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Diagnosing Shooting Woes

I wasn't too crazy about the Battier article. Anyway, parts of this chart are pretty disturbing (we're that bad a mid-range jump-shooting team?), but I guess I'd have to look at some other teams' charts to know if these numbers are as bad as they look. Iguodala's chart is pretty weird though - 11-43 from above the foul line, 4-22 below it, 13-45 from inside the right corner. I can't quite imagine what makes those shots so tough for him.

I was actually surprised he had that many attempts from the baseline, inside the three-point line. I can't think of a single play where he took a shot from there. My best guess is that those are shots taken against the clock? I don't know.

No explanation whatsoever for the foul line area.

What didn't you like about the Battier article?

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Tray reply to Brian on Feb 17 at 12:49
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I didn't like that basically all it said was "there's this thing called plus-minus and it doesn't work so well, but Morey has this special adjusted proprietary version that I can't tell you about. In addition, teams calculate shooting percentages for players from different parts of the court. Basketball's a game of probabilities. This may sound obvious but it's actually a totally new discovery."

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john reply to Tray on Feb 17 at 12:57
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Not sure how you read it and thought that was all it said - i felt it said a lot more and the discussion about the proprietary analysis of plus/minus was just a bit of it. And much like with the moneyball discussion, he isn't going to be told all the things they do because then it defeats any advantage the Rockets get from Battier.


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Tray reply to john on Feb 17 at 16:49
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So what did it say? I just thought some of the analysis was plain idiotic, like

"The Grizzlies went from 23-59 in Battier’s rookie year to 50-32 in his third year, when they made the N.B.A. playoffs, as they did in each of his final three seasons with the team. Before the 2006-7 season, Battier was traded to the Houston Rockets, who had just finished 34-48. In his first season with the Rockets, they finished 52-30, and then, last year, went 55-27 — including one stretch of 22 wins in a row...

Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win."

First of all, "every team he has ever played on" = two teams. Second, what happened in Memphis? They drafted Battier and actually got slightly worse defensively that year and the year after. In the third season, Hubie Brown has a full year to coach the team and the offense improves dramatically. Was the difference Battier? Or rather, Battier in his third season versus Battier in his second and first? Of course not. What happened was they brought in Posey, Mike Miller and Bonzi Wells and drastically curtailed Jason Williams's shots. In Battier's rookie year, Williams was the second leading scorer and he was shooting 38%. By the year they won 50, Williams is attempting just nine shots a game. Moreover, another thing that made them better is the reduction of Battier's role. He went from being the team's third leading scorer on 12 shots per game and a 42% field goal percentage to the team's seventh leading scorer on half as many shots the year they won 50. So really, Battier had absolutely nothing to do with the team magically getting better - they got better in his third year because they acquired scorers, got a great coach, and reduced Williams and Battier's attempts. Now, what about Houston? Yes, Houston had a bad year before Battier got there. But the year before, they won 51 - just one less game than they did once Battier came along. Gee, why could that be? Of course, as Lewis would have known if he actually watched basketball, in 04-05, Yao and McGrady were remarkably healthy, missing only six games. In 05-06, they miss a combined 62 games and had no supporting cast to speak of - just has-beens like Derek Anderson, David Wesley, Jon Barry, and Juwan Howard, and never-weres like Stromile and Luther Head. Naturally, the team suffered. The next year, yes, they add Battier - a nice role player. But, they also get a much healthier T-Mac, and not only did he miss just 11 games, he rebounded from 05-06's career-worst .406 field goal percentage and played like an approximation of the superstar he once was. Alston also played better, Hayes had a great year off the bench, etc. Now sure, might that team have won just, say, 45 with a rookie Rudy Gay instead of Battier, yeah, it's quite possible. But adding Battier didn't cause the team to "acquire some magical ability to win."

I would've settle for "too much hyperbole." :)

I didn't really think he was pushing the "Battier makes teams winners," so much as he was describing how Battier's affect on the game isn't quantifiable with traditional statistics. That was the stuff I found interesting.

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Tray reply to Brian on Feb 17 at 17:37
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But isn't it quantifiable with traditional scouting? This isn't some Moneyball story - the whole league, regardless of what Lewis would have you believe, knows that Battier's a very good defender and role player.

