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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Nate Robinson

KnickerBlogger: New Yorkers absolutely loved Nate Robinson when he first came to the Knicks. Coming out of the University of Washington, Robinson was a lilliputian guard with colossal physical abilities. Last year Robinson did what you’d expect from an undersized shooting guard. He led all Knick guards in eFG% (51.3%) and 3P% (39.0%) and showed despite his short stature he could get to the line (TS% 55.2%, second among Knick guards). Due to his efficient scoring ability, Robinson was second on the team in points per 40 minutes (19.0 pts/40) only behind Eddy Curry. Not just a one dimensional scorer, among Knick guards Robinson was the best in respect to offensive rebounds (1.6 OREB/40) and turnovers (2.1 TO/40), and second best in respect to steals (1.5 STL/40). Yet despite all that, Robinson is no longer a fan favorite. So what happened?

Simply put, Nate Robinson is his own worst enemy. Along with his diminutive stature and his youthful enthusiasm, Robinson comes with a childlike temperament. There’s a fine line between having a zest for the game and acting like a grade schooler. Robinson not only crosses that line, he lives on it. Less than one month into the season, Nate attempted an in game alley-oop dunk on a fast break, only to be called for traveling on the play. Throwing away points on a losing team for the sake of showboating is among the game’s cardinal sins.

Robinson exacerbated his image problem by perpetually arguing with officials. It’s annoying when a marquee player like Tim Duncan disputes every call, but it’s downright unbearable when a bench guy like Robinson does it. Unfortunately, Nate gave himself plenty of opportunities to argue with officials as his foul rate (4.7 PF/40) was equal to Marbury (2.7 PF/40) and Crawford’s (2.1 PF/40) combined.

Robinson’s immaturity causes his actions to be viewed by the public through tinted glasses. Take for instance Nate’s role in the Denver melee. In the past plenty of Knicks have improved their public image through fisticuffs. Fighting improved Starks, Childs, and L.J.’s popularity among Knick fans. Although Nate was an instigator in the event, it’s hard to believe that a player with a calmer outward demeanor like Eddy Curry would have been seen in the same light. Had Curry been involved, the local airwaves would be talking about his moxie and willingness to defend his teammate. But Robinson was vilified for his role. It’s ironic considering a few years ago, Knicknation was up in arms when no one came to the rescue of Tim Thomas after Jason Collins slammed him to the floor.

To be fair, Nate’s negatives aren’t all in his head. His defense is suspect, and his assist rate is minuscule for a guard. While 82games.com says the Knicks are 2.4 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Robinson on the floor, opposing PGs are better than average (16.3 oPER) when Nate guards them. To the eye Robinson struggles mightily against the pick & roll, and other than the steals he doesn’t do anything particularly well on defense. I would rate him a mediocre to average defender.

Most people expect Robinson to be a point guard due to his height, but he’s really more of a shooting guard. Even accounting for that, his assist rate is subpar. As I said earlier, the Knick offense allows all the guards to play the point interchangeably. But it seems that Robinson isn’t sharing enough with his teammates. To put things in perspective, his 2.7 AST/40 is about the same as David Lee’s 2.4 AST/40 who rarely touches the ball. Nate does have the ability to make the spectacular play, and can pass the ball on his drives. It just that he desires to take the shot instead of making the pass. Normally you wouldn’t mind that from a guard that shoots as efficiently as Robinson. But then again Robinson suffers from his poor image, one that being a greedy guard certainly fits in with. In a way, for Nate Robinson hell is other people.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: C, due to bad behavior.

2008 Outlook: With Nate Robinson entering his third season, it’s time to evaluate whether his poor decision making in the past was just youthful exuberance, or if it will continue to be a Rasheed Wallace like permanent petulance. I don’t expect Nate Robinson to turn into John Stockton, because he’s such an excitable person. What I would like to see is for Nate to take his job a little more seriously.

Robinson played 21.4 min/g under Larry Brown, and 21.2 min/g under Isiah Thomas. It seems that two coaches, who had very different views & philosophies, saw Robinson in the same light. If Nate wants to shed his role as spark off the bench, he’ll need to shed his image as a circus act crammed into a basketball uniform. It’ll be interesting to see how Nate plays in the preseason. I can envision Isiah giving Robinson more minutes due to his strong summer showing. If Nate can continue his productive ways, it could mean more playing time when the season starts. That would be a good thing, since the Knicks are paper thin at shooting guard, and they could use Robinson’s production.

Dave Crockett

In many ways KB’s take on Robinson has been by far the most “fair and balanced” (pardon the regrettable and unintended pun) I’ve read. I agree with his take on Robinson in total, but I also wish to offer a complementary perspective that’s less about Robinson’s performance than Robinson as a character in the theater that is professional sports. It’s easy to forget that sports is more than the simple pursuit of competitive dominance since that is precisely what the regular visitors to this blog come to read about and discuss. But, pro sports is also improv theater and all good theater (or “good copy,” to use the parlance of journalists) needs “heroes,” “bad boys,” and “villains.” As the great fat sage, Charles Barkley, is purported to have once said, “They can love you or they can hate you. Both sell tickets.”

Robinson, through a combination of his own immaturity as well as the fickle nature of media and fans, has gone from being a precocious but impish bad boy to something of a villain in just two full seasons. Though Robinson has clearly been the catalyst for his own fall from the good graces of many Knicks fans I also think he’s suffered from a demand for a steady of supply of villains that is becoming insatiable. Most of the time in professional sports players move seamlessly between the basic “villain,” “bad boy,” and “hero” roles for any number of reasons through a process that is reasonably organic and not always totally predictable. (I suspect many readers aren’t old enough to remember when Muhammad Ali was a villain to much of the American sporting public. He was hated in no uncertain terms. He had perhaps the most amazing role transformation ever.) But increasingly, the theater of pro sports has come to resemble the theater of pro ‘rasslin’ in its predictability, its cardboard cutouts of who gets assigned to which roles and for how long.

In Robinson’s case, since the Denver fight I see him being typecast as a particularly crappy villain archetype, and I really hope he’s allowed to work his way out of it. I call it the “Jeff George” villain archetype. Sometimes a player opens himself up to fan/media disdain by doing something over-the-top or exposing himself as a jerk and for whatever reason isn’t allowed much of a shot at redemption. Soon, the guy just can’t do anything right. The media fits him with a black top hat and a curly-Q mustache and it becomes obvious to the audience that he’s the guy to hate. (Note: I’m talking about sports-related stuff here NOT criminal or near-criminal behavior.) If you remember former NFL QB Jeff George, he was by most accounts a pompous jerk; universally reviled by fans, media, opposing players, even teammates and coaches. You would think by the way people couldn’t wait to denounce him that the NFL was not littered with similarly unbearable jerks. But of course it was, and is. As much as I truly loath Kansas City Star (and former ESPN.com) columnist Jason Whitlock, I must agree with his sentiment that no one can point to anything George ever said or did that was uniquely awful.

Robinson, though not having “achieved” anything approaching the pariah status of George, seems to be quickly approaching the “can’t do anything right” status that is the hallmark of the Jeff George villain archetype. Hell, watch any Knick’s telecast with Mike Breen (even before the fight) and you’ll see what I mean. Regardless of what Robinson actually did on the court Breen would raise questions about his immaturity and decision-making, typically citing his ball-handling, shot selection, and his role in the Denver fight as prima facie evidence. So a poor shooting night or any turnover became proof of Robinson’s immaturity and poor decision-making. Yet somehow a good shooting/low turnover night did not indicate maturity or improved decision-making. The “Nate Robinson cautionary tale” always spins such a night as proof of how much talent Robinson is potentially squandering by his immaturity and poor decision-making.

My outlook for Robinson in 2008 completely mirrors KB’s in most respects. I believe Robinson is quite important to the Knicks playoffs chances. Not only are the Knicks thin at the SG, my entirely intuitive suspicion is that Crawford’s injury last season may be the first in a string of small-but-ongoing leg-related ailments that may keep him shuttling in and out of the lineup. So I believe the Knicks need Robinson to improve; it’s not a luxury. To do so he will have to start with the man in the mirror. Whether he is the new Jeff George or the new Bozo the Clown he simply must learn to focus on things that help the team win and leave the nonsense alone–period. But, I also urge the fans not to give up on this kid. He’s already a useful player and has the chance to get even better.

Brian Cronin – Man, Dave just reminded me of how annoying Mike Breen can be sometimes. The man is a GREAT announcer, but I think he works better on national telecasts, where he is not close to the situation, because man, he certainly seems to have soured upon the Knicks.

Breen reminds me of the stereotypical middle age guy complaining about how the NBA is “all thugs” nowadays. Those guys annoy me so much.

Anyhow, as to Robinson, the guy definitely exhibits some weird behavior, but since the fight, I thought he was actually a lot calmer than before the fight, and he seemed like a real nice asset to the team as an outside shooter. I hated when he tried to control the offense at times (that is not his specialty), but as a guy there to hit the outside shot, I like him there more than most other Knicks, and I think he will be a useful player this season.

194 comments on “Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Nate Robinson

  1. Gabe

    1) I thought “mediocre” and “average” meant basically the same thing.

    2) You LINK need to LINK fix the missing LINK in your LINK post, because otherLINKwise it can be LINK confusing for your LINK readers.

  2. Buttafuco

    Nate’s efficient shooting is his only saving grace. To the naked eye, without the benefit of statistical analyis, he was as frustrating to watch as both of the JJs. His defense on the pick and roll was horrible. He never went over a screen. His decision making on offense is atrocious. He is a marginal NBA player. A man of his size will struggle on defense to begin with. He can not play if he does not give maximum effort defensively. His fight helped the Knicks because Isiah had to give his time to others. Trade him. Now. Please. I am worried Isiah will feel obligated to find him time this year. I think Zeke will give up on both JJs but not Nate.

  3. Mr. Black

    I think this is a fair grade for Nate. Nate seems to suffer from immaturity and a Napoleon complex. He feels that he needs to prove that he belongs. he has likely been told that he is too small all his life.

    Nate is very stubborn. You have to be stubborn to break into the NBA, especially when you are 5’8. Do you recall his approach to the 2005 dunk contest? He refused to adjust no matter how many times he missed. He displays the same stubborness on the court. Once Nate decides to drive, he is not going to change his mind. He wont pass because he doesnt want people to think he lacks scoring ability due to his size.

    Nate aggressive behaviors can likely be attributed to his football background (see Charlie Ward).

    Nate would do well to let the game come to him and stop trying to prove he belongs.

    I think the Channing Frye trade may have shown Nate that Thomas does not have time to deal with regression or a lack of improvement. I hope Nate’s play in summer leauge is indicative to the approach he will take this season.

  4. Elan

    I think the grade was an unfavorable one towards nate robinson, whose limited minutes pergame, sometimes zero minutes per game, were not nearly sufficient enough
    While players like Jared Jeffries were getting starts, and airballin shots and freethrows, nate stayed on the bench. And in the limited minutes he did play, he had more effort and emotion than the whole knick team. I praise him for his emotion, energy and love for the game.
    When was the last time youve seen Eddy Curry block a shot? And then you see Nate Robinson block YOA MING!..come on, a C? he is a young, and will only get better as shown in this years summer league. lets be real people, NY needs a player like him who loves the game

  5. Owen

    Good piece. Definitely a dichotomy here between his image and statistical profile. Robinson’s antics this year and very poor play last year made him seem worse this year than he actually was, which was a below average but still fairly productive bench player with some potential. At the same time, statistically he looks very attractive next to the benchmark of Jamal Crawford, who had a horrible season.

    It’s interesting to compare him to Ben Gordon, who is just a year older. Gordon had him this year by 2% in ts%, and by two assists per 48, but also commited a whopping two more turnovers and captures almost a rebound per 48 less and stole the ball considerably less. (.7 per 48) He scores more, but really, the differences between them are probably less than the differences between Nate and Jamal last year, which is sort of surprising, and probably says more about how overrated Ben Gordon is than how underrated Nate is. Also, if you compare his numbers to Gordon’s last year (05-06), i.e. at the same age, Robinson blows him out of the water.

    I think going forward Isaiah intends Jamal to be the starter. We have to hope that Jamal can return to his 05-06 form under Larry Brown, where he actually played within himself and was an above average producer. If Robinson can up his play a bit more, and with Q in the mix, we might get average production from the shooting guard position, which would be cool.

  6. Caleb

    Given the grades for Collins (C) and Crawford (C- and C+) I’d say Nate deserves a bit better, but overall it’s a fair assessment. I’ve been debating Nate v. Crawford ad nauseum on the Reggie Miller thread, so I won’t regurguitate details, but Nate is already a good scorer who doesn’t turn the ball over or take many bad shots.

    On the other hand, the defense comment is charitable. Based on eyewitness testimony and the 82games data, he’s terrible. (Could the solid +/- be a result of playing a lot of minutes next to Balkman?) Luckily, with Nate’s combo of quickness and strength, he should at least be a disruptive on-ball defender. If he ever raises his D to be average or mediocre, he’ll have a long career as a scoring machine in the Barbosa/Gordon/Vinny Johnson mode.

    I hope Isiah finally gives him consistent minutes this year, to see if he can really be that player.

  7. Luke P

    While the criticism of Nate as a “wild” and “out of control” shooter may be unfair, at many times he seemed to overrate his athletic ability when on the defensive end.

    How many times did we see Nate attempt to block a much larger player on a drive to basket or fastbreak instead of taking the charge? He needs to learn (as balkman already does) that athleticism and big plays alone dont make you a good defender.

    With that said, watching him block Yao never gets old.

  8. John Dauvergne

    Dave, ditto to what Brian M said. I now have some insight into how players acquire their reputations, part performance and part how they comport themselves on and off the court/field. I just hope Nate reads this post, adjusts his “game” and reacquires the fan support he used to have.

  9. thefatkid

    The quintessential problem with Robinson is that fans simply do not understand his role. Robinson is a role player, plain and simple. He is not a starter or a well-rounded player and he will never be. He plays a limited number of minutes, scores a nice amount of points, commits many fouls, plays erratic defense, and rarely passes the ball. He doesn’t pass well, his court vision is mediocre, and his understanding of the offense is poor.

    There seems to be a tremendous overarching tendency to dramatically inflate the value of situational role players. David Lee, an outstanding role player, has somehow been anointed the best player on the Knicks, despite his lack of a jumpshot, post game, or defensive fundamentals. Likewise, Nate Robinson is somehow being favorably compared to significantly more accomplished, well-rounded players like Crawford and Ben Gordon. Fans have to understand that Lee and Robinson are fairly finished products. They are situational role players who just so happen to excel in that capacity.

  10. Caleb

    Part of the argument is that Gordon and (especially) Crawford are overrated. I can see Nate’s limitations, although I don’t see why you insist that he’s a finished product. Bottom line: if we’re giving minutes to a flawed player with a mix of strengths and weaknesses, I’d much rather gamble on a young guy with a rookie contract.

    Not sure how anyone can make a case that David Lee wasn’t the best player on the Knicks last year, even without a jump shot or style points. He put up big numbers, was by every measure an above-average defensive player and the team collapsed after he was injured. You could argue that it was a flash in the pan, that he hasn’t proven he can maintain that level – but who on the Knicks has? Marbury’s been in decline for 2-3 years. Randolph has had great years (like last year) and bad ones (the year before). Etc.

  11. Owen

    “There seems to be a tremendous overarching tendency to dramatically inflate the value of situational role players. David Lee, an outstanding role player, has somehow been anointed the best player on the Knicks, despite his lack of a jumpshot, post game, or defensive fundamentals.”

    Thefatkid – Tell that to the guys at 82games. They seem to not only think that David Lee is the best Knick, they also think he is the tenth best offensive player in basketball.

  12. thefatkid

    I don’t see how anyone could make a case for either Crawford or Gordon being overrated. Neither has received much, if any, acclaim and both are outstanding players.

    Robinson is clearly a finished product. He’s shown no signs of improvement when it comes to his weaknesses and there is no evidence to suggest that any will be forthcoming. A specialized role player isn’t going to become a versatile starter unless a massive change occurs.

    I won’t rehash the Robinson versus Crawford debate, but to suggest that starters minutes would be better served on Robinson because he’s younger is quite a reach.

    I’ll refrain from delving deeply into the David Lee debate, but I’ll just suggest that basketball statistics are funny metrics. David Lee grades higher than Jason Kidd on most, if not all, composite scoring formulas. Maybe some people actually believe that, but it’s good for a laugh in this corner.

  13. Knickerblogger

    Tfk: I can’t see any basis for calling Jamal Crawford outstanding. He’s a fine ball handler and distrubtor for a 2 guard, but those are the only positives I can think of. He’s a 40% shooter, that doesn’t do anything else particularly well. I’m away from my computer, but IIRC he’s never been in a playoff series or even on a winning team. He’s never been an All Star or even been seriously considered to be near that level. I’m really not all that sure what’s so outstanding about him.

  14. Charles

    Hey, wait just a second, the guy is just a 3rd year guy, to say he has reached his celling is foolish. Nate is a role player and in his roll he is the energy guy, his teammates knows it and the coaching staff nows it. Is he a little overzealous, yes with out a doubt, does he as to prove something, in my oppion yes. Some of these guys have to fight every night they get a chance in fear of getting cut. I beleive Nate will improve, he has allready showed it at Summer League(MVP). He is what he is, a scorer off the bench, a uptempo energy guy, fan favorite and a figher, something this team hasn’t had since the 90″s. Lets give this guy a chance and find the positive in his game and hopes he builds on that instead of finding or looking for the negative. You guys act like he was the 1st Overall pick in the NBA

  15. thefatkid

    Crawford is an extremely versatile and talented player. He can be a legitimate starter at either guard spot. He is an excellent ballhandler, a very good passer, a capable scorer, an outstanding athlete, and a smart player with good court vision and a solid understanding of the offense. His only detriment are his shooting percentages, which some would have you believe are the kiss of death. To be comparing Crawford negatively to Nate Robinson is not only insulting but a significant reach.

    It’s clear from watching Robinson that he has indeed reached his ceiling. In this year’s summer league, he showed nothing more than what he showed 3 years ago, before he’d even played an NBA game. I’d argue that he actually showed less, as he was passing and looking to pass more at that time. Now he isn’t even seeing wide open teammates.

    I’m actually a big Nate Robinson fan. He’s a good shooter, a capable scorer, and a nice energy guy. But I don’t like or agree with the notions that he’s going to improve dramatically or that he’s capable of being a starter. Robinson is going to play 20 MPG and provide energy and scoring off the bench. That’s what he does. Fans should appreciate his contributions and not expect him to somehow be capable of supplanting a more skilled player like Jamal Crawford.

  16. Frank O.

    Okay, I’m torn about Nate.
    I was one of the few people I know that thought it was a breath of fresh air that Nate fought. The Knicks were a better team after the fight, more cohesive, and more a team. Too often in the past, I’ve seen them in the post-Oakley era simply back away from tough teams and take a beating.
    On the other hand, Nate scrapped with several Knicks in the locker room and during practice, too, so his fight on the court probably was more a manifestation of immaturity than leadership.
    Still, it was nice to see the Knicks had some balls.
    His scoring is sound. His ball handling is pretty good. He was very tough during the summer league, although he was playing against 1st years and rooks. Still, he was a dominant presence.
    He still makes lame-brained passes and shows poor judgment on the court. I think his minutes were cut back because Isiah was practicing tough love.
    Maybe it will pay off. It’s good to be exuberant. If he can just grow up a bit, his kind of fire could lead a team. There have been plenty of under-sized points who were successful in the past.
    But in the end, his size and relatively weak D makes him a role player in my view.
    And if you’re a role player, you need to make your minutes count. You can’t go out there and play school yard ball and expect to keep getting minutes.
    And the Knicks have some strong bench players now that will make it hard for Robinson to get minutes.
    I personally hope the Knicks make Q the 2 and Crawford his back up, with Robinson as the third option at the two and the point.
    I’d rather see Balkman at the three.

    In the end, however, Robinson is one of the pieces that probably gets traded before the season starts. the Knicks need to make a move, Nate is cheap and he could be a fire plug for some team.

  17. steve

    I think Nate showed this summer that he can improve and pass the ball. I always love the debates about “pure” point guards. Most of the so-called “pure” points can’t rely on their shot, so they have to develop their pass skills to get into the League. Nate has the ability to get into the paint at will, so if he says he wants to be a better passer, lets see him give it a shot. I could care less if he argues calls, these refs are the worst ever. My gut says he’s going to be traded down the line regardless, because Collins, another pass first/can’t shoot point guard will get more minutes. I’m sure people like us have been telling Nate Robinson all of his life what he couldn’t do, so I’m also sure he will continue to silence the critics. In addition, whatever genius at 82 games.com believes David Lee is the 10th best offensive player in Basketball really needs to start watching another sport.

  18. Brian Cronin

    People constantly harp on us for talking too much about David Lee, but then they pull out nonsense like “David Lee is just a role player,” and then, what, expect no one to tell them they’re being foolish?

    Unless, of course, “role player” means “best or second-best player on the Knicks (depending on what you think of Randolph), but not a starter,” which I certainly can understand some people thinking when they use the term, but in that case, it doesn’t have very much value as a term, no?

  19. thefatkid

    The thing about Lee being the best player on the Knicks and the 10th best player in the league is serious? I don’t mean any insult, but that’s an absurd notion.

    David Lee is good at what he does – he gets dunks, layups, and tips, he rebounds the ball, plays hard, and has some passing skills. But he can’t shoot, he can’t do anything in the post, and his defensive fundamentals are mediocre. He’s got nice +/- numbers in large part because Frye was the worst starting PF in the NBA.

    But the best player on the Knicks? And that it’s a question as to whether perennial 20/10 man Randolph is a better player? Aside from PER, what justifies this?

  20. theinfamousjb

    I think Nate is another example where stats don’t tell the complete story.

    He has had a tendency to dominate the ball, completely fouling up the offense in the process. Nate will often take a shot or get to the line late in the 24 shot clock. But many times he will also pass to a teammate without him having the time or space to create a good shot. Leaving that Knick in a position to heave a shot or turn it over in the process.

    So, despite being a offensive spark plug, the Knicks scored less points per 100 possessions (-1.3, even though it might be statistically insignificant) with Nate on the bench. He needs to distribute and stay in the offensive flow better or his positives are greatly reduced.

    I didn’t watch any summer league. I heard Nate worked on his point guard skills, but what about his defense. His rebounding belies his size, but he should have the lateral quickness to be a better defender. I know picks are hard to fight through at his size, but his perimeter defense needs to improve to justify increasing his minutes.

    A bit of perspective on the big picture by focusing more on the team than his own performance (and perception around the league with refs) wouldn’t hurt either.

  21. Owen

    Lol, haven’t ee been through this TFK?

    David Lee isn’t just good at what he does. His rebounding and scoring efficiency are just about the BEST in the league. His rebound rate is I think in the top three, and his TS% was second in the league to Steve Nash. He is absolutely outstanding in the two most important aspects of the game. That’s why I like him so much. I think that’s why most people agree on this board that he is the best Knick.

    Every stat formula will tell you the same thing. Lee was by far the best player on the team last year. PER, WOW, W%, NBA EFFiciency and +/-. I dont believe in all of those formulas, but it tells you something that they all agree. And its not even close to close. The offensive composite score metric rates Lee as being twice as good as Marbury, the closest Knck.

    I don’t think you really can argue Randolph and Lee. In my mind its not even close. Randolph came out of the blocks fairly strong last year, but by the end of the season his numbers looked fairly mediocre. He was above average certainly, but not All-Star material by any means. People talk about what a devastating scorer he is, but the truth is his career TS% is less than 52%. He wasn’t much better last year either at 53.7%. That’s not very good at all for an frontcourt player. His defense isn’t great, his rebounding skills are excellent, but not as good as Lee’s.

    Alright. I desperately need this season to start, see how this potential hall of fame career develops…

  22. Neil

    “David Lee isn?t just good at what he does. His rebounding and scoring efficiency are just about the BEST in the league.”

    Well, about all his energy is spent on rebounding. There’s no question he’s a great rebounder, he’s got the physical tools and top-notch instints but if the other top PFs focused just on rebounding, I’m sure they’d put up outstanding numbers too. While they’re at it, they’ll probably shoot a good percentage on putbacks also. That wouldn’t however, make them more valuable than if they also diversified their contributions with shooting and post-play.

    Is David Lee a good player? Of course but he’s still a role player, just a very very good one. Still, he’s not, in absolute terms, a no.1 type player. He’s not someone you build your team around.

  23. thefatkid

    Sorry Owen, but I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.

    The two most important parts of the game are shooting percentage and rebounding? Are the top 3 players in the league Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard and David Lee?

    I’m worried you’ve confused efficiency and efficacy. David Lee is without a doubt an efficient player, but is he the sort of impact player you’re making him out to be? I have my doubts and I find it difficult to make a case for any player with such a limited range of actual basketball skills to be an impact player.

    I’m also befuddled by your Randolph references. Do you really believe Randolph to be a better player because his TS% is higher? Is this actually serious?

  24. xduckshoex

    “He?s got nice +/- numbers in large part because Frye was the worst starting PF in the NBA.”

    I’ve never bought that kind of argument. Was Eddy Curry’s +/- so low because Jerome James is one of the best back up centres in the game?

    And while your theory is very nice, it doesn’t explain the large advantage in production Lee holds over his counterparts. Frye has nothing to do with that.

    Finally, I don’t see why it’s so absurd to think that the players who produce the most are the better players. It seems like it’s something that should go without saying…

  25. Z

    I think KB hits Nate?s problems perfectly. He has an insane amount of talent, but even if his head was screwed on tight and he didn?t have a me-against-the-world mentality I think he would still be a liability on a winning team. Since his circus act is marketable and his contract is tiny I expect him to be traded before he has much chance to win back the Garden crowd. For all the reasons stated at the top of this page, I would not be sorry to see him go.

    Still, I don?t think I?d call Nate a villain. Annoying and abrasive yes, but he doesn?t fit as an archetypal bad buy because he has very positive attributes in his favor. It is hard work to root against an underdog. I like what Dave Crockett writes, and I find it especially relevant in the wake of the Michael Vick discussion on the Q thread. Sports definitely needs its villains, but Vick has just raised the bar way too high for the average punk to compete with. Bill Laimbeer is suddenly soft and cuddly next to Vick. Rodman is just a wee bit quirky.

    Since the subject of archetypal villains was raised, and the Vick crimes have been recently debated on this blog, I couldn?t help but combine the two in tryng to understand the outrage over Vick?s actions. Disney movies play off of archetypal heroes and villains and as far as my brief and recent analysis of the villains, it seems that the consensus most evil villain is Cruella De Vil because she wants to murder 101 puppies just to make a coat. Sure Captain Hook wants to kill Peter, and Scar does kill his brother, but Cruella was born with the evil gene and the only motivation that her character appears to have is that she?s just plain evil.

    I think it’s easy to say Michael Vick’s behavior isn’t as bad as the physical abuse of human beings, but there are elements that I find much more morally and psychologically frightening. Human crimes against humans are often based in passion and/or other emotions that are at least somewhat empathetic to the human condition. Abuse of animals is a less sensitized crime, and because of that it makes people fear it (along the same lines as the Long Island caregivers that were arrested earlier this week for beating up elderly autistic women– the only comprehensible motivation being that they are just plain bad and can?t change). I’d never heard of Michael Vick before the world turned against him earlier this year (too much time following basketball to follow football too?) so all I know about him is that he murdered dogs that he bred to be killers (and as a pitbull owner myself, I am naturally inclined to find such behavior repulsive). Whether jail time and a career suddenly over fits the crime I?m not sure, but I definitely understand how a world that anoints Cruella De Vil the most evil archetypal villain could turn against Vick faster than they could Artest, Kidd, Sprewell, or other athletes that have committed serious offenses against physically weaker human beings.

    Nate may kill dogs too, and beat up women and sleep with 12 year olds for all I know. But until he?s brought up on charges, I?ll just go on thinking he?ll always be either a good player on a bad team or a serious liability on a good team. But when he drives to the paint with three guys on him or blocks Yao Ming in a game where Eddy Curry looks like flea on defense, I find it way too hard to root against Nate for him to be a credible villain. Sorry Mike Breen.

  26. Knickerblogger

    “The two most important parts of the game are shooting percentage and rebounding?”

    Tons of research has been done in this matter, and of the four factors (shooting percentage, turnovers, rebounding, and getting to the line; ) shooting percentage is the most important. There is a very high correltaion between shooting percentage and offensive (or defensive) efficiency.

    You’ve disparaged shooting percentage a lot, so on what basis do you claim that shooting percentage isn’t important?

  27. Ted Nelson

    Sorry thefatkid, Jamal Crawford has a solid understanding of the offense????? I guess if the Knicks’ offense is designed for players to jack 3s in transition and dribble around on the perimeter for 15 seconds then jack 3s with a hand in their face. It might not be a kiss of death and Crawford still manages to be a solid NBA player, but for a SG to get 37.3 mpg and 15 shots/game and neither shoot nor defend well is pretty bad.

    I think David Lee has the highest basketball IQ and skill combination of any Knick. Maybe he doesn’t have the skills required to be isolated and jack up 40% jumpers, or maybe he just chooses not to, but he understands how he can best use his skills to help the team.

