clotheslining are bygone. Hurting dudes who make the NBA fun to watch is not cool now, and it never really was. If you want to watch big guys fight each other, there’s a sport for you, but it’s not basketball. There is no dignity in “touching up”; there should be no pride in substituting brutality for skill. And though it’s an argument for another time, you’ll find many of the same people who embrace the notion of hard gymnasium fouls on Friday preaching about the importance of player safety in other sports on Sundays.
Imagine a parallel world in which Curry had fallen down and hurt one of his fragile ankles — I don't think that’s an implausible scenario. Imagine the backlash at Faried. Imagine the PTI segment; Kornheiser would be aghast. Imagine the First Take segments; Bayless would be apoplectic. My argument is that once Faried stuck that big yellow Adidas out in front of Curry, he chose to enter a realm where such an injury became a realistic possibility. He didn't know the outcome of his action, but he certainly knew the possibilities, and it's not a stretch to suggest he knows Curry's injury history as well.
On the long list of people who are thankful that Curry didn’t get hurt, Kenneth Faried should be very close to the top.
There's another reason I like Steph Curry: He’s an incredible shooter. In fact he may be the best in the world at converting jump shot opportunities into points. To borrow a concept from the legendary Bob Ryan, if the aliens came down and challenged humanity with a winner-take-all game of H-O-R-S-E, of all the current NBA players I would definitely nominate Stephen Curry to be our representative in that game. Curry’s shot chart reflects this greatness; he puts up stellar numbers virtually everywhere along the perimeter.
Unsurprisingly, Curry outperforms NBA averages at every spot beyond the arc. He’s incredibly effective in the corners and along the right wing (graphic left); it’s probably safe to say that he’s the best 3-point shooter in the league. After all, he did break Ray Allen’s record for 3-point field goals made in a season this year. However, relative to league averages, Curry’s efficiency drops the closer he gets to the rim. That’s not to say he’s not very good in the midrange — he is, but he’s definitely not the best midrange shooter in the league. He hits long 2s at a lower rate than bigger guys like Chris Bosh. Both Bosh and Curry take about five shots between 16 and 23 feet each game, but Bosh makes 52 percent while Curry makes only 44 percent. Curry has a bit of trouble scoring around bigger defenders, and it’s this effect that exposes the biggest shortcoming in Curry’s offensive game.
If there’s a clear weakness in Curry’s offensive portfolio it’s scoring the basketball down low in the land of giants. In the era of so-called “attack guards” or “power guards,” Curry doesn’t quite fit in. He doesn’t get to the rim as much as the league’s other All-Star guards. With the exception of the pure point guard Chris Paul, all nine All-Star guards this year attempted at least four shots per game at the rim. Stephen Curry attempted only 2.1 shots per game at the rim. Relative to his elite peer group — which includes guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook — he lacks the size and the power to effectively attack the basket. That said, he’s not Austin Rivers, and when he gets to the basket he’s not terrible. Regardless, nobody watches Steph Curry to see him attack; we watch him because he is one of the top jump shooters the league has ever seen, a fact not lost on Mark Jackson.
Last week, after the Warriors hung 131 points on the Nuggets in Game 2, shooting 65 percent from the floor, Jackson hyped the shooting prowess of his backcourt. He went so far as to say his team possessed the best shooting backcourt ever. That’s obviously a bold claim, but might not be so outlandish. Together with Klay Thompson, the Warriors decorate the perimeter with a terrifying amount of efficiency. Although Thompson isn’t on the same level as Curry, he provides a suitable Robin to Curry’s Batman.
Like Curry, Thompson is particularly good from the right corner, where he made more than 50 percent of his shots this year. However, away from the right corner, Thompson is a run-of-the-mill good 3-point shooter; he ranked 31st in 3-point shooting efficiency this season behind players like Nate Robinson, Randy Foye, and LeBron James. Don't get me wrong, he’s good, but he’s not Steph Curry. Either way, Jackson’s quote about his backcourt is emblematic of a larger problem in contemporary basketball discourse. Too often we let the “best ever” be the enemy of the “great” — there’s no question that along with Jarrett Jack, Thompson and Curry are freakishly great at shooting the basketball. However, when we throw around “best ever” — and we do a lot these days — we immediately provoke an argument. Instead of simply appreciating these guys for being great, we are thrust into pointless debates about Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Raja Bell, and Steve Nash. Next thing you know we’re not appreciating greatness anymore and we find ourselves deep down in the Gail Goodrich YouTube rabbit hole. Don’t do it, you guys.
Digressions aside, the Warriors are really fun to watch, especially on offense, where Curry has evolved into the kind of elite scoring talent that many scouts doubted he could become. Further, the coaching staff has created sets that effectively provide their excellent shooting guards with excellent opportunities. Their "elevator doors" play for Curry is probably the best example of this, and a thrilling bit of playbook craftiness. Going forward, helping Curry get shots and keeping him healthy remain key to the Warriors' success. If the last few weeks of basketball have taught us anything, keeping guys healthy and on the floor is hard enough in this league, and the last thing we need are dirty little plays that only elevate the risk of losing another superstar.
Are we about to watch history?
You've probably heard by now that no NBA team has ever come back to win a series after trailing 3-0 in the postseason in 103 tries. But that statement might not hold true this time next week as the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics have both reversed momentum in their respective series, forcing a Game 6 on their home floors with huge wins Wednesday night.
No team has ever come back, but has any team ever come this close? Yes. Our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau inform us that, entering this postseason, 10 teams in NBA history had pushed a series to Game 6 after falling behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. The bad news: Only three reached a Game 7, and all 10 ended up losing the series outright. Six of those teams enjoyed home court in Game 6, just like the Rockets and the Celtics do.
