New Post! Just not here…

Been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything here, but today there’s a shooting profile of Antoine Walker that you can find at the Nylon Calculus. It’s probably a way better alternative to the career scoring distribution charts I initially wanted to roll out here, but couldn’t find the time to post one every few days or so. Plus, the one for Ray Allen felt chunky, and one I initially planned for LeBron James didn’t feel that much better. I might post it here anyway just to see how a second attempt looks.

But until then, you’ll probably find most of my work at the Nylon Calculus. The work done there already has been fantastic, including the shot charts made by Austin Clemons dating back to 1997. Can’t say enough about how cool those are. Give him and the rest of TNC a follow on Twitter if you’d like.

Also, thanks to those who continue to stop by each day, whoever you are. I see your page views and if I post something anywhere else I’ll make a quick note here.

Sums and differences of rookie-scaled contracts since 1995

I recently updated a post from over two months ago thanks to a mistake I made in Excel, but I looked at how much money a first-round prospect could lose in the 2014 Draft if they get drafted at a worse slot than they’re slated to go, or how much extra cash they could make if they rise.

I’m actually going to post that here as well, but along with the sum and differences of every rookie-scaled contract of first rounders since 1995 when Joe Smith, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, among others, were taken. You can find yearly rookie-scaled salary at RealGM from 1995 to 2020 (a really cool page in my opinion) and the earnings from first round draftees are consistent with what shows up in the Salaries section of Basketball-Reference’s player pages. The key thing is to multiply the salary on RealGM by 1.2, as most players get that 20 percent bump allowed in their rookie salary.

The first tables I made look at the total amount each draft pick could make. These, along with every other table in this post, assume every first round pick got the 20 percent raise and played every year of their rookie contract. I also attached extra sheets about what percentage a non-first overall pick makes compared to the top draftee and the increase in salary each year from first round picks. The lockout-shortened seasons mark the biggest increases/decreases from year to year, among other noticeable things.

Anyway, take a look if you’d like. Each season marks the first year of a rookie contract so Kevin Garnett’s would be 1996, Kobe Bryant‘s as 1997, Anthony Bennett‘s as 2014, and so on. Below that I’ll post differences in salary from each draft slot:

And below are differences in three and four-year rookie contracts over the years. At first, I listed players with their draft slot to allow for easy comparing, but it made tables a bit too messy for my liking. Basketball-Reference’s draft pages might help, though.

Again, each season marks the first year of a rookie contract so Kevin Garnett’s would be 1996, Kobe Bryant’s as 1997, Anthony Bennett’s as 2014, and so on. Might be easy to mistake that when looking at sheets in the middle.

Hopefully that helps those who are posting re-drafts, though, something I’m seeing a lot of lately. Crab Dribbles is currently in the middle of their series from 2003 to 2013 while Amin Elhassan and David Thorpe of ESPN looked at some draft classes too, though those posts are Insider-only. There’s also been just some good, fun Twitter discussion about where Kawhi Leonard would land in a 2011 re-draft. Just how much would he make if he went from the 15th overall selection to, say, second overall? What about others who would get a nice bump in pay?

We can look at that and a few other players that might come to mind. I had a lot of fun reading re-drafts so I actually made some of my own as quickly as possible to look at the biggest raises from each rookie class. I’m sure quite a few re-picks are debatable — they’re not team-specific to begin with and I left second-rounders off the list below. Still, it goes to show what an uptick in the sum of rookie contracts can be like anyway. Players with the largest increase in pay from each class are sorted by their rookie years, and I included some notes about picks I wasn’t totally sure of or just thought were more interesting than others:

The largest increases are ones where players go to the very top versus late-1sts going into the late-lotto, etc. but it’s not like Kawhi and others were 100% sure studs at the time of their actual draft nights and only slipped after a series of front office blunders. In re-drafts, though, some players like Michael Carter-Williams (and possibly ones from draft classes down the road) would’ve had raises in their rookie contracts large enough to equal or surpass the first year of a mini-max contract. I also think actual draft slots have an impact on second contracts, which is another post altogether but it can be tested by what Evan Turner makes next season.

Anyway, hope this was interesting. For those continuing to do re-drafts and/or looking at this year’s prospects, hope this helps and adds a little more to discussions. Keep up the good work.

As a reminder, salaries are according to RealGM.

Career shot and point distribution charts: Ray Allen

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Lately I’ve been getting back to looking at shot and point distribution charts, ones of players still in the Finals and a few other greats over their entire careers. The charts are the ones I’ve used for players and teams in previous posts, tracking shots on NBA.com from the restricted area, in the paint non-restricted area, mid-range, corner 3, above the break 3, and free throws, but I’ve recently added a few more charts to the mix. This post is basically a trial version of them with Ray Allen’s being the ones tested, and if it turns out all right I might turn it into a blog series over the off-season.

There will probably be some tweaking to do, but for now I plucked Allen’s yearly numbers from NBA.com which somehow has shooting stats and charts starting not at 2001 but 1997, though I don’t consider the ones from ’97 to be all that accurate thanks to the shortened three-point line back then. We get to work with every other season of Allen’s career, though, and maybe other notable players from the late-90s to today.

In past posts, I included GIFs and/or screenshots to show changes in charts from each season, player or team, and while I’ll use each of those for this post I’ll also use galleries so readers can cycle through charts at their own pace. The galleries also provide a little animation between each season to help show shifts in shooting and scoring.

