Tag Archives: Tim Duncan

Stabs at Westgate SuperBook’s 2016-17 Over/Unders

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released their over-under lines for win totals for all NBA teams recently, which means it’s time for predictions. I finished the 2015 season 17-13, which I still maintain meant that I was better than 17 out of every 30 NBA players back then. 2016 was a year of rebuilding, finishing 11-19. Being better than only 11 out of every 30 players was unacceptable.

It’s time to bounce back in 2017.

One problem, though. I honestly have no idea where most teams will finish. It seems very top heavy with Golden State and Cleveland set for a third straight meeting in the NBA Finals, though San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers loom, and maybe Toronto and Boston can make things interesting by grabbing home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Everything after that is so murky, though, so to help with predictions I created a win projection model. The model takes into account various statistics that may or may not be important. Results are private, but many of the statistics used were cited for why I took the over or under for each team, which you can find below.

Atlanta Hawks (2015-16 record: 48-34, 2016-17 over/under: 43.5)

No surprise they didn’t win 60 games like in 2015. Part of that was because it’s possible they simply overachieved two years ago, but also because they made the most substitutions in the league last year (2,527). The model read that as fear and over-analyzing. It expects the Hawks to get worse, but still over 43 wins.

Over.

Boston Celtics (48-34, 51.5)

They had the lowest shot clock violation total in the league last season (20), which is all on Brad Stevens. What a genius. My model loves him.

Over.

Brooklyn Nets (21-61, 20.5)

Abbreviated as ‘BRK’ on some sites, ‘BKN’ on others. The model penalized the Nets for this stupid problem when analyzing play-by-play data, and projects another bad season in Brooklyn.

Under.

Charlotte Hornets (48-34, 39.5)

They will struggle with jump balls thanks to Roy Hibbert (32-59 last season) and Cody Zeller (20-47), but that didn’t stop the Hornets last season.

Over.

Chicago Bulls (42-40, 38.5)

The model likes their strong net attendance (home attendance – road attendance), but that hasn’t helped in recent seasons. Will it change thanks to a backcourt of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler? The model says yes, but I’m overriding it. My eyes say no.

Under.

Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25, 56.5)

Lowest strength of schedule last season (-0.55, via Basketball-Reference), which clearly means the Cavs will have a setback during the 2016-17 season.

Under.

Dallas Mavericks (42-40, 39.5)

Averaged the most minutes per game in 2016 at 48.8, which clearly meant they were run into the ground. Trading for Andrew Bogut was a questionable move.

Under.

Denver Nuggets (33-49, 34.5)

Just seven shot clock violations in 4th quarters and overtimes, tied for the lowest in the league, which the model loved. They are basically the Boston Celtics of the West.

Over.

Detroit Pistons (44-38, 45.5)

Stan Van Gundy has the Pistons headed in the right direction. One obvious reason was leading the league in most attempted end-of-quarter heaves (30). They also had the most team rebounds with 832. Domination.

Over.

Golden State Warriors (73-9, 66.5)

Lost a lot of jump ball skills in Andrew Bogut (44-30) and Festus Ezeli (9-9), but the model despised Harrison Barnes just because, and liked Kevin Durant strictly for his foul-drawing (4.5 team fouls drawn per 36 minutes last season).

Over.

Houston Rockets (41-41, 41.5)

2,020 substitutions last year. Dope. The model likes fancy numbers and gave Houston a few extra wins as a result.

Over.

Indiana Pacers (45-37, 43.5)

Called over 500 timeouts last year, which the model read as fear.

Under.

Los Angeles Clippers (53-29, 53.5)

Most technical fouls per game, but also the highest shot distance at 14.2 feet, which the model interpreted as more heaves in 2016-17.

Over.

Los Angeles Lakers (17-65, 24.5)

Toughest strength of schedule last season (0.64), which the model doesn’t expect to change anytime soon. Wonder why?

Under.

Memphis Grizzlies (42-40, 43.5)

They forced the most defensive three second violations last season (0.585 per game, via NBAminer), a clear sign of an offense that should be elite with a healthy roster.

Over.

