Jerome Williams Starting SF?

According to my stat page, the Knicks have the 6th worst defense in the league. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has followed them this year, as they have failed to stop teams from scoring night after night. Even in yesterday’s 113-105 victory over the Blazers, Portland shot a blistering 60% (eFG). New York won not by a good defensive effort, but by outshooting them (61% eFG) and having a big edge from the free throw line (27 to 14). If the Knicks are going to compete with a lousy defense they’re going to need an offensive explosion every night, something their 14th ranked offense can’t manage regularly. However maybe instead of hoping for more offense, the Knicks should concentrate on improving their defense.

Last night Jerome Williams started his first game of the year. It wasn’t due to Lenny Wilkens making a rash change because of the Knicks’ embarrassment on national television the day before. The Junk Yard Dog was in the opening lineup because Tim Thomas couldn’t suit up due to injury. Hopefully the change will be permanent.

Starting Jerome Williams makes so much sense. In a team concept he fits in better with the first squad. While no one will confuse Williams with Bruce Bowens, he’d easily be the Knicks best defender of their starting 5. The Junk Yard Dog likes to hound his opponents and averages more steals per minute than any of the Knicks starters (and gets twice as many as Tim Thomas). From an offensive standpoint, while his game is unorthodox, he’s rather efficient in what he does. Take a look at the per-40 minute averages of the two players:

NAME	PTS	eFG	PSA	FGA	FTA	OREB	TO	AST
TT 15.6 45.2 0.99 14.4 3.1 0.8 2.6 1.6
JYD 12.6 52.6 1.18 8.3 5.5 3.5 2.5 1.6

While Jerome doesn’t score as many points as Tim Thomas, he also doesn’t miss as many shots, and he gets a ton more offensive rebounds. With a PF that likes to play on the outside (Kurt Thomas), the Knicks could use some extra rebounding, something Tim Thomas does very poorly. The thing that shocked me the most is that both players turn the ball over at the same rate. Visually I would have expected for the awkward Williams to have a higher turnover rate, but it’s just not true.

Let me ask a question. With Trevor Ariza still developing his jumpshot, Moochie Norris building his NYC house brick by brick, and Sweetney manning the low post, who would better complement the Knicks’ second tier, Tim Thomas or Williams? I’d say Thomas in a heartbeat. The reserves don’t need Williams style of play, because they already have an all around energy guy in Ariza. Trevor’s strong rebounding at SF would offset Thomas’ hyelophobia. Even though Tim-may is having an off-year with his shot, his jumper would be the best of the Knicks’ reserves.

Barring injury, Lenny Wilkens has yet to change any of his starters. With the Knicks performance considered average at best, he’s gotten a lot of pressure to shake things up. However which starter could Wilkens bench? Marbury and Houston are out of the question. Nazr is having a career year. And Kurt Thomas is immensely popular despite declining production. Tim Thomas started off the year horribly, and has been labeled “soft.” Benching him in favor of Jerome Williams would be the safest and most popular move he could make. It just makes sense on every level.

Knicks Roster Analysis – Power Forwards

After some excellent insights from both Bob Chaikin and Dave, we’re on to the Knicks’ power forwards. If you haven’t read my point guard analysis, that’s probably worth reading before this post so that you understand what I’m doing here.

Kurt Thomas

Year    MPG   PPG   RPG  APG   TS%  Reb%  Pass   Off   Def  Win%  WARP  Value  Salary
01-02 33.8 13.9 9.1 1.1 .542 15.6 0.03 89.9 90.8 .502 5.9
02-03 31.8 14.0 7.9 2.0 .511 14.5 0.23 89.4 89.8 .484 4.5
03-04 31.9 11.1 8.3 1.9 .503 15.0 0.19 87.8 89.5 .457 3.0 $3.446 $5.885

Last Thursday, before the draft, I wrote that a deal of Thomas for Jerome James and the 12th pick would be good for both the Sonics and the Knicks. You’ll have to excuse me for that one; I was apparently delusional because of writing too much about the draft. Thomas’ game is showing some steady signs of decay, both in terms of traditional statistics and more advanced metrics. Last year, his offensive game cratered, as he was very inefficient without using many possessions. His rebounding has been consistent, but neither that nor his defense is good enough to keep him valuable unless he’s scoring better than he did last year.

