## Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

# Considering usage and efficiency: Can Tyson be Dwight?

Tyson Chandler is a controversial figure. Not because he has a propensity for eating puppies, kicking babies or posting asses on Twitter. Rather, Chandler presents one of the more head-scratching — and polarizing — conundrums in the game: he’s taken less than six shots a game since coming to the Knicks two years ago, yet scores at a ridiculously efficient rate.

How can we compare a low usage, high efficiency guy like Tyson to high usage, lower efficiency players? Do the “stat nerds” really overvalue Tyson due to his efficient scoring without taking in to account his low usage? Today I attempt to determine what Tyson Chandler would have to do to compare favorably to the best player in the NBA at his position: Byron Mullens…. Come to think of it we’ll just go with Dwight Howard.

First, let’s have a quick lesson on the stats I’m going to use — stats you might already think you know, but with something of a twist.

Usage

The USG% stat is defined as follows:

100*((FGA + 0.44 * FTA + TOV) * (Tm MP / 5)) / (MP * (Tm FGA + 0.44 * Tm FTA + Tm TOV))

So basically what you’re looking at is the percentage of offensive plays that end with a player while he is on the floor. By this definition, there are three ways an offensive play can end: in a shot (FGA), with a turnover (TOV) or with free throws (FTA). That 0.44 that is multiplied by the FTA is there to compensate for the fact that free throws are usually taken in pairs, and there are also times when free throws don’t end a possession, like for technical free throws and “and 1″ free throws.

From here on out I’m going to call the calculation (FGA + 0.44 * FTA + TOV) an “event”. So to further simplify the USG% stat, you can say that it is 100*(Player Events)/(Team Events) * (Minutes Adjustments), where the Minutes Adjustment is just one fifth of the team’s minutes divided by the player’s actual minutes played.

Efficiency

To quantify scoring efficiency I’m going to go with the “true shooting percentage” (TS%) which is defined thusly:

PTS / 2*(Tm FGA + 0.44 * Tm FTA)

I like TS% because it takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws — all the ways someone is going to score. Again, you see the 0.44 correction factor being multiplied to the FTA, for the same reason as it is with respect to USG%. Basically what this stat is telling you is the percentage of shooting plays resulting in 2 points.

The Good Stuff

By this point you might be asking, what’s the point of all this? Well, what we’re going to look at now is what the Knicks’ version of Tyson Chandler would have to do to reach the usage and efficiency of Dwight Howard. Let’s check out where they stand.

Tyson Chandler (Knicks) USG%: 13.0 TS%: 0.69
Dwight Howard (Career) USG%: 23.4 TS%: 0.60

While this reflect Dwight’s career numbers, only Tyson’s Knicks years are being taken into account. So, if Tyson were to increase his usage from 13.0 to 23.4 for a full season, how efficient would he have to be with those extra scoring attempts? I thought this was going to be easy, but the math is actually fairly involved.

First we have to find out how many “events” a usage of 23.4 would be for the Knicks teams that Tyson played on, and assume that any extra scoring events that Tyson has are taken away from someone else. Well, that data is easily available. As it turns out, over the past 2 years, a USG% of 23.4 on the Knicks corresponds to an average of 1395.2 events a season. We can also determine how many scoring events Tyson has had over the past two years, based on his USG% of 13.0. That number, corrected for 82 games a season, would be 756.9 events. This means that to hit a usage of 23.4, Tyson would have to have 638.3 extra events. Now remember, an event is a combination of field goal attempts, free throw attempts, and turnovers (FGA + 0.44 * FTA + TOV).

If we assume that Tyson’s free throw rate and turnover rate stay the same with his USG% increased from 13.0 to 23.4, we can determine how the extra 759.9 events break down over a full 82 game season:

Extra FGA: 402.9
Extra FTA: 305.8
Extra TOV: 100.9

Per game that corresponds to 4.8 extra FGA, 3.7 extra FTA and 1.2 extra TOVs that Tyson would have to produce. So, now the question is, how efficient would Tyson have to be with those extra shots to hit an overall TS% of 0.60? Well, here you go:

TS% on extra events: 0.49

That’s right, on those extra scoring events Tyson would only have to score with a TS% of 0.49, which is well below the league average of around 0.54. To give some perspective on how bad Tyson would have to shoot, if he hit his free throws at the same 69% rate he has the past 2 years, then he would have to have a FG% of 39.0% if he only attempted 2 point shots. Or, he could develop a 3 point shot and hit that at a 26% rate on 5 attempts per game!

Summary

Now we know what Tyson Chandler would have to do to match an average scoring season of Dwight Howard. Honestly, it seems like all he has to do is take a a lot more inefficient shots. So the question becomes, why doesn’t he? Would it help the team if Tyson took up 10 more scoring events a game and scored on them with a 0.49 TS%? Would Tyson put up an even better TS% than the average Dwight Howard season if he matched usage?

What do y’all think?

## 57 comments on “Considering usage and efficiency: Can Tyson be Dwight?”

1. Frank

I like the idea for the article but you made some highly questionable assumptions — worst of all is that Tyson’s turnover rate would stay the same with increased usage — but assuming that his FTA/FGA would stay the same is almost as bad.

If you look at Synergy, Tyson’s overall TO-rate was 14.2% and his %shooting foul-drawn was 14.5%.

Now let’s assume (i think this is reasonable) that the Knicks are running as many PNRs as they can for Tyson, that he is grabbing as many offensive rebounds / putbacks as he can (maybe he isn’t, but more on that later), running out in transition as hard as he can, and getting as many basket cuts as he can. That leaves him really only with 3 other play-types by which he can increase his usage — Isolation, Post-up, and Spot-up.