Miami Heat (48-34, 36.5)

31 goaltending violations last season, tied for third worst. Hard to see Miami being a top five defense if that continues.

Under.

Milwaukee Bucks (33-49, 37.5)

Most defensive three second violations (0.451 per game). No wonder they had a terrible defense last season.

Under.

Minnesota Timberwolves (29-53, 41.5)

If the Wolves are going to have any chance at making the playoffs, it will come down to Karl-Anthony Towns‘ improvement in jump balls (45-64 during rookie campaign). Maybe Thibs will set him straight.

Under.

New Orleans Pelicans (30-52, 36.5)

Most kicked ball violations (72), and then New Orleans drafted a 22-year-old whose only hope at competent defense is kicking balls out of bounds.

Under.

New York Knicks (32-50, 38.5)

Going to ignore the model and roll with blog momentum.

Under.

Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27, 45.5)

Lowest shot distance allowed at 11.7 feet, which meant they prevented heaves, which means a top 10 defense even without Kevin Durant.

Over.

Orlando Magic (35-47, 36.5)

So much jump ball potential with Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka, and Bismack Biyombo. A lineup of all three, with the live jump balls they could force, is why the model projects Orlando as an elite defense.

Over.

Philadelphia 76ers (10-72, 27.5)

Highest free throw percentage allowed last season (78.6 percent), which is hard to turn around in just one season.

Under.

Phoenix Suns (23-59, 26.5)

Same problem as Brooklyn. Phoenix is sometimes ‘PHO’ and other times ‘PHX’ on websites. Unnecessary issue that’s held the team back for decades.

Under.

Portland Trail Blazers (44-38, 46.5)

Lowest Adjusted Distance Traveled: (Distance traveled on offense) – (Traveling violations * 10) at 713.9. Pathetic.

Under.

Sacramento Kings (33-49, 32.5)

The model projects Sacramento to win over 60 games because of how much penalty time DeMarcus Cousins generates for their offense (second-highest last season). At the least, they’ll have a decent offense again.

Over.

San Antonio Spurs (67-15, 56.5)

Losing Tim Duncan hurts, but not that much. Nobody talked about how he was a jump ball hog.

Over.

Toronto Raptors (56-26, 49.5)

Most shot clock violations (71), which means Toronto could slip a bit this season, but stay in the 50s.

Over.

Utah Jazz (40-42, 47.5)

They fouled a ton while defending in the penalty, 5.1 more fouls in the penalty per 48 minutes compared when not in the penalty, which is a wordy way to say the timing of their fouls were really bad. That will keep them from winning 60 games.

Over.

Washington Wizards (41-41, 42.5)

Second-most and-1s last season with 141, but the model worries about the jump ball chemistry between Marcin Gortat (84 jump balls) and Ian Mahinmi (82).

Under.

My model projects these predictions to go undefeated.

Advertisements

When Did Kevin Garnett Play Center For Minnesota?

I’m going to note right away that I loved Jonathan Tjarks’ article published two days ago about Kevin Garnett. Once in a while, I tweet that Chris Webber’s best years came in the early-2000s, the most boring era possible for a player like him. It’s a shame, but Garnett is another player who would’ve been even better had his career started 10 years later. Tjarks’ article (you can follow him on Twitter here) covers Garnett and his versatile skill set, a seven-footer who could guard every position and thanks to his shooting, handles, speed, and passing, he could use up offensive possessions from any position if his team was decimated at one.

Unfortunately, the prime of Garnett’s career was often spent playing alongside disappointing centers such as Rasho Nesterovic, Michael Olowokandi, or Mark Blount. This also happened in Boston as he started with a solid, pre-injury Kendrick Perkins but also the final days of Rasheed Wallace and Shaquille O’Neal. The Celtics’ core was strong enough and the NBA was slow enough with their transition to the pace-and-space era that it was fine. Damning because Garnett never played with a Lamar Odom-type player like Tjarks noted, but it was fine.

