Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mo’ Point Guards, Mo’ Problems

Previously, I’ve discussed the New York Knicks’ defensive regression to mediocrity in depth. However, I skipped over one issue of the porous 2012-2013 Bocker defense: the fact that point guards carved this team up with ridiculous ease. As the upcoming season draws closer, finding a way to resolve this issue should be a priority. Problem is, there is no clear answer in sight.

Specific performances stick out, such as Stephen Curry’s 54-point explosion and Kyrie Irving’s 41-point effort against the Knicks. However, point guards in general found success against New York, as can be confirmed via 82games.com’s Team Production by Position Rankings. According to this data, the Knicks ranked 28th in the NBA in opposing point guards’ points and FG%.

Tyson Chandler took home the Defensive Player of the Year award for his stellar play in 2012, when the Knicks had one of the league’s top defenses. Last year, the Knicks sunk to 17th in defensive efficiency, and Chandler seemed to be only a shell of his former self.

To make matters worse, the Atlantic Division has a much stronger array of point guards coming into this season compared to last.

In the 2013 campaign, the Nets were starting a Deron Williams who battled injury problems year round. The former All-Star was unable to maintain his typical level of production until the final months of the season. The Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo missed a large chunk of the season (including 3 games against the Knicks) due to an ACL tear. The Toronto Raptors fiddled around with their starting point guard spot in 2013, flipping between Kyle Lowry, stat-sheet stuffer and Jose Calderon, distributor.

Coming into the 2014 season, these division neighbors will bring on a tougher challenge for the Knicks in terms of point guard play. Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo should be fully healed from their injuries come opening night. Additionally, Boston will require Rondo to be featured in their offense with the Celtics’ roster greatly reduced. The Toronto Raptors have shipped off Jose Calderon, meaning the productive Kyle Lowry has secured the starting spot at the point. The Sixers were the only team that backtracked in the point guard category, trading Holiday in a draft-night deal to the Pelicans.

With teams that the Knicks will meet 4 times in 2014 bolstering their one spot and an NBA where talented point guards flood the basketball streets, how does New York look to contain opposing ones in 2014?

As of today, the Knicks’ roster compared to last year’s doesn’t show much promise for improvement. There is the “addition by subtraction” argument, with Jason Kidd’s departure potentially opening up Pablo Prigioni to more playing time. However, with management pursuing a third point guard for the roster (good idea), Prigs could find himself playing even less time with the addition of a more potent offensive point guard (bad, bad idea). Beno Udrih, Bobby Brown and Jannero Pargo are among the names the Knicks have looked at as possible signees, yet none of them are an upgrade on the defensive end. Subsequently, signing one of those names would mean playing Pablo Prigioni – our best defensive one man – fewer minutes a night. I’m still praying for Glen Grunwald to sign Summer League stud Toure Murry to provide some defense off the bench, even at the expense of offensive spacing.

The only acquisition that caught my eye as a fan pleading for the team to improve itself defensively was the signing of Metta World Peace. As much as I love the signing, to say he’ll solve our point guard troubles would be overstating his defensive ability at this stage of his career. He was never the quickest player to begin with and since he’ll be 34 around the beginning of this upcoming season, it’s a daunting proposal to ask him to slide in and barricade point guard penetration. With the help of Steve Nash, last year’s Lakers actually ranked 30th in opposing  point guard points.

The final option that remains at this point is relying on Tyson Chandler’s defensive anchor-ish ways, but this is contingent upon his playing to the level he did in 2012. A repeat of last season simply won’t do the trick, and hoping that Chandler returns to his peak form as a 31-year old playing in his 13th year is a stretch, especially when considering the injuries he sustained last year.

No offseason can swing by Knickerbocker fans without bursts of enthusiasm, angst and anxiety. While this summer has been an eventful one for New York, it hasn’t produced answers to the team’s biggest concerns. Corrections can still be in the works, but at the moment, the upcoming season for New York makes me feel more wary than exuberant.

43 comments on “Mo’ Point Guards, Mo’ Problems

  1. Frank

    Hard to talk about this team’s defense without mentioning Shump’s name at all. I think with a healthy Shump, the addition of Artest, and a healthy Tyson, the defense will be fine. And overall we have fewer offense-only guys on this team now — Novak and Cope, much as I loved them both, were pretty horrible on D. Now our O-only guys are just Amare and Bargs, and my guess is that those guys can generally be hidden by scheme unless they’re both on the floor at the same time (distinctly possible).

