Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Game 1 Recap: Knicks 98 – Raptors 93

The last time the Knicks played a game that counted, Earl Barron logged 40 minutes. David Lee played 33 and Sergio Rodriguez 20. Bill Walker led the team with 28 points and Chris Duhon chipped in 5 assists. The Raptors piled up 73 points before halftime of last season’s finale at the Air Canada Centre en route to a 131-113 blowout of the blue and orange. All the while, a dreadlocked big man named Chris Bosh watched, injured, from the Raptors’ bench. “No matter,” we told ourselves, “he’ll be ours in a couple months, and a certain headband-wearing, chalk throwing, triple doubling Global Icon along with him.”

What a difference a summer makes.

Tonight, the Knicks took to the same court in Toronto. Chris Bosh wasn’t in the building, nor was LeBron, nor Lee, Rodriguez, Barron, or Duhon. In fact, of the 12 Knicks on the active roster that night in April, only three were in the house this evening (Douglas, Gallo, Walker — Chandler was inactive with an injury at the end of last season). Change was the story of the night and, when that is the case, you can typically expect equal parts excitement and growing pains. And so it was.

The Knicks put together an adequate if uninspiring performance, winning 98-93 in a game that would not have been that close but for some spotty perimeter shooting and an inability to stay in front of Toronto point guard Jarret Jack, who penetrated to the tune of 5 layups, 4 free throw attempts, and some nice dump-off assists following successful drives to the rim. After staking themselves to a quick 16 point lead, the Knicks slogged their way to a 4 point halftime edge and briefly trailed early in the fourth quarter before Wilson Chandler – who at age 23 passes for one of the old guard on this overhauled roster – rattled off a series of Carmelonian isolation sets that bought the Knicks some breathing room.

From there, the biggest, brightest, and most expensive of the newcomers, one Amar’e Stoudemire, carried the Knicks home, scoring 7 of his otherwise unassuming 19 points during a 1:31 stretch late in the fourth quarter. His burst pushed the lead to eight points, each of which the Knicks would need to hold on to an opening night victory. I mean that literally; a final unimpeded Jarrett Jack drive would have been enough to erase a two-point deficit in the last ten seconds, but the three point margin meant he had to kick it out to Linas Kleiza, who airballed a corner three into Danilo Gallinari’s waiting arms. Two free throws later — converted with little drama by another newcomer, Raymond Felton — the Knicks were off to a 1-0 start.

A night that started with change and hope ended with a win. Let’s hope the Knicks can keep that up; it’s the only change that really matters.

    Player Ratings (in order of minutes played):

Raymond Felton (37 min, 15 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast, 3 to, 6/14 fg, 1/4 3p, 4/4 ft): Very solid debut by the Knicks’ new point guard. Ran a high-octane offense for stretches of the first half but didn’t force the break when it wasn’t there. Could have done a better job with Jack on the defensive end, but didn’t get any help on switches (and Douglas was the culprit for many of Jack’s better moments — we’ll get to him later). All in all, he was an impressive floor general who played better than his stats. B+.

Amar’e Stoudemire (36 min, 19 pts, 10 reb, 2 blk, 9 to, 7/16 fg, 5/6 ft): The turnovers are the first thing that jump out and, to be honest, the number surprises me. I thought they would be high but it certainly didn’t feel like 9. Mostly, he seemed kind of out of it, not quite in tune with his new point guard, not really commanding a lot of attention against a defense with nobody worthy of defending him. I’m tempted to say I liked him better on the defensive end than on offense tonight, if only because his athleticism makes him capable of the type of high-flying swats that we haven’t seen since the days of Marcus Camby. In the end, a forgettable debut, but a huge 2 minute stretch in the fourth quarter and zero signs of anything we should be worried about once he and Felton get in sync. B-.

Danilo Gallinari (33 min, 12 points, 6 reb, 1 ast, 0 to, 3/9 fg, 2/5 3p, 4/4 ft): Not good. Bad, even. The only Knick with a negative +/-. That can be a fairly meaningless stat on an individual game basis, but it felt pretty appropriate tonight. His shot was off and, while he has the ability to do other things to affect the game, he was mostly invisible tonight. At least he got 6 boards, which shouldn’t be a big deal for a 6’10” forward but in his case represents progress. No real reason for concern, his shooting will improve both in terms of percentages and the number of looks he clears himself for. We all know that he’ll be able to score efficiently in high volumes on a lot of nights this season. Tonight just wasn’t one of them. C-.

Landry Fields (30 min, 11 points, 4 reb, 4/8 fg, 3/6 3p): For me, the best part of the night. I mean, the kid is just everywhere. Don’t even look at the stat line because its irrelevant. All the cliches that we use to talk about glue guys are in play here: he does the little things, he’s in the right place at the right time, he doesn’t need plays drawn up for him, he plays better than his numbers, he makes the most of his talent, etc. etc. etc. Just every single meaningless cliche personified. He ran down loose balls, he got big rebounds, he waited for his shot and made half of his threes. He can absolutely start on this team, he’s a much better fit than Chandler with the first unit. Didn’t think he looked out of his depth athletically, which was the worry, but then again he will face much better opposition down the road. I suppose time will tell, but I couldn’t have asked for much more out of his debut. A.

Wilson Chandler (29 min, 22 pts, 8 reb, 0 to, 10/18 fg, 1/3 3p, 1/2 ft): Listen and listen good — he is the perfect 6th man for this team and there is absolutely no way he should be starting at shooting guard. On the court with the second unit, serving as the primary scoring option, Ill Will ran some isolation sets that were worthy of the league’s best slashers. He works so well with Douglas because either of them can start the offense — either with Douglas lurking as a spot-up threat when Chandler attacks or Chandler lurking as a reset-and-drive option if Douglas gets in trouble. They make a serviceable pairing defending other team’s perimeter players as well. Chandler is still the most tradeable of the Knicks three young wings and he still can become infuriatingly enamored with his very mediocre jumper (7/8 in the paint tonight, 3/10 outside of it — DRIVE WILSON, DRIVE!) but he is a fantastic weapon off of the bench and should be utilized as such. Simply put, the Knicks do not hold off the Raptors rally without his second half performance tonight. Keep it up. A-.

Tony Douglas (27 min, 10 points, 4 reb, 0 ast, 5/9 fg, 0/3 3p): A weird performance and not a very good one. The points are fine and the percentage is good, but zero assists in 27 minutes still made me feel like he doesn’t know what position he’s supposed to be playing. For my money, produced the two worst plays of the game: an impossibly bad telegraphed pass that was picked by Reggie Evans and an equally boneheaded fourth quarter foul that sent David Anderson to the line, where he tied the score at 82. Of all the important Knicks who had off nights, he’s the only one I worry about a little, simply because I’m not sure if he works better running the second unit or playing off of Felton. I’m not sure D’Antoni knows either. C-.