Garnett’s positional versatility after his first stint in Minnesota narrowed. It’s debatable, but by the time he came back to Minnesota he was (or still is?) playing like a full-time center. In his first 12 seasons, he played small forward through center, though the ranking in memories of each probably goes:

  1. Power Forward: Where he mostly played from 2004 to 2007 with a space-eating big.
  2. Small Forward: Paired with Tom Gugliotta and a space-eating big from 1996 to 1998, then with Joe Smith and a space-eating big from 1999 to 2003.
  3. Point Guard: Because of the 2003-04 playoffs when Minnesota held on for dear life as the backcourt dropped like flies.
  4. Center: This happened in moments spread out across all 12 seasons, but still happened nonetheless.

In this post, I listed some notable times when Garnett played at center during his youth and prime. It isn’t meant to #WellActually Tjarks. I’m all for any column that goes over how Garnett’s career, while amazing, should’ve been so much more enjoyable for so many reasons. I also appreciate any column that helps remember his peak since it’s been so long since it happened. Garnett’s been in the league since 1995. His prime happened when over 10 years ago. In one game during his rookie season, he played against Magic Johnson.

This post was just out of curiosity, a long time in the making, but Tjarks reminded me to get that done while it’s still the off-season. The moments with Garnett at center were fascinating upon discovering them because it had been so long since they happened. For other fans of Garnett’s career, maybe this will refresh their memories, too.

All lineup statistics were from Basketball-Reference.com. I love you (or them, or it) but this also went against your (or their, or its) positional estimates that don’t make a ton of sense for several players. All I’ve heard is that there’s a preference to height when determining positions. Garnett played 99 percent of his minutes at power forward last season, according to those estimates, but that doesn’t seem true when watching who he’s guarding and his overall skill set.

The 1998 Playoffs (available on YouTube

I noted earlier that at Garnett’s best, he could play any position if his team was decimated at one. This is remembered best in the 2003-04 postseason, when the Wolves’ point guards turned to dust as they were eliminated in the Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The first-round series of the 1997-98 playoffs against the Seattle SuperSonics was another example, this one being the postseason Garnett played primarily center. The Wolves were without Tom Gugliotta, Dean Garrett, Cherokee Parks, and Stanley Roberts. Tom Hammonds was the only other option left, and during that season Minnesota went as far to keep Garnett from guarding centers as to start Hammonds and Roberts alongside him. Against Seattle, Flip Saunders instead rolled a starting lineup of Garnett-Sam Mitchell-Anthony Peeler-Terry Porter-Stephon Marbury

The results were unfamiliar with even today’s Wolves. During the 1997-98 season, they took 12.8 percent of their field goal attempts from three-point range, but that jumped to 24.6 in the five games against Seattle. The 2015-16 Wolves finished the season with a three-point rate of 20.2 percent. Sam Mitchell, the coach of last season’s squad, recorded 43 three-point attempts in 81 games during the 1997-98 season. In the five playoff games, he attempted 14.

Most shooters for Minnesota saw increases in their shots from beyond the arc.

gaph

Possibly because of injuries, possibly because the SuperSonics were one of the stretchiest teams in the regular season with shooting bigs like Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins, the Wolves rolled with only a seven-player rotation. They also routinely doubled off the strong side shooter and gave up open threes, though that may have been because of the illegal defense rules. Double-teaming was pretty straight-forward. Going to double-team, then stopping halfway to run back to a defender might result in an illegal defense technical. Simply put, defenses these days are far more advanced. Also, Stephon Marbury looked out of control 99 percent of the time. It was maddening to watch him.

Minnesota held a 2-1 lead over Seattle at one point, but lost narrowly in Game 4 at home and lost by 13 at Seattle. 1997 probably would’ve been a similar result with small ball lineups , but it would’ve at least been interesting to watch them against Houston a year earlier, a roster of players in their mid-30s.

Unfortunately, lineups that small rarely appeared again.

1999 and 2000: The occasional frontline with just Kevin Garnett and Joe Smith

With the acquisition of Joe Smith, Minnesota routinely started both he and Garnett, but also Garrett or Rasho Nesterovic.