  2. Frank

    Berman from the Post makes it sound like Udrih may happen as soon as today. Was looking over his stats, and I can’t remember a player whose 3 point shooting is as all over the place as his is. He’s a career 35.2% shooter but has been as low as 28% and as high as 41%. Some of that is small samples year-to-year – he’s not really a high-volume 3 point shooter – but just weird overall. And boy does he love that mid-range jumper. Hopefully Woody and whatever analytics guys we have can break him of that (although he is one of the better midrange shooters in the league).

  3. Z-man

    Yeah, another article with a glaring weakness. Remember the Linsanity game vs. Toronto? It was actually Shump that saved the day, after Calderon torched Lin for most of the game.

    I was at the Curry 54 pt game w/ my son, tremendous performance! That said, Felton blocked his shot in an iso situation to ice that game.

    PG is a position of weakness for us, no doubt, but every team has a weakness somewhere. Keep in mind, we have less than $6 mill per year tied up in that position, so it’s kind of a given.

    Much more alarming is our situation at the C, where we have lots of $ tied up in a guy who had a terrible year last year and no truly reliable backup.

  4. David Vertsberger Post author

    Z-man:
    Yeah, another article with a glaring weakness. Remember the Linsanity game vs. Toronto? It was actually Shump that saved the day, after Calderon torched Lin for most of the game.

    I was at the Curry 54 pt game w/ my son, tremendous performance! That said, Felton blocked his shot in an iso situation to ice that game.

    PG is a position of weakness for us, no doubt, but every team has a weakness somewhere. Keep in mind, we have less than $6 mill per year tied up in that position, so it’s kind of a given.

    Much more alarming is our situation at the C, where we have lots of $ tied up in a guy who had a terrible year last year and no truly reliable backup.

    So you argue this piece using an example from a season where we were a top-5 defensive team and a single possession this season. Okie dokie.

  5. SeeWhyDee77

    Very nice. I mentioned Nolan Smith in the schedule thread yesterday. The points in this article are all the more reason to bring in a Smith or Delonte West, as both are better on D than Udrih and Brown. Perhaps the best path is to fill the roster with defense-first players. We have more than enough offense to be able to do so. Who else is out there that would fit that mold? I’m sorry, I haven’t checked the list of remaining free agents this morning. In any case, we have enough offensive talent to field a top 8 unit. So if there’s 3 spots left why not fill them with Haddadi, JJ and West?

  6. KnickfaninNJ

    If they think they can sign Udrih, that would explain why they are having bigs come in for tryouts. I don’t think they are likely to get someone better than him as a third point guard.

  7. thenamestsam

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Any scientist or mathematician who dismisses a model because it disagrees with his hypothesis is a bad scientist or mathematician. This attitude just makes no sense.

    1) conceive hypothesis
    2) collect data
    3) analyze trends in data
    4) draw conclusions
    5) conclusions match hypothesis? good, we’re done
    5b) conclusions do not match hypothesis? analysis wrong, hypothesis right

    This is bad science.

    Just to follow up on this: I’d agree with you that cherry picking results is a very dangerous game. But alternately, so is blindly accepting whatever results you get out of a linear regression. An alternate model that goes like: “Get some data for A, get some data for B. Run a linear regression of B on A. Run a linear regression of B on A. If we have statistical significance conclude that A causes B.” is also bad science.

    The reality is that modeling isn’t really hard science. Good modeling requires a lot more than knowing how to run a regression in Stata or R. And part of that is knowing when to throw out a model despite statistical significance because the results don’t pass the smell test. That doesn’t mean you necessarily dismiss every model that passes the smell test – after all as you say it’s clearly not good science to dismiss any result that disagrees with our prior beliefs – but it does mean that you turn an extremely skeptical eye to any model which gives you such a result. And when you turn a skeptical eye to Berri’s model any of the many flaws pointed out frequently in these forums become glaringly obvious (in my opinion at least). As I said previously the “smell test” is not a comprehensive takedown of a model but it IS the first thing you should do with any new model. If something fails it as dramatically as Berri’s model does it rightly has a very high bar to clear to be accepted.

  8. Z-man

    David Vertsberger: So you argue this piece using an example from a season where we were a top-5 defensive team and a single possession this season. Okie dokie.

