best counter

Your Ad Here
Just The Sports: 2011-02-20

Just The Sports

Friday, February 25, 2011

Boston Celtics Trade Recap: Forward Jeff Green Is Not Much Of A Difference Maker

In the last year of his rookie contract before being owed a qualifying offer of $5.9 million, Jeff Green needed to have a breakout season to convince the Oklahoma City Thunder to include him as a part of their long-term plans. He was unable to do so and the Thunder shipped him to the Boston Celtics, giving the Celtics a player who is not as good as they might think he is.

While Green averaged 15.2 points per game, third on the Thunder, he was not their third most valuable contributor this season. Actually, Green's 0.083 win shares per 48 minutes ranked him eight on the roster among players who have played a significant amount of time for the Thunder this season and last among players who have played at least 1,000 minutes this season.

If Green were to contribute the same amount of win shares per 48 minutes for the Celtics as he did for the Thunder, he would only be above four Celtic players, Luke Harangody, Jermaine O'Neal, Nate Robinson, and Avery Bradley, in that category. Since Harangody and Robinson are no longer with the team, he would only really be more valuable than O'Neal and Robinson without a major turnaround in his production.

This season also marked the third time in Green's four seasons where his offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) was higher than his defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions). Green produced 108 points per 100 possessions and allowed 110 points per 100 possessions in 49 games.

Even last season, which was Green's best of his career due to the fact he produced 106 points per 100 possessions while allowing only 105 points per 100 possessions, he was still not as valuable to the Thunder as his 15.1 points per game, third on the team, might suggest. Last year, his 0.105 win shares per 48 minutes tied him for sixth on the roster among players who had received significant and regular playing time.

There has never been a season in his career where Green, despite consistently being one of his team's top scorers, has been more valuable than his sixth place ranking last season due to his disappointing overall play.

Any help Green provides for the Celtics on offense will most likely be undermined by his lack of a defensive presence as his career offensive rating of 103 points produced per 100 possessions and defensive rating of 109 points allowed per 100 possessions indicates.

The Celtics will have to hope that Green is the type of player whose defense fluctuates based on the team's overall defense on which he plays. Last year, which was the only season Green played for a team with an above-average defensive rating was also his best defensive year. Every other year when he played for a below-average defensive team, his defense was also sub-par.

When it comes to Green's value, it is unlikely that adding him will make the Celtics significantly better on both sides of the ball since even in his best season he only produced one more point per 100 possessions than he allowed.

Labels: , ,

Boston Celtics Trade Recap: The Celtics Are Now Weaker At Center

If the purpose of trades in sports is to make a team better, then the Boston Celtics failed in that mission with the trades that sent away centers Kendrick Perkins and Semih Erden and brought back center Nenad Krstic. By making those trades, the Celtics weakened what was already their weakest position.

It is on defense, which is the main reason why the Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference, where the Celtics will regret their trades the most. Although the Celtics were leading the league in defensive rating, giving up only 99.9 points per 100 possessions, they were not a perfect defensive team and needed to improve in one area: rebounding.

For the season, the Celtics were allowing opponents a higher offensive rebounding percentage than their own, meaning that defensive rebounding was key to making an already stingy defense stingier and ensuring the team continued to have great success; Celtics' opponents were rebounding 25.2 percent of their misses while the Celtics were rebounding 21.6 percent of theirs.

Perkins, in the 12 games in which he had appeared for the Celtics this season, was already starting to correct the Celtics' defensive rebounding woes with a 27.7 defensive rebounding percentage. It is unlikely he would have been able to maintain that, but even with a regression to his career 22.2 defensive rebounding percentage, he would still be a much better defensive rebounder than Krstic.

Krstic has a 14.6 defensive rebounding percentage this season, and a 16.5 defensive rebounding percentage for his career so he is a far inferior defensive rebounder than Perkins, meaning the Celtics are going to get worse in an aspect of the game in which they were already poor.