The real reason a Thomas trade wouldn’t have been good for the Sonics (or most anyone else) is the extension he signed during last season. Thomas is now signed up for three years after this one, presumably with standard 10%-12.5% raises. That means by 2007-08, Thomas will be pulling in $8.09 million. He’ll also be 35 then, and, given the current trend, it’s tough to see Thomas being a particularly valuable player. The raises in contracts can often make them a lot worse than they look. You look at the salary numbers I report above, and Thomas looks overpaid, but not drastically so. The problem is that his salary and production will likely be headed in different directions in the years to come.

There was a school of thought that Thomas’ numbers would improve with him returned to power forward instead of playing out of position at center, as he did almost exclusively during 2002-03. That was pretty clearly not the case on offense, which is backed up by 82games.com’s by-position data. Thomas defended power forwards better — especially when you take into account that power forwards in general have higher PERs than centers — but I doubt the difference is big enough to overcome the greater positional scarcity in the middle. Thomas is simply more valuable as a center.

What can Thomas do to get back on track? The biggest thing would be getting to the line more. Thomas is a good foul shooter for a big man, hitting 83.5% last year, but he doesn’t get to show off the skill very often. When Thomas was at his most efficient, 2001-02, his FTM/FGA ratio was 0.23; the last two years, it’s dipped to 0.13.

From a Knicks perspective, I think Thomas would be best utilized as a combo four/five, coming off the bench behind the starters at both positions. He’s productive enough to keep around, but if the Knicks get an offer that doesn’t return them an equally bad contract (read: Jerry Stackhouse), they have to seriously consider it, especially if they can use him in a multi-player deal to upgrade either small forward or center.

Mike Sweetney

Year    MPG   PPG   RPG  APG   TS%  Reb%  Pass   Off   Def  Win%  WARP  Value  Salary
03-04 11.8 4.3 3.7 0.3 .544 18.3 0.02 88.1 89.3 .563 1.7 $3.266 $1.979

It was about a year ago that I fell in love with Sweetney. He had the best college stats of any player in the 2003 Draft, and in my newfound infatuation with these numbers, I was desperately hoping he’d be left on the board when my Seattle SuperSonics picked 12th. Unfortunately, even a blind squirrel finds acorns now and again, and Scott Layden scooped Sweetney up three picks ahead of the Sonics. It might just have been the best move of Layden’s time in New York.

Sweetney spent the first half of the season buried, but finally found some playing time after Lenny Wilkens took over the New York helm and acquitted himself quite nicely. That 54.4% true shooting percentage is outstanding for a rookie, and Sweetney was a fabulous rebounder, pulling down nearly one in every five available rebounds. He was also one of the few Knicks not to embarrass themselves during the playoffs.

One of my few concerns about Sweetney was whether he could translate his ability to get to the free-throw line to the NBA, but that wasn’t really a problem. Entering this season, he has breakout written all over him (not literally; that would be strange).

Want some incredibly exciting news, Knicks fans? Here are Sweetney’s best age-21 comparables. Number one? Zach Randolph. Number two? Carlos Boozer. If I’m running the Knicks, I do whatever I can to ensure that Sweetney is playing at least 30 minutes per game next season, and let the results speak for themselves. Most Improved Player isn’t a bad guess, and I’ll pick Sweetney so long as a path is cleared for him to start.

Vin Baker

 Year    MPG   PPG   RPG  APG   TS%  Reb%  Pass   Off   Def  Win%  WARP  Value  Salary
01-02 31.1 14.1 6.4 1.3 .517 12.1 0.05 89.2 91.8 .436 1.3
02-03 18.1 5.2 3.8 0.6 .531 11.9 0.02 87.6 90.8 .413 0.3
03-04 24.3 9.8 5.2 1.2 .530 12.2 0.11 88.9 90.1 .472 2.0 $3.131 UFA

Before I say anything about Baker, I want to emphasize that I am as far from possible as objective about Baker. He is one of my least favorite players in NBA history because of his time in Seattle, and as much as I may try to divorce myself from that, it still factors into my thinking.

To demonstrate that, I’ll start by saying I find it a validation of my WARP ratings that they reflect Baker’s uselessness prior to last year more accurately than do my linear-weights ratings. The 2003-04 rating reflects an interesting mix of Baker’s numbers in Boston and in New York. With the Celtics, he was rated at a .494 winning percentage and 2.0 WARP; in New York, those dipped to .393 and 0.0.