    No, I argue that Shump, who missed the majority of last season and was not truly back until near the playoffs, offers an answer defensively vs. certain PGs, and you failed to mention him. I also would argue that Felton missed a bunch of games and was hampered in others with injured hands, but is a decent defensive PG. Finally, I would argue that there are very few (none?) PGs who are goint to shut down Curry or Irving (or Westbrook, or Rose, or Lillard or Wall or Rondo or …)when they get going. It is a given that this will be a position of weakness for us, considering that we have nearly all of our cap money invested in the frontcourt.

    “However, with management pursuing a third point guard for the roster (good idea), Prigs could find himself playing even less time with the addition of a more potent offensive point guard (bad, bad idea). Beno Udrih, Bobby Brown and Jannero Pargo are among the names the Knicks have looked at as possible signees, yet none of them are an upgrade on the defensive end. Subsequently, signing one of those names would mean playing Pablo Prigioni – our best defensive one man – fewer minutes a night. I’m still praying for Glen Grunwald to sign Summer League stud Toure Murry to provide some defense off the bench, even at the expense of offensive spacing.”

    This is just nonsensical conjecture. Again, your omission of Shump is glaring. Is there a defensive PG out there for the minimum that you would trust at PG over Shump? If your answer is, “YES, Toure Murry!” and think he is a better answer for this current team than Udrih, I really don’t know what to say other than that is just dumb.

  9. cgreene

    Yeah. Not talking about Shumpert and that he basically missed or was missing 2/3 of the season and the Prigioni won’t play more bc we have a 3rd PG is (1) a glaring omission (2) conjecture.

  10. thenamestsam

    To talk about the actual Knicks I do think defensive PG woes are clearly a problem. I’m hopeful that we’ll get a Tyson Chandler with a pulse this year and that fewer 2 pg lineups with Kidd gone will have the benefit of allowing Shump to guard the point more often when we’re being torched. That said I do expect it to be an area of weakness again this year but I’m not sure it’s a big enough concern to be worth making you wary about the entire season. Every team has flaws even teams that win championships. The Knicks are probably going to struggle with scoring guards, but that’s by no means necessarily a fatal flaw if they can find ways to improve in other areas.

    Also on a side note I don’t think the paragraphs about how the Atlantic divisions PGs are stronger than last year makes much sense. Holiday is clearly a major loss – he torched the Knicks at times last year. And I’m not sure I understand how Toronto losing a strong offensive PG has made them stronger offensively at the PG spot – making Lowry the unquestioned starter is really going to make enough of a difference to offset replacing Calderon’s minutes with uh, I guess DJ Augustin is the backup point now? Rondo is healthy now, but he was also healthy going into last year and the crippling of his supporting cast should make it much easier to guard him in my estimation not harder. The Knicks can help off everybody. I’ll give you Deron though – I expect him to be better. Still not sure you can justify the comment “the Atlantic Division has a much stronger array of point guards coming into this season compared to last.”

  11. thenamestsam

    Udrih is apparently officially signed. Very good move. One real strength of this roster when it’s healthy (which admittedly isn’t likely to be often) is how versatile it is. If we want to play smaller like last year and play a lot of 2 pg lineups Udrih gives us the strength in depth at the guard position to be able to do that. But if we want to play bigger we also have the ability to do that – Tyson, Bargs/Amare, Melo, Shump, Felton is a big conventional lineup that still should have good offensive spacing.

  12. Frank

    Sounds like Udrih is a done deal. That is an amazingly solid signing by Grunwald. So for all the suckiness that was the loss of Lin, Novak, and Cope, at least potential FA role players around the league are seeing that you can turn a single season in NY to a big contract elsewhere.

    I think the signing of Udrih actually makes it much more likely that we will be playing the 2 PG lineup. It’s tough to play the 2 PG lineup when you have no one to play with the 2nd unit. And especially since Pablo is getting up there in age, I’d say 3rd PG was a position of reasonable need.

    Even more than the 2 PG lineup is the idea that we can now play pretty much any style while losing very little. Pacers want to come in and play big ball? Fine, we’ll throw in Shump at the 2, Melo and Artest at the 3/4 (or Bargs or Amare), and Tyson at the 5. Miami wants to play small? Fine, we’ll go 2 PGs with Shump at the 3 and Melo at the 4. And of all the players that are likely to be in the rotation, only really Amare needs to be hidden on defense. Bargnani at least is pretty reasonable in one-on-one situations.

    Will be a tough job for Woody splitting up minutes though– 11 guys (Ray, Prigs, Shump, Udrih, JR, MWP, Melo, Amare, Bargnani, K-Mart, Tyson) will want minutes, and that’s not even counting Hardaway and Tyler who will need some minutes for their development. Hope these guys buy in enough that they won’t be disruptive if they are Camby’d.

