Tag Archives: Dwight Howard

HEAVE UPDATE: 2014-15 is a struggle

With just over a month of NBA in the books, I decided to round up a couple random stats and put them here. This post went on the silly side of things as I looked at half-court heaves, which are unfortunately not doing too hot compared to last season when I posted a few (a different link for each letter!) thoughts.

Below is a look at 2001 to 2015’s numbers, via Basketball-Reference’s Shot Finder tool. The numbers are a bit different from previous posts. Since Casper Ware’s half-court shot last season was logged from 46 feet instead of the ~50 that was obvious on film, I gave the Shot Finder a two-foot cushion, increasing the range of shots to 45-94 feet. This isn’t meant to needle Basketball-Reference. Getting exact shot locations and the time the attempt was taken, among other things, is not easy.

Anyway, below are the numbers this season. I also added another column looking at how many points the heaves would have to be worth to reach an average of one point per attempt.

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Four-point line? How about one worth 40 points? If this ever happens, some fans are getting max contracts.

John Henson is the only player to make a shot from beyond half-court this season, because I don’t know. Jamal Crawford leads the league in most attempted heaves with three, somehow not creating four-point plays on all of them. Some surprising names to attempt a shot or two: Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Gorgui Dieng. Weeeeeeeee

2015 is behind 2014’s pace in made heaves, though. Not too surprising since 2014 was the second-best heave percentage ever tracked, but 2015 is also in contention for the least-accurate ever. It even looks like 2015 is behind 2014’s pace is in attempted heaves, which, I don’t know. I’ll try to remain optimistic. MOAR HEAVES C’MON.

Stay tuned over the rest of the season for more heave updates. Until then, have a good heavening. /Hides

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East vs. West Week 4: Here we go again

In Week 2’s non-conference roundup, I noted that last year’s Western Conference began their dominance in weeks 3 through 7. They went 69-23 during that stretch.

Well…

With an 18-3 record and a +10.9 point differential versus the East, last week was arguably the West’s third most impressive since starting these posts. In weeks 3 and 7 last season, the West went 13-1 with a +13.14 point differential and 16-2 with a +10.00 point differential, respectively.

There could a case for last week to be ranked higher. The West went 18-for-21 despite 19 of the games featuring their team going off zero or one day of rest compared to 13 occurrences for the East, plus nine games where an East team had a rest advantage of one day or more. The East also had five more home games with a 13-8 edge.

The issue came, as you might’ve guessed, with talent. Using SRS as one measure, at the time of 15 of the 21 games, the West team had a higher mark, per Basketball-Reference. The West won 14 of those games, their only loss when Chicago defeated the Clippers without Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol. It was a hell of a victory for the Bulls and ended what was a struggle of a Monday for the East. The Lakers won in Atlanta the next day, the West went 5-1 on Wednesday, Sacramento and the Clippers took advantage of some missing players on Chicago and Miami’s squads in their TNT games, and the weekend was quite ugly. The West went 6-1 from Friday to Sunday and outscored opponents by a total of 100 points. Ew.

I’m not sure it gets that much better for the East. Check out what matchups take place in Week 5:

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The East has another five-game advantage at home, but as usual the West has some heavy hitters. Golden State and Dallas each play four non-conference games while the Clippers, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, and San Antonio play two each. For the East, most frequently on the menu-I-MEAN-SCHEDULE is Charlotte, New York, and Toronto. Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, Orlando, and Philadelphia combine for eight other games. For the most part, that’s not great.

Some other bad news for the East might be that Houston, without Dwight Howard, does not play another non-conference game for another month after Monday’s matchup versus New York. Minnesota, not doing too hot without Ricky Rubio, among others, is also on a bit of a non-conference break. They play their next non-conference game on December 3 (Week 6) before playing a bunch of East foes in Week 8. The East will avoid Memphis for a while, though, so at least they won’t match up against one juggernaut.

But a few more are looking to feast. Last season, much of the West took advantage of road trips out East and against those traveling on west coast trips. Let’s see if it also continues to be the case this season.

Throwback Thursday: When Danny Fortson was unconscious from the stripe

Once in a while I’ll remember what day it is and post something related to Throwback Thursday. This week’s post goes back 10 seasons and then some in regards to a bruiser in the middle.