Rockets shooting guard Carlos Delfino and Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha have been here before. After facing a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Pistons (Delfino's then-team) in the 2007 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Chicago Bulls (Sefolosha's then-team) rallied back with two double-digit wins to force a Game 6. But momentum is a fickle thing. Despite winning the prior two games by a total of 31 points and having the home court in Game 6, the Bulls lost by 10 in front of their fans.
Oh, and word to the wise: Don't even mention the word "momentum" to Blazers fans. In 2003, they blew out the Dallas Mavericks by 22 in Game 6 after trailing 3-0 in the series. What happened in Game 7 with all those good vibes? They lost by double digits to Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki's crew.
Let these be lessons about the flimsy nature of momentum. Sure, it might feel like the Celtics and the Rockets have the upper hand right now, but history is on the side of the other guys. With that said, OKC and the Knicks shouldn't feel too comfortable about their 3-2 cushions. And here's why.
Why the Rockets can come back
If you're looking for a Cinderella, the shoe fits in Houston. That's because the Rockets employ the standard blueprint for upsets: offense with ultra-high variance. No one knew what to make of the Rockets this season because, thanks to their 3-point addiction, you didn't know what you were going to get from night to night. For an underdog in a seven-game series, that unpredictability can be a huge asset.
Among the 272 playoff teams since 1996-97, this Rockets squad posted the third-highest variance in their offensive rating during the regular season. In other words, they were either remarkably good or dreadfully awful. And that pretty much tells the tale of the series. In the first three games, the Rockets shot a miserable 27.8 percent from downtown on an average of 36 attempts -- all losses. In the most recent two games, they looked like a high-powered machine, shooting lights out from deep (41.9 percent). Surprise, surprise: They won those two games.
Eight-seeds that are consistently mediocre don't get very far, but throw some variance into the mix and David has the potential to beat Goliath -- especially when Goliath has suffered a gaping wound. The Russell Westbrook injury makes OKC extremely vulnerable, and there are signs that it has already maniacally smashed the panic button.
Look no further than coach Scott Brooks' dubious decision to play "Hack-a-Turk" -- as Houston coach Kevin McHale so put it -- down the stretch in Game 5 rather than relying on OKC's stingy defense, which ranked in the top three this season on a per-possession basis. As ESPN Stats & Information tells us, the Rockets scored just nine points on 17 possessions in the fourth quarter when Omer Asik wasn't at the line for an average of 0.53 points per possession. When Asik went to the line? The Rockets scored 1.38 points per possession, almost tripling the reward for Houston.
The "Hack-a-Turk" strategy would make sense if the Rockets' offense was overwhelmingly dominant in the series, but that's not the case. Heading into Game 5, the Rockets had scored just 0.99 points per possession. On the other hand, sending Asik -- a 52.7 percent career free throw shooter -- to the line generated 1.04 points per possession. While intentionally fouling can tighten the Rockets' wild variance, it doesn't make sense unless the free throw shooter is horrifically bad. Asik wasn't terrible enough to make it a sound strategy.
Houston can pull the comeback off, but it will depend on its 3-point shooting. For a team that shot 36.6 percent in the regular season from downtown, the previous two games are closer to what we would expect from Houston than the first three games. That's not good news for OKC.
Why the Celtics can come back
Variance is a good thing for underdogs like Houston, which needs risky strategies to overcome a talent disadvantage, but it can be the downfall for a favorite like New York. Why? If you're a good team, you want to be consistently good so you limit your risk of an upset. But you know who shot more 3-pointers than the Rockets this season? That's right, the Knicks.
However, the Knicks have cut down on their 3-point attempts a tad in exchange for long 2s by Carmelo Anthony. That's not good. Lately, they've reverted back to the notorious "give the ball to Melo and hope for the best" strategy of yesteryear, which would be OK if Anthony was a metronome of efficiency. Instead, he was the most volatile scorer in the NBA this season, according to his game-by-game variance in the points column. For a guy who relies so heavily on contested jumpers, the Knicks have been needlessly handcuffed to Anthony's brand of basketball.
Consider this: Anthony has shot an NBA-high 69 midrange jumpers in the playoffs, according to NBA.com/stats. The second-place guy? Carlos Boozer with 38. Yes, Anthony has almost doubled the number of midrange jumpers than the next-highest player. In fact, Anthony has taken more midrange jumpers than the Heat (67 in four games), Bucks (66 in four games) and Rockets (46 in five games).
This bears repeating: Anthony has taken 23 more midrange shots than the entire Rockets team. Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that the stathead Rockets have been allergic to the most inefficient shot in the game. For a favorite like the Knicks, it's not a sustainable strategy to hang your hopes on whether a low-percentage shot goes in.
The result is that Anthony has posted the highest usage rate by far among any player in the playoffs (39.7 percent), but he ranks 106th among 150 players with a .494 true shooting percentage (a field goal percentage that accounts for 3-point shots and free throws). The Celtics, whose front office ranks as analytically savvy as they come, will gladly allow Anthony to take jumper after jumper if it means efficient scorers like Raymond Felton (who has been fantastic in this series), Tyson Chandler and Steve Novak have to watch from the periphery.
The Knicks' offense is unhealthy right now. For all the talk about how coach Mike Woodson revamped the offense this season with more passing, the Knicks are assisting on the second-lowest proportion of their field goals (43.6 percent) of any playoff team of the past five seasons. The only team worse than this one? Last season's Knicks (41.2 percent assist rate). If the ball-stopping continues, the Knicks will likely be same ol' Knicks with the same ol' first-round exit.