  13. Jonathan Topaz

    Frank:
    Sounds like Udrih is a done deal. That is an amazingly solid signing by Grunwald.So for all the suckiness that was the loss of Lin, Novak, and Cope, at least potential FA role players around the league are seeing that you can turn a single season in NY to a big contract elsewhere.

    I think the signing of Udrih actually makes it much more likely that we will be playing the 2 PG lineup. It’s tough to play the 2 PG lineup when you have no one to play with the 2nd unit. And especially since Pablo is getting up there in age, I’d say 3rd PG was a position of reasonable need.

    Even more than the 2 PG lineup is the idea that we can now play pretty much any style while losing very little. Pacers want to come in and play big ball? Fine, we’ll throw in Shump at the 2, Melo and Artest at the 3/4 (or Bargs or Amare), and Tyson at the 5.Miami wants to play small? Fine, we’ll go 2 PGs with Shump at the 3 and Melo at the 4.And of all the players that are likely to be in the rotation, only really Amare needs to be hidden on defense. Bargnani at least is pretty reasonable in one-on-one situations.

    Will be a tough job for Woody splitting up minutes though– 11 guys (Ray, Prigs, Shump, Udrih, JR, MWP, Melo, Amare, Bargnani, K-Mart, Tyson) will want minutes, and that’s not even counting Hardaway and Tyler who will need some minutes for their development.Hope these guys buy in enough that they won’t be disruptive if they are Camby’d.

    Agreed, Frank. But RE: minutes backlog, I’d guess that injuries will sort that out in a hurry, which is why adding really solid bench pieces like Udrih and Artest is great. Too much injury potential with STAT, Bargnani, KMart, Chandler, and even Felton and Melo to worry about having a fully healthy roster. Having all those guys healthy would be, to quote a certain fictional Baltimore drug lord, “one of them good problems.”

  14. DRed

    thenamestsam: Just to follow up on this: I’d agree with you that cherry picking results is a very dangerous game. But alternately, so is blindly accepting whatever results you get out of a linear regression. An alternate model that goes like: “Get some data for A, get some data for B. Run a linear regression of B on A. Run a linear regression of B on A. If we have statistical significance conclude that A causes B.” is also bad science.

    The reality is that modeling isn’t really hard science. Good modeling requires a lot more than knowing how to run a regression in Stata or R. And part of that is knowing when to throw out a model despite statistical significance because the results don’t pass the smell test. That doesn’t mean you necessarily dismiss every model that passes the smell test – after all as you say it’s clearly not good science to dismiss any result that disagrees with our prior beliefs – but it does mean that you turn an extremely skeptical eye to any model which gives you such a result. And when you turn a skeptical eye to Berri’s model any of the many flaws pointed out frequently in these forums become glaringly obvious (in my opinion at least). As I said previously the “smell test” is not a comprehensive takedown of a model but it IS the first thing you should do with any new model. If something fails it as dramatically as Berri’s model does it rightly has a very high bar to clear to be accepted.

    Have you given a sniff to other models? Brook Lopez, 5th best player in the NBA (PER). Paul Millsaps, 7th best player in the NBA (Regularized Adjusted +/-) Dirk Nowitzki, best(!) player in the NBA (2 year Adjusted +/-) I can go on, if you’d like.

  15. thenamestsam

    DRed: Have you given a sniff to other models?Brook Lopez, 5th best player in the NBA (PER).Paul Millsaps, 7th best player in the NBA (Regularized Adjusted +/-) Dirk Nowitzki, best(!) player in the NBA (2 year Adjusted +/-)I can go on, if you’d like.

    An argument against one model is not an argument in favor of any other. If your point is that all current publicly available statistical models of player value are at best highly flawed you certainly won’t get an argument from me.

  16. KnickfaninNJ

    WoW doesn’t seem to do any better at evaluating player value for current NBA players than other systems. Where it was interesting was in its PAWS scores for potential draft picks. Their ranking was much different than that of the usual draft pick consensus from say ESPN. What seemed notable to me was that the ESPN rank did well at predicting who would be picked in what order, but WoW seemed like it was better at predicting actual performance in the NBA, especially of mid level picks. Since the two rankings were very different in order, this is remarkable. It’s a shame they didn’t publish a draft pick ranking this year.