    I would probably agree with calling Lee a role player on offense, if the definition of an offensive “role player” is someone you can’t count on to carry your offense while at the same time helping his teammates improve their play. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t the best player on the 2006-2007 Knicks. Owen makes a good point that a wide variety of metrics which disagree on a number of issues all agree that Lee was the Knicks’ best player last year.

    No other Knick fits the “franchise player” description either, implying that all the Knicks are best suited as “role players”. Who did a better overall job in their role last year than Lee? He was at least solid in every aspect of the game (and spectacular in a couple): shooting, passing, rebounding, defending, moving without the ball…

    Curry did a very good job in his role as low post scorer, but was horrendous in terms of passing, turnovers, defense, rebounding, post positioning…

    Crawford was a good passer at the 2 and “created” his own (bad) shots, but he shot and defended horribly, stood around when he didn’t have the ball like the other Knicks besides Lee and Balkman, and over-dribbled like the other guards.

    Marbury was up and down, Q was injured, Francis and Frye were down and down, and I don’t see how any other Knick could enter the discussion. In limited minutes, Balkman was good all-around and excellent defensively, we’ll have to see if he improves on that this season.

  28. Owen

    TFK – I like to poke fun at my own obsession with David Lee’s statline, on court play, and um, girlfriend, http://www.sabinagadeckionline.com/index3.html, but I really do think he is that good. He is easily the best player on the Knick, and if he continues the coures he charted last year in increased minutes, should be an all-star, and then a perennial all-star.

    I would count Yyson Chandler and Dwight Howard among the top 10-20 best players in the league also. Not top five, but getting close. In general, the school of thought I subscribe to statistically (WOW) adjusts for position played. So raw rebounding and ts% is set not against an absolute standard but the average for the position. But basically, the higher the better. Efficiency and efficacy aren’t exactly the same thing, but they almost are.

    And to follow up on what KB said, the statistic I cited, TS%, combines field goal and free throw shooting, making it easily the most important metric cited. Dean Oliver concludes in BOP that free throw shooting is the most important factor after fg shooting, with turnovers and rebounding just behind. So yes, definitely, the higher the ts% the better. So re your commment…

    “Do you really believe Randolph to be a better player because his TS% is higher? Is this actually serious?”

    I assume you meant Lee there, since his ts% was 11 points higher than Randolph’s last year, and yes, I absolutely consider it a major and very valid reason to consider Lee the better player. An 11% ts% difference is a HUGE difference.

  29. Knickerblogger

    “if the other top PFs focused just on rebounding, I?m sure they?d put up outstanding numbers too.”

    I think you’re underestimating the amount of skill that goes into rebounding.

  30. thefatkid

    Shooting percentage is an important metric when it comes to measuring offensive efficiency. However, there’s an important difference between efficiency and efficacy. Plenty of players, like the aforementioned Tyson Chandler, are efficient offensive players but not effective ones. Gilbert Arenas is a fairly inefficient player, but he’s an extremely effective one.

    Unless you’re Mike Breen, I find difficulty in making the case that Crawford takes an abundance of bad shots. He’s not shooting ridiculous fadeaways when double teamed or anything of that nature. He’s expected to take a large amount of shots and create offense. Most isolation plays that the Knicks run are designed for him. There’s a reason Crawford’s assisted FG% is so low.

    Contrastingly, Nate Robinson is notorious for taking some ghastly shots and completely playing outside of the offense. Robinson will shoot the ball whenever possible. He has tremendous difficulty finding open teammates and a poor understanding of the offense. Fortunately for him though, since much of his role involves catch-and-shoot and high percentage plays, his shooting percentages are quite good.

    Crawford’s defense, like that of Curry, has been much maligned over the years. However, neither of those two have consistently shown themselves to be the sort of defensive liability that Marbury, Robinson, Francis, and Frye have proven to be. Crawford has excellent hands and good awareness. He plays passing lanes well and his lateral quickness allows him to stay in front of his man.

    I’m not sure I follow on how David Lee improves his teammates’ play on offense. He’s a decent passer for a big man, but he has no jumpshot, no post game, and no ability to create offense. Teams often left him open to double Curry and he was unable to capitalize. Almost all of his offensive contributions come in the form of screen-and-roll plays, backdoor cuts, and hustle plays. Saying Lee makes his teammates better is a misnomer as his offensive ineptitude is precisely what limits his minutes, along with his limitations on defense.

    I have tremendous difficulty understanding how people could feel that David Lee had a better season than Eddy Curry. One was a franchise center who commanded constant double teams, should have rightfully been named an All-Star, led the team in scoring, and was the only Knick to play anything resembling a full season. The other was an energetic sixth man who rebounded well.

    I cannot reasonably agree that Tyson Chandler is anywhere close to a top-20 player in the NBA. Chandler is a horrendous offensive player and a clear case for the confusion between efficiency and efficacy. Chandler is mostly useless, but he’s efficient at doing so.

    Owen, I’m absolutely flabbergasted that you would consider David Lee, a player even you have to admit is quite limited, to be a better player than Zach Randolph, one of the most well-rounded, fundamentally sound PFs in the NBA, based on TS%. Randolph is eminently more skilled than Lee and that should be patently obvious to any and all observers.

  31. Caleb

    Efficiency can be somewhat misleading, when comparing two players with different roles – or, in a different lingo, with different usage rates. It is easier to be efficient if you take relatively few shots and don’t handle the ball much, e.g. David Lee, who wouldn’t lead the league in TS% if his role were the same as Curry’s, but whose efficiency is so high, it’s still impressive.

    That said… when you’re talking about two players (let’s call them “Ned Robertson” and “Jawan Crawdad”) who play the same position, and take a similar number of shots, then it’s a useful, apples-to-apples comparison. In this case, “Robertson” is a better offensive player, scoring more efficiently in the same volume (in fact, scoring more per minute than any player except a center we’ll call “Cruddy.”) Factor in fewer assists, but also fewer turnovers… seems like a wash.

    Maybe “Crawdad’s” not-quite-as-bad defense makes up for the weaker offense, but there’s no reason to call it an “insulting” comparison.

  32. Ted Nelson

    thefatkid-

    You might say that Gilbert Arenas is fairly inefficient, but he’s miles ahead of Jamal Crawford in terms of scoring efficiency. And yeah he’s pretty effective: he’s had his team in the playoffs the last 3 seasons. Jamal has never been to the playoffs.

    I have absoluately no problem saying that Jamal Crawford takes an abundance of bad shots. To shoot 40% on 15 shots a game you have to be not only a bad shooter, but also taking bad shots.

    “One was a franchise center who commanded constant double teams, should have rightfully been named an All-Star, led the team in scoring, and was the only Knick to play anything resembling a full season”
    Are you serious??????????????
    The reason people say that is that basketball involves more than just standing around and chucking a ball at a basket: that’s called HORSE. You seem to largely ignore defense, rebounding, and team offense in you analysis of players:
    Tyson Chandler is “mostly useless??” Well, he is a good to very good defender, a very good rebounder, and efficient on the offensive end. I would say he’s pretty useful. (I might not say he’s top 20 in the NBA, but I really have no idea).

    While Jamal Crawford “creates” fade away 3s in isolation plays (and hit them at what 32% clip), David Lee doesn’t “create a shot” by cutting to the basket at a 60% clip??

  33. thefatkid

    Caleb, we’ve had this debate enough times. If you think Robinson is a better player than Crawford because his TS% is higher, more power to you. It falls perfectly in line with the argument that Lee > Randolph for the same reason. I’m not going to bore you with basketball facts and logical arguments when the statistics are all that matter.

  34. Caleb

    tfk, for whatever reason you regularly misrepresent my arguments (and everyone else’s). TS% aside, during the last thread I laid out more than a dozen statistical measures that, in my view, show Robinson to be a better player than Crawford, or at least comparable.

    There’s plenty of room to debate the value of various stats, but “basketfall facts and logical arguments” looks like a stand-in for, “because I say so.”

  35. Frank

    OK – I’ve been part of many of these arguments about whether David Lee is or is not the greatest thing since sliced bread and no matter how hard we try, there is no acceptable resolution on either side. Perhaps we can just leave it as for what he is asked to do, Lee is perhaps one of the best players in the NBA. Just like Gilbert Arenas, although inefficient, is one of the best players in the NBA taking into account the fact that he is asked to take 20 shots a game and create opportunities for other players (players like Lee). I think it is very difficult to decide which may be more valuable or “better” as they are really apples and oranges, as much as comparing Dwight Howard to Deron Williams is a hopeless comparison because they don’t play the same game at all.

    So if we look at it that way, Lee is clearly better than someone like Steve Francis, who is asked to create offense for other people and score, yet just turns the ball over endlessly and shoots jumpers that never get above the level of the rim. But while he may not be a “worse” player than Zach Randolph, I think it is extraordinarily difficult to argue that he’s better than Randolph, who is asked to be a primary scorer against what is often double and triple teaming. It is much harder to shoot a high percentage with 3 hands in your face, so TS% I think is completely useless when comparing stats involving two players who take their shots in completely different environments (ie. triple teamed vs. opportunistically uncovered). Now Lee is very good at finding those creases to be uncovered — that is a skill he has that not many players have to his extent.

    Now, the argument against Lee being the greatest thing since sliced bread is that he is NOT a versatile player. If asked to be the focal point of an offense the way Randolph is, I think he would struggle almost to a comical extent. On the other hand, if you asked Randolph to just rebound and play off drives and dishes, I think he would do a very respectable if not excellent job.

    NOw if you compare Lee to Tyson Chandler? I don’t know, maybe Chandler is better. He is also a great rebounder and good finisher off other players’ action, but he is also an excellent defender and intimidating shotblocker.

  36. Ben R

    There is a pretty good arguement to be made on both sides of the Nate Robinson vs Jamal Crawford debate.

    Why Nate is better:

    Nate is a better shooter, his 3pt% of .390, efg% of .513 and TS% of .552 is much better than Jamal’s 3pt% of .320, efg% of .458 and TS% of .517. Nate’s turnover rate (9.6) and rebound rate (6.7) are also both better than Jamal (11.4) and (5.1), plus his steals (1.5) and blocks (0.2) per 40 were both better (1.0) and (0.1), and his PER of 15.4 is also better than Jamal’s PER of 14.7.

    On top of that the Knicks were 1.1 pts per 100 possesions better than their average when Nate was on the floor and 0.9 points worse than their average when Jamal was on the floor.

    Why Jamal is better:

    Jamal is a much better passer, his assist rate of 18.2 is better than Nate’s 12.1, plus his personal fouls were much better averaging 2.1 per 40 as compaired to Nate’s 4.7. Jamal is also better at getting to the free throw line averaging 31 free throws for every 100 shots while Nate averages 27 free throws for every 100 shots, plus when he gets there Jamal converts his free throws at a higher rate .838 vs .777.

    On top of the statistics I believe that Jamal is a better defensive player although both leave alot to be desired and also Jamal is a much better leader and teammate. Also because of his height, Nate creates matchup problems for the Knicks because while he is only 5’9″ he is a shooting guard just like Crawford.

    Also Jamal’s statistics while not as good as Nate’s were against starters and at the end of games, while Nate’s were against backups in less crucial moments. I think that while both players damage the Knicks offense by improvising and freelancing, Jamal only disrupts it with bad shots, while Nate disrupts it not with bad shots but with overdribbling and passes late in the shot clock. (So Jamal’s disruption shows in his low shooting numbers while Nate’s disruption is not reflected in his stats)

    My opinion:

    I think the Knicks would be a much better team if they could trade both Nate and Jamal and find someone else to man the SG position but in a straight up comparison it is hard to pick who is better.

    I guess would vote for Crawford because long term the matchup problems that Nate creates for the Knicks are more damaging than the shooting inefficiency that Jamal brings. Plus Jamal has shown us year before last when his TS% was .544 that he can be acceptably efficeint when he really understands his role in the offense as he did under Larry Brown.

    As for grade, I base my grade on expectations and improvement not overall skill, so I would give Nate a C+ because he improved his shooting and turnover’s, but no higher because his assist rate and freethrows per shot attempt both went down.

    Crawford gets a D- not because he is worse than Nate but because he was worse in pretty much every way than the year before seeing his efg%, TS%, assist rate, and free throws per shot attempt all signifigantly get worse while seeing no part of his game signifigantly improve.

    As for all the David Lee talk I could write pages about why Lee is the best Knick and why he is better than Randolph but I have written alot about that in the past and it has nothing to do with Nate’s grade, so I will leave that for another discussion.

  37. Frank O.

    Pretty silly, this debate about David Lee, who does what the Knicks want very well.
    Pretty silly debating who is best on a team that was as many games under .500 as the Knicks were.
    Pretty silly arguing who is better among two SGs, who aren’t high level performers to begin with. Remember Crawford has only played for losers in the NBA, and Robinson is a bench-rider on a team that won 33 games…

    I am a fan of the Knicks, just like everyone else on this board.
    I just can’t see a lot coming from Curry, Randolph, Crawford and Marbury.
    What I would love to see is the Knicks make room for Lee, Balkman, Collins, Morris, Q, Nichols, Chandler and even Jefferies to develop.
    We will lose plenty of games, but we all would enjoy watching a bunch of young kids work hard, play hungry and develop as a squad.
    I don’t see how Curry, Randolph, Crawford and Marbury are going to change much the flaws they have exhibited their entire careers.
    We are all hoping that each will find a way to break bad habits that have existed with them from day one.
    Curry – Weight, hustle, rebounding, shot-blocking and defense have always been weaknesses.
    Randolph – He has always been a subpar defender, and is an indictment waiting to happen.
    Crawford – He’s always been a black hole with sub par shooting, poor defense, and over dribbling.
    Marbury – A stats guy that isn’t a good chemistry guy, and, frankly, he’s recently been exposed as simply not that bright.

    I haven’t mentioned Cato, Rose, James and the two new guards the Knicks picked up because they’re really not going to see much time even on this team.

  38. ken

    He’s clearly a gifted penetrator, shooter, and he has the athletic ability to defend well. But he hasn’t done it yet with enough consistency to be a useful player. I do know that he isn’t scared and refuses to lay down to anyone– which are good qualities. I have a feeling a light is going to to off for him one day and he’ll be a top bench player on a good team. I bet it won’t be the Knicks, though.

  39. Z

    “Less than one month into the season, Nate attempted an in game alley-oop dunk on a fast break, only to be called for traveling on the play.”

    He missed that dunk too! Larry’s kidney almost failed on the spot. Definitely a telling moment in the devolution of Nate as a Garden favorite.

  40. Ted Nelson

    I realize that we’ve been beating a dead horse all summer, but there are two things that really get to me about the David Lee debate: the franchise/role player thing and the “creating” shots thing.

    There’s this popular notion that being a franchise player means scoring 20+ ppg. Screw whether a guy actually makes his team better or is a solid all-around player, if he’s scoring 20 ppg he’s clearly a franchise player and an All-Star. If you don’t score 20 ppg you go into this great sea of “role players.”
    This makes sense if you’re talking about Tim Duncan: someone who can not only score 20+ ppg, but also do so efficiently, pass, establish position, hold onto the ball, rebound, and think through the game on offense as well as play all-world D. Not Eddy Curry or Jamal Crawford.

    That seems to go hand in hand with the notion that you have to be able to “create” shots for yourself and others in isolation situations if you want to be a good offensive player. Unfortunately, this is why team USA was has been getting sent home from international tournaments by teams with half their talent over the last few years (that and their inability to shoot).

    I would argue that cutting to the basket for a lay-up or going up strong with an offensive rebound is every bit as much “creating” a shot as dribbling around and throwing it up as soon as you can see the basket.
    Another popular notion is that in the half court offense you have to “create” your own shot. NO. There are these things called screens, passing out of the double team, moving without the ball, moving the ball… All of these can, and should, be used in the half court offense.

    I’m not sure what thefatkid’s problem with efficiency is, but let me point out that being more efficient than the other team on more of your possessions is how you win basketball games.

  41. daniel

    Chris Sheridan on ESPN radio/LA

    Said that he still believes that if Kobe Bryant is traded, something that he thinks will happen, the Knicks are the team that he ends up with. The Bulls won’t trade the core for Kobe – but the Bulls think a player like Zach Randolph would help them enormously, although the conearn of his off the court behaviour is a conearn. Now, no matter what you think of Isiah, the Knicks aquiring Zach Randolph makes little sense, especially with the organazations hope in Eddie Curry- so say something like this happens- the Knicks trade Randolph to the Bulls for Ben Gordon.

    And then the the Knicks trade Ben Gordon, Renaldo and David Lee to the Lakers for Kobe Bryant (a couple other players would have to be involved because of salary cap stuff- but those would be the primary players)….just a thought

  42. daniel

    just another thing, from the Lakers perspective; they would not only good great potential in Lee and Balkman, a proven play maker in Gordon, but real salary space for next year – enough that they could sign a star like Gilbert Areanas who has been on record that he’d like to play for his native Los Angeles Lakers

  43. daniel

    Also Randolph becomes available, by league rules, to be traded with other players around now or by September 1.

  44. Caleb

    In what will probably be a minority view except for Owen :)….

    that would be a horrendous deal for the Knicks. 41-41 with zero young players and nothing but untradeable contracts.

    I would see if LA wants to try and build a win-now team around Kobe: offer Curry, Crawford and Dickau for Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown and whatever contracts you need to make it match up.

    LA gets two starters in place of two part-time players, a great low-post scoring threat to pair with Kobe, a big, ball-handling two-guard and upgraded outside shooting (though JC will have to learn to control himself).

    Knicks clear playing time for Randolph and Lee, get a promising young center-of-the-future, upgrade their interior defense and start clearing salary room — Kwame’s deal comes off the cap at the end of the season.

  45. daniel

    Sheridan, now along with Ric Bucher, seems to be under some kind of impression, that there is not chance Kobe stays with the Lakers – don’t know what to make of that (obviously they are getting their info from Bryant directly) but Bucher especially is risking his reputation on that story line- so the deal would be under that context, with Kobe leaving the Lakers. …Would it be a terrible trade for the Knicks? Again, this is all theoretical, but they’ve have a core of Stephon, Curry, and Kobe – and then lack something serious at power forward – who knows, I’d imagine the Knikcs would try to keep either Lee or Balkman – but not sure if its horrible if it would happen. The Lakers would never take Crawford back because of his contract, especially ’cause a appealing part of this sort of deal for the Lakers would be freeing up cap space as well as getting really good young players- so much that they could get a major free agent next year

  46. Caleb

    I don’t think a straight Portland/Chicago trade would have worked, salary-wise…
    everyone on Chicago’s payroll is so cheap that they couldn’t have made the salaries match up, except by trading 3 or 4 other guys with Gordon. I guess they could have tried for a sign and trade but that assumes Portland wanted to pay Nocioni $50 million for 5 years.

  47. daniel

    Jon Abbey, perhaps, but they’d get a few other pieces for salary cap reasons from the Knicks or Lakers- a trade for Gordon and Randolph could not be done straight up – much different paychecks, so they’d get more for him right now, as don’t think Portland would have offered more than Randolph (now, Kwame Brown and others would be a possibility)

  48. Caleb

    I just don’t see LA trading Kobe this year – he can’t leave via free agency for at least two years, and even that would probably mean giving a up either a lot of salary or going to play in the boonies somewhere.

    He’d have to threaten to sit out a full year, and mean it, in order to have any leverage.

    Considering that LA is stuck in mediocrity, without either cap room or high draft picks, I think they’d be smart to find a deal like the Garnett trade… I just don’t think Kupchak is smart enough to do it.

  49. 10milliondollarzen

    absolutely preposterous in what way – too much for Bryant or giving up too little for Byant….If it’s too much- I profounly disagree- Kobe Bryant would be the best player the Knicks have ever have had. Lee is a nice player and Balkman has shown promise, Randolph is pretty good, but obviously doens’t fit the team as constructed and besides the guy has simply never won..If you’re the crappy NY KNICKS you make that trade in a second to get Kobe Bryant – sorry, that kind of thing is rare. Besides I think Kobe will be even more inspired if he were in NY than before….humm, we’ll see, but that trade seems to help all teams, even the Lakers, who will be faced with a hold out from Byant- his competitive nature will force himelf to stand by his trade demands – and he’ll recupe lost money with that the 15 percent trade kicker in his contract …

  50. xduckshoex

    So the Knicks team would be Kobe, Curry, Crawford, Marbury and Richardson? I don’t see Kobe waiving his no trade clause for that. Playing on a team that couldn’t rebound or defend is what frustrated him to the point where he demanded a trade in the first place, why would he voluntarily come to NY for more of the same?

  51. Caleb

    Yeah, it’s hard to see how that team would be much better than the team he left in LA – and it would be even less flexible, in terms of making moves.

  52. Owen

    Lee, Balkman and Randolph are our three best players. Kobe Bryant is the third best shooting guard in the league. That would be a terrible trade. We would be left with Marbury Bryant, Q, Jefferies and Curry? You think that team wins 40 games? No way.

    But I am on record saying I don’t even know how good an idea it would be to trade Lee for Bryant straight up, so its unsurprising that I think that.

    http://www.knickerblogger.net/?p=561

  53. Caleb

    under my proposal, on the other hand, the LA lineup would look like:

    Farmar/Crittenden/Dickau
    Crawford/Bryant
    Bryant/Walton
    Odom
    Curry

    Looks like an upgrade, at least in the short-term, plus they get to keep Kobe.

    The Knicks, on the other hand, would have:
    Marbury/etc.
    Robinson/Richardson
    Balkman
    Lee/Randolph
    Randolph/Bynum
    …and still have Kwame Brown, Jeffries and Chandler as options.

  54. Frank O.

    All this Kobe stuff simply has me thinking…Oh please.

    First of all, LA would not give up the league’s top scorer, and arguably the best player in the NBA, for a couple role players, as much as we like them, and a man widely believed to be the next athletic face on thesmokinggun.com website.
    This would be a total steal for Isiah – I hate to incite Owen and Caleb – to give away a bad character guy, a strong rebounder, and a player yet to establish himself as a starter in the NBA for Kobe Bryant and other pieces….
    As for Caleb’s suggestion of Curry, Crawford and Dichau for Bynum, Brown and players to be named…, why the heck would the Knicks do that?
    We get two center-type players, both of whom are marginal performers…?

    I know Bynum would probably be a better defender than Curry, but he won’t score like Curry. And Brown? Why in the world we would trade for Brown is behind my comprehension.
    Somehow I think the Knicks could do better…
    This is a find-Lee-and-Balkman-starting-positions trade.
    Otherwise, I see no value.
    Balkman and Lee probably could not start over Randolph and Curry. So the idea is to get players that are worse than Randolph and Curry so that Lee and Balkman can start???

    Man, that’s just weird.

  55. Caleb

    Think of it as Curry for Bynum.

    Bynum is only 19 years old, already shows flashes and has a great future, in my opinion. If he had come out this year, as a college sophomore, he would have been a top-5 pick, no doubt.

    Taking Kwame Brown is just to make salaries match up, with the side benefit of helping our cap situation by expiring this year (the Curry and Crawford deals don’t expire for three years).

    Obviously anyone who still believes in Curry as a “franchise” player will disagree…

    The Lee/Balkman/Randolph for Kobe idea isn’t worth talking about. If Kobe could singlehandedly launch a team deep in the playoffs, we’d have seen it by now. If Lakers get around to trading him, they won’t get anything close to that.

  56. xduckshoex

    Bynum is 19 years old and is already an above average center in the NBA. His per-40 minute numbers were 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks per game and his TS% was 59%. I would give up anybody but Lee to get him in a Knicks uniform.

  57. caleb

    That’s the idea – LA might go for it, because they are desperate to satisfy Kobe and don’t have time to wait for him to become a full-time player (and Kobe seems to hate him)

  58. Frank O.

    Funny.
    I don’t think it’s worth talking about for a different reason entirely.
    That trade would give the Knicks a squad that looks like this:
    PG Marbury/Collins
    SG Bryant/Robinson
    SF Q/Chandler
    PF Jefferies/Rose
    C Curry/Morris

    That’s a top five squad in the East.

    After such a trade LA not only doesn’t have a franchise guy anymore, they are filled with role players. In the West, they don’t even qualify for the playoffs. with Randolph, they become Portland.

    If that deal ever went through Isiah would have to include plenty of KY jelly for the Lakers because they would be screwed….

    As for Curry for Bynum, I’m a little tired of these young kids they took in the NBA. Few do well. Most don’t develop skills they need.
    Jury is still out on Bynum.
    Having said that, I don’t see Curry as a franchise guy…

  59. caleb

    A guy who should have been a college sophomore, is already a better defender, rebounder and passer than our so-called franchise center.

    Plus, I don’t see how that’s a top-5 squad in the East. In what way is it substantially better than last year’s Lakers team?

    I completely disagree on the value of what the Lakers get, but we’ve been down this road before…

  60. Owen

    Frank – That lineup would struggle to win thirty games. And Bynum is already better than Curry, easily. But they wouldn’t trade him for Jason Kidd, so I don’t know why they would even consider Curry.

  61. Z

    I like both trade scenarios (for Kobe AND Caleb’s). The Knicks have always been exploitable because they are a win now organization. The Lakers are the only other team right now that is similarly vulnerable. If we can fleece them of Kobe for anyone or everyone on the current roster, then we should. Since that’s likely not going to happen, I really really like Caleb’s alternate plan.

    Unfortunately, if the Lakers were willing to part with Bynum they probably could have gotten a better package than what the Knicks will give. Also, to make salary work out the Knicks would have to take back Vlad Rad, which kind of defeats the purpose of the trade. Also, Kwame’s expiring pact has more value on a team that is closer to the cap than the Knicks. Still, LA is vulnerable and I think its a good idea to focus on ways of getting the better of them without necessarily stealing Kobe away.

  62. caleb

    Why would the Lakers (maybe) do it?
    a) pressure from KObe is growing. THe future is now.
    b) Kidd no longer on offer
    c) They like Curry a bit better than you do
    d) throw in another veteran starter/shooter – Crawford or Q.

    30 games might be harsh – compared to last year’s Lakers, they’d be better at the point, about equal at SF and C, and with a deeper bench… and much, much worse at power forward. I’d say @40 wins.

  63. xduckshoex

    Frank – the best rebounder on that team would Quentin Richardson. Mardy Collins would be playing big minutes as the backup point guard. A power forward combo of Jared Jeffries and Malik Rose? That team would get destroyed on the boards and wouldn’t be able to defend the paint at all. I just don’t see that team contending…maybe they would do well in the East, but I doubt they would be legit contenders.

  64. caleb

    yeah, there’s a good chance it would require taking back Vlad or Brian Cook. But salary relief is only a side benefit, and mostly helps Dolan anway – we’re totally capped out, either way. The important thing would be finding a way to get Bynum.

  65. Z

    I live in LA and I can tell you fans and media are not nearly as high on Bynum as Laker management is. No one would shed a tear (at least not for a while) if they turned him into an established player. Hearts were broken when KG went East. They are still looking for a consolation prize.

    Caleb is right to say Eddy Curry may be seen differently outside of NY. Management definitely knows what Curry brings, but fans who don’t watch him everyday see some pretty gaudy offensive numbers in a huge body that is young and has a reasonable mid-term contract. PR wise, the Lakers would not take a big hit bringing Curry in (they remember Shaq and Kobe dominating the league is still fresh in their minds).

    Crawford is more of a deal breaker because he plays the same position as Kobe only much worse. Jared Jeffries, on the other hand could be included to “solidify” the Laker D (it’s all PR remember…).

    The Lakers would be one of the few teams that could justify bringing Marbury in too, but there is no way for salary to match up (if Curry goes with him).

    I’m not sure what the barrier in a JO trade to the Lakers is, if the Lakers are willing to give up Bynum. I think the Lakers would rather have JO than Curry (except, I guess in the fact that for JO they would need to give up Lamar Odom too, where for Curry they could keep Lamar (salaries again)).

  66. Caleb

    Interesting…

    I keep reading that Indy insists on Bynum AND Odom. Otherwise, I think you’re right – they wouldn’t hesitate to take JO.

    If they don’t like Crawford, or Jeffries, maybe they’d take Q. We’re deep (in so-so players).

    But somehow I think they might prefer Crawford – Jax likes big guards who can shoot, or allegedly shoot, and he would be an extra ballhandler for a team without a real PG. They could slide Kobe to the 3, or run out a big lineup of Crawford, Kobe, Walton, Odom and Curry. Some of us Knicks fans would snicker but I think it would be a hit in Lakerland, unless of course they got an offer of Kidd, or another blockbuster.

  67. Frank O.

    XDS, Caleb and Owen:
    The Knicks with this proposed squad of Marbury/Kobe/Q/Jeffries/Curry would be structurally more sound, significantly better on D and O and would have average team rebounding.

    On D:
    - Jeffries I think gets unfair knocks. He played well before he got hurt, and then never really got a shot to play consistently because of the emergence of Lee as a force. Physically, he has shown the ability to play better defense than Lee, and also can rebound.
    - Kobe is a defensive upgrade at the SG position for the Knicks, and is a highly underrated defender with the ability to shut down an opponent, although I suspect that wouldn?t be necessary for him to do. Yet, in a tight game, he can eliminate the threat of his counterpart hurting the Knicks.
    - Q is a solid defender and rebounder and, when healthy, has the ability to hit from the perimeter.
    - With Kobe as a focal point, more of Marbury?s energies would necessarily be focused on playing defense. When he tries, he?s shown himself to be an able defender.
    - Curry likely will never be a strong defender. I think it is unrealistic to expect much improvement from him.

