Over the last month-plus, Kevin Durant has quickly changed the conversation from "maybe LeBron James isn't the MVP for this season" to "maybe LeBron isn't the best player anymore?" While I'm not ready to countenance the latter question, the former is, barring injury, plague or LeBron tiring of this talk and showing us mortals what's what, settled. KD's last month or so has sealed it. He has done so by not only using up basically all the possessions formerly the purview of Russell Westbrook, but using them at an incredible rate of efficiency.
Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and the Problems Of "Tools"
Regular listeners of the podcast or followers on twitter will know that I've come full circle on the issue of Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. Green is simply a substantially more effective player than Barnes. Yet people, most importantly and frustratingly Warriors coach Mark Jackson don't see it that way. Despite genuinely poor results in his assigned role as primary scorer off the bench, the chances and excuses for Barnes pile up. Is it a bad role for him? Is he hurt? Is it just a slump? People seem unwilling to countenance the possibility that he just might be not good at NBA basketball.
Winning the One-on-One Battle But Losing the Match-up War
I'm a big believer in the NBA being a match-up league. Players' have preferred spots and skills, and to the extent particular opponents are good or bad at stopping or attacking those things, this interaction between discrete strengths and weaknesses determines much of who has good or bad performances. However, too often we get focused on only one half of a match-up and forget that mismatches can go both ways.
Since I stopped following college ball much (the one-and-done rule and the overly high ratio of physicality to skill has robbed that version of the game of much of it's aesthetic appeal), I don't have a ton to say about this year's crop of prospects, other than I LOVE Joel Embiid. However, as a sort of meta-commentary on the prospecting and projecting, I do want to say that I think people are focusing far too much on "measurables."
Timberwolves Get A Lesson From Los Spurs On Exploiting Mistakes To The Fullest
"I guess that was acceptable, guys."
There has been much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over the past few weeks about the continued struggles of the Minnesota Timberwolves to win either close games or games versus the better teams in the league. While there has been some silliness about team unity and guys not joining huddles (not good, but not why you lose the game), the reasons for these struggles are not based in narrative, but in personnel and system.
I've been noodling around some more with the data from my look at total offensive load (still would LOVE a better name for the stat, suggestions please. EDIT: Colin suggests "True Usage" done and done), and seeing if there are some interesting tidbits to be gleaned. I mentioned a few of them in that post, but here are a few more. Further, I cleaned up the numbers a little (stupid spreadsheet errors!). All data is through Monday's (1/6/14) games.
I'm pretty happy with the way the "isolated rim protection" analysis I've been noodling with works as a broad measure of that particular area of defensive achievement. It also translates NBA.com's SportVU numbers into a more easily digestible data point. Most of the numbers are interesting, but without context don't really explain whether the actions tracked are good, or indifferent as far as positive contributions on the floor. For that reason, I've been on the lookout for more ways to try and interpret the publicly available data, perhaps in combination with other, more traditional stats to provide that context. One area where I think this is possible is "offensive load carried."
Ricky Rubio and the Ripple Effect (Point Guard O Series)
Last night in twitter convo with Alex from Gothic Ginobili, he pointed me to this post concerning the best game theoretic way to maximize the value of an offensive possession. (Warning, wonky!) A subtle point of the post is that even if a given option in a play isn't an especially effective means of scoring, having that option as a threat at all increases the overall play's effectiveness.
The hardest part about this blog is the editing. I tend to be a typographical error machine. Usually, I have my wife edit pieces for me since she is a trained professional in such things. Unfortunately, she's much more of a baseball person, so getting her to copyedit these posts is difficult because she simply doesn't understand what I'm trying to say in many cases. So with that thought in mind, I thought it might be useful to break down some of the more technical stuff I talk about into some less-jargonny component parts. Hi Honey!
In Which I Lambaste Mike Brown (with a poke at Doc Rivers as well)
I don't understand, that always worked with Lebron
The other week when I talked about the horrorshow that is the Cleveland offense, I stated that Mike Brown is a bad offensive coach, figuring I didn't need to provide examples. But he provides them anyway, and not just of his teams' "get the worst shot possible given our talent" philosophy with the ball, but for a guy with a supposed great pedigree for defensive principles, oversees a team prone to some shocking breakdowns.