Chris Webber’s assist distribution (and tracking data?)

Last season was the first with player tracking data logged for every team. While this continues to be nothing short of fantastic, the early-2000s feel like the Stone Age and the needy side of me wishes it was available for players of that era and earlier.

One example is Chris Webber and his passing. Among other dishes, watching him on the low post whip the ball behind his back to a cutter is a timeless joy. I could only watch so many of those highlights while attempting to write about his scoring before tallying up some passing stats, even some we’d see from the player tracking data today on NBA.com.

NBA.com has assist charts back to 1998 with shot locations from them, so I made distribution stats to sort through. One sheet has the basic shot zones and another uses NBA.com’s from their shot charts. (Names I gave each location can be found in a screenshot).

But hopefully just looking at the tables helps explain all of that:

Webber’s assist distribution (location assists/total assists)

What might be interesting are the swings in the threes, like nearly 1/4 of Webber’s assists coming from beyond the arc in Sacramento compared 15 to 20% everywhere else. That’s not too surprising given the differences in teammates, but I felt like going into a little detail:

Washington

  • The small percentage of threes make sense with Webber taking 2.9 per game himself and 33% of all attempts from there while on the floor, per NBA.com. No other starter averaged more than 0.6 attempts or cracked a 3P% of 30. Fun times.

Philadelphia

  • In 21 games in 2005 for the 76ers, there’s a spike in assists to the corner 3. That can be explained by Kyle Korver assisted eight times there and 21 overall. The decline from 3 with Philadelphia in 2007 could be explained by Allen Iverson‘s 3P% falling off a cliff before he was traded, Webber logging 264/544 minutes with Kevin Ollie who took 2 threes all season, no stretchy bigs, and the 2007 Sixers being super weird all season.

Sacramento (2001 to 2002)

  • There’s the trade of guards from Jason Williams to Mike Bibby. Webber logged 9.39% more of his minutes with the latter player who took nearly 1/3 more of his shots from mid-range. In 2002, Webber also played 17.47% more of his minutes with Hedo Turkoglu compared to 2001 and 10% less with Stojakovic. Between the two wings, their mid-range rate was about the same but Turkoglu had a slightly lesser three point rate. That was all from Basketball-Reference (table of % of MP w/ Webber here).

So the assist distribution looks fairly roster-dependent. The same can be said while comparing Webber’s %s with a few others: Kevin Garnett, Mike Bibby, and LeBron James.

It wasn’t just KG who loved mid-range shots in Minnesota. Ray Allen helped alter his and LeBron’s assist distribution when teaming up with each, but Shane Battier playing alongside James the last two years more than Udonis Haslem helped too. The differences with Bibby and Webber make sense with their pick and pop game (Christie + Webber too, and Bibby with other bigs). In 2002, 55% of Bibby-to-Webber assists were from mid-range, per NBA.com.

Looking at individuals assisted by Webber, here were some where he was their primary feeder: ’98 Rod Strickland, ’99&’00 Peja Stojakovic, ’01 Jason Williams, ’01-’05 Doug Christie (minus ’04), ’03&’05 Mike Bibby, and ’06 Allen Iverson, according to NBA.com. It’s vague as I just took total assists without weighing it with anything else like minutes with Webber versus other passers, but there’s no lineup data available pre-2001 to match NBA.com’s stats back to ’98. It does make me think, though, that in 2006 Webber would total more assists alongside a sharpshooter like Stojakovic, but with Iverson he’d collect more free throw assists.

Speaking of that, I’ll end this by sharing passing stats like those FT assists but also primary and secondary assist opportunities. These were from available playoff games on YouTube and I would’ve logged some regular season ones if not for my laptop dying during those:

webber assists

Those were some pretty decent defenses: The ’97 Bulls, ’99 Jazz (faded badly though), and the ’00-’02 Lakers. Dreadful defenses vs Sacramento probably paid a steeper price for being a half-step slower versus Webber, with him likely carving out more hockey and FT assists versus them.