    On the O:
    Kobe is the most dominant offensive threat in basketball, period.
    He demands double and triple teaming, and with him as a focal point, Curry becomes a massive challenge for any team trying to defend him with Kobe roaming.
    It offers Kobe a chance to roam like he hasn?t had since he shared the court with Shaq.
    That combination on O could be lethal in the East. No team in the East, other than Boston, has that kind of combination.
    This also allows Q to do what he did so well in the West, which was to find an open spot on the perimeter to receive passes and shoot or position for rebounds.
    Marbury becomes a pass-first PG, who also has the ability to create his own shot when needed. This likely will prolong his career and save his energy during the game for the defensive end. It also might help him bolster is soft rebounding numbers, which I think suffer because teams have needed him to do too much.
    Collins would get about 10 minutes per, which isn’t too much. He handled himself fairly well last year starting at the end of the season.
    Jefferies becomes a rebound-minded player on offense. I think with his length and athleticism he would do well.

    Lastly, as currently constructed the Knicks are flawed structurally. We argue about whether rebounders and energy guys should be more highly regarded because we don?t have dominant offensive players beyond Curry. We also are not a good defensive team.

    With the Bryant/Marbury/Q/Jefferies/Curry squad, they are balanced and have clearly defined roles. There is no doubt about scoring options 1, 2 or 3.
    There is no doubt who is required to rebound.
    There is no doubt who should run the O, or who should have the ball in the end.
    .
    Rebounding his very important. But with Curry getting 7-8 rpg, Richardson getting 7+ rpg, Jeffries 6-7 (and probably more if this is a focus), Bryant 6, and Marbury getting 3, that?s about 30 rebounds per game from your starters, which isn?t terrible.
    I realize rebounding is important, but the Knicks were a very good to excellent rebounding team last year – even with a slightly sub par center rebounder. Still the Knicks were a horrible end-of-the-game finishing team.
    Finishing and killer instinct would no longer be a problem with Kobe.

  68. Z

    “it would be a hit in Lakerland”

    Yeah– LA will make a trade before the season. They’ll go down a list of established players to put next to Kobe until they get one. The closer to the season it gets and the more Kobe acts up, the more desperate they will be. I hadn’t really thought of dealing with the Lakers much except to get Kobe, but now that you’ve got me thinking, it’s pretty interesting…

  69. Frank O.

    By the way, while I’m making the case for why the bryant/marbury/Q/jeffries/curry squad would be very competitive in the east, I maintain that there is no way the Lakers make that trade, unless someone over there is smoking some serious doobbage.

  70. Caleb

    I don’t think Bryant/Marbury/Q/Jeffries/Curry is any better than Bryant/Smush/Walton/Odom/Bynum.

  71. Frank O.

    Which is to say either squad they would be at least 5th in the East.

    And I don’t think that trade would happen….my only point was the Knicks would not be able to walk away from a trade to get Bryant…and they would probably rank in the top five in the east.

  72. xduckshoex

    I don’t see how a team with one above average rebounder(for a small forward) and a bunch of average or below average rebounders will be an average rebounding team. Last year the average rebound rate for a power forward was 13.6 and the average rebound rate for a center was 15.4. The Knicks would be left with Richardson(12.9), Curry(11.9) and Jeffries(10.8) as their best rebounders. Richardson is above average, but not so high above average that he can make up for below average rebounding from both big men. That’s a team that will get killed on the glass.

    And on defense…they have no one to defend post players or the rim. Jeffries plays decent defense on guards and small forwards, the average power forward will destroy him. Curry rarely plays defense. Neither one is a shot blocker, strong man to man defender or a great help defender. Jeffries was one of the worst players on the Knicks last season, if they need him to start out of position they are in big, big trouble, no matter who is in the backcourt.

  73. Owen

    I never thought I would say this, but a sad day has come. I have found a man who loves a basketball player in the NBA more than I love David Lee. Hat tip to you sir.

    Look, Kobe is a great player, but he would be nuts to leave this Laker team. With some good luck with injuries and a spike in performance from Bynum, htey could be a 50-55 win team. The Knicks team you described would not make the playoffs. If a team with Kevin Garnett on it can miss the playoffs, then a team with Kobe Bryant would to.

    Dave Berri had a very good post on Kobe.

    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2007/06/01/kobe-bryant-is-unhappy/

  74. Frank

    OK – my turn to chime in on this. Summary statement:

    “I truly believe that anyone who thinks the knicks with Marbury, Kobe, Q, PF-to-be-named, and Curry couldn’t challenge for the Eastern Conference championship is on drugs.”

    Maybe it’s because I used to live on the west coast until last year and was forced to watch the Lakers all the time — maybe it’s because people on the east coast don’t see Kobe play that much due to the time change. Do you guys have any idea how good he is? The guy scored 80 points in a game!!! He’s all NBA defense, especially when he wants to be. He can post-up, drive, shoot mid-range, shoot long-range, and is the best finishing backcourt player in the league. And he is an assassin at the end of the game. And he shoots 85% from the line. And when surrounded by competent players, he’s a great passer. I don’t care what the stat-heads say, when you have a guy like that on your team, it completely changes the game. Suddenly Curry is 1-on-1 in the post, and we all know he’ll shoot an eFG or whatever of 65+% in that situation. Or they double Curry and trust me, Kobe knows how to make a team pay for playing him 1-on-1. Or they’ll run at Kobe after coming off Curry, and there will be Q shooting a wide-open 3.

    The reason Kobe has struggled so much since Shaq left is because they keep surrounding him with players that do not complement his vast array of skills. Lamar Odom is a good player but he doesn’t do much that Kobe doesn’t already do better. The rest of the sad Laker team doesn’t even deserve mention here. Put Kobe next to Randolph or Curry and you will see a (probably not as good) repeat of Shaq and Kobe.

    And Caleb, I really think you’re crazy when you say Marbury/Q/Kobe/PF/Curry is no better than the team he played on in LA. I don’t mean to be confrontational here, but that statement really makes me think you never actually have seen the Lakers play, which is understandable because they are so painful to watch. Smush Parker? Brian Cook? Kwame Brown? Chris Mihm? Sasha Vujacic? Lamar “I’m injured 40 games of the year” Odom? Luke Walton is a fair player, maybe 15 minutes/game on a good team. And anyone who thinks Andrew Bynum is as good as Curry is right now has clearly never seen him play. He is so unbelievably inconsistent — looks competent one second, then looks completely lost the 2nd. He is essentially the defensive version of Eddy Curry 5 years ago (and now one might say) — flashes of brilliance followed by lots of incompetence. Again– a player whose efficiency numbers are helped by the fact he doesn’t play very much and isn’t allowed to touch the ball unless he’s under the rim by himself (and then Kobe passes him the ball).

    And last thing…

    Owen– I do believe you are the only person on the planet who would even take the time to blink once before trading Lee for Kobe straight up. I guess it doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it just means that if you’re right, everyone else in the entire basketball-watching world must be crazy.

  75. Z

    Frank– don’t worry. Owen probably isn’t Dolan’s hand picked replacement for when he fires Isiah.

    I don’t think that there is anything that anyone can say that would convince the GM of the Knicks (be it Isiah, Layden, Grunfeld, Bianchi, or anyone) NOT to trade anyone on this current roster for Kobe. eFG%, TS%, per40, and what those two stat gurus say aside, Kobe in NY means one thing that transcends all else in sports…

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Nick Wholeroster would be made available if the Lakers were serious about trading Kobe.

  76. Santana

    Reading a few of these post about trading for Bynum sparked my creativity. Although the guy isn’t consistent, we all know what eddy turned out to be. And even if Bynum is a defensive version of Curry 5 years ago, I’d rather have that 20yr old with a cloudy future than a 25yr old that physically resembles a cloud. Seeing the improvements Curry made last season, it would be a treat to have Aguirre with a center with a good amount of athletic ability, albeit raw skill-wise.

    This is the trade that will happen in my perfect world:
    Knicks would get-
    Bynum, Artest, Brian Cook, Abdur-rahim

    Lakers-
    Curry, Bibby, Fransisco Garcia

    Sacramento-
    Crawford, Kwame Brown, N.Robinson, Dickau, Farmar,Radmanovic

    The Lakers would look like Curry, Odom, Walton, Kobe, Bibby.

    Knicks – Bynum, Randolph, Artest, (Q-rich or Balkman for even more defense), Marbury

    Sac-
    Well it doesnt really matter, they get 14mil in expiring contracts, young players, and if necessary our 1st round pick next year.

    Kobe simply costs too much, so we can just forget that idea. A same conference trade would be hard to pull off, but I think everyone would come out of it better off.

  77. Caleb

    Lamar Odom isn’t a superstar, but he’s easily better than Curry, Q or Marbury (at this point in his career). He may miss a lot of games, but do you really think he’s more brittle than Q?

    Sure, Kobe’s supporting cast was bad, but your proposed lineup has Jared Jeffries and Malik Rose holding down the power forward slot, and Q (lucky to play 50 games) and a 19-year-old rookie playing SF. Meanwhile, the worst rebounding starting center in the league (not “slightly below average”) holds down the middle. I see three average players, one superstar, one horrendous starter… weak bench. I’m not sold.

    None of this is knocking Kobe – he’s fantastic. But all you have to do is look at last year’s Lakers, or any year’s Timberwolves, to see that no player can single-handedly carry an otherwise bad team.

    Making the scenario worse, a Kobe-dominated offense would mean fewer shots for Curry and Marbury. Unfortunately, almost the only value those players have is scoring (unless Steph decides he’s finally ready to average 12 or 13 dimes and another five assists). Kobe, through no fault of his own, will sharply reduce the effectiveness of the next best players on the team.

    Lee and Balkman, on the other hand, provide most of their value (rebounding, putbacks, defense) without needing the ball. They’re perfect complements to the ballhogs that make up the rest of the team.

  78. Caleb

    Santanta, that’s an interesting trade scenario, (assuming the $ works).

    I’m sure the Lakers and Kings would try and wait for better, but it’s not an unreasonable deal for anyone.

    I’m still not sure I want Artest on our team, but maybe we could turn around and trade him for a younger PG who can create and play defense.

  79. Z

    Caleb–

    Don’t say this: “a Kobe-dominated offense would mean fewer shots for Curry and Marbury. Unfortunately, almost the only value those players have is scoring” while at the same time pitching for a Curry to the Lakers trade. Kupchak may be reading this!

  80. Z

    I do see a minor problem with the Bibby part of the trade. LA hates him. LA and Sac had a little rivalry going a few years ago. Bibby’s a hold over from it. Plus, I think his contract kills the deal anyway. (Also, Farmer is popular in LA).

    Also, there is the minor hurdle of Eddy Curry being Isiah’s pet project. I think he’s much more likely to trade Lee and/or Balkman for Artest and Bynum than Curry. Too bad too.

    Anyway– I like the thinking, Santana and Caleb. I think it might be time for me to revisit the trade machine…

  81. xduckshoex

    “Sure, Kobe?s supporting cast was bad, but your proposed lineup has Jared Jeffries and Malik Rose holding down the power forward slot, and Q (lucky to play 50 games) and a 19-year-old rookie playing SF. Meanwhile, the worst rebounding starting center in the league (not ?slightly below average?) holds down the middle. I see three average players, one superstar, one horrendous starter? weak bench. I?m not sold.

    None of this is knocking Kobe – he?s fantastic. But all you have to do is look at last year?s Lakers, or any year?s Timberwolves, to see that no player can single-handedly carry an otherwise bad team. ”

    I agree on all counts; a single star surrounded by the right role players(defenders, shooters and rebounders) can make it pretty far, as Lebron showed us this year. The trouble is that the Knicks would not have any defenders and rebounders to put around Kobe and shooters would be in short supply. If they had the flexibility to acquire those pieces in the next year or two I would be all for it, but they have no cap space and no moveable deals to make it happen.

    It’s not a knock on Kobe at all, I just don’t see it working, and I don’t think he would see it working either. I think there’s very little chance of him waiving his no trade clause to play in NY with that lineup.

  82. ben B

    I think that nate is a guard of the knicks future. we have amazing young talent including him. i could see in 5 years or say mardy colins nate and demitri nichols making one of the better backcourts in the nba. i think he does need to work on his passing but that will continue to improve. we will eventually be amazing.

  83. Z

    I’m back–

    What about:

    Kings get: Kwame Brown; Dan Dickau (aka: $13 million expiring)

    Wizards get: Brian Cook, Malik Rose; Nate Robinson; Reggie Evans: Fred Jones ($17 million expiring by ’09)

    Knicks get: Ron Artest; Brendan Haywood; Lamar Odom; Jarvis Crittenton; Andrew Bynum (using Frye’s TE)

    Lakers get: Jared Jeffries; Eddy Curry; Shareef-Abdur Rahim; Gilbert Arenas

    Two buyers and two sellers matched up. Lakers get to put Kobe, Curry, and Arenas on the same court. Jeffries bolsters D. Win now at expense of their future.

    Knicks get established players Odom and Artest, along with high prospect Bynum without taking on painful long term pacts.

    Kings and Wiz get significant cap relief (significant because both would be UNDER the cap next year) while getting rid of malcontents and bad contracts.

    Basically the trade is probably worst for the Knicks, but if we target Artest and/or Bynum, this could be a way to get them…

  84. Frank O.

    I truly value the opinions on this board, but the fact that people – other than the other Frank – arec crapping on getting probably the best player on the planet and surrounding him with a competent scoring center and a competent perimeter shooter when healthy and a competent point guard is simply nuts.
    You are so in love with the role players you have you can’t see what you are getting.
    Aside from the fact that they will be a scoring juggernaut for others to defend with Kobe/Curry/Q/Marbury, you get a shut down defender in Kobe the Knicks currently lack, and pair him with the Knicks next best defender in Q, and a solid defender in Jeffries.
    I maintain that Jeffries is a better player than he has shown. But the short-attention-span Knicks’ leadership and fans are so quick to bitch about a guy when he doesn’t return from an injury on a team he played maybe 10 games with and they are surprised he struggles.
    It’s ridiculous.
    I admit they would struggle on the boards, but their D simply will be better.
    And Bryant is just a huge difference maker. If he has a center that shootss 60 percent inside, the Knicks will kill teams. One on one, Curry would kill teams, and so will Kobe.
    And he didn’t just score 80 one night. In other games he knocked down 60 and 50 points. He has the scoring capacity of Chamberlain in a 6’6 body.

    And Marbury would simply be better on that team primarily because he wouldn’t be required to do everything.
    And do you think players would trip over themselves to come to play for the Knicks if Kobe were there? You better believe it.

    This discussion really is silly.

    Yes, our boards would be weaker.
    But we would be significantly improved on offense and defense.
    Before we were good on the boards, inconsistent on O, and our D was atrocious.

    Again, guys, with all due respect, if Kobe is there to be had, you trade Randolph or Curry, Lee and Balkman, and you laugh your way to the bank.

    This is just silly. And to think I started all this saying this trade would never happen because the Lakers would not have allowed themselves to be raped…
    I think the man-love for Lee and Balkman on this board is getting a little strange.

    You can’t get something for nothing. Kobe would come at a cost, but he would instantly put the Knicks into the conversation for a team to compete for the title in the East, if for no other reason that if the Knicks are close in the end, as they were in many games last year with a bad team, Kobe simply will win those games single-handed.

    And I agree with Frank also about Bynum. He’s so very raw and you can read back where I said these kids that come into the NBA so young don’t often work out because they are so lacking in so many ways.

  85. Frank O.

    Z
    Why the heck would the Wizards part with Arenas, one of the best scorers in the NBA, for “Brian Cook, Malik Rose; Nate Robinson; Reggie Evans: Fred Jones ($17 million expiring by ?09)?”
    And how is Artest worth Kwame and Dickau”
    I mean,they would give up a top 10 guy for two folks that don’t even start, cap space notwithstanding…???

  86. Z

    Okay:

    Frank 1– I’d be much more excited to promote a Kobe trade to the Knicks if it was a bit more realistic.

    Frank 2– I believe Arenas made it clear he planned to opt out of his Wizards contract in ’09. If that is true, then the Wizards rebuilding may as well begin now because he is their franchise player. Since Jamison expires this year, Washington will be significantly under the cap in ’09.

    Artest is worth Kwame and Dickau if they are intent on trading him. The Kings are currently 10 Million over. By next year they would be under if they got rid of Artest and any combination of other players (Rahim, Thomas, Miller, Bibby, etc..). That’s not such a bad position to be in, considering their franchise peaked in 2003 and they already started dismantling that core. Maybe the Kings really want to hang on to Artest, but he’s probably not worth the headache only to miss the playoffs.

  87. xduckshoex

    Frank O. – You presume a lot. Only one person opposed to the proposed Kobe trade has shown any concern about who the Knicks would give up; I think the trade is a bad idea not based on who the Knicks would ship out, but rather who would be left behind.

    You can think Jeffries is better than he has shown all you want, but until he shows that he is better it is nothing more than wishful thinking. My opinion of him is not based on last season, but rather on the fact that he is 26 years old and has not had a productive NBA season at the small forward position. There is absolutely no reason to believe he could play out of position and produce when he can’t even produce at his natural position.

    Also, Bryant will not be a lockdown defender, at least not consistently. Last year the Lakers coaching staff remarked on how much time Kobe spent playing the passing lanes and how he hurt his team on the defensive end doing so. He CAN be a lockdown defender, but what he can be is much different from what he will likely be.

    Not that his defense matters much, as you would still have Curry and Jeffries fail to defend the paint and every perimeter defender not named Bryant doing a terrible job.

    Kobe is one man, and he would have a terrible supporting cast. History has shown us time and time again that one man teams just don’t get it done, especially with a mediocre coach.

  88. Nick

    Wow, that proposed trade by Z is stupendously ridiculous for the Wizards, among others. Nice, they get rid of their best player for the ability to shed salary cap space two years from now!

    Yes, Arenas is opting out, but if he’s to be believed, it’s not because he wants to leave but because the opportunity to land even a bigger contract is too appealing to pass up. If that’s the case, Washington will be able to offer him the most money, that is, if they don’t trade him away first.

    It’s also truly remarkable that the Knicks would turn Jeffries, Curry, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau and Malik Rose into Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Javaris Crittendon and Brendan Hayward. Yep, sounds reasonable.

  89. Caleb

    Unforunately, the Wiz aren’t committing suicide.

    Agree that Kings are headed (wisely) for a total salary dump. Bibby, Artest, Brad Miller could all be pieces in a multi-team trade (probably better than none of them end up in NY).

    Franks,
    There’s no way our D would improve by shipping out Lee and especially Balkman, even for Kobe.

    I’ve already laid out the other problems with the trade, and others have talked about the distorted description of a “role” player…

    As for Bynum and the development of young players, I’d say the track record of players who are ALREADY decent NBA players at age 19 is extremely impressive – off the top of my head I can’t think of a single bust. Even a guy like DeSagna Diop (picked out of HS four spots after Curry) — he was off the radar within a year or two, but by now has resurfaced as one of the better defensive centers in the NBA.

    At the age Bynum was putting up above-average numbers in limited minutes on a decent NBA team, Randolph Morris was showing enough to go completely undrafted. That’s not a knock on Morris, who’s a decent prospect – just a shot of context.

    p.s. it’s not like Jared Jeffries had an unusually bad year last season….

  90. Caleb

    DeSagna Diop, there’s an idea. Would Dallas trade Diop and Devin Harris for Curry and Mardy Collins?

    I know Dallas supposedly loves Harris as the long-term, secret weapon to stop Tony Parker, but they could really use a low-post scorer and they still have Jason Terry to play the point.

    I’m a big fan of Harris, who would go a long way to solving our perimeter defense. Steph still gets full-time minutes, split between PG and the SG (where you’re less likely to notice that he’s lost a step). Bring in Harris & Diop, keep Balkman and we’d actually have a good D.

    It might even be worth shipping Randolph instead of Curry (though in that case we might want to force Dallas to take JJ or JJ in the bargain)….

    Fire away, Franks!

    p.s.
    Harris
    Marbury
    Balkman
    Lee
    Curry or Randolph

    rotation: Q, Diop, Crawford, Robinson

    Dallas has:
    Terry/Collins
    Stackhouse/Howard
    Howard/Nowitzki
    Nowitzki/Dampier
    Dampier/Curry or Randolph

  91. Mike Knick

    Why do people assume that Zach Randolph can play center? A frontcourt of Lee at PF and Randolph at C would be destroyed by Orlando, or Miami, or any other team with a real center. Randolph doesn’t even defend power forwards.

  92. Caleb

    Obviously, he’s not a perfect solution, but I don’t think he’d be worse defensively than Curry (against most centers), would rebound much better and offer generally more production – while leaving David Lee to play HIS natural position instead of being destroyed defensively on the perimeter.

    Having a guy like Diop in the rotation would prevent serious matchup problems.

  93. Caleb

    Not to mention, on offense, Zack would create some matchup problems of his own, against big, slow centers.

  94. Mike Knick

    It would just seem to me that the reasonable starting line up would be Balkman/Randolph/Diop, with Lee continuing in his sixth man role and getting most of his minutes at PF. Then they could go small if they wanted, shifting Randolph to C for short stretches of the game. Also, Randolph in fact blocks even fewer shots than Curry, which is saying something. This is not an objection to the trade – I think it would make us better. It’s just a difference on Randolph’s role.

  95. Frank O.

    Does anyone think sending Curry or Randolph and Balkman and Dickau to the Wiz for Thomas and Butler seem reasonable?

    The Wizards get inside scoring, a high energy defender and an expiring contract and the Knicks get a more defense minded center and someone who can knock down the jay from the perimeter…

  96. thefatkid

    The ideas have gone from Nate Robinson being a better player than Crawford to David Lee being too much to give up for Kobe Bryant. I’ll just say that these notions are…different.

    Other thoughts I found a bit odd were the idea of Diop being a suitable replacement for Curry and Caron Butler being a perimeter scorer. Interesting ideas, but I think some (read: any and all) basketball minds might disagree.

  97. Caleb

    The back and forth devolves when you repeatedly (presumedly on purpose) misquote the people you disagree with. I mean, it’s not like any of this matters in the big picture, but it’s annoying.

    - Devin Harris would be the centerpiece of the Dallas trade, not Diop (though his defense would be a nice bonus)

    - No one (except Owen) slagged David Lee for Kobe Bryant… the (bad) suggestion was Lee, Balkman AND Randolph for Kobe Bryant

    - Have you convinced a lot of people that Crawford IS a lot better than Nate Robinson?

    I’m curious… since we’re still on the Nate thread. How about a poll?

  98. xduckshoex

    Diop would not only be a suitable replacement, I venture that he would be an improvement on this current Knicks team. Randolph has made Curry’s scoring expendable and Curry brings nothing else to the table; Diop would significantly improve the Knicks defense and rebounding.

  99. thefatkid

    Caleb, I’ve done no misquoting of any sort. Whatever your perceptions may be, they don’t change how the facts have been laid out.

    As far as Nate Robinson vs. Crawford is concerned, I hardly need to make a case. One is the starting SG whose stats and abilities are clearly superior to those of a fairly minor bench player. Even the most casual observer can see this and unless you’re a serious disciple of Hollinger or Oliver, it’s virtually impossible to make a case for Robinson being the better player.

  100. Santana

    I’ll take Diop over Curry in a heartbeat, especially with Zach doing pretty much the same thing as EC.

    Interesting observation: Diop had 5 blocks in 11mins during a November game…..Curry had 5 blocks in the month of November

  101. xduckshoex

    tfk – starters are not better than their backups by default, and abilities mean nothing without results. Crawfords stats do not clearly indicate that he is better than Robinson, in fact the stats suggest that Robinson produced a little bit more despite using slightly fewer possessions.

    I would say they are equals, but if I had to choose one to be better the facts seem to clearly indicate that Robinson is the superior player.

  102. Owen

    Frank O – I read your posts, and my question always is, when are you going to use stats to support your arguments? For instance:

    “Kobe is the most dominant offensive threat in basketball, period.”

    Ok. Why? I can quote a variety of metrics that say that while Kobe is an excellent player, he actually isn’t the best, offensively or otherwise. I can quote one that almost agrees with you. Offensive Win Shares. Kobe had 32 last year, which was good for 31st all time list. But Dirk still beat him out on that measure, and played 10% less minutes. Kobe had an offensive rating of 115 (Dean Oliver’s offensive measure). Dirk was at 123. Dirk offensive on court/off court was a ridiculous 14.7. Kobe clocked in at just 5.2. Dirk was the clear offensive centerpiece of the second best offense in the NBA last year. He and Steve Nash together were also the heart of the best offensive team of all time.

    They also just created a new feature over at 82games, Offensive Composite Score. Dirk won by a large margin over the second best player, Steve Nash. Kobe wasn’t in the top ten. I don’t know what that measure is worth, but it tells me something that Kobe can’t even crack the top ten.

    “Finishing and killer instinct would no longer be a problem with Kobe.”

    Where is your evidence? I don’t know the answer to this. I do know 82games did a big review of shooting in the last 24 seconds of close games between 03-06, and that Kobe actually shot very poorly. He shot 21% against the league average of 29%, and had zero assists. Carmelo was the best clutch shooter. And that stat includes ft’s and fouls drawn. Honestly, enlighten me. Take me through the clutch shooting page, or whatever objective evidence your opinion is based on, and explain what is so amazingly clutch about Kobe Bryant. It may be he is the most clutch player in basketball. Tell me why.

    “the fact that people – other than the other Frank – are crapping on getting probably the best player on the planet and surrounding him with a competent scoring center and a competent perimeter shooter when healthy and a competent point guard is simply nuts.”

    Who is nuts here? You think a lineup with a frontcourt of Rose, Jeffries, and Morris getting the majority of the minutes would be competitive? That’s nuts. In the NBA, power forwards and centers win games, shooting guards sell sneakers. Kobe is a great shooting guard, but he isn’t as good as Dwyane Wade, and he isn’t as efficient or probably as good as Manu Ginobili, although I grant that Kobe played more minutes. A very legitimate argument can be made that he was only the third best shooting guard in the league, in what was one of his best seasons.

    The truth here imho is that if Kobe had never played with Shaq, who actually was the best player in the league for good stretches of his career, and if he weren’t such a prolific scorer, we wouldn’t even be debating this. Kobe would be ranked with Mcgrady and Vince Carter as your average run of the mill NBA superstar. Bryant had the good fortune to be paired with one of the best players in the history of the game in his prime. That’s why you think he is so good. In the final analysis, the five best players over the last ten years have been Duncan, Shaq, Garnett, and Nowitzki. Kobe can’t touch those guys.

    Another perspective. Over the course of their carrers, how much better has Kobe been than than Ray Allen? This post has some interesting perspective on that.

    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2007/07/07/the-missing-tables/

    What it says is that Kobe has been a .200 for his career, and Ray Allen has been a .170. So Kobe has been 15% better. That sounds about right to me. Would Ray Allan have won a title if he had played with Shaq. Well, if you look at the numbers Allen put up in 00-01 for instance, its difficult to say that he wouldn’t have been just as lethal a sidekick as Kobe.

    The bottom line is that Kobe is a great player, but the statistics overall don’t really support the statement that he is anything close to th best player in the league. or ever has been. He is no jordan.

    Moving on, is Eddy Curry really a competent center? Who thinks that? The guy is the worst rebounding starting center, worst defending starting center (probably), and the second most turnover prone player in the NBA. His passing skills, for a big man who actually handles the ball a decent amount of the time, literally rank among the lowest all time in NBA history. He is that bad. Can you think of a worse player to pair with Kobe Bryant? Curry is an excellent scorer, and takes a lot of shots, but yet he STILL has a PER lower than David Lee. That tells you something.

    And what is so great about Stephon Marbury? He is competent only if by competent you mean below average. Mardy Collins, god bless him, had a ts% of 44.5% last year. That’s near the bottom of the league. Very near. The rest of your roster is Q, who is injury prone, and a bunch of guys who haven’t played in the NBA or overpaid veteran castoffs.

    You say also that Kobe would shoot better if he had Curry out there with him. Yet his ts% last year was the highest its ever been, significantly higher than it ever was with Shaq to serve as a distraction. Does Curry bring more to the table than Shaq somehow?

    The Other Frank – You said:

    “Owen – I do believe you are the only person on the planet who would even take the time to blink once before trading Lee for Kobe straight up. I guess it doesn?t mean you?re wrong, it just means that if you?re right, everyone else in the entire basketball-watching world must be crazy.”

    I may be the only person the board who believes that, but I think I can make a very reasonable defense of that position, using statistics. There are actually a lot of statistics indicating that David Lee was more valuable, as valuable, or nearly as valuable to the Knicks as Kobe was to the Lakers. It’s not really an unreasonable case to make.

    David Lee was better by a fair margin in on court/off court for instance.

    His Pw% was much higher .931 to .686.

    It’s difficult to compare win shares, since the amount of time they played was so different, but Kobe produced 40 in 3363 minutes, or one every 84 minutes, while Lee produced one every 94 minutes. Edge Kobe, but not really that much of an edge.

