2010 Report Card: Eddie House

House came over mid-season from Boston, and the common wisdom was that he would put up numbers similar to his season in 2006 under D’Antoni. That year in Phoenix, he posted his second highest PER (15.2) of his career. But things didn’t quite work out as planned. In 371 minutes for the Knicks, he had a career low PER of 7.2. House’s main value is his sharpshooting from downtown, but he inexplicably only managed to hit 25%. If someone is out there is keeping track of how common wisdom performs, this one is a serious “fail” in the column of a player doing well for a coach/system in which he has familiarity.

There’s not much to say about a three point specialist that can’t buy a bucket. He’s an undersized 2 guard who doesn’t defend well. What made his season worse was the number of long twos he took. According to Hoopdata, he took almost as many long jumpers (5.7 fga/40 from 16-23 feet) as three pointers (6.5 3pa/40). It was jaw dropping how many bad shots Eddie House attempted in a Knick uniform. If I had to look for a positive aspect of his game, I’d say that House was a good passer for a spot up shooter. But it nowhere near made up for his deficiencies.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 1
Performance/Expectations: 1

Final Grade: F

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Eddie House 2010 TOT 10.5 49.5 46.7 14.0 0.4 3.2 2.5 1.2 0.2 1.4
.041 Kevin Grevey 1985 MIL 10.7 50.5 45.8 14.5 0.8 3.1 2.9 0.9 0.1 1.7
.047 Ron Anderson 1990 PHI 13.9 49.9 45.2 16.0 1.4 5.1 2.5 1.2 0.2 1.3
.048 Devin Brown 2010 TOT 10.0 50.0 45.7 13.6 1.0 4.2 2.2 1.1 0.2 2.1
.056 Kiki Vandeweghe 1990 NYK 12.5 51.2 46.3 16.5 1.0 3.4 2.6 1.0 0.2 1.7
.069 Jim Paxson 1989 BOS 11.5 50.2 45.8 15.6 0.6 2.3 3.4 1.2 0.3 1.8
.074 Anthony Peeler 2001 MIN 12.6 51.3 48.9 13.4 0.7 3.3 3.3 1.5 0.3 1.8
.079 David Wesley 2002 CHH 11.3 47.9 44.7 13.8 0.6 2.1 3.4 1.1 0.2 1.7
.081 Jaren Jackson 1999 SAS 12.5 50.0 47.4 12.6 0.9 4.1 2.0 1.7 0.4 1.5
.081 Tony Delk 2005 ATL 15.1 51.2 47.7 17.9 0.8 3.5 2.8 1.3 0.1 1.5
.089 Cuttino Mobley 2007 LAC 12.5 54.6 49.7 13.6 0.7 3.4 2.5 1.2 0.3 1.8

2010 Report Card: Jonathan Bender

In December of the 2010 season, Donnie Walsh reached back into his past and summoned Jonathan Bender. In 1999, Walsh drafted a teenage Bender for the Pacers with the 5th overall pick. Bender is the only player of the first 10 selected that failed to amass 20,000 minutes played in the NBA. Bender failed to live up to his NBA expectations due to injuries not lack of talent. He managed only one season with more than 60 games played, and retired at the tender age of 25.

Away from the league for 4 years and joining the team mid-year, Bender was used sparingly by D’Antoni until the season neared to a close. On March 19th, the forward started his first game for the Knicks in what was likely going to be the first of many. Ironically injuries derailed his career yet again, as Bender broke a finger and was done for the year.

On the court, the 6-11 Bender can stretch the defense with three point shooting, but despite his height he struggles with the ball close to the hoop. He doesn’t score a lot (14.5 pts/36) and has mediocre efficiency (52.9% TS%) Bender’s turnover rate is alarmingly high (3.5 to/36), and he’s especially prone when he puts the ball on the floor. On defense his shot blocking was impressive (2.1 blk/36), but his rebounding is lacking (6.4 reb/36).