  17. Hubert

    From the article:

    “Specific performances stick out, such as Stephen Curry’s 54-point explosion and Kyrie Irving’s 41-point effort against the Knicks. However, point guards in general found success against New York, as can be confirmed via 82games.com’s Team Production by Position Rankings. According to this data, the Knicks ranked 28th in the NBA in opposing point guards’ points and FG%.”

    Here are the stats referenced:

    http://www.82games.com/1213/BYPOSL10.HTM

    Interestingly, as poor as we were in point guard scoring, we were actually the best team in the league at defending point guards from assisting teammates, and were top 10 in forcing TO’s.

  18. KnickfaninNJ

    that is interesting. If we are, say, forcing Rondo to shoot or turn the ball over instead of getting an assist I think that could be a good trade off for the Knicks. He’s an extreme example and actually didn’t play much last year due to injury, but I think it might help with others, for example, Deron Williams, too. It doesn’t work everywhere. Nate Robinson torched us, as i recall.

  19. Hubert

    I was wondering if it was just one of those anomalies like in the NFL where a team with a really terrible run defense has a pass defense that looks good statistically but only because running the ball is so damn easy no one bothers to pass.

  20. DRed

    thenamestsam: An argument against one model is not an argument in favor of any other. If your point is that all current publicly available statistical models of player value are at best highly flawed you certainly won’t get an argument from me.

    Well we’ve got to talk about something. Sitting around saying “well there are NBA teams with proprietary models so they know more than us” is pretty boring.

  21. iserp

    DRed: Have you given a sniff to other models?Brook Lopez, 5th best player in the NBA (PER).Paul Millsaps, 7th best player in the NBA (Regularized Adjusted +/-) Dirk Nowitzki, best(!) player in the NBA (2 year Adjusted +/-)I can go on, if you’d like.

    But people that use those models usually are aware of their limitations.

    Hollinger would often say that Brook Lopez is best offensive center in the league (and he is right), and then say that PER doesn’t take into account his terrible defense (although it catches some of his terrible rebounding)

  22. DRed

    iserp: But people that use those models usually are aware of their limitations.

    Hollinger would often say that Brook Lopez is best offensive center in the league (and he is right), and then say that PER doesn’t take into account his terrible defense (although it catches some of his terrible rebounding)

    So people who like Wins Produced are unaware that it’s a model that doesn’t perfectly reflect reality?

  23. KnickfaninNJ

    Hubert:
    I was wondering if it was just one of those anomalies like in the NFL where a team with a really terrible run defense has a pass defense that looks good statistically but only because running the ball is so damn easy no one bothers to pass.

    That would explain the scoring by opposing point guards, but what about the high level of turnovers? Especially since turnovers seem to come more often when a point guard is trying to assist than when he is trying to score.

  24. thenamestsam

    DRed: Well we’ve got to talk about something.Sitting around saying “well there are NBA teams with proprietary models so they know more than us” is pretty boring.

    Sure and there’s nothing wrong with referencing those stats in the discussions that take place. But when people make statements like “X is not a good basketball player” and it’s based seemingly entirely on an incredibly flawed model…I personally don’t find that constructive in any way, shape, or form.

    As iserp points out when people reference PER or even the dreaded points per game they generally use it to make specific limited points. PER has obvious flaws but it does give you a decent idea of who the best high-usage offensive players at a position are. Brook Lopez clearly isn’t the 5th best player in the league, but he is for my money at least (at least last year with Dwight’s injury) the best high usage offensive center in the league. PER is a decent way of seeing that. Obviously it has nothing to say about his defense and whether it overrates him offensively relative to guys who shoot a higher percentage but in much more limited situations is an open question I think (personally I think it depends entirely on team context which applies a single value to all players in the NBA is a bit silly). But it does tell us something (or at least it tells me something, you may disagree). So does WP/48 – it tells me a lot about which guys are very high efficiency in their roles and are excellent rebounders for their positions. But I don’t hear it used in that way very often. I hear it used as though it should be treated definitively, as the end to conversation, and I personally don’t think it has come close to justifying that level of reverence.

  25. thenamestsam

    And just to emphasize I’m not anti-stat overall at all. It’s a big part of what I do professionally, and I’m fully with you on the baseball stuff. I’m as anti-bunting as anyone and I will 100% get in a prolonged argument with anyone who thinks Cabrera deserved the MVP last year.