    Obviously, the WOW perspective gives the edge to Lee. Here is I think a fairly convincing snippet which sums up that view from the WOW post, Rewarding David Lee…

    The Importance of David Lee

    …The most productive player on the Knicks last season was David Lee. Because of injury, Lee only played 58 games last season. But in these games he produced 13.6 wins with a WP48 of 0.378. When we look at the Knicks in 2005-06 and 2006-07 we see that the emergence of Lee had much to do with the Knicks improvement.

    Table3: http://www.wagesofwins.com/Knicks0507.html

    In 2005-06 the Knicks led the NBA in payroll and only won 23 games. As a result, Isiah Thomas was given an ultimatum. The team must improve or he was to be fired. On March 12th the Knicks were 29-34 and in contention to make the playoffs. At this point Isiah received an extension. The record of the team after this point was 4-15.

    About two weeks before the extension the Knicks lost Lee to an injury. Although the Knicks did manage to go 4-3 immediately after Lee left the line-up, the team?s record when Lee did not play significant minutes in 2006-07 indicates his value (in case Wins Produced was not convincing enough). When Lee played at least half the contest (24 minutes per game) the Knicks were 21-22. When he played less than this amount, or not at all, the team was 12-27. In sum, Lee was a major reason why the Knicks improved and Isiah Thomas managed to keep his job.

    continuing…

    I have obviously looked at this question in great detail, given the long thread we had about it. I don’t a great deal of evidence that Kobe Bryant offered that much more than David Lee did last year on a per minute basis, although Lee does have the advantage of playing a far more productive position.

    And that’s without age and contract considerations. If you factor those in, the scales have to tip even more in favor of Lee. it’s fair to say that Kobe can’t even begin to apporach the value Lee offers. The guy makes 10 times as much money and will be exiting his prime just as we resign him to a new contract after next year.

    If Lee’s career going forward is even a reasonable facsimile of what he did last year, you would be legitimately crazy to take Kobe over Lee with a view to the next 5-7 years. Really, that point isn’t even arguable. David Lee, value for money was the best player in the NBA last year by an enormous margin. It’s not even close. Barring injury he would have produced roughly ten wins for every every million we paid him.

    And even if you could demonstrante Kobe was better than Lee, even if you could show he was twice as valuable somehow, its just flat out ridonkulous to believe you could justify giving up three of your four best players to get back one good player in return. It’s just bizarre. You could get maybe 95 minutes per game from Lee, Balkman and Randoph. Kobe, no matter how good, is still good for only 40 minutes.

    What if he gets injured? What do you have then? That’s probably the most idiotic thing of all about this our-three-best-players for Kobe trade. If he goes down with injury we have a team of Marbury, Crawford, Q, Jeffries, and Curry, with Robinson, Chandler, Collins, Morris and Rose off the bench. That’s a laughable team.

    Alright, enough, fire away if you wish…

  103. Frank O.

    First of all, Owen, clearly you had some time on your hands. I applaud that because you always give us a lot to think about when you run the stats.

    But I do think your argument is flawed, and I don’t require statistics to point it out. I can simply cite some basic rules one uses when applying statistics.
    The first rule of statistics is to apply apples to apples, etc.

    In this case, statistics are informative about the effectiveness of a particular player playing in their particular role.
    Lee and Balkman, as you have pointed out over and over again, rate very highly, based on 40 minutes, or a full season, both of which neither player has actually done. Nonetheless, they are useful measures.

    Having said that, I used to work down in Florida and would need to speak with the National Weather Service from time to time related to my work, and the meteorologists often would point out how they were working dopplers and data from aircraft and the like, but it was also very important for them to look out the window and eye-ball things…
    I think this requires some eyeballing because stats deceive.
    I have pointed out in the past, Owen, when you have played to your strength and used a blast of statistics to justify your arguments, that Lee’s and Balkman’s stats are colored by the fact that they are not focal points on the Knicks, whereas some of the folks you compare them to are. I think your eyeballs would tell you something different than those stats at that point.
    Kobe Bryant has shown the ability to do virtually every job on the court well. If he were a baseball player, he would be a five-tool guy. And he does this with every team he plays focusing on stopping him.
    He can score almost at will against teams that try to stop him, are designed to stop him. He can score effectively from anywhere on the court. He led the NBA in scoring again this year.
    Lee and Balkman cannot do the same.
    He has shown the ability, when needed, to shut down an opponent defensively because he has shown the physical talent, the acumen and the will to do so. You are correct he does not always do it, but it is a choice that he does not.
    Lee cannot do that, and Balkman, although he appears to have the potential, has not done it yet. In fact, most everything said about Balkman is based on upside arguments…which you have disparaged, I believe, in the past.
    Kobe is an excellent ball handler and passer, which is quite easy to see, since he creates shots for himself, and, when so inclined, for his team mates. I have seen this, although stat sheets wouldn’t reflect it necessarily because it is only a small part of his repertoire. But the ability and skill is there, and he has shown it.
    Neither Lee or Balkman can do that, or for sure not as well.
    Kobe also has an uncanny ability to rebound, even among players much larger and strong, largely because of his court awareness and athletic ability. I do not have stats to back it up, but I suspect that if he chose to be a rebounder, and make that his sole task on the basketball court, he simply would be one of the best rebounders in the NBA.
    Lee is a very capable rebounder, and has excellent athletic ability and rebounds effectively against larger and stronger defenders. This appears to be true, although he has not started an entire season, nor has he completed an entire season. Balkman, again, appears to have the capacity to be a good rebounder, but our knowledge of him is based more on his potential than actual body of work upon which to make a sound assessment. The jury is still out.

    I disagree that Shaq was the only reason for the Lakers success. I believe their combination is what made the Lakers so dominant in the time the two played together. Shaq is probably the most dominant center in basketball history, although some would argue that Chamberlain was. No argument here.
    But one thing is clear, without a Kobe or a Wade, Shaq does not win championships. Period. He cannot shoot effectively from the line and flat out is a weakness in crunch time because of it.

    Your comparison of Ray Allen and Kobe also is not apples to apples because Allen does not have the breath of skills that Kobe possesses. He does not have a post game, is not as effective going to the hoop as Kobe, but probably is a more deadly long-range shooter. Physically, he is not as strong, as durable, or as able to do the things Kobe is able to do. Allen from time to time has taken over games. Kobe does it routinely and at will.

    Since you are so in love with stats, Marbury is a stats guy. His life time averages are comparable to some of the greatest guards that have played the game. One could easily argue that he has played for teams that have asked him to do too much. Or perhaps, he has played for teams where he felt he needed to play beyond himself.
    But there is not doubt that he is competent. You will never read me write, however, that he is great or even very good. He is better, however, than Smush. That comparison was ridiculous. He’s also much better than Derek Fisher.
    Last on Kobe, I think there is a consensus among players that he is one of the most willful of NBA elite players. Each year he improves his game. He develops shots and moves, and improves. A stat sheet cannot reflect that, but each year, you see new competence or improvement in the things he can do.
    Moving on…
    Your comment about Curry misrepresented what I said about him. I said Curry was a competent SCORING center. I am aware that there are grave problems with Curry’s game. But scoring isn’t one of them, although there is still room for improvement, which is saying a lot about a guy who gets 19 a game and shoots at such a high percentage. You also contended that Curry takes a lot of shots. If you look at his shooting percentage and his per game totals, he’s not taking nearly as many shots as othyer 20 point guys.
    Paired with Kobe, a powerful scoring center like that causes significant problems for a team. Kobe and Curry would benefit from their abilities to score.
    You also mentioned that Kobe is a better shooter now than he was when Shaq was a distraction on the court. But you fail to note that Kobe hasn’t played with Shaq in years, and is a vastly more capable player now than when he played with Shaq. Are you implying that Kobe hasn’t improved his skills since that time, because if you are, I suspect many, many experts would disagree with you. Kobe is a better scorer, ball handler, decision maker, and this I base only on the trajectory of a career. Right now, physically and in basketball acumen, Kobe is in the dead of his prime, and your stats support that conclusion.

    The greatest problem the Knicks have had for years are structural. They lacked a dominant player. Some one who can do a lot of things well. Someone who can affect the other team so much that ultimately it could affect the outcome. Kobe is that guy.
    Lee and Balkman cannot affect the game as much simply because they only play a portion of the game well.
    Kobe can and does play all aspects of the game well to great.
    Place him on a team with a competent, not great, but competent point guard, such as a guard the Lakers sported during their dominant period, or the Bulls had during their dominance, a competent SCORING center, such as Shaq was, although he was dominant, and some able defenders, the Knicks could contend in the east.
    True their depth suffers some. Sure they won’t rebound as well, but they compete for the Eastern title.
    The Knicks team as constructed, with Lee and Balkman starting, might, a giant might, get the 8th seed.
    So I ask you, Owen, why is it that if Lee and Balkman, statistically are so great, why is it that everyone, everyone says the Knicks would struggle to win the 8th seed?
    Why?
    How can Lee be so good, winning 13 games for the Knicks last year on his own, and anyone that knows anything about the Knicks believe they are barely an 8th seed in the East, which is still considered weaker, significantly, than the west?
    The point is, given their parts and problems (too many power forwards, not enough perimeter shooting and defense, virtually no interior defense, etc.), the Knicks would need to correct their imbalances and break the logjam and PF.

    The line up I suggested was not Rose/Jeffries/Morris. It was a front line of Curry/Jeffries/Q. I’m not sure where you got Rose/Morris and Jeffries.
    Morris and Rose would be off the bench, as would be James and Cato, which is no change from the current team. You lose Lee and Balkman from the bench.

    My last point is one of experience. Kobe has won championships in the NBA. Lee and Balkman have yet to experience a winning season. Stat sheets cannot show the affect winning experience helps a team.
    In my opinion, in his declining years, Kobe will have a greater impact on the way teams play the Knicks, if her were a Knick, and ultimately how many games the Knicks would win, than David Lee will achieve for them in his prime.
    Neither of us have stats to support or refute that contention because we are looking into our respective chrystal balls.
    Sorry for the long response. Didn’t have time for a short one…:)

  104. Frank O.

    Perhaps some day someone will be calling Lee or Balkman cornerstones with unrivaled fire and ability to stop the world.
    Ah, Owen, if only you could use your statistics for good instead of evil…:)
    I love Lee and Balkman. I think they are the two lights on a team shrouded in darkness.
    But if the Knicks could bring that kind of talent to the Garden, with the Garden behind him, that combination alone could lift a moribund franchise.
    Remember the electricity the Garden once had with Ewing, or Bernard King?

  105. xduckshoex

    “Your comparison of Ray Allen and Kobe also is not apples to apples because Allen does not have the breath of skills that Kobe possesses. He does not have a post game, is not as effective going to the hoop as Kobe, but probably is a more deadly long-range shooter. Physically, he is not as strong, as durable, or as able to do the things Kobe is able to do. Allen from time to time has taken over games. Kobe does it routinely and at will.”

    This doesn’t pass the smell test. You can’t even compare players who play the same position because they play different styles? That’s absurd. If that is the case, there is no point in having statistics at all, because no two players are exactly the same.

    Statistics measure a players impact on the game. It doesn’t matter HOW they impact it; if they do it by driving, shooting or posting up is irrelevant because style of play should always be secondary to results, and that is what statistics measure.

  106. Owen

    Frank – Let me hit back with a few quick responses, in no particular order.

    “The first rule of statistics is to apply apples to apples, etc”

    Well, they all play basketball right? That makes them all apples. It’s not like I am comparing hockey players to football players. In baseball, you can make the case that you can’t compare pitchers and hitters because what they do is so different, (not that I agree with that) but do you really think guards and big men are so different? Personally, I like to think of it as comparing runway models to swimsuit models. And while some might say thats apples-to-melons, I still think that’s apples to apples.

    “Your comparison of Ray Allen and Kobe also is not apples to apples because Allen does not have the breath of skills that Kobe possesses.”

    Lol. I would say Ray Allen to Kobe is like comparing a Macoun to a Macintosh. If you want to say Kobe is an heirloom Macoun and Ray is a Gala, fine. I feel thought that perhaps you are being a bit unreasonable. It takes one to know one… :-)

    “but it was also very important for them to look out the window and eye-ball things?”

    Every field is different. Certainly, intuition is preferable to empirical analysis in some areas. However, sports that produce very detailed data sets are not one of those areas. The data is there. Why don’t we just look at it? There is overwhelming evidence (see prospect theory) to believe that a casual eyeballing of a baseball or basketball player will never allow you to arrive at as good an evaluation as detailed consideration of the numbers.

    “Marbury is a stats guy. His life time averages are comparable to some of the greatest guards that have played the game.”

    Not true. His raw scoring and assist totals perhaps compare favorably but he has a lifetime TS% of 52.9% which isn’t great and he isn’t really outstanding in any aspect of the game. Marbury has only been slightly above average for his career overall. I don’t think there is any stathead who would disagree.

    “Kobe can and does play all aspects of the game well to great.”
    “He can score almost at will against teams that try to stop him,”
    “Kobe also has an uncanny ability to rebound”

    It’s a bird, its a plane, it’s hyperbole! Kobe had a ts% of 58% last year, the best of his career. Manu Ginobili was 3% points better. So Manu can score 3% more at will than Kobe. His rebounding ability is also a little bit less uncanny than Ginobili’s, who averages almost a rebound more per 48 more than Bryant. But I would agree though that that is a very strong aspect of both of their games, relative to other shooting guards.

    “Lee is a very capable rebounder, and has excellent athletic ability and rebounds effectively against larger and stronger defenders. This appears to be true”

    It doesnt appear to be true. It is true. Although I don’t know that defenders are necessarily stronger or larger than Lee. If you go to the league leaders stat page, you will see he has the highest rebound rate listed there, with Tyson Chandler. I believe there are two unlisted players who have higher rates, Evans and Mutumbo maybe, but basically, he actually IS one of the very best rebounders in the NBA, in his second season. And rebounding is, I believe, a fairly important skill.

    “I disagree that Shaq was the only reason for the Lakers success”

    He wasn’t the only reason for their success. I was simply saying is that there were a lot players you could have paired Shaq with in his prime and won a title with. Ray Allen of 00-01 vintage is certainly one of them. And I don’t think Shaq could have won a title without a sidekick, no one can win a title by himself, but he was the very best player in the NBA for a while, and one of the best of all time. Kobe is not.

    On intangibles in general:

    Will to win. Desire to Improve. Championship Experience. All that comes out in the statistical wash. Kobe is a great player. You can justify it anyway you want, but all those extras don’t make his stats better than Ginobili’s.

    “The greatest problem the Knicks have had for years are structural. They lacked a dominant player. Some one who can do a lot of things well.”

    Well, if by structure you mean, “having a really talented player on the team,” then sure. But that’s the problem with almost all crappy basketball teams. They lack really good players. Many people seem to think basketball success is a function of chemistry between players, or of a particular kind of offensive or defensive system. That’s basically hogwash. Systems don’t matter. Jordan was good before the Triangle, probably bettter actually. It’s really simple actually. You win in basketball by putting better players out on the floor. Which is why trading three of your four best players and getting one back in return is never going to work. Generally you need at least two really great basketball players to win a title. The dominant player pairs lately have been Shaq/Kobe, Duncan/Ginobili, Billups/B. Wallace, and Shaq/Wade. And even if you have two great players, or even three like Phoenix, you also need other capable teammates, usually average or slightly above average players. The Bulls won with three great players, and dregs, so that’s a valid approach, but it helps to have the best or second best player of all time.

    In my view nothing Kobe does on the court is anyway near as difficult thing as finiding a way to get two truly great players on a team together, and surrounding them with competent teammates, within salary constraints.

    “So I ask you, Owen, why is it that if Lee and Balkman, statistically are so great, why is it that everyone, everyone says the Knicks would struggle to win the 8th seed?”

    This is a very simple question to answer. The most productive position in basketball is center. Eddy Curry plays center for the Knicks, and is an awful player. Stephon Marbury is the point guard. He was below average last season. The team leader in minutes per game was Jamal Crawford. He also was a terrible basketball player last season, though above average the year before. Q is actually a good player, but is injury prone, and doesn’t get or can’t play as many minutes as he should. Jeffries and the rest of the bench are below average players. If he isn’t traded, Balkman probably won’t get more than 25 minutes per game next year. And David Lee, is stuck behind an inferior player in Zach Randolph. Basically 65% of the minutes are going to players who are dramatically below average for their position. That’s why no one expects the Knicks to be good.

    If they played the right combination of players, I do think they could be above five hundred. But with Curry as your center, you have a mountain to climb. The crucial thing imho will be getting Lee as much time as possible. There is very strong evidence to suggest that the more Lee plays, the more the Knicks win. As Berri points out, besides his raw statistics, the knicks were 21-22 in games where Lee played more than half the game last year. That’s a pretty good stat I think.

    “Neither of us have stats to support or refute that contention because we are looking into our respective crystal balls.”

    I am looking at the stat page, not a crystal ball. If David Lee spends the rest of his career leading the league in rebounding and scoring efficiency, letting him go would amount to the biggest mistake the Knicks franchise has ever made. Possibly the biggest mistake any franchise has ever made. Big if. But I will leave that on the table. I understand that Kobe Bryant is the most impressive player to watch in the NBA. And I hear what you say about intangibles. But In the end, success on the court boils down to offensive and defensive efficiency. Essentially, to statistics. Great players have better statistics than other players, that’s why they are great. We appreciate the scorers more, but they aren’t necessarily more valuable.

    The recipe for building a great team doesn’t really involve finding a great player. In a way it probably depends even more on finding a relatively cheap and almost equally-as-good sidekick. Someone underappreciated. The Spurs titles have been built around having Duncan on the cheap with Robinson, then being able to pay Ginobili nine million less than Bryant to produce the same amount, while having the super cheap Elson-Oberto platoon play center much better than average. The Pistons got elite production from Ben Wallace for 5 million per. Kobe Bryant got paid roughly six million per year less on average in those three title years than he does now. The key to winning championships, to continue the fruit metaphors, is the second banana.

    Lee could be an unbelievable second banana. If we could sign him to a reasonable deal after next year, say 8-10 million per, that would be a far more effective championship cornerstone than Kobe. Add Balkman in for 6 million. Then add a Lebron or Oden when they become available at whatever price they command. Throw in an aging veteran ready to sacrifice to win again, say Kobe in four years, or Manu, and that begins to sound like a team that could bring a title to the Garden.

    Bringing Bryant here will never do that.

  107. Owen

    “This doesn?t pass the smell test. You can?t even compare players who play the same position because they play different styles? That?s absurd. If that is the case, there is no point in having statistics at all, because no two players are exactly the same.

    Statistics measure a players impact on the game. It doesn?t matter HOW they impact it; if they do it by driving, shooting or posting up is irrelevant because style of play should always be secondary to results, and that is what statistics measure.”

    Why didn’t I just write tha?

  108. thefatkid

    Owen, your analysis is comprehensive but, ultimately, flawed.

    ?There is overwhelming evidence (see prospect theory) to believe that a casual eyeballing of a baseball or basketball player will never allow you to arrive at as good an evaluation as detailed consideration of the numbers.?

    Baseball and basketball make for horrendous comparisons. Baseball is a team game based upon isolated, individual play which progresses in a turn-based fashion. Contrastingly, basketball is highly dependent upon frequent interaction between teammates and it progresses in a time-based manner. Furthermore, baseball is a game that lends itself to statistical analysis quite readily while basketball statistics are far more nebulous. For a game that has such a heavy emphasis on team play, our only metric that even remotely addresses interaction between teammates is the assist.

    ?The most productive position in basketball is center.?

    This is an antiquated notion. The most productive players in today?s NBA are almost all forwards and guards.

    ?Eddy Curry plays center for the Knicks, and is an awful player.?

    How in the world is Eddy Curry an awful player? He led the team in scoring, commanded all of the double teams that allowed the anointed one to do anything on offense, and was the franchise cornerstone. Not to mention that he should have been an All-Star, by all accounts.

    ?The team leader in minutes per game was Jamal Crawford. He also was a terrible basketball player last season, though above average the year before.?

    Wait, Crawford was above average when he produced less but terrible when producing more? I don?t follow this line of reasoning in the least bit. Again, it seems efficiency has been substituted for efficacy. Basketball games are won by production, not efficiency.

    ?And David Lee, is stuck behind an inferior player in Zach Randolph.?

    10/10 versus 23/10. Somehow, I don?t see Zach Randolph as the inferior player. But perhaps I?m overestimating the fact that Randolph was more than twice as productive on the offensive end?

    ?As Berri points out, besides his raw statistics, the knicks were 21-22 in games where Lee played more than half the game last year. That?s a pretty good stat I think.?

    Surely you can?t be serious? By that logic, if Lee were to play more than half the game for a full season this next year, the team would go 40-42. Somehow, I don?t think that projection is a ringing endorsement for David Lee as the most productive player in the NBA.

  109. xduckshoex

    “This is an antiquated notion. The most productive players in today?s NBA are almost all forwards and guards.”

    Really? 6 of the 10 most efficient players this season were power forwards or centers, and I think it’s safe to say that the line between those two positions has either blurred or is non-existant.

    “How in the world is Eddy Curry an awful player? He led the team in scoring, commanded all of the double teams that allowed the anointed one to do anything on offense, and was the franchise cornerstone. Not to mention that he should have been an All-Star, by all accounts.”

    He led the team in scoring, and….well, that’s the end of his list of contributions. The Knicks were a better team with Curry on the bench, which I think says more about his contributions and quality of play than his PPG does, but maybe you favour scoring over winning.

    “Surely you can?t be serious? By that logic, if Lee were to play more than half the game for a full season this next year, the team would go 40-42. Somehow, I don?t think that projection is a ringing endorsement for David Lee as the most productive player in the NBA.”

    No, by that logic the Knicks would have improved by 7 wins if Lee had played more. I would say that IS a ringing endorsement.

    You tend to say a lot of things that you fail to qualify in any way. How was Crawford more productive this year than last year? How does Randolph twice as productive as Lee on the offensive end? These things are not true simply because you say so.

  110. xduckshoex

    edit: my post should read that the Knicks would improve by 7 wins if Lee plays more. I mistakenly put it in the past tense.

  111. Z

    Good posts by Franks and Owen–

    I have to side with Frank on this. I don’t think you need statistical backup to say Kobe is the most dominant scorer in the league. He has been for years. You need statistical backup to say he isn’t (I’m not saying the case can’t be made, but somethings enter into conventional wisdom and don’t need to be backed up with substantial evidence each time the assumption is made (the world is not flat; man evolved from apes; communism doesn’t work (KB likes this one); Bulls fans suck; and Kobe Bryant has been the greatest offensive player in the NBA this decade)). I’m not saying that these points can’t be disputed. You just don’t need to rehash the arguments for them anymore.

    Last year the Lakers were a disaster– as dysfunctional as the Knicks under Larry Brown. But the season before last Kobe could very well have done what LeBron did in Cleveland this year. He was pretty literally a one man team and pushed the vastly superior Suns to 7 games– the wins coming because Kobe was unstoppable. I don’t know or care what his eFG% was or his WoW was or any of that stuff– he was unstoppable. (When the Knicks play the Lakers and it’s close in the 4th, I just hope Kobe doesn’t get the chance to beat us. I doubt Lakers fans are thinking much about keeping Balkman and Lee from beating them. They probably want to force the ball to them because they can’t create their own shots and if they have the ball, can’t hit the weak side boards. Point is, Kobe gets the Jordan treatment. I think he deserves it.)

    Owen– I really do like your love of Lee. It’s endearing and infective. Until today, though, I didn’t think you truly believed everything you said. Now, I’m really not sure… Have you compared Lee to Jordan in the early 90s? Would you make that trade straight up– Jordan for Lee? I’ll leave the statistical analysis to you since you have a passion for these numbers, but I’d have to guess, a priori, statistically Kobe and Jordan match up pretty well, if Kobe isn’t even better(!). How about it Lee for Jordan? Lee for Wilt? Lee for Russell? Lee for Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, or Martin Luther King? Anyone?

  112. Owen

    Thank God football season here to tide me over. Is there a better mascot for a college football team than the the ULM Warhawks? I just don’t think its possible.

    Re Basketball vs. Baseball Statistics

    Everything you say is true. I grant that baseball statistics are the gold standard. But I wouldn’t concede that team play matters so much in basketball. Shaq has played for three teams, with many different supporting casts, and has been dominant throughout. His stats haven’t changed. I don’t think Rashard Lewis’s numbers will be dramatically different in Orlando. Although there are obviously exceptions, in general, player performance depends on talent, not on teammates. Team to team, through changes in supporting cast, players are remarkably consistent in their performance. Sometimes they redirect their energy, but in general that is the case.

    And while baseball statistics are more comprehensive, they are less useful in a sense. That’s because basketball players are far less consistent in their statistical performance than players in the NBA. However, if you have Lebron under contract, barring injury, you are pretty much guaranteed a certain range of numbers. That just isn’t true in baseball, where player performance oscillates far more wildly.

    “This is an antiquated notion. The most productive players in today?s NBA are almost all forwards and guards.”

    Ok. Why? What evidence do you have to support this? But to amend my statement, let me make it a bit more simple. You have big guys and little guys in the NBA’s. The big guys play center and power forward and they account for the line’s share of statistical production. The center and power forward position, which are somewhat interchangeable, are far more productive. I also don’t think recent history has been demonstrated that this is untrue. Titles have won exclusively by teams with dominant centers, Shaq, Duncan, and Wallace.

    “How in the world is Eddy Curry an awful player? He led the team in scoring, commanded all of the double teams that allowed the anointed one to do anything on offense, and was the franchise cornerstone. Not to mention that he should have been an All-Star, by all accounts.”

    Loooooool. Are we playing tee ball here? Let me just give you the precis.

    Worst rebounding starting center in basketball
    Worst defensive starting center in basketball (probably)
    Worst passing high usage center – possibly in history.
    Second worst player on turnovers in the NBA
    Less than a block per 48

    Curry is so one dimensional it’s hilarious. And his offensive impact is muted by poor foul shooting. Kobe had an efg of 50.2 last year, but a ts% of 58% due mostly to his quantity and quality at the foul line. Curry, despite shooting a good volume of free throws only managed to go from an efg of 57.6 to a ts% of 60.3. Lee gets a 5% bump from his foul shooting. That’s a really important point. Efficiency from the field means less without efficiency at the line. Foul shooting provides a big boost to offensive efficiency.

    Overall, Curry is a much worse than average center in the NBA. Look at his +/-. His numbers there are absolutely remarkably bad, considering his reputation and how bad his backup was. The offense was 2.6 points worse per 100! And he is supposedly an offensive superstar. And on defense they were 5.3(!) points worse. That’s horrible.

    Re Crawford:

    I dont understand the confusion. Crawford was more productive in 05-06 under Larry Brown than he was last year. That was due to higher scoring efficiency and better rebounding, from a quick look at the stats

    Re Randolph –

    Randolph is not a very efficient offensive player. Isaiah is touting him as a 23 and 10 guy, but that came with low shooting efficiency for a power forward. His ts% was 11.5% lower than Lee. That’s an enormous difference, as I have said before. He captures three rebounds less per 48. He commits 1.7 more turnovers per 48. Look at the numbers yourself and see if you can understand my position.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm.cgi?req=1&cum=0&p1=randoza01&y1=2007&p2=leeda02&y2=2007

    And also check out Randolph’s +/-, which wasn’t half as good as Lee’s. Also, consider the personality issues. And that would about cover why I think Lee is significantly better in every respect.

    Randolph is a good player though, and a lot lot better than Curry. Or at least he was last year.

    “Surely you can?t be serious? By that logic, if Lee were to play more than half the game for a full season this next year, the team would go 40-42. Somehow, I don?t think that projection is a ringing endorsement for David Lee as the most productive player in the NBA.”

    Actually, it sort of is. Having one fantastic player at power forward isn’t enough to secure a winning record, as Kevin Garnett proved last year.

    Let’s look at it though. If Lee had played the whole season, the numbers suggest that they might have finished near 38 wins. They were 25-31 when he went down after 56 games. They went 4-3 without him. Then they finished 4-15. So 8-18 overall without him. Say instead they go 13-13, with increased play from Lee, over the stretch he was injured. They would end up with 38 wins.

    So the numbers suggest, in berri’s view, that over a full season, Lee’s performance, with an assist from Balkman perhaps, with Q’s performance making up for Crawford’s decline, with Steph offering basically the same production, was enough to transform a 23 win team into a 38 win, leaving injuries aside.

    If that were true, would that really not be enough for you to accept that Lee had a great season and might actually be a star?

  113. thefatkid

    ?Really? 6 of the 10 most efficient players this season were power forwards or centers, and I think it?s safe to say that the line between those two positions has either blurred or is non-existant.?

    Once again, efficiency and productivity are not the same thing. This is going to have to become my mantra for it to start to sink in.

    And the line between power forwards and centers is hardly blurred. Most teams have distinctly terrible centers and with few, if any, offensive skills. Power forwards are a significantly more talented group, reflecting the shift away from bruising, dominant centers.

    ?He led the team in scoring, and?.well, that?s the end of his list of contributions. The Knicks were a better team with Curry on the bench,?

    Curry was a dominant force who drew constant double teams and allowed the Knicks? offense to function. I realize offense isn?t very important to you, but I still cling to the belief that basketball games are won by outscoring the opponent. And how in the world were the Knicks better with Curry on the bench? Is this theory related to your belief that Diop would be an upgrade over Curry?