Doing some quick math of available minutes at the center position in each season, most of 1999’s went to Garrett, Tom Hammonds, Bill Curley, and a few bigs with tiny minute totals, leaving little room for Garnett to be placed there unless the Wolves somehow rolled with a Garrett/Hammonds combo or whatever.

2000 was a little different. With 3,936 available minutes at center over 82 games, Rasho Nesterovic, Dean Garrett, and Tom Hammonds took up only 2,699, leaving plenty of room for Garnett and Smith, the latter who came off the bench, to take up minutes there.

Basically, this comes down to when it’s just Smith and Garnett on the floor as the bigs, who would you peg as the center? Garnett has the height, but also the versatility.

2001 (0/45/55 SF/PF/C position percentages, via Basketball-Reference’s estimates) 

Not a fun year for Minnesota for multiple reasons, but in this post we’ll note that they lost Joe Smith and three first-round picks thanks to the procedure of his free agent deal. At this point, Nesterovic, Garrett, and Reggie Slater were the Wolves’ centers alongside Garnett with Wally Szczerbiak playing small forward.

Depending on where you position LaPhonso Ellis, the second-most common lineup from the Wolves in 2001 featured Ellis and Garnett together and the fourth-most common lineup had them with both Chauncey Billups and Terrell Brandonand Szczerbiak. Unfortunately, that lineup had a net rating of -11.8 points per 100 possessions, but the Garnett-Ellis combo played 1284 minutes with a net rating of +2.6.

Looking back, a Brandon/Billups/Szczerbiak/Garnett combo could’ve done some damage, but Brandon’s injuries ended his career during the 2001-02 season.

Definitely not 2002 to 2004 (2/84/14, 6/81/13, 0/95/5)

With Joe Smith back, the 2002 Wolves played the three-man combo of Garnett/Smith/Nesterovic a little over 1,000 minutes, but with great success at +12.6 points per 100 possessions. A lineup with Billups and Szczerbiak at the backcourt gave them good size at each position, and Minnesota placed second in defensive rebounding percentage and sixth in offensive rebounding percentage. Gary Trent also played a few minutes alongside Smith and Garnett, but with break-even success.

In 2003, the Garnett/Smith/Nesterovic trio logged only 446 minutes, but Smith had missed a lot of action this season. A lineup replacing Smith with Trent logged 480 minutes. Both were small net positives. There were actually 11 games where Garnett started with Nesterovic and Loren Woods.

Despite those awkward lineups and a horrific three-point rate, Minnesota was in the top five in offensive efficiency both seasons. They even had the Lakers on the ropes in 2003, but ultimately fell in the first round in both playoff appearances.

2004 was Minnesota’s breakout season, and they had plenty of bigs in case they went up against Shaquille O’Neal again. Mark Madsen, Gary Trent, Ervin Johnson, Michael Olowokandi, and Oliver Miller combined for over 4,600 minutes. It is almost sad that the Wolves didn’t find a single big who traded considerable beef for floor spacing. A team like the Dallas Mavericks, who were terrible defensively but gave Dirk Nowitzki minutes at center, would’ve been a fascinating matchup for Minnesota, or even the Los Angeles Lakers with their shooting. The Mavericks torched the Timberwolves with it a couple seasons earlier.

The 2004 Wolves crushed a lot of teams despite frontcourt combos like Madsen/Trent, which was -10 points per 100 possessions over 218 minutes. Five of their seven most frequent lineups, all with a stiff at center to go with Garnett, Sam Cassell, and Latrell Sprewell, had a net rating of +10 to +20 points per 100 possessions.

The small ball lineups from the 1998 playoffs could’ve came back, though. A healthy 2004 Wolves squad had enough depth to deploy a Garnett/Szczerbiak/Sprewell/Cassell combo with a choice of Trenton Hassell for defense or Fred Hoiberg for shooting.

2005? (0/54/46)

The main thing to note from 2005 was Garnett with Eddie Griffin. Only 22 when he arrived in Minnesota, a healthy Griffin could’ve been a great long-term fit with Garnett. Griffin shot the three with break-even success, 4.9 attempts per 36 minutes on 33 percent, and averaged 2.8 blocks and just 1.3 turnovers per 36. The duo was +8.8 points per 100 possessions while the best lineups over 50 minutes featured them and at least one of Sprewell/Szczerbiak. The Garnett-Griffin-Spree-Wally-Cassell lineup was +27 points per 100 possessions, but only over 123 minutes.

