Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reverse Pythagoras

Yesterday I spoke about two teams that were outperforming their expected win percentage, and either needed to address some issues or look towards a bleaker second half. In today’s installment, I’m going to look at the other end of the spectrum, or teams that are underperforming with respect to their expected win percentage.

The New Jersey Nets boast the East’s best trio of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carter. While all three have suffered through injuries in their past, the three have been relatively healthy this season, as only Jefferson has missed a handful of games. However the Nets’ savings in bandages haven’t translated into wins on the court. New Jersey is a disappointing 10-14 so far this year. The Nets were suppose to be one of the key teams in a weak East, but at this point they aren’t even winning the dreadful Atlantic. There’s good news for Brooklynites with houses on the Jersey shore: the Nets aren’t all that bad. According to their expected win percentage, the Nets are underperforming and should be a few games ahead of Boston, not a half game behind. Although a .506 expected win percentage isn’t anything to write home about, only 3 other Eastern Conference teams have a better point differential. That should translate into home field for at least the first round.

Like the Nets another Eastern team that had high hopes in the preseason isn’t performing up to par. Although the Bulls rebounded from headband-gate to a decent 14-10 start, Chicago’s expected win percentage puts them at the top of the East. With the addition of Ben Wallace, the previously strong Bulls’ defense is becoming one of the league’s best. Currently their 102.8 defensive efficiency (pts allowed per 100 possessions) is 3rd overall in the league. Meanwhile the foursome of Gordon, Deng, Nocioni, and Hinrich coupled with Ben’s rebounding is making the Bulls respectable on offense. Chicago has an offensive efficiency of 108.3, good enough for 10th in the league.

If these two teams are playing the way they are now, they should see some improvement in the coming weeks. The Nets would be Atlantic champs, and the Bulls would vie for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.


A quick note on tonight?s Charlotte-Knicks game.

I commented two nights ago:

“Did anyone else go ballistic when the game was tied in regulation, and Crawford pulls up for a 3? That drives me absolutely nuts, and Jamal does it all the time. You need 1 point. Move in 6 feet & take the 18 footer! Or drive & try to draw a foul. A three point shot is about the worst shot you can take in that situation.”

So what does Jamal do in the closing seconds of regulation with the game tied? Take a foot on the line 2 pointer. Again there is no attempt to drive & draw a foul. There is even no attempt to work for a better shot (there was 21 seconds on the clock), nor is anyone else involved in the play. Crawford just takes the time off the clock, does a crossover or two and jacks it up.

In overtime the Knicks have the ball in the final seconds with the game tied. Isiah draws up a play, of which I’m not privy to. The execution of said play? Marbury dribbles the ball until about 5 seconds are left. Curry(?) comes up for a pick, but it gets blown up. Marbury in desperation passes it up to Crawford who takes an awful shot.

If I recall correctly, someone (82games?, apbrmetrics?) did a study on plays after timeouts and showed that they are usually more efficient than normal plays. So despite the other coach bringing in his best defensive players, the ability to design an offensive play is too powerful a tool to overcome. So how come the Knicks seem to be deficient in this area? Can they hire someone to draw up a play?

If David Lee doesn’t tip that ball in…

31 comments on “Reverse Pythagoras

  1. EP

    I think Jamal’s poor shot selection is just atrocious. The Knicks frontcourt is looking fantastic – Curry, Lee, Frye…its the guard play that killing us.

  2. Dan Panorama

    It’s not the guard play, its a guard play – Jamal Crawford. Unfortunately we can’t sub him when he’s playing lousy except for an awkward fit like renaldo until everyone’s back from their suspensions/injuries.

  3. yages

    Any way in the world we could pry Felton away from the Bobcats? I’d be willing to part with anyone except Lee and Curry. I know management is bound to marbury and francis, but a pass-fist point like Felton would really kick-start this thing into high gear.

  4. Dan Panorama

    Speaking of Morrison getting shut down by Marbury, is there any draft pick that makes you even slightly jealous right now? Bargnani seems pretty cool but we couldn’t and wouldn’t have picked him, and Thomas, Aldridge, Morrison, Redick, Roy, Foye, etc. have been eh to not even getting playing time and in Morrison’s case, outright bad. The one everyone’s swooning over now is Paul Millsap who we actually could have picked with our low draft picks (anyone’s looking better than Mardy Collins right now of course). Right now Renaldo is inarguably one of the most solid NBA ready rookies in the league and contributing – not just “developing” – on a nightly basis. Of course we’ll see how I feel about all this after our usual mid January collapse when Oden, Durant, and Noah are on the table.

