Posts tagged ‘Point guard’

March 3, 2011

Underrated: Chauncey Billups’ (Future) Production for the Knicks

by Jeeves

It’s Thursday, so time for something overrated or underrated


The big news preceding the end of the trading deadline, of course, was that after an endless dance, the Nuggets finally traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. There was much rejoicing and a surprising amount of hand wringing after the trade was consummated. Due to the deluge of media coverage leading up to the trade, much of the focus was placed on Carmelo Anthony. The fact that Chauncey Billups was included in the trade was a mere afterthought.

The funny thing is that Chauncey may end up making a larger impact on the Knicks  this season than Carmelo. I’m not trying to argue that Chauncey is better than Carmelo or that he’s even close to being the player Carmelo is. I just think that as Amare and Carmelo try to mesh their high usage games together, that Chauncey will prove to be exceedingly valuable to the Knicks.

I realize it has been an extremely small sample size but their performance has shown this to some degree so far. Chauncey’s production, so far, has been far, far more efficient than Carmelo’s. I realize that Carmelo has produced more in terms of sheer numbers, but there is something to be said about producing efficiently. I’ll pose this hypothetical: Would you rather have a player shoot 6/8 from the field (2/2 from 3pt and 5-5 FT) for a total of 20 points or 8/23 from the field (1/3 from 3pt and 6-6 FT) for a total of 23 points. Yeah, 23 points is more than 20, but I’d much rather have a player put up that first stat line.

In any case, whatever your views on efficiency, it’s undeniable that Chauncey has been a more efficient offensive player. In his 4 games so far (he missed one with a thigh bruise), he’s scored 93 points while taking 49 attempts from the field; that works out to 1.9 pts per field goal attempt. That’s a pretty good number. If you factor in turnovers and look at points per possession, that number falls a little to 1.6, still pretty good. Carmelo on the other hand has scored 130 points but has needed 111 field goal attempts to reach that total, which is 1.2 pts per field goal attempt. His points per possession works out to 1.07. Another way to look at it, is at that rate Chauncey would score 160 points using 100 possessions whereas Carmelo would only score 107 points, using 100 possessions. It’s a little abstract to think of it like that, but it is a fairly significant difference. Another way to look at it is that league average points per field goal attempt is 1.2, the same as Carmelo and league average points per possession is 1.06, almost the same as Carmelo. In that view, Carmelo is producing at a rate no better than league average.

Carmelo has the superior per game statistics and the higher bulk totals due to playing an extra game and also playing more minutes that Chauncey. Another way to view things on a more level field is to look at their per 36 minutes stats. Per 36 minutes, Chauncey has averaged 25.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 6.6 apg. Carmelo on the other hand has averaged 25.6/4.7/2.4. There’s no arguing here that Chauncey has provided more output per 36 minutes. He’s outscored Carmelo, while providing the same number of rebounds (from the point guard position!!) and nearly tripling Carmelo’s assists.

I think part of Chauncey’s efficiency dominance is attributable to 3 things. First, Carmelo is a great scorer, but not an efficient one. Second, Carmelo, who has gotten used to dominating the ball since Iverson was traded, has to learn to share the rock with Amare. Finally, I think the D’Antoni offense generally benefits point guard play.

So as I said, I’m not trying to convince anyone that Chauncey is better than Carmelo. I am trying to say that his production so far has been underrated and that his production moving forward will also likely be underrated. There’s extreme value in efficiency, which is something Chauncey has in spades when compared to Melo.

Advertisements
March 2, 2011

Chris Paul Version 2.0

by Jeeves

In my mind, going into the 2009-2010 season, Chris Paul was with out a doubt the best point guard in the NBA. He was unbelievable to watch. He had a quick first step, he could shoot, he could dribble, he could command an offense, he could do everything. Unfortunately for NBA fans everywhere, he tore his meniscus part way through that year.

