Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Answering Thomas B.’s Questions

Thomas B. Said:
Maybe you and I are not looking at the same stats when it comes to Denver’s defense.

Denver gives up 104 per game, that is good for 25th place in the NBA, that means only 5 teams give up more points. They only score 2.4 more points than their opponents, which is good for 10th place in the NBA.

Three teams score more points per game than Denver and none of those teams allow as many points as Denver….

Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Said:

By points per possession allowed, Denver is 6th….

Thomas B. Said:
So does that mean Denver is actually a good defensive team? What would happen to the Knicks if they played at Denver’s pace? Would they give up 110 per because they now give the other team more chances to score?

1. So does that mean Denver is actually a good defensive team?

Up to this point, the Nuggets have allowed an average of 105.2 points for every 100 possessions. So yes, Denver is a good defensive team despite allowing the 6th most points per game in the league. I don’t want to get into the specifics, because I think A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics does a good job at it. I’ll just say, a team’s pace can affect the amount of points scored or allowed per game, so points per game isn’t a good measure of a team’s quality.

2. What would happen to the Knicks if they played at Denver’s pace?

Most likely Eddy Curry would have a heart attack and Zach Randolph would stop running back on defense altogether.

3. Would they give up 110 per because they now give the other team more chances to score?

Up to this point in the season, the Knicks have allowed 112.5 points per 100 possessions, they’ve averaged 89.4 possessions per game, and they’ve allowed 100.4 pts/g. In other words, they’re the worst defensive teams in the league (30th), but since they play at a slightly slow pace they’re only the 20th worst team on defense. So what if they played at Denver’s pace?

The Nuggets average 97.9 possessions per game, the most in the league. By simple arithmetic the Knicks would allow an average of 110.1 points per game if they played at that pace (97.9*112.5/100). That mark would be 5 points per game worse than the Nuggets are currently averaging now. It would easily be the worst in the league, more than the Warriors 107.1.

11 comments on “Answering Thomas B.’s Questions

  1. Thomas B.

    I think I get it now. Total points allowed is not the proper measurement of a team’s defensive effectiveness. Defense should be measured in terms of the number of times the defensive team is able to prevent a score per offensive team’s opportunity to score. Just like with football, yard per carry is a good stat but it should be viewed in concert with the total number of carries.

    Therefore, if you are good with numbers you could come up with a defensive success rate, which would show how often the team could prevent the opposing team from scoring. According to your response, the Knicks would have the lowest defensive success rate in the NBA.

    So I was right, they would give up 110 per. Not bad for a non-stat person. Thanks.

    That now brings up another question. Do the Knicks play such a slow pace in order to mask their defensive liabilities? On the other hand, do they play that pace because their personnel, Curry and Randolph, lack the conditioning to play at faster pace? I think the answer is yes to both with the latter issue (conditioning) being the proximate cause of the former issue (pace).

    The pace the Knicks play reminds me of the way Mike Fratello coached the Cavs back in the 90s. Fratello played a very slow pace but it was not to mask the team’s defensive problems, rather to mask the offensive issues, if I remember correctly.

  2. Frank O.

    So now the measuring stick is that the Bricks aren’t getting blown out and simply have a shot to win in the 4th?
    0-5 and the NY Times says the Bricks take heart from this…?
    The football playoffs have shown me that I can change allegiances. I was once a Jets fan and simply could not cheer for the Giants. And yet, there I was watching the Giants wild card game, getting excited about their D line and O line and thinking they had a shot to win it all.
    So one can change teams.

    Maybe when the Nets move the Brooklyn…there is still hope for us.
    Just none with the Bricks organization.

    I felt glimmers of hope watching our young guys play well. But Crawford and Zach and Eddy and Q are just killing me. Whenever they get on the court, my heart sinks.

  3. xduckshoex

    “Do the Knicks play such a slow pace in order to mask their defensive liabilities? On the other hand, do they play that pace because their personnel, Curry and Randolph, lack the conditioning to play at faster pace?”