Ronny Turiaf (23 min, 8 pts, 4 reb, 4 blk, 2 stl, 3/4 fg, 2/2 ft): Ronny Turiaf had 4 blocks tonight. That is, by any measure, very good. He had 2 steals tonight, also solid, especially by a big man, especially in limited minutes. He did these two things while committing zero fouls. Impressive, right? Probably a pretty rare feat? Maybe only happens once a year or so? Guess what? The last Knick to do it was Patrick Ewing in 1999. Before that, the last Knick to do it was, well, Ewing again in 1997. Before that, the last Knick to do it was nobody. The list of Knicks who have had 4 blocks and 2 steals in a game without committing a foul — at least in the 25 years covered by the basketball reference play index now reads “Patrick Ewing, Ronny Turiaf.” Now, is this kind of a contrived stat? Sure. Does that make it unimportant? No, not really. The Knicks have not employed a true shotblocker since Marcus Camby (unless you want to count one season of the geriatric Dikembe Mutombo). They spent two years trying to convince themselves that Jared Jeffries was some sort of disruptive defensive presence. They trotted out David Lee at center for two years. You will not find a bigger David Lee fan than me. But even as I write this, I’m watching the Warriors opener, and their announcer just said of a Lee foul, and I quote, “You know, I don’t mind that foul by David Lee. Is it great defense? No! But why give him the easy lay-up?” You know another way to prevent easy lay-ups? BY HAVING A CENTER WHO PLAYS F—ING DEFENSE. And guess what? Now we do. What Turiaf’s stats don’t show is that, in the span of 58 seconds, Linas Kleiza was whistled for not one but two travelling violations that were purely the result of going up for a shot against Turiaf, realizing he had absolutely no chance of converting, and awkwardly shuffling his feet til the whistle blew. Party on, Turiaf. Keep drinking that Ron-Ron juice. A.

Bill Walker: I would type his stats but that would represent more effort than I saw from him in his 10 minutes on the court. The one truly awful performance by a Knick tonight. His highlight was missing a dunk, claiming the rebound and, in a sea of FIVE raptors, with open shooters everywhere, going back up for a putback attempt that was, inevitably, rejected. It will be a short leash if he continues to play like this and Fields continues to play like he did, especially when Anthony Randolph returns. F.

Timo Mozgov, Roger Mason Jr.: Whatever. Mozgov couldn’t stay on the court because of foul trouble, not super encouraging against a pretty ordinary front line, but we’ll give the kid a break and chalk it up to his NBA debut. Mason missed three jumpers and wasn’t heard from again — he’ll make most of his appearances when the Knicks are badly in need of a three or someone is in foul trouble. Not much room for him behind Douglas, Fields, and Chandler. INCOMPLETE.

Sorry for the long-winded recap — I’m so excited to have the NBA season back and I hope you are too. The team will face tougher competition but should get better as it jells. If you thought, as I did, that the Knicks would sneak into one of the last two playoff spots in the East this year, I didn’t see anything tonight — good or bad — that should make you change that.

34 comments on “Game 1 Recap: Knicks 98 – Raptors 93

  1. Nick C.

    Neat write up. I didn’t watch the pre-season so it was a first look at many of the players. Fields … wow, Mosgov was the fould machine you all described, Chandler shocked me when I saw his line but your breakdown up above explained it (3/10 outside the paint). A little too much penetration from Jack, other than the f’n ugly sequence of two shots off an Amare miss, Felton was able to finish and Gallo was off, but as my selective memory tells me, late game when needed he can drain the big 3. Also there were stretches where the defense in the pain twas very active despite my moaning about Jacks and to a lesser extent Calderon’s penetration. A win and a team I can root for. whooopeeee!!!!!!!

  2. Ted Nelson

    Like the format. However, I find the grades far too subjective. In pretty much every case you basically say “just ignore the box score because this is what I saw happen and this is how I think this player did.” A lot of speculation about what a player may have been thinking, which I don’t see much need for.

    “All in all, he was an impressive floor general who played better than his stats.”

    I was pretty unimpressed late in the game. He basically seemed to encourage WC and Amare to force the issue, giving them the ball in bad spots and leading his defender right into their area… basically inviting the double-team.

    “His shot was off and, while he has the ability to do other things to affect the game, he was mostly invisible tonight.”

    He had 12 points on 9 shots for a TS% of 56%… Most NBA players would kill to have that be an “off” shooting night… He has to be more assertive, but the Knicks also have to find him occasionally when he’s wide open for 3.

    He had 6 rebounds, 4 FTAs, 1 blk, 1 stl, 1 ast… He’s pretty silent, but if he gets a C- I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how much more you expect from the guy. The Knicks find him for one more spot-up 3 that he makes and he’s at 15 pts, 6 reb, 1 blk, 1 stl, 1 ast, 0 TO, and 64% TS%…

    “Listen and listen good — he is the perfect 6th man for this team and there is absolutely no way he should be starting at shooting guard. On the court with the second unit, serving as the primary scoring option, Ill Will ran some isolation sets that were worthy of the league’s best slashers.”

    He had a pretty good game (not great, mind you) but this was also a great match-up for him. I don’t think one game is conclusive proof that he’s perfect at anything or that he shouldn’t be doing anything. I’m fine with this, but one example doesn’t make a rule. Even if he’s very good in one role, doesn’t mean he could also be very good in another.

    As far as iso sets, he had the good and the bad. There were plays where I was begging him to pass and instead he chucked the ball in the general area of the basket. His single game TS% was 58%, which isn’t a whole lot different from Gallo’s “bad” shooting night. Late in the game he was forcing the issue when he should have been playing within the offense. I can agree with an A-, though.

    I’m also not a big fan of the term/concept “second unit.”

    “It will be a short leash if he continues to play like this”

    The guy has been amazingly efficient across two seasons. I’m pretty sure this was an off-night, which is again why I would encourage more stats in the analysis rather than subjective feelings. Based on Walker’s past performance, the chances that he continues to play like this are very low. The chances that he’s solidly in the rotation might not be that great either though.

  3. eyeke

    Game 1 guys.. lets not get too crazy.
    I love the format, and I think early season grading HAS to be subjective. The stats aren’t nearly as important as chemistry and flow early in the season. Hustle plays and effort are the only things we should be really grading right now.
    I still miss David Lee, especially if I can’t even watch Randolph tease me like waiting for a high school girl to come of age.

  4. Thomas B.

    Ted Nelson:

    Like the format. However, I find the grades far too subjective. In pretty much every case you basically say “just ignore the box score because this is what I saw happen and this is how I think this player did.” A lot of speculation about what a player may have been thinking, which I don’t see much need for.

    I disagree Ted. I think the point of the game recap–especially one that is written just hours after the game– is to talk about the game from the naked eye perspective. This is a stat driven site and there will be more than enough chances to see how the stats measure up to the naked eye.
    Furthermore, Kevin did not ignore the box score. He gave lines and stats for each player. I think he encouraged a beyond the boxscore discussion. The boxscore will tell you nothing about why the Knicks got away from the pick and roll and give and go in the first quarter. A boxscore wont tell you if a shot looks flat. The boxscore may tell you the STAT had 9 turnovers but it wont tell you where or how they happened. The naked eye tells you that the majority of the turnovers came when STAT caught the ball too far from the paint and then tried to make a move to get to the basket. That information is just as important as the boxscore beacuse now you start to see how to fix it. This is why teams watch film.

    Sure the grades are subjective, almost all sports writing is. Even the stat based writers are somewhat subjective because some stats value contributions in vastly different ways. For example WinScores vs. PER.

    The nice thing about seeing two recaps is that Kevin and I watched the same game, saw the same boxscore and came away with a few different views on things. I thought Douglas played a solid game, Kevin did not. We each have good support for our opinion and that is what matters most.

    I like what Kevin is doing and I hope he continues to write this way.