The big question with Bender will always be his health. Even though the finger injury is more of a fluke injury, he had problems with his hip & leg earlier in the year. It’s not known if he can take the daily pounding of the rigors of the NBA season, even as a reserve. Additionally it’s hard to gauge exactly what kind of player Bender is. He had only one season with more than 1000 minutes and that was in 2002 as a 21 year old. Bender managed a miniscule 292 minutes played as a Knick in 2010. Still if the Knicks want to roll the dice on him, Bender could be a cheap option for a 8th/9th man. In D’Antoni’s smallish lineups, he could function as a center, paired with stronger rebounders.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 2
Defense: 4
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 3

Final Grade: B

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Jonathan Bender 2010 NYK 10.8 52.9 47.0 14.5 1.8 6.4 2.0 0.2 2.1 3.5
.121 Brad Sellers 1992 DET 13.7 51.3 46.6 16.2 2.4 6.7 2.2 0.2 1.6 2.4
.206 Charles Smith 1995 NYK 13.9 54.4 47.6 16.2 2.4 5.4 2.0 0.8 1.6 2.5
.206 Jermaine O’Neal 2008 IND 14.4 48.9 43.9 17.0 2.4 8.4 2.8 0.6 2.6 3.2
.210 Elden Campbell 1998 LAL 16.4 52.7 46.4 16.5 2.9 9.2 1.6 0.7 2.1 2.3
.230 Roy Hinson 1991 NJN 11.1 50.8 51.3 16.2 2.4 7.5 1.6 0.0 1.2 2.4
.245 Rony Seikaly 1995 GSW 12.7 56.6 51.6 15.1 2.7 9.3 1.6 0.7 1.3 3.6
.246 Jim Eakins 1976 TOT 13.5 54.6 45.1 13.6 3.6 9.5 1.9 0.7 1.5 2.5
.251 Dino Radja 1997 BOS 12.6 47.1 44.0 14.4 1.8 8.7 2.0 0.9 2.0 2.9
.252 Mark Blount 2005 BOS 12.5 55.9 52.9 13.0 2.4 6.7 2.2 0.6 1.1 2.7
.257 Elton Brand 2009 PHI 14.6 48.4 44.7 15.6 3.0 9.9 1.4 0.7 1.8 2.7

Again not a lot of very comparable players; most are 3 standard deviations away. “He Who Shall Not Be Named” appears, as well as some poor rebounding centers.

2010 Report Card: Wilson Chandler

Here’s what I wrote in Chandler’s report card last year:

One question that remains is how Chandler will develop. On the optimistic side, he did make strides in multiple areas in 2009. Chandler improved his free throw shooting (63.0% to 79.5%), three point shooting (30.0% to 32.8%), scoring (13.4 to 15.6pts/36), assists (1.7 to 2.2 ast/36) and fouls (4.4 to 3.3 pf/36). But these numbers are pedestrian. The young swingman doesn’t do anything great, and his rebounding, blocks, and steals are about what you’d expect from an average 6-8 small forward. His scoring volume is above average (15.6 pts/36) but his efficiency is below (48.0% eFG, 51.5 TS%). Perhaps that’s Chandler’s lot in the NBA: to be the generic player.

For Chandler to make strides and become a genuine NBA starter, he’ll need to make another step in his development. One area could be his three point shooting. Connecting once on every three attempts is too low especially for someone that’s likely to see a lot of attempts in D’Antoni’s system. But a more critical leap would be for Chandler to get to the line more often. Last year he was second to last on the team in FTM/FGA, a measure of a player’s ability to draw contact on the offensive end. Frequently when he gets the ball in the paint, he ends up with a turn around jumper, instead of making a strong move to the hoop. Chandler needs to summon “Ill-Will” when he’s within 6 of the basket.

The good news is that Chandler did increase his scoring efficiency, going from a true shooting percentage of 51.5% to a more respectable 53.4%. The bad news is how he did it. There are a few ways to increase your TS%. Two main ones that would coincide with a sign of Chandler’s development are increasing the number of times converting from the charity stripe and an uptick in three point percentage. However Wilson did neither of these as he scored fewer singles and connected less often from downtown in 2010. His fta/36 fell from 2.8 to 2.5 and his ftm/fga dropped as well (from .16 to .15). Meanwhile his three point percentage was a shameful 26.7%.

So how did Chandler increase his efficiency? Simple, he changed what type of shots he attempted.

Chandler-2010

According to Hoopdata, Chandler dramatically reduced the number of treys in favor for a trip to the rack. By taking more shots in the paint instead of behind the line Chandler’s TS% jumped almost 2 percentage points. Basically when Chandler would receive the ball for an open three he’d head fake then drive towards the hoop instead. On the one hand it’s good that this correction was made and Chandler is a better shooter, but on the other it’s not the kind of improvement you want from a 22 year old. In other words you could say that Wilson Chandler didn’t get better in 2010, but rather the coaching staff made him better.

Chandler’s supporters will point out that he was recovering from injury and didn’t have the offseason to expand on his game. While his detractors will note that Chandler’s recent injuries could be a concern as well. In addition to his surgery last summer, the swingman sat for the last month of the season. Hopefully his moniker “Ill-Will” won’t start to represent his fragile state.