Hopefully all of that isn’t confusing, but I can be pretty lazy with explaining things. For those who haven’t looked at these kinds of charts before, maybe just looking at them is easier to understand anyway.

Allen’s attempts over his career from both the field and the free throw line were what I looked at first, and below is an example of the four different charts I made for that section. This one is from 1998’s available stats:

1998 rayface

My apologies if screenshots look a bit blurry. They look much sharper when clicking to enlarge.

The first 3 charts are mostly similar with FGA distribution missing free throws, of course, but that one and attempts per 36 minutes compliment Allen’s first chart (attempts per game) best in his later years when his minutes and total attempts decline.

The last chart, attempts per 36 minutes compared to the player average, is something I’ve recently been playing with, though it doesn’t adjust for pace. In 1998, Allen took nearly six mid-range shots per 36 minutes, but compared to every other player’s numbers it was more standard than his attempts from the corner three, where he took twice as many attempts/36 minutes as the average player. This is a pretty common theme over Allen’s career.

Below are the rest of Allen’s attempts in a photo gallery. It should be on auto play, so I guess in way it’s still a slow-moving GIF, but it can be paused any time:

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Where Allen shoots from each location has obviously changed over the years, once heavy on mid-range shots and almost always making a ton of either above the break threes or corner threes compared to the player average.

Below are the differences between his second and 18th season of his career (1998 and 2014):

1998-2014 rayface

Allen still takes a similar amount of above the break threes per 36 minutes as he did in 1998, but now he attempts about 3.5 times as many corner threes, half the free throws and shots in the paint (outside the restricted area), a third from mid-range, and about three-fifths as many around the rim. It also shows how three-happy the league has become with Allen’s above the break 3s/36 minutes more standard now than compared to the late-90s.

Some of Allen’s changes are consistent with how his FGA distribution has changed with each team. Below is a GIF putting his combined point distributions for each team together (click to enlarge):

Allen on Make A Gif

Along with the roster around him, age most likely contributes to Allen’s shift in FGA and FGM distribution. With the Heat, it also changes a bit when he’s in lineups with or without LeBron James:

ray w-o lebron

 

I also looked at Allen’s biggest changes in FGA distribution from season to season, basically by a simple subtraction of percentages. I took 1998’s percentages and subtracting them from 1999’s, for example, then made every change in percentage positive and adding each location’s numbers up.

This is what each season looks like, sorted by biggest total changes to smallest:

ray fga change overall

Visually, that looks correct when looking how the largest and smallest changes stack up (as usual, click to enlarge if you’d like):

ray fga change large 2010-11

Allen took more of his attempts from mid-range in 2011 despite having a fourth straight decline in usage rate, but he also took a higher percentage of his attempts from the corner three and, as shown much further down in this post, he was way more accurate there than in 2010.

Mid-range and non-restricted area paint attempts are the biggest differences in 2004 and 2005, but everything else looks the same otherwise. When comparing changes in Allen’s FGA distribution in 2003 before and after the trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Seattle, his chart hardly moves and would be the lowest compared to season-by-season changes, totaling to a 6.53% change. (Threes were a different story. More on that later.)

Simply subtracting doesn’t take into account the shots Allen takes least (depending on the season, either corner threes or in the paint non-RA shots) and most (either shots around the rim or above the break threes). It’s often a bigger deal if a player or team takes five percent more of field goal attempts from the corners than around the rim, and I tried a couple ways to balance for that but hit snags since they’d be hopeless if Allen (or any other player, or team) took zero percent of their shots from one of the five locations. Also, I’m terrible at math and maybe over-thought the whole process, so if there’s an easy way to calculate that stuff I’d love to hear it since I’m looking into shooting and scoring by teams over each season, among other post ideas.

To go back to mid-range and other two-point shots, though, it may or may not be surprising that Allen took as many as he once did, though that can be said about the league as a whole. Mid-range shots made up a great chunk of Allen’s shots for a long time, and about 20 percent of his attempts as a member of the Heat still come from that area of the floor, but that’s down from what was anywhere from 25 to over 40 percent as a Buck, Sonic, or Celtic.

Looking at his shot charts at NBA.com that split into several locations, less of his twos come from the wings now than they did as a Sonic or Celtic, but there’s still a similar amount from the baseline where, for most of his career, Allen took the most of his jump shooting twos.

Below is a breakdown of Allen’s 2PA distribution according to spots on NBA.com’s shot charts. I gave locations names that are hopefully self-explanatory, but can be found here just in case:

2pa dist

As usual, click to enlarge. Very helpful!

Allen’s baseline shots are the standard ones from being run off the three-point line and getting separation off screens, but quite a few come from trying to get space off the dribble when the shot clock is winding down. He doesn’t get all that far, painful to watch when he was once so good at attacking off the dribble (one example here), but he doesn’t need much space to get his beautiful shot off anyway.

Even if Allen seems to struggle a bit more in getting to the rim off the dribble, he’s still having career-lows or near career-lows in attempts/36 minutes from all the 2PA locations on NBA.com’s shot charts all while having a career-high in corner three-point attempts/36 minutes and percent of his FGA being corner threes. His mid-range shots/36 minutes have gone from around or above league-average in his first 15 charted seasons to two-thirds and nearly half the average in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and he shot nearly three times as many corner threes per 36 minutes as the average player this season. The leaders from the corners each season often take four to five times as many as the average player, though, sometimes even more when looking 10+ seasons back. James Jones led all players this year by taking 5.8x corner threes/36 minutes, but in 2005 Donyell Marshall took 7.1 times as many, then followed it up with 6.0x and 5.8x as many while Cleveland in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Fun times.