The 2005 SuperSonics had Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both in the primes of their careers and knocking down three-pointer after three-pointer. Vladimir Radmanovic and Luke Ridnour were others  who also had accurate range. All of them helped make that squad one of the 20 most efficient offenses in the last 10 seasons, according to Basketball-Reference.

What’s easy to forget, though, is their free throw shooting was also elite. If not for Reggie Evans, the ’05 Sonics were one of the five most accurate shooters from the line. Evans could board, averaging 14 rebounds per 36 minutes, but making free throws was quite a weakness as he finished the season at 53 percent on three attempts per game.

Enter Danny Fortson, a bruiser off the bench who could rebound nearly as well (20.3 percent of available rebounds compared to Evans’ 23.9), foul over twice as often (yay?), but was as accurate from the free throw line as Allen and Ridnour that season. He finished the year at 88 percent, 10th best in the league and a mark higher than the current ones of Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry, though Fortson’s skill set is nowhere near as glamorous as those three sharks.

A player like Fortson is normally a liability at the line, much like Evans still is. Since 2000, a player to snag more than 20 percent of rebounds in play for a season (accomplished 79 times) has on average made only 63.2 percent of their free throws. Players like Dwight Howard and (soon) Andre Drummond drag that percentage down but a few big men like Fortson and Kevin Love balance things out somewhat.

The table below should help show how weird of company Fortson is both included and tops in. The filters: 500 minutes played, 20 percent of available rebounds, and 80 percent free throw shooting:

For the fantasy basketball players out there: Fortson’s combination of rebounding and free throw shooting wasn’t enough to make him a valuable player overall except during 2002. Durability, lack of major minutes, and a lack of stocks – steals + blocks – all played a factor in that. Still, he could’ve been a nice piece for free throw percentage and rebounds as long as a team was punting blocks or steals.

As for the table, the filters might be a little loose so Fortson is included with the rest of the players listed above, but I had to make some kind of requirement so Quentin Richardson wouldn’t be included. Also, Zaid Abdul-Aziz just became one of my favorite NBA names ever. I even “liked” his Basketball-Reference page.

Anyway, in between the extremes of free throwers like Howard and Fortson are a bunch of players like Zach Randolph and Joakim Noah.

But while Fortson could joust for position under the rim with the best of them, he could also rack up fouls in a hurry. He’s only one of two players to log over 500 minutes and average nine fouls per-36. During his 2004-05 stint, he averaged over four fouls per game all while playing over 1,000 minutes, which is kind of impressive in itself. Since 2000, only eight players have averaged four fouls and even logged 500 minutes of play. The average free throw percentage for those guys is actually quite good, balancing out to 75.2 percent. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the worst free throwers of that group with Fortson as the best, thanks to that unusual 88 percent shooting.

Below is a table of those eight players and their free throw percentages:

It’s an interesting mix of players (not just on the court, but in general). For Jason Collins and Fortson, I’m not sure foul accumulation mattered that much since they’re rarely playing significant time anyway, but for someone like Shawn Kemp to average 4.5 fouls? Good grief.

Looking back, I’m not sure what Fortson’s best remembered for. Was it his fouling, rebounding, technical fouls, his time as a Cincinnati Bearcat, and/or even the dreadlocks that could’ve made him a solid teammate with Latrell Sprewell and Michael Beasley? It’s unlikely his free throw percentage can topple all of those traits, but his touch from the line was and continues to be so rare for a player like himself.

Below are some players who could join him in some rare company with the combo of free throw shooting and high-volume rebounding. As far as I’m concerned, especially after some searches on Basketball-Reference, nobody this season is within reach of his hot hand from the line and high-volume fouling.

That table isn’t meant to compare those players to Fortson; just listing a couple similar, basic stats they all thrive in. As for the 2005 playoffs, the Sonic forward/center shot 80 percent from the stripe on 15 attempts. A drop-off, sure, but still an impressive percentage nonetheless.

As usual, any other thoughts are welcome. Happy Thursday, but also happy Friday when that time arrives (if it hasn’t already).

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

Hack-A-Drummond could be wakeup call for Detroit

If there’s a great thing about being a basketball player in a small market, it’s that nobody knows your weaknesses. DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard play in two of the biggest markets, unlike Andre Drummond who resides in Motor City, which explains why the first two are widely known as terribly free throw shooters and intentionally fouled because of it while Drummond has gone unnoticed. 

Actually, that was a terrible attempt at sarcasm. Also, I have no idea why teams haven’t intentionally fouled Drummond yet. Sure, Howard and Jordan’s shooting woes from the line are discussed more frequently, but Drummond’s percentage has been far worse, down to 16 percent after last night’s loss to the Lakers. That percentage comes from a small sample size, however, since he’s only attempted 1.3 free throws per game.

But there lies what’s so surprising. Why haven’t teams intentionally fouled him? It’s not like Drummond’s an energy guy off the bench; he plays 35.1 minutes per game, right up there with Howard and Jordan. He also logs 7.4 minutes per fourth quarter, according to NBA.com, so the opportunity to put him on the line is there when opponents need to make up ground and quickly. This isn’t meant to rip on Drummond, who’s one of the most intriguing players in the league and uploads some of the best Vines,  among other things, but he has a glaring weakness in his game that teams haven’t taken advantage of. 

Maybe the intentional fouls are coming, but if they could actually be a blessing in disguise for Detroit. This is a reach, but hack-a-Drummond could signal Maurice Cheeks to further stagger the minutes of Detroit’s best three frontcourt players of Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith, who play 20 minutes together per game according to NBA.com. They’ve bled points on defense and cramped the spacing on offense no matter who has started in the backcourt, though the CaldwellPope and Jennings pairing at the guard positions has yielded solid defensive numbers through two games. It’s also been at the expense of having even an average offense. 

That doesn’t mean Drummond’s free throw shooting makes him unplayable, but when teams are in the penalty and outside of two minutes, they can hack away and grind Detroit’s offense to a halt. It also doesn’t mean Drummonds at fault for the frontcourt’s failures. It would be unfortunate for its split to come at the hands of teams exposing his poor free throw shooting, but if that’s the calling card for Mo Cheeks to search for more efficient frontcourt combos, then it could be for the better. 

Houston’s twin’s towers: A permanent breakup or temporary?

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Playing Dwight Howard and Omer Asik together seemed hopeless from the get-go.

You could say Kevin McHale’s change in the lineup last night was a one-time adjustment, meant to match up with a smaller, hectic 76ers lineup that started Thaddeus Young at power forward, but the results of playing the two centers at once justify scrapping the ‘Twin Tower’ idea altogether. In 92 minutes, the Rockets were minus-35 in point-differential when Howard and Asik were on the floor, scoring at a rate that would’ve ranked far and away dead last in the league. Defensively, they flirted with the bottom ten in efficiency, that side of the court being where the two centers would be effective.

But not when they’re paired together.  

Enter Terrence Jones, the second-year forward who started in Asik’s place in last night’s overtime-loss. He had 10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and two threes in 37 minutes. Pick and choose which of those statistics is most surprising, whether it’s the threes he helped stretch the floor with, the rebounding that was very good for the playing time he was given, or even just the fact that he played 37 minutes even if the game went to overtime.

Or maybe Asik all but joining ‘Club Trillion’ in only four minutes of play stuck out more than whatever Jones did. It’s too early to peg just how many minutes he will receive if he continues coming off the bench, though he only played 10-15 minutes when he was a backup for the Chicago Bulls.  Who knows what McHale has in store for Asik and the Houston’s rotation going forward. 

Jones playing 37 minutes was also surprising, as mentioned earlier, but he made them count. 30 of them were with Howard, resulting in Houston being plus-eight in point-differential in that timeframe. The starting lineup with Jones and Howard was even better as they logged 25 minutes as a unit and were plus-11. Defensively, they had about the same efficiency as any lineup featuring Asik and Howard together, but the offense was so much better. It also helps when Jeremy Lin makes, say, nine three pointers, though his defense continues to be a question mark going forward.

It was obviously only one game (I feel like I’ll have to type ‘SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT’ in every post for another month) and the absence of James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams, the triple-double of Tony Wroten, and the 36-point outburst of James Anderson were just a few reasons to take last night’s results with a whole saltshaker. 

But Houston’s experiment with playing Terrence Jones at power forward was a necessary one, in my couch potato opinion, regardless of the opposition. Tonight, the Rockets match up with the Knicks, another team featuring a small ball starting lineup. Let’s see what McHale does next.

All stats are from NBA.com.

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