A year later, the question still remains how Chandler will develop. I’ll give him credit for being able to make the change in his game to forsake the three ball. However if Wilson Chandler wants to remain an NBA starter, especially playing for downtown happy Mike D’Antoni, he’ll need to do much more than that.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 2
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 3
Performance/Expectations: 2

Final Grade: C

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Wilson Chandler 2010 NYK 13.7 53.4 50.2 15.4 1.4 5.4 2.1 0.7 0.8 1.7
.042 Kirk Snyder 2006 NOK 14.6 53.7 50.3 14.9 1.5 4.4 2.8 0.8 0.6 1.9
.052 Tim Thomas 2000 MIL 14.7 54.9 50.3 16.3 1.7 5.7 1.9 1.0 0.5 2.2
.052 Chris Carr 1997 MIN 13.3 55.6 51.8 14.6 1.3 4.9 2.1 1.0 0.4 1.6
.057 Chucky Brown 1991 CLE 12.0 55.5 52.4 15.2 1.9 5.2 1.9 0.6 0.6 2.3
.061 Sean Elliott 1991 SAS 14.2 56.4 50.0 15.4 1.7 5.4 2.8 0.8 0.4 1.7
.062 Richard Jefferson 2003 NJN 16.6 56.3 50.4 15.5 1.9 6.4 2.5 1.0 0.6 2.0
.064 Jeff Green 2009 OKC 13.9 53.6 49.1 16.2 1.5 6.5 1.9 1.0 0.4 2.2
.076 Mike Miller 2003 TOT 14.7 53.7 49.8 16.6 0.8 5.6 2.8 0.7 0.3 2.1
.077 Kenny Walker 1987 NYK 13.3 53.6 49.1 14.9 2.5 7.1 1.6 1.0 1.0 1.6
.087 Nenad Krstic 2006 NJN 14.4 54.1 50.8 15.7 2.7 7.5 1.3 0.5 0.9 1.9

This list doesn’t bode well for Chandler’s development. The upside is Mike Miller, Richard Jefferson and Sean Elliot, but the downside is a lot of busts and replacement level players. If Chandler doesn’t show significant improvement, he might see himself playing for the Zhejiang Horses too.

2010 Report Card: Bill Walker

When the Knicks traded Nate Robinson in February, Eddie House was supposed to be the centerpiece while Walker and J.R. Giddens were throw-ins. However D’Antoni seemed to sour on House, and Walker found himself in the rotation. He ended up with more minutes (739) than House and Giddens combined.

Walker doesn’t average a lot of points (15.4 pts/36 in 2010), but his efficiency (64.9% ts%, 62.5% efg%) is through the roof for a small forward. Only 10 players 6-6 or shorter had a true shooting percentage of 60% or better last year, and no one other than Walker was north of 62%. According to HoopData, Walker attempts the bulk of his shots from behind the arc (50%) or at the rim (33.2%); he doesn’t take a lot of shots in between those areas. So far his career NBA three point shooting percentage is a sizzling 42.7%. Walker relies on his hops to take the action to the cup, including converting a fair share of alley-oops. He moves better without the ball, and doesn’t cough it up much (his turnovers per 36 minutes were a minuscule 1.3).

Unfortunately that’s where the superlatives concerning Walker end. Despite his physical ability, he a sub par rebounder and a poor defender. The former was somewhat surprising considering his strong glasswork in the D-League. The latter makes it understandable why a defensive-minded team like Boston let him go so easily. Walker struggled with keeping guys in front of him, but considering his quick first step on offense the lack of athleticism isn’t the problem. Perhaps he’s not accustomed to the speed at the highest level.

Ultimately, Bill Walker is exactly what the Knicks need. A cheap player that won’t cost them much in 2011 ($850k) while providing efficient scoring. He has some flaws that make him more suited to come off the bench. Yet he’s still young enough (22) to improve, and even if not, is worth more than he’s being paid. And that’s something I haven’t been able to say often about the Knicks.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 4
Defense: 1
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 5