  5. adrenaline98

    Ted, I don’t come here to read about statistics that I can calculate myself or pull up on basketball-reference, especially after one game. I agree with most of what you say and you’ve pulled some stats in previous threads that made me rethink some of my analysis. The subjective part I think is what (obviously) defines the article and makes it enjoyable, to see if others saw what I saw or if they saw it with more objectivity than I saw.

    I thought the Knicks would do exactly what they did tonight: consistent inconsistency with Amar’e finishing. And as I stated in the other thread, I think their most marked improvement this year will be finishing off teams like the Raptors, who don’t have a talent like Amar’e.

  6. Ted Nelson

    eyeke: I think early season grading HAS to be subjective. The stats aren’t nearly as important as chemistry and flow early in the season. Hustle plays and effort are the only things we should be really grading right now.

    I disagree. Hustle is nice, but you can’t just ignore box score stats. No matter what point in the season it is you have to recognize that one game is too small a sample to represent the whole population (a player’s season in this case I guess or his ability if you prefer)… but to talk about how that game went while completely ignoring stats? Why?

    Subjective analysis is just too unreliable. Eduardo Najera hustles his butt off, but I don’t really care to have him on my team.

    Thomas B.: . I think the point of the game recap–especially one that is written just hours after the game– is to talk about the game from the naked eye perspective.

    I think the point is to talk about what happened in as objective a way as possible: what really happened, not what I saw happen. The old saying is that you can watch every at bat of a season and not know who the .200 hitter is and the .300 hitter is. Certainly this is even more true in a game as complex and fluid as basketball (think Allen Iverson… shoots a lot, must be amazing…).
    Human nature is just such that you’re going to remember certain things and forget others. There’s no point in even arguing that.

    Thomas B.: The boxscore may tell you the STAT had 9 turnovers but it wont tell you where or how they happened.

    With all due respect to him, Kevin didn’t either. He simply said “The turnovers are the first thing that jump out and, to be honest, the number surprises me. I thought they would be high but it certainly didn’t feel like 9.”

    This is a good example of the issue I have with the analysis: what Kevin felt like it was is not as important as what it actually was. It’s just, basically, “I was watching the game and this is how I remember things happening.” As I said, no one (or at least very, very few people in human history I’d say) has the memory and intellectual capacity to remember every aspect of a basketball game from watching it once. And if Kevin watched the game on TV and wasn’t there, he can’t possibly know what was happening outside of the camera’s focus. Unless he knew D’Antoni’s strategy it’s also tough to criticize players for something like where they were on the floor (D’Antoni may have told Gallo to sit in the corner as an outlet and Felton or someone is at fault for not getting the ball to him).

    Thomas B.: The naked eye tells you that the majority of the turnovers came when STAT caught the ball too far from the paint and then tried to make a move to get to the basket. That information is just as important as the boxscore beacuse now you start to see how to fix it.

    I never said this wasn’t the case. I said that you can’t just ignore that Danilo scored about as well as WC because you are subjectively unhappy with how he looked and WC shot more and had some big baskets. Basically, you should look at what actually happened and then try to use your observations to explain it. I feel like too often in the above analysis Kevin uses his observations first at the expense of what happened. It’s pretty tough to assign grades and I’m not saying I could do a better job.

    I appreciate Kevin’s insights, I just disagreed with several of his points and more so with his method.

    Thomas B.: The nice thing about seeing two recaps is that Kevin and I watched the same game, saw the same boxscore and came away with a few different views on things.

    The nice thing about a blog is that I can also express my view on things. That’s what I did. I watched the same game and had a different view. I tried to explain some points on which my view differed from Kevin’s. I commented on what I thought of his methods.

    adrenaline98: consistent inconsistency with Amar’e finishing. And as I stated in the other thread, I think their most marked improvement this year will be finishing off teams like the Raptors, who don’t have a talent like Amar’e.  

    As I said in the open thread, Amare had 7 points on 6 possessions used late in the 4th… He did a poor job of finishing. This is exactly why we need to look at stats. You see a few pretty dunks and are amazed. But when you look at what actually happened, what actually matters you see that he had 7 points on 6 possessions used and didn’t really do anything all that great. What actually matters is points per possession. Amare and the whole team did at least do a good job defensively, although Toronto might have helped them out a little there by being terrible.

  7. Sparks with Starks

    Ted,

    There was one thing I wanted to get your thoughts on. Looking back at clutch stats from last year for David Lee, you rightly pointed out that his efficiency was incredible. He shot 65% in the last 5 minutes of close games. However, I understand that those stats are “per 48 minutes,” which means that his scoring did go down relative to his overall. Not terribly, mind you, but from 26 pts/48 minutes overall to 22.4 pts/per 48 minutes in clutch time.

    I’m thinking that could provide some statistical backup for the perception that Lee was “getting his shots in the flow” but wasn’t able to or didn’t assert himself as much as a team needs in the waning minutes of games, despite his great efficiency.

    It remains to be seen what Amar’e will do. Last year with the Suns, it was Nash who was that team’s go-to guy in the clutch, while Amar’e was a second option who also shot a very high percentage in the clutch – 62% – (albeit with help from Nash that he doesn’t have this year) and poured in more clutch-time points (28.1 pts/48 minutes) than Lee did.

  8. adrenaline98

    Ted, finishing is not only an offensive thing. Amar’e stepped up his game defensively too. He forced Jack to baseline on the second to last shot to Barbosa. He also had a monster block the possession before, I believe.

    Yes, he used 6 possessions to get those 7 points. But, really, how many fourth quarter failures to hit/make shots cost teams games? He made 3 consecutive baskets which stretched the lead. Looking at it strictly from a possessions point of view is simply not accounting for the unquantifiables, such as momentum, stretching the lead to give your team defensive comfortability, and other things which I feel play a viable part into a game analysis. I completely understand your perspective, but you’re starting to sound more like John Hollinger, who makes strictly stat only predictions and projections.

    I simply don’t agree that basketball is an all-stats game, especially when most of these statistical evaluations are individual based. They surely have their place, however.

    I may be wrong statistically, but I felt that Lee ALWAYS scored a boatload of points very efficiently in the first half, and waned in the second half as teams began adjusting to him. I felt he was never the ones to take big shots in close games (at least that’s what I perceived from watching) and my perception was also that I didn’t think he had what it takes to take that last shot either. I feel the same way about LeBron actually. Am I wrong statistically? I’m not sure. I don’t crunch numbers that hard. But it’s similar to that article (I think it was Hollinger) that proclaimed LeBron to be a better clutch player than Kobe, statistically. But there’s a reason why almost everyone in the Kobe would have Kobe take that final shot. I’m not around players or teams enough to know all of the intangibles of that kind of clutch play outside of the naked eye.

