What is Mike D’Antoni’s Offense? (Part II)

As I said in part I, only the point guard has complicated decisions to make in D’Antoni’s offense. For the rest of the team it should be a series of simple reactions. Hence point guard is the most important position in the SSOL. This year the main thing plaguing New York’s offense is Felton’s inability to make the perimeter shot. The more he misses, the more the defense slacks off onto Amare. This is why Felton is shooting so much. Additionally, the more the defense slacks off onto Amare, the fewer options Felton will have to make plays for others. Here’s a dandy chart showing the relationship between Felton’s TS% (X-axis) and Stoudemire’s TS% (Y-axis):

According to the above chart (data through the Clippers game on 2/9), on average each percentage point increase in Felton’s TS% increases Stoudemire’s TS% by 0.24 points. In other words, the more efficiently Felton scores, the better Amaré is.

Here’s the graph for Amare’s TS% (Y axis) and Nash’s (X axis) last season:

There is virtually no relationship between Stoudemire and Nash’s TS%. This to me suggests that, while teams respect Nash from the get-go and commit to defend him regardless of how well he shoots, they likely take a “wait and see” approach with Felton. If Felton can’t prove to them that he is a dangerous shotmaker, they lay off of him and commit to keeping Stoudemire out of the paint. The statistics bear this out: Stoudemire is taking a lot more shots out of isolation plays. Last year in Phoenix, 61% of his baskets came off assists. This year, only 48% of them do.

Why the skilled passer is important in D’Antoni’s offense:

• As we saw in the video clip from my first post, the window to make a pass to a perimeter player and to make interior passes to a roller opens and closes very very quickly. If the passer mistimes the pass, it may result in a turnover (either on the pass, or as we’ve seen sometimes, forcing Stoudemire into a charge) or more likely simply in a shot with a higher degree of difficulty (a covered three or a shot in the paint with more traffic).

• Understanding spacing and angles is also critical. When Felton dribbles through the pick, he has to make a judgment regarding how the defense is responding. Depending on how the defenders position themselves, Felton will have to go to different spaces on the floor in order to create an angle to pass the ball into Stoudemire.

• Finally, if Felton gets into the paint, good defenses will cover the easiest passes to the perimeter. Sometimes, the player who is most open will be the guy at the top of the key. Passing the ball out to a covered perimeter player, then rotating the ball takes longer and allows the defense more time to recover.

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4 thoughts to “What is Mike D’Antoni’s Offense? (Part II)”

  1. Unfortunately your analysis might be better off looking at Billups ability to get the ball inside on the pick and roll

  2. giantg: Unfortunately your analysis might be better off looking at Billups ability to get the ball inside on the pick and roll  

    The article isn’t about Billups (and was written before these rumors surfaced about Chauncey being part of the deal). I wanted to leave that part up to you to figure out. Chauncey’s 3pt shooting definitely helps in one respect, but can he pass in traffic like Felton? Can he take make trouble for big men in general off the dribble? Felton has been pretty good at passing in traffic, bad at making threes, and about average at scoring on slower bigs (mostly, again, due to an unreliable jumper — bigs can lay off of him).

    I’m not sure if your comment refers to his dribble penetration (less important IMO) or his ability to make good passes into Amare (more important). In the latter case, I haven’t watched the Nuggets enough to say whether his low assist numbers are due to the system or a lack of skill. I imagine part of it though has to do with the fact that the offense is run through Nene in the low post (no assist opportunities there) and Anthony on isolations (again no assist opportunities).

  3. Latke,

    I really liked your correlation charts. I can think of some others that might be interesting (even though they aren’t really related to point guards, and might also be obsolete after the trade deadline). For example, does having Mozgov on the floor improve any one else’s rebounding (since he does make an effort to box out, one might see this effect). Does having Chandler on the floor improve Amare’s scoring in any way. I am sure you can think of more.

    Apropos of the trade rumors, I am really unhappy that Dolan seems to be forcing the issue. Walsh hasn’t been perfect, but overall he’s a very good judge of value and I wan’t him deciding, not someone else. Also, he doesnt’ get impatient, and seems willing to let a deadline force Denver’s hand, rather than coming to them. That seems good to me. Anthony would probably help the Knicks, but there are other things the Knicks need more, and I definitely don’t want to trade more than one starter for him.

  4. Another interesting breakdown! re:Billups vs. Felton- Billups has never been a “D’Antoni” type ball dominating point guard so I wonder how he’ll adapt to the system. Hoopdata’s numbers only go back to 2007 but you can see that even in Detroit when Billups was putting up higher assist numbers than he is now he wasn’t really adept at getting the ball inside- Felton this year is averaging 4.9 apg leading to shots inside of 10 feet and just 1.2 out at 16-23 feet while Billups numbers in Detroit were pretty even split inside/outside- not that surprising with Sheed and Rip as your forwards but still makes you wonder if he’s the best fit for the system. Billups best #s for inside shots was 2009 when he had 3.6 apg- this year he’s at 2.8. A lot of this is systemic for sure- Felton is putting up career numbers- but you’ve got to wonder about a 34 year old point guard suddenly being asked to run a very different offense than he’s ever had to run. His shooting should pay dividends but it could come at the expense of getting the ball inside.

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