Tag Archives: NBA

The NBA’s All-Bizarro Leaders in Minutes

The dead stage of the off-season is here.

This might be a hot take, but the best and/or most irreplaceable players should be on the floor as much as possible. That doesn’t always happen, though, and a season usually ends with more than a few teams with unexpected leaders in total minutes. Injuries pick apart the top of some rosters, other teams rebuild with somebody having to be a key cog, and some aging players continue to play a major role on the floor. Other weird things happen over 82 games that lead to some larger-than-expected minute totals, but those are three simple reasons for it.

So since it’s the off-season, why not make a five-player squad comprised of the most unusual minutes leaders? A while back, I actually tweeted my five bizarro minute leaders from last season, but I made an adjustment while putting this post together. Despite a center, Marc Gasol was an understandable leader in minutes for Memphis. He’s pretty good and stuff. A key component to being good at the NBA level is having basketball skills, and Gasol has them, or it. He has it.

Replacing Gasol was a Sacramento King not named DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gay, but still a decent player. Most of the guys were fine players who happened to log like 1,000 too many minutes for their team, usually a mediocre to bad one. 2014-2015’s bizarro minute leaders:

2015 Tm MIN G MPG
Shane Larkin NYK 1,865 76 24.5
Ben McLemore SAC 2,670 82 32.6
Solomon Hill IND 2,381 82 29.0
Wes Johnson LAL 2,245 76 29.5
Pau Gasol CHI 2,681 78 34.4

Larkin, McLemore, and Johnson were on teams retooling either in the summer or mid-season, Hill played over 10 times as many minutes as he did in 2014 thanks mostly to Paul George‘s freak leg injury, and Pau Gasol logged over 2,500 minutes for the first time since 2011. Things happened.

That’s as realistic of a starting five when it comes to picking weirdo minutes leaders. For the heck of it, I did the same exercise back to the 2006-07 season. I found most of these players to be truly interesting, but I figured some players like Khris Middleton would be strange only to those who weren’t all that aware of him yet.

2014 TM MIN G MPG
Randy Foye DEN 2,485 81 30.7
Jodie Meeks LAL 2,556 77 33.2
Khris Middleton MIL 2,460 82 30.0
Jeff Green BOS 2,805 82 34.2
Tristan Thompson CLE 2,594 82 31.6
2013 TM MIN G MPG
Luke Ridnour MIN 2,474 82 30.2
Greivis Vasquez NOH 2,685 78 34.4
J.R. Smith NYK 2,678 80 33.5
Martell Webster WAS 2,200 76 28.9
Tristan Thompson CLE 2,564 82 31.3
2012 TM MIN G MPG
Brandon Knight DET 2,129 66 32.3
Marco Belinelli NOH 1,966 66 29.8
Luis Scola HOU 2,067 66 31.3
Antawn Jamison CLE 2,151 65 33.1
Kris Humphries NJN 2,162 62 34.9
2011 TM MIN G MPG
Jason Kidd DAL 2,653 80 33.2
Beno Udrih SAC 2,734 79 34.6
John Salmons MIL 2,554 73 35.0
Boris Diaw CHA 2,778 82 33.9
J.J. Hickson CLE 2,256 80 28.2
2010 TM MIN G MPG
Andre Miller POR 2,500 82 30.5
Corey Brewer MIN 2,482 82 30.3
Rasual Butler LAC 2,702 82 33.0
Andre Bargnani TOR 2,799 80 35.0
Andray Blatche WAS 2,256 81 27.9
2009 TM MIN G MPG
Chris Duhon NYK 2,906 79 36.8
Jarrett Jack IND 2,716 82 33.1
Kelenna Azubuike GSW 2,375 74 32.1
Ronnie Brewer UTA 2,605 81 32.2
Ryan Gomes MIN 2,494 82 30.4
2008 TM MIN G MPG
Jamal Crawford NYK 3,190 80 39.9
Cuttino Mobley LAC 2,702 77 35.1
Ricky Davis MIA 2,963 82 36.1
Anthony Parker TOR 2,634 82 32.1
John Salmons SAC 2,517 81 31.1
2007 TM MIN G MPG
Ricky Davis MIN 3,021 81 37.3
Charlie Bell MIL 2,848 82 34.7
Desmond Mason NOK 2,575 75 34.3
Chris Wilcox SEA 2,586 82 31.5
Eddy Curry NYK 2,849 81 35.2

Random note: If you’ve ever fiddled with the simulations at WhatIfSports, the players in the seasons listed above are a bit pricey because of their minute totals and are some of the worst minute-per-dollar versions of themselves. That’s a solid site to kill time during the off-season, by the way. Their basketball simulation isn’t perfect, but it’s fun.