  9. Sparks with Starks

    adrenaline98: Ted, finishing is not only an offensive thing. Amar’e stepped up his game defensively too. He forced Jack to baseline on the second to last shot to Barbosa. He also had a monster block the possession before, I believe.Yes, he used 6 possessions to get those 7 points. But, really, how many fourth quarter failures to hit/make shots cost teams games? He made 3 consecutive baskets which stretched the lead. Looking at it strictly from a possessions point of view is simply not accounting for the unquantifiables, such as momentum, stretching the lead to give your team defensive comfortability, and other things which I feel play a viable part into a game analysis. I completely understand your perspective, but you’re starting to sound more like John Hollinger, who makes strictly stat only predictions and projections.I simply don’t agree that basketball is an all-stats game, especially when most of these statistical evaluations are individual based. They surely have their place, however.I may be wrong statistically, but I felt that Lee ALWAYS scored a boatload of points very efficiently in the first half, and waned in the second half as teams began adjusting to him. I felt he was never the ones to take big shots in close games (at least that’s what I perceived from watching) and my perception was also that I didn’t think he had what it takes to take that last shot either. I feel the same way about LeBron actually. Am I wrong statistically? I’m not sure. I don’t crunch numbers that hard. But it’s similar to that article (I think it was Hollinger) that proclaimed LeBron to be a better clutch player than Kobe, statistically. But there’s a reason why almost everyone in the Kobe would have Kobe take that final shot. I’m not around players or teams enough to know all of the intangibles of that kind of clutch play outside of the naked eye.  (Quote)

    I think you can use clutch stats – see here http://www.82games.com/0910/CSORT11.HTM – to support an argument that Stoudamire is a more valuable scorer than Lee in the last 5 minutes of the game.

    But it’s tough to argue you’d want someone over LeBron. Note that Kobe, despite his memorable buzzer beaters, only shot 44% in the final 5 minutes compared with 49% for LeBron. Per 48 minutes, LeBron averaged 66 pts in clutch time compared with 51 pts/48 minutes for Kobe.

  10. Ted Nelson

    Sparks with Starks,

    I guess my argument boils down, at its heart, to the importance of “clutch” time in general and a “go-to” scorer.

    I believe it’s Mike K who often points out that good teams don’t win a lot of close games, they win a lot of blow outs (in relative terms). Subjectively if there’s one minute left and you’re down by 1 point, that last minute is crucial. But why are the points you score there and more crucial than in the first minutes of the game? People will argue that it’s harder to score in “clutch” situations. If you had scored more on your possessions and kept the other team from scoring as much on their’s earlier in the game, though, you wouldn’t have been in the clutch situation in the first place and you would have been in that close game to start with: you would have won easily. Every possession in the game is theoretically of equal importance. We might remember that one big miss or make, but that forgotten missed lay-up or made 3 or defensive lapse in the 2nd quarter is just as important.
    In general I also feel like people often overrate how much better players play in the clutch. There are some great performers, but over a large enough sample I think it will start to even out with what you do at any time in NBA games. I don’t think it’s to the Lakers advantage for Kobe to force up a shot on each of their last 10 possessions rather than running their offense and getting some decent shots for their plethora of scorers using their plethora of passers (don’t let Ron Artest shoot a big shot, I’d say, but that largely goes for non-clutch too).

    I recognize that once you are in those clutch situations (regardless of how or why you got there), defenses seem to clamp down and concentrate. The other team tends to have its 5 best available players in there (or at least the hottest hands of the night). This sometimes forces more iso looks, because it’s hard to get into your offense. So, people associate good last second play with getting the ball into your best players hands and isolating him. If your best player is an amazing all-around scorer like LeBron who can score from anywhere on the court in about any way… great. If you can run your offense, though, I don’t think you should prematurely start isolating your best player with 5 minutes or something left in the game just because it’s a close game (which is largely what the Knicks did last night with both Amare, who is their best player, and WC, who is not their best player). Last night Toronto’s swiss cheese defense didn’t seem to be forcing the Knicks into iso looks, they seemed to be seeking them out. Once Amare or WC got the ball, there was no doubt they were going to shoot the ball. It was like a pissing contest between the 2 of them. Jarrett Jack showed Amare (hopefully) that when everyone in the arena knows what you are about to do an NBA defense is going to stop you. The thing about a Nash–who you talk about above, but I could say LeBron or another truly great perimeter offender too–is that no one knows if he’s going to shoot a 3? Drive and shoot? Pass? Drive and pass? So the defense has to guard against every possibility (and these guys are talented enough to make every possibility a very credible threat). Even when he’s driving he’s often as likely to dribble right through as pass, shoot, or get up in the air and make a stupid mistake. When Jamal Crawford was a Knicks, people knew he would shoot the last shot and he inevitably chucked a terrible shot and missed most of the time. Last night, the Raptors knew and I knew that when WC or Amare had the ball they were going to put their head down and bull rush the basket, or if you gave them some space they were going to take very low efficiency mid-range jumpers.
    I would agree that it ends up helping out to have that one guy who can create high % shots with no help. But A. as you say, is Amare that guy? We’ll have to see. He wasn’t last night. B. I think Lee is a decent version of that guy… his assists are also pretty good and just as important as points (each assist is worth at least 2 points…). My argument is not that he’s better than Amare, just that it ticks me off for people to act as if Lee never did anything in the clutch for the Knicks… or that Amare won that game late… That Amare is a savior ignoring that the team as a whole has improved (especially defensively). C. If you don’t have “that guy” I think it’s better to play as a team than just anoint your best player “that guy” by default. David Lee recognized that, while a Jamal Crawford (or Isiah Thomas for that matter) didn’t.

    Sparks with Starks: I’m thinking that could provide some statistical backup for the perception that Lee was “getting his shots in the flow” but wasn’t able to or didn’t assert himself as much as a team needs in the waning minutes of games, despite his great efficiency.

    I don’t think it’s conclusive proof. First Amare scored like 5 more pts/36 than Lee in general. If Lee didn’t step up in the clutch, neither did he… You also have to look at pace, both played fast paces so it shouldn’t be a big deal but you at least have to account for it. You would also somehow have to account for teammates in some quantifiable ways, but also unquantifiable ways. If they weren’t passing you the ball as much, why not? They’re not good passers? They don’t like you? They’re selfish? They don’t trust you? The coach told them not to?
    I think it’s tough to find conclusive proof. Evidence maybe…

  11. Ted Nelson

    adrenaline98: Ted, finishing is not only an offensive thing. Amar’e stepped up his game defensively too.

    Yes, I agree and have been saying this repeatedly. People have been specifically referring to offense when they’re been using “finishing” in a lot of cases.

    adrenaline98: Looking at it strictly from a possessions point of view is simply not accounting for the unquantifiables, such as momentum, stretching the lead to give your team defensive comfortability, and other things which I feel play a viable part into a game analysis.

    I don’t think those things matter and in some cases don’t think they even exist. “Momentum” swings with one made basket… It’s a made up concept. The game of basketball is a game of possessions. If you don’t agree we can’t even discuss basketball. You score more points on your possessions than the opponent, and you win. You score less and you lose. That is basketball. I’m not sure if comfortability is a word, and if it is I don’t know its meaning.

    adrenaline98: I simply don’t agree that basketball is an all-stats game, especially when most of these statistical evaluations are individual based.

    If you recorded every single thing that happens on the court, it would be. Box score stats, of course don’t. They don’t even always credit the right player with a TO, rebound, block, etc. I think you can even get 2 pts for being closest to the basket when someone scores an own-basket. Overall, though, I think box score stats capture a high % of the game.

    adrenaline98: but I felt that Lee ALWAYS scored a boatload of points very efficiently in the first half, and waned in the second half as teams began adjusting to him.

    This is EXTREMELY quantifiable. You don’t have to rely on memory, you can just look at his scoring stats by quarter/half and know the definitive answer.

    adrenaline98: I feel the same way about LeBron actually. Am I wrong statistically? I’m not sure.