A lot of credit for Baker’s great start to the season went to his new svelte physique. Well, amazing as Baker’s transformation was — he looked different facially, he was so skinny — I don’t think it was the real reason he was improved. Baker’s fitness was never really an issue in Seattle after the lockout season; every year we heard how he was in better shape and was going to turn it around, but he never dead. I think, instead, that the noticeable uptick in play stems from the fact that Baker was, presumably, sober. By the time he got to New York, one has to imagine (hope?) he was still sober, but he also hadn’t played for some time and didn’t have a training camp to work his way back into the swing of things.

After his short stint with the Knicks, Baker is a free agent again. There is clearly interest out there in him; big guys are in such short supply, especially in the Eastern Conference, that somebody will give him a chance. I can’t see investing too much money in him, because of the history with alcohol. Even if it weren’t for that, Baker will turn 33 in November, and age alone will take its toll. Thomas seems interested enough by Baker that a return is a possibility, but I don’t see the Knicks gaining much by that.

Othella Harrington

 Year    MPG   PPG   RPG  APG   TS%  Reb%  Pass   Off   Def  Win%  WARP  Value  Salary
01-02 20.3 7.7 4.5 0.5 .567 12.9 0.01 89.7 92.0 .437 1.2
02-03 25.0 7.7 6.4 0.8 .563 15.1 0.04 88.8 92.0 .440 1.6
03-04 15.6 4.6 3.2 0.5 .546 11.7 0.02 87.0 91.3 .357 -0.8 $1.156 $3.150

Before last Thursday’s Draft, some friends and I were trying to make sense of Al Jefferson’s ridiculous high school stats, including better than 42 points per game (besides the fact that high school stats are only one step above meaningless because of the inconsistent level of competition), and one mentioned that Harrington averaged similar stats in the same league. Well, apparently that’s not quite true — he only averaged something like 29 points and 25 rebounds per game — but I had not realized that Harrington was an incredible prospect who was MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game in 1992. Maybe because I was 10 then. I also didn’t know he averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds as a freshman and won Big East Rookie of the Year before his numbers trailed off, presumably because of Allen Iverson’s arrival on the scene after his sophomore season.

In the NBA, Harrington has found his niche as a high-efficiency, medium to low volume scorer who doesn’t offer a ton on defense and the boards. Harrington’s true shooting percentages are great, but they overrate him, because he’s assisted on a high percentage of his baskets (66% last season) and rarely picks up assists of his own. Harrington wasn’t as efficient last season and also posted the worst rebounding season of his career in terms of rebounds per minute. As a result, he went from an acceptable rotation player to a guy who didn’t deserve to see major minutes.

Harrington’s contract is one of the few on the Knicks that isn’t a problem; he’s signed for just one more year at slightly more than $3.15 million, which is more than he’d pull on the open market but not horrible. He might be included in some sort of deal, but otherwise he’ll play some spot minutes off the bench up front.

Kevin Pelton writes “Page 23” for Hoopsworld.com on a semi-regular basis. He can be reached at kpelton@hoopsworld.com. Check back Thursday for his analysis of the Knicks’ centers.

Knicks Roster Analysis – Shooting Guards

I’m disappointed I have to bump down David’s excellent piece to post this. If you haven’t already read Part Two of his off-season preview, I suggest you scroll down and do so now. If you haven’t read my point guard analysis, that’s probably also worth reading before this post so that you understand what I’m doing here.

I’d like to take a second to discuss one thing David mentioned:

“In a pre-playoff article posted at NJ.com by the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D?Alessandro (whose link appears to have expired) Marbury talked unselfconsciously about taking his rest on defense to keep himself fresh throughout the game.”

Is this more common than you might think? I think so. Gary Payton never admitted as much, but watching him go from The Glove to a defensive liability, I think conserving his energy to play 40 minutes a game was a big part of the explanation. Frankly, it’s not a bad trade-off. Guys like Marbury and Payton are so far above the level of their backups (this was especially true in Seattle from 1999-2001) that the extra productivity just isn’t worth taking them off the court (or hurting their offense). Dean Oliver, as I understand it, actually tends to think teams ought to slack off more than they do. But that’s neither here nor there.