That was nine total squads, though. 2005-06 minutes leaders weren’t all that interesting, but we can get to a perfect round number by throwing out possible names to make the 2015-16 squad:

  • Roughly 95 percent of the players in the Atlantic Division.
  • Enes Kanter.
  • Meyers Leonard please, please, please, but Damian Lillard is just a bit more likely.
  • Zaza Pachulia or Wes Matthews.
  • Andrew Wiggins if he plays like 3,500 minutes.
  • Kobe Bryant, just because of age and stuff.
  • Rajon Rondo, a mediocre NBA player for a mediocre blog.

There were probably a few players I forgot, because of course.

All statistics were from Basketball-Reference. I love you.

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East vs. West Weeks 12 & 13: Atlanta and the East hold their own

After a two-week hiatus, Chicken Noodle Hoop is back with an East vs. West roundup. Since Week 11, 42 non-conference games went down and the East held their own by going 20-22, including 67-78 over the last six weeks. Not great, obviously, but not bad really, though the West ran 8.4 wins below their Pythagorean record.

Below are the updated standings through Sunday. After that I’ll do a quick summary of each conference over the last couple of weeks.

The West

  • The top nine teams (New Orleans replaced with Oklahoma City, since Anthony Davis missed some games) went 17-8 with a +5.28 point differential. They also had 12 road games, so the home-road games were split. The same teams against the top five East squads went 4-5 with a -4.22 point differential. San Antonio and Oklahoma City got the worst of it.
  • So that means the worst of the West was, well, bad. 5-12. This was the weirdest stretch of the season from New Orleans, losing to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. There’s no way that doesn’t haunt them when looking back on how they didn’t make the playoffs this season.

The East

  • Atlanta is obviously hot, SO HOT RIGHT NOW, but Cleveland looks much better than what we’ve previously seen from them. LeBron James looks like his old self. So, too, does J.R. Smith. This piece about his threes was nice. The top five East teams went 10-5 against the West, and as mentioned above performed well against the best of the West.
  • Boston survived a road trip out West, which was surprising to see from the post-2013 Celtics. The post-Rajon Rondo squad right now is, um, interesting? Two crazy wins against Denver and Portland, plus a chance to upset the Clips. They even rate well in my Watchability Rankings, though they’re declining in that metric.
  • Kevin Garnett stuck on the declining Nets bums me out every day, though this writeup about his career was fantastic. The Nets got washed against the West, outscored by 106 points and finishing 1-4. Atlanta can take Brooklyn’s first round pick if they choose, so this could be a monstrous year for the Hawks in more ways than one.
  • In the rest of the mediocre East, Miami went 2-2 (HASSANITY) while Milwaukee, Indiana, Orlando, and Charlotte went a combined 1-6. Ew. Luckily New York and Philadelphia picked on an Anthony Davis-less Pelicans squad that still should’ve been fine against the most heavily-armed tanks in the league.

Overall, the record-setting point differential has disappeared and the worst-half of the West still has plenty of non-conference games remaining. Below is a look at what games are left to play with top eight seeds shaded:

gams

Atlanta, the team that saved the East from disaster?

The West teams still have an uneven distribution of East games remaining, though maybe this is typical because of geography. Teams furthest out West are are among the ones with most and least non-conference games, which obviously includes Golden State, undefeated against the East with a mammoth game against Atlanta on February 6. WEEEEEEEEEEEE!

57 non-conference games will be played out from, well, yesterday to the all-star break with the West 2-1 so far. I probably won’t update this until that mid-season break since there are a bunch of other posts I’m trying to write up.

East vs. West Week 9: The East finally breaks through

After six weeks of embarrassment and two of mediocrity, the East finally had a breakthrough week in non-conference play, finishing Week 9 10-6. Time for the occasional celebration with a ham sandwich.

Toronto, Atlanta, and Chicago cleaned up for the East while New York, well, no. Just, no. For the West, the Clippers and Nuggets struggled in their multiple non-conference games while Portland took care of business against New York and Philadelphia. Not sure which team is better than the other, but kind of want to lean towards the Sixers.

Anyway, catch up on Week 9 and every other week if you’d like. Below is the week-by-week breakdown and the rest of the latest batch of non-conference scores.

week9

Experimenting with table formatting, if you didn’t notice already.

If you missed Week 8’s summary, I also compared this season’s non-conference numbers with the last 44 seasons. Turns out the West had a record-breaking win percentage, along with the third-best point differential. After Week 9, though, those numbers obviously took a hit and the win percentage is no longer the best mark ever.