One of the more interesting items for Jazz fans this past season and for the upcoming season is how the big men play together.
For the last two seasons the Jazz have been the 21st ranked defensive team in the NBA. That must change if the Jazz are going to be an elite level team. The top 4 EFG% defenses in the Western Conference are the 4 teams still playing today.
The year started with the Jazz believing they could use Favors with Jefferson as a way to mask the defensive deficiencies of Jefferson while still getting his offensive prowess. However, this turned out to not be the case.
In November the Jazz defensive rating with Favors and Jefferson on the floor together was a putrid 108.7. The worst in the NBA last year was Charlotte at 108.9 and Sacramento at 108.5. In December, the issue became a near crisis as the defensive rating with Favors and Jefferson on the floor was a 123.5.
In turn, the Jazz limited the minutes of Jefferson and Favors together to only 64 mins in December after playing 145 in November. Favors were also battling plantar during this month.
The problem was Favors and Millsap were not defending well together in November either allowing an unfathomable 123.2 pts per 100 possessions in the 98 minutes they spent on the floor together. League average is about 103.5.
The Jazz were left with playing Jefferson and Millsap for offense and Katner and Favors for defensive. Fortunately, Favors and Kanter were very strong defensively playing primarily against second teams. Holding opponents to 96.2 in November and 97.5 in December.
However, in January Favors and Kanter fell off the defensive wagon. After being stalwart for the 2012 portion of the season, January had the Jazz with a defensive rating of 114.8 per 100 possessions and the Jazz were outscored by 13 pts per 100 possessions with Kanter and Favors on the floor.
Elsewhere, Favors and Jefferson were still not working as a defensive combo so the Jazz returned a bit more to Millsap and Favors who defended well together after a disastrous start allowing just 89.7 pts per 100 possessions in January.
And so the dance went on all season. The unfortunate reality for the last two Jazz seasons is the combination of Jefferson and Millsap is not good enough defensively to be highly competitive. The Jazz searched for the answer to what other lineups to use and nothing jumped to the forefront and grabbed that lead. Leaving the Jazz with a defensively deficient combination of Millsap and Jefferson for most of the season.
Moving forward, Favors and Kanter were terrific together defensively for most of the season. The minutes primarily came against 2nd team bigs and next year they need to be this good defensively against top tier players. If they can the Jazz can finally move to the elite defensive level.
Once that is accomplished the focus goes to the offense.
See the graphs below for how each group played together.
With the 56th pick in the 1999 NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors selected Tim Young, a 7-foot Bay Area kid who grew up in Santa Cruz and played college basketball at Stanford.
"Tim's a presence," said Warriors head coach P.J. Carlesimo. "He's got good size, he does a little bit of everything — passes the ball well, shoots the ball well, he can block some shots. He worked out very, very well for us. Obviously, we know him very well. He's absolutely a first-rate person."
During his brief 25-game NBA career, Young made 13 of his 39 shots and logged a total of 137 minutes. But this was not a horrible draft pick; many players taken at the bottom of the second round never see the light of an NBA court. However, the very next pick in that draft would prove to be one of the best second-round picks in NBA history.
As a weary Ernie Johnson was winding down the last few minutes of TNT’s draft coverage, there were only two picks remaining. Johnson said, “Let’s see who San Antonio’s gonna take.” Then the camera trained back upon the familiar podium, where NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik stood and spoke:
“With the 57th selection in the 1999 NBA draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Emanuel Ginobili (gee-no-bee-lee) from Argentina.”
Johnson: “He plays for Reggio Calabria in Italy. He’s 6-foot-6, a 2-guard. He is a native of Argentina.”
Rick Majerus (TNT analyst): “This kid understands coming off of a screen, and he understands moving off the ball to get his shot, and he’s very sound defensively, I’ll tell you that. I think that that’s a good pick at that point in the draft.”
Majerus was right, but it’s doubtful he had any idea how good of a pick that was. Maybe nobody knew. Even the Spurs, who had drafted Leon Smith with their first-round pick, would be fibbing if they said they knew. 5,060 days later, the kid from Bahia Blanca just reminded us again. Last night, he added another clip to his highlight reel and another bullet on his Hall of Fame application. Almost 14 years after that 1999 draft, the Warriors are wishing they had picked Manu at 56.
Ginobili’s career will likely leave behind four legacies. First, he’s one of the best second-rounders ever. Second, he's the only active NBA player to catch a flying bat, unwittingly igniting an animal-rights firestorm. Who can forget the Peta.org official statement:
“To bludgeon a 4-ounce animal to death, it takes either a small man or a totally unthinking one—with no respect or consideration for lives humbler than his own. This is a time when athletes in particular need to be on their best behavior around any animal and show that they have brains and a heart, not just reactionary brawn.
Bats always try to avoid contact with humans, and there are plenty of easy ways to keep bats out of a basketball arena (or your home). We hope that the next time someone's life is on the line, Manu Ginobili will take just a few seconds to think before he acts.”
Third, Manu will always be associated with the first group of truly influential international NBA players. Along with Dirk Nowitzki and the Gasol brothers, Manu has shown that you don’t have to be from America to be a great NBA player. In 2013, it’s easy to forget how American-centric the NBA used to be. Even the 1998-99 Spurs had little if any international flavor (depending on whether you count Tim Duncan). In contrast, the 2012-13 Spurs had eight international players on their opening-night roster, and many NBA rosters include guys from France, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Italy, and elsewhere. Now, virtually every team has at least one international scout, scouring countries like Ukraine and Greece in search of the next Manu or Dirk.
