Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Interview with Dean Oliver

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before things get wholly playoff-tastic ’round these parts, for your infotainment, ruruland conducted an interview with Dean Oliver, a pioneer in sports analytics and the author of Basketball on Paper, the groundbreaking tome on basketball analytics. Oliver also spent five successful years working in the front office of the Denver Nuggets. He currently plies his trade at ESPN, where he led the team that developed Total QBR–a new method for evaluating quarterbacks–and is responsible for building sports analytics that are in use across the company. His work has been published in academic journals, highlighted in diverse popular publications and  he appears in numerous televised segments. 

Needless to say, we’re thrilled he agreed to chat with Nick about basketball, advanced analytics, the Knicks and other matters of great import.

 

Nick Ruland: I understand that you’ve either attended or been a panelist for each of the seven MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conferences. What do you think is the most promising or interesting research?

Dean Oliver: Well, I think the player tracking and the ball tracking are the two most likely areas that will change the way we think about sports.I think there are a lot of steps involved to really turn that into information. Much of it is just data. There have been some research projects that have shed some light on it, but we aren’t even at the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot to be done to process that into useful information. But that’s where the promise is.

Nick: Did you read Zache Lowe’s story on how the Raptors use SportsVu? It talked about the Raptors use of isolations, which according to the video site Synergy, are low efficiency plays, but the Raptors use isolations to generate other efficient shots in the offense. What kind of affect do you think this kind of analysis has on NBA organizations?

Dean: It should have an effect. There is no doubt that it should. Of course there are a lot of ways to interpret the data that is there with analysis like that,and of course it depends on who is guarding you and your ability to run an isolation as well. A lot of teams put the ball in the hands of their best player and it limits the challenge of communication and coordination. Isolations in many way are easy plays for coaches to draw up, though there are variations of it, but it is giving a lot of power to your best player. That can be useful, but it can be predictable if you’re doing it a lot.

Nick: How did the Nuggets and/or you view isolation plays during your time in Denver?

Dean: Isolations force the player to make the right decision. There are guys who can make the decision with the right amount of time. Some of it is individual ability, but a lot of it is playing with a guy who understands where teammates are supposed to be and how the defense is supposed to react, like if the double team comes from the baseline or the wing. But defenses will mix those things up, especially in the playoffs, because you are playing the same guys seven times. In the regular season it’s harder to make adaptations. Teams tend to do things they are pretty good at. But in the playoffs, things change a lot, and players understand a lot better the other teams plays because they are not coming off back to back where you have to do ‘this or that’ against another team. They had to respond to Dewayne Wade last night and tonight it’s Melo. And they have to deal with the differences between those guys. The time to make adjustments and the ability to make adjustments is better in the playoffs, for both offense and defense. Then it becomes how well can you make adjustments. A defense will really force a player to potentially get out of his comfort zone.

Nick: So I guess playoff offenses that are varied in terms of ways they can attack a defense are better suited to making adjustments and being one step ahead of playoff defenses?

Dean: I don’t know that there is a general rule of thumb for offense and defense. It’s more the sophistication of the coach and the players executing that in terms of their ability to adapt. If there is a rule of thumb for offense or defense, I haven’t necessarily seen it. We all know the rule that defense wins championships. That just means in the regular season your offense better be pretty dang good, but in the playoffs you better be able to work hard and make those adjustments. That’s where you see that cliche come into play.

Nick: We have a lot of Wins Produced advocates on our site. According to their metrics, Ronnie Brewer is a more valuable and productive player than Carmelo this year in 1600 fewer minutes. Needless to say, while many find this notion highly implausible, Berri’s analysis has been source of quite a few lively debates. I’d love to hear your general take on having team stats being parceled out to individuals, and how useful that information is when it yields that kind of comparison?

Dean: Well, I don’t know, there are multiple ways of doing it, depends on how you are parceling out some of the defensive stuff correctly. By a lot of the metrics I look at, Melo has had one of his best seasons. Even on a per minute basis I don’t have Brewer better than ‘Melo. And one of the interesting things is you look at these, I mean consider the former Orlando Magic as they were constructed last year. Last year wasn’t even their best defensive season, they were dominant and with fairly similar personnel (from years past). You look at how their former players have been this first go-round in the league (outside of Orlando), Earl Clark, Ryan Anderson, Howard, Jason Richardson, and then just look at the guys that are on Orlando, and if you look at the sum of their parts last year and how good they were defensively, and again, they were not as good as they used to be, and I think every single one of them is worse this year (statistically.) So it’s not a straightforward thing. Defense is a cooperative, collaborative effort that involves the coach designing things and coordinated by the team. But it is the skills working together and the cooperation and coordination of those skills. So defense, you wish you could say could put a great defensive player on a team and he’d be great, but it’s not an additive process.

Nick: Is there a metric that picks up on those interaction effects that you see or use?

Dean: It’s not a simple metric, it’s a model of how you put people together. If you are looking for a single number it’s essentially impossible. It’s hinged upon communication and how skilled and how well it fits. It is a simulation of a team, not a single metric.

Nick: In your book, Basketball on Paper, you talk about a metric you developed called the Skills Curve, which shows that for every point of usage, a player adds .6 points to the individual per 100 possessions and .25 points to the team per 100 possessions. In regards to the Knicks, who have low usage players like Jason Kidd (who pretty much only takes spot up shots), Tyson Chandler, (the dive man who also limits his offense to alley-oops and offensive rebounds) and, on the other end of the spectrum, you have Melo, whose efficiency isn’t amazing. Where do you see guys who take a lot of shots playing with guys who can’t take many shots or choose not to?

Dean: It’s the system we are trying to develop, right? You can have single metrics but they won’t tell you how they’d perform in certain environments. We try to capture a little bit of that (usage/efficiency trade-off). And it is useful if you have those high efficiency low usage guys who can play with someone who has high usage and at least not terrible efficiency, and Melo is usually at least very solid at getting the ball in the basket, he is not as efficient as some of the others. And so it’s about that fit. You are creating the team. It is not the sum of its parts, it’s does that fit in there?

Nick: So it’s about the value of a player in a team context?

Dean: In my mind, yes, that is what you area really trying to capture. I think it is the best way to build a team. If we are trying to build a team, and we have parts that we generally want to keep, and the parts that come in that fit best with that, that is what is most important. There may be guys on another team and they are terrible, but they can come to you, I mean, Steve Novak has been on how many different teams, and he is in a situation where he can play off Melo and JR really well.

Nick: Are the analytics guys gaining more influence in the way organizations and coaches make decisions, obviously that trend-line is going up, but how do you think has changed from just three or four year ago?