It could get worse as the better teams of the East start playing more of the non-conference games. Below is a look at the amount of remaining matchups for every team in both conferences.

gamsasdasda

For the West, it’s somewhat balanced between how many of the East-West games have been played by the better or worse teams of their conference. Meanwhile, there’s been a problem in the East. Charlotte and Detroit are already halfway through their West schedule while Atlanta and Washington are only about a third of the way through theirs. The East has five niiiiice teams plus a feisty Milwaukee, but they’ve all played less games against the West than the bottom five in their respective conference.

Which brings us to Week 10. There are 22 non-conference matchups with Atlanta, Toronto, and Washington playing in 10 of them. The West will have a 16-6 home-road edge, though, as that’s one advantage the East had early on in the season, one that will vanish over this week and next.

Below is a look at the full schedule:

week10games

Enjoy the week. Curious how Week 10 ends up for the East. Things are starting to change in their favor, but I also need to dig a little deeper to confirm this, me thinks.


A peek at point distribution through five weeks

A while ago, I tweeted 1998 and 2015’s league-average point distributions in the form of a radar chart. Chicken Noodle Hoop is definitely pro-radar charts despite their flaws, so I’ll expand a bit on that tweet here. In case you missed it being sent out, had me muted (understandable) or blocked (well, whatever), here it is again:

Since radar charts don’t show exact numbers, below is a table of point distribution from 1998 to 2015. Numbers were used from what’s available on the lovely NBA.com:

The mid-range game continues to decline in the distribution of points, but very slightly from 2013-14 to 2014-15. Not too much has changed from last season to this one, which shouldn’t be too surprising.

Looking through slides from year to year, the change over 17 seasons is subtle until going from 2015 back to 1998 when, um, WHOA.

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Maybe it’s next season, maybe it’s in the year 2020, but the point distribution could eventually take on the shape of a triangle. We can only imagine how awkward a chart from the 1980s would look like.

This was a super short post, though. I’ll fiddle more with this type of stuff as the week goes on. Radar charts are back from the dead, for better or for worse depending on how you feel about them.

 

Career shot and point distribution charts: Ray Allen

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Lately I’ve been getting back to looking at shot and point distribution charts, ones of players still in the Finals and a few other greats over their entire careers. The charts are the ones I’ve used for players and teams in previous posts, tracking shots on NBA.com from the restricted area, in the paint non-restricted area, mid-range, corner 3, above the break 3, and free throws, but I’ve recently added a few more charts to the mix. This post is basically a trial version of them with Ray Allen’s being the ones tested, and if it turns out all right I might turn it into a blog series over the off-season.

There will probably be some tweaking to do, but for now I plucked Allen’s yearly numbers from NBA.com which somehow has shooting stats and charts starting not at 2001 but 1997, though I don’t consider the ones from ’97 to be all that accurate thanks to the shortened three-point line back then. We get to work with every other season of Allen’s career, though, and maybe other notable players from the late-90s to today.

In past posts, I included GIFs and/or screenshots to show changes in charts from each season, player or team, and while I’ll use each of those for this post I’ll also use galleries so readers can cycle through charts at their own pace. The galleries also provide a little animation between each season to help show shifts in shooting and scoring.

Hopefully all of that isn’t confusing, but I can be pretty lazy with explaining things. For those who haven’t looked at these kinds of charts before, maybe just looking at them is easier to understand anyway.

Allen’s attempts over his career from both the field and the free throw line were what I looked at first, and below is an example of the four different charts I made for that section. This one is from 1998’s available stats:

1998 rayface

My apologies if screenshots look a bit blurry. They look much sharper when clicking to enlarge.

The first 3 charts are mostly similar with FGA distribution missing free throws, of course, but that one and attempts per 36 minutes compliment Allen’s first chart (attempts per game) best in his later years when his minutes and total attempts decline.

The last chart, attempts per 36 minutes compared to the player average, is something I’ve recently been playing with, though it doesn’t adjust for pace. In 1998, Allen took nearly six mid-range shots per 36 minutes, but compared to every other player’s numbers it was more standard than his attempts from the corner three, where he took twice as many attempts/36 minutes as the average player. This is a pretty common theme over Allen’s career.

Below are the rest of Allen’s attempts in a photo gallery. It should be on auto play, so I guess in way it’s still a slow-moving GIF, but it can be paused any time:

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Where Allen shoots from each location has obviously changed over the years, once heavy on mid-range shots and almost always making a ton of either above the break threes or corner threes compared to the player average.