Allan Houston

Year    MPG   PPG   RPG  APG   TS%  Reb%  Pass   Off   Def  Win%  WARP  Value  Salary
01-02 37.8 20.4 3.3 2.5 .540 5.0 0.24 92.2 91.3 .498 5.9
02-03 37.9 22.5 2.8 2.7 .563 4.4 0.31 93.5 90.9 .546 9.5
03-04 36.0 18.5 2.4 2.0 .539 3.9 0.15 90.8 90.1 .484 3.1 $3.843 $17.53

Hollinger is fond of saying that Houston and former teammate Latrell Sprewell are the NBA’s most overrated players, but I’m not buying it. Overpaid yes, overrated no. Maybe Hollinger hasn’t spent as much time in his life reading message boards as I have, but there’s plenty of invective to go around for Houston, as if he was supposed to say “no, thanks” to Scott Layden’s offer. This is not a case where a player got a big contract and stopped working; other than last year’s injury, Houston is who he’s always been — I generally rate 2002-03 as the best season of his career — and that’s simply not all that good.

Houston has been a very good offensive player for a long time, and even last year, when he was way down, presumably due to chondromalacia in his left knee, he still rated well above average on the offensive end of the court. Still, you have to be a better offensive player than Houston to be particularly valuable without contributing much on defense or on the glass. Houston’s defensive statistics are actually pretty decent, but his reputation is as a sieve, and his knee problems surely won’t help that.

I have some experience with chondromalacia, having watched Sue Bird fight it for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm all of last season, and it bothered her tremendously. After having surgery, she has been a completely different player this season. Houston has supposedly ruled against surgery, but even a summer’s worth of rest should do wonders for him.

I’ve got to say, I was very impressed by Houston’s reaction to being exposed by the Knicks in yesterday’s Expansion Draft (needless to say, neither he nor any other Knicks were taken).

“I thought Isiah handled it in a classy way,” Houston’s agent, Bill Strickland, told the Post. “We were made aware of it and what his thinking is. Allan was fine and understanding why. He called ahead of time, explained the situation, showed a great deal of respect to Allan, who had a chance to chat with him directly.”

Contrast that with the Celtics’ Chucky Atkins, who has earned absolutely no right to complain about being exposed yet still said, “If they aren?t going to protect me, then I don?t want to be there,” he said. “If you?re going to leave me unprotected, that?s a slap in the face to me.” *Pause for laughter*

Anfernee Hardaway

Year    MPG   PPG   RPG  APG   TS%  Reb%  Pass   Off   Def  Win%  WARP  Value  Salary
01-02 30.8 12.0 4.4 4.1 .472 8.0 1.48 89.0 89.8 .489 4.6
02-03 30.7 10.6 4.4 4.1 .499 8.2 1.41 88.7 89.8 .487 3.2
03-04 27.6 9.2 3.8 2.3 .472 7.9 0.58 87.6 89.4 .456 2.5 $3.179 $14.63

Has any team in NBA history ever spent $30 million on a position before? That’s a rhetorical question, but I imagine the team to come closest was the 2000-01 Portland Trail Blazers with Shawn Kemp and Rasheed Wallace at power forward. Neither they nor the Knicks at the two got very good return on their investment.

It’s somewhat sad to think about what might have been with Hardaway’s career had he not suffered so many knee injuries. He was a superstar at 23 on a team that went to the NBA Finals, then Shaquille O’Neal left and it’s been one long comedown ever since for Hardaway.

As recently as the last couple of years, Hardaway still had some value, and he had a pretty good run as the Suns’ starter at the two when they went to the playoffs a season ago. By last year, he wasn’t even at that level anymore. Hardaway has contracted a bit of Ron Mercer disease — shooting a bunch of non-three jumpers. I did a quick calculation and found the percentage of shooting possessions (FGA + .44*FTA) players used on two-point shots. Obviously, big men typically use more; amongst shooting guards, Hardaway ranked seventh at 81%. It shouldn’t be a surprise that most of those guys aren’t very efficient (though Marquis Daniels and Rip Hamilton did manage to buck the trend).

Hardaway’s been a fine ballhandler since moving off the point, but for some reason his assist numbers tanked last season. That’s the biggest reason his offensive rating (and, thus, winning percentage) went down. Hardaway will probably rebound a little next season, but on the other hand, he’ll be 33 this summer, and that’s not exactly an age where guys improve much.