Final Grade: B+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Bill Walker 2010 TOT 14.6 64.9 62.5 15.4 0.7 4.1 1.9 1.1 0.1 1.3
.183 Josh Childress 2006 ATL 15.8 62.6 58.3 11.9 2.1 6.2 2.1 1.4 0.6 1.6
.190 Kevin Martin 2006 SAC 14.8 60.4 54.0 14.6 1.1 4.9 1.8 1.0 0.2 1.5
.297 Derek Smith 1984 SDC 14.0 59.1 54.7 16.7 1.5 4.7 2.3 0.9 0.6 2.2
.299 Michael Redd 2002 MIL 20.0 58.1 55.5 19.5 2.0 5.7 2.3 1.1 0.2 1.4
.348 Jeremy Richardson 2007 TOT 13.8 66.7 66.7 14.4 1.8 3.6 0.0 1.8 0.0 1.8
.361 Hassan Adams 2007 NJN 13.0 57.7 55.6 12.7 2.5 5.6 0.9 1.2 0.3 1.6
.369 Reggie Miller 1988 IND 14.0 58.0 53.7 16.1 1.9 3.7 2.6 1.0 0.4 2.0
.379 Andre Iguodala 2006 PHI 14.8 59.8 54.1 11.7 1.4 5.6 3.0 1.6 0.2 1.8
.387 Ronnie Brewer 2008 UTA 18.4 61.2 56.7 15.8 1.7 3.8 2.3 2.2 0.3 1.2
.396 Wally Szczerbiak 2000 MIN 15.4 57.1 53.2 14.0 1.5 4.5 3.3 1.0 0.4 1.4

For a guy that appeared to be a throw in to a trade, what an impressive list of comparables! It’s quicker to name the guys on his list that didn’t have good careers (Smith, Adams, Richardson) than to go through the positive ones. There is one big caveat however, none of these players are very comparable with Walker. The closest is about 3 standard deviations away. Considering how unique Walker is with regards to his scoring, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The question is whether he can keep up the same level of play. I’m dubious of his three point percentage remaining over 42%, but he shot 39.3% in the D-League so it should remain robust. Of course his defense and lack of non-scoring contribution will factor into his NBA future as well.

LeBron to New York Maybe Not So Far-Fetched Afterall

The always-insightful Kevin Pelton over at Basketball Prospectus offers a post-lottery update on teams likely to pursue a max free agent this summer. Interestingly, he unveils a “new and improved” WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) stat that better accounts for the effects of perimeter shooting (particularly how it helps space the floor). The new and improved WARP stat (that sounds so much better than the more accurate “slightly tweaked WARP” stat) has a serious crush on New York’s perimeter shooting.

In the interest of being conservative, and in taking any individual projection with a grain of salt, the new WARP probably overvalues Bill Walker a smidge. He’s likely to shoot his way out of Reggie Miller’s and Steve Kerr’s neighborhood eventually. Add to that, Walker’s propensity for fouling has me concerned about his ability to stay on the floor, limiting how much we can count on him. That said, he is the quintessential diamond in the rough; a pretty nice find by Donnie Basketball.

Nevertheless, potentially overly optimistic projections aside, the upshot is that when accounting for all the ways a team can put talent on the floor (i.e., current players, free-agent signings, trades, and draft picks), one can make a fairly straightforward case for Bron Bron to New York based solely on the basketball merits.

2010 NBA Lottery Open Thread

The lottery begins shortly, so here’s an open thread to discuss the results (I’ll update it when the lottery is announced).

14 Rockets
13 Raptors
12 Grizzlies
11 Hornets
10 Pacers
9 Jazz – the Knicks’ pick does not move up
8 Clippers
7 Pistons – no one has moved up yet
6 Warriors – Philly AND Washington have moved up!
5 Kings
4 Timberwolves – so either Sixers, Wizards or Nets get #1
3 Nets – OUCH
2 Sixers
1 Wizards

Congrats to the Wizards!

2010 Report Card: Tracy McGrady

When a change occurs it always takes the mainstream a bit of time to adjust to the new idea. I recall watching a Knick game near the end of the year with the announcers talking about whether or not McGrady would be coming back next year. One of them (not sure who it was) said that McGrady would have to accept being a second star on a team.

At this time, I’ll chose to reveal McGrady’s similarity scores before I continue.

