Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shallow Thought Of The Day, Vol V

While watching the Rockets earlier this year, they always seemed to go on a run when Kyle Lowry came in the game. His stats weren't that impressive; he drew a lot of fouls, but didn't shoot all tht well, his assist rate was good but not great, subjectively he seemed to be a very good defender, but he didn't get a ton of steals. Despite his less than stellar stats, his adjusted plus/minus has been among the best on the team all season.

Lowry was injured recently, and I was curious to see how the Rockets would fare without that "spark". As it turns out, not well. They have gone 2-6 in his absence, giving up between 97 and 125 points in each game, with the nadir coming against Indiana when the Rockets lost because they didn't have anyone who could guard TJ Ford. The Carl Landry-Kevin Martin trade didn't help (for this year, it'll help when Yao gets back), but the Rockets really miss Lowry right now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How Did David Robinson Perform Against Elite Centers?

The David Robinson-Hakeem Olajuwon debate can be summarized easily: In head to head matchups, Olajuwon outperformed Robinson (especially in the playoffs). Against everybody else, Robinson was better. So, who was better?

That's a question I'm not going to answer right now. However, one argument (which has many variants) that is often made in the context of this argument is, "David Robinson played really well against bad teams, but didn't show up when he was facing another great player." I was interested to see if that was true, so I looked at all of the games Robinson played against Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo (the great centers of the 90s) during his (and partially their) prime (1989-90 through 1997-98*).
*Except for games against Hakeem in 1997-98, when Hakeem was clearly not in his prime.

Warning: Lots of stats ahead!

Robinson faced Hakeem 38 times, including 6 playoff games. The Spurs went 22-16 in those games, losing the playoff series in 6.
David Robinson (vs Hakeem Olajuwon)
MPG: 40
PPG: 22
ORB: 3.8
DRB: 8.0
RPG: 11.8
APG: 3.2
SPG: 1.9
BPG: 3.3
TOG: 3.7
FG% .476
FT% .731
TS% .547
Hakeem Olajuwon (vs David Robinson)
MPG: 40
PPG: 27
ORB: 3.4
DRB: 8.7
RPG: 12.2
APG: 3.6
SPG: 1.8
BPG: 3.5
TOG: 3.2
FG% .470
FT% .788
TS% .526
If you remove the playoff numbers from the totals, Hakeem loses almost 2 points a game and 15 points of TS%, leaving them with close to equivalent production. Hakeem played great defense against Robinson, forcing him into worse shooting and more turnovers than usual.

David Robinson faced Patrick Ewing 14 times in those 9 years. The Spurs went 8-6 in those games.
David Robinson (vs Patrick Ewing)
MPG: 39
PPG: 26
ORB: 3.4
DRB: 6.8
RPG: 10.2
APG: 3.0
SPG: 1.8
BPG: 3.2
TOG: 3.6
FG% .518
FT% .653
TS% .563
Patrick Ewing (vs David Robinson)
MPG: 38
PPG: 23
ORB: 2.4
DRB: 8.9
RPG: 11.3
APG: 2.7
SPG: 1.1
BPG: 3.0
TOG: 3.6
FG% .435
FT% .682
TS% .463
Ewing, like Olajuwon, forced Robinson into a lot of turnovers, but Robinson had a much easier time scoring against Ewing than against Hakeem. On the other end, Ewing's efficiency plummeted against Robinson.

David Robinson faced the young Shaquille O'Neal 9 times when he was with Orlando and Los Angeles. The Spurs went 5-4 in those games.
David Robinson (vs young Shaquille O'Neal)
MPG: 41
PPG: 28
ORB: 3.7
DRB: 8.3
RPG: 12.0
APG: 4.7
SPG: 2.7
BPG: 2.4
TOG: 2.6
FG% .473
FT% .796
TS% .554
Shaquille O'Neal (vs David Robinson)
MPG: 39
PPG: 26
ORB: 3.3
DRB: 9.3
RPG: 12.7
APG: 1.8
SPG: 0.7
BPG: 2.0
TOG: 3.9
FG% .514
FT% .578
TS% .540
Once Robinson hit his mid 30s, and Shaq was at his absolute best, Shaq started to dominate. But before those years, I think Robinson outplayed Shaq in head to head situations.