    YES. You are wrong. Period. As Sparks points out above, LeBron is the best in the clutch. Period. Again: http://www.82games.com/0910/CSORT11.HTM

    adrenaline98: But there’s a reason why almost everyone in the Kobe would have Kobe take that final shot.

    Possibly because they are ignorant… (Ignorant is not the same as stupid… it means you’re lacking knowledge.) They haven’t bothered to quantify clutch performance or even click on a link that does so. LeBron is better than Kobe at every single minutes of the average game. He is the best.

    Kobe has made so many last second shots in big games because he’s played on a lot of very good teams that have been in a lot of big games and had a chance to win a lot of close games. Last season I remember a game where Kobe took a shot on all but 2 Lakers’ possessions for something like the last 7 minutes. The Lakers lost. Kobe should have passed the ball.

  12. Sparks with Starks

    Ted,

    Good points regarding LeBron and Kobe. I remember an interview with Kobe during the ’09 playoffs when people seemed to be trying to get in his head or something about his not having won without Shaq, whereas Shaq had won a title without him. You could tell he was annoyed with it and he made some comment showing he had little time for people that couldn’t understand that basketball is a team game. Roughly paraphrasing, he said “look when we won in 2000-2002, I had Shaq and Shaq had me. When Miami won in 2006, Shaq had D-Wade and D-Wade had Shaq.” I think the fact that individual greats in basketball do have a bigger impact on the game than any other team sport obscures the fact the you still NEED A GREAT TEAM AROUND YOU, period, to even think of winning.

    Why in the world is LeBron not regarded as clutch? Do people forget that incredible run to the 2007 Finals? I remember one game against Detroit when LeBron scored something like the last 20 pts of the game, and thinking at the time it was one of the most incredible clutch playoffs performances I’d ever witnessed. That performance seems to have been completely forgotten in the blogosphere, whereas Kobe is a “clutch” deity.

    As far as Lee v. Stoudemire, I am hopeful that he’s going to be a better go-to-guy in “clutch” situations and that in general his slightly superior scoring and defense vis-a-vis Lee will lift us out of mediocrity. Like you say, there are many reasons why Lee’s scoring in those close games, while very efficient, was not that voluminous. Or let’s say it was about as voluminous as Udonis Haslem, which is probably not good enough to lift a team like the Knicks to the extra 5-10 wins we’re going to need this year to make the playoffs.

    However, those are good points about Lee’s great passing and slight edge in rebounding over Amar’e. And I also agree about the lost cap space that has resulted with the Amar’e signing. I know he wasn’t available, but I’d definitely take Lee and Chuck Hayes (or a similarly skilled defensive big man), not that he was available to grab, over Stoudemire alone, not matter how strong he is offensively.

  13. iserp

    Ted Nelson: Possibly because they are ignorant… (Ignorant is not the same as stupid… it means you’re lacking knowledge.) They haven’t bothered to quantify clutch performance or even click on a link that does so.

    Well, most of this guys would tell you that clutch performance isn’t possible to quantify clutch performance… and some of those guys will tell you that it is impossible to quantify basketball, and that you are the ignorant one.

    My point: no use in calling somebody ignorant because they don’t share your views.

    About clutch performance… by the end of games players are tired (and mentally tired!), plays come less often, and defenses are harder. In that kind of situations, isolation come much more often, and if i was the coach, i’d like to have a guy who excels at iso plays, scores a nice percentage everywhere in the court and at the FT line, and that is not impeded by double teams. A guy that doesn’t make stupid mistakes because of the pressure. Kobe is that kind of guy.

    Of course passing out of double teams is nice, but that also increases turnovers; and perhaps, the receiver of the pass is not the most suited guy, for example, someone with a low percentage FT% (Shaq). Sometimes, your teammates are just playing bad (maybe because opposing defense is doing a good job) and you want someone that can take the responsibility in a consistent way. Perhaps the rival team switches their defensive scheme and your team doesn’t get the open looks they used to.

    [Disclaimer: made up numbers ahead]
    Let’s say clutch performance is the lowest possible performance you can get no-matter-what. Kobe might get 40% percent shots in the clutch. And his boneheaded game to get that 40% percent shots might have cost his team a few wins. But worst case, you get 40% shots.
    [/Disclaimer]

    On average, LeBron is better at the clutch; but what about the “no-matter-what happens i make my shots”. What happened in the playoffs? Where was he? (OK, the injury, perhaps) Who do you think it is easier to shot down by a good defense, Kobe or LeBron? Which is the stat for “the opposing team played a good defense but i scored”?

    So… back to Amare and Lee. I’d take Amare + 4 Zombies at the end of a game over Lee + 4 Zombies, and that’s what i usually mean by a clutch performer.

    All-in-all: Stats are essential to avoid observational skewing, but are also limited in scope. Basketball is also a team sport, and there’s a lot of psychology involved, stats hardly measure any of that. Clutch is a very subjective thing, “the last 5 minutes of a close game” hardly grasps the concept (it’s not the same if the game was close because a worse team outscored your bench, and then you play the starters that if you play a tough opponent for the seeding of the playoffs at the end of the season).

    OTOH, observation is hardly a scientific proof; so maybe LeBron is clutcher, but well, i can’t travel to the past to the last Cavs playoff game, swap LeBron with Kobe and check what happens. Anyway, i can look the stats at the box score, i appreciate Kevin McElroy (and Thomas B.) analysis. And i think the proper way to tell if his observations are wrong is with your own observations. Why did he feel that Amare’s TOs would be less? Maybe because he got an offensive rebound out of nowhere that was quickly contested before he could pass out of it, that doesn’t really feel like a TO, more like a missed offensive rebound. Maybe because he had to reach out to get a bad pass from Felton and someone got an easy steal … that kind of things …

    PS: I really would like to have Ted Nelson’s awesome writing skills; my arguments may be right or wrong, but i feel i explain myself pretty bad.

  14. Ted Nelson

    iserp: My point: no use in calling somebody ignorant because they don’t share your views.

    This is not what I was doing. Ignorant is not necessarily an insult, which is why I went out of my way to provide a small off-the-cuff definition… Here is a real definition:

    ig·no·rant? ?
    [ig-ner-uhnt]
    –adjective
    1.
    lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
    2.
    lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
    3.
    uninformed; unaware.
    4.
    due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.

    Clutch performance can be quantified. If you are in fact more clutch than an average player, you will perform better in the clutch than another player. Say you are defining clutch as being able to make a game winning shot… simply count how many times they took that shot and how many points they scored. I don’t understand what you’re talking about in terms of not quantifying clutch. Not defining it may be a problem, but once you define what a clutch situation is you can get a good read on how some one played in those situations and certainly how they scored.

    If you can look at the difference in performance between LeBron and Kobe and say Kobe is better, I don’t know what to say… I assume most people who prefer Kobe are “lacking in knowledge” about their performance in clutch situations. It’s not my view… I don’t “prefer” LeBron, I simply look at how he plays and it’s really clear he’s better. Subjectively, statistically… whatever. Barry Bonds was pretty universally unliked, but it would be hard to argue he was not a better player than, say, Melky Cabrera… It’s not my opinion, it’s a fact.

    iserp: Kobe is that kind of guy.

    I never once in my life said Kobe is not a very, very good basketball player. He is a future HOFer and deservedly so. LeBron is just a lot better. I would love to say that Knicks player X is better than LeBron, but it’s just not the case.

    iserp: What happened in the playoffs? Where was he?