Webber still stuffed the stat sheet even with teammates who didn’t take full advantage of primary and secondary assist chances. The 1999 and 2000 Kings were 5th and 3rd in 3PA rate, respectively, but 24th and 28th in 3P%. Stojakovic was still growing into the scoring shark he eventually became, Williams had a quick trigger, and Corliss Williamson was not a small forward who was going to stretch the floor. The 1999 Kings still had some flash, but they were kind of feisty.

As for 2000, Webber was a beast in Game 1 vs LAL, especially the first quarter, and his passing in the 4th quarter of Game 4 was sublime. In the dead part of the NBA off-season, I’d highly recommend watching those games and other full length ones of him on YouTube.

Charts for the players above average from everywhere, via Nylon Calculus

My last post went over the players above-average in attempts/36 minutes from each of the basic shot zones plus free throws. HOWEVER, with the updated shot charts by Austin Clemens over at Nylon Calculus being so great and all, I decided to make a gallery with those charts too.

As a reminder, below are the players that will be featured and the seasons when they made the cut. For example, 2.00 for a shot location means they took twice the player average for attempts per 36 minutes. It’s not sorted by position or pace, unfortunately, but I like to think it’s interesting. For more info check out that post:

And now, their charts in alphabetical order:

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From my judgement, based on the charts 16 of the 46 featured a player favoring the opposite side of their strong hand, like a right-hander showing more than ~60/40ish activity on the left side versus the right. 13 of those were righties shooting much of their shots from the left side with Gary Payton‘s being some of the most lopsided. 2004 Michael Redd was one of the four lefties.

22 looked balanced (2005 Gilbert Arenas, for example) while the last seven favored the side that goes with their dominant hand. 2003 Vince Carter was one of those guys. He actually made each category, but that’s a bit easier when having four seasons on the list.

The players above average in attempts from everywhere

Lately I’ve fooled around with player field goal attempts per 36 minutes, but mostly from a specific shot zone and compared that to the player average by dividing by it. While it’s a statistic I’ve yet to filter by positions, it should still have some value (as you might have noticed on Twitter if we’re friends on there). It’s weird that it’s rarely cited if at all when we sometimes compare a player’s shooting percentages from shot zones with the league average, even though that has its flaws too.

One reason could be be that the player average of attempts/36 minutes is a stat that’s probably hard to find and, at least for me, takes a little bit of time to calculate. Taking that into account and since it’s a key part of this post, it’s probably helpful to post a breakdown of the player averages from each shot location from 1998 to 2014. Numbers were calculated about a couple months ago from NBA.com, and the chart is interactive so sort, filter, even type into the chart if you’d like:

We can use those averages for silly things like to see if any player over the last 17 seasons took an above-average amount of attempts/36 from every shooting location and from the free throw line. As you might’ve guessed from the title, that’s what I did here. With the minimum minute total set at 1,000 for every season except 1999 (set at 600 minutes) and 2012 (800), 46 made the cut out of a possible 4,296. Quite a few players made repeat appearances.

Below is the list where I divided their attempts/36 minutes by the player average that season, so for example if a player’s above the break 3s spat out a number of 2 or higher, it means they took at least twice the player average of above the break 3s per 36. The table itself is ordered by years but the chart should allow for sorting and filtering. You can also find a player’s per-36 numbers in a second sheet:

There are definitely some odd names on that list. Among them: 2009 John Salmons, 2012 Jordan Crawford, 2004 Tim Thomas, even last season’s Jeff Green. Those guys narrowly made the cut. Some more expected names are probably Allen Iverson, the early to mid-2000s Vince Carter, the first Shaq-less year of Kobe Bryant, the rise of LeBron James, and, of course, Toni Kukoc.

Just about all players were comfortably above the player average in attempts/36 from the above the break 3. I suppose this isn’t surprising since most centers bring the average 3PA/36 down and wings were likely impacted negatively when it came to filtering shots in the two zones inside the paint. Again, adding a position filter is a project before next season.

