Category Archives: Analysis

Wiggins-Parker-Randle

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Liberty Ballers posted a great rundown of last nights college action which highlighted picks 1, 2, and 3 in the 2014 NBA Draft: Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker. Good read. [Liberty Ballers]

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How do the Sixers Fare According to Advanced Stats?: Part 2

We looked at Player Efficiency Rating in the first installment of this series of posts. You can read that here.

We learned that Thaddeus Young was the most efficient player on the team, but where did he and other players on the current roster fare as far as other metrics go?

Effective Field Goal %:

Again, this measures a player’s shooting percentage based on shots made adjusted for three point shots, as well as all other field goals made. Three point shots made are adjusted not based on how many were made against how many were missed. The stat also takes into account that three point shots count for one more point than lay ups, dunks and all other shots taken inside the three point line. In this catagory the winner is:

The Top of the Heap

The Top of the Heap

Arnett Moultrie .582

The Sixers’ top five in this category were:

Moultrie .582

Royal Ivey .559

Thaddeus Young .532

Dorrell Wright .508

Shelvin Mack .500

Mack played in only 4 games last season, so when we throw him out of we end up with

Jason Richardson .487

Of those players, only Moultrie and Young remain on the active roster. How did it come to this? Let’s take a look.

Molutrie, Ivey, Mack and Richardson saw limited minutes for most of the 2012-13 season. Wright was brought in to be a scoring threat and has been considered one of the better shooters in the league over the past five years. Young takes mostly high percentage shots and spends a lot of time playing near the basket as does Moultrie, when he plays.

We already have seen that Young, Moultrie and Wright were three of the team’s most efficient players last season, so it makes sense that they would have high Effective Field Goal numbers.

Molutrie’s Traditional Field Goal % last season was .582. Because he took no 3 point shots at all last season, his shooting % did not need to be adjusted at all.

Royal Ivey has been known as an ok 3pt shooter throughout his career. He did not play much and on higher % shots came out with a .431 shooting %. However, he shot .420 on three pointers, a very high 3pt %. He made 37 three pointers last season, which accounted for 37 more points to add to the 124 points he scored (on 62 makes) inside the 3 point line.

Young shot .538 (509 of 958), but hit only one 3 point shot all season. The good news for him was, he attempted only 8 of them for a .125, which did cause his % to be adjusted down, but not enough to really change his eFG%

Dorell Wright shot .396 (237 of 599), very poor for a good shooter, so how did his adjust up? On 3 pt shots he shot .374 (135 of 361) which again, is a very good number.

Finally, because Mack played in only 4 games we look at Jason Richardson. J-Rich was shooting at a clip of .402 at the time of his injury last season.  He also shot .341, so his was adjusted because he shot a high 3pt.

Who were the bottom five players in eFGP%?

For the purpose of this article, let’s throw out Justin Holliday, Jeremy Pargo, Charles Jenkins and Maalik Wayns who played in a total of 56 games between the four of them.

Here’s what we have:

Nick Young .482

Jrue Holiday .466

Kwame Brown .459

Lavoy Allen .454

Evan Turner .446

Allen had a bad year last season, this is well-documented. Nick Young was a gun who never saw a shot he didn’t like and thought he was a 3pt specialist. Brown sucks, and Holiday had to carry the load of the offense often last season. This leaves us with Evan Turner.

The Bottom of the Heap

The Bottom of the Heap

Turner was 9th on the team in PER, so it makes sense that his eFG% was low. He shot .419 (441 of 1053) with a .365 3pt % (58 of  159).  We will see as we dive into these stats, Turner is not an effective player. He is still young and can become one, but right now, he has the most glaring weaknesses of any full-time player on the team.