Even Erden, in only his rookie season and limited time, has a 16.8 defensive rebounding percentage so he is also better than Krstic in the defensive rebounding department.

Both Perkins and Erden also have the advantage over Krstic when it comes to blocking opponents' shots. Perkins' amazing 5.0 career block percentage and Erden's impressive 3.1 block percentage are higher than Krstic's 2.2 career block percentage.

Moreover, Krstic's 1.2 block percentage this season demonstrates he is not even as good a shot blocker now as he used to be. Add that to the fact his defensive rebounding percentage has decreased every season starting with the 2007-08 season and the Celtics are going to be a lot more porous on defense. To make up for Krstic's shot blocking and defensive rebounding inadequacies, the Celtics will now have to rely wholly on the unreliable health of Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal.

Krstic does hold an advantage on the offensive side of the ball, but his edge in offense does not make up for how poor he is on defense, decreasing his overall value. This season is a prime example of that.

Krstic produced 111 points per 100 possessions before being traded to the Celtics, a better offensive rating than both Perkins' 97 points produced per 100 possessions and Erden's 107 points produced per 100 possessions. Yet, Krstic's 0.092 win shares per 48 minutes is barely better than Perkins' 0.090 win shares per 48 minutes and lower than Erden's 0.131 win shares per 48 minutes.

Also, the only reason why Krstic is contributing more win shares per 48 minutes than Perkins is because Perkins has not shot the ball well in his first 12 games coming off his knee injury. Since his 56.8 true shooting percentage is below his career 58.4 true shooting percentage, it is highly likely he will play better on offense going forward and be more valuable at the end of the season than Krstic.

It simply does not make sense to trade away two players to bring in an inferior one, especially when one of them is such a promising rookie. Erden is having a rare rookie season where his offensive rating is higher than his defensive rating (99 points allowed per 100 possessions). Those kinds of rookies should never be given up, and they should especially not be given up for a measly second-round draft pick.

Even if NBA D-League call-up Chris Johnson, who has promising D-League statistics especially in the shot blocking department, plays well, that is no reason one should have so cavalierly traded away a player like Erden. Also, they would not have needed Johnson's shot blocking if they had just kept Perkins.

Due to the inexplicable trades the Celtics made, they have no choice but to go out and sign Troy Murphy, which had better be a done deal. Murphy has a higher career 24.7 defensive rebounding percentage than Perkins, and has been a better overall player so acquiring him would go a long way in making general manager Danny Ainge's latest moves look less incompetent. If the Celtics are unable to come to terms with Murphy, then they have weakened the team unnecessarily with unnecessary trades.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kentucky Point Guard Brandon Knight Is Unique Among John Calipari's Point Guards

In point guard Brandon Knight, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has a freshman point guard unlike any he has coached starting with Derrick Rose who played for him in the 2007-08 season. However, that does not mean Knight is any less effective than Calipari's other three point guards.

Before Knight, Calipari's three previous incarnations of one-and-done point guards, Rose, John Wall, and Tyreke Evans, were all capable shooters, but none were of the quality of shooter that Knight has been this season.

After last night's uncharacteristically poor shooting effort from the field against Arkansas where he went 8 of 23 yet made up for some of his off-shooting night by going 9 of 9 from the free throw line, Knight's effective field goal percentage dropped from 56.0 percent to 54.5 percent and his true shooting percentage for the season dropped from 59.2 percent to 58.4 percent, but he is still the best shooting point guard of the four.

Rose's 51.7 effective field goal percentage under Calipari comes the closest of the other three point guards to matching Knight's pure shooting numbers from the field and Wall's 56.2 true shooting percentage comes the closest in matching Knight once free throws are added into the equation. Still, there is a pretty sizable gap between their shooting prowess and Knight's.

Evans brings up the rear in terms of shooting with his 48.9 effective field goal percentage and 52.9 true shooting percentage, making him far and away the worst shooting point guard of the four. Evans did not let that keep him from playing like a go-to scorer, though, as according to, Evans took 32.1 percent of his team's shots when he was on the court, which is the highest such percentage of the four.