Dean: Well, obviously I have been in the game for a long time, and its dramatically different than when I first entered, and over the last three or four years we have seen a rather significant boom in teams adopting it to some level. I don;t know the level to which things get accepted in the front office and with coaching. Frankly the Toronto story was somewhat a surprise. I didn’t know how much they were using it. I know Case, and he would always listen to the group, but you’d never know how much they were doing or anything like that. There are things beyond my knowledge, but I know from various people of course, that they are having more and more say. That doesn’t meant that they are getting their way, but that’s okay, because a lot of time it;s about the conversation and producing the right evidence. Sometimes the evidence is not convincing but it focuses the conversation so that you can get at the right information, whether it is quantitative, video, interview information with different coaches. And that is what you want, to make decisions more efficient, whether it is a single number or based upon some uncertain numbers focusing a conversation.

Nick: How much do you see the analytics side influencing scouts and how they do their job and player evaluation and what they look at? Do those two groups butt heads quite a bit or are they starting to come together?

Dean: At my time in Denver I thought it was a very productive relationship. I didn’t think we but heads in non-productive ways. There are ways you should butt heads, it’s productive. When you are trying to make decisions from a quantitative method, you are trying to bring in things related to the information you are already using. It’s productive because we are asking different questions. What you’re saying sounds opposite of what I’m saying, but maybe we just need to put them on the right playing surface. There is a translation from numbers to words, and there a lot of different ways to say things. Words important and good can be intermixed. They aren’t the same. That is the challenge, when things look opposed to each other when they are not.

Nick: Are their proprietary metrics/models/quantitative measures that organizations have that only they have and developed over the years?

Dean: I would say a significant number of teams, investing in more than one person, have proprietary measures. I have plenty of things I did that I haven’t released and probably never will. Most teams have people doing a lot of that. Basketball on Paper was a framework, with a lot of details based upon decisions, and those details can change and lead to different questions. It was also written before there was a lto of play-by-play data out there, so the framework still works, but there is a lot more detail you pour into it now.

Nick: For the average fan, what is the best metric to understand the game that is publicly available?

Dean: When you talk about an average fan a lot of times they are concerned about who is best, but I don’t know, I’m always of mixed feelings with single value metrics. They can be useful. I tend to use win shares because of the public things that are out there it is most closely aligned with things I have done. That said, there aren’t significant difference between that and some of the other things out there. P.E.R. and some of the linear weights things are pretty different. I tend to stray away from those, but I also use them in different ways, a lot of times for setting a market value. but it depends.

Nick: And market value because guys that score are seen to be more valuable?

Dean: Well, linear weights is kind of what is in the NBA mindset for many years. And you are having the evolution of how the market gets set. Dave Berri did something that showed the value of just scoring is coming down. The marketplace is changing and you always want to keep track of it.

Nick: Looking at the playoffs, you have a serious contrast of styles between Denver and New York. We talked a little bit about defenses being able to adjust, play harder and execute in the playoffs. But what about a fastbreaking team that offensively uses a lot of dribble-hand offs and doesn’t have a  go-to player, I know this might be a tired question, but do you think that makes a difference in the half-court offense for the playoffs?

Dean: Yeah, I think the Nuggets rely a lot on transition. And transition is one of those things that when you get into the playoffs, defenses find ways to take away transition offense. You have to have a half-court offense that you can rely upon. And the Nuggets, losing Gallo, that takes away a weapon even though they have some diverse weapons, but I think that is going to be a challenge. But it is amazing right now to see them survive without him and Ty. But it is a different, George is a very good coach, having seen what he can do with an injured team, and he makes the most of it. I thin kit is easier to do that in the regular season. I discount some of the wins that are happening now in terms of predictive ability for the playoffs because they have established, I think Ty being out, if he returns, also simultaneously benefits the Nuggets, because the teams preparing for him right now are watching tape without him and forget what he can do.

Nick: How flexible do you think Karl is in terms of changing an offense and defense around different kinds of teams?

Dean: He has been flexible. I mean he has the star system to lean on. Does he prefer the balanced, the guys he has now? Um, yeah. In the sense that they all share the ball constantly, that is just his philosophical thing. But he also enjoyed having Melo. where you have situations where you need to have one guy pick it up, he enjoyed that aspect, too. But I think he comes from a background where the balanced way is the ideal way to play.

Nick: Do you think there is some validity to the criticism of Karl’s offenses lacking structure?

Dean: I don’t know. I haven’t thought enough about it. I also think it needs to be recognized how strong the West has been. I mean, 50 wins and we squeeze into the playoffs as the eight seed? Whew. It has been ridiculously strong the lpast however many years, and I actually think it has weakened some this year. The question is a valid one, but I can’t say I have a an answer for it.

Nick: What about this Knicks team, do they remind you of the 2011 Mavericks?

Dean: I do not know if any comparison to the Mavericks is fair. I don’t know if anyone saw that coming. That was a team that wasn’t supposed to win against the Heat, against the Thunder, the Spurs. I don’t think they were supposed to win all those games. You only make that comparison if the Knicks are beating the teams they aren’t supposed to. In some ways you can say they are comparable, a style comparison, Dirk did a lot of things and was a tremendous mid-range guy who could kill you. I did analysis and his mid-range jumpers were the most important in the league that I have seen in many years. Melo has stretched his game to the 3-point line and that has helped. But with Kidd and Chandler there are some similarities and they are essentially doing the same thing they were before. Both guys continue to contribute, even if Kidd has had a bit off a drop off.

Nick: And with regards to mid-range shots. Are we starting to come back full circle where, now that all offenses go for those shots every time down, defenses are doing everything they can to defend them, and less to defend mid-range shots? Could mid-range shots eventually become valuable again?

Dean: Again, it comes down to team context. Layups and 3-pointers are good because they force teams to spread out. If those are your two threats, it’s hard to deal with them, because you have to help and recover and the recovery distance is much longer. So the mid-range shots in most situations are not the best shots. But if there are good defenses — the good defenses the Mavericks were able to exploit — they are good defenses customized and adapted to take away three point shots and layups, they give up the mid-range. So if you are that great player facing defenses that are used to giving the mid-range and you can make the open mid-range, there is a match-up advantage you have. It’s not necessarily a long-term advantage.

Nick: How valuable do you think the guys are today that come in low on the skills curve but are efficient in very particular areas, as opposed to say, guys with a lot of skills but aren’t great at anything? Where is the market moving in relation to both kinds of players?