Manu’s fourth legacy is stylistic. He's a big, attacking guard who loves to shoot 3s, and his brand of play foreshadowed future NBA trends. Long before Jeremy Lin or James Harden, Ginobili’s shooting portfolio favored shots either very close to the rim or behind the 3-point line. If everybody played like Manu, there would be hardly any midrange shots in the NBA. In fact, this is the shooting profile that the league as a whole is currently trending toward. Both LeBron James and the Houston Rockets, for example, are taking markedly fewer midrange shots these days.
Ginobili’s shot chart from this season reveals a few things. Beyond the arc, he performs pretty much at league average, with the exception of the corners, where he's quite good. His chart reveals that he only hits 34 percent from the spot where he hit his huge game winner last night; he made 23 of his 67 attempts there this season, slightly below the league average of 35 percent.
Manu's chart also shows that he’s still very effective near the basket, which remains central to his game. It's also a place where many of his backcourt peers around the league fail to score efficiently. As an attacker, Manu is fearless, and the enduring image of his game might be him careening into the restricted area, getting fouled, and falling to the court. Because of his fearlessness, it's no surprise that he gets hurt a lot. Still, few other players can match Ginobili's abilities to either score, get fouled, or make borderline insane passes that usually work out somehow.
Manu Ginobili is a treat to watch. He still provides the Spurs with a huge spark off the bench that enables them to frequently “win” the ends of quarters or outscore their opponents’ second units. But he’s far more than just a bench guy. And as he proved last night, Ginobili remains part of the Spurs’ crunch-time lineup that, although old, still has something left in the tank. In the next few weeks, we’ll see just how much.
Curry, Klay, and Barnes can still get better even.
Jerry West have anything to do with this team anymore? Who is getting the credit for the roster building?
Tell ya what, I really like what Orlando is doin, but I was really, really off on what Golden State has been doin. We all knew Steph could shoot, but I did not know he could play this great. And having Klay shoot damn near as well, with Jack just being himself, and suddenly the Barnes we all expected from NC, with Bogut and Lee (tho out now) ......... damn. I did not see this coming.
Curry, Klay, and Barnes can still get better even.
Jerry West have anything to do with this team anymore? Who is getting the credit for the roster building?
Theyre likely going to get hit with the curse of good drafting, they wont be able to keep all three.
CP what are your thoughts on GK winning CotY
I Never Cried When _____ Died, But I Definitely Will When Hov Does
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Wayne Winston, who I would identify as a pioneer of adjusted plus/minus and a delightfully plainspoken dude with ties Mark Cuban -- but who is technically the John and Esther Reese Professor of Decision Sciences at Indiana University -- was kind enough to share his playoff ratings.
These are not to be interpreted as MVP rankings. But they are, for your viewing pleasure, a cleverly recorded ranking of who has been on the court when his team has played the best in these playoffs.
The one conclusion Winston takes from this: The Thunder should play Nick Collison as much as possible in place of the plus/minus challenged Kendrick Perkins.
The numbers are per 48 minutes, and adjusted for the other players on the court.
Chris Andersen -- plus-29
Mike Conley -- plus-24
Shane Battier -- plus-23
Pablo Prigioni -- plus-23
Nate Robinson -- plus-19
Stephen Curry -- plus-18
Nick Collison -- plus-18
Tyson Chandler -- plus-16
Klay Thompson -- plus-15
Lance Stephenson -- plus-15
Kevin Durant -- plus-14
LeBron James -- plus-13
Dwyane Wade -- plus-13
Raymond Felton -- plus-11
Same as always. He did the radio tour this morning, he was on Mike and Mike, then on Dan Patrick, same **** every ******g year.
"Oh well, I know we didn't make it out the first round every year for a decade, but we made the playoffs every year for a decade....."
I'd fire the **** out of that guy for saying stuff like that.
I get if you feel that in 04, or 07, or a year here or there, he says that SAME SPEECH, Every, single, offseason. WHEN, does someone hit the damn light switch?
The dude said they had a nice run last season.......cuz they went 7 games instead of 6.
I mean, come on. I joke about the fact that Pop did his winning In Tim's prime and when that was over, Pop's been getting knocked off each year like a normal coach. Even with all his saving minutes in November, and resting guys, and all that, come playoff time, he at least, at least wins a round or two here and there. Forget the 4 titles, since 08, Pop has almost as many series wins as Karl's ENTIRE career, without Pop even reaching a Finals. Just 08-13. Win a round here, win 2 rounds there, have the occasional first round exit, GK is 1 and done, 1 and done, 1 and done, 1 and done, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.........
And the media/fans/bloggers do nothing but praise the man. It's unreal to me. If Karl won a title and then had a bad decade, ok, I get that at least. Once upon a time, etc. But this ain't that. Even his Finals run was a fluke, the Bulls damn near swept them before he adjusted and the Bulls really just wanted to win on their home floor.
The guy lost to Del Harris led, pre Shaq, pre Kobe, post Magic Lakers. With Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Read that line again, George Karl lost in the first round, with Homecourt, to the no Shaq, No Kobe, No Magic, Del Harris led Lakers. He shoulda been fired on the spot right then, right there.
Since the other thread is a disaster:
<img class="alignnone" src="http://www.nba.com/media/act_klay_thompson.jpg" alt="" width="270" height="240" />
Look, I’m staggered. The Denver series at least made sense. The Nuggets were bad at defending 3s, the Warriors were great at shooting them. What happened was less an upset than a series that Golden State probably wins again if you run it back. In theory, this meant that a playoff matchup against the almighty Spurs would ruin everything. San Antonio gives up the 5th least 3-point attempts in basketball. Fun’s over, go home. A silver and black team’s about to remind Oakland of everything the Raiders aren’t.