It is a good thing Knight holds such a great advantage over the other point guards in shooting, too, since he is the least "true" point guard among the four in terms of dishing out assists and avoiding turnovers.

Rose is the best in that aspect of being a point guard with a 30.4 assist rate and 19.1 turnover rate during his tenure as a point guard for Calipari. Wall ranks second with a 34.8 assist rate and 24.0 turnover rate. Even Evans, whose 30.0 assist rate and 21.6 turnover rate under Calipari are nothing special, has a much better ratio than Knight.

Through February 20, Knight was sporting a very underwhelming 22.4 assist rate and 21.4 turnover rate, meaning he is just barely making more assists than turnovers.

Normally, such a low ratio would be the hallmark of an inadequate point guard, but Knight shoots the ball so well he has only been a less effective offensive point guard for Calipari than Rose was. Knight's offensive rating through February 20 was 109.5, a number that is likely to come down after the Arkansas game, is second only to Rose's 111.8 offensive rating for Calipari.

Knight narrowly edges Wall's 108.0 offensive rating and leaves Evans' 101.0 offensive rating far behind in his rear view mirror.

Since Knight's offensive value is so tied up with his shooting percentages, he will need to continue to shoot well to remain such a good offensive player. As long as he is able to do that, Calipari's most unique freshman point guard will keep being one of his most effective.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Toronto Raptors Forward Amir Johnson Has Improved In One Huge Area

Before this season, there was only one issue with Amir Johnson's game that would have kept the five-year, $34 million contract he signed with the Toronto Raptors over the past offseason from being a good deal for the franchise, and now that he has corrected that issue this season, the contract he signed now makes him one of the better bargains in the NBA.

The reason why the contract could have come back to bite the Raptors had absolutely nothing to do with Johnson's play for the time he was able to stay on the court. There was never doubting the huge amount of basketball talent he had, even early on in his career.

After the Detroit Pistons unleashed Johnson for a full year on the NBA in the 2007-08 season, he quickly showed himself to be a highly efficient, highly valuable player. According to, even though he only averaged 12.3 minutes per game, Johnson made the most of every minute.

That season, he produced 115 points per 100 possessions while allowing 95 points per 100 possessions so he was both a potent offensive and defensive weapon, although his 3.6 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game might have kept people from thinking so.

In addition to being an adept scorer with a 58.4 true shooting percentage, Johnson was a rebounding monster, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball; his offensive rebounding percentage was 13.5 percent and his defensive rebounding percentage was 23.2 percent. Johnson was also a prolific shot blocker with a 8.5 block percentage.

The next season, Johnson continued his efficient play in his 14.7 minutes per game. In 2008-09, Johnson produced 120 points per 100 possessions and allowed 105 points per 100 possessions, again easily producing more points on the offensive side than he was allowing on defense.

His defensive rebounding percentage did drop to 17.2 percent and his block percentage dropped to 5.1 percent, but he made up for some of the drop-off in his defensive production, which was still pretty good, by increasing his true shooting percentage to 60.8 percent.

For the 2008-09 season, Johnson contributed 0.142 win shares per 48 minutes, a decrease from the 0.190 win shares he contributed in the 2007-08 season, but still the mark of an incredibly effective player.

Despite the fact Johnson provided so much value to the Pistons, the franchise still decided to trade him away so Johnson took his spectacularly valuable game to the Raptors for the 2009-10 season.

Last season, Johnson produced 124 points per 100 possessions and allowed 110 points per 100 possessions while contributing 0.150 win shares per 48 minutes so it was another fantastically efficient season for Johnson.

As stated earlier, any criticism of the contract could find no fault with the value Johnson provided to his teams. The major issue with the contract was that Johnson found it impossible to stay out of foul trouble.

In all three seasons previous to this one, Johnson committed more than six fouls per 36 minutes so for all his ability, no team could keep him on the floor long enough to experience the full benefits of it.