It makes me feel old to think that Hardaway probably only has a few more NBA seasons left in him. It still seems like yesterday he and Shaq were making Blue Chips and the Magic was playing Hardaway at the two to let him learn the ropes with Scott Skiles still at the point. And now Skiles is on his second coaching job. Time flies, doesn’t it?

I mentioned earlier the possibility of a buyout with Hardaway; now, to explain why it isn’t going to happen. The Knicks will hang on to Hardaway in the hopes that his ending contract can be dealt for something in 2005-06. Really, that’s not a bad idea; Hardaway is still above replacement level. It would be nice to see Williams get his minutes, however.

Kevin Pelton writes “Page 23” for Hoopsworld.com on a semi-regular basis. He can be reached at kpelton@hoopsworld.com. Check back Friday for his analysis of the Knicks’ small forwards.

Message Board GMs

Sports message boards is an interesting mix of technology, sports, and the human psyche. The anonymity of sitting behind a computer makes every emotion seem more heightened. Every losing streak is a lost season. Every winning streak a championship run. Every rumor is truth. Every trade idea is a rumor. Every draft pick is an All Star. For every move a GM makes there is at least someone that hates it.

OTOH, message boards can provide lots of great information. When a few intelligent posters get together & ask some good questions, you can only hope your GM is as astute. “I Need A Question Answered…” asked poster Jazz(FU). [I’m guessing he either is a musician at Fordham, Fairfield or another starting with “F” University, or he really hates the Utah Jazz.]

Posted: Mon Jun 14, 2004 3:33 pm Post subject: I need a question answered..

WHY PROTECT EXPIRING CONTRACTS?!?

I see and fully understand the value of an expiring contract. But for an otherwise useless player, isnt a trade exception 10x more valuable? I mean a team like Phoenix that thought they had a legit shot at Kobe could trade us players for a future 2nd and take back zero salary, unlike with an expiring contract they have to take back salary until the end of the year. A trade exception HAS to be more valuable…

I’ll admit, I haven’t been giving 100% of my attention to the upcoming expansion draft. At the moment of reading this I hadn’t know about the trade exception rule. According to the Bobcats webpage on nba.com:

The expansion draft is scheduled for June 22, but would be pushed back a day if the NBA Finals go to a seventh game. Teams have to protect at least one player who is either under contract or a restricted free agent, and no more than eight. Charlotte will select at least 14 players no more than one from a team. That means it’s far from a given that Portland will lose anyone. If they lose one under contract, the Blazers would receive a trade exception equal to that player’s salary for next season.

Recently, the papers have reported a lot of high salary players as unprotected (Antoine Walker, Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway, Eddie Jones, etc.). If you don’t know why, poster kosmovitelli will tell you:

The TPE really matters when you get a huge one.
Just imagine if the Bobcats take Allan Houston and we get a $17.5M TPE.

We could acquire via trade a $9M player in july then acquire a $5M player in september and a$3.5M player in october.
In that case, the TPE is a credit and you have one year to use it and you can split it.
If we want to trade Allan Houston, we can only use him once in a trade. That’s the bonus of the TPE.

Teams, like the Knicks or the Mavericks, that could never dream of having fiscal flexibility would have it if the Bobcats take one of their expensive players in the expansion draft. It would be as if you were under the cap by that player’s salary, even if you were still $20M over it. Other teams that want to get under the salary, can trade their players with contracts for part of this exception.

The first poster is asking why protect a contract that is expiring over a non-expiring one. The question is a lot more complicated than it looks. Let’s look at it from the Knicks’ GM point of view.

First is will Charlotte take Houston? They are operating with about a $30M cap, smaller than the rest of the NBA. Using half of their cap on Houston seems to be a crap shoot, especially since his health is in doubt. If they do take the risk, the question turns into can Isaiah make our team better with $17.5M to trade or spend? This part comes down to whether you think the Bobcats will take a flier on H20, and can Isaiah deliver if they do.

If the Bobcats don’t draft anyone from the Knicks, then the question we can ask is would we rather have the trade exception for Harrington or Mutombo? It’s much more likely that one of these guys would be taken by the Bobcats, since they make considerably less ($3M and $5M repectively). New York would then have a few extra million to play with, and the trade exception would be more valuable than the player. Sure both of they are tradeable now, since they are in the last year of their deals, but a team would more easily trade for the exception since they wouldn’t have to pay the salary for the rest of the year. In essense, if you traded a $5M trade exception for a $5M player, you’re giving the team $5M, since they don’t have to pay a player that amount. That is why it is more valuable than the expiring contract.