    LeBron was worse in the playoffs than the previous season, but he was still significantly better in the 2010 playoffs than Kobe… Killed him in both PER and WS/48. Killed him.

    iserp: Which is the stat for “the opposing team played a good defense but i scored”?

    Over time everyone plays the same guys and the luck of someone defending you well evens out… That’s what all the fuss over sample size is all about.
    I would say, though, that based on his far superior scoring ability, passing ability, rebounding ability, athleticism, strength, speed… LeBron is a whole lot harder to defend than Kobe. You can figure that out statistically or through observation.

    iserp: So… back to Amare and Lee. I’d take Amare + 4 Zombies at the end of a game over Lee + 4 Zombies, and that’s what i usually mean by a clutch performer.

    Basketball is a team game, though… I would take Amare in just about any situation as well–though the $ makes it more complicated in some theoretical situations.

    iserp: Stats are essential to avoid observational skewing, but are also limited in scope. Basketball is also a team sport, and there’s a lot of psychology involved, stats hardly measure any of that.

    I agree with the 1st sentence, but not the 2nd. Sure there is psychology involved in all things human, but that shows up in the stats. Things that don’t show up directly in individual stats include man-defense, overall (non-assist) passing skills, role on the team (to an extent), etc.

    iserp: observation is hardly a scientific proof; so maybe LeBron is clutcher

    I think he is clutcher subjectively, too. Kobe has been a primary perimeter scorer on some amazingly talented teams. He’s been in a billion nationally televised games, a billion playoff games, and been on the team that won a billion games. People have seen a lot more of Jeter, for example, than Pujols… Pujols is still a much better hitter.

    iserp: I really would like to have Ted Nelson’s awesome writing skills

    Thank you for the complement. I really wish I had the willpower to be writing the grant application I need to finish by tomorrow and not this…

  15. Ted Nelson

    Sparks with Starks: Why in the world is LeBron not regarded as clutch?

    No idea. #1 reason is probably his ringless fingers.

    Sparks with Starks: As far as Lee v. Stoudemire, I am hopeful that he’s going to be a better go-to-guy in “clutch” situations and that in general his slightly superior scoring and defense vis-a-vis Lee will lift us out of mediocrity.

    I think Amare is better, I am merely defending Lee from people saying he is a ton worse. I think he’s worse, but not that much worse. I would honestly say he is (very, very roughly) about as close to Amare as Kobe is to LeBron…

    I don’t think Amare will lift the Knicks out of being below mediocre… I think their overall talent will, their defense will, and Amare will be their best player for the foreseeable future.

    Sparks with Starks: Or let’s say it was about as voluminous as Udonis Haslem

    … or Tim Duncan, or Paul Pierce, or Deron Williams… Lee was WAY, WAY, WAY more efficient than any of those guys in the clutch, though.

  16. SJK

    I don’t think it’s that LeBron is not viewed as clutch (early in his career he choked a lot at the free throw line but he’s gotten better), I think it’s just that Kobe is viewed as more clutch. This is likely because of all his buzzer beaters and amazing last second shots. Despite all the statistics, if my team is down by 1, with 10 seconds left, and I need one shot from one guy, I choose Kobe.

  17. Ted Nelson

    SJK: Despite all the statistics, if my team is down by 1, with 10 seconds left, and I need one shot from one guy, I choose Kobe.  

    A. If I want to avoid a situation where my team is down by 1 with 10 second left by being up by 5 with 10 seconds left… I choose LeBron. I’ll take the win over the excitement of sometimes winning at the last second. With the same supporting cast, give me LeBron every time. You do realize that MJ was also questioned as not being a winner early in his career, right?

    B. If you look at how many times a guy takes a shot in that exact situation and how often he makes it, over a large enough sample that should inform your decision. That’s a statistic. I’m not saying this is likely to be the case, but let’s say both LeBron and Kobe have taken that shot 100 times. Let’s say Kobe has made 20% and LeBron has made 60%… You still take Kobe despite being 1/3 as likely to win the game because you remember Kobe hitting some big shots? Really?

    SJK: This is likely because of all his buzzer beaters and amazing last second shots.

    That’s the point. 100%. You remember that he’s been in big games on national TV and hit some shots. Without quantifying it you assume he’s made more than he’s missed. You assume he’s made them at a higher % than LeBron. You may be right or you may be wrong. The only way to know if to actually count… Mathematics… one of the pillars of modern civilization, let’s use it.

  18. SJK

    I agree that you’d much rather be up by 5 with 10 seconds left. Also, I think the point is that Kobe has made more clutch shots in big game situations. LeBron may be just as good at making clutch shots, but Kobe has the experience. He’s proven time and time again that he can make those big time shots.

    ” but let’s say both LeBron and Kobe have taken that shot 100 times. Let’s say Kobe has made 20% and LeBron has made 60%… You still take Kobe despite being 1/3 as likely to win the game because you remember Kobe hitting some big shots? Really?”

    I honestly would still take Kobe over LeBron for a last second shot. Why? I once read a story in a book (blanking on the name or author) about Kobe. In high school, after every practice, Kobe would go 1 on 1 against the last guy off the bench for his team. Every day, Kobe would play against him and destroy him in a game to 100, sometimes the other guy wouldn’t even score a point, the most he ever scored was 10. I’m not impressed by him winning those games, of course he should have won playing against the worst guy on the team. What’s impressive is that he went at the guy for 100 points, never letting up, even when up 80-0. It’s that mentality that makes me choose Kobe over anyone currently playing in the NBA.

  19. Brian Cronin

    The thing I love best about the whole “Kobe is just a winner, he just is” stuff is that when the Lakers didn’t surround Kobe with All-Star big men he….didn’t win!!

    Shocking, right?

    Kobe with Shaq = winner

    Kobe with Pau = winner

    Kobe without Shaq or Pau = loser

    How come Kobe didn’t use his winner’s mentality before he got Pau gift-wrapped for him? The only three seasons Kobe didn’t play with one of the top big men in the NBA, his teams finished well under .500 one season and lost in the first round of the playoffs the other two seasons. Where was Kobe’s winner’s mentality those years (actually, in one of those seasons, Kobe specifically quit on his team in a series-clinching loss to prove a point that he needed better teammates, which is pretty much the exact opposite of “never letting up”).

    Ted’s brought it up earlier, but KG is a perfect example. For years he was a “loser” then he got traded to a team with a great supporting cast and he suddenly became a “winner.” You can even see it in the stories written about KG – the rhetoric about him has dramatically changed since he’s come to the Celtics and won a title. But he’s the same guy he always was! Just like Kobe has been pretty much the same great player he has always been – just sometimes he has an All-Star big man along with him and sometimes he does not.

    Then again, how can we expect typical fans to accurately judge Kobe when supposed experts looked at the 2010 NBA Finals and somehow felt that Kobe Bryant was the most valuable player of the series and not Pau.

  20. SJK

    In the year’s between Shaq and Pau, Kobe was surrounded with a terrible supporting cast. It has been proven that you can’t win with only one good player. In 2006, Kobe took the Lakers to the playoffs and lost in a close 4-3 series against the Suns (with Nash, Amar’e, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion) in which the Lakers were up 3-1 at one point. Kobe’s supporting cast included: Sasha Vujacic, Aaron McKie, Smush Parker, Devin Green, Luke Walton, Devean George, Lamar Odom, Brian Cook, Ronnie Turiaf, Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm, and a really young Andrew Bynum. Those guys are all role players, with the exception of Odom. Kobe single handedly took the into the playoffs. It doesn’t mean that Kobe isn’t a winner just because he had a few years of mediocrity. No one can win with a supporting cast like that. Not even Michael Jordan, perhaps the quintessential “winner.”

  21. Brian Cronin

    That’s exactly the point.

    When Kobe had a great supporting cast, he won. When he didn’t, he didn’t.

    When Jordan had a great supporting cast, he won. When he didn’t, he didn’t.

    When Lebron had a great supporting cast…oh wait, Lebron has never had a great supporting cast.

    See what I mean?

    There’s no such thing as a “winner” in the NBA.

    There are just various great players, some better than others, and some with better teammates than others. But those players with the better teammates somehow get viewed as “winners” when it was their team that won, not them.

    It factors into any debate between Kobe and whoever (Lebron, Durant, whoever) and it also factors into the Amar’e/Lee stuff that was being discussed earlier. Lee gets underrated because of his bad teammates while Amar’e gets overrated because of his good teammates.

    We can roughly figure out who is a better individual player between two guys (Amar’e is better than Lee while Lebron is better than Kobe), but how good their teammates are does not figure into the equation (or at least it shouldn’t).

  22. Sparks with Starks

    Brian

    The only thing I can add to this issue is that basketball is arguably the most “individual” of the team sports. When I say that, I mean that the great players have more of an impact on the result than just about any other team sport.

    Certainly, in baseball, it’s not hard to understand that Albert Pujols is a more valuable player than Derek Jeter, even if Jeter has played well in the post-season on more occasions. We just go by the stats and the stats show that it’s not even close. Or in football, that no-championship Barry Sanders was a greater running back than the “winner” Roger Craig.

    But in basketball, it gets confusing because we see a game where Kobe has the ball all the time and plays a big role on a team that wins championship while LeBron has the ball all the time and is involved in the vast majority of his team’s offensive plays yet his team comes up short again and again.

    Regarding Ted’s invitation to let mathematics do the work for us, I follow tennis pretty closely and even in an individual sport like that in which almost everybody agrees that the greatest player is the one who accumulates the most Grand Slam titles, there are still people who will argue that Rafael Nadal is greater than Roger Federer even though the former has 9 GS titles and the latter has 16. So even when the most basic of mathematics would seem to end the argument, in an individual sport where there is no team to blurry anything, it still doesn’t.

  23. Ted Nelson

    SJK: Also, I think the point is that Kobe has made more clutch shots in big game situations.

    That is a stat, though… Instead of simply remembering it off the top of the head, why not quantify it to verify your memory? If Kobe is 75/100 in these situations and LeBron is 3/10… You can point to that to say it’s obvious Kobe should take the last shot. Or maybe you find they are identical or LeBron is actually better.

    The main point, though, is that it’s more important to get into those big games and keep them close. If you don’t get to that situation in the first place, it’s irrelevant who is taking the last shot.

    SJK: I honestly would still take Kobe over LeBron for a last second shot.

    I don’t know what to say… You literally know (in this hypothetical situation) that you have a 300% better chance to win if LeBron takes the shot, but you would rather lose… I don’t know what to say.

    SJK: It’s that mentality that makes me choose Kobe over anyone currently playing in the NBA.  

    Yeah, because LeBron is not a hard worker. I forgot that.

    SJK: It has been proven that you can’t win with only one good player.

    Yeah… basketball is a team game…

    SJK: Kobe single handedly took the into the playoffs.

    No, basketball is a team game. Kobe was their best player, but he didn’t do anything single handedly and he himself will admit that.

    SJK: Not even Michael Jordan, perhaps the quintessential “winner.”  

    Michael Jordan was the best player in the league. Like LeBron James is the best player in the league. His championships are not because he’s a “winner” they are because he was the best player in the league playing on the best team in the league. It’s not rocket science. If you are a better team, you will win a 7 game series a lot more often than not.

    Sparks with Starks: When I say that, I mean that the great players have more of an impact on the result than just about any other team sport.

    That’s why people make the mistake of thinking the best player on the best team is the best player overall–and in a lot of cases they may be right or very close to right, it’s a learned behavior from having seen it before–I agree. That doesn’t make them right, though. SJK has said that even if he has a 300% better chance of winning with LeBron taking the last shot, he’s still going to let Kobe take the last shot and probably lose the game.

    Even in baseball I constantly hear people talking about MVP/Cy Young on ESPN or other TV stations and saying it should be the best player/pitcher on the best team. Or saying that a QB isn’t a “winner” while completely ignoring the other 60 odd guys on his team.

    Sparks with Starks: there are still people who will argue that Rafael Nadal is greater than Roger Federer even though the former has 9 GS titles and the latter has 16

    I don’t think that’s comparable. Federer is 29, Rafa is 24. There’s not an argument that Federer has had the better career to date: 16 > 9. You can make an argument that 5 years from now Rafa will be closer to or at 16. You can make an argument that at this moment in time Rafa is the better player, even if at a past moment or future on. Surface complicates things, whereas NBA games are always on a hardwood floor.

    I think it’s a lot clearer in basketball and that basketball is a lot more like baseball than tennis. Kobe is not the Rafa anyway (you can have an argument about 2 baseball players who are very, very close just like Federer/Nadal… the point is that Kobe/LeBron is not close). He’s not the 2nd best player in the NBA. I don’t know who to compare him to in tennis (I think Jeter is a good comparison, and I love Jeter), but he’s the guy who was always overrated and is nearing the end of the line. He scores worse than LeBron, passes worse than LeBron, rebounds worse than LeBron, plays worse in the clutch than LeBron, plays worse in the playoffs than LeBron… If you’re better at everything, you’re better. If Federer could beat Nadal 9 out of 10 times on hard, clay, grass, indoor, on the moon… there wouldn’t be an argument on who was better. Nadal has been beating Federer and just about everyone else… Kobe has not been beating LeBron.

  24. Sparks with Starks

    I meant that, even if Nadal were to retire tomorrow, his fans would say he had a better career than Federer (based exclusively on head-to-head results, which are not the be-all, end-all. It’s about beating the entire field and winning tournaments). It’s just a ongoing pissing contest between the 2 sides’ fans and that’s basically what the LeBron-Kobe argument is about as well. Kobe fans just simply want to ignore the fact that he did not win (and wouldn’t win right now) without an elite big man on his team.

  25. iserp

    Ted Nelson: Thank you for the complement. I really wish I had the willpower to be writing the grant application I need to finish by tomorrow and not this…  

    Procrastinating, uh? xD I am curious, what do you do? are you a sciences guy?

    Well, i believe the most important point of my argument was that “clutchness” is the worst you can get at the end of games… so maybe, i could try to take the worst (the 10% or 20% percentile worst) games in shooting during the clutch by Kobe and by LeBron and compare them. I guess i could take a database for the last 3 seasons and make a little program that runs through it; but i am afraid i don’t really have time now to look into that.