The sample size for iso is too small – only 5 events all season last year, but he was 0-2 with 1 turnover and two drawn shooting fouls. I’m pretty sure that’s not where he’s going to get 760 extra possessions/year.

For post-ups – he only posted up 19 times in 66 games — less than 1 every 3 games. By comparison, Dwight posted up 649 times in 76 games = 8.5 times/game – or 29x more often than Tyson. So let’s say that Tyson DID really increase his post-ups — but we see from Synergy that he turned the ball over 31.6% of the time on post-ups, and drew shooting fouls on 10% of his attempts- a far cry from his 2012-13 averages of ~14% for both. And by the way, have you seen how awful he looks on post-ups?

The most likely place he could increase his usage is taking little 15 foot jumpers that the D wants to give him. He took only NINE all season last year (and drew no fouls and didn’t turn the ball over). And so in order to reach a TS of 49% on mid-range J’s, he’d have to shoot 49% from the field. Does anyone think he can do that? I don’t. He’d have to be one of the elite midrange shooters in the league to do that.

cont…

2. Frank

Overall I’d be very happy if Tyson just took 3-4 more shots per game – say 2 15-footers and making an effort on offensive rebounds to grab the ball and then go back up with it strong. I wrote in a post months ago that Tyson had one of the lowest putback per offensive rebound ratios in the league. If he just went back up with a few more of those, that might be another way to increase his usage slightly. And while he looks horribly awkward in the post, learning a little R-handed jumphook when he’s close and being guarded by a smaller player would be a welcome sight too. but there is no way in the world he will ever get to a usage of 23.

3. SeeWhyDee77

Good stuff. It does make u think tho. But after seein defensive anchors awkwardly try to get more buckets (Mutumbo, Dalembert, Ben Wallace come to mind), I think it’s better for Tyson to stay in his lane. The threat of him in the PnR and his size and length near the basket is enough. Especially when we have a dynamic weapon like Melo and other dangerous dudes like Bargnani, STAT, and JR out there as well. If we can somehow create more opportunities near the basket for him, then great. Otherwise, for him to be able to get 12ppg so easily and efficiently fits right in with the other offensive threats we have. So in this case, his offensive limitations actually help him. However, if he can stick 10-12 footers from time to time, that would add another wrinkle that puts a lot of pressure on defenses.

4. Nick C.

Frank wouldn’t Tyson’s putback to offensive rebound ratio be skewed by the tipouts? I think it must because as you recall there was much conversation early last season about how he was getting easy putbacks from Felton’s misses and other Kobessists.

The article is an interesting concept. But I also had a similar thought on the FTA to FGA ratio.

5. Kevin Udwary Post author

Frank:
I like the idea for the article but you made some highly questionable assumptions — worst of all is that Tyson’s turnover rate would stay the same with increased usage — but assuming that his FTA/FGA would stay the same is almost as bad.

I did make assumptions and I stated them all. I wouldn’t call those assumptions highly questionable. Unlikely maybe, especially for the FT rate to stay the same with added possessions, but it all depends on the type of shots Tyson is taking.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that he’s taking shots on which his FT rate is cut in half. This would mean he would have 1.8 extra FTs a game and 5.7 extra shots. To get to a .60 TS% overall, he would have to score those extra possessions at a TS% of 0.49. Still well below league average. That would correspond to a 2pt% of 0.45 or a 3pt% of 0.30. A bit tougher, definitely, and maybe he couldn’t do it, but it wouldn’t be unbelievable.

6. Kevin Udwary Post author

Also, Frank, I assume you have a Synergy subscription? If so, are Tyson’s attempts significantly difference earlier in his career? Has he recently started just taking attempts at the basket only, or has he been doing it his whole career? Why was he so less efficient with the Bulls?

7. The Honorable Cock Jowles

Frank: I like the idea for the article but you made some highly questionable assumptions — worst of all is that Tyson’s turnover rate would stay the same with increased usage — but assuming that his FTA/FGA would stay the same is almost as bad.
If you look at Synergy, Tyson’s overall TO-rate was 14.2% and his %shooting foul-drawn was 14.5%.

TO rate is directly tied to usage. It is not more impressive to have a usage of 30% and a TOV of 10% than a usage of 20% and a TOV of 10%.

8. Frank

Kevin Udwary:
Also, Frank, I assume you have a Synergy subscription? If so, are Tyson’s attempts significantly difference earlier in his career? Has he recently started just taking attempts at the basket only, or has he been doing it his whole career? Why was he so less efficient with the Bulls?

I used to have one but I don’t anymore (will wait and see what they offer for this year since I think they’re under different ownership now?) . you can still go to the website and get the previous year’s results — no subscription required.

9. Frank

The Honorable Cock Jowles: TO rate is directly tied to usage. It is not more impressive to have a usage of 30% and a TOV of 10% than a usage of 20% and a TOV of 10%.

You’re absolutely right – but that’s not what I was saying. I’m saying that his TOV% would go UP with higher usage, not stay the same. He turned the ball over on 31.6% of his post-up possesions. He drew zero shooting fouls on his spot-ups (no one bothering to contest him). So if you’re going to posit that he will increase his usage by posting up more and shooting more jumpers, then you can’t just look at his TOV% or FT rate when he’s catching alley-oops. Depending on the distribution of his added shots, you’d probably expect his TOV% to go up dramatically and/or his FTR to go down.

In either case, his efficiency is likely to get much worse. Whether it gets worse enough that you’d rather just have Carmelo shoot the ball is a more complicated question – especially since so much of the Knicks OTHER offense is predicated on Tyson diving to the hoop– ie. he’s doing other things rather than looking for his own shot. Even a non-pass in the PNR creates openings elsewhere on the floor that other players depend on to get their own shots, and so asking Tyson to take 2x as many shots might actually make the offense worse even if he still ends up with a TS of 60% on a usage of 23 (especially if the rest of his offense comes with just a TS of 49).