Overall, though, the corner 3 was the biggest dealbreaker when filtering out players who didn’t take the average attempts from a certain spot. Below is the number the list grows to if we take out the filter from each location and minutes, along with some notable players who would then make the cut:

  • Restricted Area: 113. So much Ben Gordon, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Martin, and Ray Allen. Also 2003 Rasheed Wallace.
  • In the Paint (Non-RA): 87. Some random names but also lots of Jerry Stackhouse, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, and Stephen Jackson.
  • Mid-Range: 75. Nobody from the recent Rockets squads show up, but Manu Ginobili and Antoine Walker make multiple appearances. Also much more Gary Payton.
  • Corner 3: 147. Basically every season from Iverson, Bryant, and LeBron.
  • Above the Break 3: 65. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Luol Deng, and 2014 Evan Turner.
  • Free Throws: 60. Lots of randomness: 2005 Keith Bogans, 2007 Randy Foye, 2003 Rodney White, 2008 Willie Green, and 2013 Michael Beasley.
  • And also minutes: 56. Lester Hudson (!!!).
  • If we even made every filter 90% of what it normally was (minutes included): 137. Lots more Antawn Jamison, Metta World Peace, and about every 2004-2010 season of Michael Redd. Also included would be 2014 Goran Dragic.

Something else worth noting is how rare something like this is happening over the last half-dozen seasons. A thought on why: The change in the shooting guard and wings overall. Looking at some of the teams those players were on, it’s also understandable a few had carried a significant load of the scoring.

Overall, the last six seasons make up 35% of the time between 1998 to 2014, but the players from that span make up only 21% of the list. Nearly half of it comes from 1998 to 2004, though quite a few players are repeats. If we took out the free throw filter (which felt kind of unfair to begin with), the ratio of players from 2009 to 2014 and 1998 to 2014 is nearly the exact same.

Going forward, I actually thought Paul George was a strong candidate to join this list in 2015 despite a likely decline from the corner three, but unfortunately we know now his campaign won’t happen.

Lastly, below are radar charts visualizing the stats in the two sheets previously listed. I also tried to make the axis on each chart as consistent as possible but exceptions were made for one player. The galleries below are probably on auto-play, but they should be fairly easy to toggle through. There’s even a little animation between each screenshot. Hopefully they’re not ridiculous:

Player’s FGA per 36 / Player Average FGA per 36 (sorted alphabetically)

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Player’s FGA per 36 ( sorted alphabetically)

After charting a players’ attempts per game for a while, you get to see what kind of players take on certain shapes. For the high-usage, high-scoring player, the shape is often what is seen here: A…stingray? Sometimes it’s a fat one or whatever.

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All stats are from NBA.com. Not expecting these to be shared, but if you’d like to share those charts please either link back to this post or give some kind of credit involving Chicken Noodle Hoop or my name. I know both are weird to type out or say out loud, but it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.  

Looking at the NBA’s 2015 non-conference schedule

Last week’s release of the NBA’s 2014-15 season schedule marks the return of the non-conference posts. Maybe we’ll find something that gives one conference a scheduling edge over the other in their non-conference matchups. For the East, that would be nice.

As a reminder, 450 non-conference games are played each season, basically taking the number of teams (30) divided by those in each conference (15). The matchups last season were historic in several ways, one being that the West outscored the East by 4.09 points per game, the highest ever point differential in the last 17 seasons, according to NBA.com. The 2014 West nearly finished with the highest winning percentage in non-conference play, but fell just short of the mark set in 2004 at 63.33 percent.

Below is a breakdown of point differential, wins and losses, and win percentage in non-conference play since 1998. You can find the same chart in the last East vs. West post last season. All stats are from NBA.com:

It’s probably obvious, but the 450 non-conference games next season are not scheduled at a consistent frequency over the season nor do they all take place within designated weeks. Below is a chart of how many of these games take place in each of the 25 weeks.