  5. George

    Crawford is the weak link on this team. His shot selection is beyond bad. He consistantly takes 20+ shots a game, with most of them being contested long range jumpers. I say let Balkman start in his place, as awkward as that sounds, he can dribble well and help bring it down court. Last night was the second game in a row that his poor judgement almost lost the game.

  6. KnickerBlogger Post author

    Jon good point. I hadn’t considered them, but Arenas & Jamison couldn’t stop a good high school team from scoring. I’ll take Kidd on a bad leg over either of them if I need a stop.

  7. Marc R

    Dan-

    I’m with you on this year’s current rookies, though snap judgments are tough considering where, for example, Billups, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams were at this point in their rookie years. That said, Aldridge (ironically enough, picked second) is the one guy who really seems to look good so far, but I’d still rather have Curry (or Frye) than him.

    George-

    There’s no question that Crawford looked horrible as time expired in regulation and OT, but I thought he did a good job taking it to the hoop in the 4th and making some jumpers before then. The fact is, somebody needs to take outside shots now that zones are permitted and, of the 8 current Knicks playing, Crawford is probably the guy to take them.

    By the way, sorry to be a stats source beggar again, but does anybody know a site that has charts tracking stats, including PER, over the course of the season? I’d be interested to see how/when there has been movement in Marbury’s and Frye’s stats. Thanks.

  8. ken

    Jamal Crawford has shot 13 for 49 over the last two games. Short-handed or not, how is he allowed to do that? He needs to be told to pick his spots and feed the big guys or not be allowed to play. How hard is this?

  9. jon

    I like to think the high schoolers would be so bewildered no one was guarding them, that they’d overthink the layup and miss it (or what I like to call Jared Jeffries Syndrome).

  10. Gorky

    This Larry brown firing has been very bad for Jamal. He was a decent combo guard by the end of last yer: he tried on defense, and he didn’t really take such horrible shots. Now he’s back to his pull up jumpers with most of the shot clock left. Of course I don’t have any stats on this, but I think this is the case.

  11. big_fella

    i think the knicks are better off when they only have 2 of their 4 shoot-first point guards available to play. it almost doesn’t matter which 2, as long as they only have 2 in the rotation. especially when they get richardson and jeffries back.

  12. big_fella

    also, does anyone else think it’s ironic that this team of guards suddenly has a shortage of guards and an overabundance of centers and power forawards?

  13. dave crockett

    Good point Gorky.

    Brown was undoubtedly good for Crawford, whose improvement last year was almost exclusively a function of taking better shots (i.e., fewer threes).

    In the main, I HATE iso’s in the last possession. You don’t force the defense to move. Isiah could easily run him off several staggered screens, get movement, and more consistently free up offensive rebounders.

  14. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “also, does anyone else think it?s ironic that this team of guards suddenly has a shortage of guards and an overabundance of centers and power forawards?”

    True – and the kicker is the team is winning with the big guys. I cringe when Isiah puts out his 4 guard alignment, because it’s a poor match of talent. They take away their best asset, rebounding (see the team page for the rankings), and are just duplicating the talent that’s on the floor.

    “Jamal Crawford has shot 13 for 49 over the last two games. Short-handed or not, how is he allowed to do that? He needs to be told to pick his spots and feed the big guys or not be allowed to play. How hard is this?”

    And just to add fuel to the fire, Crawford is shooting 28.8% from three this year. So when Jamal fires off that last second shot, the Knicks have about a 1 in 4 chance of winning.

    “I like to think the high schoolers would be so bewildered no one was guarding them, that they?d overthink the layup and miss it (or what I like to call Jared Jeffries Syndrome).”

    LOL

  15. DMull

    By the way…did anyone else notice Marbury grabbing the clipboard and instructing David Lee on what to do before the final tip-in?

    They showed it on MSG before the play…but I haven’t noticed a single person mention it.

  16. Brian Cronin

    I thought that was why they had a little “moment” after the tip-in, where they went over to each other and gave each other a real meaningful looking hug.

    I thought it was kinda sweet, actually…hehe.

  17. thepalerider

    I go to bed every night and pray that Isiah does not do something stupid like trade David Lee. He’s the only reason I can sit through Knick games. That kid just plays hard every single second he’s on the court.

  18. Marc R

    One thing you can say about Isiah is that he hasn’t traded away anybody that has become an above average player for their new team, with the possible exception of Nazr.