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Tracy McGrady 2010 TOT 12.2 46.6 42.1 13.1 1.2 5.0 5.3 0.8 0.7 2.4
.090 Travis Best 2003 MIA 11.2 47.3 42.7 12.0 0.5 2.9 5.1 0.9 0.1 2.1
.099 Henry Bibby 1980 PHI 11.1 49.1 41.0 13.1 1.1 3.7 5.4 1.1 0.1 2.6
.110 Troy Hudson 2007 MIN 10.8 48.3 45.1 13.1 0.5 3.1 4.7 0.9 0.1 2.6
.158 Bimbo Coles 1999 GSW 14.8 49.6 44.9 12.9 0.6 3.3 6.3 1.3 0.3 2.3
.162 Bob Sura 2004 TOT 16.2 51.0 43.8 12.9 2.2 7.1 5.0 1.3 0.3 2.3
.166 John Johnson 1978 TOT 11.9 45.3 41.5 16.1 2.0 6.1 4.2 0.8 0.4 3.3
.171 Damon Stoudamire 2004 POR 14.8 50.8 47.7 12.7 0.6 3.6 5.8 1.1 0.1 2.1
.174 Brad Miller 2007 SAC 13.5 50.8 45.9 11.5 1.6 8.1 4.5 0.8 0.8 2.2
.174 Doug Overton 2000 BOS 10.5 46.6 42.9 12.7 1.2 2.7 4.4 0.8 0.0 1.7
.176 Jim McMillian 1979 POR 11.9 49.9 44.6 10.7 2.1 5.1 4.3 1.3 0.4 2.1

I know it takes a little time for perception to catch up with reality, but does that look like a list of players that should be questioning whether or not they are the second star of a team? To me that group should be worrying if they can keep their job as second string point guards. It’s been a long time since McGrady has been a top tier player, but there’s no doubt that he fell off Sandy Alomar Cliff years ago. Below is a list of his comparables by age, which reminds me of one those don’t use drugs posters.

Age z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
19 .244 Kevin Garnett 1996 MIN 15.8 52.2 49.7 13.1 2.7 7.9 2.3 1.4 2.1 1.7
20 .121 Kevin Garnett 1997 MIN 18.2 53.7 50.2 15.7 2.3 7.4 2.8 1.3 2.0 2.1
21 .098 Kobe Bryant 2000 LAL 21.7 54.6 48.8 21.2 1.5 5.9 4.6 1.5 0.9 2.6
22 .072 LeBron James 2007 CLE 24.5 55.2 50.7 24.1 0.9 5.9 5.3 1.4 0.6 2.8
23 .145 LeBron James 2008 CLE 29.1 56.8 51.8 26.8 1.6 7.0 6.4 1.6 1.0 3.0
24 .121 Kobe Bryant 2003 LAL 26.2 55.0 48.3 26.0 1.1 6.0 5.1 1.9 0.7 3.0
25 .053 Kobe Bryant 2004 LAL 23.7 55.1 46.8 22.9 1.5 5.3 4.9 1.6 0.4 2.5
26 .114 Paul Pierce 2004 BOS 19.4 51.7 44.1 21.3 0.8 6.1 4.8 1.5 0.6 3.5
27 .175 Grant Hill 2000 DET 24.5 56.5 50.1 24.7 1.3 6.4 5.0 1.3 0.6 3.1
28 .083 Jamal Mashburn 2001 CHH 17.5 49.3 45.0 18.4 1.1 6.9 5.0 1.0 0.2 2.5
29 .088 Derek Anderson 2004 POR 15.1 49.9 44.0 13.8 0.5 3.6 4.5 1.3 0.1 1.8
30 .090 Travis Best 2003 MIA 11.2 47.3 42.7 12.0 0.5 2.9 5.1 0.9 0.1 2.1

You might note that at age 27 his most similar player is Grant Hill, but a score of .175 means they’re not very close. Actually McGrady rates close to these players because of his high usage. From ages 21-28 he averaged more than 21.1 pts/36, however his efficiency has been dropping since age 23. Usually guys with TS% south of 52% don’t get to take enough shots to average 20pts/36, but McGrady has managed that feat 3 times in his career (2006-2008). Speaking of his shooting efficiency…

McGrady-TS%

I added the red line, since the league average for TS% is around 54%. T-Mac had a very promising career, capping with a TS% of 56.4% as a 23 year old. A player’s career usually arcs up, levels off, then descends. But McGrady’s drops sharply and early at the peak, giving it the appearance of a mountain not the typical bell curve. If you looked at his career graph at age 23 and applied the normal career path, you’d think he’d be a perennial All Star. But as you can see that’s season was the exception, not the norm. It’s a shame, because McGrady is an exceptional passer and a capable rebounder. And he’s always been able to get to the line. Poor shot selection and an inconsistent three point shot (he’s been over 34% only once in the last 7 seasons) has kept him from achieving true greatness.

I had hoped that McGrady would benefit from a reduction in shot attempts upon arriving in New York. But even when he cut his FGA/36 to 12.6, T-Mac put up the lowest TS% of his career (46.6%). You know your career is over when you’re a former All Star trying to beat out Chris Duhon for a starting job, and you fail. Probably some team will sign him to a minor contract this year, I just hope it isn’t New York.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 2
Performance/Expectations: 1

Final Grade: F