To touch on free throws, Allen’s charts almost always show him above the player average in free throw attempts/36 minutes during his prime which, like his attack off the dribble, feels underrated considering his status as a killer shooter.

I found his free throw and three point rates to be pretty interesting, even though they seem common in both his age and that when the free throws lower the threes often rise:

ft and 3p rates

I’ll touch more on threes later when chiming in on some thoughts on Allen’s scoring distribution, which I looked at in a similar way to shot attempts but with some tweaks. Below is a gallery visualizing four scoring stats from 1998 to 2014, but with some changes in charts from attempt distribution:

  • Points per game from the six spots on the floor.
  • Effective field goal percentage from all but free throws.
  • Point distribution but this time including free throws, unlike in the first gallery of graphs.
  • How Allen’s points/36 minutes from each spot measure up with the league average (per player).

Anyway, flip through the charts if you’d like:

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There are some hopefully cool things to look at. Going back to mid-range shots, below is a similar graph like before but covering 2PM distribution:

2pm dist

And a gallery comparing 2PA and 2PM distribution. Flip flop if you’d like:

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Season by season, Allen’s changes in point distribution from largest to smallest are a bit different from changes in FGA distribution, where the largest for that was from 2010 to 2011 and the smallest from 2004 to 2005:

ray point dist change overall

Understandably, the smallest change in point distribution was in Allen’s second season with the Heat. The largest change was not after a trade in 2003 or 2007 or going from the Celtics to the Heat in the summer of 2012, but from his seasons as a Buck in 2001 and 2002. 

Again, with simple subtraction, that all looks correct visually:

ray pt dist big and small

From 2001 to 2002, Allen scored less from the free throw line but upped his three point rate from .357 to .460. He took 3.67 times the average player’s corner 3s/36 minutes, ranking tenth minimum 1,000 minutes. For above the break threes (he attempted 3.32x the player average), he was only behind Antoine Walker (3.64), Jason Williams (3.70), and Tim Hardaway (4.22).

No shame in falling just behind those three players in anything related to threes, and Allen’s got pretty nuts when flipping through the 1998-2003 section of the scoring gallery shown above. Maybe suspected from the 2002 charts: Allen placed in the top 10 that season in both threes attempted and made for both the corner and above the break three. It started a string of top 10 finishes in the latter location:

ray 3pa-36 min leg avg

I thought Allen’s threes deserved a gallery of multiple charts, featuring both three-point attempt and made distribution from the five spots available on NBA.com’s shooting charts, another with accuracy from those locations, and a line chart tracking the shooting swings each season.

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1998, 2002, and 2010 look almost perfectly balanced in attempt distribution from each spot, while some weirdly (for a right-handed shooter, anyway) show a great deal of threes from the right wing. Also, to go back to the graph of his shots with and without LeBron on the floor, it’s no surprise to see Allen taking more of his threes from the corner as a member of the Heat. Last year he teed off from the left side, but this year it’s from the right. Attempts from straight away are just about gone and weren’t ever a big deal anyway.

Below is a GIF of Allen’s combined distributions during his Buck, Sonic, Celtic, and current Heat career. The differences in attempted and made threes are pretty minor (click to enlarge):

A4ZqD7 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Followed by that GIF are threes in 2003 before and after the trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Seattle. Quite a change midway through the season:

ray 3pa dist mil-sea 2003

Again, it’s kind of weird to see a right-handed shooter take a bunch of his attempts from the right wing, but Allen went through shifts from just about everywhere but from straight away. Shots from the corners and from straight on barely changed, at least in attempt distribution.

Lastly, Allen’s assist percentage on threes over the last two seasons are some of his highest ever. Among other notes, the right corner was a flat 100 percent for six straight seasons with 114 assisted threes during that stretch:

ray 3 ast%

Allen’s long been one of my favorites to watch from the times his NBA Live ’98 player torched me to how unfair he can make Miami’s offense just by standing in a corner. His charts were a test to see how they look in a blog post and if readers would be curious about ones for other players. A lot of other greats over the years have some cool charts, or maybe I’m biased because I was so curious about them to begin with. Probably the latter.

Some other thoughts:

  • I could’ve added playoff shooting and scoring, but was worried it would clutter this post even more.
  • Clutter…were there too many charts? A lot of them were player dependent, though. As much as I’d like to, I’d probably refrain from 3pt charts for someone like Tim Duncan. Maybe throw in a game of Solitaire instead.
  • The charts obviously don’t tell everything, like I can’t even put together SportVU-related shooting charts because the numbers don’t add up to Allen’s total points. I could try fooling around with them for other players, though, and see if something’s presentable.

Oh well. Curious what others think of this post and if any tweaks could’ve been made. This is definitely a trial version of posts I had in mind for other players and was also a post meant to shake off a ton of rust over the last few weeks.

Lack of posting (bleh)

Chicken Noodle Hoop doesn’t get too many daily visitors, but I feel like I at least owe it to everybody who finds their way here by assuring them this blog isn’t dead. It’s just been more difficult lately to post than I thought it would be, mostly because I got back to crazy things like work after a couple weeks off.