Dean: It still comes down to the teams that are the best fits setting the market. As long as there is one team willing to bid for someone’s service because you fit them really well, that is where the market gets set. The other teams that don’t have a fit, well, for them the guy might be a terrible player. From an economics perspective it is not the most efficient because it’s not about just money you’re talking about fit.

Nick: What about (generally speaking) guys who lack the skills to take shots most players at their position can take — does that hurt a team in ways that aren’t quantified in publicly available metrics?

Dean: Yeah, certainly, having guys on the floor who only have on skill set in terms of shooting, whether it is Chandler or Novak, which are completely opposite skills, you have to have the system in there to get value out of them because they can definitely hurt you offensively. It’s amazing because they both have essentially one great skill — one finishes at the basket and one finishes a long way from the basket.

Nick: What do you think about the idea of the Kobe assist, or the guys like Rose and Iverson who penetrate a lot and seem to create more opportunities for offensive rebounds for their teammates?

Dean: It definitely exits. When I wrote the book and looked at offensive rebounding off of twos and threes, and the whole myth that was busted that threes are easier for offense to rebound. At that time we didn’t have all the detailed information. But it was like, shoot, twos, these layups, you draw help defense and what does help defense do? It makes weakside rebounding available. It is definitely there, it is an important effect you should try to account for. So guys like Iverson deserve a little more credit for what they did in their careers. A little more. It’s not going to change you from one tier to the next tier.

Nick: Would you like to get back into an NBA front office one day?

Dean: I certainly miss the competition and I enjoy the team I have here at ESPN but I miss the competition. Whether I go back to an NBA team or a football team, I have certainly been doing a lot of football, too. I think the football side has helped make me think of basketball in different ways. The situations aspect of football, football is very situational, and I think in basketball it’s easy to get a lot of things right because there are so many plays. But you can overlook situations, but by having to deal with situations all the time in football, it forces me to understand the importance of situational stuff on the basketball side.

Nick: Last one–Where would you rank Anthony as a player?

Dean: Top 20, and I’m pleased to see it. The ability is there. So many of my old guys from Denver are in New York. Obviously Ken and Marcus and J.R.

Nick: Mark Warkentien must have a lot of influence on that.

Dean: I don’t think it’s a pure coincidence (laughs)….

77 comments on “An Interview with Dean Oliver

  1. Nick C.

    Great interview. Obviously you covered a lot of ground and he isn’t as invested in some of our pet arguments we have here but it was good to hear an actual response from someone who NBA people paid to deal with these things.

  2. Frank

    Great great stuff ruru — really appreciate you going the extra mile getting someone of his stature to enrich this site. I especially liked the question about whether midrange J’s are becoming undervalued. There was an article about Portland’s analytics guy a while back — and how he figured that against Indiana, midrange J’s were probably the most efficient shots — just goes to show that nothing is absolute, and every situation is different.

  3. jon abbey

    sorry, Dean, THCJ thinks the ‘Kobe assist’ is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard, or words to that effect when I talked about it here over the summer. :)

    nice interview, ruru, thanks.

  4. ruruland Post author

    Thanks guys. Yeah, I was surprised he was as forthcoming and gave me as much time as he did.

    I’m going to try to get 5 minutes with Warkentein/Grunwald and then Melo, hopefully in-between playoff series.

    Who else would be interesting that I could try to go after?

  5. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    “I use Win Shares because it’s closest to what I have done.”

    Come on, Oliver.

  6. Brian Cronin

    I dunno, he follows that up by pointing out that he stays away from PER, which follows with the thinking that PER is the most openly flawed of the measurement systems (whatever problems people have with Wins Produced, it doesn’t have the same plainly visible mathematical flaw that PER does), which I figured you would like to hear! Here’s a fascinating question – do you think Memphis even pays attention to PER?

    Also, since I like Win Shares the best, I am greedily pleased to see that he does, too. ;)

  7. Brian Cronin

    Argh, in the first part of his Annual Trade Value column, Simmons floated the idea that paying JR $12 million to be your second best player is not a terrible idea. Shhhhhh, Simmons! Don’t give anyone any ideas!!

  8. Frank

    Brian Cronin:
    Argh, in the first part of his Annual Trade Value column, Simmons floated the idea that paying JR $12 million to be your second best player is not a terrible idea. Shhhhhh, Simmons! Don’t give anyone any ideas!!

    Yeah if we get outbid for both JR and Copeland, we could be really hurting next year. We’d only have the mini-MLE to try and make up for that. It may be smart for Grunwald to hit JR and Cope at 12:01 AM when FA starts with full early bird (JR) and mini-MLE (Cope). It’s one thing to bid against yourself — another to let these guys hit the market when you can be easily outbid. Then make Kenyon play for the non-bird 20% raise. As much as I like him, we can probably make up his production with other vet’s minimum type guys.

    Trouble with JR and Cope – if we’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs, one or both of those guys are going to have to come up huge– thereby increasing their FA value a la March Madness Millionaires.

  9. yellowboy90

    The knicks need to start looking for some lucrative off the court deals for JR. A fat shoe contract. Apparel endorsements. Furniture, Mattress, and exercise equipment endorsements. Get him a few movie cameos and some off off off off off off Broadway acting deals. I don’t care. lol.

  10. llcoolbp

    ruruland:
    Thanks guys. Yeah, I was surprised he was as forthcoming and gave me as much time as he did.

    I’m going to try to get 5 minutes with Warkentein/Grunwald and then Melo, hopefully in-between playoff series.

    Who else would be interesting that I could try to go after?

    Great interview ruru. Pretty stoked if you could bring us Melo and grunwald to this humble sight. Any chance you could interview woody?

  11. BigBlueAL

    Its pretty ridiculous that the Knicks can be so easily outbid for a veteran like JR who has been on the team for 2 seasons and for someone like Cope who no other team had probably even heard of before the Knicks signed him. Stupid CBA.

  12. Douglas

    yellowboy90:
    The knicks need to start looking for some lucrative off the court deals for JR. A fat shoe contract. Apparel endorsements. Furniture, Mattress, and exercise equipment endorsements. Get him a few movie cameos and some off off off off off off Broadway acting deals. I don’t care. lol.

    Here’s our ace in the hole: Guaranteeing his little brother Chris the 15th spot on the roster next season. ;)

  13. AvonBarksdale

    A Glen Grunwald interview would be crazy, especially discussing the contracts for JR/Cope. If we have the playoff run we all want to have it’s gonna be tough to keep JR, i’m hopeful about the other incentives and once they do the canyon of heroes in the city celebration how could you leave? The situation should be just as dramatic as the lin stuff, i believe kenyon, cope, jr could have great
    all star performances.