  26. Frank

    Re: Brook Lopez – I know he’s a popular guy to bash, but why is it so strange to think he might actually be a top 10 guy in the NBA? He’s a high-usage (26%) high efficiency scorer (TS 57%) on the offensive end. By Synergy he’s basically an elite post-up and PNR player. He’s a pretty good mid-range shooter for a center. The Nets offense was markedly better with him than without him (even though they were worse on the offensive boards) — 5.7 points/100 poss better. And in spite of his well-documented difficulties guarding players in space, the Nets’ defense was also better with him on the floor than off — 1.8 points/100 poss better. He averaged 9.1 reb/40. Had 3.3 blocks/48 – same as Dwight Howard.

    I know we’ve moved to rebound rates, per 100 poss stats, but honestly – a guy who plays a premium position and has per 40 averages of 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, doesn’t turn the ball over, and has a TS of 57 and very good +/- numbers — what’s not to like about that? Why shouldn’t he be considered a top 10 guy?

  27. flossy

    DRed: So people who like Wins Produced are unaware that it’s a model that doesn’t perfectly reflect reality?

    Umm, come here often?

  28. DRed

    What are the incredible flaws of Wins Produced?

    Mostly, I see it used the way you describe it by people who don’t like it. For example, I’ve seen this argument pop up a bunch. (I’m paraphrasing) LOL, WP says Jason Kidd was the second best PG in the NBA. What a joke, why does anyone take you seriously. Now, the problems with this argument are:

    1. WP says Jason Kidd was the 6th most productive PG in the NBA last season. It says he was 3rd best on a per minute basis.

    2. What we know, and what the WP model does not, is that Jason Kidd is old as shit and could not play starter minutes.

    3. We also know that Kidd totally fell apart in the playoffs, and also had a month or two where he couldn’t shoot 3’s at all. Despite his shooting woes, he still had a higher than average TS% on the season, because of his insanely hot start.

    4. We know that Kidd didn’t shoot a lot, and so that even when he couldn’t shoot, his WP numbers didn’t drop that much because he never shot.

    5. Finally, we know Kidd, as ever, was a fantastic rebounder, didn’t turn the ball over, and still got lots of steals.

    We can also assume that never shooting hurt the Knicks offense as a whole (I’m not sure this is true, but whatever). So, you can say that Jason Kidd was a productive player, but wasn’t the 3rd best point guard in the NBA, despite what WP says. I think that’s a fair way to look at those numbers. Other people who think WP is useful might disagree with some of this, but I don’t think any of them think you should just look up a player’s WP ranking and figure you know all there is to know about the value of a player.

  29. Hubert

    DRed:
    What are the incredible flaws of Wins Produced?

    It assumes all relevant information is contained in a box score and it often fails to assign credit to the correct individual on the court.

  30. iserp

    DRed: So people who like Wins Produced are unaware that it’s a model that doesn’t perfectly reflect reality?

    If this is the case, i am fine with WP48. But in this site we have seen affirmations like “Brewer > Melo” too often, when there is a case of WP48 overvaluing role players.

    I believe there is a fundamental flaw in WP48 disregarding usage totally, but i concede that’s up to debate.

  31. thenamestsam

    DRed:
    What are the incredible flaws of Wins Produced?

    Mostly, I see it used the way you describe it by people who don’t like it.For example, I’ve seen this argument pop up a bunch. (I’m paraphrasing)LOL, WP says Jason Kidd was the second best PG in the NBA.What a joke, why does anyone take you seriously.Now, the problems with this argument are:

    snip

    To me this post is close to a perfect example of how to use WP to have a fruitful conversation about a player. As it so often does when WP is the topic of conversation it inevitably turns on the question of how much the whole “not shooting” thing as well as how much his inability to draw double teams (b/c he’s a PG who NEVER and I mean NEVER penetrates) hurts the Knicks relative to the average PG. If you’re a person who thinks those things don’t matter much then I can see making the case that Kidd was still a top PG last year. If you’re a person who thinks those things matter a lot then WP/48 is probably not a stat whose evaluations you’re going to agree with very often.

  32. mokers

    I don’t think any of them think you should just look up a player’s WP ranking and figure you know all there is to know about the value of a player.

    If this were true, I don’t think people would have a problem with WP.

    We can also assume that never shooting hurt the Knicks offense as a whole (I’m not sure this is true, but whatever)

    Can we spend time breaking this down? I think you dismiss it too quickly and I think it is much closer to the heart of the problem. If Jason Kidd is unwilling to take an open 3 point shot, that does not hurt the offense? Would you assume that it would be easier to guard a team where Kidd wasn’t willing to take shots? If you have one person on the team who occupies a spot that defenses don’t account for, wouldn’t you need to alter your offense to make up for it?