Looking back, I think Jazz(FU) brought up a good point. Isaiah has a track record of taking risks like the one he is doing with Allan Houston. Just ask Doleac, who was traded in the hopes that the Knicks would be able to pick him up back up off of waivers. At least this time the Knicks would get something in return if Isaiah lost Houston. I have yet to see a single credible report saying that Charlotte would take Houston, so the chances have to be very slim. Most likely the Knicks will come out of the expansion draft without a single change, but it would have been better if we got a small exception for one of our lesser used players.

Knicks 92 Portland 91 (or Fun With Numbers)

Yesterday I spoke about the discussion going on in the APBR_analysis group. One of the messages by Dean Oliver said:

My point is that you can break down the games of baseball or basketball to an infinite degree. I think baseball and basketball offenses are broken down pretty well by stats. What’s left over are small variations of strategy or training. Do they matter? Yes, but do we miss a significant amount of value by not measuring them? I don’t think so.

Let me frame it one other way. From a team standpoint the value of the four factors are

1. Shooting % (10)
2. Turnovers (6)
3. Offensive rebounding (5)
4. Getting to the line (3)…

I’m not exactly sure where he got this information & what the numbers in parenthesis mean. To take an educated guess, I’ll say that these numbers mean that a team with an advantage in shooting% (10) is twice as likely to win as a team that has an edge in offensive rebounding (5). Same with turnovers (6) having an edge over getting to the foul line (3). I’d imagine when a team shoots better than their opponents, and gets more turnovers they will win a large percentage of their games, even if they allow their opponents to get to the glass more & send them to the line more often.

Just to have some fun with these numbers, let’s assume they are points assigned to each team for getting an advantage in that category. Let’s see how the Knicks did last night.

Shooting% – 10 points

Portland shot 50% yesterday (34-68), while the Knicks only shot 47% (38-81). However I just measured FG% there, and the original wording was “shooting %.” FG% doesn’t account for the extra bonus you get from hitting three pointers, just like batting average in baseball doesn’t make a distinction between a single and a home run. Last year Doug “Can I buy a vowel?” Mientkiewicz and Hank Blalock both hit .300. However, Blalock hit 29 homers, while Mientkiewicz hit only 11.

Accounting for treys, both teams get a slight bump. Portland’s aFG% is now 52%, and the Knicks 49%. It’s close, but Portland wins 10 points.

Turnovers – 6 points

The Blazers turned the ball over 13 times, the Knicks 11. The Knicks will get the 6 point for this one. One interesting thing about ESPN’s box scores is that you can see how many points the team scored on turnovers. The Knicks scored 18 points off of turnovers, while Portland only had 13.

Offensive Rebounds – 5 points

The Knicks win again here, anyway you look at it. They had more offensive rebounds 12 to 6. You could argue that they had more chances, since they missed more shots. This is true, but they also converted a higher amount of those chances. Portland had 36 boards, 6 on the offensive side. So that means they had 30 defensive rebounds. The Knicks had 12 offensive rebounds, so that means they had 42 (30+12) total chances. The Knicks got 12 of them, which works out to 29%. The Knicks got 28 defensive rebounds (40 total – 12 offensive), and the Blazers got 6 offensive rebounds. That mean Portland got 6 offensive rebounds in 34 total, or 18%.

Getting to the Line – 3 points

It’s well known that the Knicks commit a lot of fouls, and Portland took advantage of this. The Blazers shot from the charity stripe 23 times, and the Knicks only had 16. Advantage to Portland.

Summary

So what do we end up with? Portland 13, Knicks 11. However the Knicks won this game, so what gives? First this information wasn’t meant to be used the way I did. I just took the numbers to mean something out of their original context.

Second, the system I created has flaws. I assigned the entire point value for the winner of each category. For example, “shooting %” was close enough that we shouldn’t have given Portland a full 10 point advantage. Three percentage points in aFG% doesn’t mean much. Maybe I could have given them a 6, instead.

Finally the game was close. The Knicks won by one point. This means if they missed one shot or Portland hit one more the final numbers of my little system would not have changed, but the result of the game would have been very different.