Compare Turner to other starting SF in the East from last season and here is what we see:

Kyle Korver (Hawks) .618

Lebron James (Heat) .603

C.J. Miles (Cavs) .518

Paul Pierce (Celtics) .502

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) .502

Paul George (Pacers) .491

Kyle Singler (Pistons) .483

Aaron Affalo (Magic) .478

Luol Deng (Bulls) .461

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats) .460

Rudy Gay (Raptors) .449

Gerald Wallace (Nets) .448

Evan Turner (Sixers) .446

Chris Singleton (Wizards) .442

Luc Mbah a Moute (Bucks) .418

Of those players at the bottom, Singleton was a rookie, Wallace’s best days are behind him and Mbah a Moute is a player who left college before he was developed and has struggled to find a foothold in the NBA. Another interesting name near the bottom of that list is Rudy Gay.

Gay played most of last season with the Memphis Grizzlies who employ statistics guru John Hollinger in their front office.  When Gay was traded people didn’t get it, they saw a multi-talented player who has always been one step away from being a star. Gay is a good scorer, but takes and misses too many shots in a game. The Grizzlies’ offense changed once
Gay was gone, and coach Lionel Hollins, who had been resistant to Hollinger’s analysis-driven advice was been replaced after the season. Is Evan Turner soon to be in the same boat as Gay? We’ll see.

How Do The Sixers Fare According to Advanced Stats? Part 1

Yesterday we published an overview of some of the metrics most commonly used by people outside of the NBA’s inner circle. Today we are going to begin to take a look at how the Sixers fared last season and how they are projected to fare this season based on both metric and traditional stats, courtesy of Basketball Reference.

Who was the team’s leader in PER during the 2012-13 season?

With a total PER of 18.2, the winner was Thaddeus Young.

We’ve already established that 15.00 is the league’s average for PER. Only five players on the team were able to eclipse that number.

Thaddeus Young 18.2

Jrue Holiday 16.7

Arnett Moultrie 16.7

Dorell Wright 16.0

Spencer Hawes 16.0

(It should be noted that Moultre played in only 47 games, and played nearly 2100 minutes fewer than Young. That said, he was effective when he was on the court.)

Who wasn’t effective, other than the rest of the team? Evan Turner for one. He posted a PER of just 12.1, which was the lowest of any starter and the second lowest among players who played 1500 or more minutes (Only Lavoy Allen had a lower PER among those players with an 11.5). The Sixers dressed seventeen players last season, eleven of them posted a PER which was below the league average.

The Sixers' complementary star player

The Sixers’ complementary star player

Where did Young fare as far as the rest of the league? Looking at the 2012-13 leaders in PER we find this:

Lebron James  31.59

Kevin Durant  28.29

Chris Paul 26.38

Carmelo Anthony 24.75

Brook Lopez 24.73

Tim Duncan 24.38

Dwayne Wade 23.96

Russell Westbrook 23.92

Tony Parker 23.03

Kobe Bryant 23.02

If we were to keep ranking players, Young falls well out of the top 20. Young was an effective player, but no more than that. The problem with the team, according to these stats is that only five players were above average. Of those five, two, Dorell Wright and Moultre were essentially part-timers, with Wright playing more than Moultre.

Here are some players on playoff teams that Young’s PER compared to

Serge Ibaka (Thunder) 19.4

Jordan Hill (Lakers) 18.5

Larry Sanders (Bucks) 18.7

Tiago Splitter (Spurs) 18.7

Marc Gasol (Grizzlies) 18.7

Joakim Noah (Bulls) 18.1

Look at that list, are any of those players stars? Gasol is probably the best of that group, but for the most part they are complementary players on their respective teams.  When your best player is a complementary player your team is in trouble.

There is also something else that should come out of this conversation: why did Arnett Moultire spend so much time on the Sixers’ bench? He was effective when he played, anyone with two eyes could see that. He was a rookie on a bad team, and played more efficiently than all but two players on the team.  Was this team filled with so much talent that he ended up buried, or did Doug Collins just decide that, once again, he wasn’t in the mood to let a player grow?