Whatever -all i was saying is that it’s too simplistic to suggest that he could just just increase his alley-oops and basket cuts (with their attendant high FT/FGA and low TOV%) to increase his usage — there just aren’t that many opportunities in any given game.

10. Frank

As I wrote above, there are probably 3-4 times/game that Tyson either finds himself 4 feet from the basket with a smaller defender on him (ie. after an offensive rebound or a switch) or when he has the ball with no defender around him from 15-18 feet. If he could shoot the ball then and make 50% of those shots, still play his part in the PNR, and get back to 2011-12 Tyson-level-defense, I’d be very happy. That might be too much to ask.

11. EB

Frank: You’re absolutely right – but that’s not what I was saying. I’m saying that his TOV% would go UP with higher usage, not stay the same. He turned the ball over on 31.6% of his post-up possesions. He drew zero shooting fouls on his spot-ups (no one bothering to contest him). So if you’re going to posit that he will increase his usage by posting up more and shooting more jumpers, then you can’t just look at his TOV% or FT rate when he’s catching alley-oops. Depending on the distribution of his added shots, you’d probably expect his TOV% to go up dramatically and/or his FTR to go down.

I agree with Frank at this point. We shouldn’t assume Tyson’s FT rate or TO rate to remain the same when he is basically catching the ball on top of the basket on about 90% of his possessions. Its hard to make TOs when you touch the ball for .5 a second.

I don’t agree that the current stats for Chandler will serve as any indicator for a Chandler with increased usage for the reasons Frank points out. Maybe Chandler can develop his game to complete PnR’s over defenders or to take 1 dribble and then layup or dunk, but nothing he has done has led me to believe he’s capable of doing anything other than making wide open dunks.

12. Kevin Udwary Post author

The Honorable Cock Jowles: TO rate is directly tied to usage. It is not more impressive to have a usage of 30% and a TOV of 10% than a usage of 20% and a TOV of 10%.

Well, kind of. USG% depends on the team’s number of plays, while TOV% is independent of that. For example, if last year, Lebron played on Denver instead of Miami, and put up the same exact shots, FTs and turnovers, his usage would drop from 30.2% on Miami to 27.3% on Denver, while his TOV% would still be the same. This is because Denver ran more plays than Miami over the year.

13. KnickfaninNJ

Kevin, that was a very nice and thought provoking piece.

If Chandler took a few more short jumpers, as suggested in comments above, I think he would hardly ever get fouled because he would be taking shots when left open. So he would actually have to shoot close to 49% to have a TS% on those shots of 49%. But even if he could do that, why would anyone want him to? Most of the other Knicks can easily exceed this number, so I’d rather them take a shot then him. Also, if Chandler does get open to take a short jumper then the other team is guarding 4 Knicks with 5 people. I’d rather they were worried about his put backs and dunks and had to keep at least one big guy occupied with Chandler all the time.

14. EB

I looked through hoopdata’s numbers and came up with Chandler’s totals from 2007-2013 from anywhere but at the rim.

450 Games
At-Rim ~71 2071 shots
3-9ft ~40% 411 shots
10-15ft ~32% 68 shots
16-23ft ~34% 116 shots
3pt 0-4

3-9ft he shoots slightly less than once a game over that time span(He shot more from that range when he was on NOH). Thats 1.32 shots per game away from the basket he shoots 38% from the field. So he can’t even make the low level of 39% from 2pt that would make him efficient at a little more than 1 shot away from the basket. Chandler needs 1 dunk for every 1.87 shots away from the rim in order to get 39% from the field (unless I’ve forgotten more math than I think I have, someone should probably check this).

15. iserp

BTW, i had not realized that the pace of your team when you are on/off the court skews the real usage of the player. Is there any place that tracks real usage, i mean (player events) / (team events when you are on the court)?

It would not change too much, but i am curious.

16. nicos

Not to sound like THCW but why bother- why have Chandler take a bunch of shots at a well below average TS just so his numbers look more like Dwight Howard’s. Does that really help the team? Look, I’d love to see him take a couple of jumpers a game- the knick’s pnr got very stale and adding a pick and pop option could help. And he it’d be nice if he didn’t pass up open 10 footers late in the clock instead of dishing to someone else for a contested long two. That said, how many jumpers would he have to take and make to get his man to stop cheating a step or two off of him? More than a couple, I’m guessing. A yes, as Frank mentioned it’d be nice if he could take advantage of the occasional mismatch in the post. I’d be really happy with a modest increase in usage- getting him in the 16-18 range would be great. Still, other than his first couple of seasons when he did take jumpers and iso a bit (and turn the ball over at an obscene rate) his max usage has been 14.5 and that when he was running a ton pnr’s with an all-time great point guard in CP3 so I’m doubtful he’ll even make that big of a jump.

17. flossy

Kevin Udwary: I did make assumptions and I stated them all. I wouldn’t call those assumptions highly questionable. Unlikely maybe, especially for the FT rate to stay the same with added possessions, but it all depends on the type of shots Tyson is taking.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that he’s taking shots on which his FT rate is cut in half. This would mean he would have 1.8 extra FTs a game and 5.7 extra shots. To get to a .60 TS% overall, he would have to score those extra possessions at a TS% of 0.49. Still well below league average. That would correspond to a 2pt% of 0.45 or a 3pt% of 0.30. A bit tougher, definitely, and maybe he couldn’t do it, but it wouldn’t be unbelievable.

