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Recommended Reads and Listens

Before I start writing here and at Nylon Calculus again, I thought I’d update my Great Reads section. Judging by how many people I’m following on Twitter, I’ll be forgetting a few given the number of writers I’ve come across since creating this blog is in the hundreds. Sigh, but this is a decent mix of already well-known writers/sites who don’t need my recommendation (but I included them anyway), and others who are up and coming. I also just respect the heck out of those who write at their own site frequently as it’s a giant commitment. Check out their work.

You can find this all on the right side of the blog (edit: I’ve been expanding the list) along with a few other things, but I also thought I should write up a post for it. This is in no particular order, save for the first two. Only 65 percent sure all of the following links open in new windows…

Basketball-Reference – Basketball-Reference is the greatest creation on planet earth, and eventually I made this blog just so I could write about what I found at that site. Now, I’m actually putting the final touches on a monster event finder I made in Excel, of all places, from the data on B-Ref, and I’m excited for how many weird things I’ll find from it (who wants jump ball stats? Anybody?!). I still don’t think I’ve found everything from that site, though.

Another influence was…

Zach Lowe – I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know about Zach Lowe before he came to Grantland, but he got me interested in writing about more than per game statistics and whatever else feels antiquated. It’s also been quite a thrill hearing him on some great podcasts and making the occasional appearance on TV.

And some people/sites I stumbled upon along the way:

Tim Sartori – Tim NBA, you fell off planet earth. Get your act together by writing for free again. Tim writes/wrote a good deal of work here.

Seth Partnow – Seth’s everywhere and it can be hard to keep up with him sometimes, but here’s his Tumblr where he puts all of his work into one place. With how frequently he writes, you’re probably better off following him on Twitter.

Inpredictable – Created by Mike Beuoy, and his work is just fantastic. His latest post looked at the arc of shooters and there’s plenty of other great work if you look around his site.

Corbin Smith – Only meant for mature audiences, I think. Here is his work if you want to risk it anyway.

Stat IntelligenceJeff Fogle’s a pretty frequent writer and, among his latest posts, I liked this one about learning from The Onion’s tightness.

JZ Mazlish – JZ publishes NBA Draft-related material at Wingspan Addicts. Perfect time to check it out and I was surprised at how easy it was to look around his blog. Some sites can be messy, unfortunately.

Dean On Draft – Another draft-related blog. I started reading Dean Demakis’ work last summer and have enjoyed it ever since. He’s also been on some podcasts in the past, but none recently as far as I know.

Dunc’d on Podcast – Usually with Danny Leroux and Nate Duncan, the latter guy my favorite in-game tweeter. Sometimes they’ll add an additional, solid basketball mind to the mix. Not only does this podcast bring consistently interesting analysis, but there’s usually a new hour-ish long episode daily.

Over & Back Podcast: Hosted by Rich Kraetsch and Jason Mann, this is a podcast that goes over the history of the NBA one weird, fun episode at a time. In one podcast about the worst teams ever, they took a look at my post about the near-Bobcatters which, after reading that post again, I thought I was way too snarky. So that was weird. Don’t read your work that’s over a year old. Listen to the Over & Back podcast instead. My favorite episode so far is a look at the worst year of NBA jerseys: 1999.

Shitty Data Analysis – Posting just for the blog name. Created by Michael Murray.

Crab Dribbles – This site is about a year old since its last post, or so I think, but like Hickory High (RIP) it still has value. Founded by Scott Rafferty who you can at multiple sites including, but not limited to Upside Motor.

Hardwood Paroxysm and True Hoop – Well, duh.

Like I said earlier, I didn’t mention everybody I’ve come across. Not even close, but honestly I’m just so out of shape when it comes to writing that I’ve already dry heaved a little and had to stop ~halfway through my list of recommendations. If you would like to be included (and especially if you write at your own blog), feel free to shoot me a message on here, in an e-mail or through Twitter and I’ll throw you in the mix. Not a whole lot of eyeballs here lately since I haven’t wrote in several weeks, but with this…thing…I recently put together in Excel, I should have a bunch of fun things to write about over the summer.

NBA backcourt tandems with the highest usage rates


Photos by Keith Allison, via Flickr

Going off my last post, I decided to list the other starting backcourts with usage ratings (possessions when a player takes a field goal, gets fouled or turns the ball over) of over 25 percent each. There were some guidelines, though:

  • They couldn’t be formed after a mid-season trade. (Allen Iverson played only three games for Denver before being traded to Detroit, so I included the ’09 Pistons.)
  • Both players had to start together, not just each starting whenever the other missed a few games.
  • I sorted through the Lottery Era up to last season.

There were quite a few cases where tandems interfered with the first two guidelines, but it made it easier to narrow down the list of qualified candidates and then calculate their effective field goal percentages, compare it to the team they played for, and then see how it matches up with the league average. 

Free throw attempts per game will be missing from the table as well as some other notable stats. I had to narrow it down to a doable list otherwise it wouldn’t format correctly. Here’s what’s left of it, sorting each duo by the season. The stats are according to Basketball-Reference.