This probably impacts me more than some, though, because I’m such a slothful writer to begin with. Now, thanks to sleep recently cut in half, I’ve felt more vulnerable to writing something blatantly wrong than I usually do, and I’ll readily admit I’ve made quite a few mistakes in previous postings. It’s not fun when that happens, and it’d happen more frequently if I tried writing when I’ve felt like a zombie.

Sooner or later I’ll have to work through sleep deprivation, though, but it’s just a bummer when I now miss out on when writing feels easiest: late at night. I’ll adjust, and there aren’t too many ideas lately on what to write about anyway, but I’d love to explore one or two thoughts within the next couple weeks. As soon as I have a day off, I’ll post something that’ll hopefully be interesting all while giving me hope that my writing is improving (or at least not as painful to read through as I think).

Until then, I’m hoping this post helps address the lack of other ones lately. There will be more posts in the future, but I don’t think it’s too beneficial for me to slog them out right now. I’d rather publish nothing than make a crucial mistake in a post, mostly for the sake of my confidence.

But if you’re really looking for new, interesting postings, I’d highly recommend checking my ‘Great Reads’ section on the right side of my blog. You’ll have to scroll down a bit, but there I promise you’ll find eight places with great content to read through, though there are plenty of more sites I enjoy reading from that I should also include. Reading their writing has often motivated me to put my thoughts into posts here, and I’m sure they’ll have a great impact on my future posts as well (whenever that happens).

Potential playoff upsets with SRS

Six of the eight first round matchups are extending to at least six games for the first time since the best-of-seven format started in 2003. To me, none of those series have felt like a slogfest either. We might even see a few upsets, starting tonight with both the eighth-seeded Hawks and seventh-seeded Grizzlies hosting Game 6’s with 3-2 leads.

Looking at where each of those teams were seeded, those would be huge wins for Atlanta and Memphis if they can pull them off, but if we look at how they match up in regular season SRS with Indiana and Oklahoma City, respectively, sealing their first round series tonight (or in a Game 7) would be arguably even more impressive.

SRS, or shortened for Simple Rating System, combines margin of victory and strength of schedule. As you’ll see below, it has its drawbacks since it doesn’t exactly value records that help determine seeding, but it’s easily understandable and often does enough to show how good teams were for 82 games. For more of an explanation, check this out, but it might also help to say that the best SRS in league history, according to Basketball-Reference, comes from the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks at 11.91, narrowly beating out the 11.80 from the ’96 Chicago Bulls. The worst goes to the 1993 Dallas Mavericks at -14.68 while the average SRS is 0, though no team has ever actually achieved that exact rating.

To go back to the playoffs, from 2003 to 2013, the team with the higher SRS in their first round series has advanced 79.6 percent of the time, or about the same rate as teams with the higher seed at 78.4 percent. Teams with both the higher SRS and the higher seed (75 occurrences) won 84 percent of their matchups. (Edit: Washington, with an SRS .72 points less than Chicago, advanced Tuesday night and Portland, .62 points less than Houston, can advance tomorrow.)

The higher the difference in SRS with home court, the higher the likelihood a team will win a series, which makes it all the more interesting that Atlanta (SRS: -0.88) and Memphis (2.18) can each clinch tonight. Each of theirs are at least four points lower than Indiana (3.63) and Oklahoma City (6.66) and are in two of five matchups this postseason with that large of a difference or more.

Below are the others with Hawks-Pacers and Grizzlies-Thunder included:

I’ve been fiddling with the SRS of every matchup since 1984, when the league went to their current playoff format 30 years ago. The scenario this season’s Hawks, Grizzlies, and the other three teams are in – an SRS at least four points worse than their opponent and without home court advantage – has often made for a heck of an uphill battle.

Below is a round-by-round look at how teams, ones in those same situations as this year’s previously listed five teams, have performed over the last 30 seasons:

The Charlotte Bobcats will join the list of those that couldn’t overcome their disadvantages, but Atlanta and Memphis have two outs while Brooklyn and Dallas can still extend their season with victories at home tomorrow night.

As for the table above (for the series wins, click here) the only win in the second round came last postseason when Memphis (3.69) beat the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder (9.15). Another weird one came in 2001 when the Los Angeles Lakers (3.13) had an SRS 4.18 points lower than San Antonio in the Conference Finals. Going by SRS, those Lakers were an underdog in every round except for the NBA Finals, when they were 0.11 points higher than the 76ers. They ended up having the most dominant postseason run of all time, according to Neil Paine but most likely tons of others, too.

2013 featured two upsets meeting this post’s requirements, though 1995 has the most ever with three. This postseason definitely has a chance of matching either 2013 or 1995, but they could also surpass them both with four or more. With all that’s happened the last two weeks, would it really be that surprising if that happened?

Also (!!), I haven’t posted lately because of a high fever at first, but I then made my debut at the Washington Post‘s Fancy Stats. If the Hawks’ three-point shooting has stood out to you, check out my post on how they’ve taken more threes than free throws and how unique their starting five is.

Any other thoughts are welcome.

East vs. West Week 25: Final standings with offense-defense splits

The East vs. West series started thanks to the West’s usual dominance over the East this season, but also thanks to a post by Basketball-Reference detailing the historical disparity in the conferences over the years. This is the final post this season.

A bit late thanks to a fever that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon and looking into a few projects going forward, but below is the final week-by-week non-conference breakdown. Followed by that are the final point differential tables and also some splits for how teams performed versus each conference and on the road or at home. There are some pretty glaring differences in each.

But below is the breakdown first:

The last game featured Detroit Detroiting to Oklahoma City, falling in the final minute to a Thunder squad looking to clinch the second seed out West.

Onto point differentials with the first sheet comparing this season’s margin of victory with others and the second sheet looking at month-by-month splits of this year.

Lastly, thanks to some boredom but also hoping to add something to the last of these posts, below are some home-road east-west splits for offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and net rating. Since I still can’t figure out how to let readers sort through columns (it might be available on the newest version of Google Sheets, but still no luck embedding those to here), I color-coated rankings:

Something of a TL;DR section for the tables above, starting with offensive efficiency and ending with net rating:

    • Sample sizes are somewhat small for each. There are 15 non-conference home and road games and 26 games each for teams in the same one, but especially for squads in the same division. It makes for some big swings when comparing splits, especially for a team that goes through a roller coaster of a regular season like, for example, a trip to the West coast while dealing with injuries or turmoil then hit its stride after hosting some games.
    • There’s a noticeable drop-off when comparing arguably the easiest games (at home versus a team out East) and arguably the most difficult (on the road versus a West squad). Comparing the former to the latter, New Orleans has the biggest decline in scoring, scoring 10.2 points/100 possessions less. Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland have upticks, oddly enough.
    • When comparing those splits to a team’s overall offensive efficiency, here are the biggest increases and decreases: :
    • Uptick/Downtick compared to overall efficiency (offense)
      UpticksplitO downticksplitO
    • Like scoring for teams hosting East opponents compared to on the road against the West, the difference in allowing points per 100 possessions is pretty large. Again comparing the former to the latter, every team allowed more points on the road against West teams with Cleveland at the largest with +14.1 points.
    • For nearly the entire season, the Spurs were the only team to allow less than 100 points when on the road against the West, a spectacular feat when they rested their trio (and more) for a decent chunk of those games. That accomplishment disappeared after their games at Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Dallas, and Houston.
    • Below are the largest upticks and downticks in defensive efficiency when compared to a team’s overall numbers. Captain Obvious maybe, but here’s a reminder that downticks in defensive efficiency are good when regarding the screenshots below:
    • Uptick/Downtick compared to overall efficiency (defense)
      upticksplitDDownticksplitD
    • The last sheet, regarding net rating, features some more startling numbers. Indiana somehow has a negative net on the road against East teams while Minnesota, among others, has a quite a change when comparing games at home versus the East to any other split.
    • There’s also a 20 point/100 possession difference for New Orleans when comparing games at home versus the East and on the road against the West. It’s the highest difference when comparing those two splits. Indiana (16.1), Houston (13.7), Chicago (13.5), and Minnesota (13.0) round out the top five.
    • The Spurs and Clippers are among the more consistent teams when comparing each category.
    • Overall, this all confirms the obvious: Teams often performed much better against the East than the West and even more when adding home-road splits, though the sample sizes for each are somewhat small.

This was a fun series to fool around with each week, and it was nice to see these posts recently assist two of my favorite writers and tweeters, Zachary Bennett and Matt D’Anna, in looking at how to retool divisions and conferences, or even get rid of them. That probably did more for me than it did for them since it looks like this blog has a few extra readers daily, and it was nice to know there was at least some usefulness in these posts. Good stuff. I definitely celebrated with a ham sandwich. It was fantastic.

But that’s it for this series, at least until next season when I could see the West pulling off a top-5 point differential. There are some likely rising teams out East like Washington, Toronto, and Chicago in a way, among others, but the West has as many if not more teams that should improve like Phoenix, New Orleans, and possibly the Lakers and ones that should stay legitimate in Oklahoma City, Houston, and the Clippers. Of course, there’s a whole off-season to play out and the East could balance itself somewhat with teams rising from the lottery to 40-win territory, but for now I’m siding with yet another loaded Western Conference.

Game-by-game shot locations for each team

About two months ago, I wrote a few things about the Knicks and their excessive shooting from the perimeter. Part of what was looked at were game-by-game shot locations for teams from NBA.com, but ever since writing that post there wasn’t a whole lot of usefulness with a season’s worth of shot location logging when it came to presenting it.

With the season concluding last night, however, I decided to release the entire document in this post. Along with that, I made three tables to highlight some of the best and worst performances by teams from each of the five spots on the floor: restricted area, paint non-restricted area, mid-range, corner three, and the above the break three. Unfortunately, I never tracked free throws. Maybe next season.

The three separate tables include the top 10 games with the most and least field goals made from each spot, most and least field goals attempted, and the hottest and coldest performances from each shot location. (Scroll a little further down in each table for the least/coldest shooting games.) For some categories with ties, I included a few extra games just because.

Some teams will dominate certain categories, for better or for worse, like how some may expect Houston to make a joke of the least mid-range field goals attempted. For every table I’ll also include some notes, something like a tl;dr section.

Anyway, the first table is the most/least field goals made from each location. You can toggle through each location with links to them at the bottom of each table. Again, for the entire document, this link should do the trick along with sheets detailing percentage of attempts outside the paint and percentage of attempts in high-efficiency spots versus dead zones.

Restricted Area: Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers got fried around the rim while the opposite can be said for the Pacers. All of the latter’s appearances in the least attempts around the rim came before the all-star break, but it shows just how suffocating they’ve been when clicking 100 percent.