Yeah, I think it would be pretty unbelievable if Chandler were able to take as many additional FGAs needed to equal Dwight Howard’s usage while maintaining even a .490 TS%. Why?

Last year:

3-10 ft. .389 eFG% (36 total attempts)
10-16 ft. .400 (10 total attempts)
16-23 ft. .500 (8 total attempts)

Previous year:

3-10 ft. .362 eFG% (58 total attempts)
10-16 ft. .200 (5 total attempts)
16-23 ft. .000 (3 total attempts)

Unless you think there a bunch of are uncontested shots at the rim that the Knicks are just leaving on the table, it stands to reason that Chandler would have to dramatically increase boh his FGA volume and proficiency outside his comfort zone (i.e. arm’s length from the goal). Getting up to a TS% of .490 on those kinds of shots would be nothing short of miraculous considering his skill set.

18. Frank

nicos: Not to sound like THCW but why bother- why have Chandler take a bunch of shots at a well below average TS just so his numbers look more like Dwight Howard’s. Does that really help the team?

It helps if he can shoot them at a higher percentage than our other low-percentage offense. Our O is a combination of high-efficiency shots (Tyson slams, 3 point shooting, FTs) and low-efficiency shots (ie. mid-long range 2’s). If he can shoot a wide-open 10-15 foot shot at 45%, that’d be significantly better than our overall FG% of 40% on those shots. If you consider Melo shot about 1/2 of all our 10-15 footers and (impressively) converted at 47%, it means that the rest of the crew shot about 33% on their ~2.5 shots per game from that range.

I happen to be of the notion that if you’re a professional basketball player, you should be able to hit 70% of your FTs and 45% of your wide-open jumpers from 10-15 feet. That should literally just be about practice practice practice. So I think Tyson should be able to shoot 1-2 of those per game and make about half of them. Since he only averaged about 8 non-TO possessions per game, just adding 2 wide-open Js should increase his USG% by about 25%, or up to about 16. That’s a good place for him IMHO.

19. flossy

Oops, I didn’t see that EB had posted basically exactly my comment already.

Anyway, since the peanut gallery has been accused recently of being unduly unkind to guest contributors, I just want to say that this was a good and thought/debate-provoking piece, even if I disagree with the premise.

20. flossy

iserp:
BTW, i had not realized that the pace of your team when you are on/off the court skews the real usage of the player. Is there any place that tracks real usage, i mean (player events) / (team events when you are on the court)?

It would not change too much, but i am curious.

I’d be interested to see a list of players ranked by how greatly their team’s pace changes when they are on-court relative to the team’s overall pace, or to the team’s pace when they are off the court.

I wonder if there are certain players who cause their teams to play dramatically faster or slower than they otherwise would given the rest of the roster.

21. johnno

flossy: 3-10 ft. .389 eFG% (36 total attempts)
10-16 ft. .400 (10 total attempts)
16-23 ft. .500 (8 total attempts)
Previous year:
3-10 ft. .362 eFG% (58 total attempts)
10-16 ft. .200 (5 total attempts)
16-23 ft. .000 (3 total attempts)

If you do the math, this means that he made a grand total of 44 shots from more than three feet from the rim over the last two years. In 2011-2012, he made exactly ONE shot from more than 10 feet from the rim. Wow…

22. Frank

johnno: If you do the math, this means that he made a grand total of 44 shots from more than three feet from the rim over the last two years.In 2011-2012, he made exactly ONE shot from more than 10 feet from the rim.Wow…

exactly – and we want him to add 700 more non-TO possessions to become Dwight Howard. Why don’t we try and add 50 more shots, then worry about the other SIX HUNDRED FIFTY after that. It’s ridiculous, frankly.

23. The Honorable Cock Jowles

johnno: If you do the math, this means that he made a grand total of 44 shots from more than three feet from the rim over the last two years. In 2011-2012, he made exactly ONE shot from more than 10 feet from the rim. Wow…

I guess that’s how you set all-time records for shooting efficiency: figuring out what you’re good at, and doing only that.

I don’t think the 2011 Mavericks were hurt too badly by it…

24. Frank

The Honorable Cock Jowles: I guess that’s how you set all-time records for shooting efficiency: figuring out what you’re good at, and doing only that.

I don’t think the 2011 Mavericks were hurt too badly by it…

Agreed completely. Question is if he can learn something else to be good at for the betterment of the offense as a whole. Again, he doesn’t need to have a TS of 70 from 10-15 feet. He just needs to have a TS better than whatever other shot they would get at that moment. That might just be a TS of 45-50 depending on the clock, floor situation, etc. ie. a shot clock violation, an off-the-bounce long 2 from Felton, etc..

25. Kevin Udwary Post author

The Honorable Cock Jowles: I guess that’s how you set all-time records for shooting efficiency: figuring out what you’re good at, and doing only that.

I don’t think the 2011 Mavericks were hurt too badly by it…

Absolutely. That’s part of why I dug in on this and wrote the article. Tyson is such an enigma to me when compared with most other NBA players. Why doesn’t he take any shots other than dunks and put backs? Even shooting very inefficiently a few times a game would earn him a bigger payday. I don’t know if it’s that he puts team above his own numbers, or that he has absolutely no confidence in his abilities outside of shots right at the hoop, or some other reason. I guess maybe it doesn’t really mater, he just is what he is, and maybe we should applaud him for the shots he does take, rather than criticize him for not taking more.

26. ess-dog

It’s very surprising that Chandler hasn’t worked on a baby hook yet.
A few of those a game would be nice. Add to that a couple more dive plays, and one or two short jumpers, and he could easily get 6 more attempts per game.
If that means JR has to go 6-18 instead of 6-24, then so be it.