David Robinson faced Alonzo Mourning 1o times when he was with the Hornets and Heat. The Spurs went 6-4 in those games.
David Robinson (vs Alonzo Mourning)
MPG: 35
PPG: 29
ORB: 3.0
DRB: 7.3
RPG: 10.3
APG: 2.5
SPG: 1.5
BPG: 2.0
TOG: 2.4
FG% .553
FT% .781
TS% .620
Alonzo Mourning (vs David Robinson)
MPG: 35
PPG: 21
ORB: 2.4
DRB: 6.0
RPG: 8.4
APG: 1.6
SPG: 0.8
BPG: 2.8
TOG: 2.7
FG% .507
FT% .689
TS% .570
Neither really stopped the other, but Robinson easily outperformed Mourning in these games. In the next two years, when Mourning was at his best, the two faced each other once, and Robinson outplayed him (in a Heat win).

David Robinson faced Dikembe Mutombo 28 times when he was with the Nuggets and Hawks, including a three game sweep against Denver in the 95 playoffs. The Spurs went 22-6 in these games. As Mutombo was something of a defensive specialist, I'm only going to give Robinson's statistics. If you're curious, Mutombo averaged 11 points/game in these matchups.
David Robinson (vs Dikembe Mutombo)
MPG: 37
PPG: 24
ORB: 2.5
DRB: 7.8
RPG: 10.3
APG: 2.9
SPG: 1.6
BPG: 3.8
TOG: 2.1
FG% .487
FT% .757
TS% .567

In 99 games (against these 5 centers), during his prime, Robinson averaged over 24 points a game, and 11 rebounds a game, with a true shooting percentage of .564% (.494% from the field). Those are impressive numbers to put up against top flight centers, and they lead me to conclude that the "Robinson only performed well against bad teams" argument is wrong.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thinking About Cleveland's Options

All stats for the 2009-2010 season.

Player A
Points/36 Minutes: 22.0 (career: 22.1)
Rebounds/36 Minutes: 8.9 (career: 9.3)
Assists/36 Minutes: 1.1 (career: 1.4)
Turnovers/36 Minutes: 2.8 (career: 2.7)
True Shooting Pct: .610 (career: .605)
2 Year Adjusted Plus-Minus: -4.76

Player B
Points/36 Minutes: 24.2 (career: 20.3)
Rebounds/36 Minutes: 7.0 (career: 6.3)
Assists/36 Minutes: 2.9 (career: 2.7)
Turnovers/36 Minutes: 2.9 (career: 2.9)
True Shooting Pct: .626 (career: .581)
2 Year Adjusted Plus-Minus: -2.79

Both players are injury prone, and neither plays defense well. Player A is a power forward sometimes masquerading as a center, while Player B is a small forward. Player B seems to be having a better year, but Player A's career numbers are better. Adjusted Plus-Minus doesn't really like either player, but Player B actually has a slightly positive rating for this season.

Player A? Amare Stoudemire

Player B? Corey Maggette

All of which is to say, if the Cavs don't get Amare, then Maggette is not a bad fallback option. And they probably wouldn't have to give up as much to get him, either.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brendan Haywood Is The Best Mavericks Center Ever No Really: A Play In One Act

Scene: a darkened auditorium. There are very few people in the seats and a monstrous spotlight on the court.

Enter: PA Announcer

Aaaaannnd now, ladies and gentlemen, the top 5 centers in Dallas Mavericks hiiiisssssstoooorrryy!!!!