Backcourt duos with >25% usage rate each

Player Year Team MinPG FG% 3PT% PTSPG Usage DuoEFG TmEFG LgEFG W/L
Jerry Stackhouse 1996 PHI 37.5 .414 .318 19.2 26.0 .458 .474 .499 18-64
Vernon Maxwell 32.9 .390 .317 16.2 25.6
Allen Iverson 1997 PHI 40.1 .416 .341 23.5 28.9 .458 .470 .493 22-60
Jerry Stackhouse 39.1 .407 .298 20.7 25.6
Ray Allen 2000 MIL 37.4 .466 .423 22.1 25.6 .498 .494 .478 42-40
Sam Cassell 35.8 .455 .289 18.6 25.0
Latrell Sprewell 2001 NYK 39.2 .430 .381 17.7 25.8 .467 .476 .473 48-34
Allan Houston 36.6 .449 .304 18.7 25.7
Sam Cassell 2002 MIL 35.2 .463 .348 19.7 27.3 .526 .507 .477 41-41
Ray Allen 36.6 .462 .434 21.8 26.2
Allan Houston 2002 NYK 37.8 .437 .393 20.4 25.9 .471 .468 .477 30-52
Latrell Sprewell 41.1 .404 .360 19.4 25.1
Michael Jordan 2002 WAS 34.9 .416 .189 22.9 36.0 .430 .464 .477 37-45
Richard Hamilton 35.0 .435 .381 20.0 28.6
Michael Jordan 2003 WAS 37.0 .445 .291 20.0 28.7 .444 .460 .474 37-45
Jerry Stackhouse 39.2 .409 .290 21.5 27.9
Larry Hughes 2004 WAS 33.8 .397 .341 18.8 28.1 .447 .454 .471 25-57
Gilbert Arenas 37.6 .392 .375 19.6 27.4
Gilbert Arenas 2005 WAS 40.9 .431 .365 25.5 27.3 .481 .474 .482 45-37
Larry Hughes 38.7 .430 .282 22.0 26.6
Jason Richardson 2006 GSW 38.4 .446 .384 23.2 27.6 .486 .479 .490 34-48
Baron Davis 36.5 .389 .315 17.9 25.9
Allen Iverson 2009 DET 36.5 .416 .286 17.5 25.9 .459 .483 .500 39-43
Richard Hamilton 34.0 .447 .368 18.3 27.0
Devin Harris 2009 NJN 36.1 .438 .291 21.3 28.4 .482 .497 .500 34-48
Vince Carter 36.8 .437 .385 20.8 26.8
Richard Hamilton 2010 DET 33.7 .409 .228 18.1 27.9 .438 .474 .501 27-55
Rodney Stuckey 34.2 .405 .297 16.6 26.4
Manu Ginobili 2011 SAS 30.3 .433 .349 17.4 26.0 .520 .491 .498 61-21
Tony Parker 32.4 .519 .357 17.5 25.5
Kyrie Irving 2013 CLE 34.7 .452 .391 22.5 30.2 .485 .473 .473 24-58
Dion Waiters 28.8 .412 .310 14.7 26.1

You can pick and choose what stands out here, if anything. Here are a few thoughts:

Backcourts who carry the load of an offense can be risky, but that’s not to say they often struggle. They can succeed when implemented with the right group of complimentary players and system. For example, I’m pretty comfortable letting Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili carry the offense, though I can’t say the same for two guys who couldn’t stretch the floor like Jerry Stackhouse and Michael Jordan.

I DON’T know how often some duo’s minutes were staggered because lineup data on NBA.com is only available from 2008 and on. Some backcourts, like Sixers of ’97, just look like they played a ton of time together. That couldn’t have been a good thing. Here are the minutes the previously-listed backcourt tandems logged together over the last six seasons, though:

  • Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton: 23.2
  • Devin Harris and Vince Carter: 27.7
  • Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey: 25.0
  • Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili: 19.6
  • Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters: 21.4

The combo of Jordan and Stackhouse/Hamilton made the list when neither were point guards. Looking back, there wasn’t a whole ton of talent at that position for Washington. It speaks for itself when, in 2003, 70 percent of Larry Hughes’ minutes came at the point, according to Basketball-Reference. It’s kind of amazing that he, a 39-year-old Michael Jordan, and Jerry Stackhouse won even 37 games with their shooting, but that’s the power of MJ, I guess. It’s also impressive that Jordan used up 36 percent of the Wiz’s possessions in 2002. Overall, Washington had high-usage backcourt combos for four straight seasons until Cleveland splurged on Hughes.

Another oddity was Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell making the list too. Basketball-Reference has them listed as a shooting guard during their careers at one point or another, though. I chose not to remove them from the list. Shooting guard and small forward tandems, or teams with three starting wings who used a ton of possessions (the early-2000s Bucks, for example) might be something I’ll look into in the near-future.

Again, this post isn’t meant to say high-usage backcourts often lead teams into mediocrity. Point guard-shooting guard duos (or in some cases, two shooting guards with one as a small forward) are just something I find interesting and worth looking at. It made me think, though, that if those backcourts used up a ton of possessions, then the team is more often than not sorely lacking talent in one other position.

It’s also pretty obvious that teams with two players taking a combined ~30 or more shots per game with inefficient stats (and one of them being the point guard) just won’t perform well. They might not frequently get to the line, take (and miss) several jumpshots, play lackluster defense in order to save energy on O, or some combination of the three. To repeat what I mentioned earlier, some (not all) of that can be helped by staggering minutes.

Going forward, I wonder how often we’ll see two guards with similar high usage rates, and how well their teams perform. Right now, Philadelphia and Washington have duos that would join the list but neither squad is doing all that well this season.

Anything else worth mentioning? Feel free to leave a comment.

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