PER allows for tracking over the course of a player’s career, and is a good indicator of how players will perform in a season. The Sixers’ top five career PERs are

Thaddeus Young 16.8

Arnett Moultrie 16.7

Jason Richardson 16.3

Spencer Hawes 14.1

Kwame Brown 12.5

That’s right, Kwame Brown is fifth. Worried yet?

Basic Metric Stats

Sam Hinkie loves to use advanced metrics when he is rating players. Basketball metrics have really come a long way in recent years. Basketball-reference.com offers advanced metrics for every player in the league and NBA.com has gone so far as to offer a metric look at all games played since 1946. NBA2k ranks players in season and career mode using basic metric stats as well. In short, what was once available only to those who subscribed to exclusive newletters is now available to anyone at all times.

I don’t claim to understand the metrics inside and out and I certainly don’t have access to formulas and programs that Hinkie uses. I was late to the party and I’m playing catch-up now. It seems that metrics and basketball are a very good fit because players are involved in some way on every possession on both side of the court. APBRmetrics (Association for Professional Basketball Research metrics) are the standard used by people inside and outside of the game to break it down for analysis. They involve what are essentially complex mathematical equations which are applied to every facet of the game. They look at what a team does for every 100 possessions it has and every 100 possessions it defends.

They also look at what a player does during each minute he is on the court. Again, they rate what he does on offense and what he does on defense. This is known as his player efficiency rating (PER). John Hollinger, formerly of ESPN, now the VP of Basketball Operations for the Grizzlies is the father of this statistic. The Grizzlies made radical moves, including trading Rudy Gay based on Hollinger’s statistical analysis of the team. Its been said that Lionel Hollins, the team’s former coach was dismissed partially because of his unwillingness to factor numbers presented by Hollinger into his game plan. That’s power, the same kind of power that Sam Hinkie has been given by Sixers ownership.

So what are these stats and what do they mean? Here’s a basic breakdown:

Offensive Efficiency

This is a team metric which simply measures how often a team scores during a game. It does not take free throws into account because they are not considered a possession. It also does not take offensive rebounds into account because they simply allow a team to keep possession.

Defensive Efficiency

This is another metric which just measures points allowed, excluding free throws, per every 100 possessions.

Player Efficiency Rating

This is a player specific metric which breaks down what a player does every minute he is on the court. It looks at scoring, broken down into type, from free throw to three pointer, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. An average player has a PER of 15.00 and the stats go from there. Michael Jordan is the all-time leader in PER coming in at 27.91. However, the stat does not work for anyone prior to 1978 because the league did not keep stats on turnovers, so all you Wilt fans still have a leg to stand on. A PER of 30 in a given season is considered the gold-standard, and it has been accomplished only 18 times.

Effective Field Goal %

Three-pointers are worth more points than inside shots and lay-ups. This is a fact, but proponents of analytics feel that this fact is often hidden by shooting stats. Basically, a player will shoot a lower percentage on three-point shots because they are harder to make, but will benefit his team just as much or more by making those shots because they are worth one more point than a layup. The stat basically evens the playing field as far as shooting percentage goes.

True Shooting %

This is essentially Effective Feild Goal % with free throws added to the mix.

Rebound Rate

This looks at how many rebounds a player grabs in a game vs. how many rebounds were available to grab in a game.

Win Shares

Win Shares basically try and put a number on how an individual player’s performance on both offense and defense in a game contributes to each win. They can be positive or negative, meaning they measure how much a player helps and hurts his team throughout a season on each end of the court. They are a stat used by Basketball-Reference.com derived from Bill James’ baseball formula. Follow the link for a much better and more detailed explanation of the stat than I can provide or understand.

Again, I’m sure Sam Hinkie and other GMs use more advanced and secretive analysis than are available to the likes of a part-time blogger who sucks at math. I think though, that these metrics are pretty easy for the layman to understand and apply. Now the question is, how do these apply to the Sixers? Stay tuned…