There were also a few lineups with Garnett as the lone big and either Hassell or Szczerbiak playing as the power forward that yielded success over small samples. The small ball lineups finally came back.

2006 and 2007, if only (0/83/17, 0/71/29)

The dark ages, but the best lineups of 2006 featured Garnett as the center and Hassell or Justin Reed at power forward. However, the minute totals for each are between 30 and 60. In 2007, Garnett played most, if not all of his minutes with Mark Blount, Craig Smith, or Madsen. Sigh.

Though entering the slight downtick of his career at this point, Garnett at center during 2006 and 2007 could’ve been the best choice of attack. The Wolves were never going to be completely terrible with Garnett on the floor, but there was finally risk to pair him with a flawed center. The draft picks lost from the Joe Smith deal and the blown draft picks they kept caught up to them. They also lost the offense they typically got at point guard. There was no more Stephon Marbury, Terrell Brandon, Chauncey Billups, or Sam Cassell. There was only Marko Jaric, Marcus Banks, and Mike James.

Minnesota struggled on the boards despite their size. Going smaller may have forced a few more turnovers and led to jacking a couple more threes on offense. Still, Garnett carried these teams to near-.500 records going into February of each season. Eventually, they would fade, and sometimes they obviously tanked. With Garnett at center, maybe it would’ve only worsened their lottery odds, but it would’ve been more enjoyable to watch.

In Garnett’s second time around with Minnesota, he’s debatably played center with the starting lineup and would likely to do the same if he came back for the 2016-17 season. Garnett playing with Tyus Jones would be mindblowing, though.

Other Wolvesy notes from Garnett’s peak

  • The Gary Payton for Terrell Brandon, Wally Szczerbiak, and Rasho Nesterovic trade rumor in 2001. Minnesota’s depth, factoring in the effects of the Joe Smith deal, would’ve been cooked with that trade, but the defensive potential of Garnett and Payton before the latter aged would’ve been something. Especially if Garnett played center.
  • Speaking of defensive potential, switch Garnett and Tim Duncan with their teams and you get Garnett with an aging David Robinson, but the All-Defensive seasons from Bruce Bowen.

Other PFs playing SF or C during Garnett’s peak

  • It wasn’t just Garnett who started his career at small forward. During his rookie season, Duncan routinely started alongside both David Robinson and Will Perdue. Meanwhile with the Washington Bullets, one of Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, and, in 1996, Rasheed Wallace started at small forward alongside bigs like Gheorge Muresan, Terry Davis, and a young Ben Wallace.
  • Webber did not like playing center at Golden State, which might’ve been a lesson for teams with other franchise-changing bigs. It’s also worth noting that while Webber had some amazing years in Sacramento, he couldn’t stay healthy. Rick Adelman routinely played a young, frosted-tips Hedo Turkoglu in his place.
  • One example of power forwards playing one position up was in 1998 when Antonio McDyess played center for his one season in Phoenix. The Suns won 56 games that season but the statistics do not exactly match what you’d expect with McDyess at center with Jason Kidd, Kevin Johnson, Rex Chapman, and a stretchy power forward in Clifford Robinson. They were 10th in pace, 12th in offensive efficiency, and sixth in defensive efficiency.
  • As for McDyess, he averaged 6.7 attempts around the rim per 36 minutes, the highest of his career according to available data going back to 1998 on NBA.com. He made 69% of his attempts, one of his highest, nicest marks.
  • In 2004, Dirk Nowitzki logged time at center for the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas ended up having the most efficient offense ever, relative to league averages, but their defense fell off a cliff, from ninth in 2003 to 26th. It wasn’t just Nowitzki’s fault. Most of the roster was heavy on scoring and light on perimeter defense or rim protection. The following off-season was an overhaul, most notably losing Steve Nash, but the Mavericks bounced back to ninth in defensive efficiency and went from 52 wins to 58.
  • There are plenty of more examples scattered across the last 20 seasons, but the amount of space-eating centers who made a great deal of money to guard players like Shaquille O’Neal was too much to ignore. It wasn’t just Garnett who was held back by bad centers. Because of O’Neal, Greg Ostertag and Jim McIlvaine will live forever. So, too, will draft prospects compared to O’Neal like DeSagana Diop and Eddy Curry.

