Tag Archives: Goran Dragic

Dream Team #3 within the salary cap, Part 2–Bench

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This is part 2 of my dream team series and now my most pointless off-season post. That is, until the next post is published, and then the one after that, and…(for part 1, click here)

It’s a two-part series dedicated to the bi-annual construction of a team that doesn’t even exist (you can view past ridiculous squads here and here). I try to mix talent with cap-friendliness since I can’t go over the salary cap for any reason. This year, that limit is $63.065 million. All contracts are fair game, save for rookie deals. From there, I try to make the best roster to my limited abilities. This post covers the reserves. Below is a quick look at the starters I selected. You can find more regarding them in part 1:

The starters combined for $49,397,823 which left $13,667,177 for the last seven players. That’s an average cap hit of $1,952,453 for each slot. Not great, not terrible. We can still splurge on a player who’s on a good, $5-9 million contract, and fill the rest of the bench with minimum deals.

So let’s get started. As a reminder, all cap hits are according to Spotrac.com. Shot charts are from Nylon Calculus.

#6: Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

  • Cap hit: $7,500,000

dragic 2014

I was lost on who to select. It felt mandatory to take Greg Monroe because of his qualifying offer, but I’m not sure a small ball center was best. Kyle Korver was another tempting player and I love his game, but he felt redundant with Dirk and Curry, Channing Frye would’ve made for some fun combos as a stretch-5, Wesley Matthews would’ve started but the extra few million impacted the options for this slot, and a few others were intriguing. For the sixth man I felt like I mashed buttons, clicked and prayed.

I settled with Goran Dragic. Mike Conley was another guard considered but, well, I don’t know.

Two words to describe Dragic, though, are electrifying and fearless, challenging behemoths at the rim even LeBron would shy from. Check out a couple of these moves against the Pacers:

Imagine the pick-and-roll with either Nowitzki or LeBron after being so good with Channing Frye. Dragic is also one of the best shooters in both pull-up and catch-and-shoot situations. Just look at his shot chart overall. It’s so nice and balanced. He finished 2014 with a true shooting percentage over 60%, a rarity for a 20+ points per game guard with above-average usage.

Is that all coming back in 2015? The threes concern me the most. In 2012 and 2013, Dragic shot a combined 32.6% off 478 three-point attempts, and the spike in 2014 was aided by a higher dose of attempts from the corners. Only 18 guards, 6’4″ or smaller, have finished two seasons shooting 40% from 3 with a usage rate over 20%, so that doesn’t help, but plenty of great point guards have cleared those arbitrary benchmarks only once. It’s not terrible to decline to, like, 37%.

As you can see, though, I’m still talking myself out of this selection, and it’s weird that Dragic is coming off the freakin’ bench. It’s possible he’d in crunch time lineups. In part 1, I projected how many points the starters would score per 100 possessions, but let’s see what could happen if we plug in Dragic.

dragic lineups1dragic lineups2

As explained in part 1, a study by Eli Witus years ago showed that a lineups’ offensive rating increases by .25 points/100 possessions when it has to decrease it’s usage 1%, and vice versa. Depending on the 5-man unit featuring Dragic, it made for projected ratings of 126.5 and 124.6. Both ratings are higher than the 122.9 points/100 possessions for the starting lineup.

Using Neil Paine’s model that combines not just Witus’ but Dean Oliver‘s work, let’s see how these lineups perform when adjusting for all the high-usage players (again, for further explanation, check out part 1). Here’s what they look like when shifting usage proportionally:

projected1 projected2

And now optimizing for the best projected points per 100 possessions:

optimized1 optimized2

Not quite the results expected from Witus’ study alone, but still 120+ points per 100, so, that’s okay. Danny Green’s offensive rating means he disappears when fiddling with usage, and hurts the bottom line of these units. I didn’t project numbers for any other 5-man combos.

Player #7: Shawn Marion, Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Cap hit: $915,243

marion 2014

I may or may not be depressed Marion is 36 years old. It makes this something of a gamble even on a minimum contract. I’m using a roster spot on him, after all.

Al-Farouq Aminu was available and offers rebounding, but on my imaginary team I’d rather take the guy proven to also make a corner 3 and fit in right away. Maybe that’s why Cleveland went with Marion too. Should his defense slide, that’s an issue, but this roster doesn’t need him to turn back the clock.

Player #8: Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets

  • Cap hit: $915,243

bevs 2014

A bit weird to select both Dragic and Beverley, but I’m not too confident Beverley can hound point guards for 31 minutes like last season, so he’s going to be turbo-charged for like 20, or something. He’ll be a pest off the bench during the season, playoffs, and even the pre-season. Remember this?

Like Green and LeBron, he’s a one-man wrecking crew versus fast breaks.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Houston Rockets, but Beverley alone makes them watchable. Below are two places, either games or eras, where I wish we’d see him play:

  • The ‘90s. Beverley may not be the tallest, strongest, or greatest point guard, but can you imagine him playing defense with the freedom defenders once had?
  • All-star games. If voted in, I could see Beverley sucking the the fun out of next year’s festivities.

Offensively, Beverley is all right. Low-usage, high-efficiency, league-average 3PT%, and below-average finishing but the mid-50% around the rim isn’t terrible. His defense certainly propels him into a rotation.

Player #9: Troy Daniels, Houston Rockets

  • Cap hit: $816,482

daniels 2014

Like Beverley, Daniels is a role player who should make the Rockets entertaining. I look forward to seeing what kind of looks Harden gives him with two seconds left on the shot clock.

Undrafted with only five NBA games (shot chart is from the D-League), Daniels is still a solid candidate to become one of the best shooters. In the D-League, he attempted 12.5 threes PER GAME and made 40% of them. Even the ‘meh’ areas in his chart look good. When he and Curry are on the floor, either on my fake team or against each other in real life, threes will be hoisted and fire will be made.

My backcourt is crowded. Finding minutes for Daniels will be tricky. Now to forwards and rim protectors:

Player #10: Cole Aldrich, New York Knicks

  • Cap hit: $915,243

Cole  Aldrich 2014

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll admit Aldrich wasn’t so terrible as a backup for the Knicks.

When looking at per-36 numbers, Aldrich cracks the top 20 in Seth Partnow’s rim protection stats. He also grabs defensive rebounds like crazy, snatching 33.8% of all missed field goals while on the floor, and he blocked 4.8 shots per 100 possessions all while not looking like the hack he was in previous seasons with Oklahoma City, Houston, and Sacramento. He finished 2014 with a PER of 19.1.

The problem is that he’s rarely played, only logging 1,033 minutes over four seasons. In 2014, a good load of it was in garbage time versus fringe-rotation players. 60% of his 330 total minutes came in the fourth quarter and 70% while up or behind by double-digits, per NBA.com. Hopefully the Knicks take a closer look at what they might have in Aldrich, but if he wants to converse with Jose Calderon about human ham, that’s fine too. I selected another potential rim protector in case that happens.

Player #11: Ed Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

  • Cap hit: $981,084

ed davis 2014

The Lakers and their pull when it comes to minimum deals continues, as Davis is a nice third big deserving of a larger check. Hopefully he doesn’t get buried behind Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, and Julius Randle. The Lakers’ frontline is quite crowded.

Like Aldrich, Davis was a lottery pick in the 2010 Draft and probably expected to be a larger contributor by now, but let’s not confuse the two. He has a career sample size 5x as large and just barely missed 1,000 minutes with an OREB% and DREB% of 10 and 20, respectively. He’s long and rangy, an active defender, though with more important minutes under his belt he doesn’t hold up well in the same rim protection stats as Aldrich. His build also means he gets pushed around, but it also helps him move well for someone in that 6’10”-6’11″ish range.

Playing Davis with LeBron, Beverley, and either Lopez or Marion would be interesting defensively.

Player #12: Jon Leuer-Durant-Chamberlain-Jordan***, Memphis Grizzlies

Cap hit: $967,500

Leuer 2014

Saving the best for last, Leuer is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. He’s Memphis’ Kevin Durant, only better. Unfortunately, Leuer took only 49 threes last season, and defensively he doesn’t look too hot in a few all-in-one metrics. Hopefully he’ll be more consistent next year. Up to this point he’s played just 123 games and 1,384 minutes. Leuer needs to stop screwing around and take over the league already.

***This was a lame attempt to get Jon Leuer a nickname on Basketball-Reference.

So there’s my 12-man squad. Below is a similar stat summary as in part 1, but with all the players. Click to enlarge because holy hell that looks blurry.

team overlay

Among other things, this is an efficient scoring bunch. Those that take more than a few mid-range shots (Curry, Nowitzki, LeBron) are either good to great at them. Also, look at Daniels’ secondary percentage. It’s from the D-League, sure, but that would flirt with the best marks in NBA history.

As for defensive metrics, they don’t look too bad for this team. It’s kind of embarrassing where Leuer ranks among the league, though, and all of my backup bigs are hacky. Walking fouls, literally.

Below is a breakdown of player salaries and how close I came to the cap:

team salary

The total salary of my roster left me with over $650,000. I spent $100,000 on a lifetime supply of waffles and used the rest to sign a 13th man. Like Leuer, the player I chose is a legend in the making:

Player #13: Sim Bhullar, Sacramento Kings

  • Cap hit: $507,336
embiid chart

Projected shot chart

This team would rule planet earth.

Honorable mentions:

Center: Pau Gasol, Omer Asik, and Channing Frye.

Power Forward: Nick Collison, Amir Johnson, Ryan Anderson, Greg Monroe, and Jeff Adrien.

Small Forward: Richard Jefferson, Paul Pierce, Kyle Korver, and Vince Carter. 

Shooting Guard: Arron Afflalo, Leandro Barbosa, Francisco Garcia, Alan Anderson, Wes Matthews, and Jamal Crawford.

Point Guard: Jose Calderon, C.J. Watson, Pablo Prigioni, Mike Conley, Jameer Nelson, and Qualifying Offer Eric Bledsoe

And any others who flew over my head.

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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.  

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.

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