  33. thenamestsam

    Frank: To me this post is close to a perfect example of how to use WP to have a fruitful conversation about a player. As it so often does when WP is the topic of conversation it inevitably turns on the question of how much the whole “not shooting” thing as well as how much his inability to draw double teams (b/c he’s a PG who NEVER and I mean NEVER penetrates) hurts the Knicks relative to the average PG. If you’re a person who thinks those things don’t matter much then I can see making the case that Kidd was still a top PG last year. If you’re a person who thinks those things matter a lot then WP/48 is probably not a stat whose evaluations you’re going to agree with very often.

    100% right on. Brook is still dealing with being residually underrated from when he actually wasn’t that good (largely because of injury isses) a couple years ago. He made giant strides last year, especially on D. And as I pointed out even before last year to anyone who would listen (wasn’t many) the idea that he’s this atrocious rebounder was always based on a limited view of the stats. He’s far from a great rebounder but the idea that he’s unacceptably horrible is based on two consecutive years where he averaged 6.1 and then 4.8 rebounds per 36. The 6.1 year he had mono the entire year, and the 4.8 he played 5 games b/c of injury problems. His first two years he averaged 9.6 and then 8.4. It was always likely that he was going to rebound (bad pun alert) into the 8-9 per 36 range if he was healthy. Not great, but not crippling especially considering it’s not too tough to find rebound gobbling PFs on the cheap. I don’t think he’s top 10 b/c the D still leaves a good amount to be desired and he’s not a good enough passer to build an offense around him in my opinion, but if he takes another step forward on D he could get there. He’s a legit top 25 type guy.

  34. DRed

    mokers: If this were true, I don’t think people would have a problem with WP.

    Can we spend time breaking this down? I think you dismiss it too quickly and I think it is much closer to the heart of the problem. If Jason Kidd is unwilling to take an open 3 point shot, that does not hurt the offense? Would you assume that it would be easier to guard a team where Kidd wasn’t willing to take shots? If you have one person on the team who occupies a spot that defenses don’t account for, wouldn’t you need to alter your offense to make up for it?

    Well, Jason Kidd took a lot more 3’s than the average PG (or even SG), and even considering that the Knicks were a 3 happy team last year, I don’t think there were a lot of wide open 3s that Jason left on the table. He was only slightly below average at shooting 3s (because of his month where he couldn’t hit a 3 to save his life), so I doubt that teams were leaving him unguarded. But yes, a perimeter player that a team wouldn’t have to guard would be a drag on the offense. I’m not sure such a player exists in the NBA, but hypothetically I can agree with you on that one.

  35. Hubert

    thenamestsam: To me this post is close to a perfect example of how to use WP to have a fruitful conversation about a player. As it so often does when WP is the topic of conversation it inevitably turns on the question of how much the whole “not shooting” thing as well as how much his inability to draw double teams (b/c he’s a PG who NEVER and I mean NEVER penetrates) hurts the Knicks relative to the average PG. If you’re a person who thinks those things don’t matter much then I can see making the case that Kidd was still a top PG last year. If you’re a person who thinks those things matter a lot then WP/48 is probably not a stat whose evaluations you’re going to agree with very often.

    The ironic thing is I believe Kidd was a tremendous contributor to our success and I think WP got that right but it got it right for the wrong reasons. From what I can tell, they attributed his massive contribution last year to his outstanding rebounding for a PG.

  36. DRed

    thenamestsam: To me this post is close to a perfect example of how to use WP to have a fruitful conversation about a player. As it so often does when WP is the topic of conversation it inevitably turns on the question of how much the whole “not shooting” thing as well as how much his inability to draw double teams (b/c he’s a PG who NEVER and I mean NEVER penetrates) hurts the Knicks relative to the average PG. If you’re a person who thinks those things don’t matter much then I can see making the case that Kidd was still a top PG last year. If you’re a person who thinks those things matter a lot then WP/48 is probably not a stat whose evaluations you’re going to agree with very often.

    Kidd was at his best playing at the 2 last year, where his inability to go past anyone wasn’t problem. But yes, that certainly makes him less valuable in some ways than other point guards. At the same time, as WP tells us, he was still an elite rebounding guard, still got a ton of steals, and still never turned the ball over. Those things have value positive value. I can agree with people saying Kidd was not as valuable as WP has him, but he was still a damn good player most of the season, and we’re going to miss his production next year.

  37. thenamestsam

    DRed: Kidd was at his best playing at the 2 last year, where his inability to go past anyone wasn’t problem.But yes, that certainly makes him less valuable in some ways than other point guards.At the same time, as WP tells us, he was still an elite rebounding guard, still got a ton of steals, and still never turned the ball over.Those things have value positive value.I can agree with people saying Kidd was not as valuable as WP has him, but he was still a damn good player most of the season, and we’re going to miss his production next year.

    I agree with this post 100% except that I still think his lack of penetration was a semi-serious problem even as as 2. If I were trying to describe the main thing that I think WP misses I would call it bending the defense. That can be done by standing in the post, by drawing double teams, etc. but it can also be done simply be getting penetration. Every time you drive past your man or get in the lane you bend the defense and force them to react. The little spaces that creates are critical to generating good offensive possessions that lead to good shots in my opinion. Kidd does a lot of valuable stuff once the defense is bent- he’s obviously a good passer, he was a pretty good shooter overall even though he fell apart towards the end, and while his passing up shots was occasionally a problem I also think his knowledge of what constitutes a good shot (for him) and what doesn’t has value. And his rebounding and steals were exemplary (and his overall D was solid or better for the most part as well). But he contributes as close to nothing as possible in the bending the D category. I think that’s a negative whether you’re a PG or a SG.

  38. DRed

    thenamestsam: I agree with this post 100% except that I still think his lack of penetration was a semi-serious problem even as as 2. If I were trying to describe the main thing that I think WP misses I would call it bending the defense. That can be done by standing in the post, by drawing double teams, etc. but it can also be done simply be getting penetration. Every time you drive past your man or get in the lane you bend the defense and force them to react. The little spaces that creates are critical to generating good offensive possessions that lead to good shots in my opinion. Kidd does a lot of valuable stuff once the defense is bent- he’s obviously a good passer, he was a pretty good shooter overall even though he fell apart towards the end, and while his passing up shots was occasionally a problem I also think his knowledge of what constitutes a good shot (for him) and what doesn’t has value. And his rebounding and steals were exemplary (and his overall D was solid or better for the most part as well). But he contributes as close to nothing as possible in the bending the D category. I think that’s a negative whether you’re a PG or a SG.

    That makes sense, but how much of a negative is it? And defense bending will be, at least to some extent, reflected in the box score. The more you get by your man the more you’re going to be fouled, for example (and Kidd was almost never fouled last season). Getting penetration will (in general) lead to more assists. That also will show up in the box score. That’s obviously not a perfect measure of the value gained from penetration, but it’s something. So how much of that value isn’t captured by the box score, and how would we go about determining that?

  39. thenamestsam

    DRed: That makes sense, but how much of a negative is it?And defense bending will be, at least to some extent, reflected in the box score.The more you get by your man the more you’re going to be fouled, for example (and Kidd was almost never fouled last season).Getting penetration will (in general) lead to more assists.That also will show up in the box score.That’s obviously not a perfect measure of the value gained from penetration, but it’s something.So how much of that value isn’t captured by the box score, and how would we go about determining that?

    These are the very good questions that the basketball stats community needs to be (and is to a certain extent I think) asking. If I had good answers I’d quit my day job and start writing about basketball for a living or try to get a job in a front office. Instead I’m just a schlub on a message board hoping somebody else comes up with a good answer.

  40. mokers

    DRed: Well, Jason Kidd took a lot more 3?s than the average PG (or even SG), and even considering that the Knicks were a 3 happy team last year, I don’t think there were a lot of wide open 3s that Jason left on the table.He was only slightly below average at shooting 3s (because of his month where he couldn’t hit a 3 to save his life), so I doubt that teams were leaving him unguarded.But yes, a perimeter player that a team wouldn’t have to guard would be a drag on the offense.I’m not sure such a player exists in the NBA, but hypothetically I can agree with you on that one.

    Is there some place where we can get per game WP? It would be helpful to see how the poor shooting affected Kidd’s WP. I mention this because I would be interesting to hear how a person would used WP to determine optimal lineups (not saying you made that suggestion). On the Knicks, the WP dream lineup would be Chandler, Prgioni, Kidd, Martin and Novak. Would that be a reasonable lineup?

  41. BigBlueAL

    These last few posts discussing Kidd and WP was great to read. A real discussion that wasnt about insults regarding how stupid the stat is or the person who hates the stat is. Good stuff.

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