2015 non-conf games

19 of those 25 have anywhere from 14-29 non-conference games and the ones that fall below that range are opening week, the week just before and after the all-star break, and the last three weeks of the season. On the other end, weeks 5&6 (11/24-12/7), 13&14 (1/19-2/1), and 20&21 (3/9-3/22) combine to take up over a third of the non-conference games. Those two-week stretches feature 50, 51, and 56 games, respectively.

And though each team has 15 home and road non-conference games, they don’t happen equally either. Below is a chart looking at how many more home games each conference plays versus the other each week. For example, on the first week (10/28-11/2) the West has five home non-conference games versus two for the East, which amounts to +3 in the chart.

2015 non-conf home and road games

The East will have more home games early on, but it will catch up to them as we head into 2015 when the West will have 30 of the 45 games from 12/30 to 1/11 at home. From 1/26 to 2/22, the East will have 10 more home games than the West, but then the West hits another home-heavy stretch from 3/9 to 3/22.

Rest is also a factor in quite a few non-conference games. 238 (52.9 percent) of the 450 matchups will feature teams playing on equal days of rest, with 191 featuring both the West and East team on a one-day breather. Below is a chart of the total games on equal rest and those that feature rest advantages:

2015 non-conference rest

 

The advantage of playing games on more rest than an opponent goes to the East, 108 to the West’s 104, but the West holds arguably the most important rest advantage: Games with rest vs squads on back-to-backs, 69 games to 65 but also a 60 to 49 edge in games at home vs squads on a back-to-back. An advantage for the East is having six more games where they’ll have more rest vs opponents coming off a one-day break, best when an opponent is in the middle of a stretch of four games in five nights or three in four.

Of course, not all back-to-backs are equal. A back-to-back combo of Philadelphia and Boston is less intimidating than 2/3 of the Texas Triangle. Then again, the Knicks went 2-1 through the Spurs, Rockets, and Mavericks. Injuries and mid-season trades also happen, though the latter not nearly as often as in the past.

Predictions for teams and conferences is pointless to me, but I still see a top-5 point differential for the West with the reason as simple as the West remaining lo-o-o-oaded. That prediction isn’t as bold as saying the West will record their best ever winning percentage versus the East, but like last year a ton would have to go wrong for that to have a chance of happening. For the sake of a great season and competitive balance, hopefully Derrick Rose and the Bulls stay healthy, Toronto picks up where they left off since trading Rudy Gay, Chris Bosh returns to a strong #1 option, Cleveland has a hell of a year with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, and the middle of the East wins a few more games than last season.

But we’re still over two months away from the regular season, which I struggle to accept. First hopeful thing comes first: Hopefully this off-season doesn’t last forever.

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 % 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.

Take a look if you’d like. Each season is the first year of a rookie contract so Garnett’s would be 1996, Kobe Bryant‘s as 1997, Anthony Bennett‘s as 2014, and so on. Below that are differences in $ from each draft slot:

Below are differences in three and four-year rookie contracts. At first I listed players with their draft slot for easy comparing but it made tables too messy. Basketball-Reference’s draft pages might help.

Again, each season marks the first year of a rookie contract so Garnett’s would be ’96, Bryant’s as 1997, Bennett’s as 2014, and so on. Might be easy to mistake that when looking at sheets in the middle.

Hopefully that helps those posting re-drafts, 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 (Insider-only). There’s also been 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 15th overall to, say, second? 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 to look at the biggest raises from each rookie class. I’m sure a few re-picks are debatable as they’re not team-specific to begin with and I left off second-rounders, but it goes to show what an uptick in the sum of rookie contracts can be like. 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 sure of or thought were more interesting than others:

The largest increases happen when players went 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 night and only slipped after a series of front office blunders. In re-drafts, some players like Michael Carter-Williams (and possibly ones from draft classes down the road) would’ve still had raises in their rookie contracts as large as the first year of a mini-max contract. I also think actual draft slots have an impact on second contracts, which is another post 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.

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