    ?No, by that logic the Knicks would have improved by 7 wins if Lee had played more. I would say that IS a ringing endorsement.?

    7 more wins would mean the Knicks still missing the playoffs. That does not strike me as particularly impressive. How do you build around this unique talent in order to form a dominant team? Surround him with fellow non-scorers and pray the Knicks can win a few games by scoring 66 points per game? I assume they will still win if the 66 points are scored in an efficient fashion?

    ?You tend to say a lot of things that you fail to qualify in any way. How was Crawford more productive this year than last year? How does Randolph twice as productive as Lee on the offensive end? These things are not true simply because you say so.?

    Hardly. Crawford scored 17.6 PPG this year versus 14.3 last year, along with 4.4 APG vs. 3.8 APG. That means he produced more. Likewise, Randolph scored 23.6 PPG and Lee 10.7 PPG. That actually makes him 2.2 times more productive.

    Z, I think it’s actually Lee + Miss Gadecki > Western civilization at this point.

  114. xduckshoex

    “Once again, efficiency and productivity are not the same thing. This is going to have to become my mantra for it to start to sink in.”

    Explain the difference in this context. This is the whole problem, you keep saying things but you never detail them.

    And yes, the line between power forwards and centers has blurred. Is Tim Duncan a power forward or a center? Is Okur or Boozer the center for Utah? Is Chris Bosh a center? Jermaine O’Neal? Al Jefferson? Dwight Howard? At a time when there are a lot of people splitting time fairly equally at both positions how can you conclusively determine what makes a center and what makes a power forward? It’s not possible.

    “Curry was a dominant force who drew constant double teams and allowed the Knicks? offense to function.”

    And yet the Knicks offense was better with Curry on the bench. Can you say that about any supposedly dominant offensive force? I really doubt it. The logical conclusion is that Curry isn’t the dominant force you claim he is, and on top of that he is terrible at everything else.

    “And how in the world were the Knicks better with Curry on the bench?”

    Very simple. With Curry on the court, the Knicks were outplayed, and when he was on the bench the Knicks outplayed their opponents. With Curry, their net points per 100 possessions was -5.6. Without Curry on the floor it was 2.3, for a difference of -7.9 points per 100 possessions. If you just want to talk offense thet Knicks produced 2.6 points per 100 possessions less with Curry on the floor. That doesn’t say “dominant scorer” to me.

    “Hardly. Crawford scored 17.6 PPG this year versus 14.3 last year, along with 4.4 APG vs. 3.8 APG. That means he produced more. Likewise, Randolph scored 23.6 PPG and Lee 10.7 PPG. That actually makes him 2.2 times more productive.”

    That’s a ridiculously simple way of looking at things:

    Hypothetical scenarios:

    1) player A plays 20 minutes per game, putting up 15 ppg, 8 rpg and 4 apg. Player B plays 40 minutes per game putting up 16 ppg, 9 rpg and 5 apg. Which one is more productive?

    2) Player A scores 38 points on 19 shots. Player B scores 40 points on 45 shots. Which one had the more productive game?

    According to your line of thinking, Player B was superior in both cases, but I think it’s pretty clear that’s not really the case.

    Per game numbers are probably the least accurate means of measuring a players performance because there are too many variables that they fail to take into account.

  115. thefatkid

    I?ll accept that individual production doesn?t vary heavily from season to season or team to team, with some exceptions. However, that still doesn?t account for individual interaction. For example, Steve Nash?s statistics improved slightly when he moved to Phoenix. But do those statistics accurately weigh his contributions to the team or his importance? Likewise, do Jason Kidd?s statistics reflect his impact? Furthermore, how does one account for a player whose statistics are impressive but one who arguably hinders, rather than helps his teammates, like Iverson?

    I can?t say that I consider the center and power forward positions interchangeable. The vast majority of teams have inept centers whose skillsets consist solely of shot-blocking and rebounding. Contrastingly, the power forward is perhaps the premium skill position in today?s NBA. Unlike the center position, power forwards are expected to be versatile, skilled players who can fill stat sheets. Consequently, it can be argued that the Knicks foundered last season in no small part due to having the worst starting power forward in the NBA.

    ?Worst rebounding starting center in basketball?

    According to which metric?

    ?Worst defensive starting center in basketball (probably)?

    Based upon what evidence? His low block totals? Mike Breen?s comments? I need something more substantial than that.

    ?Worst passing high usage center – possibly in history.?

    I?m not sure how to interpret this one. How is his usage rate married to his passing ability? Is a center expected to be a better passer in proportion to his touches?

    ?Second worst player on turnovers in the NBA?

    His turnover rate is basically identical to that of the only other scoring center in the NBA, Yao. I don?t see why this is such an issue.

    ?Less than a block per 48?

    Blocks are, like steals, a stat that has been given outsize importance due to the lack of defensive statistical categories. Blocks aren?t an accurate measure of defensive prowess. However, if shot-blocking is really important to you, Curry probably isn?t the center for you.

    I?ll also agree with you that Curry needs to improve his free-throw shooting. However, given the success of O?Neal with his horrendous free-throw shooting, I?d hardly call it a serious issue.

    ?Overall, Curry is a much worse than average center in the NBA. Look at his +/-. His numbers there are absolutely remarkably bad, considering his reputation and how bad his backup was. The offense was 2.6 points worse per 100! And he is supposedly an offensive superstar. And on defense they were 5.3(!) points worse. That?s horrible.?

    Ah, my favorite horrendously nebulous statistic. +/- can be interpreted in so many ways, it?s actually useful for both sides of any argument. To start with, why would you measure anything in terms of per 100 possessions? Is basketball played on a per possession basis or a per minute basis? Since when were teams given a fixed number of possessions?

    As far as the statistics themselves, much more important than the ridiculous P100P stuff are the P48M numbers listed below. For example, the Knicks shot the ball for an eFG% of 50.6% with Curry on the floor versus 46.6% without him. And 54% of field goals were assisted with Curry on the floor against 47% without him.

    On the defensive end, opponents attempt 21 free throws per 48 minutes with Curry on the floor and 35 free throws per 48 minutes without him. This massive increase in shooting fouls would suggest that while you have little faith in his ability to intimidate opponents, his teammates seem to feel differently.

    Also of interest is the fact that the Knicks were listed as being better offensively, 107.6 PP100P vs. 106.0 PP100P with Jared Jeffries on the floor than without him. Maybe Jeffries is a good offensive player and Curry a bad one. Or perhaps the statistic has little or no correlation to individual offensive or defensive prowess.

    ?I dont understand the confusion. Crawford was more productive in 05-06 under Larry Brown than he was last year. That was due to higher scoring efficiency and better rebounding, from a quick look at the stats?

    Crawford was more efficient in a more limited role and less productive overall. It?s a simple, logical concept and the heart of why Lee is so efficient. If one is expected to do less, it only follows that one will do those few things with greater efficiency.

    Randolph may not have been efficient as Lee, but he was undoubtedly significantly more productive. Randolph carried an entire team and was dominant at his position. Lee was a more efficient rebounder than Randolph, but that hardly compensates for the offensive skill and productivity differential between the two. Randolph is an elite scorer while Lee is a mostly inept offensive player.

    I?ll accept that Lee was a major part of the Knicks? improved win total this season. But I won?t agree that he was the primary reason nor will I agree that he has the makings of a star. Lee still has no offensive game to speak of and his defensive fundamentals need improvement. A niche rebounder cannot be an NBA star. Rebounding is important, but it?s hardly that important.

    As far as the major impetus behind the improved win total, it?s patently obvious that Eddy Curry was the horse the Knicks rode this season. He was the centerpiece of an improved offense that led the Knicks to more wins and the only Knick to play anything close to a full season. Curry deserved to be an All-Star and his increased production was really what drove the Knicks to the better record.

    ?Explain the difference in this context. This is the whole problem, you keep saying things but you never detail them.?

    It?s a fairly simple concept really. If Crawford scores 30 points on 12-20 shooting, he?s more productive than when he scores 22 points on 10-15 shooting. Basketball games are won on points scored, not how they are scored.

    ?And yes, the line between power forwards and centers has blurred. Is Tim Duncan a power forward or a center? Is Okur or Boozer the center for Utah? Is Chris Bosh a center? Jermaine O?Neal? Al Jefferson? Dwight Howard? At a time when there are a lot of people splitting time fairly equally at both positions how can you conclusively determine what makes a center and what makes a power forward? It?s not possible.?

    It?s not really very blurry. Duncan is a PF, Okur a C, Boozer a PF, Bosh a PF, J. O?Neal a PF, Jefferson a PF, and Howard a PF. Other positions are sometimes played, but those are the primary positions. Very few skilled players end up at the center spot.

    ?And yet the Knicks offense was better with Curry on the bench.?

    This is hardly the case. Without Curry the Knicks? offense was stagnant and inefficient and relied heavily on isolation plays.

    If you want to revisit the Ewing theory as it applies to Curry using P100P stats, be my guest, but it defies logic and all other statistical measures. And in case you?re wondering what happened in the one game that Curry didn?t play, Crawford scored his 52, which has to have a nice skewing effect on that stat.

    ?According to your line of thinking, Player B was superior in both cases, but I think it?s pretty clear that?s not really the case.?

    And here are two hypothetical scenarios for you:

    Player A averages 10 PPG, 3 RPG, and 1 APG in 20 minutes of playing time. Player B averages 19 PPG, 5 RPG, and 3 APG in 40 minutes of playing time. Who is more productive?

    Likewise, Player A scored 10 points on 5 shots while Player B scored 40 points on 25 shots. Who was more productive?

    According to your mode of thought, it?s Player A in both cases, but most teams would rather have Player B. Productivity wins ball games, not efficiency.

    ?Per game numbers are probably the least accurate means of measuring a players performance because there are too many variables that they fail to take into account.?

    No, per game numbers are the most accurate metric because they DO take variables into account. Projected statistics are completely hypothetical and don?t account for any factors that go into playing time, nor do they reflect actual contributions.

  116. xduckshoex

    “Ah, my favorite horrendously nebulous statistic. +/- can be interpreted in so many ways, it?s actually useful for both sides of any argument. To start with, why would you measure anything in terms of per 100 possessions? Is basketball played on a per possession basis or a per minute basis? Since when were teams given a fixed number of possessions?”

    Because measuring things on a per-possession basis adjusts for the pace of the game. How else can you accurately compare a player on the Suns(who use 114 possessions per game) and a player on the Pacers(who use 103 possessions per game)? Assuming that their usage rate is the same, that means extra possessions for the player on the Suns, which means that they have an obvious advantage simply because their team pushes the ball more. Per possession numbers adjust for that.

    “It?s not really very blurry. Duncan is a PF, Okur a C, Boozer a PF, Bosh a PF, J. O?Neal a PF, Jefferson a PF, and Howard a PF. Other positions are sometimes played, but those are the primary positions. Very few skilled players end up at the center spot.”

    Yet Okur doesn’t play like a traditional center, but Boozer and Howard do. Bosh, O’Neal, Jefferson, Howard and Duncan all played more minutes at center than power forward. Obviously that line is not as distinct as you make it seem.

    “This is hardly the case. Without Curry the Knicks? offense was stagnant and inefficient and relied heavily on isolation plays.

    If you want to revisit the Ewing theory as it applies to Curry using P100P stats, be my guest, but it defies logic and all other statistical measures.”

    What statistical measures?

    “No, per game numbers are the most accurate metric because they DO take variables into account. Projected statistics are completely hypothetical and don?t account for any factors that go into playing time, nor do they reflect actual contributions.”

    Who is talking about projected statistics? Not me.

    And per-game numbers do NOT take variables into account. Pace of the game? Nope. Minutes played? Nope. Possessions used? Nope. They barely scratch the surface, and as such are not accurate in any way.

  117. Owen

    Phew, Xducks, you aren’t leaving me much to say here. I basically can’t add anything to what you said in response to TFK, who I think is being a bit, um, well, i don’t know….

    Z – Not sure how to respond really to your comment that “I don?t think you need statistical backup to say Kobe is the most dominant scorer in the league. He has been for years. You need statistical backup to say he isn?t (I?m not saying the case can?t be made, but somethings enter into conventional wisdom and don?t need to be backed up with substantial evidence each time the assumption is made.”

    Look. The best offensive team of ALL TIME had Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitizki on it. Not Kobe. The second best offensive team last year was led by Dirk Nowitzi, who made his teams 15 points better when he was on the court. That’s sick. Almost unheard of. Honestly its almost impossible to argue that Nowitzki, offensively, is not the best player in the game. There is no statistic you can cite other than points per game, which is basically not a statistic at all.

    Re Jordan and Bryant and Lee

    Look at the numbers yourself.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm.cgi?req=1&cum=0&p1=bryanko01&y1=2007&p2=jordami01&y2=1992

    They had virtually identical scoring numbers. 58% ts%. 37.1 points per 48. But Jordan per 48 was 1.2 rebounds better, 1.3 assists better, 1.1 steals better, .6 better on blocks, .8 better on turnoverrs, and equal on fouls. Jordan was much better than Bryant. A .392 at age 28 versus a .234 for Kobe last year. And he had that big advantage because he was so much better in the non-scoring aspect of the game.

    Re Lee and Jordan

    Obviously I dont think Lee is better than Jordan. Magic and Jordan are the best players of the modern statistical era, i.e. since the three point shot, block, and turnover entered the box score.
    At the same age as Lee, Jordan posted a .414 and accounted for 28.6 wins, which is the second most wins ever produced by a shooting guard, falling just short of Jordan’s performances the next two years, when he posted 34.1 and 28.8 wins. He posted a WP48 of .502 at age 25. That’s unbelievable, even more so for a shooting guard, and of course makes him much much better than Lee.

    if anyone deserves the Jordan treatment its Wade, but even he falls short of Jordan, whose numbers relative to the average shooting guard were flat out ridiculous.

    Alright…

  118. Adam F

    Wow, 100+ posts on a Nate Robinson thread about David Lee. I’ve posted before on this site, usually arguing against Owen and saying that while David Lee is a very good and useful player, he is overrated on this site. After the constant reference to WoW i picked up the book myself and decided to read it. It’s pretty convincing stuff. With that said, this is my opinion on the David Lee matter. He is an unbelievably efficient and effective player, yet the fact remains he’s not the cornerstone of a franchise, and could never be the best player on a team. That’s because any good team needs a go to guy, who can get you a bucket when you need it most, and I don’t think David Lee is that guy.

    One thing I do want to address is the “per-game stats” debate. While I see the value in stats adjusted for minutes or possessions, I wouldn’t consider per-game stats “useless”. Because while stats accumulated are definately a function of minutes per game, increasing minutes per game and keeping per 40 min. stats constant is not necessarily easy. One needs to be in good shape, stay out of foul trouble, and find ways to remain unpredictable to maintain good per 40 minutes stats over the course of long periods of time within a single game. That to me is why Eddy Curry did improve this year, despite previous posts on this very website.

    On to Nate Robinson: I really didn’t like him initially, but I’m beginning to like him only because i finally see potential for him to be a very useful piece on this team. As an energy guy off the bench with the ability to score off the bench he could be a very, very, useful piece on this team. Pair him off the bench with Jamal (hopefully Q starts at the 2 so Balkman plays the 3) and we have a nice amount of punch off the bench along with great rebounding and energy in Lee, and maybe some experience and veteran guile from Malik Rose.

  119. Ben R

    I do not know which side to take on this debate.

    On one hand I like statistics (the eff. vs production debate is silly) and think that Lee was hands down, far and away the best Knick and would too have to pause before trading him straight up for Kobe. I would probably do it because Lee’s great play was for only half a season and he will probably come back down to Earth at least a little next year, I cannot believe he can maintain his efficiency, at least not to last years degree. Also I think that in limited minutes Balkman was the second best Knick and was absolutely dominant defensively last year. I would probably not trade Balkman and Lee for Kobe, but would if we could keep one of them.

    On the other hand I think Curry is much more valuable than people make him out to be. I may be the only player on this board who follows basketball statistics and still supports Curry.

    I did not use stats to support my claims about Lee and Balkman because Owen and xduckshoex did such a good job.

    I will however use some to back up my Curry argument. The reason Curry has such bad +/- stats is because he played so many minutes without the Knicks best player (Lee). Curry played 72% of all the minutes the Knicks played last year, but of his 2847 minutes only 1013 were with Lee. That means Curry only had Lee 36% of the time. However during the 1089 minutes he was on the bench Lee played 716 minutes, that means Lee played 66% of the minutes that Curry was on the bench. Lee had such a profond effect on the Knicks that any minutes he was on the court they were signifigantly better (esp. on the offensive end where Lee was one of the best offensive players in the league). So since the Knicks without Curry had Lee almost twice as much as the Knicks with Curry, logic stands to reason that the Knicks would be better with Curry on the bench(because it equals more Lee).

    Also I think the turnover argument against Curry is slightly overexagerated. Curry was not the second most turnover prone player last year and his turnover rate of 17.7 was only slightly below average compaired to other centers. On top of that his turnover rate in Chicago was actually not nearly as bad especially compairing him to other young centers. I believe a big part of his turnover woes, in NY, is due to the fact that Marbury might be the worst post feeding guard in the NBA. But even looking at his turnovers in NY his high TS% still makes him more effiecent with the ball than Randolph or well over half the league. (ie in 20 possesions used up he might get more turnovers but still scores more points because he misses less shots, than most players in the NBA)

    As for his rebounding problems, despite playing many more minutes without Lee (one of the best rebounders in the NBA) than with him, the Knicks were only a 2.2% worse rebounding team when Curry was on the floor. (for his career his teams have been 1.5% worse in 05-06, 1.8% worse in 04-05, 0.8 worse in 03-04, and no worse in 02-03 when he was on the floor) So in the last five years despite being, statistically, a terrible rebounder at one of the two most important rebounding positions in the NBA, he has mot made his teams profoundly worse at rebounding, despite having two very good rebounders, Lee and Chandler, backing him up. I would argue that maybe Curry is a poor rebounder not beacause he is surrendering rebounds to his opponents but instead defering to his teammates.

    As for the defensively I totally agree that Curry has many problems, but I would still put him as a better defender than Randolph.

    Overall I would put Curry as a great project who if he can get his FT% and turnover rate back to his Chicago days, while still maintaing his minutes and high amount of ft/fg, he would be a great offensive player (right now he is merely above average) and poor defensive one.

    So I believe if we start Balkman, Lee and Curry we would have two above average players (Balkman and Curry) and one elite player (Lee) as our starting frontcourt. Unfortunatly Lee is trapped behind a worse (but still above average) player in Randolph and Balkman will probably not get the start because of his experience.

    Also talking about Kobe scenerios why would they need both Lee and Randolph (they already have Bynum), and why would they want Balkman, with both Odom and Walton getting big money to play the SF position. If they made a trade it would not be for two PF’s and a SF leaving them with no talent at all in the backcourt and more players then they can use in the frontcourt.

  120. Z

    Thanks Owen– I was actually really curious about how Jordan and Kobe measured up statistically. I just knew you’d do the dirty work for me if I presented it in a negative David Lee context…

    Still, I think Kobe’s contributions to 3 championship teams is under rated. Sure, Dirk’s stats and Nash’s stats are great, as are their teams, but they have 0 rings. I’d say that for the next couple years he is one good player away from playing for a championship again.

    Shaq has only won rings when playing with the best guard in the league.

    Kobe just needs to play with the best center in the league. That’s all. (He’s lookin’ at you, Eddy Curry…)

  121. Ted Nelson

    Adam F

    There are two lines of thinking on the increased minutes/stable per minute stats issue. You point out one, that it might be difficult to stay as productive given more minutes. On the other hand, it’s also possible that with extended minutes a player becomes more productive in per minutes terms as they become more comfortable on the court, with their teammates, and probably get a self-confidence boost. Owen would know a lot better than I, but I believe it was Berri who did some research and concluded that on average increased minutes will increase per minute production.

    thefatkid-

    “Is basketball played on a per possession basis or a per minute basis?”
    Yes and Yes. When you’re watching a basketball game you may notice that the teams keep running from one end of the court to the other. Each time you notice them doing so, this is what we call a possession. The team that scores more points on more of those possessions wins the game.
    The fact that a team is not obliged to have a certain number of possesssions per game is exactly why looking at per possession numbers can be more useful than per game numbers: putting up 20 ppg on the Suns isn’t the same as 20 ppg on the Pistons.
    Looking at per possession stas can eliminate discrepencies between teams, while looking at per minute stats can eliminate discrepencies in playing time. And, or course, 1 NBA game = 48 minutes. So, yes an NBA game is played in minutes.
    Sorry to be a smartass.

    If you look at and, more importantly, interpret the stats you can see why Jason Kidd and Steve Nash help their teams while in their 2006-2007 forms Allen Iverson or Eddy Curry might actually harm a team. For example, while you are right that +/- needs to be interpretted, in this case Iverson (-1.6) and Curry (-2.2) make their teams worse by being on the court, while Nash (+11.2) and Kidd (+8.3) had the best +/- on their teams. While +/- needs to be interpretted, if you’re a “franchise player” and your team is worse with you on the court you are not a “franchise player.” You can also look at shooting%s, ast-rates, usage rates, TO-rates, reb rates, and other metrics and come up with a similar conclusion. You can even look at plain old box score numbers and come up with this conclusion, as Berri seems to more or less do.

    On Curry specifically:
    While Curry scored on a tremendously high % of his shots, I would be willing to bet that the Knicks offense scored on a very low % of the times he got the ball and didn’t shoot. If he doesn’t shoot the offense either turns it over or has to reset completely with a good chunk of the shot clock gone. This is more of a problem b/c Curry isn’t exactly the only Knicks with a low basketball IQ. Then Jamal Crawford just heaves the ball at the basket, ensuring the offense will convert a low % unless Lee, Balkman, or whoever gets an offensive board.

  122. thefatkid

    ?Because measuring things on a per-possession basis adjusts for the pace of the game. How else can you accurately compare a player on the Suns(who use 114 possessions per game) and a player on the Pacers(who use 103 possessions per game)? Assuming that their usage rate is the same, that means extra possessions for the player on the Suns, which means that they have an obvious advantage simply because their team pushes the ball more. Per possession numbers adjust for that.?

    I disagree with this concept. The basic theory is to eliminate the impact of the pace of the game, which is an important concept. The Suns have an obvious advantage over the Pacers in your scenario and there is no reason to mitigate that advantage for no apparent reason. Again, basketball is played on the basis of time. If one team is more productive during their 48 minutes than another team, they should be credited for that production. Why would you use a turn-based metric on a time-based game? It defies logic.

    ?Yet Okur doesn?t play like a traditional center, but Boozer and Howard do. Bosh, O?Neal, Jefferson, Howard and Duncan all played more minutes at center than power forward. Obviously that line is not as distinct as you make it seem.?

    Clearly, this concept is highly contingent upon one?s own perceptions. 82games lists Oberto as being primarily a PF while Duncan is primarily a C. I would reverse that, but it?s up to discretion. Regardless, I wouldn?t classify the 4 and 5 as one position, just as I wouldn?t deem the 2 and 3 interchangeable. These are distinctly different positions.

    ?What statistical measures??

    The very ones I outlined, perhaps? Or, stated differently, every single non-P100P measurement.

    ?Who is talking about projected statistics? Not me.?

    P40M stats are projections. They are derived from actual production numbers and then projected for a given period of time. Per game stats are based on raw data, rather than manipulation of data.

    ?And per-game numbers do NOT take variables into account. Pace of the game? Nope. Minutes played? Nope. Possessions used? Nope. They barely scratch the surface, and as such are not accurate in any way.?

    The pace of a basketball game is a concept that shouldn?t be accounted for. Again, number of possessions and pace are irrelevant in a time-based contest. What matters is how many points a team can score in 48 minutes, not how many points a team scores per possession.

    As far as minutes played is concerned, there are plenty of variables that go into the number of minutes a player receives. Projecting a 20 MPG player into a 40 MPG player involves a tremendous number of assumptions, while projecting a 37 MPG player into a 40 MPG player involves relatively few assumptions. You?re making an orange into an apple for purposes of comparing it to an apple.

    ?The team that scores more points on more of those possessions wins the game.?

    No, the team that scores more points wins the game. The number of possessions is meaningless.

    ?The fact that a team is not obliged to have a certain number of possesssions per game is exactly why looking at per possession numbers can be more useful than per game numbers: putting up 20 ppg on the Suns isn?t the same as 20 ppg on the Pistons.?

    This defies logic. 20 points is 20 points. Again, counting possessions is irrelevant. Points win games, possessions do not.

    Ted, the Knicks shot the ball for an eFG% of 50.6% with Curry on the floor versus 46.6% without him. And 54% of field goals were assisted with Curry on the floor against 47% without him. This indicates that the offense was much more efficient with Curry than without him.

  123. Owen

    TFK – lol, what are we going to do with you. Tis may surprise you, but people have actually thought about this before, written books about it even, and they don’t agree with you. Why don’t you read Basketball on Paper and tell us what you think of it?

  124. thefatkid

    Owen, I’m well aware of Oliver, Hollinger, and even your man Berri. While this may shock you, I’m unwilling to blindly follow the “rules” as they apply to statistical catch-alls and overly simplistic analysis that relies almost solely on statistics.

  125. Rahsaan

    “Why would you use a turn-based metric on a time-based game? It defies logic.”

    “The Suns have an obvious advantage over the Pacers in your scenario and there is no reason to mitigate that advantage for no apparent reason”

    No, they don’t – that’s a logical fallacy.

    Playing at a faster pace doesn’t give you get more possessions than your opponent. What happens when the slowest team in the league plays the fastest team? They both get an equal number of possessions, regardless of how they use them.

    To put it simply, basketball is a turn-based game more than it is a time-based game because the two teams don’t necessarily get the same amount of time to score points, but they do get the same amount of turns.

    Considering offence and defence in terms of possessions is absolutely crucial. Think of the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets. They were a poor offensive team, but still scored tons of points by running a lot and jacking up shots early in the shot clock. Problem is, after (almost) every shot, the other team gets the ball. Which is why they gave up over 130 points per game.

    You can make a semi-plausible case that individual stats shouldn’t be possession weighted, but there’s really no other way to consider team stats.

  126. Caleb

    Both these things are true in a basketball game:
    a. The team scoring more points wins
    b. The team scoring more points per posession wins.

    It is mathematically impossible to be more efficient with your posessions, and score fewer points than your opponent.

    It is a more useful statistical approach to analyze the game by posession, in the same way that it’s more useful to analye anything in terms of rates, rather than absolute numbers.

    There is a large amount of data showing that players maintain or even improve their production/statistics when their minutes increase, making per/40 statistics a valid way of comparing starters and part-time players. (except for extremely small samples, such as trying to predict a full season’s worth of numbers from Kelvin Cato’s minute minutes, or Jamal Crawford’s 52-point game).

    Eddy Curry is an enigma. It’s virtually impossible, looking at the stats, to argue that he was a major positive force. But Ben R. makes an excellent case for why Curry is better than his critics here think.

    Dave Berri probably as as good a statistical method as there is, but there are plenty of holes left to patch:

    - Overvaluing rebounds, in effect treating them as a proxy for team defense. The position adjustment is suppposed to make up for it, but it doesn’t. DB always has to apologize, “I don’t really think Rodman was better than Jordan…”

    - Not measuring defense outside of steals and blocks, which — in probably the only thing on which tfk and I will ever agree — are likely overrated as defensive measures. No one else has really cracked the code of measuring defense, either.

    – Not resolving the impact that teammates make on each others’ games. The NBA isn’t baseball, where individual performance really is isolated. The impact might not be huge, but it’s hard to imagine it doesn’t exist. Would Ginobili look like the best SG in the league if he were playing next to Curry, or Chris Mihm, and not Tim Duncan? Plus/minus is prone to wild swings, and in basketball, for starters at least, the sample of “minutes not played” is so small — at least for any combination of 5 players — as to make comparisons difficult, if not totally unreliable.

    To be fair, no method has really solved this.

    – The correlations used to develop the method are based on team statistics and an assumption is made that it will apply to individual stats. This leads to some circular logic. Within a team, it’s true that wins produced will always be close to real wins…. but that doesn’t mean they’re credited appropriately to the individual players.

    - My math skills aren’t good enough to make a coherent argument on this, so maybe someone else can help me out. I have a nagging suspicion that WP is less reliable, because the basic barometer is an “average” player, as opposed to a “replacement level” player. For example, if the league shooting percentage is 45% (I’m just guessing), a player who shoots 42% is hurting the team. This assumes that someone else taking the shot would be “average.” It seems that a better measure would be a “replacement level” player (a concept well known in baseball sabermetrics). 42% might be below the league average, but it’s better than, say, 35% that might be the base level that any NBDL, free-agent pickup could achieve.
    Rebounds seem to be treated differently. Rather than be compared to an “average” measure, any rebound counts as a positive, with no “penalty” for a “missed rebound.” (as there is, in effect, for a missed shot). This is another way that rebounds end up being seemingly overvalued.

    But here’s a good thing: you can test it — it has the ability to make predictions. Rather than an abstract measure like PER, (or a dummy method like totaling up every player’s ppg, and comparing those), WP produces a product that measures (or purports to measure) the impact a player has (or would have) on a team’s won-loss record. He looked smart when he analyzed the Iverson-Miller trade.