This season, however, Johnson has begun to correct his problem with committing too many fouls. He leads the league in personal fouls, but for the first time since he became a full-season NBA player, his fouls committed per 36 minutes is below six (5.3 fouls committed per 36 minutes) so he can finally play extended minutes in a team's rotation.

Johnson's 25.9 minutes per game mark a career high, and the increase in minutes is having no adverse effects on his value as he is putting up one of the best seasons of his career.

He is producing 125 points per 100 possessions, allowing 109 points per 100 possessions, and contributing 0.165 win shares per 48 minutes for the Raptors. In addition, Johnson is averaging 10.0 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game so those caught up mostly in per game averages can also be impressed by his season.

Johnson has been such a valuable player for the Raptors this season that his 5.0 win shares are 2.2 more than the next Raptor, Jose Calderon, who has contributed 2.8 win shares. The Raptors are fortunate enough to be receiving all that value for just $5 million.

As long as Johnson can continue to avoid committing fouls at the rate of his three previous seasons, the Raptors will look like fiscal geniuses because they will have a star on their roster for the price of a role player.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mark Sanchez, Kurt Warner More Clutch In The Playoffs Than Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger

Being clutch is the most prized attribute an athlete can possess, and nowhere is being clutch rated more highly than in the postseason. For the purposes of this article, being clutch in the playoffs is measured by how well a quarterback performs in the postseason relative to how he performs in the regular season.

Those quarterbacks who have come up short of their regular season production in games as primary quarterback, games in which they either attempted the most passes or threw for the most yards for their respective teams, will be considered the least clutch while the quarterbacks who have done the best job of raising their level of play in the playoffs and outperforming their regular season output will be defined as the most clutch.

Despite owning three Super Bowl Rings, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the least playoff clutch of the eight quarterbacks I examined. When he has appeared in the playoffs, Brady has become 2.4 percent worse in completion percentage (from 63.7 percent to 62.2 percent), 12.2 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 7.4 to 6.5), 16.0 percent worse in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 7.5 to 6.3), 13.4 percent worse in net yards per pass attempt (from 6.7 to 5.8), 17.6 percent worse in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 6.8 to 5.6), 10.3 percent worse in yards per completion (from 11.6 to 10.4), and 21.4 percent worse in touchdown percentage (from 5.6 percent to 4.4 percent).

Additionally, Brady has a 4.5 percent higher interception percentage in the postseason (from 2.2 percent to 2.3 percent).

Brady has performed so poorly in the playoffs compared to his regular season production that the differences between his yards per pass attempt, net yards per pass attempt, adjusted net yards per pass attempt and yards per completion are all statistically significant.

Based on his overall play in the playoffs, Brady does not deserve to receive any sort of extra credit for being a clutch quarterback. If anything, he deserves criticism on that front instead because he is not the caliber of playoff quarterback many may believe he is.

Philadelphia Eagles fans should be not be surprised to find that former quarterback Donovan McNabb is the seventh most playoff clutch quarterback of the eight I examined. For his career, McNabb has not been a great regular-season quarterback, and he gets even worse in the playoffs.

In the playoffs, McNabb undergoes a .2 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 59.2 percent to 59.1 percent), a 7.1 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.0 to 6.5), a 13.0 percent decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 6.9 to 6.0), a 9.8 percent decrease in net yards per pass attempt (from 6.1 to 5.5), a 15.0 percent decrease in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 6.0 to 5.1), a 6.8 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.8 to 11.0), a 6.7 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 4.5 percent to 4.2 percent), a 38.1 percent increase in interception percentage (from 2.1 percent to 2.9 percent), and an 11.6 percent increase in sack percentage (from 6.9 percent to 7.7 percent).