Paint Non-RA: A good mix of teams and opponents for the most makes. Another not-so-surprising stat is how many games played out where a team was scoreless from this location: well over 40.

Mid-Range: The teams that shoot a ton from this location (Portland, New York, Orlando) make the list for most field goals made, Portland being at the top thanks to a 26-for-49 outing against non other than a team like Indiana. Houston and Detroit, the former neglecting this location while the other can’t space the floor all that well, fill up over half the slots for the least field goals made.

Corner 3: A mix of teams and opponents for both categories. A lot of struggling defenses gave up the most threes from the corner, however. Washington is the only team to make 10 in one game with Milwaukee being the casualty.

Above the break 3: Another variety of teams. Minnesota, one of the most frustrating teams from beyond the arc (in my opinion), actually makes the top 10 twice. More of the typical struggling teams from the perimeter crack the bottom 10: Memphis, Philadelphia, Detroit, Utah. Memphis is the only team to make no above the break threes in a game. Their opponent? Chicago.

Onto most and least field goals attempted:

Restricted Area: Detroit, a team that feasts around the rim, naturally is featured here. Philadelphia and Houston unsurprisingly crack the top 10 as well. The results for the bottom 10 may or may not be expected as well. Teams like Brooklyn, Boston, and New York make that list. Sacramento has the lowest attempts with 8. Crazy. That’s 45 less attempts than the leading Detroit.

Paint-Non RA: A mix of good defenses allowing the most attempts and bad ones allowing the least from this location. The Kings are a surprise in the top 10, however, making the list as an opponent three times. Some good and struggling offenses make the bottom 10 in attempts with Miami and New York each making it twice and Chicago once.

Mid-Range: Houston makes a joke of the bottom 10 attempts in a game. There’s a wider variety in the top 10 but Portland, Boston, and Washington unsurprisingly are featured. Indiana and Chicago account for half the opponents in that top 10.

Corner 3: Some brutal defenses make up the opponents in the top 10 with a mix of solid offenses as the ones teeing off from the corners. The opposite can be said for the bottom 10. Yeesh. 14 times has a team attempted no threes from the corner. Some good defenses and ones that struggle but do take away the corner (Portland) are the opponents during those games.

Above the break 3: A bunch of games that went into overtime make up the top along with a lot of solid teams and…Philadelphia. At the bottom, New Orleans and Memphis make up 2/3 of it with the latter shooting the least amount of threes from above the break with 3. Sigh.

Lastly, hottest and coldest shooting:

Restricted Area: Oklahoma City makes the top 10 multiple times, but Miami is absent despite their trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all feasting from that location. A few of the struggling offenses make up the bottom, as usual. No team missed 75 percent of their attempts, however, so there’s that.

Paint Non-RA: Tons of scoreless outings from this spot on the floor with the hottest shooting coming from less than 10 attempts. Dallas, Chicago, and New York are the only ones to shoot perfectly.

Mid-Range: Quite a few brutal nights, with New York’s Knicksy performance at Milwaukee probably being the worst. Brooklyn, with all the decent shooting they have, holds the worst park percentage-wise, however, at 19 percent on 4-for-21 shooting. Ouchies!

Corner 3: Lots of perfection here with New York’s KNICKSY game at Milwaukee topping all others. The worst outings come against a mix of both good and bad defenses. Not surprising, though, with how only a handful attempts or so available each game.

Above the Break 3: Indiana and Chicago each allowed a couple of the best shooting nights, though against respectable teams in the Suns and Clippers, respectively. There have sadly been 13 scoreless games from this location with the usual struggling teams from the arc being featured. Utah holds the worst performance at 0-for-14 against Dallas from just over a week ago.

But that’s it! A brief summary of each location. To explore the entire document and some other sheets I fooled around with from earlier posts, click here. Unfortunately, as someone not too experienced with Google Sheets, I can’t figure out a way to sort through columns. Any help would be appreciated since it’d be nice to let others sort their way through the document.

Other than that, enjoy the break until the playoffs.

As a reminder, all stats are according to NBA.com.

East vs. West Week 24: Eh???

Updated week-by-week breakdown with an added column: point differential for the West through each week.

The one game left is Detroit taking on Oklahoma City on Wednesday, guaranteed (probably) to be fun for no longer than one half.

With Oklahoma City’s loss at Indiana yesterday, though, the West is out of contention for their highest winning percentage ever. Sad times since I beat that possibility into the ground over the last two months. Regardless, there’s always point differential to look at:

Lastly, updated month-by-month point differential:

I’ll look into posting something far more interesting after the regular season concludes. We’re so close to those amazing first round matchups out West andacoupleoutEastbutwhatever. Three more days!

Adding to the unlikeliness of Corey Brewer’s 51 points

Shortly after Corey Brewer’s 51-point outing against the Houston Rockets, Ryan Feldman at ESPN Stats & Info published a post about if the Timberwolves wing is the most unlikely 50-point scorer ever.

Here are some cool tidbits from that column that I suggest giving a read:

What do Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Rick Barry and Corey Brewer have in common?

They’re the only players in NBA history with at least 50 points and six steals in a game (steals became official in 1973-74).

More:

Brewer is the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a game without having previously scored 30 points in a game.

And lastly:

Brewer, in his seventh NBA season, is the most experienced player ever to score 50 points without having previously scored 30.