Below are the differences between his second and 18th season of his career (1998 and 2014):

1998-2014 rayface

Allen still takes a similar amount of above the break threes per 36 minutes as he did in 1998, but now he attempts about 3.5 times as many corner threes, half the free throws and shots in the paint (outside the restricted area), a third from mid-range, and about three-fifths as many around the rim. It also shows how three-happy the league has become with Allen’s above the break 3s/36 minutes more standard now than compared to the late-90s.

Some of Allen’s changes are consistent with how his FGA distribution has changed with each team. Below is a GIF putting his combined point distributions for each team together (click to enlarge):

Allen on Make A Gif

Along with the roster around him, age most likely contributes to Allen’s shift in FGA and FGM distribution. With the Heat, it also changes a bit when he’s in lineups with or without LeBron James:

ray w-o lebron

 

I also looked at Allen’s biggest changes in FGA distribution from season to season, basically by a simple subtraction of percentages. I took 1998’s percentages and subtracting them from 1999’s, for example, then made every change in percentage positive and adding each location’s numbers up.

This is what each season looks like, sorted by biggest total changes to smallest:

ray fga change overall

Visually, that looks correct when looking how the largest and smallest changes stack up (as usual, click to enlarge if you’d like):

ray fga change large 2010-11

Allen took more of his attempts from mid-range in 2011 despite having a fourth straight decline in usage rate, but he also took a higher percentage of his attempts from the corner three and, as shown much further down in this post, he was way more accurate there than in 2010.

Mid-range and non-restricted area paint attempts are the biggest differences in 2004 and 2005, but everything else looks the same otherwise. When comparing changes in Allen’s FGA distribution in 2003 before and after the trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Seattle, his chart hardly moves and would be the lowest compared to season-by-season changes, totaling to a 6.53% change. (Threes were a different story. More on that later.)

Simply subtracting doesn’t take into account the shots Allen takes least (depending on the season, either corner threes or in the paint non-RA shots) and most (either shots around the rim or above the break threes). It’s often a bigger deal if a player or team takes five percent more of field goal attempts from the corners than around the rim, and I tried a couple ways to balance for that but hit snags since they’d be hopeless if Allen (or any other player, or team) took zero percent of their shots from one of the five locations. Also, I’m terrible at math and maybe over-thought the whole process, so if there’s an easy way to calculate that stuff I’d love to hear it since I’m looking into shooting and scoring by teams over each season, among other post ideas.

To go back to mid-range and other two-point shots, though, it may or may not be surprising that Allen took as many as he once did, though that can be said about the league as a whole. Mid-range shots made up a great chunk of Allen’s shots for a long time, and about 20 percent of his attempts as a member of the Heat still come from that area of the floor, but that’s down from what was anywhere from 25 to over 40 percent as a Buck, Sonic, or Celtic.

Looking at his shot charts at NBA.com that split into several locations, less of his twos come from the wings now than they did as a Sonic or Celtic, but there’s still a similar amount from the baseline where, for most of his career, Allen took the most of his jump shooting twos.

Below is a breakdown of Allen’s 2PA distribution according to spots on NBA.com’s shot charts. I gave locations names that are hopefully self-explanatory, but can be found here just in case:

2pa dist

As usual, click to enlarge. Very helpful!

Allen’s baseline shots are the standard ones from being run off the three-point line and getting separation off screens, but quite a few come from trying to get space off the dribble when the shot clock is winding down. He doesn’t get all that far, painful to watch when he was once so good at attacking off the dribble (one example here), but he doesn’t need much space to get his beautiful shot off anyway.

Even if Allen seems to struggle a bit more in getting to the rim off the dribble, he’s still having career-lows or near career-lows in attempts/36 minutes from all the 2PA locations on NBA.com’s shot charts all while having a career-high in corner three-point attempts/36 minutes and percent of his FGA being corner threes. His mid-range shots/36 minutes have gone from around or above league-average in his first 15 charted seasons to two-thirds and nearly half the average in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and he shot nearly three times as many corner threes per 36 minutes as the average player this season. The leaders from the corners each season often take four to five times as many as the average player, though, sometimes even more when looking 10+ seasons back. James Jones led all players this year by taking 5.8x corner threes/36 minutes, but in 2005 Donyell Marshall took 7.1 times as many, then followed it up with 6.0x and 5.8x as many while Cleveland in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Fun times.

To touch on free throws, Allen’s charts almost always show him above the player average in free throw attempts/36 minutes during his prime which, like his attack off the dribble, feels underrated considering his status as a killer shooter.

