Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Confirmation Bias in the Shootaround

Covering a whole league means you frequently miss stuff, the best writers know this and just try to focus.  Bad writers tend to just say what they think is going on without really checking.  In the most recent edition of Grantland's NBA Shootaround column we see a fair amount of the latter. 

Retro Baksetball Is Alive and Not Doing so Hot

With a lead in like that and paragraphs talking about their offensive systems like

The Knicks and the Lakers are nos. 1 and 2 (as of Monday) in percentage of field goal attempts taken from 16 feet to inside the 3-point line — i.e., the much-maligned long 2 — 29.5 percent for the Knicks, 25.6 percent for the Lakers.

You would think the issues of these teams are offensively based, this isn't true as the Lakers are 16th and the Knicks 19th in offensive efficiency.  While not good it is a damn sight better than the 30th and 27th they are on defense (respectively).  The issues with their offenses are not "Sharing is great, until you realize that it means sharing with the likes of Quincy Acy, who already has 54 FGAs on 4.5 attempts per game, almost double his career average."  Acy isn't actually shooting much above his career average on a per possession basis (10.9 per 100 this year, 9.6 for his career), the issue is that they have so little talent that they have to put Acy out there 50% more than his career average.  The talent level of these teams is hardly an indictment of the systems they are running. You might in fact argue that if you can get competent offensive play out of teams low on the talent spectrum perhaps there is some value in them after all. 

Nerd Nit:  "With the NBA’s very own Sauron at the controls"

Jason Kidd isn't Sauron, Sarumon is a better fit- he turned evil later when he became power hungry.

On Jimmy Butler

Butler is in the top 50 in total drives, a list densely populated by ball-dominant point guards. He’s driven the ball to the hoop more often than Chris Paul, in the same number of games. When he drives, good things tend to happen. The Bulls score 1.23 points for every drive Butler takes, a figure nearly identical to Kyrie Irving’s rate, better than John Wall’s and within tenths of Damian Lillard’s and James Harden’s numbers.

 Only Butler isn't ball dominant.  His USG of 22.6% would be very low for that list, and his assist rate of 13.9% is also awful for that list.  In addition his raw stats are buoyed by his 39 mins per game.  I don't want to denigrate his start to much since his TS and turnover rates are terrific, but we saw this last year with Paul George, only George's start to the season was much better.  Defenses will adjust in the long term.  As it stands teams have to prepare for two different Bulls teams nightly- one with and one without Rose, and their their 2nd highest usage player behind rose is not Butler, but Gasol (and when he is in Brooks matches Gasol's usage though on fewer mins than Butler/Gasol).  Once teams settle on their own rotations and get a chance to really drill into their players' heads how to slow him down his results will come back to earth. 

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