The only other players to score 50 before ever scoring 30 among players with at least two full seasons of NBA experience were Delk (fifth season in 2000-01) and Willie Burton (1994-95 season with the Philadelphia 76ers was his fifth season).

I’d like to add onto those interesting stats, though, after looking through 50-point scorers dating back to the 1978 season. It seems like that’s the first year Basketball-Reference started adding usage rating, among other statistics to their player pages. Here’s what I found:

For seasons when a player has scored 50 points in one game, Brewer’s usage rating is comfortably in last place. Below are the bottom 10 out of 150:

In the last 10 games prior to his explosion versus Houston, Brewer was using 18 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Adding his career night (32.6 usage) hikes that recent uptick to 20.

Brewer also holds the second-worst PER (bottom 10 here) of the 50-point club, one that increased .5 points overnight. He also squeaks into the bottom 20 percent when it comes to offensive rebound percentage, something that could aid in scoring. He’s also on the list of the 25 worst three-point shooting seasons ever, at least for players taking over 200 attempts, and a below-average free throw shooter at 72 percent. The Timberwolves were also without one-half of their “outlet mall” in Kevin Love while Brewer often makes up the receiving end of the fast break points.

None of these obstacles got in the way of Brewer, who scored 32 points in the restricted area alone while going 2-of-6 from three-point range. As for three throws, he was 73 percent but off 15 attempts, good for 11 points from the stripe.

It’s safe to say he’s one of the more unlikely 50-point scorers and hopefully those stats contribute to the discussion. Just for fun, I wanted to compare his shooting that game to his averages in his first 77 outings so I fiddled around with a variety of graphs I’ve recently used for the highest scorers and teams, among other related posts.

Below are his attempted and made shots per game. The last graph is Brewer’s first 77 games with the same axis used for his 51-point outing:

Brewer attempts together

Click to enlarge.

Lastly, points per location:

brewer points

Click to enlarge.

Edit: Percentage of points by location and shooting percentages can be found in those links. I just couldn’t help myself when it came to including yet another batch of those charts in a post. I should probably turn it down a notch.

As someone in Minnesota, though, this has been quite an entertaining last month or so of the season despite the Timberwolves either basically out of playoff contention or officially eliminated. They travel to Sacramento on Sunday where they’ll play former-teammate Derrick Williams, who always seems to show up to play them, but how Brewer will bounce back from 51 points (I still can’t believe it) will obviously be exciting as well. Given how he plays, it’s possible those were the happiest 51 points ever.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference.com, save for the shooting charts. Those are according to NBA.com’s numbers.

Point distribution charts of the top 10 scorers

After experimenting with point distribution charts for teams and with J.R. Smith’s shooting explosion, I thought it’d be fun to apply the same ones for the top 10 players in points per game this season.

As usual, these graphs visualize points per game across six different locations on the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-RA), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and three throws. This time however, those graphs of the 10 players will also include the exact points per location below them and where that production ranks among the 480 players to log playing time this season. All of that is according to NBA.com.

Also, the axis for the 10 players will vary depending on the player, but at the very end of the post I’ll make a common one to show each of the 10 charts in a single GIF, sorted from the highest scorer to the lowest.

With all that said, here are the point distribution charts of those at or near the top in points per game:

1. Kevin Durant – 32.0 points per game

Kevin  Durant 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 7.71 (14th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.65 (21st)
  • Mid-range: 5.66 (8th)
  • Corner 3: 0.43 (209th)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.82 (4th)
  • Free throw: 8.69 (1st)

To get a feel for just how large Kevin Durant’s graph and others on this list really are, we can compare the league’s leading scorer to Kendrick Perkins’ graph because PERK:

durant perk

Click to enlarge.

Perk’s looks minuscule compared to Durant’s, who’s just an offensive shark and in the top 25 in every category except corner threes. It might also be worth noting that just behind Durant in points around the rim per game is none other than Tony Wroten, somehow at 7.62 points per game and good for 17th-best.

As for three-pointers, I’m not sure how common this is and how often it’s been noted before, but Durant shoots better on pull-up attempts (42 percent) than catch and shoot ones (38.7), according to SportVU. Weird, maybe?

Onto number two in points per game:

2. Carmelo Anthony – 27.5 points per game

Carmelo  Anthony 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 5.04 (76th)
  • Paint non-RA:  1.20 (tied-108th)
  • Mid-range:  8.77 (3rd)
  • Corner 3: 0.52 (182nd)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.08 (9th)
  • Free throw: 5.92 (7th)

One of the more unusual charts I’ve looked at, Anthony gets a respectable share of points around the rim but he’s in the middle of the pack when compared with the top 10 in points per game. Ahead of him across the league are the likes of Timofey Mozgod, Alec Burks, and Tobias Harris. Melo also gets very little points from the corner three, but that’s common for high scorers with range.

As for the above the break threes, Anthony’s one of five on this list to crack the top 10 in points from that area of the floor. He also feasts at the line, another common theme with the top scorers.

What makes Anthony’s chart so odd is the mid-range game. This is the first chart where I’ve noticed both a great deal of points in the high-efficiency zones of the floor and the dead zones. Durant’s is like that, but not to the extent of Melo’s.