Exacerbating the problem that his passes by themselves already have less value in the playoffs, McNabb also has a problem with an increased number of interceptions thrown and sacks taken, further weakening the value of his passes. It is no wonder the Eagles lost three straight NFC Championship games with McNabb as quarterback with the way in which he has underperformed in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is an interesting case when it comes to being clutch in the playoffs. Compared to his regular season performances, when Roethlisberger appears in the playoffs, he experiences a 3.3 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 63.3 percent to 61.2 percent), a 3.7 percent decrease (from 8.1 to 7.8), an 11.7 percent decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.7 to 6.8), a 1.5 percent decrease in net yards per pass attempt (from 6.8 to 6.7), a 9.4 percent decrease in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 6.4 to 5.8), a 1.9 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent), a 38.7 percent increase in interception percentage, and a 12.4 percent decrease in sack percentage (from 8.9 percent to 7.8 percent).

Even though Roethlisberger is still an above-average quarterback in the playoffs, based on what he has done in the regular season, he cannot be considered clutch under the aforementioned criterion.

The main problem Roethlisberger has in the playoffs, avoiding interceptions, reared its ugly head during Super Bowl XLV and is a huge reason why the Steelers lost. If he can ever figure out his interception problem, Roethlisberger will be a lot more clutch in the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning may have two fewer Super Bowl rings than Brady, but he can at least rest easy at night knowing he does not struggle in the playoffs as Brady does. Still, Manning does struggle somewhat.

In the playoffs, Manning has a 2.7 percent worse completion percentage (from 64.9 percent to 63.1 percent), 1.3 percent lower yards per pass attempt (from 7.6 to 7.5), 5.3 percent lower adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 7.5 to 7.1), 2.8 percent lower net yards per pass attempt (from 7.2 to 7.0), 5.7 percent lower adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 7.0 to 6.6), 1.7 percent higher yards per completion (from 11.7 to 11.9), 27.3 percent lower touchdown percentage (from 5.5 percent to 4.0 percent), 7.1 percent lower interception percentage (from 2.8 percent to 2.6 percent), and a 9.7 percent higher sack percentage (from 3.1 percent to 3.4 percent).

For whatever reason, Manning has found it immensely difficult to throw touchdown passes in the playoffs, and that more than anything is the reason he is not more highly regarded as a playoff quarterback. Otherwise, his playoff statistics are not that far off from his regular season statistics.

Brett Favre is the first of the eight quarterbacks whose play largely improved in the playoffs. In the playoffs, Favre experienced a 1.9 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 62.0 percent to 60.8 percent), a 4.2 percent increase in yards per pass attempt (from 7.1 to 7.4), a 3.0 percent increase in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 6.6 to 6.8), a 6.3 percent increase in net yards per pass attempt (from 6.4 to 6.8), a 3.3 percent increase in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 6.0 to 6.2), a 7.0 percent increase in yards per completion (from 11.4 to 12.2), a 12.0 percent increase in touchdown percentage (from 5.0 percent to 5.6 percent), an 18.8 percent increase in interception percentage (from 3.2 percent to 3.8 percent), and a 10.2 percent decrease in sack percentage (from 4.9 percent to 4.4 percent).

Favre's decrease in completion percentage did not matter in the long run as he made up for it with a higher yards per completion average which in turn led to a higher yards per pass attempt average in the playoffs.

It was his increase in interception percentage that truly harmed both Favre and the teams for which he played. The higher interception percentage harmed Favre by decreasing the value of his adjusted passing statistics, and it harmed his teams because on a number of occasions, a Favre interception ended his teams' seasons.

Had Favre just been able to maintain his regular season interception percentage, we probably would have seen him in a couple more Super Bowls.

Favre's successor for the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has yet to experience any interception-throwing difficulties in the playoffs. In fact, if he can continue on the path he has started in his first five career postseason games, he will be a more clutch playoff quarterback than Favre ever was.