27. johnno

The Honorable Cock Jowles: I guess that’s how you set all-time records for shooting efficiency: figuring out what you’re good at, and doing only that.
I don’t think the 2011 Mavericks were hurt too badly by it…

I agree. I just think that it’s hard to believe that, in a full NBA season, a starting center on a playoff team hit exactly one more jump shot than I did that year.

28. flossy

The Honorable Cock Jowles: I guess that’s how you set all-time records for shooting efficiency: figuring out what you’re good at, and doing only that.

I don’t think the 2011 Mavericks were hurt too badly by it…

I don’t think anyone is saying it is literally impossible to be a successful NBA team with a starting center who takes ~0.5 FGA/game outside the restricted area, but the fact that Dallas did it doesn’t mean that Chandler’s extremely narrow offensive game = instant success on any roster.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination (other posters have made this point ad nauseum also) to envision scenarios where Chandler taking a 10 foot jumper or two per game, even at an eFG% of .450, would benefit the Knicks, if for no other reason than preventing shots like a 21′ step-back jumper by JR Smith that has an eFG of, I don’t know, .250? In other words, Chandler could help the offense in ways that would also reduce his TS%.

Oh and by the way, Dallas had the #8 SRS the year they won the title. The Knicks last year were #7. The Mavericks were hardly a dominant team, more of a Cinderlla story, really.

29. johnno

ess-dog: If that means JR has to go 6-18 instead of 6-24, then so be it.

which is an optimistic way of looking at how things would work. You are assuming that the six shots that JR didn’t take would all be his misses. What if the 6 that he didn’t take were his “makes” so that, instead of going 6-24, he went 0-18…

30. thenamestsam

This is a nice post. Interesting and debate-provoking topic and it’s clear that some work went into it and that Kevin put some thought into it. I’d like to see him take the next step and look at some play-type data as some of the commenters have, but overall this is good stuff.

The Knicks were often shorthanded with regards to healthy and contributing bigs last year and I think that really took a toll on Tyson. Setting screens and rolling hard to the rim is a high energy activity which is why you can’t just try to run 4 of those per possession every time down the court. If (and it’s a huge if) the Knicks can stay healthier up front hopefully Tyson can be more rested when he does play and that might allow him to expend more energy leading to a slightly higher usage. Also agree with all the commenters saying that a jumper and a jump hook used with discretion would be huge boons to his game.

31. The Honorable Cock Jowles

flossy: I don’t think anyone is saying it is literally impossible to be a successful NBA team with a starting center who takes ~0.5 FGA/game outside the restricted area, but the fact that Dallas did it doesn’t mean that Chandler’s extremely narrow offensive game = instant success on any roste

No, but his skillset doesn’t require much “fit” from other teams. Do you have a player who can run the pick-and-roll? Good, Chandler can be effective at diving. Do you have guards that can penetrate? Yes, Chandler can be effective on the boards.

There is not an NBA team that has players who cannot do these things. They’re the fundamentals of basketball. They just do them with varying degrees of success.

There’s no need to play the but-if game with great players. James Harden went to a completely different roster and offense and put up amazing numbers. LeBron James is good no matter who he’s next to. After putting up nearly identical high efficiency numbers with three teams in five years, I’m ready to attribute Chandler’s low-volume, high-efficiency scoring to Chandler, and not individual teammates. He needs teammates, but I don’t think their play matters as much to his numbers as he does, and by a wide margin.

32. Frank

The Honorable Cock Jowles: There’s no need to play the but-if game with great players. James Harden went to a completely different roster and offense and put up amazing numbers. LeBron James is good no matter who he’s next to. After putting up nearly identical high efficiency numbers with three teams in five years, I’m ready to attribute Chandler’s low-volume, high-efficiency scoring to Chandler, and not individual teammates. He needs teammates, but I don’t think their play matters as much to his numbers as he does, and by a wide margin.

Overall agree with this — but my question is– great players rise to the occasion. And I don’t mean clutch this or clutch that. I mean that if the Heat needs Lebron to shoot a lot, he can do that. If they need him to pass a lot, he can do that. If they need him to check Tony Parker one night, Melo the next, and Kobe the next, he can do that. If you don’t want Lebron to get into the lane, you can pack the paint– but then he shoots 3’s at 40%. If you run out on him, then he’ll go by you and dunk on you, or make the right pass so that Bosh can dunk or Miller can hit a 3.

With Tyson – if you don’t want him to beat you on offense, you just follow him to the basket. Done. And that’s what Indiana did so well. What Chicago did so well. Sure, he’s still a threat on the offensive glass, but so is Reggie Evans, who while maybe undervalued, is not supposed to be as good as Tyson Chandler.

Being able to score in a few ways is part of being a great offensive player. At the end of the day, someone has to take the shots. If the average game has 85 possessions and Tyson only uses 9, then other guys have to fill up those shots. By not diversifying his game, he’s encouraging other players take what are, at times, bad shots.

33. flossy

After putting up nearly identical high efficiency numbers with three teams in five years, I’m ready to attribute Chandler’s low-volume, high-efficiency scoring to Chandler, and not individual teammates. He needs teammates, but I don’t think their play matters as much to his numbers as he does, and by a wide margin.

Chandler’s skill set doesn’t change, but whether or not he can be as effective within a team context and whether or not the narrow scope of his scoring is a liability or not from a team standpoint, surely depends on who he plays with. His limitations on offense clearly didn’t hurt the Mavericks, but what about the Bobcats, who were desperate for scoring?

Taking a small number of shots exclusively from within one’s comfort zone is a luxury. If you play next to one of the all-time great scoring/floor-stretching power forwards in the game (Dirk) or even a just very good one (Melo), you are afforded the luxury of being picky about your shot selection, as well as extra space to operate when you do attempt a shot at the basket. That is certainly not the case on every team.