  14. Brian Cronin

    Hell, offer a starting 2 guard job to Chris Smith if that’s what it’ll take! :)

    Seriously, though, I think if they give Cope the mini-MLE, that’ll be enough to keep him. Cope is 29 years old, ya know? But it definitely does bug that someone can sign him to an offer sheet of $3,000,0001 and the Knicks would be unable to match it. Argh!

    The JR thing is scarier, though. If guys like Simmons are throwing around numbers like $12 million like it’s no thing…that’s not good.

  15. yellowboy90

    Brian Cronin:
    Hell, offer a starting 2 guard job to Chris Smith if that’s what it’ll take! :)

    Seriously, though, I think if they give Cope the mini-MLE, that’ll be enough to keep him. Cope is 29 years old, ya know? But it definitely does bug that someone can sign him to an offer sheet of $3,000,0001 and the Knicks would be unable to match it. Argh!

    The JR thing is scarier, though. If guys like Simmons are throwing around numbers like $12 million like it’s no thing…that’s not good.

    If Ben Gordon got that much well… JR playoff play is key. I hope he plays out of his mind gets the Knicks a championship then he gets his Huge deal. :)

    Also, what is the tax apron and if the Knicks were under it how would that affect the money the Knicks could give JR?

  16. Brian Cronin

    The tax apron is $74 million. The Knicks will be over it no matter what next season. It doesn’t affect what they can offer JR, though. They can only offer him the MLE, which is $5 million. However, if they give him a two-year deal with the second year a player option, they can re-sign him next season for however much they want to pay him. Which is a good sales pitch. But I doubt it is as good of a sales pitch as “We can pay you $50 million over 5 years, which you’ll get even if you suck next year and/or are injured.” The Knicks can’t beat that.

  17. johnlocke

    That would be amazing. But when was the last time Glen gave any interview of any kind..even insubstantial? I think Dolan keeps him reigned in. Good job with the interview ruru. I found Dean’s point about defense to be interesting…basically that interaction effects , playing a role are even more important on defense than on offense. When he says Melo is in the Top 20, I’m sure he’s accounting for defense as well as offense…on offense alone I’m sure he’d be Top 10, curious.

    AvonBarksdale:
    A Glen Grunwald interview would be crazy, especially discussing the contracts for JR/Cope. If we have the playoff run we all want to have it’s gonna be tough to keep JR, i’m hopeful about the other incentives and once they do the canyon of heroes in the city celebration how could you leave? The situation should be just as dramatic as the lin stuff, i believe kenyon, cope, jr could have great
    all star performances.

  18. ruruland Post author

    johnlocke:
    That would be amazing. But when was the last time Glen gave any interview of any kind..even insubstantial? I think Dolan keeps him reigned in. Good job with the interview ruru. I found Dean’s point about defense to be interesting…basically that interaction effects , playing a role are even more important on defense than on offense. When he says Melo is in the Top 20, I’m sure he’s accounting for defense as well as offense…on offense alone I’m sure he’d be Top 10, curious.

    Yeah, given that he was definitely a proponent of building around Melo on offense given his knowledge and research, I’d say you’re right.

    He wasn’t sure where to rank him and hesitated to put him into the top 10, likely because of defense. But anyone who worked in the Nuggets organization knows Melo can play good defense. The fact that Melo doesn’t do that consistently probably keeps him out of the top 10 in Oliver’s mind, but I didn’t clarify anything on the record and he’s obviously much more interested in how players fit their respective team than numerical ranking.

  19. prezs2reprsntme

    the ace in the hole is that JR would never play in a small market. Not in his personality. Not a chance he plays for Minnesota or some shit, even for 10-11 million. haha.

    The team to worry about, regarding JR, is Atlanta. Theyre gonna have money, lou williams gonna be out for at least 1/3 of the year, Smith will be gone, and they’ll have money to spend, and ATown is a lively city for celebs like JR. No other team fits the description…well, Chicago does, but theyre too cheap to pony up.

  20. Brian Cronin

    I don’t buy the idea that JR would turn down $10 million from a small market. $7? sure. But not $10 and certainly not $12 million (Damn you for even making that sound like a possibility, Simmons!).

  21. Frank

    prezs2reprsntme:
    the ace in the hole is that JR would never play in a small market. Not in his personality. Not a chance he plays for Minnesota or some shit, even for 10-11 million. haha.

    The team to worry about, regarding JR, is Atlanta. Theyre gonna have money, lou williams gonna be out for at least 1/3 of the year, Smith will be gone, and they’ll have money to spend, and ATown is a lively city for celebs like JR. No other team fits the description…well, Chicago does, but theyre too cheap to pony up.

    Atlanta is definitely a possibility from financial standpoint but I somehow highly doubt JR leaves Woodson to go play for Larry Drew- a guy who by all accounts Woodson detests now after Drew apparently went behind his back and bad mouthed Woodson to ownership. I can see him leaving for more $ but not burning bridges with Woody like that.

  22. ruruland Post author

    The 5.8 million the Knicks can offer might be bit deceiving when considering endorsements that Smith can get and already has that he can’t get in any other market.

    He said this in October: “I wanted to show it’s not about the money,’’ Smith said. “It’s about the winning. I’ve been in this league nine years and I haven’t won anything. Sacrifices off the court and on the court have to take place. It’s a huge way to show it. If we win, it will all takes care of itself. If we win, the endorsement deals and big contracts will come.’’

    He’s holding a summer basketball camp in NY, too.

    http://www.athletepromotions.com/blog/the-new-york-knicks-jr-smith-to-hold-a-summer-basketball-camp/9115/

    Smith’s thrived in a very specific set of circumstances, and has only truly succeeded with one NBA coach.

    While Smith’s upside might dictate 10-12, there are mitigating circumstances, lack of track record, relatively middling statistics that all favor the Knicks and smith re-uniting.

    Chris Smith, family, coach, city, team, teammates, arena, endorsement opps. overall fit….

    Of all the teams willing to offer Smith 10-12, and I don’t think there will be more than a couple at most, that is a lot to overcome.

  23. ruruland Post author

    This is speculation, but if Rose gets $200 million from Adidas, I’m sure Shumpert gets at least a few million for his deal.

    Smith, who already has a couple small deals, just needs a Shumpert deal to make up the difference (if not go beyond what he’d get anywhere else).

    If the Knicks go far and Smith plays well and then re-signs, he becomes an extremely marketable player.

    When’s the last time you saw a Hawks player on a commercial?

