Tag Archives: Zach Randolph

Half-Court Shot Totals From the 2014-15 Season

Yesterday I posted the season-long non-conference record. Today I regurgitated another stat I decided to track for some reason: Heaves! I defined a heave as any shot from half-court and beyond since these shots mostly happen at the end of a quarter, and since they are low-percentage shots it’s not surprising to see a player be too cool and take one justttt after the horn sounds or take no shot at all. Whatever. I’ll address this later.

There hasn’t been a post here about those numbers since early December, though, back when the league recorded only one made heave and was approaching the least-accurate season in the fifteen tracked seasons on Basketball-Reference. Those missed shots were a really big deal! Well, not really, but made shots are pretty entertaining and good Vine or YouTube fodder, except they just weren’t happening.

Well, after starting one-for-94, the league gave us life. Over the last four months and change, they were 10-for-322 and Zach Randolph became the only player to make two heaves this season. Overall, heaves in 2015 finished with very average accuracy — a whopping 2.6 percent — and an attempt total that fit right in with previous seasons.

Below is an updated look from shots from a distance of 45 feet or longer. I gave a two-foot cushion because there were conflicting measurements with Casper Ware‘s record-breaking heave last season.

heaves

So yeah, not the most accurate shots unless you are Randolph or, in the past, like Tony Wroten who last year was a 21 percent three-point shooter but went two-for-six on heaves. Heal up, Moreyball god. It’s impressive he attempted as many heaves as he did this season in only 895 minutes. Listed below are Wroten and players to either make a heave this season or attempt the most shots without a make because they deserve to be mentioned for their efforts, unlike others who are too cool to heave:

heavers

If you looked at the post from early December, John Henson was the only player to make a half-court shot back then. He’s not listed here anymore. Not sure what happened on Basketball-Reference. He doesn’t even have a three-point attempt this season.

TANGENT: I also included the difference in three-point percentage because it took less than a minute to calculate it for all those players. Why did it take so fast? Because it’s 2015. We aren’t in the stone age anymore, when field goal percentage was looked at as a reliable way to measure shooting accuracy. Sure, missed shots from beyond half court shouldn’t count in the first place (they don’t in college), but in 2015 it’s not a big deal either way when it takes only seconds to filter them out and get a better look at a player’s shooting touch. You can do this easily because the heave totals are on any player page on Basketball-Reference or NBA.com like every other shot from a specific distance or zone. Look up any shot chart on NBA.com and it’s not just a bunch of dots with one single field goal percentage — they’re divided into several zones. We can even look at shots off the dribble, off a pass, and many other situations.

This isn’t the early-2000s, which is why it’s insulting to everybody involved when a player sees a half-court shot as harmful, as if we weren’t smart enough to account for their missed heaves and place them in their own group of attempts like we do with every other shot. We would all take notice if somebody like Stephen Curry decided to take 20 or more of them in a season, filtering them out from the rest of his threes like we’ve done with players who attempt threes most often from the corner and only occasionally take threes from above the break like Tony Parker and Shawn Marion. Knowing who might be a great three-point shooter from around the arc versus only the corners might not be the greatest example, but the bottom line is that it’s okay to take the end of quarter shot the other team can’t rebound because there are so many ways we can all look at shooting besides staring blankly at field goal and three-point attempts and percentages. Heaves are a win-win for the player and the team involved, though they do impact offensive efficiency. More on that in a bit.

There was a time when I took the side of a player padding their stats by being too cool to take heaves, but that’s in the past. It is now a lazy take, and I hate everybody who thinks otherwise. Just kidding about that second part, but in my opinion it is a lazy take in 2015.

END TANGENT…

…though if missed heaves didn’t count in the books, they wouldn’t count as possessions either. So for the heck of it, I looked at each team’s heaves, subtracted the missed ones from total possessions, and looked at what their offensive efficiency would be otherwise. I also included heave-to-3pt rate. The shot totals are from Basketball-Refence’s shot finder tool (edit: and efficiency was from Nylon Calculus):

heaveeff

A little similar to when I looked at technical fouls and their effect on offensive and defensive efficiency, the change when filtering out heaves is not huge, but we’re still moving around the rankings slightly. With about 17 points between first and last place in offensive efficiency, a 0.1-0.3-point boost isn’t…not…meaningful.

I’m also not sure the heave totals both for teams and league totals each season mean much. Less attempts could mean more 2-for-1 opportunities, or more attempts could mean that teams are willing to get off some kind of look with only a few seconds left in a quarter. Who knows?

Something that might help with that would be a new play-by-play option: Player X (or Team X) runs the clock out. Maybe it’s only used for the first three quarters since the fourth quarter is a very different situation. There’s also sometimes an awkward, multiple-second gap between the final shot and the end of a quarter, so maybe the extra play-by-play option isn’t a totally ridiculous suggestion. Oh well, but maybe it could help show when there were heave opportunities and show who isn’t taking advantage of what is a win-win situation for everybody involved, save for fantasy basketball owners and gamblers.

MOAR HEAVES.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s rebounding compared to Rasheed Wallace’s

Tiago Hammil | Flickr

Tiago Hammil | Flickr

Over the last decade or so, a few of the NBA’s premier forwards have been with the Portland Trail Blazers. Rasheed Wallace was traded when Zach Randolph‘s career was just getting started, then Randolph was traded just when LaMarcus Aldridge became (and remains) a building block for Portland. Of the three forwards, Aldridge is the only one who’s kept his head on straight through the first half of his career. Let’s hope that doesn’t change.