  127. xduckshoex

    “P40M stats are projections. They are derived from actual production numbers and then projected for a given period of time. Per game stats are based on raw data, rather than manipulation of data.”

    No, that’s wrong. Per 40 minute stats measure what a player did per 40 minutes of playing time. You just look at it the wrong way. You think “these say what the player WOULD do if they played 40 minutes per game” but what you should be thinking is “this is what the player DID do for every 40 minutes of playing time”. The purpose of the per 40 minute numbers is not to speculate on what a player would do if given more minutes, but to give players who played different minutes equal footing for the basis of comparison. Per 40 minute numbers are not speculative at all.

  128. thefatkid

    ?There is a large amount of data showing that players maintain or even improve their production/statistics when their minutes increase, making per/40 statistics a valid way of comparing starters and part-time players.?
    This is a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a survivor bias. That is to say, the only time a limited-minutes player will see his minutes increase is if he is more productive with increased time or equally productive. Players who aren?t as effective in extended minutes simply won?t see those minutes. The tail does not wag the dog.
    ?Eddy Curry is an enigma. It?s virtually impossible, looking at the stats, to argue that he was a major positive force.?
    But the only statistic that supports this argument is +/- and even that is only valid on the P100P data. That?s hardly anything resembling a preponderance of evidence in order to dismiss his accomplishments.
    ?No, that?s wrong. Per 40 minute stats measure what a player did per 40 minutes of playing time. You just look at it the wrong way. You think ?these say what the player WOULD do if they played 40 minutes per game? but what you should be thinking is ?this is what the player DID do for every 40 minutes of playing time?. The purpose of the per 40 minute numbers is not to speculate on what a player would do if given more minutes, but to give players who played different minutes equal footing for the basis of comparison. Per 40 minute numbers are not speculative at all.?
    The 40 minutes of playing time is completely different from one player to another. The marginal impact of a player on a per-minute basis should be greater for a lower minute player. Lower minute players are expected to expend more energy in a short period of time and maximize contributions during whatever time they have to contribute. For Robinson, this means he will shoot almost as often as possible and commit a nearly absurd amount of fouls in a short time. He knows the hook will be quick so he plays as frenetically as possible.

  129. JohnG

    Excellent post Caleb. You nailed both of what I consider to be the main flaws in Berri’s work – applying the teamwide correlations to individual players and the issue of using “average.” Seems similar to the issues with Bill James’s original Runs Created formula and Pete Palmer’s linear weights (to borrow from sabermetrics). I appreciate Berri’s work, and I hate to apply the “laugh test” to someone’s efforts, but his work isn’t predictive (and as you mentioned, he’ll always accurately “explain” wins after the fact), but my eyes and +/- numbers tell me that Wins Produced is missing an awful lot.

  130. Owen

    XDucks – Once again, completely on point.

    TFK – To each his own.

    Bena and Caleb – Excellent posts. Curry is not really that much of an enigma. He has a remarkable impact on turnover rates. The Knicks committed three more, and caused three less per 100, when he was on the floor. Their offensive rebounding was worse. They took fewer foul shots at a lower percentage. It’s not that hard to see why, despite a dramatic impact on efg, he might still have hurt their offense. Teams basically score a point for every possession they have. Three turnovers means three more unsuccessful possessions. They captured five offensive rebounds less, which is a huge difference. They also shot fewer foul shots and at a lower percentage, which would dent offensive efficiency also. Those differences in offensive rebounding, turnovers, and foul shooting explain very neatly the enigma of why the Knicks offense performed worse with Curry on the floor despite a net field goal efficiency that was 4% higher.

    And his impact on defense is remarkably bad. Who would have thought they would have forced 3 less turnovers with him on the court?

    Caleb – Re the WOW, sort of blogged out. I recognize your objections. Re Defense, it is in the model, he does measure it, just at the team level. But obviously beyond steals and block he doesnt account for it on a specific individual basis. I am reasonably convinced by the argument he made in his “incorporating defense” post, basically that most of the contribution a player makes is captured via the team adjustment, i.e. the difference between a player and the average defensive individual performance on his team is not enough to change the overall evaluation of a player very much in almost every case, it would be a 5%%-10% at most. There’s something missing maybe, but not a big thing.

    I don’t really think there is much of a difference between the replacement player and average player concept. Either way there is a benchmark players are measured against. But certainly you can look at the WOW numbers and make that kind of calculation. Kobe’s value to the Knicks, and Lee’s relative value, is far greater if Jamal Crawford is well below average, than if Craw is above average. If you knew Craw was going to lay like he did two years ago next year, you would never trade for Bryant. IF you knew he was going to be even worse, than he Kobe would look much more attractive.

    Re the impact of teammates, having looked at the career numbers for a lot of players, and having observed how consistent they generally are, injuries aside, it just doesn’t make sense to think that players are effected a great deal by their teammates in general. Players switch teams, rosters turnover, but the numbers march on very consistently. This can only be because performances are relatively independent. There is some impact certainly. When Jordan left the Bulls, Pippen and Grant’s numbers improved a lot. But overall Berri thinks the effect is fairly small. How much better do we think Rashard Lewis will be playing with Dwight Howard. (important question since he is on my fantasy team.) My bet, not that much different.

    The argument about synergy between Kobe and Curry is ridiculous I think. Curry is an awful passer. No in the history of the NBA has ever had so many turnovers with so few assists. Kobe’s head would explode playing with the Big Turnover.

  131. Owen

    JohnG – Berri is making predictions all the time. That isn’t the purpose of his work, and he doesn’t put too much stock in predictions, there are still too many unknown variables to hope to get it completely right, but he gives it the old college try. He is actually working through projections for every team in the NBA for next season. And he absolutely nailed the Iverson-Miller trade. He got the final record for the 76ers exactly right.

    We have had it out on the laugh test here on this board. To me, you have to prefer a metric that at least tries to connect stats to wins, to a metric like PER that doesn’t.

    And vis a vis the +/- data vs WOW. A lot of the time they come to very similar conclusions. Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony didn’t make a big impact on their teams, and they don’t have good WOW ratings. Granted, Camby has an amazing WOW rating, which doesn’t show up in 82games. I think 82games is basically perfectly in synch with Berri on Curry and Lee. Curry’s +/- is terrible. Lee’s +/- is great. Same same but same.

    Anyway….

  132. Ted Nelson

    “This defies logic. 20 points is 20 points. Again, counting possessions is irrelevant. Points win games, possessions do not.

    Ted, the Knicks shot the ball for an eFG% of 50.6% with Curry on the floor versus 46.6% without him. And 54% of field goals were assisted with Curry on the floor against 47% without him. This indicates that the offense was much more efficient with Curry than without him.”

    No, the logic is that 20 points out of 140 is not nearly as important or impressive as 20 points out of 90. Points are scored during possessions. The goal of a basketball game is to hold your opponent to as few points as possible on their offensive possessions and to score as many points as possible on your own possessions.

    No, the Knicks are not more effective or efficient with Curry. They are more efficient on the shots they take, but they score less points per possession when he’s in the game. (I know, I know. You don’t understand possessions, so you don’t believe in them.)

    You may have heard of Oliver, Berri, Hollinger, yet you don’t seem to grasp any of their concepts. You’re absolutely right that you don’t have to follow the crowd, but it helps if you at least understand the crowd before dismissing them. Not that those three really follow the mainstream crowd.
    I don’t understand what your point is. The only points I’ve seen are that everything everyone else says is BS and that Eddy Curry is God’s gift to the world.

  133. thefatkid

    ?Curry is not really that much of an enigma. He has a remarkable impact on turnover rates. The Knicks committed three more, and caused three less per 100, when he was on the floor. Their offensive rebounding was worse. They took fewer foul shots at a lower percentage. It?s not that hard to see why, despite a dramatic impact on efg, he might still have hurt their offense. Teams basically score a point for every possession they have. Three turnovers means three more unsuccessful possessions. They captured five offensive rebounds less, which is a huge difference. They also shot fewer foul shots and at a lower percentage, which would dent offensive efficiency also. Those differences in offensive rebounding, turnovers, and foul shooting explain very neatly the enigma of why the Knicks offense performed worse with Curry on the floor despite a net field goal efficiency that was 4% higher.?

    All of the stats you are referencing are actually P48M stats, not P100P stats. You can make the case that Curry?s presence in the game does result in more offensive turnovers. However, is the root cause of this problem Curry himself or the Knick guards being unable to make effective entry passes, resulting in turnovers? I?m inclined to believe the latter, without question.

    I?m not sure I understand your rebounding point. The Knicks only captured 31% of offensive rebounding opportunities with Curry versus 35.8% of opportunities without him. This doesn?t equate to 5 rebounds less, it simply means the Knicks rebounded offensively at a lower rate with Curry on the floor. I would explain this offensive rebounding discrepancy with the fact that the Knicks? best offensive rebounders, Lee and Balkman, played most of their minutes with Curry on the bench. As an aside, the Knicks were a better defensive rebounding team with Curry on the floor.

    Regarding the free throw situation, the Knicks only took 2 more free throws per 48 minutes without Curry, hardly a meaningful amount on 30 attempts overall. The really interesting point regarding free throws comes on defense, where teams are attempting 35 free throws per 48 minutes without Curry in the game and only 21 with him in the game. That difference is simply staggering and indicates that the Knicks clearly depend on Curry for intimidation, even if fans don?t recognize that. It should be noted that Okafor and Wallace have similar stats in this respect.

    “No, the logic is that 20 points out of 140 is not nearly as important or impressive as 20 points out of 90. Points are scored during possessions. The goal of a basketball game is to hold your opponent to as few points as possible on their offensive possessions and to score as many points as possible on your own possessions.”

    This isn’t the case. Points don’t become more or less valuable on a marginal basis. The goal is to outscore the opponent, whether it is 140-138 or 90-88. You could argue that scoring is more valuable on a low-scoring team than a high scoring team, but possessions are hardly a sound basis for that argument. The basis for that entire claim is a proportional contribution, which has nothing to do with possessions and everything to do with total points.

    ?No, the Knicks are not more effective or efficient with Curry. They are more efficient on the shots they take, but they score less points per possession when he?s in the game. (I know, I know. You don?t understand possessions, so you don?t believe in them.)?

    I understand the concept of possessions just fine. I find them mostly useless for any statistical measurement.

    ?You may have heard of Oliver, Berri, Hollinger, yet you don?t seem to grasp any of their concepts. You?re absolutely right that you don?t have to follow the crowd, but it helps if you at least understand the crowd before dismissing them. Not that those three really follow the mainstream crowd.?

    I grasp the concepts just fine and I appreciate their efforts, however, I disagree with the conclusions they?ve drawn. I don?t find single-number evaluations to be necessary or accurate and I disagree with arbitrary statistical formulas.

    ?I don?t understand what your point is. The only points I?ve seen are that everything everyone else says is BS and that Eddy Curry is God?s gift to the world.?

    The basic point is that the map is not the territory and people need to look at stats and, in particular, formulas and ask questions before blindly following. These statistics don?t support facts and have few basketball-related arguments to support them.

    ?What I mean to say is: if the consensus on stats is wrong, what?s right??

    I?m glad you asked, since the answer will be quite distressing for the sabermatrics folks. The bottom line is that basketball stats haven?t evolved to the point where they can be relied on beyond actual basketball analysis. For that matter, baseball statistics aren?t even there yet and they are lightyears ahead of basketball (Moneyball proved that rather nicely).

    Player analysis should be performed in the same way Isiah Thomas has done so. That is so say, he?s gone into a gym and watched these men play basketball and made decisions based upon that. Lee and Balkman posted pretty awful stats coming out of college, but Thomas picked them because he liked their tenacity and athleticism. They?ve proven to be good players, but they?ve proven so because of his criteria, not the Berri/Hollinger stuff.

  134. Caleb

    PUtting aside Berri’s own predictions, what I admire most about the WP formula is it generates a metric in strict wins and losses, which is a meaningful way to compare players — I mean, if you swap out a player with a PER of 15 for a guy with a PER of 25, and one plays 30 minutes a game, and the other plays 25…. hopefully you get my drift.

    I know you could perform a complex calculation to “translate” PER or other ratings into wins and losses, but Berri’s work just puts the wins and losses out front.

    I’d much rather argue – “there’s no way Rodman was worth 3 more wins to the Bulls than Jordan was” than fight over, “his PER should be two points higher.”

    Because of the format, others are able to – and do – make predictions about how various moves will impact their teams. A good way of road-testing any formula.

  135. Ted Nelson

    1.”No, the team that scores more points wins the game. The number of possessions is meaningless.”
    2.”These statistics don?t support facts and have few basketball-related arguments to support them.”
    3.”Lee and Balkman posted pretty awful stats coming out of college…They?ve proven to be good players, but they?ve proven so because of his criteria, not the Berri/Hollinger stuff.”

    Here are a few examples of why I say that you don’t seem to understand possessions or have much knowledge of the work of the aforementioned guys.

    1. You’ve made the exact same point me and others have been making. The number of possessions is meaningless because both teams get almost the same number of possession. The team that scores the most points is the team that is more efficient on its possessions and also, necessarily, the team that renders the other team less efficient on its possessions.
    The fact that # of possessions is meaningless is exactly why we account for them. Once you see which team scored more points and won, it makes sense to ask why did they score more points? Because they made better use of their possessions and kept the other team from making better use of their possessions. In the end maybe you’d want to look at every possession and point out every single thing that every single player did right and wrong. In the end, it’s not only easier but also more useful for fans and commentators to look at the most important things player x did per possession.

    The 20 ppg thing is one example, but, again, the 20 ppg scorer on the 140 point fast pace team contributed proportionally less because his team had far more possessions than the 90 point slow pace team: he scored not only a smaller % of their total points, but also on a smaller % of their possessions. Maybe he has a teammate who scored 40, another who scored 30, and another who scored 25. Was he as valuable to his team as the guy who led his team in scoring at 20 ppg?

    Maybe points is a bad example. Take 2 guys who both grab 10 boards in different games. One guy has 50 missed shots he could possibly grab, the other 100. Would you say that they’re equal rebounders? That they made equal contributions to their teams? This could apply to either per possession or per minute thinking.

    2. They are, in fact, trying to support facts and explain what goes on on the court. I realize they’re not perfect, but I think you’ll find that for the most part you’ll come to the same conclusion by watching the games or looking at stats.

    I’m not saying PER is the greatest thing ever or the last word on who’s efficient, effective, or anything else, but here are last season’s top 5

    Wade, Nowitzki, Ming, Duncan, Bryant

    Do you watch any of these guys and think “wow he is really not a good basketball player?”

    Last season’s top 5 in rebound rate: Chandler, Lee, Boozer, Howard, Al Jefferson
    In the games I’ve watched I’d say those guys all looked like pretty good rebounders.

    3. Actually, Berri had Balkman projected as one of the best players in his draft and Lee was a strong rebounder and efficient scorer in college.

    Isiah Thomas is the end-all and be-all of constructing a team???????????????????????????????????? He’s an amazing drafter, no doubt. One question: why did the Knicks only win 33 games last season, 23 the season before, and 33 the year before that?

  136. Owen

    TFK – I didn’t realize that the 82games stats were per 48. But presumably that makes Curry’s numbers even worse.

    Re the offensive rebounding, per 100 possessions, you would capture 5 rebounds less, giving up five extra opportunities to score (not possessions though.)

    Re Curry, Berri had a post in which he detailed his argument against him, The Curry Scoring Illusion. This is the chart that went with it.

    http://www.wagesofwins.com/Curry63.html

    Those are per 48 numbers, which I understand you don’t believe in. It compares Eddy Curry to the “average” center, which is a statistical construct based on the average box score production by centers over the last 25 years. His turnovers spiked this year, but he has been well above average for the last four years. I don’t know how you can spin those numbers and say he is an above average center, except by saying that scoring is by far the most important thing that happens on the basketball court, or that numbers don’t matter all, which I believe is your actual position.

    I will second Ted’s comment about Balkman. Berri’s approach had him rated as the best small forward in the draft and the fourth best player overall. He is still working out the kinks for analyzing college players, but Paul Millsap was the top rated player coming out, followed closely by Tyrus Thomas. Millsap had a superb rookie year. Tyrus Thomas was above average and improved a great deal after a slow start. Brandon Roy was the fifth rated player. Adam Morrison, probably the worst player in the NBA last year who played serious minutes, was tenth most productive.

    I would also add that the fact that you didn’t know that indicates to me that you don’t read the WOW blog and know very little about the work he does over there. There are a lot of people that disagree with his approach here, but nearly all of them have read his blog and attack his argument with something beyond, statistical analysis of basketball is impossible.

    http://www.wagesofwins.com/Draft2006.html

    I dont think there is much more I would add to what Caleb and Ted Nelson said. You seem pretty set in your views. I don’t think your mind could be changed.

    What I would say is that above the door for this site is a recommendation from Kevin Pelton calling it “the (NBA’s) premier analytical blog.” Pelton is one of the premiere statheads out there/. I don’t think that would be up there if this were a community of people who thought statistical analysis of basketball is pointless.

    Alright, I have a lottery to win.

  137. thefatkid

    ?The fact that # of possessions is meaningless is exactly why we account for them.?

    This does not bode well for your argument. Why would you track a meaningless statistic and then use that statistic as the basis of analysis?

    ?In the end, it?s not only easier but also more useful for fans and commentators to look at the most important things player x did per possession.?

    Analyzing individual possessions is an excellent idea and something most, if not all, basketball minds do on a regular basis. But there is no reason to use the number of possessions for any sort of statistical analysis.

    ?Was he as valuable to his team as the guy who led his team in scoring at 20 ppg??

    Probably not, but that?s reflective of his contributions as a percentage of total team output. The argument has nothing to do with possessions.

    ?Maybe points is a bad example. Take 2 guys who both grab 10 boards in different games. One guy has 50 missed shots he could possibly grab, the other 100. Would you say that they?re equal rebounders? That they made equal contributions to their teams? This could apply to either per possession or per minute thinking.?

    This is the basis behind the 82games.com rebounding statistics. Rebounding ratings are based upon rebound opportunities. But again, possessions play no part.

    ?These statistics don?t support facts and have few basketball-related arguments to support them.?

    I used this statement not as an indictment of statistical analysis as a whole, but as a commentary on some of the particular statistics being utilized to support arguments with little reasonable basis.

    PER is one of the major metrics that I view as ruining basketball statistical analysis. Rather than giving basketball fans interesting metrics and data to work with, PER eschews detailed analysis in favor of a simple single number. This is essential when attempting to disseminate basketball statistics to those who don?t understand basketball statistics. However, for anyone who feels apt enough to perform their own statistical analysis, single number formulas that rely on arbitrary constants are hardly an appealing solution.

    ?Isiah Thomas is the end-all and be-all of constructing a team???????????????????????????????????? He?s an amazing drafter, no doubt. One question: why did the Knicks only win 33 games last season, 23 the season before, and 33 the year before that??

    This is an astronomical can of words and one I can?t even begin to address in this topic. I?ve already started enough tangents. We?ll revisit this some other time.

    ?Re the offensive rebounding, per 100 possessions, you would capture 5 rebounds less, giving up five extra opportunities to score (not possessions though.)?

    I think you may have missed my response to this one:

    ?I?m not sure I understand your rebounding point. The Knicks only captured 31% of offensive rebounding opportunities with Curry versus 35.8% of opportunities without him. This doesn?t equate to 5 rebounds less, it simply means the Knicks rebounded offensively at a lower rate with Curry on the floor. I would explain this offensive rebounding discrepancy with the fact that the Knicks? best offensive rebounders, Lee and Balkman, played most of their minutes with Curry on the bench. As an aside, the Knicks were a better defensive rebounding team with Curry on the floor.?

    This means that if the Knicks had 50 offensive rebounding opportunities with Curry in the game, they would have grabbed 15.5 offensive rebounds. Without Curry, that number would have been 17.9.

    ?Those are per 48 numbers, which I understand you don?t believe in.?

    It?s not that I don?t believe in per minute stats. Per minute stats simply can?t be regarded as a holy grail. When comparing two wildly different situations, as is the case with Robinson and Crawford, you have to be able to recognize the importance of actual per game contributions as well.

    ?It compares Eddy Curry to the ?average? center, which is a statistical construct based on the average box score production by centers over the last 25 years.?

    The argument is based on a major flaw. If you constructed an ?average center? for each year of the past 25, you?d find that the 06-07 incarnation of this amalgamation is incredibly weak relative to historical results. The center position is currently at one of its weakest states in NBA history. Usage of historical data means Curry is being compared to David Robinson more often than Francisco Elson, which is unfair and not an accurate representation of current facts.

    Historically, Curry isn?t a great center. He certainly doesn?t compare favorably with Ewing, but in today?s NBA he is a great center. He enjoys a dominating advantage over his counterparts, which is essential.

    ?I would also add that the fact that you didn?t know that indicates to me that you don?t read the WOW blog and know very little about the work he does over there. There are a lot of people that disagree with his approach here, but nearly all of them have read his blog and attack his argument with something beyond, statistical analysis of basketball is impossible.?
    I wasn?t aware of the draft section of WoW. However, it does nothing to change my views of why Isiah Thomas drafted those players. He wanted gritty, athletic players and he chose Lee and Balkman based upon their respective performances in the pre-draft camp and the NIT.

    The 2006 draft version of WoW is a post-haste analysis, which isn?t of tremendous value. Berri is simply ranking players after the fact using their college stats and his criteria, which isn?t a great insight. It?s interesting to note how well Rondo and Shelden Williams performed based on his criteria. Some of us would consider them marginal role players.

    The 2007 version of Berri?s analysis should make for interesting debate. Will Nick Fazekas be better than Greg Oden? Time will tell, but I, strangely enough, will bet against Berri on this one.

    Statistical analysis of basketball is far from impossible. But it?s also far from a finished product. And single-number formulas based on constants and arbitrary criteria do nothing to advance the state of basketball statistics and everything to hinder its progress.

    ?What I would say is that above the door for this site is a recommendation from Kevin Pelton calling it ?the (NBA?s) premier analytical blog.? Pelton is one of the premiere statheads out there/. I don?t think that would be up there if this were a community of people who thought statistical analysis of basketball is pointless.?

    I?m hardly against the usage of statistical analysis in basketball. I just happen to disagree with a number of findings and the methodology of the current crop of APBRmetrics. Theory and statistics have to coincide for something to be proven current. If both are leaning in different directions, then there?s a flawed premise, either in the hypothesis or the statistical analysis.

    I gave this simple pairing of scenarios to xduckshoex as a response to his hypothetical questions and I consider it an apt representation of my ?production vs. efficiency? viewpoint:

    ?Player A averages 10 PPG, 3 RPG, and 1 APG in 20 minutes of playing time. Player B averages 19 PPG, 5 RPG, and 3 APG in 40 minutes of playing time. Who is more productive?

    Likewise, Player A scored 10 points on 5 shots while Player B scored 40 points on 25 shots. Who was more productive??

    According to the current state of APBRmetrics, Player A is the superior player in both instances. But does that actually reflect reality? I don?t believe it does.

    Possession theory is the basis for much of Oliver?s work and most of current APBRmetric theory. I view possession theory as bunk. The number of possessions is a statistical measurement that indicates nothing and is of no important. The only reason possession theory is utilized is because it transforms a time-based contest, basketball, into a turn-based contest, which is what current statistics are capable of analyzing. So rather than changing the methodology to suit the subject, the APBRmetrics folks have attempted to change the subject in order to suit the methodology. This certainly doesn?t seem like a sound basis for argument.

    A perfect case for invalidating possession theory is the 06-07 Sonics. The Sonics who, by no small coincidence, employ and have employed Dean Oliver since 2004, have quite a nice APBRmetric basketball team. They are very efficient and feature an abundance of efficient players. But they only managed to win 31 games last season. Look at +/- for the team on a possession game: http://www.82games.com/0607/0607SEA.HTM Interesting to see so many net positives on a team that was outscored by opponents, no? In fact, when you weigh playing time and net +/-, you come up with an overall team +/- of +2.755. How is it possible that a team that failed to outscore its opponents producing an overall positive +/-?

  138. Ted Nelson

    “?The fact that # of possessions is meaningless is exactly why we account for them.?

    This does not bode well for your argument. Why would you track a meaningless statistic and then use that statistic as the basis of analysis?”

    This is why I feel that you must not understand possessions.
    The number of possessions a team gets in a game is meaningless, because their opponent will get almost the same number of possessions. You cannot look at one team that scores 140 ppg and another that scores 90 ppg and say that the 140 ppg team is likely to win by 50 points, nor can you even say that they have a better offense.

    “Probably not, but that?s reflective of his contributions as a percentage of total team output. The argument has nothing to do with possessions.”

    You don’t even seem to understand the game of basketball. IN ORDER TO SCORE YOU MUST FIRST HAVE POSSESSION OF THE BALL.

    “This is an astronomical can of words and one I can?t even begin to address in this topic. I?ve already started enough tangents. We?ll revisit this some other time”

    Are you agreeing that despite the fact that he can’t assemble a winning team Isiah is the model for evaluating basketball players?

    “I wasn?t aware of the draft section of WoW. However, it does nothing to change my views of why Isiah Thomas drafted those players. He wanted gritty, athletic players and he chose Lee and Balkman based upon their respective performances in the pre-draft camp and the NIT.”

    I don’t think that anyone is arguing that you HAVE to use statistics to do a good job of evaluating basketball players. Can’t speak for anyone else, but all I would say is that stats are a great tool for evaluating players when used with common sense and actually watching the guy play.
    I don’t dispute the fact that Isiah, or someone else, could have drafted Balkman and Lee without ever once looking at a stat. Not ppg not mpg, nothing. Not that I’m suggesting it but, on the other hand, Berri could have not watched a college basketball game all season and probably would have ended up with Millsap, Balkman, or Rando at #20 anyway. I’d say that the best thing to do is both watch the games and look at the stats, like the Spurs or Rockets do.
    Another point is that drafting, while it still appears to be very difficult, is picking the men among the boys. Isiah clearly has an eye for talent and can say that of the how ever many D1 college basketball players player x is among the 10, 15, 20 in his draft class that will be a solid NBA player. His record of spotting players

  139. Ted Nelson

    Must have pushed enter by accident.

    … from the NBA ranks is not nearly as good. He’s consistently picked up guys who have tons of talent but low basketball IQs and little NBA success. These guys also tend to be more highly regarded by the average fan than someone with a solid knowledge of advanced statistics. And he’s overpaid, and overpaid to acquire, everyone.

    At the same time I can, and have been, bashing Isiah without using a single stat. The Knicks offense is built around a guy who can’t pass and the guy who shoots the ball the most can’t shoot. There defense is non-existent. I could have figured that out with my eyes, but I could also use stats to support my argument.

    re: Sonics

    +/- is absolutely not a perfect stat. I don’t believe in a “perfect stat” and personally prefer to look at an asortment. If you look at the Sonics team D stats, I think you’ll understand why they only won 31 games. (If Isiah is God then I guess 31 is only -2.) The Sonics were, in fact, the 12th best offense in the league, but they were the 27th best defense.

    Basketball is both turn based and time based. Whether or not you think they should be used statistically, possessions are a real thing. When one of your players has the ball it’s your turn to try to score and the other teams turn to try to stop you from scoring, when one of guys wearing a different colored jersey has the ball it’s their turn to try to score and your turn to try to stop them from scoring. After 48 minutes of playing time, in the NBA, the turns are over.

  140. thefatkid

    ?The number of possessions a team gets in a game is meaningless, because their opponent will get almost the same number of possessions. You cannot look at one team that scores 140 ppg and another that scores 90 ppg and say that the 140 ppg team is likely to win by 50 points, nor can you even say that they have a better offense.?

    So possession stats are a contrived method of ignoring productivity in favor of efficiency?

    ?Are you agreeing that despite the fact that he can?t assemble a winning team Isiah is the model for evaluating basketball players??

    No, the Knicks have foundered for the last few years due to a number of factors, none of which have anything to do with Isiah Thomas? ability to evaluate talent.

    ?+/- is absolutely not a perfect stat. I don?t believe in a ?perfect stat? and personally prefer to look at an asortment. If you look at the Sonics team D stats, I think you?ll understand why they only won 31 games. (If Isiah is God then I guess 31 is only -2.) The Sonics were, in fact, the 12th best offense in the league, but they were the 27th best defense.?

    You seem to have missed the essential point. If +/- is even remotely accurate, then the data for the Sonics must be wrong. If the data isn?t wrong, the results of +/- analysis are so egregiously wrong that the methodology must be erroneous. A team that fails to outscore its opponents cannot have an overall positive +/-. This simply cannot be. Perhaps ridiculous possession theory and the substitution of efficiency for productivity is to blame.

    You?ve not addressed my little hypothetical scenarios for a reason. It?s a simplistic way of proving that efficiency is not the paramount metric in basketball.

  141. caleb

    tfk, you are in over your head. When we finish this you can move on to arguing why 2+2 + 5.

    “I view possession theory as bunk. ”

    By definition, a team will have either the exact same number of posessions as its opponent, one fewer, or one more. Over the course of a season, the number will be virtually identical. Hopefully you don’t think this is bunk.