  19. Seth

    This is true. I was worried when they gave up Milos Vujanic’s contract, Mike Sweetney, Van Horn, and Frank Williams. I’ve heard nothing of Vujanic since that deal, and the other three have faded considerably.

  20. Dan Panorama

    I can’t believe that Sweetney’s disappeared like that. He really looked like he was improving with the Knicks into a half-decent post player and now he can’t even get off the bench behind Chicago’s talented rotation. A fresh start in a new city might turn him into a better-than-average player.

  21. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “One thing you can say about Isiah is that he hasn?t traded away anybody that has become an above average player for their new team, with the possible exception of Nazr.”

    Antonio McDyess did pretty well after leaving New York. Trevor Ariza is doing pretty well in Orlando. Dikembe Mutombo is still a good backup in Houston.

    There are also guys that had 1 good season after leaving NY – Othella, Tim Thomas, Keith Van Horn.

  22. Sam SS

    To all those out there hating on Jamal Crawford, hate on Isiah (and if you’re already hating on Isiah, then hate on him some more) because as long as Jamal is in the game, and they run those type of plays (letting him dribble out the last ten second then take a deep contested shot) then he should take those shots – since those are the shots he says he feels comfortable taking. That doesn’t mean that you can’t try a new play in those situations though. Also, is Jamal (26, 9 and 6 last game) really the problem with the guard play? How about that little moron Nate Robinson. All he does is come in the game, leave his man while he is gambling for a steal that he gets once every three games, so he can go full speed down the court, lose control and run through some one for like the football player he is for the offensive foul. Yeah he hustles, but he has the worst recognition of BASKETBALL probably in the entire NBA. He couldn’t make a post-entry pass to save his life, and I know every one loves him because he short, but thats also the reason he can’t stop ANYONE on defense. If Isiah would stop putting in his little fantasy man and keep Steph, Jamal, and Francis in consistent roles and playing time, I believe the Knicks will have a much more consistent and productive backcourt, and a better win percentage. Eliminating Nate Robinson from the rotation (if not from the team and the league) would begin to solve Isiah’s problem of trying to play every one he signs every game. There is a difference between a deep bench, and a twelve man rotation. I do not believe it is a coincidence that the Knicks are 2-0 without Nate. However, despite how much I loathe Nate Robinson, who I believe is more responsible the escalation of the brawl on saturday than anyone else (he threw the first punches and he wasn’t even involved in the play) I wouldn’t mind having him on the New York football Giants. GET OUT OF THE LEAGUE NATE.

  23. Will

    Maybe the fight has more to do with the knicks winning. Just grit and determination to when a game than all of the different stats and rotation changes I see being mentioned.

  24. KnickerBlogger Post author

    Nate Robinson’s PER is second among Knick guards behind Francis. He’s got the best shooting percentage (eFG), the best pts/min, the second best TS% (shooting + free throws), the second best 3p%, the second best rebounding numbers.

    I’ll give you that Jamal is the Knicks best guard feeding the post, but Robinson has him beat in so many other areas. Also remember Jamal’s been in the league 7 years now, and this is only Robinson’s second.

  25. Sam SS

    All of those statistics you came up with (even the obscure ones which are constructed to make arguments for bad players like Robinson – e.g. shooting + free throws. . .) are all offensive statistics, and I hope we can agree that the offense is not the problem with the Knicks. They’re averaging over 100 points per game, which means if they could try out some defense for more than 24 minutes a game there record would look much better. And by the way, I just found this site today, and many thanks for giving me a place to vent some frustrations where people really care about the Knicks, it’s a great site.

  26. DMull

    I just want to pile on here and say I too (for a long time now – going back to last year with Larry Brown) hate having Jamal take the last shot.

    I will also say I thought it was a great move to put the ball in Steph’s hands…and obviously that didn’t work out…but it seemed more like Curry was a little late getting out and got bumped further out than he wanted which left Steph with nowhere to really go.

    I don;t like using Curry on the screen there for that reason…plus, why not use Channing? Using Eddy Steph doesn’t even have the option of giving it back to him (that far out)…but with Frye, one of them is almost definitely going to get a good look.

  27. Marc R

    “Antonio McDyess did pretty well after leaving New York. Trevor Ariza is doing pretty well in Orlando. Dikembe Mutombo is still a good backup in Houston.

    There are also guys that had 1 good season after leaving NY – Othella, Tim Thomas, Keith Van Horn.”

    McDyess didn’t play well until after his Knicks contract expired. Tough to blame Isiah for not resigning him, even if he kept him.

    Other than Dikembe, the other guys are all below league average in PER, if they’re in the league.

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