    BTW, thinking about the Rebounds statistic, i thought that it would be more useful not only the total defensive rebounds you get, but the total defensive rebounds you lose to the guy you are defending. I think that would expose things like “not boxing out”. However, i am not sure if there’s a set of data that tells you who’s defending who (usually) during a match. I think there are sets of data that assigned positions ordering players by height, but that would lead to an inaccurate stat (Jared Jeffries is taller than Lee, for example)

  26. SJK

    I’m not trying to argue that Kobe is a better player than LeBron, or that LeBron isn’t a hard worker, or that LeBron isn’t a clutch player. If I had to pick one of the two to have on my team, I’d pick LeBron every day of the week. All I’m saying is that if I had a last second shot, I’d pick Kobe. Nothing against LeBron, he’s the best player in the NBA. Also, Ted, you’ve said a lot that statistics would show that LeBron is more likely to make the shot… Are there any statistics to prove this? I know it sounds irrational but even if there are I would still pick Kobe, but hey I’m a Kobe fan.

  27. Ted Nelson

    Sparks with Starks: Kobe fans just simply want to ignore the fact that he did not win (and wouldn’t win right now) without an elite big man on his team.  

    I would say that they want to ignore reality… but seriously, I would say that the biggest thing they want to ignore is that basketball is a team game. That they don’t try hard enough to separate individual performance from team performance. That they mostly don’t have a great understanding of advanced stats to realize exactly how much superior LeBron is. That they probably overrate the last shot and don’t even try to quantify its importance or how often Kobe makes it.

    There are a lot of ins-and-outs to the analogy, but I don’t think Kobe is comparable because he is not the 2nd best player in the NBA. Also, it’s really tough because tennis is an individual sport. I wouldn’t even try to compare the two if not prompted, personally. If you lose at tennis you were not as good as the other person on that day and on that surface (or maybe a call was blown and you’d used your reviews). Even if you were injured, because of that you were not as good. No matter how pissed Andy Roddick might get when he disagrees with a call, there’s no one to blame but yourself (and the other player’s superiority on that day). If you had played better you would have won. In a team sport that’s just not true. If you lose by 5 points and your teammates for a combined 10-70… hard to take the blame (extreme example, I know). Sure, you probably made a few mistakes, but your teammates made a lot more.

  28. Nick C.

    Game Winning Shots

    well I’m sure that link is bothced but 82gaes has such a stat available tho not totally current. David Lee is @ 80%, Amare I cannot find. Kobe and Lebron pale in comparison to ‘Melo FWIW.

  29. Ted Nelson

    iserp: I am curious, what do you do? are you a sciences guy?

    Nah, I do work at a biofuel company (www.11goodenergy.com) but I am in finance/accounting.

    iserp: but i am afraid i don’t really have time now to look into that.

    Yeah, there are a lot of things I would try as an NBA GM that I don’t bother with/couldn’t do myself. As a casual fan, though, I try not to assume too much into what the results of the findings would be unless I have some sort of evidence. Doesn’t necessarily have to be quantified evidence, but with something like last second shots where you can easily just count them up I try not to go with my memory.

    iserp: i thought that it would be more useful not only the total defensive rebounds you get, but the total defensive rebounds you lose to the guy you are defending.

    Yeah, it’s interesting. Not boxing out can also cost you a rebound to a guy you weren’t defending, though. As you say defense is not always static PG-PG, SG-SG, etc. and if anyone is keeping that data publicly, I haven’t seen it (does seem like you could add some more things to the box score fairly easily and the NBA could probably just use the same official scorers… have the current box score as a summary and then a more in-depth one). You can also look at team rebounds, but then you have to account for teammates/opponents. Probably we could come up with a decent back of the napkin weighting to all these things to get an idea. Probably plenty of people would disagree (like with Berri), but might devise something we find more satisfactory than just pure rebounds.

    SJK: Nothing against LeBron, he’s the best player in the NBA. Also, Ted, you’ve said a lot that statistics would show that LeBron is more likely to make the shot…

    Fair enough. I was just asking if in a hypothetical (extreme case) situation where we had the stats in front of us and LeBron hit 60% while Kobe hit 20% who do you take? You can reverse it and say Kobe hits 60% and LeBron 20%… point is that stats are important to make that decision. Basically, I assume based on what you’ve said you are going with Kobe because your memory suggest he is better at making last second shots. I’m not suggesting you actually take the time to do this, but if you really want to say that I’m saying you should theoretically count the number of times each was in that situation and how efficiently they scored (in a 1 point game any basket and even 1 of 2 FTs is huge, 2 of 2 of course better, so straight # of times a point was scored/# of situations and # of time at least 2 pts were scored/# of situations would work, don’t really need TS%).

    The 82games.com data is an attempt to quantify “clutch.” The idea of clutch is that the game is on the line. You can assume the last shot is more pressure than the 3rd to last shot, but you can also assume that if there is a “clutch” trait where some people routinely perform better in the clutch and some perform worse… the 3rd to last is pretty much the same as the last. Taking 5 whole minutes allows you to look at games that were on the line, but a larger sample.

  30. Ted Nelson

    Nick C.: Game Winning Shotswell I’m sure that link is bothced but 82gaes has such a stat available tho not totally current.David Lee is @ 80%, Amare I cannot find.Kobe and Lebron pale in comparison to ‘Melo FWIW.  

    Interesting, hadn’t seen it.

  31. Thomas B.

    Ted Nelson: “The nice thing about a blog is that I can also express my view on things. That’s what I did.”

    Of course, that is what this place is all about. I was doing the same. It’s the first game of the year, its two hours after that game. You got one guy sharing what he thought based on his view of the game. You disagree with his approach, fine. I’m just saying that I don’t think there was anything wrong with the approach. I don’t think he has to be objective. You can bias and have tunnel vision (not saying KMC does) and still make very valid points. I think you might have missed a few great points of his by dismissing his approach as lacking objectivity. But that is just my little old subjective opinion. :-)

  32. Nick C.

    I remembered they did an article a few years back b/c Melo had been uncanny after the back and forth regarding the numbers. The much derided Derek Fisher, on less shots, having a higher % than Kobe or LeBron was ironic.

    As for the rebound/defense issue I remember the Hollinger books @ mid 00s were talking about how to rate defense. He used PER vs. your position, but then he had to come up with an explanation why Ben Wallace did not fare as well and said it was because he is a help defender thus leaving his man or something to that effect. I almost got the impression he was on the verge of throwing his arms up in the air and giving up.

  33. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I hope the relevance of this post isn’t too implicit–

    Is there a difference between:

    a) an air-ball by a fifth grader

    b) an off-balance Carmelo Anthony shot

    if they each result in no points and a turnover? I suppose we could talk about shot selection, and how the average rate of scoring by Anthony would be much higher than the fifth-grader’s, but the outcome of the individual events remains the same. Nine turnovers means that Amar’e gave the ball to the other team without attempting a shot nine times. Regardless of whether he was triple-teamed or he willingly passed it to Jose Calderon, the outcome remains the same. The grey area — why, specifically, the turnovers occurred, and how they could be prevented in the future — is what’s difficult to determine. What’s not difficult to determine is the effect of those turnovers on the team’s ability to score points and prevent points from being scored.

  34. Z-man

    I suppose a question to ask is: would you make a straight-up trade Amar’e @ 19+mill per for DLee @ $13+ per?

    If you think they are only marginally different, the answer is clearly yes, since you can use the extra $6-7 million to sign a pretty good player.

    If you say no, then you are implicitly saying that Amar’e is much better than Lee.

    I, for one, do not make that trade. On the other hand, if I’m the GS GM and that trade is proposed, and I have the cap room, I jump at it.

Comments are closed.