    Why is efficiency (percentages) a more helpful way to look at things than raw (absolute) numbers?

    Team A beats Team B, 120-115. Therefore, Team A was 5 points better. (Measuring the efficiency of the respective teams, or “posession theory” will produce, by definition, the exact same conclusion). But was it because of Team A’s great offense? Team B’s terrible defense, or its weak offense that turned the ball over constantly? You can’t even begin to answer these questions without using the prism of efficiency.

    “The number of possessions is a statistical measurement that indicates nothing and is of no important. ”

    The absolute number of posessions is not an important measure in and of itself, but a necessary tool in calculating efficiency.

    “If the data isn?t wrong, the results of +/- analysis are so egregiously wrong that the methodology must be erroneous…. Perhaps ridiculous possession theory and the substitution of efficiency for productivity is to blame.”

    +/- and “posession theory” (or the concept of efficiency) have nothing to do with each other. Efficiency is simply a measure of: when a team has the ball, how many points does it score (on average)? (And also trying to break down the individual responsibility for the level of efficiency, or inefficiency).

    p.s. As for the Sonics numbers, all you have to do is pull out a calculator to see if the numbers are right, or if there’s a typo. +/- isn’t “analysis” — it’s a raw number, the same as how many points a player scored in a game, or how many rebounds he got.

  142. Owen

    TFK – What the hell are you talking about? You talk about productivity and efficiency as if they are different things. They are not. If you are looking at the productivity of anything, you are asking what its OUTPUT is PER UNIT of INPUT. That is the definition of productivity. Yuu can measure it in many different ways. If you are looking at the productivity of farmland, you generally are asking how much grain you can grow per unit of land, although you can look at it per unit cost of fertilizers and raw materials. If you are looking at a factory, you are asking how many widgets it produces, usually per unit of labor, although you could look at it relative to your investment in your plant, or relative to the cost of raw materials.

    If you are considering the productivity of a basketball player, you are by definition considering his output, i.e. his statistics, relative to inputs, relative to his time spent on the court. You can look at productivity per game, i.e. productivity in non-standardized units, but really, that’s silly. Would you ever assess a farmer on bushels per farm rather than bushels per acre? Of course not.

    Obviously you have to consider volume. Would I rather have an investment that turns 1$ into 2$ or an investment that turns 1000$ into 1250$. Clearly the latter. Would I rather own a quite profitable power plant rather than a fabulously profitable country road lemonade stand? Ni hablar.

    Scale is important. But basketball statisticians are helped greatly in this respect by the fact that player stats are generally very consistent per unit of time, and by the fact that there are a limited amount of minutes to be played. You don’t have to choose between a player who will give you 1000 minutes and a player who will give you 10000000 minutes. If you haven’t noticed, Eddy Curry’s numbers last year playing 35 minutes per game were actually remarkably similar per minute to the numbers he has posted previously in his career.

    If it were true that basketball player’ s stats varied widely with minutes played, or if you could play one player for an infinite number of minutes, then clearly the possession or per minute approaches would have less validity. Happily, it isn’t so.

    “due to a number of factors, none of which have anything to do with Isiah Thomas? ability to evaluate talent.”

    You are really going to have tough sledding on this board if you really are a guy who thinks that:

    A. Productivity is better measured on a per game than on a per minute or pe possession basis
    B. Isaiah Thomas has nothing to do with the Knicks’ current predicament.

    Isaiah Thomas made the Eddy Curry trade. This transaction has been by far the most damaging made by Knicks management over the past five years. There have been a lot of stupid transactions, but the cost of many of those has been largely financial, which should concern Cablevision investors perhaps, but not Knicks fans. We pay Stephon Marbury 17 million to be a slightly below average point guard. If he weren’t playing for us we probably would have a similar caliber player being paid less. From a performance standpoint ther isn’t a huge difference, it just costs Cablevision a lot in payroll and luxury tax.

    The Curry signing however has pretty much crippled our performance on the court. He isn’t good, at all. If the Knicks had signed Tyson Chandler instead, or had just stood pat and drafted Tyrus Thomas, Lamarcus Aldridge, or perhaps even Joakim Noah (although who knows at this point,) we could actually be talking about how to the turn the Knicks into a contending team.
    A team with T. Chandler, Lee, Randolph, Balkman, and Q would actually be a pretty good team, and a team that if it added a player like Kobe to remedy our weakness at shooting guard, could actually be a contender. But with Curry as our center, there is almost no way to picture a Knicks team contending in the East. It’s difficult to see how we can even make the playoffs right now, given how much the Celtics, Bobcats, and Magic have improved.

    Finally, what stats are you looking at on 82games? Where do you read that the Sonics had a positive =/-. They scored four less points than they allowed per 100. I can see that on the team page. Where do they have a positive +/-?

  143. xduckshoex

    “Look at +/- for the team on a possession game: http://www.82games.com/0607/0607SEA.HTM Interesting to see so many net positives on a team that was outscored by opponents, no?”

    This is very simple: in some cases, those players had a net positive because their team got outscored by less while they were on the court, not because the team outplayed their opponents while they were on the court.

    “In fact, when you weigh playing time and net +/-, you come up with an overall team +/- of +2.755. How is it possible that a team that failed to outscore its opponents producing an overall positive +/-?”

    Show your work, I’m curious to see how you came to that conclusion.

  144. thefatkid

    ?The absolute number of posessions is not an important measure in and of itself, but a necessary tool in calculating efficiency.?

    It?s not important, but it?s important to use? For an argument to have any validity, its postulates must have some semblance of importance. Using a meaningless statistic as the backbone of a methodology is a dubious technique, at best.

    ?+/- and ?posession theory? (or the concept of efficiency) have nothing to do with each other. Efficiency is simply a measure of: when a team has the ball, how many points does it score (on average)? (And also trying to break down the individual responsibility for the level of efficiency, or inefficiency).?

    Possession theory and efficiency have nothing to do with one another. Efficiency is, in general terms, a maximization of outlet per input. Possession theory involves utilizing the number of possessions as an important metric and making statistical adjustments based upon the number of possessions. This adjusted data is the basis for P100P +/- statistics.

    ?p.s. As for the Sonics numbers, all you have to do is pull out a calculator to see if the numbers are right, or if there?s a typo. +/- isn?t ?analysis? ? it?s a raw number, the same as how many points a player scored in a game, or how many rebounds he got.?

    If it were a raw number and simply a matter of points on/points off, we wouldn?t be having this discussion. It?s a derived figure, based upon possession theory.

    Owen, you?ve defined productivity by its microeconomic definition, which is useful, but not what I intended in my usage of the term. I was using productivity in the more broad sense as a representation of aggregate output. I?ll refrain from using the term further to avoid confusion over semantics.

    ?You can look at productivity per game, i.e. productivity in non-standardized units, but really, that?s silly.?

    Hardly. Success in basketball is measured in terms of per game output, not per 48M output. Given that winning or losing a game is the quintessential statistic, why would you ignore the game as a unit of measurement? The possession, a meaningless statistic, is the most important unit of measurement, followed by minutes, a metric of some importance, followed by the game, the most important metric, which is dismissed entirely. Do I not have this right?

    ?But basketball statisticians are helped greatly in this respect by the fact that player stats are generally very consistent per unit of time, and by the fact that there are a limited amount of minutes to be played.?

    This is misleading. Only players who could be expected to remain equally efficient with increased minutes were given those minutes. There are few instances of players who, despite being less efficient in increased minutes, continued to receive more minutes.

    ?Productivity is better measured on a per game than on a per minute or pe possession basis?

    Output is best measured in terms of both aggregation and efficiency. You?ve dismissed aggregates as of little or no importance under the assumption that efficiency remains constant despite changes in input. I?d beg to differ and suggest that in basketball, like most other things, the output/input ratio is hardly static. Since you seem to know something about economics, think of the PPF.

    Furthermore, we?ve already established that possessions are an arbitrary and foolish metric. Why not start performing analysis using touches next? Those have virtually no impact on a basketball game either.

    ?Isaiah Thomas has nothing to do with the Knicks? current predicament.?

    This is not an accurate representation of my statements. I stated that Isiah Thomas? ability to evaluate talent had no bearing on the Knicks? win/loss record.

    I won?t bother discussing the merits of Eddy Curry ad nausem unless you have something new to add there besides dogmatic statements. I?ve already made my responses to your earlier points and you?ve offered no counter.

    ?A team with T. Chandler, Lee, Randolph, Balkman, and Q would actually be a pretty good team, and a team that if it added a player like Kobe to remedy our weakness at shooting guard, could actually be a contender.?

    I feel this statement accurately encapsulates what I believe to be our fundamental differences. You?ve constructed a team with very few offensive options, no passers, and no ball handlers. Bryant is your only real concession to any of these things. However, you?ve inserted arguably the best player in basketball as a seemingly easily-attained afterthought. You seem to place virtually no importance on guard skills, offensive skills, or non-statistical measures of defense. In fact, rebounding seems to be the single most important basketball skill to you.

    ?But with Curry as our center, there is almost no way to picture a Knicks team contending in the East.?

    Based upon what, the strength of other centers? Just look at the Atlantic. The other starting centers are Kendrick Perkins, Jamaal Magloire, Sam Dalembert, and Rasho Nesterovic. Eddy Curry is better than every single one of those players, by a large margin.

    ?This is very simple: in some cases, those players had a net positive because their team got outscored by less while they were on the court, not because the team outplayed their opponents while they were on the court.?

    Ok, that?s true for individual players perhaps. But how does a team that scored fewer points than opponents have an overall positive score?

    ?Show your work, I?m curious to see how you came to that conclusion.?

    2.755=(3.9*0.56)+(5.7*0.59)+(27.3*0.01)+(5.1*0.65)+(5.5*0.13)+(-0.1*0.54)+(-1.8*0.53)+(0.7*0.07)+(2*0.6)+(-6.4*0.51)+(0.3*0.31)+(0.8*0.04)+(-7.2*0.38)+(-10.9*0.04)+(-13.4*0.02)+(-75.7*0.01)

    That?s each player?s net +/- multiplied by playing time with the whole team combined.

  145. xduckshoex

    “Ok, that?s true for individual players perhaps. But how does a team that scored fewer points than opponents have an overall positive score?”

    Because to find out the team score, you are merely adding up the individual scores? It doesn’t work that way.

    It would work that way if positive scores were how much the Sonics outscored their opponents and negative scores were how much the Sonics were outscored by their opponents, or if it was how high above or far below each player was to some absolute value, but neither one of those is the case so your method doesn’t work.

  146. Ted Nelson

    Some great points from Caleb, Owen, and xduckshoex a lot of things I hadn’t thought of or couldn’t express well.

    Without really looking at the numbers, one possibility on the Sonics thing is that not every player plays is every game. Shouldn’t all the individual +/-s of a team equal 0 when minutes played is accounted for???

    “Furthermore, we?ve already established that possessions are an arbitrary and foolish metric.”

    I don’t think this has been established. I don’t even think you’ve tried to establish this in any other way than saying over and over that possessions are stupid.

    As far as I understand your argument it is that statistics are worthless and to evaluate players you must simply work them out in a gym. That is actually what you said, but to be serious… what I understand is that all that matters are per game stats? You never said that but it seems to be what you’re getting at.

    I never commented on your example because I never said efficiency is the only thing that matters when evaluating individual players. If a team as a while uses its possessions more efficiently than its opponent it will win (as far as I can tell there’s no debating that and I have yet to see you directly refute it). However, I wouldn’t say that a guy who shoots 2 for 4 or even 10 for 20 and has no other contribution is helping his team more than a guy who shoots 20 for 45 and has no other contribution. That’s a very black and white example, as have been a lot of our examples, and clearly has no place in basketball. Other things like rebounding, passing, turnovers commited and caused, fouls, man D, help D, getting to the line, spacing on offense and positioning on D, communication, leadership, etc. help determine who had more impact on his team winning or losing.

    Basically, if possession data is useless (I still don’t see how you could fully understand it and see it useless) then what is important? Last time I asked you said watching guys practice is a gym. Then later you said stats aren’t useless. I’m confused.

    “I stated that Isiah Thomas? ability to evaluate talent had no bearing on the Knicks? win/loss record.”

    I don’t even begin to understand what you’re saying. How the team was put together by the guy who is running it has nothing to do with how well the team did?

    I agree that Isiah can evaluate talent in the draft as well as anyone. In terms of actually constructing a basketball team? He hasn’t shown me much. Having the most “talented” players should probably be taken to mean having the players who do the most to help the team win, not the ones who would win a 1-on-1 at the playground. Maybe I’ll be eating my hat when the Knicks win 50+ games and reach the finals??? I really hope so, but I kind of doubt it.

  147. xduckshoex

    “Without really looking at the numbers, one possibility on the Sonics thing is that not every player plays is every game. Shouldn?t all the individual +/-s of a team equal 0 when minutes played is accounted for?”

    You’re right that games played is a huge factor. If you add up the PPG of all of the Knicks players, it comes to 128.5 ppg; I guess TFK can’t trust per game numbers anymore either. In fact, it would seem that in his own way he has proven that they are less reliable than per possession numbers.

    As for whether or not it should equal zero…perhaps it should, but I would never expect it to. I’ve never really considered it to be a zero sum statistic.

  148. thefatkid

    ?It would work that way if positive scores were how much the Sonics outscored their opponents and negative scores were how much the Sonics were outscored by their opponents, or if it was how high above or far below each player was to some absolute value, but neither one of those is the case so your method doesn?t work.?

    So what exactly does +/- indicate if it?s not players relative to one another, the team, or a statistical mean? It is just a random measurement that is mostly meaningless and useless?

    ?Without really looking at the numbers, one possibility on the Sonics thing is that not every player plays is every game. Shouldn?t all the individual +/-s of a team equal 0 when minutes played is accounted for????

    It all depends on the methodology, I suppose. For my money, team +/- should reflect that team?s overall performance. That is to say, a team should have an overall positive if it outscored opponents and a negative if it failed to outscore opponents. I think of that as simple and logical enough to be effective.

    In hockey, if you add up each individual +/- score, you end up with a net team number. Take that net number, divide by 5 (to account for the typical number of players on the ice) and compare that result to GF-GA-PPG+PPGA. The difference should be less than |1|. This difference is due to the fact that goals occur with more or less than 5 skaters on the ice at a given time.

    As far as minutes played is concerned, I?ve accounted for that. My playing time metric is as a percentage of total minutes in a season. If you add up all the playing time percentages, it will equal 500%, since there are always 5 players on the floor.

    ?I don?t think this has been established. I don?t even think you?ve tried to establish this in any other way than saying over and over that possessions are stupid.?

    Everyone thus far has been in agreement that the number of possessions is a meaningless statistic. A meaningless statistic should not be a postulate and a basis for further derivations.

    ?what I understand is that all that matters are per game stats? You never said that but it seems to be what you?re getting at.?

    For a statistic to be useful, it has to have relevance. Minutes are a relevant basis for statistical analysis since games are played in minutes. Games are a more appropriate metric since games are the determinant of success. However, games aren?t very useful for analysis of efficiency. Possessions are used because they are measurable and produce a relatively large sample size. They have no bearing on much of anything, but you can derive plenty of statistics from them.

    If you haven?t picked it up by now, I like statistics that are relatively simple in nature. Once you get into complicated, derived statistics, you?re using a large number of assumptions, the veracity of any which may ruin the validity of analysis. For an example of entirely too many assumptions, constants and convoluted formulae, look at the PER formula. Ultimately, statistics need to coincide with basketball analysis and logic to be at all useful.

    ?If a team as a while uses its possessions more efficiently than its opponent it will win?

    I?m still not sure efficiency is the right term. If a team jacks up 14 bricks before finally hitting the 15th shot attempt but manages to grab 14 offensive rebounds without turning over the ball, they are hardly efficient. I?d say the more accurate statement is ?the team that scores more points on its possessions than the opposing team scores on its possessions will win.? Or, stated more simply ?the team that scores more points than the opposing team will win.? See the importance of possessions?

    ?Basically, if possession data is useless (I still don?t see how you could fully understand it and see it useless) then what is important? Last time I asked you said watching guys practice is a gym. Then later you said stats aren?t useless. I?m confused.?

    Per game stats are important. And per minute stats are important, but less so. And watching guys practice in a gym is virtually useless. Game skills are what matters. The obsession with practice and workouts leads to combine-type analysis. That is to say ?Kwame Brown sure looks like he can play basketball. Let?s draft him #1!? or ?Tayshaun Prince is awfully strange looking. Let?s not draft him.?

    New and interesting stats have been known to pop up. But I almost always favor those that are straightforward in nature and involve few, if any, assumptions and constants. I abhor single-number formulas as the idiot?s answer to statistical analysis.

    ?I don?t even begin to understand what you?re saying. How the team was put together by the guy who is running it has nothing to do with how well the team did??

    No, the ability of the guy running the team to spot talent has nothing to do with how the team has performed. This team has plenty of talent, among the best in the league, but it hasn?t performed for a number of reasons.

    ?I agree that Isiah can evaluate talent in the draft as well as anyone. In terms of actually constructing a basketball team? He hasn?t shown me much. Having the most ?talented? players should probably be taken to mean having the players who do the most to help the team win, not the ones who would win a 1-on-1 at the playground. Maybe I?ll be eating my hat when the Knicks win 50+ games and reach the finals??? I really hope so, but I kind of doubt it.?

    You have to understand the magnitude of the task Isiah Thomas has been working on. He inherited a team of established veterans with a hopelessly high payroll. However, while that team was consistent and competitive, it wasn?t very talented. In order to bring in talent, he had to take plenty of chances with imperfect players. Sometimes this has worked and sometimes it hasn?t. However, Thomas has consistently improved the talent level of the team. Now we?re starting to reach the point where the team is loaded with talent and Thomas can now work on smaller-scale moves to improve the roster.

    Since you seem interested in my take on why the Knicks have underperformed, here are the basic reasons in no particular order:

    1 ? The team has been in constant state of flux. It?s quite difficult to establish any sort of familiarity or consistency with so many roster and coaching changes. Fortunately the changes are becoming less frequent and some stability is taking root.

    2 ? The team continues to get younger with every move. As everyone knows, young players are more erratic in their performances. It?s not a coincidence that most of the top teams in the NBA are the older, veteran teams.

    3 ? The team has been beset by injuries, suspensions and just plain bad luck. The Knicks have been highly competitive, but the results simply haven?t been there. Much of this is tied to #2.

    People need to realize that Randolph is actually the most promising player Thomas has acquired. He?s an absolute monster and a young player. I had assumed that he was virtually untouchable, but clearly Portland is adamant about the whole ?good guy? thing.

    ?You?re right that games played is a huge factor. If you add up the PPG of all of the Knicks players, it comes to 128.5 ppg; I guess TFK can?t trust per game numbers anymore either. In fact, it would seem that in his own way he has proven that they are less reliable than per possession numbers.?

    I?d expect more from you, duckshoe. Of course individual PPG doesn?t add up to the Knicks? PPG average. But add up total points from each player and then divide by 82 and voila, you have team PPG. If you want to get there using individual PPG, take each PPG, multiply it by GP, add them all and divide by 82.

    ?As for whether or not it should equal zero?perhaps it should, but I would never expect it to. I?ve never really considered it to be a zero sum statistic.?

    For a team that scored the same number of points as opponents, the stat should be a net of 0. For a team that outscored opponents, it should be positive. For a team that was outscored, it should be a negative.

  149. xduckshoex

    “So what exactly does +/- indicate if it?s not players relative to one another, the team, or a statistical mean? It is just a random measurement that is mostly meaningless and useless?”

    It would indicate how much better or worse a team performs with an individual player.

    Specifically, it takes the amount of points the team allowed and scored with the player on the floor and compares with the numbers of points allowed and scored with the player off the floor. Is that meaningless and useless?

    “I?d expect more from you, duckshoe. Of course individual PPG doesn?t add up to the Knicks? PPG average. But add up total points from each player and then divide by 82 and voila, you have team PPG. If you want to get there using individual PPG, take each PPG, multiply it by GP, add them all and divide by 82.”

    I thought it was clear I was being more than a little facetious. I guess that kind of thing never really translates well on the internet, though.

  150. thefatkid

    “Specifically, it takes the amount of points the team allowed and scored with the player on the floor and compares with the numbers of points allowed and scored with the player off the floor. Is that meaningless and useless?”

    But it doesn’t do that, as I proved with the Sonics. If that were the case, the team would have an overall negative number. This is because no matter who was on the floor, the Sonics were outscored. Thus, if you account for every player on the team, they should still be outscored by opponents. Given that they weren’t according to that formula, the formula or the data must be wrong.

  151. xduckshoex

    I suppose your unwillingness to comment on whether or not such a statistic would be useful would indicate that it is, in fact, useful.

    As for what you have proven…all you have proven is that using your method, tallying up all of the individual numbers and multiplying by the players minutes played doesn’t add up to what the team number should be. Why did you adjust for minutes played? It seems unnecessary.

  152. Owen

    TFK = Unstoppable Force and Immovable Object

    “Success in basketball is measured in terms of per game output, not per 48M output.”

    Success in basketball, over a season, is measured by how many points you score relative to your opponents. Points scored and allowed at the team level is what matters.

    Do you believe in efficiency differential? Would you disagree if I said the 95-96 Bulls were clearly the best team in basketball history, given their 13 point differential.

    I feel somehow you are going to agree, but say it wasn’t because of their differential, it was because of how many games they won.

    Who would you say was the best offensive team of all time? And how would support your conclusion?

  153. Ted Nelson

    “Everyone thus far has been in agreement that the number of possessions is a meaningless statistic. A meaningless statistic should not be a postulate and a basis for further derivations.”

    To borrow from your comment about Owen using the microeconomics definiteion of productivity, this is not a philosophy class. What people have been saying is that in comparing one team to another the number of possessions each team has is meaningless because it will be almost identical to that of its opponent(s). Otherwise it is very meaningful. I’ll stop referring to # of possessions as meaningless because it is either confusing you or you’re intentionally twisting peoples’ words.

    But, again, you haven’t supported your point that possession theory is bunk, mearly given a smartass response.

    “They have no bearing on much of anything, but you can derive plenty of statistics from them.”
    “I?m still not sure efficiency is the right term. If a team jacks up 14 bricks before finally hitting the 15th shot attempt but manages to grab 14 offensive rebounds without turning over the ball, they are hardly efficient.”

    No, obviously not likely but for simplicity’s sake, if a team got 14 offensive rebounds on every possession and scored 2 points on the 15th every single time while their oppenent scored of 2 points on 50% of its possessions, who was more efficient with their possessions?

    “And watching guys practice in a gym is virtually useless. Game skills are what matters.”

    It seems to me that you are constantly contradicting yourself.

    “No, the ability of the guy running the team to spot talent has nothing to do with how the team has performed. This team has plenty of talent, among the best in the league, but it hasn?t performed for a number of reasons.”

    First, I never said that the Knicks underperformed (which I would take to imply that they reasonably should have been expected to perform better), just that they haven’t performed well.

    ??? This still makes no sense. If performance is completely independent of what the GM does, then why do NBA teams (and every other kind of sports team) employ GMs?

    I would argue that the main reasons that this team hasn’t performed are that the players do not have a high understanding of and/or willingness to play team basketball on the offensive end, they have even less understanding of and/or willingness to play and/or capability of playing defense, the offensive system is based around trying to get a guy who can’t pass and turns it over too much as many touches as possible with a group of guards who can’t feed the paint, the leading shot taker can’t shoot… those are a few that jump to mind

    Time will tell.

    “1 ? The team has been in constant state of flux. It?s quite difficult to establish any sort of familiarity or consistency with so many roster and coaching changes. Fortunately the changes are becoming less frequent and some stability is taking root.”

    Agreed

    “2 ? The team continues to get younger with every move. As everyone knows, young players are more erratic in their performances. It?s not a coincidence that most of the top teams in the NBA are the older, veteran teams.”

    How, exactly, have the Bulls been so successful? Was it all P.J. Brown and Ben Wallace?

    “3 ? The team has been beset by injuries, suspensions and just plain bad luck. The Knicks have been highly competitive, but the results simply haven?t been there. Much of this is tied to #2.”

    I didn’t really think that the Knicks suffered an incredible number of injuries compared to other teams. Maybe you could explain this to me, or if I have time later I’ll try to find games missed due to injury for NYK and other teams. Suspensions, maybe, but not really when compared to the Pacers a few years ago or the Nuggets last year both of whom reached the playoffs. Also, without looking, didn’t the Knicks have a good run right after the brawl? Is it that the suspensions didn’t allow for chemistry to develop?
    What exactly do you mean by bad luck?

    “For a team that scored the same number of points as opponents, the stat should be a net of 0. For a team that outscored opponents, it should be positive. For a team that was outscored, it should be a negative.”

    I think that what we’ve proven in terms of +/- is that no one really cares, or knows as much, about it as much as you. No one here, to my knowledge, ever claimed +/- as the ultimate stat.

    “I like statistics that are relatively simple in nature.”

    I’ll agree that faulty assumptions can render a stat invalid. But what if the assumptions are correct?

    Using possessions is pretty simple stuff. Maybe some stats derived from it are not. I’ll wait for you to address how you would compare team offenses and defenses without using possessions.

  154. Caleb

    ?The absolute number of posessions is not an important measure in and of itself, but a necessary tool in calculating efficiency.?

    It?s not important, but it?s important to use? For an argument to have any validity, its postulates must have some semblance of importance. Using a meaningless statistic as the backbone of a methodology is a dubious technique, at best.”

    It’s no different from at-bats or plate appearances in baseball. No one really cares about the specific number, but without it you can’t calculate batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, etc.

    (Actually raw posession #s in basketball are a little more interesting in that they tell you whether the game was at a slow or a fast pace).

  155. Caleb

    I haven’t looked closely at +/- so this may be a stupid question… but aren’t the numbers on 82games, adjusted plus-minus?

    If they were the raw numbers, they WOULD add up to a (-2.7 x 82) (more or less, OT, etc.).. as tfk would prefer, right?

    I think I understand why the adjustment is done (for example, to not completely blame Eddy Curry just because he played few minutes with David Lee) but it seems to come at the expense of creating some complicated and somewhat confusing results, as tfk points out.

    Not that +/- is worthless – I mean, we can quibble over why Curry’s numbers are poor but seeing as how the Knicks did WORSE with him on the floor than when he was on the bench, there’s no way to argue that he was the best player on the team.

  156. Owen

    You know, I don’t really understand the data or how its presented at 82games. Lee made the team 8.9 points per 100 possessions better on offense. He made them 2.6 points better on defense. shouldn’t his on court offcourt be 11.5? Shouldn’t Curry’s be -7.9. I don’t know, never have understood that…

  157. xduckshoex

    The front page data is not per 100 possessions, but if you go to Lee’s page it is and his +/- is 11.5.

  158. thefatkid

    ?I feel somehow you are going to agree, but say it wasn?t because of their differential, it was because of how many games they won.?

    Or, more specifically, it was because of the obscene winning percentage.

    ?Who would you say was the best offensive team of all time? And how would support your conclusion??

    Unfortunately, I?m feeling somewhat lazy at the present time. Were I not in a semi-catatonic state, the answer would involve looking at historical data involving PPG, FG% and turnovers, among other factors. I?d also have to designate a pre-79-80 team and a post 79-80 team. When I have more energy, I may work on this endeavor.

    ?Otherwise it is very meaningful.?

    This has not been sufficiently proven for my liking. I consider the number of possessions an arbitrary statistic and not useful for any sort of individual measurement. When someone can explain why the number of possessions is important in and to itself, I may reconsider utilizing it as a basis for argument. Otherwise, I?m not going to agree that something useless is a good basis for establishing arguments.

    ?No, obviously not likely but for simplicity?s sake, if a team got 14 offensive rebounds on every possession and scored 2 points on the 15th every single time while their oppenent scored of 2 points on 50% of its possessions, who was more efficient with their possessions??

    As per possession theory, the horrendous shooting team was more efficient. Casting aside possessions, would anyone agree that the first team is more efficient? No, they can?t shoot the basketball and the facts should reflect that.

    ?It seems to me that you are constantly contradicting yourself.?

    How so?

    ?This still makes no sense. If performance is completely independent of what the GM does, then why do NBA teams (and every other kind of sports team) employ GMs??

    Performance isn?t independent of the GM role, but it has very little to do with it. GMs construct teams. Coaches and players are responsible for performance. For example, the Cavs were an excellent team last season but Ferry is a horrible GM. The Pacers weren?t that bad, but Bird was easily the worst GM in the league. You follow?

    ?How, exactly, have the Bulls been so successful? Was it all P.J. Brown and Ben Wallace??

    The Bulls have avoided the whole constant flux thing fairly nicely. They?ve had the same coach for years, the roster hasn?t turned over much and they play a style that is conducive to consistency. It?s fairly easy to consistently play defense well, while offense takes a bit more skill and practice.

    ?What exactly do you mean by bad luck??

    The Knicks have had an unusually high number of losses by a very narrow margin. You could call this any number of things, but I?ll use luck as a euphemism.

    ?I think that what we?ve proven in terms of +/- is that no one really cares, or knows as much, about it as much as you. No one here, to my knowledge, ever claimed +/- as the ultimate stat.?

    For it to be of use, someone has to understand it. +/- has plenty of potential as a stat but it should be examined and understood in order to have utility.

