to be fair not many people keep track of defensive stats and the pacers are never on tv, so people just read the box scores every night and assume that PG is carrying the team. if they got as many national tv games as the lakers did hibbert would get more recognition. most people think he's a soft center that cant rebound well and only comes to play vs miami's non existent front court.
We mentioned this back in November, but LeBron James and Kevin Durant—the two best basketball players in this galactic quadrant—are outdoing themselves in 2013-14. Here are some per game lines:
There have been some other impressive numbers flying around—Durant put up a 37.1 PER in January, for example—but those last two figures, true shooting and usage percent, are the most remarkable; no other player this season has this combination of offensive centrality and scoring efficiency. In fact, they might be outpacing every season of every player in history. The chart below (which we'll explain in full in a bit) shows how Durant and LeBron have progressed in these key stats over the last four years—compared to some of the NBA's top seasons—with USG% on the x-axis and TS% on the y-axis:
That diagonal white boundary line represents a theoretical limit on combined volume and shooting efficiency, a concept developed by Evan Zamir back in 2012. It's a mindbending thing when you realize that, for the past 30-odd years, this relationship between efficiency and usage has toed a frontier that KD and LeBron haven't just surpassed, but tomahawked clear over. Since LeBron's first year in Miami, the two stars have moved in lockstep to break past this boundary, making particularly massive gains in true shooting percentage.
To understand just how remarkable this growth has been, we need to take a step back. Below is a plot of usage vs. true shooting for all 4,105 player seasons in the three-point era, where the player qualified for the FG percentage title. It's generally accepted that more usage leads to lower efficiency, but in this sort of broad analysis there doesn't appear to be much of a direct relationship:
11 percent of the seasons fall into that red box in the top right, where the player was in the top third in both usage rate (24 percent and higher) and true shooting percentage (.558 and higher). For obvious reasons, this square contains some pretty goddamn great offense.*
Let's zoom in on the 448 player seasons in that corner:
This is basically the chart that Zamir made back in 2012, when he found that—in this subset of already outstanding seasons—there was a linear relationship among the furthest outlier seasons, which constitute some of the NBA's best.
This line was defined as TS= 0.9 - 0.89*USG, and it implied that there was a limit on the combined usage and efficiency at the highest level of basketball play. You could have a ridiculous .665 true shooting season like Barkley in '87-88 (26.7% usage), or you can have a ridiculous 38.7% usage season like Kobe in '05-'06 (.559 true shooting), but it looked like you couldn't have it both ways—although 1989-90 Malone got close.
Of course, that boundary line was calculated almost two years ago. As you can see in the chart at the top, LeBron James and Kevin Durant finished just south of the boundary line for 2011-12, which, as Zamir put it at the time, "gives you some idea how great those other seasons were." Both are now far beyond Zamir's boundary, in a space uncharted by even the very greatest scorers, putting together seasons with a combination of usage and efficiency that are unprecedented in modern NBA history. If these stat lines hold, or if they even just regress a bit, 2013-14 could have not one, but two of the most remarkable offensive performances the league has ever seen.
*For rule-minded readers out there, we ran the numbers, and—at the highest level of play—the usage/true shooting relationship didn't seem to be significantly affected by the introduction of the hand-check penalty in 2004-2005.
Stan Van on Statistical Analysis. Some great points:
BOSTON – Stan Van Gundy appeared as part of the basketball analytics panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday, and while he isn’t opposed to coaches integrating advanced statistical data into their day-to-day operations, he was concerned about the particulars of how the data is acquired, and who, exactly, is responsible for sorting it all out.
Van Gundy posed legitimate questions that would theoretically need to be addressed before the basketball purists at the NBA level take the data as gospel, and making sure that whoever is identifying certain play types and quantifying them knows basketball, and is doing that job to the specifications of a particular head coach.
“I don’t trust most of it,” Van Gundy said, beginning an exquisite rant on the topic. “I read some of the stuff that people write on ESPN.com, you know, I’ll read stats on pick and roll defense and stuff that came off Synergy or somewhere else — I don’t know who the hell is recording that information!”
“I read a thing in the playoffs last year that said that New York isolated like 17 percent of the time,” he continued. “I’m watching their games, they isolate half of the time, at least. So I don’t know who’s recording that. If there’s a pick and roll, and they throw it back to Carmelo and he holds the ball and isolates for eight seconds, that’s a pick and roll play, not an isolation? And a lot of pick and roll stuff … you know, I read a thing today from ESPN the Magazine on Paul George being the best pick and roll defender in the league on the ball handler. Look, a lot of pick and rolls … there’s pick and rolls designed to score, and there’s pick and rolls you run to get into something else. If you’re recording it and you’re treating those two things the same, then you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Van Gundy really does like the additional available data — he just needs to be able to trust that whoever is compiling it has the same standards basketball-wise that he does. Ironically enough, I overheard a statistician type at one of the panel discussions explaining to a colleague that of course he watches games — but only to enhance his data set.