    They just don’t perform well locally or nationally in terms of ratings.

  24. prezs2reprsntme

    i agree i think he’ll stay but im just saying, IF he left, it would be ATL. Lou will has a Club IN HIS HOUSE. I think JR could be ok with that lifestyle. lol.

  25. ruruland Post author

    prezs2reprsntme:
    i agree i think he’ll stay but im just saying, IF he left, it would be ATL. Lou will has a Club IN HIS HOUSE. I think JR could be ok with that lifestyle. lol.

    I think you’re underestimating his father’s influence. I think he’ll be strongly advised against going to a place where his partying actually increases.

  26. Z-man

    OK, so nothing in basketball would make me happier than beating the Celts in the first round, and nothing would be more horrific than osing to them. I feel like I did back in the day vs. the Heat and Pacers. It’s only basketball, right? Like, I can’t get too wrapped up in it, right? I do have a wife, kids, a job, right?

  27. Z-man

    I feel like Indiana Jones when he opened the underground chamber containing the Ark and saw the snakes: Celtics, why did it have to be Celtics?

  28. johnlocke

    No, fuck the Celtics! (With all due respect to Boston where I spent my grad school yrs)

    Z-man:
    OK, so nothing in basketball would make me happier than beating the Celts in the first round, and nothing would be more horrific than osing to them. I feel like I did back in the day vs. the Heat and Pacers. It’s only basketball, right? Like, I can’t get too wrapped up in it, right? I do have a wife, kids, a job, right?

  29. Z-man

    Hey Ruru, GREAT interview. I did feel that Oliver is a bit all over the place. In my opinion, he seems to confirm that stats like WS and WP, for all their usefulness, are still relatively unreliable and are only useful as part of a larger discussion that must include interaction effects. He seemed to confirm that video analysis will eventually be far superior to box score stats-based metrics, and that WS or WP might provide some perspective to prevent overreaching based on video breakdown.

    For example, he seems to imply that a player like Brewer (or Chandler or Novak) is valuable ONLY if you have a team that masks his deficiencies.

    Yet, at the same time, he calls Carmelo a top-20 player, but doesn’t specify where in that top-20 he falls. I sensed some bias there, and wish that you pressed him a bit more.

  30. ruruland Post author

    Z-man:
    effects. He seemed to confirm that video analysis will eventually be far superior to box score stats-based metrics, and that WS or WP might provide some perspective to prevent overreaching based on video breakdown.

    The problem is that I actually asked specifically about Melo’s value when he worked with the Nuggets and he could not respond on the record. (See my last post in this thread about Oliver’s Melo top 20 remark).

    I actually don’t think he honestly knows or cares to numerically rank the top players in the NBA because he believes value and both latent and manifest ability is tied to everything else — system, coach, teammates, utilization.

    I would suspect that Oliver believes that Melo is a top 10 player in certain circumstances, like those he’s in NY, but that if you were to tally all of his attributes and list them out, he may not be in the top 10.

    But I did not get the impression that Oliver thought a ranking is of much value or helps one understand his actual value.

    Would he still be a top 10 player if his scoring and ability to attract defense was not as important to the team’s construction?

    No one knows yet because he’s never played in that situation (but likely will later in his career).

    How will Melo’s contributions change when he isn’t asked to be an extreme usage focal point?

    Can he increase his defensive value commensurate with the decrease in offensive value?

    No one knows.

    You go Paul, Durant, Lebron, and after that i think you can make an argument for the next 15 best players in pretty much any order.

    He’s not a single metric guy like he might have been when he started.

  31. ruruland Post author

    Z-man:
    Hey Ruru, GREAT interview. I did feel that Oliver is a bit all over the place. He seemed to confirm that video analysis will eventually be far superior to box score stats-based metrics, and that WS or WP might provide some perspective to prevent overreaching based on video breakdown.

    Yet, at the same time, he calls Carmelo a top-20 player, but doesn’t specify where in that top-20 he falls. I sensed some bias there, and wish that you pressed him a bit more.

    “In my opinion, he seems to confirm that stats like WS and WP, for all their usefulness, are still relatively unreliable and are only useful as part of a larger discussion that must include interaction effects. ”

    “For example, he seems to imply that a player like Brewer (or Chandler or Novak) is valuable ONLY if you have a team that masks his deficiencies.”

    Those are the important parts. I didn’t transcribe every single question or response because of redundancy issues, but he mentioned that one player can be a great player with a lot of value in one situation, and much less so in another.

    He would not expound on the models he uses/used to break that down.

  32. yellowboy90

    ruruland:
    This is speculation, but if Rose gets $200 million from Adidas, I’m sure Shumpert gets at least a few million for his deal.

    Smith, who already has a couple small deals, just needs a Shumpert deal to make up the difference (if not go beyond what he’d get anywhere else).

    If the Knicks go far and Smith plays well and then re-signs, he becomes an extremely marketable player.

    When’s the last time you saw a Hawks player on a commercial?

    They just don’t perform well locally or nationally in terms of ratings.

    The endorsement route is the key. When I first saw Shump in the adidas commercial I wondered how did Shump get that. Seriously, how many role players get a big time spot like that?

  33. BigBlueAL

    I dont really care if Melo is considered a Top 5/10/20 player in the NBA. All I know is that he is a very, very good player who was the focal point offensively for a Top 3 offense that won 54 games. Also he is fun as hell to watch when he is scoring 40+ points on the other team.

  34. Z-man

    ruruland: “In my opinion, he seems to confirm that stats like WS and WP, for all their usefulness, are still relatively unreliable and are only useful as part of a larger discussion that must include interaction effects. ”

    “For example, he seems to imply that a player like Brewer (or Chandler or Novak) is valuable ONLY if you have a team that masks his deficiencies.”

    Those are the important parts. I didn’t transcribe every single question or response because of redundancy issues, but he mentioned that one player can be a great player with a lot of value in one situation, and much less so in another.

    He would not expound on the models he uses/used to break that down.

    I would argue that Brewer is a liability in almost any 12+ minute situation. Individual defense is mitigated by effective screening, etc., so unless you are talking about all-time great defenders, having no offensive skills at all can’t be masked for very long. Jeffries, Brewer, and Birdman can only be successful with guys like LeBron and Wade masking their deficiencies. Same goes for guys like Faried and Evans, although less so because rebounds create/prolong possessions.

  35. Z-man

    BigBlueAL:
    I dont really care if Melo is considered a Top 5/10/20 player in the NBA.All I know is that he is a very, very good player who was the focal point offensively for a Top 3 offense that won 54 games.Also he is fun as hell to watch when he is scoring 40+ points on the other team.