Sure, on some basic level, every NBA guard can run a PnR, but within the spectrum of NBA-level skills there is a massive difference between elite players and regular ones. Why did Chandler’s TS shoot up by five percent and his ORtg go up ten points when he went from Chicago to New Orleans? Maybe something to do with that State Farm salesman I see on TV all the time?

34. EB

The Honorable Cock Jowles: No, but his skillset doesn’t require much “fit” from other teams. Do you have a player who can run the pick-and-roll? Good, Chandler can be effective at diving. Do you have guards that can penetrate? Yes, Chandler can be effective on the boards.

There is not an NBA team that has players who cannot do these things. They’re the fundamentals of basketball. They just do them with varying degrees of success.

There’s no need to play the but-if game with great players. James Harden went to a completely different roster and offense and put up amazing numbers. LeBron James is good no matter who he’s next to. After putting up nearly identical high efficiency numbers with three teams in five years, I’m ready to attribute Chandler’s low-volume, high-efficiency scoring to Chandler, and not individual teammates. He needs teammates, but I don’t think their play matters as much to his numbers as he does, and by a wide margin.

Yes but thats because generally all NBA teams run the same scheme. All the teams play a pg, 2 wings, a center and in Chandler’s case its often a stretch 4. Generally at least one of these players is high usage and low efficiency, unless they’re lucky enough to have a Lebron or Durant.

If the league went away from this set up, then Chandler would make less of a contribution. For instance, a WP super team of R. Brewer, Fields, Camby(from the season before), Chandler and Kidd. Would Chandler be as effective, or rather would they all be as effective?

35. EB

To elaborate, that team has over 1 WP/48 and has a USG% of around 68%. This team differs considerably from any actual NBA team, but if you believe in WP regardless of situation then you are committed to believing this team wins or comes close to winning 82 games.

36. The Honorable Cock Jowles

EB:
To elaborate, that team has over 1 WP/48 and has a USG% of around 68%. This team differs considerably from any actual NBA team, but if you believe in WP regardless of situation then you are committed to believing this team wins or comes close to winning 82 games.

No one believes in that. It’s like saying that bishops are better than knights regardless of situation.

37. EB

The Honorable Cock Jowles: No one believes in that. It’s like saying that bishops are better than knights regardless of situation.

You make that claim when you say that Chandler is mostly responsible for his own efficiency. The idea

The Honorable Cock Jowles: fter putting up nearly identical high efficiency numbers with three teams in five years, I’m ready to attribute Chandler’s low-volume, high-efficiency scoring to Chandler, and not individual teammates. He needs teammates, but I don’t think their play matters as much to his numbers as he does, and by a wide margin.

For one, Wins Produce does make that claim. Second, you attribute production to Lebron, Harden, and Chandler. So are you claiming that only some players are responsible for their own production and others depend on other players, or that all players are responsible for their own production?

If you take the first claim, then we need to evaluate Chandler within the context of a team and his contributions to the other players on the team. If you take the second claim, then you believe that the aforementioned team will keep up their production.

38. Z-man

flossy: Anyway, since the peanut gallery has been accused recently of being unduly unkind to guest contributors, I just want to say that this was a good and thought/debate-provoking piece, even if I disagree with the premise.

My thoughts exactly.

39. Z-man

The Honorable Cock Jowles: After putting up nearly identical high efficiency numbers with three teams in five years, I’m ready to attribute Chandler’s low-volume, high-efficiency scoring to Chandler

Nobody is disagreeing with this. Yet Chandler’s usage has remained consistently super-low. Seriously, why would CP3 not try to get Chandler 10 more shots a game? It’s because Chandler’s consistently low usage strongly suggests that he is wedged up against his ceiling of point-blank shots. Increasing his usage and maintaining a high efficiency is highly unlikely.

I’m OK with it, just not OK with calling him a great offensive player. He is a valuable asset. Yet if every player on the team had his mentality, the record for 24-second violations would be shattered. Any great team can afford to have one Chandler playing prime time minutes. Maybe 2 if you have Jordan, Kareem or LeBron. The problem we had last year was that we had like 6 Chandlers (i.e. reluctant shooters on the offensive end…Kidd, KMart, Camby, Prigioni, Brewer, even Novak to a degree. Four of those guys are gone and replaced with more willing scorers, so it might benefit Chandler and the team.

Chandler’s role is to rebound, defend and dunk the ball on follows and P&Rs. Clearly, whatever part of the average usage for his position he doesn’t use has to get used by someone else. It is just as much as an issue as that someone has to get the rebounds that Bargnani doesn’t get.

40. The Honorable Cock Jowles

Z-man: Nobody is disagreeing with this. Yet Chandler’s usage has remained consistently super-low. Seriously, why would CP3 not try to get Chandler 10 more shots a game? It’s because Chandler’s consistently low usage strongly suggests that he is wedged up against his ceiling of point-blank shots. Increasing his usage and maintaining a high efficiency is highly unlikely.

Firstly, when you have a player who consistently scores 11 points on 6 shot attempts a game, you do not have a “valuable” player. You have a player that gives you a buffer to have inefficient scorers around him and still have a productive team.

Secondly, when the Knicks take 20-25 ISO shots per game (as they did in the 2012), I’d think twice about saying anything about “natural” tendencies on the court. The ISO is a choice, not a consequence. Running a couple more PNRs per game would be a choice too, and I daresay that there is no evidence that suggests Chandler takes the perfect number of PNRs to achieve that efficiency.