The injury didn’t mark the end of Chris Paul, phenomenal basketball player. It has, it seems, affected the way he plays and has damaged his stake to the claim of best PG in all the land. Before we jump into things, let me establish a baseline for Chris Paul. The following table is a listing of some key stats from the 2008-2009 season, which I consider the peak of his basketball powers:

Year FGA FG% FTA Reb Ast Pts USG% TOV%
08-09 16.1 50.4 6.7 5.5 11.0 22.8 27.5 13.5

We’ll consider that the baseline of awesomeness.

Sadly, CP3’s numbers have all taken a tumble. The big box score numbers (pts/reb/ast) have fallen to 16.0/3.9/9.6. If those were the only numbers that had slipped from the baseline of awesomeness, well, I’d just chalk it up to Paul finding his game again after surgery and assume that by next year he’d be back to normal. Digging deeper, though, it looks like Chris Paul has fundamentally changed his game. It looks like he’s lost a great deal of his assertiveness.  Compare these two tables:

read more »

February 24, 2011

Overrated: Rajon Rondo Claim to Best PG in the NBA

by Jeeves

Flowchart courtesy of Shamsports

After a 1 week hiatus, overrated/underrated is back. This week we’re looking at Rajon Rondo

As always, let’s get my biases out front and center. I’m a big Bulls fan, thus I love Derrick Rose.

There’s a definite rift between Rose and Rondo both on the court and amongst their proponents in the media. Even with my adoration of Rose, I’ve never fully understood the fawning over Rondo. It’s quite possible that I’m missing something, but to me he is merely a very good point guard. He doesn’t strike me as “in the conversation” for best point guard in the league.

The flow chart above sums up one of my main complaints about Rondo. I realize a point guard needs to initiate the offense, but it’s detrimental if that’s all the point guard can do. I like my point guard to control the offense while also maintaining the ability to create something on his own. Simply racking up assists isn’t enough for me and racking up assists seems to be Rondo’s greatest claim to fame.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good passer and has great vision, but he has three teammates that are perfect for amassing large assist totals. Pierce, Allen and KG are all great jump shooters and their games conflate to inflate Rondo’s stats. Large parts of the Celtics’ offense is predicated on Allen running off of screens catching the ball and shooting immediately or KG catching the ball at the elbow and firing an 18 footer. They do all the work to get open, and all Rondo has to do is hit the open man for the assist. Much as the D’Antoni offense is known for inflating offensive statistics, I think the (Real) Big Three in Boston have that affect on assist totals.

If inflated assist totals were my only issue with Rondo’s game, I’d put him up there with the best PG’s and I wouldn’t be writing this post, but that’s just my opening salvo. His lack of a reliable jump shot is another huge flaw in his game. Rondo is a great finisher at the rim. He makes 2/3 of his 4.2 shots a game at the rim; that’s really good. If you move him away from there, though, he becomes a sieve on offense. He shoots 34% from less than ten feet (excluding at the rim shots) and 28% from 10-15 feet. His 16-23 foot shooting is a bit better (41%), I assume, because defenses sag off of him. Rondo just has no mid range game at all. The large knock on Rose’s game, coming into the league, was that he didn’t have a jump shot; to this day announcers are still surprised at his ability to knock down a 12 footer. Despite this widely acknowledged flaw, he has never shot worse from <10 to 15 feet as Rondo is currently shooting in his 5th year in the league. Why isn’t Rondo’s lack of a jumper a bigger talking point?

Rondo’s lack of shooting ability means defenses can sag off of him. It means that he doesn’t get rushed with double teams to get the ball out of his hands. Even with this amount of space his usage is a low, 17.96, yet his turnover rate is a sky high 26.63 (Rose for comparison is at 31.75 and 13.3). Rondo has the 6th highest turnover rate in the league. He doesn’t face much defensive pressure, yet he still racks up 4 TO’s a game.