    What is great about Melo is that he is capable of being the best player on the floor on any given night, no matter who is on the other team. He just doesn’t do it as consistently as LeBron or Durant, but he is fully capable.

  36. Z-man

    Back to the Celts, I think we need to attack them at PG, Avery Bradley is simply not up to the task. The Celts are much like we were last year, simply no answer at PG. In th halfcourt, that’s a very big deal. It’s hard to believe that nobody seems to be talking much about Rondo being out, he was the Celt’s bet player in the playoffs last year. Not to mention that their bench absolutely sucks.

    Knicks in 6, possibly 5. If we go up 2-1, it’s over.

  37. BigBlueAL

    Z-man:
    Back to the Celts, I think we need to attack them at PG, Avery Bradley is simply not up to the task. The Celts are much like we were last year, simply no answer at PG. In th halfcourt, that’s a very big deal. It’s hard to believe that nobody seems to be talking much about Rondo being out, he was the Celt’s bet player in the playoffs last year. Not to mention that their bench absolutely sucks.

    Knicks in 6, possibly 5. If we go up 2-1, it’s over.

    This is the thing that annoys the crap out of me when people bring up the Celtics pedigree and how tough they are come playoff time bringing up their playoff run last season. THEY WONT HAVE RONDO AND RAY ALLEN THIS TIME!!!!!

    If the Knicks were playing any other 7 seed who finished 1 game over .500, were outscored on the season and is missing their starting PG who is arguably their best player this series would be looked at as a mismatch.

  38. BigBlueAL

    Just saw the end of the NBA TV Eastern Conference Playoff preview and they had the Celtics facing the Heat in the Conference Finals while beating the Hawks in the 2nd round. From now on I have no respect whatsoever for whatever Dennis Scott and Mike Fratello say.

  39. mr.JayP

    BigBlueAL: This is the thing that annoys the crap out of me when people bring up the Celtics pedigree and how tough they are come playoff time bringing up their playoff run last season.THEY WONT HAVE RONDO AND RAY ALLEN THIS TIME!!!!!

    If the Knicks were playing any other 7 seed who finished 1 game over .500, were outscored on the season and is missing their starting PG who is arguably their best player this series would be looked at as a mismatch.

    i keep saying it, the celtics have provided nothing to be concerned about, we dont know how “rested” PP and KG are, and after that who else do they have? The fact that rondo is out and shuttlesworth is with the enemy is huge, jet hasnt really been as good as his 6th man role in dallas.

    i would be upset if this series gets to even a game 6. but if im a betting man, im going on an easy 5 game series, knicks drop one because they lift off the throttle a bit.

  40. Brian Cronin

    I think the Knicks win in three, that’s how confident I am.

    And Al, that’s insane. They didn’t really say that, did they? Wow. That is nucking futs.

  41. BigBlueAL

    Brian Cronin:
    I think the Knicks win in three, that’s how confident I am.

    And Al, that’s insane. They didn’t really say that, did they? Wow. That is nucking futs.

    I just caught the end of it and they had the bracket up in a touch screen and it had the Celtics in the conference finals vs the Heat and I saw the Hawks were in the 2nd round vs the Celtics.

    Maybe they were joking or something but it didnt sound like it. They replay it a bunch of times so I will try to watch it again and see if they were serious.

  42. BigBlueAL

    I was pleasantly surprised to see all 10 guys on the ESPN.com Knicks-Celtics page picking the Knicks although I saw Bruce Bowen on ESPN pick the Celtics.

  43. jon abbey

    who cares who picks who? the only thing that matters is on the court, and we’d better hold home court in these first two games, otherwise that Boston crowd will be crazy.

    and stop not being scared of the Celtics, people. Jeff Green and Avery Bradley are both capable of being great, and Pierce and Garnett have won about a billion games in MSG.

    I picked the Knicks over OKC yesterday, what the hell. :)

  44. massive

    I’m growing to hate how much love Kevin Durant gets. The fact that he’s perceived to be a better player than Chris Paul, to me, is asinine. Just because every winning team Chris Paul has been on was almost entirely because of him, I don’t think you can say Durant is better. Only three current players in this league have turned lottery teams into (semi) title contenders, and they’re LeBron, Dwight, and CP3. You could never make the argument that anyone on any of his team’s were as important as CP3, but there is a legitimate argument to be made that Westbrook is at least as valuable to the Thunder as Kevin Durant. Nobody ever mentions that OKC was the only team to have 3 Olympians last season. I never thought I would say this about someone with his numbers, but Kevin Durant is overrated. Now I would say Westbrook is undervalued, but ESPN thinks he’s the 5th best player in the league. I really would love to see how KD would do without his best supporting cast in the NBA.

    That said, great interview. The football, situation specific part makes a lot of sense, and is a great way to think about the game as it evolves. We’ve been seeing a lot of 2 PG sets in the league, which is a football formation package kind of thing. A lot of good stuff in this reading.

  45. BigBlueAL

    jon abbey:
    who cares who picks who? the only thing that matters is on the court, and we’d better hold home court in these first two games, otherwise that Boston crowd will be crazy.

    and stop not being scared of the Celtics, people. Jeff Green and Avery Bradley are both capable of being great, and Pierce and Garnett have won about a billion games in MSG.

    I picked the Knicks over OKC yesterday, what the hell. :)

    The fact that we have to worry about Bradley and Green instead of Rondo and Allen is the reason why the Knicks are huge favorites in my mind. Bradley this season has been beyond awful. He has no track record to be given the benefit of the doubt that he all of a sudden will play great because its the playoffs and he is wearing a Celtics jersey after having a truly awful regular season.

    If the Knicks somehow lose this series it will be by far the biggest disappointment in Knicks playoff history.

  46. er

    massive:
    I’m growing to hate how much love Kevin Durant gets. The fact that he’s perceived to be a better player than Chris Paul, to me, is asinine. Just because every winning team Chris Paul has been on was almost entirely because of him, I don’t think you can say Durant is better. Only three current players in this league have turned lottery teams into (semi) title contenders, and they’re LeBron, Dwight, and CP3. You could never make the argument that anyone on any of his team’s were as important as CP3, but there is a legitimate argument to be made that Westbrook is at least as valuable to the Thunder as Kevin Durant. Nobody ever mentions that OKC was the only team to have 3 Olympians last season. I never thought I would say this about someone with his numbers, but Kevin Durant is overrated. Now I would say Westbrook is undervalued, but ESPN thinks he’s the 5th best player in the league. I really would love to see how KD would do without his best supporting cast in the NBA.