East vs. West Final Standings

So the season has finally come to an end. (We made it!) While a number of solid West teams limped to the finish line, the conference still posted a record versus the East that fit right in with their dominance since 2000. Below is a look at their final few weeks versus the East, weeks where non-conference play was all but already wrapped up with only 12 games left:

And a look at each team’s record and conference splits (click to enlarge):

eastwest

And a few stats to measure this year’s non-conference battle with every season since 1971:

weststuff

The 2015 West moved down a bit since my last look at those last few statistics, fitting right in with a typical season since 2000, as mentioned earlier.

Right now, there’s too much left to be decided before taking a stab at what 2016 will look like. We have the playoffs to play out, which seems to lead to one injury that’ll decide a team’s fate. Then there’s the lottery to determine the draft order, which we know from the past can really move the needle. (Think Tim Duncan and a coin flip between which conference he’d wind up in.) And then the draft, free agency, and so on. THERE’S A LOT OF TIME LEFT BEFORE NEXT SEASON, but it should be fun to see if the East gets a boost over the next six months.

So that’s it for this year’s non-conference updates, but if there’s something I missed or you’re curious about feel free to leave a comment on here or over Twitter (my tweets should be on the right side of this blog).

I also plan to post some other silly season-ending stuff before the playoffs start, but until then enjoy the break between now and the postseason!

East vs. West Week 6: The East sort of strikes back

The West may have finished Week 6 over .500 at 15-10, but the East put a dent in the record-breaking point differential after laying some smackings on them. Those were mostly thanks to the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards as they went a combined 4-0, each win by eight or more points.

It wasn’t too pretty for the rest of the East teams in non-conference play. Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, and Milwaukee all went winless, a combined 0-9. At least Philadelphia scored their first win of the season…on the road…against a West team. (Dammit, Minnesota). The undefeated West teams last week with multiple non-conference games were Dallas, Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Portland. Utah and Denver went winless. COOL.

Below is the updated non-conference stats through Week 6, and below is a screenshot of the scores from all the games. Thought I’d include them in case anybody was curious.

week6scores

Statistically, Week 6 may have been the East’s best showing so far. I mean, there’s even a loss by San Antonio. GOOD GRIEF. It’s between Week 2 and 6 for the best, which is pretty pathetic since the East finished neither of them over .500.

Week 7 is a slightly shorter non-conference schedule with 20 games versus the 25 we saw the last two weeks. There’s also finally a home-road edge for the West, though a small one.

weeky7

Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, and New York take road trips out west while the Clippers and Blazers will or are already playing multiple games on East courts. The other teams with multiple games this week are Indiana, Milwaukee, Washington, Denver, Memphis, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and Utah. For the West, only San Antonio and Sacramento are on the non-conference schedule but with only one game.

FUN STUFF. Kevin Durant is back, so we’ll see him in what looks like a great matchup vs Cleveland on Thursday night. There are some other goodies like Portland-Chicago, Clippers-Washington, and a good ol’ repeat of the 1999 NBA Finals in San Antonio versus New York. The Spurs still have the same roster, pretty much. Kind of crazy that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili all came together only a few years after that first title.

ANYWAY. If you somehow made it to the end of this post, I’d recommend checking out Zach Lowe’s column about non-conference disparity and Ziller’s fantastic piece about a solution for it. I’ll roll out at least a couple of more posts this week, including an addition to the My Soup section. Unfortunately it’s not really soup but weird stats I’ve put together. They don’t taste like anything and if they smell bad it’s probably you. Sorry.

Have a good week, though.

Career shot and point distribution charts: Ray Allen

BorLez8CAAERt9c

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

%d bloggers like this: