Drip

The Importance of Shot Selection

 

by Baltej Parmar (Twitter: @BaltejNBA)

Entering the 2018–19 NBA preseason, the Milwaukee Bucks over/under was set at 47.5 wins by Las Vegas. They just won 44 games in the previous season under the coaching of Jason Kidd. A small improvement was expected from internal growth and the change in coaching from Jason Kidd to Mike Budenhulzer. However, the major jump that ended up taking place should have been possible to foresee by the end of the preseason.

As the preseason was ending, multiple columnists and writers notes the change of the Buck’s offense under Budenholzer. Still, most viewed the Bucks as a middle-of-the-pack team in the East that was likely to end up in the high 40s or maybe break the 50 win mark. Their shot selection drastically changed, but the talent was not highly regarded. Let’s dive into the Bucks offense from a statistical perspective and see what the actual changes were.

Note: I will be ignoring free throws for this current exercise. All data is collected from NBA.com

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The So-Called Disappearance of the Big Man

 
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

          Much ink has been spilled in the latter stages of the three-point revolution on the topic of the march of the traditional big man toward extinction. The low-post scoring, rebounding, bruising, shot-blocking center of previous generations seems to recede further and further from view with every passing season. As teams emphasize floor spacing more and more on offense, the low-post operator vanishes from offensive game plans. Modern offenses often replace the traditional center with a rim runner who sets a high ball screen and rolls to the rim, then gets out of the way or sets another screen.

Defensively, the league continues to transition toward switching on screens, and prizes players who can switch across positions. The big man who can only defend his position is now a liability. The traditional center was typically slower and bulkier than his teammates, which was good for matching up with his opposite number in the low post. Now that the low post game is out of fashion, however, there is little benefit to the added bulk of a traditional big man. Furthermore, because of the evolution of offenses leaguewide, a big man’s lack of quickness is a greater disadvantage on defense than it has ever been.

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P.J. Tucker Looks to Secure the Bag

 

After two years as the Rockets’ stopper, P.J. Tucker is looking to secure the bag. Tucker has two seasons and $16.3 million left on his current contract, at the end of which he will be 36 years old. Tucker’s motivation in seeking a contract extension is entirely sensible; his market value is high, meaning he is deserving of a raise. Signing an extension now would also guarantee his income into the final phase of his career. Asking for an extension is the smart move for Tucker, but what should the Rockets do?

In the last four seasons, P.J. Tucker has compiled 17.3 Wins, an average of 4.3 per season. 14.4 of those wins (83.2%) have come on the defensive end, and Tucker is known by reputation around the league as a defensive specialist.

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Top 25 Rebounding Guards in the NBA

 

Rebounding has traditionally been the domain of big men throughout NBA history. As perimeter players have grown larger and more athletic, however, it has become more and more important for outside players to help out on the boards. Indeed, the last three seasons have even featured a guard (Russell Westbrook) averaging over 10 rebounds per game on his way to averaging a triple double.

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Who are the best-rebounding guards in the league? To answer this question, I evaluated the relative difficulty of acquiring each rebound based on whether the rebound was contested or uncontested. By finding the success rates for the offense and the defense on each type of rebound and comparing the expected value with the observed value in each case, I was able to assign an appropriate value for each type of rebound – contested defensive rebounds, uncontested defensive rebounds, contested offensive rebounds, and uncontested defensive rebounds. The result gives us the total rebounding value added by each player. (For a more detailed description of the method for evaluating rebounds, consult The Basketball Bible)

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Recent Writing

 

Hey everybody! I haven’t posted anything here in the last couple of weeks, because I’ve been busy writing things on other sites. I will provide the links and brief summaries of those articles below.

At Off the Glass, I wrote about how to resolve the tensions under the current CBA in which players feel wronged because they are trapped on a team that they don’t get to choose and teams feel wronged because players are forcing trades one and two years before the end of their contracts.

The Solution for Trade Demands

I also wrote a piece for Off the Glass on Caris LeVert, who had a breakout season disrupted by injury last season. I break down his performance, and offer some speculation on what he might do this year.

Hot Take Marathon: Caris LeVert Will Be an All-Star

At Bellyup Sports, I published a data dive on the Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac:

Is Jonathan Isaac the Future for Orlando?

Also at Bellyup Sports, I wrote a short piece on the top five most effective passers in the NBA last year.

Who Are the NBA’s Top 5 Passers?

I will be posting an article here next week, but I will continue to provide links to my work on other sites as well. Thanks for reading!

Jonathan Isaac Under the Microscope

 

              Jonathan Isaac’s NBA journey began inauspiciously as the number six overall pick by the Orlando Magic. He looked to be at risk of becoming yet another highly talented prospect drafted by a losing franchise whose career becomes a study in disappointment and squandered potential. Two years later, after a breakout season by Nikola Vucevic powered the Magic to a surprising playoff berth, it is time to consider whether or not Jonathan Isaac can be part of a brighter future for Orlando.