We haven’t even touched upon his free throw shooting yet. It’s kind of incredible; for as reluctant as he is to shoot, he is even more reluctant to step to the free throw line. His FTA per game have cratered 2.0 this season, and of those two, he usually splits the pair (55% from the line). He is in the bottom 20 (of players who get 15+ mpg) in terms of FT% behind such luminaries as Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. Point guards need to be able to draw fouls. They need to be able to draw big men over while driving in order to free up passing lanes. Rondo, as his game is constructed, is completely missing this facet to his game. I’ll compare him, yet again, to Rose. Derrick saw some heat in the press for avoiding contact and selling out for the layup rather than accepting contact. Seeing all the articles chiding him for this, one would think he struggled to get to the line as well, yet he averages 6.2 free throws a game. He isn’t quite Lebron James in that department, but his 6.2 a game is good for 15th in the league and 2nd overall at the point guard position (behind Deron Williams).

Please don’t read this and think that I don’t see any value in Rondo. I think Rajon Rondo is a very good player. I think he’s a very good point guard and a pretty damn good match for the Boston Celtics. I also just happen to think that he is rather overrated for the amount of production he brings to the table. I think the one facet of his offensive game that is elite is his assists totals, and even those are inflated. And, hell, just for the sake of comparison,

Rondo’s 3rd season: 8.2 assists per game.

Rose’s 3rd season (to date): 8.2 assists per game.

I realize some of you would still choose Rondo as the PG to start your team, but for me, give me a point guard that can shoot. Give me a point guard that shoots free throws, hell, until Chris Paul proves his knee his healthy, just give me Derrick Rose.

February 14, 2011

A Boon to the Rose-for-MVP Crowd

by Jeeves

 

The Bulls finished up their 5-game West Coast swing. They may not have proved themselves to be road warriors, but they did at least confirm that they can beat good teams in their buildings. The 3-2 record was what I was expecting from the Bulls, but they didn’t quite arrive there in the manner that I would have guessed. They dropped a couple winnable games in the middle at Golden State and Portland. I suppose this served as a wake up call, as they won fairly impressively in what figured to be the two hardest games of the trip at Utah and at New Orleans.

Those last two games, against Deron Williams and the Jazz and Chris Paul and the Hornets combined with the Bulls/Rose’s performance against Rajon Rondo and the Celtics on January 8th has boosted both Rose’s candidacy as best PG in the game and MVP of the season. The following table, while not encapsulating every facet of the game, sums things up nicely:

Pts Ast Reb ORtg DRtg NetRtg Team Score
Jan 8
Rose 36 2 5 125 99 +26 90
Rondo 13 8 5 106 95 +11 79
Feb 9
Rose 29 7 3 115 102 +13 91
Williams 11 12 4 83 109 -26 86
Feb 12
Rose 23 6 4 114 103 +11 97
Paul 15 6 2 103 110 -7 88

(ORtg is a stat that tries to estimate points produced per 100 possessions. DRtg does the same but for points allowed. If you subtract the DRtg from ORtg you get the Net figure.)

As the chart shows, Rose dominated his match-ups against the other top tier point guards. He, as expected, played excellently on offense (so you have an idea, the 10th best ORtg in the NBA is 122.0), even against Rondo where he had his best offensive night. He also played really well on defense (10th best ORtg is 99.6 and the stat skews towards bigs), which, if you believe Nicolas Batum, is an area that Rose is no good at.

I think it is evident that in these games Rose put forth just that much more concentration and effort. He is a very competitive person, and I’m sure he wants to be considered the best PG (if not best player) in the NBA, which led to such spectacular performances. The thing to keep in mind is that though these three games (all in a close time span) are impressive, they do not necessitate a significantly large sample size. To put it another way, where I, a Bulls fan, may use these numbers to support a case for Rose as the best PG or MVP worthy, a Celtics fan may use the first two match-ups where Rondo outperformed Rose (according to NetRtg). What I think we can take out of all of this, is that there’s no denying that Rose is one of the best PG’s in the league and there is no denying that he is a serious MVP candidate. Let’s see how the rest of the season plays out, before we crown him.