It hasn’t been that simple, though. The Warriors are getting their 3s and the series is tied. For the vast majority of these 2 games, Golden State has led. And I’d say “Golden State has led comfortably,” except, Game 1 renders almost any lead less comfortable than a couch made from chicken wire.
What the hell is happening? Well, it would seem that the overall season stats didn’t take specific matchups into account. Within those matchups we spy something bizarre: San Antonio’s three best players are hurting them defensively.
Warriors are Weird
First, some thoughts on the Warriors. This is a weirdo team. They shot better than 40% from distance this season, all without the aid of regular dribble penetration. Unlike Miami, OKC, San Antonio, and New York, Golden State didn’t rely on a slasher or a 4-out (four 3-point shooters) approach to create these looks. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson tended to launch off floppy action sets, and transition opportunities. And yet, after the All-Star break, Curry and Thompson combined to hit more 3-pointers per game than 10 teams. If Steph and Klay were a franchise unto themselves, they’d be tied with the Bulls at 19th for most 3s after the All-Star break. Two guys. The duo needs little room and uses little conscience when letting it fly.
So, some of the 3-stopping principles San Antonio used prior to this might not be applicable. Take Stephen Curry. Most smart defenses are used to worrying about easy catch-and-shoot 3s. The problem is that Curry, he whose dribble evokes the cocking of a shotgun, is quite comfortable firing off the bounce.
The Duncan Adjustment
This is connected to San Antonio’s Tim Duncan issue. In his prime, Duncan hedged masterfully when defending the high screen and roll. Few big men were better when flashing out to scare guards above the 3-point line. He doesn’t quite have that mobility now, and the Spurs adjusted for it recently. Duncan now sinks back around the paint on screens, much like Andrew Bogut does for Golden State. That’s fine against a lot of teams, but it’s death when facing Stephen Curry. He just dribbles around Bogut’s screen and makes the net dance.
This is what happened in Game 1 and San Antonio decided to tinker with plans in Game 2. The result was that Duncan waddled up high and Curry knocked a 3 over him anyway. Later in the game, Duncan approached and Curry drove right past. Duncan is still a plus player, and forcing Curry to drive is still the right call (Curry did have a mediocre Game 2), but does San Antonio really want Timmy running around, expending even more energy while playing heavy minutes?
Where to Park Parker?
The Duncan issue is minor compared to the Parker issue, though. There’s no safe place for him to hide on defense, really. I don’t believe TP to be a poor defender, but here’s where we get into how Golden State is weird and how they goofy foot your defense. Parker’s skill is quickness and strength, which is great for stopping dribble penetration. Too bad that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are far more interested in just shooting over the top of him. So much of this series so far reminds me of the Indiana Jones “Sword vs. Gun” scene. The Warriors are very, “Why sweat when you can just pull a trigger?”
In Klay’s case, he’s recently developed a knack for posting on smaller guards. I hated when the Warriors started doing this, but Thompson is surprisingly effective at taking fadeaways over guys like Mo Williams. Leave it to Golden State to make a commonly bad process into a good one in the specific.
Since Parker can’t hide on Thompson (as Game 1 showed), he’s getting put on the even larger Harrison Barnes. I’m fine with this strategy from a San Antonio perspective…until they send help and the 3-point defense breaks down. Also, the other problem with this tactic is that creaky Manu Ginobili then finds himself marking the frenetic, peripatetic Klay Thompson off the ball. Poor Manu got burnt to ashes in the second quarter of Game 2. Thompson, by the way, had himself quite a night in going 8-of-9 from deep with 34 points. Even more staggering: His facial expression never changed.
Klay Thompson also brings the added benefit of causing Tony Parker problems on offense. With his size and span, Klay is the prototypical Parker-marker, and so far, he’s quelling San Antonio’s best offensive player. When you step back from this series, it’s mildly hilarious that a Thompson-Parker crossmatch is a disadvantage for San Antonio.
Shooting: Unleash the Threast
It’s also mildly hilarious that the Golden State Warriors are playing this well against the San Antonio Spurs, just on the face of things. It’s funny, but there is sense to be made from it. There’s much talk of, “HOW ARE THE WARRIORS SHOOTING LIKE THIS,” even though this is, largely, how the Warriors shoot. Golden State averaged a shade over 40% from deep this year. In the playoffs, they’ve shot a shade over 40% from deep. Against the Spurs, it’s crept up to 41.5% from distance. Hello East Coast, hello national viewers. This is how the Warriors splash.
The difference is that they’re shooting more from deep than ever. Over the season Golden State tried 19.9 3-pointers per game; In the playoffs, they’ve attempted 24.9.
Remember, the Warriors were shooting a magnificent regular season percentage while not operating with a lot of space. When Lee went down, GSW went small, spread the floor and unleashed The Threast. The result was George Karl accepting his Coach of the Year award while looking glum. The result was a road win in San Antonio. The result was Golden State beating eight Las Vegas spreads in a row.
Is it sustainable? Over the long haul next season, probably. Within this series, who knows? Also, the Spurs missed a lot of open 3s on Wednesday night. Brace yourself for those falling soon. And get hyped for the East Oakland Madhouse on Friday night.