3. LeBron James – 27.0 points per game

LeBron  James PPL

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 12.00 (1st)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.73 (60th)
  • Mid-range: 3.20 (68th)
  • Corner 3: 0.92 (108th)
  • Above the Break 3: 3.52 (57th)
  • Free throw: 5.64 (8th)

Confirmed: LeBron James feasts around the rim. He made me change the range on his chart to a max of 12 points per location, though a couple other players eventually did the same thing so whatever. His graph is a good example of an efficient one, though, and how it should show quite a few points on the left side. In fact, out of the top 10 scorers, James is the second-most Moreyball-like of the top 10 scorers in that 81.75 percent of his points come around the rim, from three, or from the stripe.

You might be able to guess who’s in first place on that list. Third place in that mentioned stat is…

4. Kevin Love – 25.8 points per game

Kevin  Love PPL 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 6.73 (26th)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.89 (47th)
  • Mid-range:  3.35 (59th)
  • Corner 3: 0.69 (144th)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.61 (6th)
  • Free throw: 6.51 (3rd)

Love’s the first player on this list to not lead or be near the top in averages from one of the first three shot locations. In terms of non-point guards in this list (eight players), he averages the least amount of points from those first few spots but still gets a decent amount from around the rim.

Love’s graph is the prototypical efficient kind anyway, confirming how he scores nearly 80 percent of his points either around the rim, from three, or from the stripe. The king of efficiency among this group goes to the league’s fifth-leading scorer, however:

5. James Harden – 25.3 points per game

James  Harden PPL 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 6.17 (37th)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.54 (tied-70th)
  • Mid-range: 2.51 (89th)
  • Corner 3: 0.51 (185th)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.77 (5th)
  • Free throw: 7.76 (2nd)

Nearly 85 percent of Harden’s points come from the spots that generate the most points per attempt, though he’s still in the top 100 in each of the least-efficient locations. He’s also the only player besides Durant to be in the top five in points from both above the break threes and free throws per game, though Kevin Love narrowly misses out on joining that club too.

6. Blake Griffin – 24.1 points per game

Blake  Griffin 12 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 11.46 (2nd)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.87 (tied-49th)
  • Mid-range: 4.33 (23rd)
  • Corner 3: 0.27 (240th)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.15 (tied-301st)
  • Free throw:  6.00 (6th)

Just how many of Griffin’s points from the non-restricted area part of the paint are from either dunks or near-dunks that turned into double-pump layups? Regardless, we have our first near-triangular chart and the second player to score over 10 points per game from a single shot location. There’s also a smidge of blue crossing over the three-point areas thanks to whatever plays were drawn up to get Griffin a score from there.

7. Stephen Curry – 23.5 points per game

Stephen  Curry 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 3.38 (137th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  1.38 (86th)
  • Mid-range:  5.11 (13th)
  • Corner 3: 1.34 (63rd)
  • Above the Break 3: 8.43 (1st)
  • Free throw: 3.88 (31st)

Arguably the most unusual chart, in my opinion. Curry feasts from outside the paint, one of the stats worth noting being that he averages over one more point per game from the above the break three than third-place Damian LillardRyan Anderson is in second-place at 7.8 but…sigh.

8. LaMarcus Aldridge – 23.3 points per game

LaMarcus  Aldridge 12 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 5.70 (53rd)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.15 (36th)
  • Mid-range:  10.96 (1st)
  • Corner 3: 0.00 (Meh, tied for last)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.13 (308th)
  • Free throw: 4.33 (21st)

Maybe worth noting, maybe not: It took until Aldridge to get to a player who hasn’t made a corner three this season.

And that mid-range game. Aldridge looks like the least-efficient of this bunch as over half of his points come from the dead zones of the floor. In fact, while he scores a whole two more points from mid-range than second-place Dirk Nowitki, he averages nearly six more possible points (25.94 total for LMA) from that area than second-place Carmelo Anthony (20.00) in that stat. Unfortunately, he can’t make every one of those attempts and average nearly 40 points per game. Shucks.

9. DeMar DeRozan – 22.7 points per game.

DeMar  DeRozan 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 4.29 (97th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.13 (tied-37th)
  • Mid-range:  7.42 (4th)
  • Corner 3: 1.46 (51st)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.91 (233rd)
  • Free throw: 6.50 (4th)

Among this list, DeRozan’s chart is my favorite just from the shape his points form.

But, like Aldridge, it’s a bit of a weird one. DeRozan sits comfortably in fourth place in mid-range points, but he only makes a shade under 40 percent of his attempts. He does score the most points per game from the corner three among this group, however, and gets a decent chunk from the free throw line as well, more than the likes of Melo, LeBron, and Paul George, among others.

10. DeMarcus Cousins – 22.4 points per game

DeMarcus  Cousins 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 9.62 (6th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.75 (16th)
  • Mid-range:  4.03 (36th)
  • Corner 3: 0.00 (somewhere in last place)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.00 (take more threes, Boogie!)
  • Free throw: 6.01 (5th)

The most triangular chart of the top 10 scorers, Boogie feasts in the paint, at the line and, um, sometimes from mid-range where me makes 41 percent of his attempts.

That triangle, though. It’s pretty neat, so there’s that.

Lastly, below is a GIF comparing each chart at once. It goes in the order of highest-scoring to the lowest:

Top 10 scorers on Make A Gif

All but Aldridge score at least half their points on locations in the center or left side of the graph. Harden’s chart seems to be the most efficient, though LeBron is just too effective around the rim. Regardless, it’s nice to see a variety of charts, especially the triangles. Don’t forget the triangles.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome.

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