    That said, great interview. The football, situation specific part makes a lot of sense, and is a great way to think about the game as it evolves. We’ve been seeing a lot of 2 PG sets in the league, which is a football formation package kind of thing. A lot of good stuff in this reading.

    i have been saying for two years he needs westbrook more that russell needs him

  47. Z-man

    KG, Pierce, Green, Bass and Bradley is a solid 5 on paper, but they will have trouble handling the ball. So long as we don’t get foolish with the 3-pt line on either end, they should not be able to keep up with us offensively. Their bench is truly horrible.

  48. Z-man

    er: i have been saying for two years he needs westbrook more that russell needs him

    I disagree with this. Durant is deferential, Westbrook is not. Durant is by far the better player.

  49. daJudge

    Nice job on that interview Ruru. Re JR: It would be quite meaningful if a player turned down the big bucks to play where they wish. I know this has happened from time to time, but with JR, the monetary incentive will be huge. Sure hope he surprises everyone.

    ruruland:
    This is speculation, but if Rose gets $200 million from Adidas, I’m sure Shumpert gets at least a few million for his deal.

    Smith, who already has a couple small deals, just needs a Shumpert deal to make up the difference (if not go beyond what he’d get anywhere else).

    If the Knicks go far and Smith plays well and then re-signs, he becomes an extremely marketable player.

    When’s the last time you saw a Hawks player on a commercial?

    They just don’t perform well locally or nationally in terms of ratings.

  50. Brian Cronin

    The Knicks’ best chance to keep JR is for the outside offers to not be too significant. If it gets into the tens of millions, there’s no way he turns it down. I don’t care how much he loves New York and the Knicks and Woody and I believe he does love all three of those things. But come on, no one turns down double the money when they’ve never gotten a big money deal in their career. Later in their career when they’ve made their money, sure, that’s a whole other story. But JR has always been a MLE guy during his career so for him to turn down his first (and likely only) chance at a big payday? No way.

    Now if the offers are not substantially higher than the $5.5 million average deal that the Knicks are offering, sure, I can see his love for New York and endorsement deals playing a role. But that’s only if the offers are not substantially higher. $10 million and above? No way.

  51. GHenman

    Fratello picked the Celtics. Scott picked the Knicks. They both had the Heat winning ECF.

  52. Juany8

    Massive I think you’re underselling Durant a little bit. First of all, regardless of how you feel about their respective offensive games, the question with Chris Paul will always be defensive impact. Simply but, height, length, athleticism make a massive difference on that end, and on defense that is not position specific. If you could play Lebron at positions 1-3 at the same time you would, and considering how Chris Paul and Derrick rose have done against bigger defenders (seriously Chris Paul has been a total non-factor in multiple playoff series)

    So even if Chris Paul was THE best offensive player in the NBA, on derense he isn’t even in the top 5 for point guards, which means he might not be in the top 100 defenders overall. Durant isn’t a great defender by any stretch of the imagination, but he simple fact that he is capable of getting blocks means he’s on another tier of defenders from Chris Paul entirely, as is Melo. You also have to consider rebounding, in which Melo and Durant can hold their own at the 4, a major rebounding and defensive position, while Chris Paul is stuck playing point guard and often being noticeably smaller against the best at the position. You don’t need a point guard to bring up the ball and set up the offense, but you do need a big men to box out the opposing big men and guard the paint.

    Which brings me to my final point, which is that I think Chris Paul is a little overrated on offense. For all the talk Melo gets of holding the ball and going ISO, there is not a player in the league that does it as much as Chris Paul. The clippers offense is often just people standing around and screening, waiting for Paul to do something, which he usually can. This doesn’t work against teams that can send bigger, faster athletes at him though, something that will only crop up in the playoffs. Since he’s too small to play off the ball, he becomes a near liability, which is how a “top 3″ player loses by nearly 60 points in a playoff…

  53. Robtachi

    ruruland:
    This is speculation, but if Rose gets $200 million from Adidas, I’m sure Shumpert gets at least a few million for his deal.

    Smith, who already has a couple small deals, just needs a Shumpert deal to make up the difference (if not go beyond what he’d get anywhere else).

    If the Knicks go far and Smith plays well and then re-signs, he becomes an extremely marketable player.

    When’s the last time you saw a Hawks player on a commercial?

    They just don’t perform well locally or nationally in terms of ratings.

    Al Horford gets picked in that NBATickets.com commercial.

    I don’t understand it at all. Hawks-Wolves sounds like an awful game had you the power to pick any matchup.

  54. Brian Cronin

    To be fair, when they shot the commercial, Rubio was healthy so yeah, there’s a slight chance that someone, given the chance of seeing any team, would want to see a healthy Rubio play. But the Hawks thing? No idea.

    I love the other players in the commercial, too. “Who are the best players we can get while paying $50 a player? Horford, Rubio, D-Lee, who else?”

  55. Frank

    My only issue with this series is the Doc vs. Woodson matchup. I think coaching matters much more in the playoffs than the regular season because in-game and between-game adjustments can mean so much. Seriously – Miami unveiled their aggressive fronting of Melo in game 1 last year, and it took until game 3 or 4 before we figured out how to deal with it.

    I’ll say this though – our offense is so much more diverse than it was last year, and our 3 point shooting is so superior as well. Will be tough for any team to have good plans to stop all of it.

    I’m not concerned who Bruce Bowen picks — was listening to one of the ESPN podcasts and he literally said that he was picking the Celtics because of all their playoff experience, and that he wasn’t sure that when the intensity picked up, whether the young and inexperienced Knicks team would be able to respond. Say WHAT?!!?!?!?

  56. Brian Cronin

    Oh yeah, the Doc/Woodson matchup is likely the scariest matchup for the Knicks (outside of perhaps Green posting up the Knicks’ #2 guard).

    I still can’t get over how awful Woody looked last playoffs. You had to dredge up the bad memories of how slow he took to adjust to the Melo fronting, Frank! Argh!

  57. flossy

    @ 57

    I can’t be bothered to look up the game logs right now on my phone, but CP3 logged multiple 10+ rebound games against the massive Lakers front line 2 years ago in the playoffs with New Orleans (in addition to piling on the points and assists). Now, sure, nobody under 6’0″ is going to dominate the boards, but he routinely is a top 10 steals guy, a stat that is much more valuable than a blocked shot because it always creates a new possession for his team.