And last night against Houston, Aldridge became the only one of the three to accomplish the statistical feat of 30+ points and 25 rebounds as a Blazer. No player in the franchise’s history had accomplished that. One particular offensive rebound — leading to a bucket and a foul — triggered memories of Wallace a decade ago. Where was this when ‘Sheed was in his prime? He’s one of my favorite players ever, but I can’t get past him never averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds (let alone nine) for a single year. More on his rebounding in a bit.

Aldridge has been on an absolute tear recently, averaging 13 rebounds in his last 10 games along with 25.9 points, 2.9 assists, just 1.3 turnovers, and 1.5 fouls. The rebounding numbers are a little misleading since Aldridge is the only rebounder in the top 25 to grab less than 30 percent of contested boards, according to SportVU, but it’s nonetheless impressive.

We know now that Wallace never became elite on the glass, but Aldridge had only been an average rebounder going into this season, similar to ‘Sheed at the same stage of his career. Because of that, I wanted to look at the two forwards who came to Portland ten years apart and their rebounding, specifically between the ages of 25 to 28 when both came into their own as players. 

We’ll start with their rebounding stats per-36 minutes:

Player Season ORB DRB TRB PTS
Rasheed Wallace 2000-03 1.7 5.8 7.4 17.8
LaMarcus Aldridge 2011-14 2.7 5.7 8.4 20.6

Adding field goal attempts, free throws, etc. was tempting, but those stats don’t necessarily make rebounding much worse if at all. (You’ll see in the next graph that ‘Sheed’s rebounding actually improved when he started taking threes.) From the per-36 numbers, though, neither player’s rebounding stats are all that impressive. Wallace’s look quite terrible.

We can see if those numbers by either player deceive or confirm how they look in a table showing the percentage of rebounds they grab while on the court:

Player  Season Age G PER 3PAr ORB% DRB% TRB% USG%
Rasheed Wallace 1999-00 25 81 18.1 0.048 5.6% 17.2% 11.7% 21.9%
Rasheed Wallace 2000-01 26 77 20.9 0.138 6.2% 17.9% 12.2% 23.4%
Rasheed Wallace 2001-02 27 79 19.3 0.246 5.3% 20.4% 12.8% 23.7%
Rasheed Wallace 2002-03 28 74 18.5 0.281 5.1% 19.6% 12.3% 23.3%
Total 2000-03   311 19.2 0.182 5.6% 18.8% 12.3% 23.1%
LaMarcus Aldridge
2010-11 25 81 21.5 0.016 10.1% 17.2% 13.5% 25.7%
LaMarcus Aldridge
2011-12 26 55 22.7 0.012 8.6% 17.5% 12.9% 27.0%
LaMarcus Aldridge 2012-13 27 74 20.4 0.011 7.2% 20.9% 14.0% 26.5%
LaMarcus Aldridge 2013-14 28 23 23.8 0.004 6.7% 24.7% 15.8 28.7%
Total 2011-14   233 21.6 0.012 8.5% 19.1% 13.7% 26.5%

Worth noting: Last night, Aldridge nearly doubled his percentages coming into the game, getting 12.2 percent of available offensive rebounds, 45 percent of defensive ones, and 29.2 percent total.

Neither player’s total rebounding percentage over a four-year span lights up the league, though. Among the 290 forwards and centers from 2011 to 2014 (minimum 40 games played), Aldridge is ranked 119th. As for Wallace, from 2000 to 2003 (minimum 50 games), he was 163rd out of 279. Aldridge sits between the top-third and top-half of the league, Wallace lies between the bottom-half and bottom-third with a percentage less than Eddy Curry‘s, post-surgery Tom Gugliotta‘s, Keith Van Horn‘s, and Dirk Nowitzki‘s, among other players not known for their rebounding either.

What separates Aldridge from Wallace a decade ago is the offensive glass, even if Aldridge’s seems to be declining each season. Like mentioned earlier, Wallace’s rebounding percentages increased when he started taking threes, but the offensive rebounding dipped slightly. He was 226th out of 279 forwards and centers in offensive rebounding percentage while Aldridge is currently 125th out of 290, a clear difference between terrible and average.

Rasheed  Wallace in Detroit. (Keith Allison via Flickr)

Rasheed Wallace as a Piston in 2008. (Keith Allison via Flickr)

Personnel also affects rebounding totals. There’s just not as many rebounds available when playing alongside Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace, which Aldridge occasionally did during 2011 and 2012. His rebounding improved when playing alongside J.J. Hickson and Nicholas Batum, the former replaced by Robin Lopez this season. 

It’s a similar case for Wallace, who played with Brian Grant (traded after ’00) and Arvydas Sabonis in through ’01 before improving in defensive rebounding with Dale Davis at center. Sabonis came back in ’03 to play a limited role.

Regardless, Portland was a top-10 team in total rebound percentage from ’00 to ’03, according to NBA.com. They were also in the top-eight each year in offensive rebounding and no worse than 12th in defensive boards.  The Blazers from ’11 to ’14 were hot and cold on the glass, though. In their seasons as a playoff team — ’11 and likely ’14 — they’ve been both the best offensive rebounding teams and at stopping the fast break. In their lottery-bound seasons of ’12 and ’13, however, they were a bottom-10 team in each category. Defensive rebounding percentage over those four seasons has been consistently below average, never above 18th.

In the years following ‘Sheed’s stint with Portland, his rebounding percentages fluctuated. They were often higher in Detroit but dipping in Boston. (Bill Simmons was especially not happy with his performance as a Celtic.) As for his cup of coffee with New York, I pretend it doesn’t really exist.

Meanwhile, Aldridge’s rebounding used to be something that neither jumped out nor was worth getting too frustrated about. Through one-fourth of this season, it’s helped him become an MVP candidate.

Can he keep it up?

All statistics via Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

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