In the first category, we have honorable mentions for some decent players who weren't really centers, but played there anyway because yooouurr Dallas Mavericks didn't have anyone else!!! Let's here it fooooooorrr Raef LaFrentz, Drew Gooden, Roy Tarpley, and Saaaaammm Perkins!!!

wild applause

Now, the number 5 center in Dallas Mavericks history. From Dakar, Senegal, the man who has blocked more shots than he has made, DeSaganaaaaa Diop!!!

wild applause followed by highlight reels of Diop alternately blocking shots and turning the ball over

For your Dallas Mavericks, the number 4 center of all time. You've seen him in posters, you've seen him posterized on YouTube, you've seen him in Space Jam, you may even have seen him on Walker, Texas Ranger...the seven foot six inch shot-blocker extraordinaire, from Landstuhl, Germany, Shaaaawwwnn Bradley!!!

feverish applause during which the PA announcer runs down to the court and dunks on Bradley

The number three center of all time for the Dallas Mavericks. He has shot over 60% the last four years, and is one of the NBA's better rebounders. The man you know as Ericka for his inconsistent effort, from Jackson, Mississippi, Erick Dampiiieeeerr!!!

mild applause, after some confusion it is determined that Dampier is not in the building

Now, the number two center in Dallas Mavericks history. Going back to the 80s, to the days of Mark Aguirre and Derek Harper, to a man who seldom missed and seldom fouled, from the United Kingdom, the incomparably efficient Jaaaaammeeess Donaldson!!!

euphoria in the crowd, Brad Davis and Dick Motta are seen celebrating courtside while highlights from that time Dallas almost beat the Lakers in the playoffs are shown on the MiniTron

Finally, the man you've all been waiting for. The best center to ever put on a Dallas Mavericks uniform, he's a defensive standout who is in the NBA top 10 in rebounds and blocks per game, formerly the best player on the Washington Wizards, from New York, New York, Breeeeeendaaaannn Haaaaayywooooodd!!!

pause. is he really better than Jamison? best player on a bad team doesn't mean anything. anyway, he's never made an all-star team like Donaldson, who was really good let me tell you, and we still can't beat the Lakers...actually he is kinda good...ecstatic rioting in the streets


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shallow Thought Of The Day, Vol IV

I should have some actual honest to goodness historical content here by the end of the weekend, but for now I'm content to present: this week in Stockholm Syndrome!

So, I was watching some of the Nets-Bucks game* on Wednesday (it seemed like a good idea at the time) when Keyon Dooling left the game with an injury, and the Nets broadcast team (Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel) expressed dismay (fair enough, it always sucks when someone gets injured). Then, perhaps getting carried away, they opined that Keyon Dooling was a competitor, and the Nets needed him to "keep that competitive edge going". Yes, those Nets. Then, after noting how washed up Jerry Stackhouse** was, the announcers return to the topic of Dooling, praising the veteran's competitiveness and swagger. Aside from a hilariously inappropriate use of swagger, I think this is a verifiable case of Stockholm Syndrome. Somebody may need to stage an intervention.
(For those curious, this sequence happened late in the 2nd quarter)

*It was a surreal experience to watch Luke Ridnour shred an "NBA" team.
**How sad is it that a pair of people praising Keyon Dooling still notice that Stackhouse sucks? That may be the low point of Stack's career.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shallow Thought Of The Day, Vol III

I was perusing Mike Bibby's stats, and to my surprise, I discovered that Bibby is only 31. He's been a prominent basketball player since the mid 90s, and was a key player on a championship contender 8 years ago, so I thought he was older than that, but what's interesting is the amount of basketball "archetypes" Bibby has embodied in his career.

First, he was a key player on two outstanding Arizona teams (including a national champion), giving him "college star" status. Then, he was the "good young player on a bad team" with the Grizzlies for just long enough to make that phase of his career memorable. Then he moved to Sacramento just in time to become a key part of the better Webber-Peja-Divac teams, becoming a "key part of a great team". Then, after the Kings declined, he was the "good veteran trapped on a bad team." Finally, he was traded to the (young) Hawks, where he became the "veteran mentor", seeming old in comparison to Josh Smith and company.

Bibby was in each of these roles for at least two seasons, but never much longer than that, meaning that all of these phases of his career are distinct from each other, but never taking up too much of his career. And I think the final factor here is that Bibby plays "old" now, not running all over the place, and using the open three as his primary offensive weapon.