Stephen Curry is not a “kid”
One digression regarding this sudden national media coverage of the Warriors: Stephen Curry is not a “kid.” I keep hearing him referred to this way, even though Steph has a wife, a child, and a four year track record in the NBA. While I understand that he looks quite young, the dude’s older than Kevin Durant. While I understand that average sports fan stopped thinking about him after Davidson, Stephen Curry did indeed age in those intervening years. I know, because I wrote about a lot of bad things that happened in those years. Really bad things. Things like Keith Smart benching Stephen Curry for Acie Law a lot. Let us celebrate Curry’s tooth-and-claw rise from the muck, for once.
The Warriors shrunk again in the 4th quarter, nearly (again) squandering a big lead. In the series, they’re shooting 30.6% from the field in the final stanza. Some of this is standard regression (You can’t shoot wonderfully all the time), and some of it is just poor execution. I believe that Golden State has hurt themselves by slowing down towards the end and trying to exert control over possessions. Maybe it’s tough to stay loose and liable to launch in the nervy moments, but the Warriors could stand to try it. My heart can only take so many Jarrett Jack isolations.
Big Questions for a Day Off: Can the Knicks and Thunder Overcome Their Offensive Struggles?
The first round started as a boring chalk-fest, with six of eight series going to 2-0, and only the Nuggets-Warriors promising to double as both competitive and aesthetically pleasing. It transformed into madness, of course, with four Game 6s on a single delightful Friday night.
The conference semifinals have skipped right to the promising stage, with all four series tied at 1-1 as the league takes a breather tonight. Let’s use this blessed off day to do those errands we’ve been postponing, break out that vacuum, hit the gym, spend time with our loved ones, and take stock of where these four series might go from here — starting today with the two series that began first, but for some reason don’t resume until Saturday.
1. Has New York found its offense again?
Would you look at that! Turns out, when you cut down on the isolations, run a lot of pick-and-rolls, and move the ball from side to side, you can score efficiently! Who knew?
The Knicks in this series, and especially in their shocking Game 2 destruction of the Pacers, have rediscovered what made their offense the league’s third-most efficient outfit in the regular season. After devoting a totally irresponsible 27 percent of their possessions to isolation plays — mostly godawful Carmelo Anthony jumpers — against Boston, the Knicks have finished just 11 percent of their possessions via isolation against the league’s stingiest defense, per Synergy Sports. They’ve gone back to a pick-and-roll heavy attack, and even better, they’ve recommitted themselves to running a variety of pick-and-rolls, and to running two or even three on the same possession.
Sometimes the main pick-and-roll occurs on the side of the floor, perhaps with Anthony as the ball handler, with the goal of getting into the middle of the court, drawing the defense, and kicking to the other side:
Sometimes Anthony is the screener, an alignment that has confused the Pacers’ D and resulted in some unseemly breakdowns:
The goal isn’t necessarily to score on the pick-and-roll itself; if anything, the Knicks offense got out of balance in this way during Game 1, with little ball handlers attacking the giant Roy Hibbert in the paint for impossible shot attempts that left the inexplicably entitled Madison Square Garden crowd chanting “THESE REFS SUCK!” on every solid Hibbert challenge. New York in Game 2 found the right balance between using the pick-and-roll as a direct scoring attack, and using it as a vehicle to bend the Pacers’ defense until an open shot — preferably a 3-pointer — emerged somewhere on the floor. (Bonus points if the open shooter was not Jason Kidd, who wants zero part of shooting. He almost begins his passing motion before even catching the ball, turning his hands sideways, palms out, like a restaurant customer waving away a plate of food).
Constant ball movement can break even the league’s best defenses, and the Knicks in particular have caught Lance Stephenson ball-watching a few times — as he does here while his man, J.R. Smith, slides to the right corner for an open 3-pointer around an Anthony/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll:
The Pacers are distinct from Boston in that they don’t have any one defender ideally suited to guard Anthony; Boston had three such defenders, or at least three reasonable facsimiles of such a defender, and while Paul George is already one of the league’s 10 best overall defenders, he’s facing a size disadvantage and carrying a very heavy scoring burden on the other end. None of Indiana’s power forwards — David West, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Pendergraph — have the combination of foot speed and balance that Boston starting power forward Brandon Bass used to corral Anthony. Melo has blown by all three of those defenders off the dribble when Indiana tries to buy George a break from the job, including during Pendergraph’s disastrous (and mercifully short) stint in the third quarter of Game 2 — a stint that started New York’s cascading run.
Indiana also lacks Boston’s long history of overloading the strong side of the floor without actually trapping or over-helping. If New York uses its isolations and Anthony post-ups judiciously, it should be able to work its way to open looks.
2. Who wins the transition matchup game?
We’ve gone over this before: George is defending Melo when the Knicks have the ball, but Melo is defending West on the other end of the floor. That creates some confusion during chaotic transition moments — and Indiana’s disastrous turnover issues have provided plenty of those — with either a smaller New York player getting stuck on West, West getting stuck on Melo, or just general chaos. New York won this battle in Game 2 by sniffing out mismatches and exploiting them. Check out this still from the fourth quarter, in which the Knicks’ entire roster is frantically trying to alert Smith, holding the ball in the right corner, to the fact that D.J. Augustin is stuck guarding Anthony on the left block:
New York eventually swung the ball there, Hibbert jumped onto Anthony (lesser of two evils and all), and Anthony promptly dusted him for a missed lay-in that Chandler dunked on a put-back.
The Pacers are also seeking out early offense, mostly by having West run the floor hard to carve out position on the block before the Knicks can set their defense. Anthony has done a nice job fronting West, and New York can make entry passes a very dicey proposition if they have a second defender prepared to challenge any lob over Anthony. But if the Pacers can catch the Knicks early, they can find clear passing lanes.
