Tag Archives: Detroit Pistons

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!

Month by month lottery movement in GIFs and tables

About a month ago I wrote about the ongoing battle in the middle of the NBA lottery and how that’s often a spot where a team can increase their odds at a top-3 pick by as much as 33 percent, depending on where they are with a couple months left in the season.

For the heck of it, I took a look at this season’s lottery movement month by month, starting with December 16. I chose that odd starting point because of this season ending on April 16.

Below is a GIF of teams with their odds of landing a top-3 pick, and below that is a table showing changes in percentages by each month. Neither of them take account into draft picks owed from trades.

lotto on Make A Gif

I’m in the process of putting together something similar to that GIF, but way more interesting to look at and to be shown on the night the lottery balls come out. More than likely I’ll post it sooner, though, because boredom.

For now, it seems like New Orleans, a team that would be scary with another lottery pick, never gained enough steam to get within the top-5 protection their draft pick has. That’s even with missed time by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. They only have one percent more of a chance at landing a top-3 pick as Goran Dragic and the Suns. As for Milwaukee, they’ve been consistently the worst team in the league standings-wise for the whole season. Congrats, Larry Drew and Larry Sanders.

With a month left in the season still, there’s bound to be more movement below the Bucks and especially in the fourth through seventh spots. Detroit’s also in position to keep their top-8 protected draft pick, but who would they even draft to play with Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Brandon Jennings? For all that talent, there are still quite a few holes to fill. Some of those will disappear with Drummond’s progression, though. Hopefully.

Lastly, below is a table showing percentages by month and records:

Any other thoughts are welcome.

Non-conference update: West back on track for a record winning percentage

The non-conference update follows games pitting the Western Conference’s teams versus the East’s. This season, the West has often held a winning percentage so large it hasn’t been seen in over 50 years.

Over the month of February, the East put up a respectable fight against the West in non-conference play and ended a four-week span 40-46. It put the possibility of the West surpassing their best winning percentage of 63.3 at risk, having to go 71-35 for the rest of the season to set a new high.

Last week’s non-conference results made that mark reachable yet again, however, with the West going 20-8. Below is an updated week-by-week breakdown of non-conference matchups:

(Don’t ask about the colors I’ve been using to outline winning or tied weeks for the East. Both were random choices.)

Western Conference teams won all five games against the East’s heavyweights of Miami and Indiana, including Houston defeating both teams at home. Texas got the best of both of them overall, which isn’t that surprising. It also helped that LeBron James and Paul George, among other players from the two squads, each had an inconsistent week. Some of that blame/credit should go to the defenses of the squads they faced, however.

Even the lowly Kings and Jazz nabbed a couple wins. The Timberwolves, however, lost two games and saw their playoff hopes wash away. They beat Detroit, though, who I still can’t believe is 24-39, yet three games out from the free falling eighth-seeded Hawks team, but gives me no reason to believe they’ll make the playoffs. Maybe we’ll see Carmelo Anthony in the playoffs after all.

Below is a look at the league standings with non-conference games left. Conferences are separated by different sheets, so to view the West simply go to the bottom and click on sheet labeled after it:

Detroit’s seriously 4-20 against the West, putting them in similar company as Boston, Orlando, Philadelphia (POOR THADDEUS YOUNG), and Milwaukee. The only problem is that their record may be too good to keep their top-8 protected pick (good luck surpassing anyone below them but Cleveland). That, combined with not being good enough to make the playoffs, deciding on Greg Monroe this summer, and having Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings on the books until 2016, is about as going nowhere can get. Bad times all around.

Anyway, they have a winnable non-conference game at home on Tuesday against Sacramento, making for a matchup between Andre Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins. Fun, hopefully…!

Below are the rest of the non-conference games this week, 21 games overall:

To reach their record-high in non-conference winning percentage, the West will need to continue with a winning rate similar to last week. They play 15 road games to 6 home games, however. Playoff hopefuls from that conference play 11 games with four of them at home.

For the East’s title contenders, Miami plays two home games while Indiana has no non-conference games this week. We’ll get a good look at the Heat’s rematch against Houston on Sunday as well as Houston’s Thursday night game against Chicago and Joakim Noah, who I have a feeling will live forever or something else totally tubular.

Until next week.

Detroit’s domination and struggle inside the paint

Last night wasn’t exactly a spectacle between the Knicks and Pistons. I spent most of the first half staring at the box score as their combined made field goals, assists, and turnovers were all about the same. Eventually, with the help of Andre Drummond tying the league’s highest total for rebounds this season, Detroit pulled away and revived hopes of making the postseason. The Knicks, meanwhile…

Neither team was an offensive masterpiece. Detroit was the only one to make over 40 percent of their shots, shooting 35-for-83 with 48 of their 96 points coming in the paint. That’s typical of Detroit. Their point distribution graph from last Friday can be found here, but it’s worth noting in this post that they lead the league in the percentage of their points coming around the rim.

But the other portion of the paint was a pain. The Pistons score at a bottom-10 rate inside the paint but outside the restricted area, and it only got worse last night when they put up a donut — 0-for-12. It’s the most attempts taken in the non-restricted area portion of the paint without making a single shot.

