Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

When Driving, Give Jamal The Green Light

According to the New York Post:

Knicks guard Jamal Crawford (16 points, 9 assists) sounded like a lost soul after Monday’s loss in Golden State. During an emotional ramble, Crawford admitted he was trying to change his game to fit the system. “Honestly, I think I’m confused,” Crawford said. “I’m thinking too much. It’s hard to play when you’re thinking like that. I’m a player who plays off instinct. It’s tough when I’m out there because my teammates get on me about shooting [more] shots. So now I’m over-thinking instead of just playing. I don’t want to shoot too much. I don’t want to be passive.”

Marbury recommended, “When in doubt, shoot.

While it’s touching that Marbury is trying to instill confidence in his teammate, I’m not sure he’s dispensing the best advice. Although Marbury-haters might snicker at the selfish undertones of the comment, that’s an argument for another day. Wouldn’t it be better for Crawford to do what Marbury does, not what he says? In other words “when in doubt, drive.” Only 62% of the time does Marbury settle for the jumper, which means he’s getting close to the rim 38% of the time. On the other hand Crawford gets inside only on 14% of his shots. Compare that to current backup shooting guard Trevor Ariza who’s living near the hoop to a tune of 47%. While Ariza is living in the paint because his shot is as accurate as a dowsing rod, even sharpshooter extraordinaire Peja Stojakovic takes at least 1 out of every 5 shots (20%) from inside.

When Marbury needs to create some offense, he just breaks down his defender and goes to the rack. Steph knows that if the defense has to double down on him, there’ll be an easy assist somewhere on the court. Crawford is too content with his shot and takes the first available jumper after beating his man. It’s obvious that a player’s shooting percentage will go up the closer he gets to the hoop, and Crawford’s inside eFG% is higher than even Marbury’s (60% to 55%).

If Jamal Crawford’s problem of self-doubt is caused by the Garden groans when he shoots, it’s not because of quantity, but rather quality. Since Jamal has a quick first step and a streetball sharpened handle, why does he fake his guy out, only to put up a long off-balanced jumper? That move suited Allan Houston very well because H20’s dribble wasn’t as strong, and he would knock down that shot as often as not. Jamal’s skillset is nothing like his predecessor’s, but not many players had a jumper like Allan’s.

The one Garden employee that Crawford should try to emulate is Knicks Alumni Advisor John Starks. Just like Crawford, Starks was known for going hot & cold and was often accused of shooting too much. The former Knick guard was a crowd favorite for his forays to the hoop. My advice to Crawford is to be more like John, and drive to the basket. While Crawford doesn’t have Stark’s explosive dunking ability, he has a much better handle to get his teammates involved should the defense collapse around him. He may also find that going to the hoop often, even unsuccessfully will give him a little more room to operate on the perimeter.