3. Can Indiana stop giving the ball to the other team?
The Pacers had the league’s second-worst turnover rate in the regular season, and they’re coughing it up even more often in the playoffs. They’ve been a total mess against the Knicks, tossing away entry passes, throwing the ball several rows into the stands, and generally falling on their ***** in the face of New York’s aggressive traps — of both post-ups and pick-and-rolls.
The Knicks have very little respect for Indiana’s ball handlers and the ability of the Pacers’ big men (other than West) to make plays from the perimeter. They’ve blitzed both George Hill and George aggressively on the perimeter, sometimes with two defenders chasing them out toward midcourt, and George has committed several turnovers trying to split those defenders. (Remember: Frank Vogel told me midseason he previously banned George from splitting defenders because of the bundle of turnovers that had resulted.) And if those guys manage to pass out of the trap to the open big man who just screened for them, the Knicks are thrilled watching those bigs try to make plays on the move; Hibbert is wily but slow, and Hansbrough/Ian Mahinmi might be the league’s worst pair of passing big men. They combined for 63 assists the entire season, with Mahinmi’s 27 more than doubling his previous best. Mahinmi nearly reached the upper deck with one misguided pass, and I suspect Vogel was searching for a better playmaker and a potential Anthony defender when he tapped Pendergraph for Mahinmi’s minutes in the third quarter.
Indiana either needs to clean this stuff up or rejigger its offense in a way that encourages sounder play.
4. Who figures out their rotation sooner?
The Pacers, to the surprise of zero people who have paid them any attention for two years, have not been able to find a reliable lineup beyond their powerful starting unit. That lineup is plus-58 for the postseason, and the Pacers are -46 in all other minutes; those numbers are plus-10 and minus-29 through two games in this series. No other Indiana unit has logged more than 19 minutes total in eight playoff games, and only one has appeared in even six of those eight games, per NBA.com.
There is no right answer here, only lineups that randomly work on some nights, or lineups that do a bit less sabotage than others. This is where the Pacers miss Danny Granger, who happens to be a very skilled post entry passer.
For the Knicks, this question is about the potential return of Amar’e Stoudemire. Smith is in a terrible slump, and Mike Woodson has talked about limiting his minutes if that slump continues, presumably giving more time to Kidd, Pablo Prigioni, and Iman Shumpert — or even going big with both Kenyon Martin and Chandler, though Woodson is rightfully resistant to that course. Shumpert has never played better two-way ball than he has over New York’s last four games, and Prigioni was so brilliant in Game 2 that the MSG crowd was chanting his name — chanting Pablo Prigioni’s name! How cool is that? — as a way of urging Woodson to keep him in the game.
But Smith will heat up again, and he’s been a crucial cog all season. He’ll play. I’ve addressed the Stoudemire issue at length before, so I won’t belabor it here: He should probably get spot minutes when Anthony (and perhaps Chandler as well) are resting, and nothing more.
1. Which team finds an offense first?
This has been the most predictable series of the four, a defensive struggle trending toward the Grizzlies’ grit-and-grind style. We knew Memphis would tilt its entire defense at the otherworldly Kevin Durant, just as the Rockets did after Russell Westbrook’s injury, only the Grizz have perhaps the league’s best team defense. The Thunder’s predictable offense has predictably come crashing down as a result, averaging only 98.5 points per 100 possessions through two games — nearly a dozen points below Oklahoma City’s season average, and more than 10 points below what the Thunder managed over six games against Houston.
The Grizz are basically ignoring every Thunder player other than Durant, hoping either to coax Durant into very tough shots …
… or trap him hard and force lesser players to air-ball floaters or bonk layups:
This strategy will surrender the occasional wide-open corner 3-pointer for Reggie Jackson or the annoyingly hot Derek Fisher, but it has been a win on balance for the Grizz. I’m not sure Oklahoma City has an answer here, beyond praying Durant continues to be completely ridiculous, and that Fisher, Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha, and the rest of the backup singers make just enough shots. The Thunder have continued to introduce some new tweaks to their tired sets, including Jackson mimicking Westbrook’s slip of the Thunder’s pet pindown screen for Durant, but the Grizz are smart enough to sniff out these tweaks right way. The Thunder need something closer to a renovation, and they don’t have time for one now.
This is a challenge for Memphis, too. The Grizz are a league-average scoring bunch facing a generally solid defense with the kind of athleticism that gives Memphis problems. The Grizz have lured Oklahoma City into a few Clippers-esque breakdowns on Mike Conley/Zach Randolph pick-and-rolls, where Randolph cuts to the hoop, Conley kicks the ball to Marc Gasol near the foul line, and both Thunder big men take a step toward Gasol’s threatening jumper — leaving Z-Bo free at the rim:
But the Thunder have cleaned this up by having their big men switch assignments mid-play, so no Grizz big goes unchecked:
Beyond that, Memphis just has to keep pecking at the margins. Conley has shown he can get in the lane and confuse Oklahoma City’s bigs, especially Serge Ibaka, by disguising which way he wants to take a pick-and-roll until the very last second. Randolph has generally bullied Ibaka in the post, Gasol is a basketball artist whose genius knows no bounds, and Memphis has seen hints that Tayshaun Prince can squeeze out some points by posting up a smaller player when the Thunder briefly play three guards, or by drawing a switch on snug pick-and-rolls with Gasol.