I'm not sure every GM in the league would agree with you, in fact I'm pretty sure there are more old school guys around than anyone wants to admit.

Baseball is light years ahead of basketball in terms of statistical analysis beyond points, rebounds and assists.

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Tray reply to Brian on Feb 17 at 19:04
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No, you misunderstood. We can see, with simple scouting, that Battier's a good player. Just as advanced metrics will tell you that Thad was great last season, but we all knew that just watching the games. I'm not saying advanced stats are useless but Battier doesn't strike me as a case where they're so useful. Yeah, he's been traded but for whom, Rudy Gay, a megatalent. It's not like Memphis undervalued him.

Do you think the casual fan, or maybe, the average NY Times reader, knows Battier's a good player? Or do you think the casual fan looks at his mainstream stats and thinks he sucks?

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Tray reply to Brian on Feb 18 at 0:33
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Um, I'd say that the casual generic NBA fan thinks that Battier was a bust. That said, the casual generic NBA fan doesn't watch a lot of Rockets games. I think the average Rockets fan is probably quite aware that the guy's a good player.

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Joe reply to Tray on Feb 17 at 18:35
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I thought the +/- stuff was a bit of nonsense. The end result was that Battier helps teams because one guy can see he is a good defender and he has a good +/-.

I did like the journey there though, like the parts where Battier says he looks at the stats as a scouting report.

I understand why they don't get into what stats they use, but still find it annoying. The parts that I liked the best were the bits about how Battier uses data to help the team, rather than his own stats. Boxing out the center was a great example, but the stuff about knowing where the guy he's defending shoots poorly from, I mean, that's brilliant stuff. Using preparation and brainpower to overcome athletic limitations, I admire that stuff. I also admire teams who utilize this type of analysis to create an advantage on the court, rather than just to negotiate contracts.

I've read in many places that Lou and Speights supposedly have great chemistry with the pick and pop, are the best of buds and so forth. Their respective charts seem to support that argument.

Both of those guys 'should' be money from inside the three point range and Speights is already there baby. I'm pretty confident about Lou getting those percentages up for the second half. Also, when looking at that miserable 46.7%, take into account Lou's inability to run the break and take advantage of two-on-one and three-on-one scenarios. He always seems to force it in those situations.

Looking at those numbers, one would think Ivey and Brand would get along just fine...

That's a good point about the break. If you notice, when Miller and Iguodala are leading the break, they go right down the middle of the lane, force the defender to come up and stop them, then dish to the guys filling the wings. If the defender doesn't come up to stop the ball, they go to the hoop. Lou seems to push at an angle to the hoop, outrun the rest of his guys on the break, and leave his feet way too early. He should watch Miller.

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Bryon reply to Brian on Feb 17 at 12:34
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On those point blank shots you referenced for Lou, could the percentage be down b/c he gets fouled hard on most of them which results in a miss but he goes to the line?

If you miss the shot and get fouled it doesn't count as a miss, but if you make it and get fouled it counts as a make. Win-win situation :)

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Bryon reply to Brian on Feb 17 at 12:43
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Interesting. I didn't know if it counted as a shot attempt if a foul was called. So if you attempt a shot with a subsequent whistle and it misses then, no shot atempted. But vice-versa if you make it. Kind of weird.

Yeah, it's a quirky thing, but it's fair. If you get fouled, it's really not your fault you missed the shot, right?

No - taditionally scouting DIDNT catch what battier meant to a team when he was on the floor or he probably wouldn't have been traded so damn much - traditional scouting made rodney carney a top 10 pick for reasons passing understanding - if traditional scouting was so solid there wouldn't be so many busts in the first round.

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Bryon reply to john on Feb 17 at 20:24
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Do you actually believe everything you write yourself? Battier was traded exactly one time, don't know how that equals '..so damn much.' Rodney Carney was not a top 10 pick either. If these advanced stats were the next best thing then it doesn't look like they have paid off for Morey and the Rockets as they haven't won anything of late. And Morey took Luther Head in the 1st round a couple of years back over several better players so these advanced metrics don't look like they equal first round success either.


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