    I don’t think it’s either of these, though I do think that Curry and Randolph lack the conditioning to play at a faster pace. I think they play at a slow pace because the game plan is to pound the ball inside, so instead of pushing the ball, hitting cutters and all of the other things that fast teams do, the Knicks walk it up, wait for the big man to get position and then force it in to him.

  4. retropkid

    Frank — I feel you. Marbury is no Eli, Zeke is no Coughlin…you can love Strahan the way you once loved Oakley… You don’t have to be a Giants fan to recognize class and spirit — from ownership to the GM to the coaches to the players — they really showed up.

    This Knicks team has no heart because the organization has no soul.

  5. dave crockett

    retropkid Said:

    This Knicks team has no heart because the organization has no soul.

    I might have to steal that one. :)

    Thoughts on the Knicks and pace…

    My greatest Isiah coaching pet peeve is the pace we play–even more than the bizarre player rotations. Why turn the roster over for athletic guys and then play slower than the Rockets do with Yao?

    I’ve advocated for the Knicks pick up the pace for quite some time. We don’t have to be Denver, but somewhere above league average would make sense. (We have played above league average pace once during Isiah’s tenure, and that was in 05-06 when the average pace dipped. We’ve played basically the same pace every year, but this year may be the slowest yet.) The downside to a quicker pace would be on defense, but the quicker pace might force Thomas to play his best defenders more (i.e., Balkman, Lee, and Jeffries).

    On offense the slow pace exacerbates our deficiencies in skill and decision-making. It’s wise to run clock and inflate the value of each possession if you have highly skilled, good decision-makers using up your possessions. We don’t have Billups, Prince, and Rip Hamilton unfortunately.

    On this team Curry and Zebo–our two most turnover-prone players and poorest decision-makers–have higher average combined usage than Crawford and Robinson. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. A quicker pace would get the ball out of Curry’s and Randolph’s hands except on rebounds and to finish.

  6. jon abbey

    awesome, not one comment for an entire game. congrats, people!

    what’s amazing about this Knicks roster is that not only are we the worst defensive team in the league, but almost all of our players are so one-dimensional that depending on the lineup, we can also be by far the worst offensive team in the league. we had a stretch tonight where Jeffries was the third best option in the halfcourt (ahead of Balkman and Mardy), that’s just scary.

  7. Z

    “awesome, not one comment for an entire game.”

    Clippers suck. Knicks suck worse. What else is there to be said?…

    (I guess I wish I was a football fan. It would take the edge off the Knicks season. Hope the Giants fans out there enjoyed rooting on a winner. Tune back into the Knicks in about eight years…)

  8. Roshi

    Well the only thing that can be taken from that game is that we pretty much need Crawford to be on in order to have a chance to compete. Where was Nate tonight? The offense looked completely lost without him.

  9. Ben R

    Actually Jon that stretch where we had Curry, Lee, Jeffries, Balkman, and Collins we went on a huge run. I cannot understand why Isiah didn’t at least try it again in the second half. During that short stretch we were +11.

    It was refreshing to see some good defense during that stretch and we did actually pick up the pace and Eddy was a part of the faster offense. It helped him get set before the defense could react and he went 4-5.

    Curry is a bad defender but he is tolerable when he has good perimeter defenders in front of him. It was a great stretch of basketball.

    Collins is a bad offensive player but he is probably our best on ball defender. If he can cut down the turnovers and shoot less he could be a Trenton Hassell, Quinton Ross type player.

    Crawford, Randolph and Curry are really bad defenders. When more than one of them is on the court we cannot stop anybody. If we made sure to only have one of them in at a time we could cover their defensive problems.

    Eventually we need to trade at least two of them.

  10. DanF

    Isn’t the thing with Denver also that they are inconsistently good on defense? So, they have a stretch of very good defensive games, and then a couple where they are abysmal, and so on.

    I think that skews the perception – if you happen to see one of the bad defense games, and you only see the points per game without adjusting for pace, you think they are bad.

    No stat could ever make the Knicks defense look good, though.

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