2. Will any rotation tweaks work?
Two things are obvious already: (1) Hasheem Thabeet should not be playing, and (2) the Thunder need to go small immediately whenever Memphis rests either Gasol or Randolph. Those minutes are precious. Scott Brooks wasted nearly six such minutes in the first half, when Lionel Hollins staggered rest periods for his two bigs while the Thunder kept two of their big men on the floor — including Thabeet. To say the Grizz are ignoring Thabeet on defense is almost an understatement; the Thunder might as well play Sebastian Pruiti on offense on those possessions.
Memphis has historically gone small right along with Oklahoma City, and Brooks has been rightfully cautious about staying small when both Gasol and Z-Bo are on the floor. But both trends reversed themselves in Game 2. Memphis stayed big, and the Thunder exploited that small-versus-big dynamic by running Randolph — hiding on the smaller Sefolosha — in a series of pick-and-rolls:
They also risked having Durant defend Gasol for a short stretch, and though Gasol eventually punished that matchup, the Thunder still won the big/small battle by spreading the floor and hitting 3s. They should try to do so again.
And in the realm of Things That Will Never Happen, Brooks should consider starting Nick Collison for Kendrick Perkins, or at least giving Collison more of Perkins’s minutes. The Collison-Ibaka pairing has logged just 13 minutes together the entire playoffs, and just nine minutes in this series against a team that plays two big men at all times. The Ibaka-Perkins pairing has logged 47 minutes already in this series and 131 in the playoffs, per NBA.com. This is preposterous.
Look, Perkins has value. He’s a good post defender, a solid (illegal) screener, and he leads the league in scowling and complaining about very obvious fouls he just committed. He’s also a solid passer for a big man, and that has helped Ibaka nab some easy buckets over the last two seasons.
But he’s a walking turnover who cannot do basic things on offense, such as: catching the ball, shifting his feet without traveling, and placing the ball into the basket. Collison isn’t Gasol, but he’s a heady passer, a brilliant dribble handoff partner for any competent perimeter player, a reliable jump-shooter, and capable of catching a defense off guard by faking one of those handoffs and driving to the rim.
Collison is also the Thunder’s best option defending Randolph, who has historically struggled badly against Collison, dating to the 2011 series between these teams. Ibaka doesn’t appear quite ready for the Z-Bo assignment, and his mobility and shot-blocking might work better on Gasol.
Perkins is going to play, and he has value in this series as a defender. But the Collison-Ibaka pairing should not playing one-fifth the number of minutes that the Perkins-Ibaka duo plays — especially with Westbrook gone. The Thunder’s starting lineup with Westbrook contained something like 2.75 threatening offensive players out of five (with Ibaka counting for 0.75), and that is down to something like 2.0 or 2.25 with Jackson in Westbrook’s place. The impact of playing a total offensive zero increases within that reality. Perkins is nearly a complete offensive zero. Collison is not.
(And as a random side note marrying these two issues: the Jackson–Kevin Martin–Durant-Sefolosha-Collison lineup is promising, but has logged less than one minute in this series. The same group with Ibaka in Collison’s place hasn’t played yet, per NBA.com.)
For the Grizz, the rotation issues are pretty marginal and come mostly on the wing, where Hollins has to balance offense and defense with Tony Allen, Prince, Jerryd Bayless, and Quincy Pondexter. The emerging Pondexter is really the only one among those four who provides consistent production, or at least the threat of it, on both ends, though Prince (as mentioned above) could do some damage in this series, and Allen is taking advantage that no one is guarding him to gleefully destroy the offensive glass.
Hollins can get a little quick with the Allen hook, though it’s frustrating to watch Allen’s man help everywhere on the floor. Bayless is a minus defender who has probably seen a bit too much time on Martin, but the damage has been minimal so far. This bears watching, but it’s minutiae compared to what Brooks is facing.
My official picks in these series, as a reminder: Grizzlies in 6, Pacers in 7. Nothing has swayed me so far.
Are the Golden State Warriors the model for the Utah Jazz to follow for the upcoming season. Not in their collection of draft picks such as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. Not in way they surrounded their young players with veteran role players Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry who have willing embraced their roles. Not in their fabulous late 1st round and 2nd round additions of Fetus Ezeli and Draymond Green.
Instead the Warriors have done something remarkable on the defensive end of the floor. This year the Warriors defensive rating (pts allowed per 100 possessions) is 102.6. A year ago it was 106, two years ago it was 107.6 and three years ago it was an abysmal 109.4 only to be outdone by the previous years 110.1.
One of the league’s worst defensive franchises has transformed themselves into one of the best. The last two seasons the Utah Jazz have been the 21st ranked defensive team in the NBA. They must find a way to move into the top 15 in the NBA and even the top 10 if they want to be a team that is still playing this time of year.
The 4 best EFG% (weighs three point shooting) defenses in the West are the 4 teams still playing right now. In 2009-10 the Warriors allowed an EFG% of 52.5% this year they allowed just 48.6%.
The addition of Andrew Bogut has been only a small portion of this transformation. Mark Jackson has young group that has bought into his defensive system. The ability to always have a 7 footer on the floor in Biedrins, Ezeli or Bogut is a must and young athletic wings are equally important.
The real area of improvement for the Warriors has been their defensive rebounding. For the last 4 seasons they allowed opponents to garner 31% of their own misses for another possession. This year’s opponent only got 24.5% of their offensive rebounds.
Changing from a bad defensive team to a good defensive team is a very difficult thing to do in the NBA, but the Jazz need to see how the Warriors have achieved this and emulate in the upcoming seasons.
Edited by PMatic - 5/9/13 at 6:23pm
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If they wanted these teams for Friday night, then no reason to have an off night on Thursday, that don't make any sense does it?
Joey gon throw out at least 3 Bulls and 2-3 Heat tonight. Zero doubt.