“I mean, I do watch the games,” this person said, “to to try to pick up on some things that maybe my numbers aren’t catching.”
This is obviously completely backwards, and as far as Van Gundy is concerned, there’s simply no substitution for the eye test.
“To me, I think that a lot of the analytic stuff can be very useful, but if you’re using that in place of sitting down and watching film yourself and seeing what’s going on, you’re making a big mistake,” Van Gundy said. “And I don’t want to offend anybody, but I think one of the problems with analytics — I think it’s good; I used it, I love looking at it — but one of the problems is, there are a lot of people in a lot of organizations who don’t know the game, who all they know is analytics and as a result, that’s what they rely on. And they will use that to supersede what guys like us see with our eyes. And I think that’s a major mistake. There’s no substitute for watching film over and over and over again, and the only numbers I trust are the ones that my people believe.”
Van Gundy isn’t alone in his hesitance, and it will take some time before everyone trusts the way that the bulk of the data is quantified and labeled for mass consumption.
I like Kirk Goldsberry's work in general, but
1. We're 5 games into the season.
2. Of those 5 games, Monta has had 2 good games, both against bad defensive teams.
3. Monta has had some good stretches in the past. What he's done so far this year isn't entirely unheard of for him.
4. Even if he improves offensively from the level he's been at the past 5 years, he still plays no defense.
This idea that Monta is gonna change analytics is a huge stretch to me.
I called this in the beginning of the season when Kirk Goldsberry was overreacting to Monta's hot start.
Kirk's original piece: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/courtvision-the-revenge-of-monta-ellis/
Well-written response to that: http://statintelligence.blogspot.ca/2014/03/analytics-monta-goldsberry-grantland.html
Let's get it back on schedule.
Last Friday night, the Pacers traveled to Toronto and lost to a Raptors team that was playing without Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson. That was bad. On Sunday, they came back home, scored just 23 points in the first half, and got torched by the Atlanta Hawks. That was terrible. It would appear the strange and rapid deterioration of the Pacers knows no bounds.
Just a few months ago they were a juggernaut; now they’re a tire fire. Check out these sample headlines from the Pacers blog 8 Points 9 Seconds: “What Secret Disease Is Plaguing the Pacers?”; “Indiana Pacers Plummet in Latest NBA Power Rankings”; “Post-Game Grades: The Rock Bottom Beneath the Rock Bottom.”
It’s hard to watch, and it’s morbidly fascinating.
On the long list of things that are currently broken in Indiana, Paul George’s offense is near the top. The Pacers are struggling to score points, and George is a shell of his former self. At the beginning of the year, he looked like he could be the top scorer on an NBA champion. Through December 31, George was making 46 percent of his midrange jumpers — better than Chris Paul. He was hitting 41 percent of his 3s — better than Kevin Durant. And he was making 60 percent of his shots inside 8 feet — better than Kevin Love and Tim Duncan. He was a machine.
Unfortunately, things have changed. Since January 25, his numbers have plummeted and George has morphed into a mediocre NBA scorer. The slumping Paul George is converting only 45 percent of his shots inside 8 feet — worse than Ricky Rubio. He’s only making 37 percent of his midrange jumpers — worse than Michael Carter-Williams. His 3-point percentage is down to 34 percent; that’s worse than Josh Smith! Ha-ha. Just kidding, it’s not that horrendous. But it’s still worse than Jeremy Lin.
Although it’s tempting and potentially accurate to pin this decline on “off-the-court” distractions, it’s also important to remember that the Pacers’ offense has never been dominant, and NBA defenses often figure out ways to make average offensive systems look even worse.
Still, George’s downward transformation has been both drastic and disappointing. Early-season George was a triple threat that could beat you behind the arc, in the midrange, and at the rim. Late-season George dominates nowhere and nohow. During the season’s first two months, George’s go-to jumper was around the right elbow, and he was draining it at elite rates. More recently, it seems like his midrange activity has drifted to the opposite side of the court and down toward the baseline, areas where he’s been far less effective.
But perhaps the most troubling development is George’s regression near the basket; not only is that an area where superstar wings very rarely “slump,” it’s also the most important scoring area on the floor, particularly for a struggling jump-shooter. George is finding no relief there, and the entire Indiana offense is suffering as a result. Early in the season, the Pacers could rely on George to create points by himself, but as that has eroded, the team’s overall offense has been exposed as a major weakness, and potentially as the team’s fatal flaw, at the most unforgiving time on the NBA calendar.
The Pacers come limping into the playoffs with a flailing offense and some weird interpersonal psychodrama. That’s not good, and George’s demise as a scoring threat provides a striking bellwether for the downfall of the Pacers’ overall mystique. Just a few months ago, many of us were predicting wonderful things for George and his teammates; now we’re wondering if they can get out of the first or second round of the meek Eastern Conference playoffs. There is still time to turn it around, but as George goes, so go the Pacers.
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