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2019 Offseason Crunch

 

Yesterday I outlined a method to accurately grade offseason moves based on an analysis of the cost of wins in the NBA, the relationship between performance and salary, and a rubric to help the grades make sense. Today, I’m presenting the first annual NBA Offseason Data Crunch, in which I evaluate every move made by every team this summer. Before you dig in, there are two caveats:

  • In what follows I will evaluate all acquisitions in terms of the player’s value relative to the value of his contract. This means that for trades, we are not interested (right now) in figuring out which team won or lost the trade. There is a time for evaluating trades in that manner, but today’s analysis will consider moves purely in terms of cost efficiency.
  • The data crunch will deal only with players who are likely to impact winning or losing NBA games this year, and players whose impact we are able to reliably estimate. Rookies and future draft picks, as they do not have any NBA data, are difficult to forecast with the same accuracy as existing NBA players, so I will leave them aside for now.

Los Angeles Lakers trade NOP for Anthony Davis

          Let’s start with the easiest transaction to grade. Acquiring AD was a home run for the Lakers. Davis is projected to make over a little over $27 million next season, followed by a player option for 2020-21. In the three seasons prior to last year, Davis averaged 12.6 wins per season. At that rate, we would anticipate AD to generate roughly $118.3 million worth of value, meaning that the Lakers are getting a 91 million dollar surplus from trading for AD. Of course, they did have to give up something to get him …

GRADE: A+

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How to Do Offseason Grades the Right Way

 

            At this time of year, NBA analysts, fans, and front offices are all concerned with cost efficiency. Free agent season stimulates near-constant conversation evaluating each new contract as a good deal, bad deal, or fair deal. What is the basis of all the conversation, though? To be more specific, what is the standard used to determine whether a player is overpaid, underpaid, or fairly paid? If the standard is subjective, then offseason “grades” merely reflect the degree of correlation between a team’s offseason moves and what I happen to think each player is worth. That correlation is not valuable to anyone aside from me. Nobody else can use grades like that, because the grades only reflect a subjective opinion.

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Processing the Process (Conclusion)

 

          In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of my review of the “The Process,” I have covered the Philadelphia 76ers’ rebuilding process beginning with their multi-season tank job and leading up to their return to the playoffs in the 2017-18 season. Last season brought the culmination of the Process, as the Sixers went all-in with two major trades that cashed in most of their draft assets acquired during the Process. In this final part of my analysis, then, I will review the Sixers’ moves in the 2018 offseason and during the 2018-19 season, followed by a brief overview of the Process on the whole.

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Processing the Process, Part 3

 

          The 2016-17 season represented a major inflection point in “The Process,” the Philadelphia 76ers multi-season tank job engineered by Sam Hinkie and widely praised and criticized by nearly everyone with any stake in the league. The beginning of the 2016-17 season saw the Sixers enter with a young core of nine players all drafted or signed under the Hinkie regime. For reference, here is those players’ performance across the subsequent seasons:

Name 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Nerlens Noel 3.7 Wins, 73% Eff., 1047 MP 0.8 Wins, 55% Eff., 472 MP 4.0 Wins, 56% Eff., 1056 MP
Joel Embiid 3.8 Wins, 55% Eff., 786 MP 8.1 Wins, 54% Eff., 1912 MP 10.6 Wins, 50% Eff., 2154 MP
Dario Saric 3.9 Wins, 46% Eff., 2129 MP 4.7 Wins, 50% Eff., 2310 MP 3.1 Wins, 47% Eff., 2022 MP
Jahlil Okafor 2.2 Wins, 45% Eff., 1134 MP 0.6 Wins, 46% Eff., 353 MP 1.8 Wins, 48% Eff., 935 MP
Ben Simmons   7.3 Wins, 54% Eff., 2732 MP 6. Wins, 53% Eff., 2700 MP
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 1.6 Wins, 45% Eff., 1190 MP 1.1 Wins, 40% Eff., 806 MP 0.6 Wins, 52% Eff., 669 MP
Furkan Korkmaz   0.1 Wins, 36% Eff., 80 MP 1.3 Wins, 47% Eff., 679 MP
Jerami Grant 2.6 Wins, 45% Eff., 1531 MP 3.7 Wins, 51% Eff., 1647 MP 4.8 Wins, 48% Eff., 2612 MP
Richaun Holmes 2.7 Wins, 54% Eff., 1193 MP 1.8 Wins, 52% Eff., 746 MP 1.8 Wins, 49% Eff., 1184 MP
Robert Covington 4.9 Wins, 52% Eff., 2119 MP 5.6 Wins, 47% Eff., 2532 MP 2.4 Wins, 51% Eff., 1203 MP
T.J. McConnell 3.4 Wins, 56% Eff., 2133 MP 2.9 Wins, 49% Eff., 1706 MP 2.7  Wins, 50% Eff., 1470 MP
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