I found his free throw and three point rates to be pretty interesting, even though they seem common in both his age and that when the free throws lower the threes often rise:

ft and 3p rates

I’ll touch more on threes later when chiming in on some thoughts on Allen’s scoring distribution, which I looked at in a similar way to shot attempts but with some tweaks. Below is a gallery visualizing four scoring stats from 1998 to 2014, but with some changes in charts from attempt distribution:

  • Points per game from the six spots on the floor.
  • Effective field goal percentage from all but free throws.
  • Point distribution but this time including free throws, unlike in the first gallery of graphs.
  • How Allen’s points/36 minutes from each spot measure up with the league average (per player).

Anyway, flip through the charts if you’d like:

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There are some hopefully cool things to look at. Going back to mid-range shots, below is a similar graph like before but covering 2PM distribution:

2pm dist

And a gallery comparing 2PA and 2PM distribution. Flip flop if you’d like:

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Season by season, Allen’s changes in point distribution from largest to smallest are a bit different from changes in FGA distribution, where the largest for that was from 2010 to 2011 and the smallest from 2004 to 2005:

ray point dist change overall

Understandably, the smallest change in point distribution was in Allen’s second season with the Heat. The largest change was not after a trade in 2003 or 2007 or going from the Celtics to the Heat in the summer of 2012, but from his seasons as a Buck in 2001 and 2002. 

Again, with simple subtraction, that all looks correct visually:

ray pt dist big and small

From 2001 to 2002, Allen scored less from the free throw line but upped his three point rate from .357 to .460. He took 3.67 times the average player’s corner 3s/36 minutes, ranking tenth minimum 1,000 minutes. For above the break threes (he attempted 3.32x the player average), he was only behind Antoine Walker (3.64), Jason Williams (3.70), and Tim Hardaway (4.22).

No shame in falling just behind those three players in anything related to threes, and Allen’s got pretty nuts when flipping through the 1998-2003 section of the scoring gallery shown above. Maybe suspected from the 2002 charts: Allen placed in the top 10 that season in both threes attempted and made for both the corner and above the break three. It started a string of top 10 finishes in the latter location:

ray 3pa-36 min leg avg

I thought Allen’s threes deserved a gallery of multiple charts, featuring both three-point attempt and made distribution from the five spots available on NBA.com’s shooting charts, another with accuracy from those locations, and a line chart tracking the shooting swings each season.

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1998, 2002, and 2010 look almost perfectly balanced in attempt distribution from each spot, while some weirdly (for a right-handed shooter, anyway) show a great deal of threes from the right wing. Also, to go back to the graph of his shots with and without LeBron on the floor, it’s no surprise to see Allen taking more of his threes from the corner as a member of the Heat. Last year he teed off from the left side, but this year it’s from the right. Attempts from straight away are just about gone and weren’t ever a big deal anyway.

Below is a GIF of Allen’s combined distributions during his Buck, Sonic, Celtic, and current Heat career. The differences in attempted and made threes are pretty minor (click to enlarge):

A4ZqD7 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Followed by that GIF are threes in 2003 before and after the trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Seattle. Quite a change midway through the season:

ray 3pa dist mil-sea 2003

Again, it’s kind of weird to see a right-handed shooter take a bunch of his attempts from the right wing, but Allen went through shifts from just about everywhere but from straight away. Shots from the corners and from straight on barely changed, at least in attempt distribution.

Lastly, Allen’s assist percentage on threes over the last two seasons are some of his highest ever. Among other notes, the right corner was a flat 100 percent for six straight seasons with 114 assisted threes during that stretch:

ray 3 ast%

Allen’s long been one of my favorites to watch from the times his NBA Live ’98 player torched me to how unfair he can make Miami’s offense just by standing in a corner. His charts were a test to see how they look in a blog post and if readers would be curious about ones for other players. A lot of other greats over the years have some cool charts, or maybe I’m biased because I was so curious about them to begin with. Probably the latter.

Some other thoughts:

  • I could’ve added playoff shooting and scoring, but was worried it would clutter this post even more.
  • Clutter…were there too many charts? A lot of them were player dependent, though. As much as I’d like to, I’d probably refrain from 3pt charts for someone like Tim Duncan. Maybe throw in a game of Solitaire instead.
  • The charts obviously don’t tell everything, like I can’t even put together SportVU-related shooting charts because the numbers don’t add up to Allen’s total points. I could try fooling around with them for other players, though, and see if something’s presentable.

Oh well. Curious what others think of this post and if any tweaks could’ve been made. This is definitely a trial version of posts I had in mind for other players and was also a post meant to shake off a ton of rust over the last few weeks.

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