    Offensively, we’re talking about a player who scores roughly 18+ PTA/36 on a .600+ TS% AND has an assist % in the high 40s with an assist to turnover ratio of 4:1 (!!!!). Four to one!! The guy is just on another planet. People complained about Melo holding the ball too long because those possessions almost always ended in a heavily contested mid range jump shot for Melo. When Chris Paul dominates the ball, the possession is vastly more likely to end in an assisted basket for his teammate. The man has managed to negate the influence of Vinny del Negro, for crying out loud. Just think how good the clips would be with a real coach. Hell, I’m not sure a player of Paul’s caliber even CAN be overrated on offense.

  58. er

    Z-man: ©

    I know we enjoy ripping Espn but they have Durant 2 and Russ 5. I don’t think he’s 5 but “Durant as the far superior player” is just the storyline everyone is running with. If you step away from the numbers and watch okc games it’s clear that Westbrook is the heartbeat of the team

  59. Frank

    Brian Cronin:
    Oh yeah, the Doc/Woodson matchup is likely the scariest matchup for the Knicks (outside of perhaps Green posting up the Knicks’ #2 guard).

    I still can’t get over how awful Woody looked last playoffs. You had to dredge up the bad memories of how slow he took to adjust to the Melo fronting, Frank! Argh!

    Yeah – hopefully Woody will be more prepared this year — I’ll give him this, though — last year we had zero point guard play, and so Melo was forced to be playmaker on every single possession. We literally had Melo in post or Melo/JR in isolation as our only two possible scoring options. Tyson was a shell of himself for the first two games after the flu thing, Amare was hurt, etc. On top of that, the guy throwing the ball into the post spent WAY too long trying for the entry pass before pulling it down and moving to another option if it wasn’t there. This year with Felton, Kidd, and hopefully Prigs by game 2, we’ll be in much better shape. Plus, like I wrote above, our offense is so much more diverse this year — if they aggressively take one thing away, we can move quickly to another option.

  60. Brian Cronin

    That’s why JR’s maturation is so huge. If you shut down Melo, then JR can destroy you. You shut down JR, Melo will make you pay. Boston will try to single cover those guys, I think, but I bet it will not work.

    I’d try Bradley on JR if I were Doc, see if Bradley can get in his head with the stuff he’s allowed to get away with.

  61. stratomatic

    I thought the most important part of the interview was his comment about players having variable value depending on “fit”.

    I’ve been saying that forever!

    It’s the major flaw in all linear models.

    The perfect example has been Amare and Melo (and this is not a comment on Melo’s value).

    It makes no sense at all to pair 2 guys whose primary avenue of value creation for a team is being the #1 scorer. When combined, both will tend to get fewer shot attempts per 36 minutes and decrease their individual value.

    On the flip side, if you team Amare with CP3/Nash, you have a player that generates his value by being an efficient secondary scoring option to compliment Amares high usage efficiency, but whose passing and floor spacing ability also INCREASES Amare’s value.

    Melo and Amare is like 1 + 1 = 1.75

    Nash/CP3 and Amare is like 1 + 1 = 2.25

    Melo has traditionally done his only efficient scoring at the rim and by getting to the FT line so often off the dribble, via offensive rebounds etc…. So the idea would be to put him with someone that helps create space for him to operate in and that doesn’t need to handle the ball and score a lot to generate value.

    Granted, Melo has had a good year from beyond the arc this year. So he has become a more versatile scorer, but the idea remains the same. If you have Melo (or Amare) , you don’t want another #1 scoring option next to him unless the other guy brings a lot more to the table than scoring (which neither Amare or Melo does).

    The Melo/Amare combo was always destined to be a very tough combo to make work.

  62. stratomatic

    My model is giving the Knicks an 80% chance of beating the Celtics, but I have to admit I’m a bit upset by Prigs being out for game 1 because I think his contribution per minute is wildly underrated.

  63. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    er: I know we enjoy ripping Espn but they have Durant 2 and Russ 5. I don’t think he’s 5 but “Durant as the far superior player” is just the storyline everyone is running with. If you step away from the numbers and watch okc games it’s clear that Westbrook is the heartbeat of the team

    oh bullshit

  64. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Juany8: Since he’s too small to play off the ball, he becomes a near liability, which is how a “top 3? player loses by nearly 60 points in a playoff…

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/p/paulch01/gamelog/2008/#pgl_basic_playoffs::none

    Oh, definitely. Look at his ugly numbers in that postseason. The defending champs took him to 7 games despite his suck.

    Absolutely ridiculous that anyone would ever call a player who’s SEVENTH in league history a “defensive liability.” Do you know how bad you have to be in the eyetest to make up for all those opposing-team possessions he turns into non-scoring possessions? Do you know how valuable that is?

    And his steal numbers have been basically identical no matter who his teammates have been. You can call it the “system” (despite playing for how many coaches?) or his “teammates” or “gambling,” but jesus christ how do you say he’s a defensive liability!?

    Steal Pct

    2005-06 NBA 3.4 (3)
    2006-07 NBA 2.7 (9)
    2007-08 NBA 3.9 (1)
    2008-09 NBA 3.9 (1)
    2009-10 NBA 2.9 (2)
    2010-11 NBA 3.5 (1)
    2011-12 NBA 3.8 (1)
    2012-13 NBA 3.8 (2)

    Seriously. We’re talking about one of the all-time best.

  65. Z-man

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: oh bullshit

    Well, I wouldn’t have put it this strongly, but feel essentially the same way. Durant is even better than his awesome stats would suggest, and still has huge upside if he gets stronger and more assertive. He is essentially a 4-time scoring champ with 50%-40%-90% shooting, which is all-time great stuff. Westbrook is a great talent, and a formidable scorer, but not a great PG.

  66. er

    Z-man: Well, I wouldn’t have put it this strongly, but feel essentially the same way. Durant is even better than his awesome stats would suggest, and still has huge upside if he gets stronger and more assertive. He is essentially a 4-time scoring champ with 50%-40%-90% shooting, which is all-time great stuff. Westbrook is a great talent, and a formidable scorer, but not a great PG.

    i agree with you kd is awesome, but he gets too much credit for that team. Westbrook is a great player who teams hate game planning for. Like i said, his shooting numbers arent on KDs level but he isnt shy about shooting. He sets the tone for thunder games and collapses the paint effectively

  67. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    er: . He sets the tone for thunder games

    If you hear this color-commentary-speak long enough, it becomes something palpable in your mind.

    Really though, it means nothing.

  68. Z-man

    I would put it this way: Durant instantly makes any team a playoff contender. There is no defensive strategy that can contain him. I don’t think that is true about Westbrook.

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