41. ruruland

The Honorable Cock Jowles: Firstly, when you have a player who consistently scores 11 points on 6 shot attempts a game, you do not have a “valuable” player. You have a player that gives you a buffer to have inefficient scorers around him and still have a productive team.

Secondly, when the Knicks take 20-25 ISO shots per game (as they did in the 2012), I’d think twice about saying anything about “natural” tendencies on the court. The ISO is a choice, not a consequence. Running a couple more PNRs per game would be a choice too, and I daresay that there is no evidence that suggests Chandler takes the perfect number of PNRs to achieve that efficiency.

Wait, are you seriously arguing that ALL isolations are taken by choice, which infers preference to other shot types regardless of situation, and that the late in the clock, just-get-a-shot-up isolation attempt is a figment of the basketball watcher’s imagination?

Just when I thought we were making progress around here….

No one would be foolish enough to argue the converse here, that ALL isolations are merely a consequence of the defense and other circumstances.

You argue in absolutes. I never do. I kid. I have often conceded that Melo and the Knicks take too many isolations shots. However….

Of course it’s a mixture. Isolations are the easiest shot to take with the clock winding down because they are much less likely to result in turnovers and a shot-clock violation = they are expedient.

But let’s also remember that good isolation players create double-teams and tilts to the defense, which create open jump-shot opportunities.

We need to go over this piece by Zach Lowe again, don’t we?

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9068903/the-toronto-raptors-sportvu-cameras-nba-analytical-revolution

42. ruruland

Lowe:”Here’s something interesting: Toronto’s analytics team believes isolations — those selfish and allegedly inefficient plays — might be very good things for some offenses, and the Raps’ current data suggests possessions that end via some event that results from an isolation are about as efficient as pick-and-rolls that do the same. This is where the SportVU data can go beyond something like Synergy, a stat-tracking tool every team uses. Isolations come out as very low-efficiency on Synergy, since Synergy measures only shots that come from the player isolating one-on-one. It doesn’t precisely measure what happens when that player draws help and kicks to a spot-up shooter, and when that spot-up shooter then drives, draws more help, and kicks to an even more open shooter who knocks down a 3.

The Raptors are doing that, and they’ve found isolations in that larger sense are quite efficient — at least for teams with the right personnel. “They’re fabulous for us,” Rucker says.

• The same is true of post-ups, which are low efficiency on their own, but much higher when you include shots that come via kick-out passes to open shooters and other trickle-down events — at least according to Toronto’s data. Post-ups are also more likely than other plays to lead to some end-of-possession event, and not to the resetting of the offense.

• One of the very best isolation players in the league, by this metric, is Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. According to Toronto’s data, Crawford runs about 8.5 isolations per 36 minutes. The Clips have scored about 1.36 points per possession on those plays, which is so far above the average isolation number (about 1.02) as to be ridiculous. Interestingly, Crawford’s pick-and-rolls have been among the league’s least efficient.”

43. ruruland

The Honorable Cock Jowles: Firstly, when you have a player who consistently scores 11 points on 6 shot attempts a game, you do not have a “valuable” player. You have a player that gives you a buffer to have inefficient scorers around him and still have a productive team.

Secondly, when the Knicks take 20-25 ISO shots per game (as they did in the 2012), I’d think twice about saying anything about “natural” tendencies on the court. The ISO is a choice, not a consequence. Running a couple more PNRs per game would be a choice too, and I daresay that there is no evidence that suggests Chandler takes the perfect number of PNRs to achieve that efficiency.

The Knicks run a lot of pick and rolls. Many of their isolation shots actually begin as pick and rolls, and not vice-versa.

In order to increase the amount of shots generated out of the pick and rolls the Knicks run virtually every play down the floor, you would need more versatility in the kinds of shots the primary roller can and is willing to take.

Because Chandler is only willing to take one kind of shot, the pick and roll often fails WITHOUT RESULTING IN A SHOT ATTEMPT, which then becomes another kind of shot.

I like that you’re finally starting to think about these things though, Jowles. It’s a step in the right direction.

44. ruruland

But as usual, Flossy, Z-Man, EB, Johnno, Nicos and especially Frank nail it.

Good post though. This is the kind of thing I wish I had more time to do.

Nice job, Kevin!

45. Z-man

Thanks ruru. My larger point is that we can’t criticize Bargnain for lacking a skill that the typical seven footed should have (rebounding) and not critique Chandler for not having skills that a seven footer should have (posting up or being efficient at any shot beyond the restricted area. Both players shift the burden to other players.

46. Nick C.

I’m not sure that either of those two links has anything to do about isolations nor are they conclusive studies of them as they are being presented here. Read them and you will see dozens of references to “ghost players” as they attempt to chart what, in theory, should have been done compared to what was done. The Jamal Crawford line is an, oh by the way, paragraph at the end of an article that never mentions isolations, studies them or purports to be any sort of analysis of them as they are being presented here.

47. The Honorable Cock Jowles

ruruland: Wait, are you seriously arguing that ALL isolations are taken by choice, which infers preference to other shot types regardless of situation, and that the late in the clock, just-get-a-shot-up isolation attempt is a figment of the basketball watcher’s imagination?
Just when I thought we were making progress around here….

I didn’t think you’d have the audacity to claim that the Knicks’ 25 ISOs per game were a consequence of Chandler’s “inability to finish” (even though Chandler has the highest PPP on PNR in the league, I believe) when no other team tried more than 16 per game, but then I remembered who I was talking to.

You need to fix your tone. There’s only so much condescension I can put up with and your assumption of self-expertise is grating at best.

I know that you are the almighty ruruland, but would you mind deigning to tell us what percentage of Knicks’ possessions Chandler uses and what percentage of points he scores? From there maybe we can talk about how Chandler is responsible for an ISO rate that has been at time 50% higher than the 2nd team on the list.