In the playoffs, Rodgers has undergone a 4.8 percent increase in completion percentage (from 64.7 percent to 67.8 percent), an 8.8 percent increase in yards per pass attempt (from 8.0 to 8.7), a 10.8 percent increase in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 8.3 to 9.4), a 10.0 percent increase in net yards per pass attempt (7.0 to 7.7), a 15.1 percent increase in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 7.3 to 8.4), a 4.0 percent increase in yards per completion (from 12.4 to 12.9), a 33.9 percent increase in touchdown percentage (from 5.6 percent to 7.5 percent), a 10.5 percent decrease in interception percentage (from 1.9 percent to 1.7 percent), and a 1.4 percent increase in sack percentage (from 6.9 percent to 7.0 percent).

Rodgers has had his way with opponents in the playoffs and has been an unstoppable passing force in the postseason. The test for him will be in maintaining his clutch playoff play for the rest of his career.

Although Rodgers' playoff career has just begun and still faces the prospect of regression, that is not an issue for the recently retired quarterback Kurt Warner, who will always be a truly fantastic playoff quarterback.

If there is any hesitation among Pro Football Hall of Fame voters to declare Warner a Hall of Fame quarterback, which there shouldn't be considering he was a great regular season quarterback as well, then his performances in the postseason should tip the scales in his favor.

Warner may have lost two of the three Super Bowls in which he played, but that did not keep him from being an incredibly clutch playoff quarterback. In the playoffs, Warner turned in a 1.4 percent higher completion percentage (from 65.6 percent to 66.5 percent), a 7.5 percent higher yards per pass attempt (from 8.0 to 8.6), an 11.8 percent higher adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 7.6 to 8.5), a 12.7 percent higher net yards per pass attempt (from 7.1 to 8.0), a 19.4 percent higher adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 6.7 to 8.0), a 5.7 percent higher yards per completion (from 12.2 to 12.9), a 31.4 percent higher touchdown percentage (from 5.1 percent to 6.7 percent), a 6.3 percent lower interception percentage (from 3.2 percent to 3.0 percent), and a 33.3 percent lower sack percentage (from 6.0 percent to 4.0 percent).

Yet, even Kurt Warner cannot match the clutch playoff heights New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has reached in his first six postseason games. Sanchez might not be the first name a person thinks of when thinking of clutch playoff quarterbacks, but there is no denying how much better he has been in the playoffs then the regular season. The improvement is astounding.

In the playoffs, Sanchez experiences an 11.2 percent increase in completion percentage (from 54.4 percent to 60.2 percent), a 12.1 percent increase in yards per pass attempt (from 6.6 to 7.4), a 38.2 percent increase in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 5.5 to 7.6), a 20.7 percent increase in net yards per pass attempt (from 5.8 to 7.0), a 52.1 percent increase in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (from 4.8 to 7.3), a .8 percent increase in yards per completion (from 12.1 to 12.2), a 72.7 percent increase in touchdown percentage (from 3.3 percent to 5.7 percent), a 50.0 percent decrease in interception percentage (from 3.8 percent to 1.9 percent), and a 56.1 percent decrease in sack percentage (from 5.7 percent to 2.5 percent).

If Sanchez could ever translate his postseason statistics to the regular season, then the New York Jets would actually have a real quarterback of the future instead of a ceremonial one.

This is only one way in which to measure a quarterback's clutch playoff proficiency, and along with the surprising fact of how impressive Sanchez's playoff performances have been in relation to his regular season ones, the most important thing one can take away after comparing these eight quarterbacks to each other is just how great a quarterback Kurt Warner was.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Charlotte Bobcats Would Be Better Off Without Stephen Jackson

Whatever the Charlotte Bobcats can do to remove forward Stephen Jackson from their roster should be done posthaste. If they can find a team on which to unload Jackson, then that would be wonderful, but failing that, the Bobcats need to either release him outright or just buy out his contract. The Bobcats need to do this because there will never come a time when having Stephen Jackson on the roster will consistently help them win games or become an upper-echelon team. Instead, his presence on the team only hurts the franchise over the long run.

Jackson has made a career out of being a high-volume shooter but inefficient scorer, and this season is no exception as Jackson is playing near to his career statistics.