Last night’s looks against the Knicks from that area of the floor were probably what would be expected. Some were altered by Tyson Chandler, others were forced attempts like Kyle Singler slashing after being run off the three-point line, and a few were blown looks by Greg Monroe or Brandon Jennings. It happens, especially when over three-fifths of the Pistons’ attempts come from players anywhere from below-average to awful finishers from that area. It’s also not completely unheard of for a team to go scoreless from there when the league average for attempts per game is about 12.5, nearly half the average from mid-range and around the rim.

However, it’s still pretty impressive that Detroit’s 12 attempts resulted in no production. Variance is weird like that.

Below is a breakdown of games where a team went scoreless from a specific area of the floor:

As for a team neglecting an area of the floor:

  1. No team has completely ignored the non-restricted area portion of the paint in a game, but there have been games where only one attempt was taken – two of the occurrences coming from the Knicks and one from the Bulls. The Knicks love to shoot outside the paint in general while the Bulls, well, at least Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, among others, have helped right their ship lately.
  2. Houston’s the only team to take less than five mid-range shots, which they’ve done in four games. Moreyball!
  3. 11 times has a team not taken a corner three. Detroit isn’t found in any of those games, but four games were from the Pelicans. I guess Anthony Davis can’t do everything.
  4. No team has not taken a three from above the break, but Memphis holds the season-low with three attempts on January 31.
  5. Around the rim, Sacramento’s the only team to take less than 10 attempts in a game, which they accomplished on January 24 all while nearly toppling the Pacers. That counts for a moral victory, right? Right?!

Around the rim is where Detroit thrives. The least amount of attempts they’ve taken within the restricted area is 22, which is Brooklyn’s average per game. They also hold the two season-highs for attempts at 53 and 51 on November 29 and January 10, respectively.

It’s that other portion of the paint that’s been tricky for the Pistons, as well as just about everywhere else. Things happen when a team’s composed of players whose ways of scoring overlap with each other’s.

But at least they got the touch around the rim…

Is that not what the Pistons would say to themselves? Long live Caddyshack.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

When Josh Smith makes consecutive threes

Over the last four months I’ve posted both optimistic words about Josh Smith’s shot selection and amazement of how bad it’s become. Hopefully this post is somewhere in the middle, both accepting of his jump shot and that I can’tstopwriting about him.

Josh Smith can do many good things on an NBA court. Catering his game to what math says about it, well, that’s not one of them (though that’s also on Joe Dumars). He’s taken nearly as many shots within five feet, where he averages 1.282 points per attempt, as he does from 20 feet and beyond where he averages .705 points per attempt. It also feels mandatory to mention that because Smith’s a 23.6 percent shooter from the arc that he’s five attempts away from becoming the worst in league history, minimum 200 shots. He’ll be the worst even if he makes every one of those five attempts. Fun times.

Making five threes in a row is possible, by the way. The current chance of Smith accomplishing that is 0.0011 percent or basically the chances of making a straight flush in poker, but the former event actually happened over two games in the 2012-2013 season against Memphis and Miami, when the likelihood of such an occurrence back then was slightly higher at .0053 percent.

Smith’s a streaky three-point shooter, proven as recent as last night when he laughed in the face of math by making two threes in a row against the Spurs. He came into the game shooting 22.9 percent from three (again, on nearly 200 shots) which meant the chance of making his next two attempts was 5.2 percent. If we go by his accuracy since January 1, that percentage drops to 3.1.

That’s exactly what happened, though.

As his 3-point percentage might show, however, Smith will have cold spells where he misses, say, eight in a row. His longest drought this season is currently 11 threes from December 23 to January 7, according to Basketball-Reference, which is currently about as likely to happen again as making another pair of threes. The odds for each are 5.55 percent and 5.18, respectively.

Here are some other occurrences in the NBA about as likely to happen as Smith either making two threes in a row or missing 11 straight, going off his new three-point percentage that’s a shade under 23.6 percent:

  • Brandon Jennings missing seven straight threes from above the break. Don’t count this out. Judging by the distance of a lot of his threes, this has happened multiple times this season.
  • Chris Bosh missing five mid-range shots in a row. With the looks LeBron James and Dwyane Wade give him, that possibility seems, um, not possible.
  • Carmelo Anthony missing five straight threes from above the break. More likely is Anthony making five straight threes and the Knicks still losing.
  • Stephen Curry missing in general, which feels like never.
  • And for the poker players, making two-pair is slightly less likely, calculating to 4.75 percent.

Smith doesn’t care for math, though, as last night was far from the only time he’s made consecutive threes this season — he’s accomplished that eight other times. Smith’s made 46 threes at a 23.5 percent clip, which should mean on average he’d only make two threes in a row just twice and maybe three in a contract year. A similar thing happened in 2013 when Smith shot just 30.3 percent from the arc, making 61 of 201 attempts but he made consecutive threes at twice the average occurrence — 12 compared to 5.6. As usual, the downswings were rough as he once missed 15 straight threes. Earlier seasons show similar variance, though this might be common for several shooters.

Smith’s been a downright streaky three-point shooter, for better or for worse with last night showing both sides. After making two consecutive threes early against San Antonio, Smith attempted another in the fourth quarter in which he proceeded to miss everything. Order was restored, but he’s going to keep hoisting threes whether his shooting hand is hot or so cold it confirms my suspicion he shoots with mittens.

If my math is off, feel free to chime in.

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