48. thenamestsam

You need to fix your tone. There’s only so much condescension I can put up with and your assumption of self-expertise is grating at best.

Obviously I’m late here but just wanted to say I strongly agree with this. I really appreciate that THCJ has brought a much milder tone to recent threads and holy shit, did you just come off as an asshole Ruru. I mostly agree with you on the merits of your post but you’re looking to provoke a confrontation with your tone. That has no place.

49. ruruland

Nick C.:
I’m not sure that either of those two links has anything to do about isolations nor are they conclusive studies of them as they are being presented here. Read them and you will see dozens of references to “ghost players” as they attempt to chart what, in theory, should have been done compared to what was done. The Jamal Crawford line is an, oh by the way, paragraph at the end of an article that never mentions isolations, studies them or purports to be any sort of analysis of them as they are being presented here.

The passage referencing isolations is quoted in post #42.

Thank you.

50. ruruland

I know that you are the almighty ruruland, but would you mind deigning to tell us what percentage of Knicks’ possessions Chandler uses and what percentage of points he scores? From there maybe we can talk about how Chandler is responsible for an ISO rate that has been at time 50% higher than the 2nd team on the list.

The point here is to try to understand what constitutes “using” a possession.

Are Chandler and Felton “using” a possession when they take 10-12 seconds to try to run a high pnr, which results in Felton driving back out to the 3-point line to re-initiate the offense?

I would consider that sort of scenario having a very large negative affect on the rest of the offensive possession. Whoever ends up “using” the possession will be forced into a lower percentage attempt, which is more likely to be self-created.

I’d love to go back and break down all of the Knicks half-court offensive possessions to determine how many began as pick and rolls and finished as isolations, and how how many began as isolations.

Let’s remember that the Knicks often played guys who were rather poor in pick and rolls. Jason Kidd comes to mind.

The Knicks had limited playmaking and good spot-up shooting last year.

That kind of offense is probably going to be a bit tilted towards isolations, which as the Raptors analytics showed, are really good at creating spot-ups shots.

51. DRed

That kind of offense is probably going to be a bit tilted towards isolations, which as the Raptors analytics showed, are really good at creating spot-ups shots.

No, that’s not what it showed. At least not according to the articles you linked to.

And how often do Chandler and Felton take 12 seconds to run a p-n-r? Do you ever watch basketball games?

52. nicos

DRed:

And how often do Chandler and Felton take 12 seconds to run a p-n-r?Do you ever watch basketball games?

The Knicks didn’t exactly play at a D’Antoni pace last year- by the time they brought the ball up and ran their initial sets the shot clock was often around 10-12. Prigioni especially was very, very deliberate- resetting and running another set often wasn’t really an option. I do think the Knicks started to many possession with iso’s- especially with JR when he played with the second unit- but pace was a factor in how many plays turned into iso’s at the end of the clock.

53. DRed

nicos: The Knicks didn’t exactly play at a D’Antoni pace last year- by the time they brought the ball up and ran their initial sets the shot clock was often around 10-12.Prigioni especially was very, very deliberate- resetting and running another set often wasn’t really an option.I do think the Knicks started to many possession with iso’s- especially with JR when he played with the second unit- but pace was a factor in how many plays turned into iso’s at the end of the clock.

If you click on the first article ruru mentions, you’ll see an example of the Knicks running their offense. We get the ball to Felton in the frontcourt with about 17 seconds left on the shot clock. He and Tyson run a side pick and roll that doesn’t work. It takes 3 seconds. 4 seconds later, Tyson and Carmelo run a side pick and roll that results in a Kidd 3. it also takes about 3 seconds to run.

54. ruruland

DRed: No, that’s not what it showed.At least not according to the articles you linked to.

And how often do Chandler and Felton take 12 seconds to run a p-n-r?Do you ever watch basketball games?

Uh, Chandler first runs down to the lane, Felton calls the high pnr, and then Chandler takes a few seconds to read the defense and set the screen. It takes a couple of seconds to get the pnr to the rim, and then another few ticks for Felton to come back when nothing is there.

Sometimes there is a delay on the screeners end, too.

55. ruruland

DRed: No, that’s not what it showed.At least not according to the articles you linked to.

I’ll post it AGAIN:
”Here’s something interesting: Toronto’s analytics team believes isolations — those selfish and allegedly inefficient plays — might be very good things for some offenses, and the Raps’ current data suggests possessions that end via some event that results from an isolation are about as efficient as pick-and-rolls that do the same. This is where the SportVU data can go beyond something like Synergy, a stat-tracking tool every team uses. Isolations come out as very low-efficiency on Synergy, since Synergy measures only shots that come from the player isolating one-on-one. It doesn’t precisely measure what happens when that player draws help and kicks to a spot-up shooter, and when that spot-up shooter then drives, draws more help, and kicks to an even more open shooter who knocks down a 3.

The Raptors are doing that, and they’ve found isolations in that larger sense are quite efficient — at least for teams with the right personnel. “They’re fabulous for us,” Rucker says.

• The same is true of post-ups, which are low efficiency on their own, but much higher when you include shots that come via kick-out passes to open shooters and other trickle-down events — at least according to Toronto’s data. Post-ups are also more likely than other plays to lead to some end-of-possession event, and not to the resetting of the offense.”

56. DRed

That does not mean isos are really good at creating spot up shots. It means that at least according to what Zach Lowe was told by the Toronto analytics team (who, I shouldn’t have to point out, could be wrong or may be mis-stating their case), iso’s may be about as effective as pick and rolls for a team with the right sort of personnel running the right sort of offense.

57. Kevin Udwary Post author