For the season, Jackson is using up 26.9 percent of the Bobcats' plays while he is on the floor, which is the highest usage percentage on the team. At the same time, Jackson is only producing 100 points per 100 possessions, giving him the 10th worst offensive rating on the Bobcats. For the record, 15 players have played for the Bobcats this season.

The fact that Jackson takes so many shots as if he were a good offensive player, 3.9 more field goal attempts per game than the next closest player, while shooting the ball so poorly from the field means he is a dangerous presence on the Bobcats offense since he is making the whole unit more inefficient than it needs to be. An inefficient offense, like the one the Bobcats currently possess with an offensive rating of 103.4 points per 100 possessions that ranks 25th out of the 30 NBA teams, is the calling card of a mediocre team.

When the team's offensive rating is higher than a player's, that player is a detriment to the team.

Overall, Jackson has only contributed 0.059 win shares per 48 minutes for the season. Again, that ranks him 10th out of 15 players who have played for the Bobcats.

This is actually the second season where Jackson's presence on the Bobcats has been less valuable than the majority of the team. Last season, Jackson again used the highest percentage of the team's plays with a 27.8 usage percentage; actually, he was second to Acie Law's 31.1 usage percentage, but Law only played 33 minutes across nine games for the Bobcats and it is a certainty he would not have used that many of the team's plays had he played more minutes.

Identically to this season, last year, Jackson only produced 100 points per 100 possessions, which was 10th on the 2009-10 Bobcats; I discounted Raja Bell's offensive rating because he only appeared in 5 games for the Bobcats. The entire team's offensive rating was 104.4 points per 100 possessions so having Jackson on offense made the Bobcats worse despite the fact his 21.1 points per game were the highest on the team.

Unsurprisingly, Jackson's 0.085 win shares per 48 minutes were 11th on the team; Raja Bell's statistic in that category was discounted for the same reason his offensive rating was ignored.

During his 126 games with the Bobcats, Jackson has yet to truly help the team and he is incapable of ever doing so, which is why the Bobcats not only do not need him on the roster, but would be better off without him.

The rest of the NBA should take notice of the kind of player Jackson really is in case a team thinks that having him on the roster would give them the missing piece to its championship puzzle. He simply is not because his skill set and approach to the game of basketball are not going to help any team.

Jackson plays the game as if he is a great scoring option, but he is not. His whole career where he has produced 101 points per 100 possessions and allowed 107 points per 100 possessions while contributing just 0.070 win shares per 48 minutes reveals his true nature, that of an awful NBA player.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Toronto Raptors Center Andrea Bargnani Is Most Disappointing Number One Draft Pick Pick Since Michael Olowokandi

Declaring a player a draft bust is never a venture to be entered into lightly, but 351 regular season games into 2006 number one draft pick Andrea Bargnani's career, without a major turnaround in the efficiency of his play, he will go down in history as the worst number one NBA draft pick since Michael Olowokandi was selected number one overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1998 NBA Draft. As a result of Bargnani's uninspired play, as long as the Toronto Raptors have their future invested in him as their primary scoring option, they will remain mired deeply in mediocrity.

It should be clearly stated that the reason Bargnani could rightly be considered a bust is not because of his scoring average. This season, Bargnani is averaging 22.0 points per game and for his career, he is scoring 14.9 points per game. While those scoring averages give the impression he is a reliably good scoring option, scoring averages in basketball are as misleading as batting averages in baseball.

Whenever confronted with a scoring average, the first question that should be asked is how the player is arriving at that average, and in Bargnani's case, the answer is in a pretty inefficient manner.

Bargnani's career started off inefficiently, a trend that continues today. In his rookie season, Bargnani only produced 99 points per 100 possessions. He then followed that up in his second season by producing 98 points per 100 possessions.

Over his third and fourth seasons, where he produced 105 points per 100 possessions and 108 points per 100 possessions respectively, Bargnani seemed to be improving as a scorer, but that improvement has been completely undone this season.