    ?I?ll agree that faulty assumptions can render a stat invalid. But what if the assumptions are correct??

    Assumptions that rely on constants and arbitrary figures are rarely, if ever, correct. They are typically used to simplify what would be an otherwise complicated and cumbersome calculation.

    ?Using possessions is pretty simple stuff. Maybe some stats derived from it are not. I?ll wait for you to address how you would compare team offenses and defenses without using possessions.?

    Just use the data that matters instead of that which is inconsequential. Points for, points against, percentages, and the like are useful numbers.

    ?It?s no different from at-bats or plate appearances in baseball. No one really cares about the specific number, but without it you can?t calculate batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, etc.?

    Not really. I?d liken the possession to an inning in baseball. Plate appearances are more like FGAs.

    ?(Actually raw posession #s in basketball are a little more interesting in that they tell you whether the game was at a slow or a fast pace).?

    Don?t bury this as a footnote. This is the only real use for possession data and the reason APBRmetrics guys use possession data. But their theory is to use possession to eliminate pace as a factor, which is an erroneous assumption.

    The numbers on 82games.com are indeed adjusted numbers. I would prefer raw numbers as I?d rather manipulate and examine the data myself.

    However, the adjustments aren?t made to compensate for player pairs. It?s my understanding that the adjustments are made on the basis of the data listed below points for and points against, in addition to being adjusted to account for possessions. I view this as entirely too many adjustments. As a result of all these adjustments, the data is so far skewed that it?s not only wrong, but completely inaccurate, as in the case of the Sonics.

    I?ve sent an email to the folks asking for clarification on this issue. I?ll let everyone know what they come back with.

  159. Caleb

    “‘It?s no different from at-bats or plate appearances in baseball. No one really cares about the specific number, but without it you can?t calculate batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, etc.’”

    Not really. I?d liken the possession to an inning in baseball. Plate appearances are more like FGAs.”

    We’re getting closer, but I think my original analogy holds up. Of course I’m referring to a team total of plate appearances as being equal to posessions — you can’t make a direct analogy on an individual basis because there’s no such thing as an “individual” posession in basketball.

    “I consider the number of possessions an arbitrary statistic and not useful for any sort of individual measurement. When someone can explain why the number of possessions is important in and to itself, I may reconsider utilizing it as a basis for argument.”

    If I said: “Kobe Bryant scored 12 points” that wouldn’t mean much, unless you knew whether I was talking about a two-minute stretch, a half, a game, a season, whatever. That doesn’t mean the concept of “points” is meaningless. The unit “one posession” is a helpful statistical tool.

    “‘(Actually raw posession #s in basketball are a little more interesting in that they tell you whether the game was at a slow or a fast pace).’”

    Don?t bury this as a footnote. This is the only real use for possession data and the reason APBRmetrics guys use possession data. But their theory is to use possession to eliminate pace as a factor, which is an erroneous assumption.”

    I suppose it’s a matter of semantics, but rather than say “eliminate pace as a factor,” I would say “enable you to make apples to apples comparisons.”

    “As per possession theory, the horrendous shooting team was more efficient. Casting aside possessions, would anyone agree that the first team is more efficient? No, they can?t shoot the basketball and the facts should reflect that.”

    More semantics. “Efficiency” in the sense it’s used on this board simply means: do you score on your posession? Do you keep your opponent from scoring? (15 shots or not, it only counts as one posession until the other team gets the ball). In practical terms, whether or not you score on the first shot or the 15th, makes no difference to your team’s success.

    p.s. what is “posession theory?” I know you don’t like using the concept of posessions but it would help to define the term.

    “The Knicks have had an unusually high number of losses by a very narrow margin. You could call this any number of things, but I?ll use luck as a euphemism.”

    WHat is this based on? 33 wins looks about right for a team with our point differential.

  160. Caleb

    p.s. as for adjusted plus-minus, it’s my understanding that it’s a regression analysis, to eliminate the possibility, say, that Manu Ginobili would look like an all-world defender just because he plays next to Duncan and Bowen all the time.

    Whatever the benefits and limitations of this adjustment, it has the side effect of making the stat more complicated and churning out zany stats like the Sonics data you pointed out. Doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful, but the data is only safe in the hands of an expert !! :)

  161. Ted Nelson

    “Performance isn?t independent of the GM role, but it has very little to do with it. GMs construct teams. Coaches and players are responsible for performance. For example, the Cavs were an excellent team last season but Ferry is a horrible GM. The Pacers weren?t that bad, but Bird was easily the worst GM in the league. You follow?”

    The General Manager title also implies that you “manage” the team. You formulate and implement a strategy and you are responsible for the results. Would you say that Jack Welch had very little to do with GE’s success while he was CEO. That Bill Gates doesn’t have anything to do with where Microsoft is?

    I can’t agree that Danny Ferry is a horrible GM, not necessarily because of his talent evaluation (which I don’t think is Layden level) but because he seems to run the organization well and that enabled the team to win the eastern conference. I agree that Danny Ferry is extremely lucky to have been hired by a team with LeBron James, but at the same time if the Cavs hadn’t won the lottery and Jim Paxson had taken Melo, Bosh, Wade, or Hinrich I would still say that Cleveland makes the playoffs.

    You ever notice that the teams which build a strong organization (SA, Det, Dallas to name a few obvious ones) can win with various players, but teams that try to stockpile talent or get the most talented player available and have a shaky organization (the old Jail Blazers, NYK, Atl) struggle.

    “The Bulls have avoided the whole constant flux thing fairly nicely. They?ve had the same coach for years, the roster hasn?t turned over much and they play a style that is conducive to consistency. It?s fairly easy to consistently play defense well, while offense takes a bit more skill and practice.”

    It’s easy to play defense well? Then why don’t more teams do it? Their rosters are in flux and they’re too young???
    Somehow only 7 teams in the league managed more regular season wins than the Bulls. If what they’re doing is so easy maybe some other teams should give it a try.

    The Bulls have been adding and subtracting a major rotation player or two every year.

    Who hires the coach? Who is his direct boss? The buck has to stop somewhere.

  162. thefatkid

    ?Of course I?m referring to a team total of plate appearances as being equal to possessions?

    I still don?t consider it a valid analogy. Team plate appearances are a combination of individual performances. Possessions don?t account for any individual performances and are only useful on a team basis. This is why a possession is like an inning. Innings are irrelevant on a player level (at least for offensive purposes).

    ?If I said: ?Kobe Bryant scored 12 points? that wouldn?t mean much, unless you knew whether I was talking about a two-minute stretch, a half, a game, a season, whatever. That doesn?t mean the concept of ?points? is meaningless. The unit ?one posession? is a helpful statistical tool.?

    A possession isn?t a useful measurement though. If you said ?Bryant scored 12 points on 20 Laker possessions? that information would be no more useful than just stating ?Bryant scored 12 points.? You can measure basketball contributions in terms of minutes, games, seasons, etc. You can?t measure contributions in terms of possessions. Possessions, like touches, aren?t very important.

    ?I suppose it?s a matter of semantics, but rather than say ?eliminate pace as a factor,? I would say ?enable you to make apples to apples comparisons.??

    These ministrations with possessions are akin to ignoring per game statistics and solely relying on per minute statistics. You?re dismissing a very important facet of the game for purposes of simplifying a statistical comparison.

    ?More semantics. ?Efficiency? in the sense it?s used on this board simply means: do you score on your posession? Do you keep your opponent from scoring??

    Just as productivity has been reduced to ?how much you score per possession?, efficiency is now solely defined in possession terms.

    ?p.s. what is ?posession theory?? I know you don?t like using the concept of posessions but it would help to define the term.?

    I would define possession theory as the hypothesis that the possession is the most important statistical construct in basketball.

    Interestingly enough, did you know possessions aren?t even tracked in the NBA but instead calculated using this formula?

    Pos = .96 * (FGA + (.44*FTA) – OR + TO)

    And OR is simply a derived statistic based on possessions. I certainly wouldn?t be basing all my work on such a creature.

    ?WHat is this based on? 33 wins looks about right for a team with our point differential.?

    The Knicks had 9 losses last season by 2 or fewer points. That seems unusually high to me.

    ?The General Manager title also implies that you ?manage? the team. You formulate and implement a strategy and you are responsible for the results. Would you say that Jack Welch had very little to do with GE?s success while he was CEO. That Bill Gates doesn?t have anything to do with where Microsoft is??

    You seem to have confused the GM and CEO positions. The GM is really only responsible for managing the roster and related issues.

    ?I can?t agree that Danny Ferry is a horrible GM, not necessarily because of his talent evaluation (which I don?t think is Layden level) but because he seems to run the organization well and that enabled the team to win the eastern conference.?

    I wouldn?t agree. The players and coaches were responsible for the team?s success. The talent Ferry put together wasn?t a formula for winning the Conference.

    ?but at the same time if the Cavs hadn?t won the lottery and Jim Paxson had taken Melo, Bosh, Wade, or Hinrich I would still say that Cleveland makes the playoffs.?

    Maybe yes, maybe no. Anthony certainly hasn?t proven himself to be on the level of James. Hinrich certainly can?t carry a team. Bosh is a quality player but his teams haven?t made much noise. And Wade is a great player, but some suspect that large sidekick may have something to do with his success.

    ?It?s easy to play defense well? Then why don?t more teams do it? Their rosters are in flux and they?re too young???
    Somehow only 7 teams in the league managed more regular season wins than the Bulls. If what they?re doing is so easy maybe some other teams should give it a try.?

    You?re probably right but defense isn?t very popular. Very few teams concentrate on it. The teams that do focus on it are usually quite successful. Some might argue that having roughly 900 successive lottery picks during the Krause era also helped the Bulls stockpile talent.

    As far as adjusted +/-is concerned, I?m still waiting for a response on what sort of adjustments go into it. For now, I?m going to use the raw data available to make my own +/- calculations.

  163. Caleb

    Indirectly, ftk is questioning the Berri assumption that team statistics can be interpreted directly on an individual level — that a team’s efficiency (or production, or whatever) is no more, no less than the sum of the production of the individual players.

    It’s a big assumption and this board has raised some of the problems with it…

    On the other hand, if ftk (or anyone) wants to show that it’s NOT valid, they have to demonstrate that a particular player actually impacts the other players’ statistics, e.g. other players perform better when Kobe is on the floor, or worse when Nate Robinson is on the floor. Most of what I’ve read on this point (not much, admittedly) shows the opposite — e.g. that that Lee’s rebounding numbers are virtually the same whether Curry is in the game or not.

  164. Ted Nelson

    “I still don?t consider it a valid analogy. Team plate appearances are a combination of individual performances. Possessions don?t account for any individual performances and are only useful on a team basis. This is why a possession is like an inning. Innings are irrelevant on a player level (at least for offensive purposes).”

    Innings seem like a pretty bad comparison to me. Besides for not playing 1/2 the 9th if you’re winning at home and extra innings every team plays the same number of innings. In the NBA, barring overtime and I guess you could also say blowouts every team plays the same number of minutes and the same number of quarters, but not the same number of possessions.

    “You seem to have confused the GM and CEO positions. The GM is really only responsible for managing the roster and related issues.”

    No, most guys in the GM or President of Basketball Operations or similar position are in charge of the team’s day to day basketball operations. Just as a company’s CEO doesn’t usually hire people and just sit back and cross his/her fingers that they do well, I would suspect that most GMs/Presidents of Basketball Operations don’t take as hands off an approach as you’re implying.

    The GM, in my opinion at least, is where the buck should stop as far as all things basketball related for a franchise. His or her leadership should set the tone for the team’s culture. The GM can fire the players and coaches depending on performance, plus has hired all players and coaches not inherited. Therefore, I don’t think the GM is in a great position to blame the team’s record on coaches or players (definitely not several head coaches and countless players into one’s tenure).

    “The talent Ferry put together wasn?t a formula for winning the Conference.”

    Yet they did win the conference and they were the NBA’s 4th best defense during the regular season according to crazy, wacky “possession theory”. No talent on that team, because all that talent means is the ability to score in large quantities and “create” your own shot, right??? It’s probably just because they “concentrated” really hard on defense.

    “Anthony certainly hasn?t proven himself to be on the level of James. Hinrich certainly can?t carry a team. Bosh is a quality player but his teams haven?t made much noise. And Wade is a great player”

    I didn’t say that these guys are on LeBron’s level or that the Cavs would have won the east with them. All I said is that I think it’s a strong possibility that if you replace LeBron with one of them the Cavs could have still made the eastern conference playoffs comfortably (something Isiah has failed to do the last 3 years).

  165. thefatkid

    Caleb, I?ll work on putting together that sort of analysis for you. I have to find the data somewhere and do some tricks with it, but it may come out eventually.

    ?Innings seem like a pretty bad comparison to me. Besides for not playing 1/2 the 9th if you?re winning at home and extra innings every team plays the same number of innings. In the NBA, barring overtime and I guess you could also say blowouts every team plays the same number of minutes and the same number of quarters, but not the same number of possessions.?

    Not really. Possession stats don?t account for the end of quarters and the like, which is exactly the same sort of principle. And in a baseball game a team gets the same number of innings as the opponent, just as a basketball team gets the same number of possessions as an opponent. I don?t see problems with the analogy, really.

    A GM can?t just get rid of everyone who doesn?t meet their expectations. Just like the real world, GMs have to deal with underperforming employees. You can?t just get rid of everyone.

    Regarding the Cavs, the team has some talent, they just don?t have very much. Drew Gooden is very talented, but he?s incredibly lazy and careless. Ilgauskas has talent but he?s soft and fairly wooden. Larry Hughes is decently talented, but he?s wildly overpaid. Eric Snow does not have talent. Donyell Marshall is quite talented and underrated, but he?s also quite old. Damon Jones is not very talented. Ira Newble is not a talented player. Pavlovic is a decent talent. Scot Pollard has no talent. Whatever talent David Wesley had is long gone. I am not familiar enough with Shannon Brown to assess his talent. Daniel Gibson has some talent, but not much.

    The Cavs did well because they did focus on defense and they happened to have one of the most talented players in the NBA. When you have LeBron James, mediocre guys like Daniel Gibson are nicely elevated in ability. The Cavs happen to have a team with some very good perimeter defenders and a coach who emphasizes defense.

    You may find my assertion that defense is all effort and coaching to be funny, but it?s completely true. Almost every player on the NBA level has the ability to be a good defender but few put in a consistent effort on defense. Most coaches would rather emphasize offense and the few coaches who really work on defense, like Popovich, have enjoyed consistent success.

    Unless you replace LeBron James with Wade, the Cavs would not have made the playoffs, let alone enjoyed the success they did. You seem to be greatly underestimating the importance of LeBron James to the Cavs. Taking away James from the Cavs would be like taking Jordan off the Bulls.

  166. Ted Nelson

    “Just like the real world, GMs have to deal with underperforming employees. You can?t just get rid of everyone.”

    You either motivate them or you get rid of them. You should probably also try to assess whether or not someone is going to be a good employee before hiring them. Mo Taylor, Steph, Jamal, Tim Thomas, Francis, Curry, now Randolph… were not great employees before coming to NY, something Isiah obviously knew. He took a chance that he could get through to them and create a good team. Thus far he has not created a good team, good being defined by wins not “talent.”

    Theoretically, Isiah is in a position to “fire everyone.”

    “Just like the real world, GMs have to deal with underperforming employees. You can?t just get rid of everyone.”

    I wouldn’t assume that his happened by chance.

    “You may find my assertion that defense is all effort and coaching to be funny, but it?s completely true. Almost every player on the NBA level has the ability to be a good defender but few put in a consistent effort on defense. Most coaches would rather emphasize offense and the few coaches who really work on defense, like Popovich, have enjoyed consistent success.”

    A lot of things in basketball have a lot to do with effort and coaching. I could say that about offense. Doesn’t mean defense is ALL effort and coaching.

    Again, if it were as easy as you’re implying every NBA team would do it, no problem.

    “Unless you replace LeBron James with Wade, the Cavs would not have made the playoffs, let alone enjoyed the success they did. You seem to be greatly underestimating the importance of LeBron James to the Cavs. Taking away James from the Cavs would be like taking Jordan off the Bulls.”

    The Bulls won, what, 50 games without Jordan. That’s not really helping your point.

    I think LeBron is amazing and as I said I don’t think the Cavs win the east if you replace him. They have a solid veteran team and if you put Bosh at the 4 and trade Gooden for a 3 I think they could still make the playoffs, not a great accomplishment in the east. If you put Hinrich at the point and they had gotten 2 veteran 3s instead of Snow and Jones I’d also say they could have been the 4th best D in the league and made the playoffs.

  167. thefatkid

    Ted, it all depends upon perceptions. It?s easy to get rid of people for performing poorly. Casting off people because they don?t the rosy expectations of management? That?s a much less sound practice.

    ?A lot of things in basketball have a lot to do with effort and coaching. I could say that about offense. Doesn?t mean defense is ALL effort and coaching.?

    Uh, you could? Is telling a guy to try harder realistically going make him shoot the ball better, dribble better, or develop better offensive skills? Defense isn?t skill-based. Footwork, positioning and effort are what matter on defense.

    ?Again, if it were as easy as you?re implying every NBA team would do it, no problem.?

    Why would they? The way to win a basketball game is to score more points than your opponent. Most teams focus on scoring more points.

    ?The Bulls won, what, 50 games without Jordan. That?s not really helping your point.?

    They actually won 55 games without Jordan and 57 the previous year. So really Jordan wasn?t very important?not exactly.

    The Cavs would be terrible without LeBron James. Maybe if you replace him with a different young star they would be less terrible, but your point is lost on me. Do you think the Cavs are a good team without LeBron James?

  168. Caleb

    “The way to win a basketball game is to score more points than your opponent. Most teams focus on scoring more points.”

    Stating the obvious, it’s just as true that the way to win a basketball game is to keep your opponent from scoring more points than you.

    Obviously some teams emphasize one or the other.

    Agree that offensive skills are more rare, but silly to say defense involves no skill. What are timing and footwork if not skills? If it were only about effort and raw athletic ability, NBA rosters would be full of ex-Olympic athletes or just plain tall people, as role-playing defensive specialists.

  169. Ted Nelson

    If you’re paying as much as the Knicks pay their players I think expectations have to be pretty high, you could win 33 games a whole lot cheaper. It seems to me like the Knicks don’t have very high expectations, and that might be part of the problem.

    One thing I will give Isiah credit for is the way he’s treated Curry. In one sense I think he’s set him up to fail by setting the bar so high, in another I think Curry really needed the vote of confidence.

    “Uh, you could? Is telling a guy to try harder realistically going make him shoot the ball better, dribble better, or develop better offensive skills? Defense isn?t skill-based. Footwork, positioning and effort are what matter on defense.”

    I’ll 2nd Caleb as far as defense not being skill based.

    Offense isn’t just shooting and dribbling. If you coach guys on how to play offense as a team and they put in the effort required to learn and improve, they will be a lot better offensively than if you run a bunch of isolation plays and let them jack up shots. If you have a smart veteran team this is obviously less of a concern. Or even guys who were well coached in college, which few of Isiah’s veteran aquisitions seem to have been in large part because few of them stayed in college very long.

    Positioning and spacing are also very important on offense, as is footwork especially for a bigman.

    “Most coaches would rather emphasize offense and the few coaches who really work on defense, like Popovich, have enjoyed consistent success.”

    The Spurs were the 4th best offense in the league according to crazy old possession stats. Maybe Popovich is just a great coach, Duncan is a great player surrounded by some other very good players, and the Spurs are a very well run organization.

    The coaches who are good seem to enjoy consistent success. Take, for example, Don Nelson. I’m not sure if he knows how to spell defense, yet his success has been fairly consistent. He did stuggle a bit with a D first Knicks team.

    To be a great coach I would say that you need several strengths. You have to understand the game. Have some creativity and vision as far as strategizing. You have to be able to communicate your knowledge and strategy. And you have to be able to motivate. Mike Brown is probably not a great coach overall, but he seems to be a pretty great defensive coach if he turned a roster with only 1 talented player into the league’s 4th best D and a conference champ. Maybe he’s just the world’s best concentrator.

    Let me get this straight. An NBA GM just has to assemble a roster and put his feet up the rest of the year, and an NBA coach just has to “concentrate” on defense. What incredibly easy jobs.

    “Why would they? The way to win a basketball game is to score more points than your opponent. Most teams focus on scoring more points.”

    Strongly 2nd Caleb here: “Stating the obvious, it?s just as true that the way to win a basketball game is to keep your opponent from scoring more points than you.”

    “They actually won 55 games without Jordan and 57 the previous year. So really Jordan wasn?t very important?not exactly.”

    I still don’t understand how this relates to Jordan, he was an amazing player, maybe the GOAT, but also had a very strong supporting cast and a great coach. So, I think that example hurts the point you were getting at.

    As for that point… The Cavs won 50 games and made the playoffs by a comfortable 15 games. So, all I’m saying is that with a reasonable replacement for LeBron the Cavs wouldn’t have won 15 games less. Not too crazy a statement, I don’t think.

    Especially because their calling card was D. On the other hand, without LeBron the Cavs might never have developed the roster they did.

  170. thefatkid

    ?Agree that offensive skills are more rare, but silly to say defense involves no skill. What are timing and footwork if not skills? If it were only about effort and raw athletic ability, NBA rosters would be full of ex-Olympic athletes or just plain tall people, as role-playing defensive specialists.?

    Aside from certain skills, like shot-blocking, defense is mostly about effort. Do you work hard to get through screens? Do you focus on staying in front of your man? Do you play your role in the defensive scheme?

    As it is, NBA rosters are chock full of tall, athletic people in need of improved basketball skills. Most of them are called centers.

    ?If you?re paying as much as the Knicks pay their players I think expectations have to be pretty high, you could win 33 games a whole lot cheaper.?

    So wins are best measured on a per-dollar basis? In that case, crown the Bobcats!

    ?It seems to me like the Knicks don?t have very high expectations, and that might be part of the problem.?

    It seems to me that Knick fans have ridiculous, unrealistic expectations. Most don?t understand Isiah Thomas? plan and claim they?d be willing to sit through losing seasons if it meant being under the salary cap, which is silly.

    ?I?ll 2nd Caleb as far as defense not being skill based.?

    Defense really doesn?t involve specific skills. Move your feet, stay in front of your man, know your role. Defense is the first thing most players learn how to do because it?s considerably simpler than offense.

    ?Offense isn?t just shooting and dribbling.?

    Obviously offense involves a multitude of skills, plays, etc. Offensive basketball is generally more complicated and skill-dependant than defensive basketball.

    ?Let me get this straight. An NBA GM just has to assemble a roster and put his feet up the rest of the year, and an NBA coach just has to ?concentrate? on defense. What incredibly easy jobs.?

    Again, you must really enjoy simplifying things. No wonder possession theory is so appealing to you.

    A GM has to manage the talent on a roster. This involves constantly examining new potential players, evaluating trades, assessing personnel, etc. There?s a ton of work involved in managing talent.

    A head coach has to maximize the potential of his players. This means knowing how to utilize players effectively on both offense and defense. Some coaches have enjoyed success while focusing almost exclusively on one or the other, but these cases are rare. A coach has to know his personnel and know how to use them properly.

  171. Ted Nelson

    “A GM has to manage the talent on a roster.”

    I think it’s fair to say that the General Manager is generally responsible for managing the team, as the title implies. Otherwise they would call it Roster Manager. Everything I’ve ever heard or read about NBA frontoffices has said that the GM is in charge of managing day to day operations on the basketball side of things. If you can offer any evidence to the contrary I’d like to see it.

    “Defense really doesn?t involve specific skills. Move your feet, stay in front of your man, know your role.”

    Would you honestly say that all NBA players are created equal with regard to defensive skill? Lateral quickness, long arms, quick feet wouldn’t help you?

    You can’t train to improve your foot work just like you can to improve your ball handling or shot?

    You can’t learn team defense, just like team offense? It’s intersting that you would say that veteran teams have an advantage, and then say that any idiot is as good as the next on D (another contradiction unless veterans only help on offense): just tell them where to stand and to stay in front of their man…who likes to over simplify things???

    “So wins are best measured on a per-dollar basis? In that case, crown the Bobcats!”

    Again, using the Bobcats as an example: Isiah could have cut every player when he took over and won 33 games by last season.

    “Do you work hard to get through screens? Do you focus on staying in front of your man? Do you play your role in the defensive scheme?”

    Yes. Do you work hard to run your man into a screen and then drive to the basket for a layup in traffick? Do you focus on getting open? Do you play your role in the offense?

  172. Ted Nelson

    “Some coaches have enjoyed success while focusing almost exclusively on one or the other, but these cases are rare.”

    You were the one who said that the Bulls and/or Cavs (don’t remember) were good defenses because their coaches conentrate on defense. Seeing as they are not particularly great offenses, it would follow that they are only good teams because their coaches focus on D. It’s very frustrating to debate with someone who only offers one liners, keeping their points nebulous enough to change them constantly.

  173. thefatkid

    I have no idea what your point is at this juncture, Ted. It seems the debate has devolved into you simply picking bones about minutia in order to prolong this discussion.

  174. Ted Nelson

    Nice cop out. I would really love to see your arguments against my last 2 posts on this thread.

    The three major points that I have kept constant are:

    1. possession are an important part of basketball as well as an important statistical tool

    2. Isiah has not done a good job as Knicks President of Basketball Operations or whatever his title is.

    3. Defense is an important part of basketball and requires skill.

  175. thefatkid

    ?possession are an important part of basketball as well as an important statistical tool?

    I disagree.

    ?Isiah has not done a good job as Knicks President of Basketball Operations or whatever his title is.?

    By your definition, the duty of a general manager is to win games. Somehow, I don?t think this reflects reality.

    ?Defense is an important part of basketball and requires skill.?

    Take a guy who has never played basketball before and insert him into a game. Tell him his two responsibilities are to prevent his man from scoring 20 and to score 20 himself. Guess which one he?s far more likely to be able to accomplish? Offensive basketball is more complicated than defensive basketball and involves more developed skills.

  176. Ted Nelson

    -Do you disagree with possessions being an important part of basketball, or just an important statistical tool?

    -I obviously don’t think the GM should get on the court and win games, we all saw how that worked out for MJ. Or be personally held responsible for each individual win or loss. I do think, like Caleb, that the GM should put together both a roster and a basketball side of the organization that wins games. Most owners might also hold the GM partially responsible for the bottom line in terms of wins, playoff appearances, payroll…

    -Again, your argument doesn’t address my point. I never said anything about whether offense or defense is harder and/or requires more skill. I said that defense is important and requires skill. I do not agree that any old team with any old coach and any old roster could become one of the best defenses in the league simply by concentrating on defense.

    As far as your actual point… I think it would depend on the guy. You take a slow short guy with good hand eye cordination and he might be far more likely to score 20 points as a jump shooter on the perimeter. You take a quick, “athletic” guy and maybe he’s more likely to become a good defender first.

  177. thefatkid

    Caleb, I’m not going to get into further debate regarding the semantics of the GM job description. My interpretation of the GM role is that a GM is responsible for managing the talent on a roster.

    “Do you disagree with possessions being an important part of basketball, or just an important statistical tool?”

    Possessions are a very important part of basketball, just as innings are an important part of baseball. Analyzing individual possessions can be useful and insightful, just as analyzing individual innings in baseball can be helpful. But using possessions in aggregate is useless. Analyzing points in terms of possessions is like analyzing runs in terms of innings. It’s meaningless.

    You and I disagree on how to assess GM job performance. I think analyzing a roster and how is was put together is best assessment of GM skill. You seem the think the W/L column is the important evaluative tool. Our opinions seem unlikely on change on this matter.

    If you had a bunch of unskilled, athletic players and needed to mold them into a competitive basketball team, it would be significantly easier to make them a solid defensive team than a good offensive team. Compare a 2-3 zone to a motion offense and tell which which one is easier to insert pretty much any warm body into.

  178. Ted Nelson

    “My interpretation of the GM role is that a GM is responsible for managing the talent on a roster.”

    Yet this is not the only responsibilty of the GM. This is not a matter of interpreting. Maybe you can say that if I owned an NBA team I would hire a GM, lock him in a room, and let him “manage the talent.” But this is not what happens in reality.

    “You and I disagree on how to assess GM job performance. I think analyzing a roster and how is was put together is best assessment of GM skill. You seem the think the W/L column is the important evaluative tool. Our opinions seem unlikely on change on this matter.”

    So playing and winning basketball games is not important in judging basketball teams? The team that looks better on paper is better?

    “If you had a bunch of unskilled, athletic players and needed to mold them into a competitive basketball team, it would be significantly easier to make them a solid defensive team than a good offensive team. Compare a 2-3 zone to a motion offense and tell which which one is easier to insert pretty much any warm body into.”

    NBA players don’t tend to be “any warm body,” but again your original point was that defense involves no skill just concentrating on it makes you good at it. I never said anything about whether offense or defense is harder to learn or requires more skill.

    Another point is that if you can become a good defense in the NBA so easily and good defenses tend to win a lot of games and go far in the playoffs, why wouldn’t you “concentrate” on having a good defense? Why, according to you, do most teams concentrate on scoring more points? It seems to be that all but a few NBA coaches do concentrate on having a good defense. Maybe they are worried about looking good on paper so their boss keeps his job.

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