With the departure of Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat, the burden of being the go-to scorer has fallen upon the shoulders of Bargnani, a task for which he is unsurprisingly unsuited. After four seasons of usage percentages that came in between 22.3 percent and 22.7 percent, Bargnani's 2010-11 usage percentage has jumped to 28.6 percent and his offensive rating has dropped to 103 points produced per 100 possessions.

Bargnani's play this season should serve as a reminder that if a role player is an inefficient scorer, then whenever he is called upon to be the primary scoring option, he will become even more inefficient.

If Bargnani did anything else besides rely on his below-average career 53.9 true shooting percentage, his struggles on offense would not be so crippling to his productivity, but he doesn't. His career total rebounding percentage is an underwhelming 9.6 percent and his career assist percentage is an even more meager 6.5 percent so he is either unable or unwilling to grab rebounds and dish out assists.

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has showed us that a 7-foot perimeter-oriented scoring threat can find time out of his busy shooting schedule to grab rebounds and set up his teammates for baskets; Nowitzki has a career total rebounding percentage of 13.0 percent and a career assist percentage of 13.1 percent. Bargnani has no excuse for not doing the same.

Were Bargnani's poor season out of character for him, that would be one thing, but his substandard level of play has been a persistent issue throughout his career. For his career, he has produced 103 points per 100 possessions while allowing 111 points per 100 possessions. Additionally, he has only contributed 0.061 win shares per 48 minutes.

Even in his best season, Bargnani only produced 105 points per 100 possessions while allowing 110 points produced per 100 possessions and contributed just 0.076 win shares per 48 minutes.

It is his extremely low career 0.061 win shares per 48 minutes that explains why Bargnani is the most disappointing number one draft pick since Olowokandi. Only Olowokandi's career mark of 0.009 win shares per 48 minutes is lower among former number one draft picks since 1998 that have played in a couple of seasons; John Wall currently is contributing only 0.041 win shares per 48 minutes, and if he does not improve in that aspect over his career, Bargnani will have some more company on the number one draft pick bust list.

Even 2001 number one draft pick Kwame Brown, looked upon as one of the worst number one draft picks in recent history, has still contributed 0.075 win shares per 48 minutes over his career, and 0.077 win shares per 48 minutes over his first five seasons. Both of those marks are higher than Bargnani's.

The question one must ask is which is worse: a player who will average a lot of points per game but will do so in an inefficient way and provide no value for a team otherwise or a player who is without any sort of offensive prowess but can provide enough in other areas to make up for it and help a team out that way?

For me, I would rather have the more complete player who is not great at anything, but will still help his team win more than a player whose whole game is wrapped up in something he does not do that well. At least then I would not be tricked into building a team around a player who cannot carry it.

The case could even be made that the way Bargnani's career is developing is more harmful to the Toronto Raptors than 2007 number one draft pick Greg Oden's has been to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Oden's major issue was staying healthy; the reason he is looked on as a bust has nothing to do with his actual play on the court. In fact, when Oden did play, he did so fantastically, producing 117 points per 100 possessions and allowing 103 points per 100 possessions while contributing 0.180 win shares per 48 minutes. Should he ever be able to stay healthy, an unlikely occurrence given his track record with injuries, whichever team does retain his services will be pleased with his play.

Since the Trail Blazers know they cannot depend on Oden to stay healthy, they have yet to invest any more money in him and he will be a restricted free agent going into the 2011 season; thus, they will have more money to spend on more reliably healthy players. The Raptors, on the other hand, are under the false impression that Bargnani is a player on which they can rely and gave him a five-year, $50 million contract extension that kicked in this season.

Unless Bargnani becomes a better overall player, he will continue to be an incredibly disappointing number one draft pick even though his points per game average might keep him from receiving too much criticism. As for the Toronto Raptors, until they find a true primary scoring option, their poor performances will mirror Bargnani's.

Labels: , , , , ,