Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Garnett’

If you missed the last post, it was an overview of Expected Value (EV). And while that approach is not a novel concept — check out this similar method — from what I gather, incorporating a large defensive component is. Most of the defensive numbers used are from my stat-tracking. As a refresher, the defensive component of EV includes:

So which individual players fare the best in this metric? Below are the top defensive players in EV from the 2010 playoffs, with defensive usage included as a reference for the size of a player’s role (minimum 30 defensive plays “used”):

2010 Playoffs; Minimum 30 defensive possessions used

Dwight Howard, not surprisingly, had the best playoffs on the defensive end according to this. It’s good to be cautious of how small-sampled the playoffs are, given that one or two games against a hot or cold shooting opponent could skew these numbers. Then again, half the all-defensive team is represented on the list above, and that doesn’t include reputable defenders like Joakim Noah, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Tony Allen.

Because the playoffs are not only small sampled in games, but in opponents, it’s always important to consider matchups. Which makes Allen’s performance — mostly versus Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant — that much more impressive.

For those wondering about Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, they both just missed the cut. Garnett, to me, emphasizes the single greatest challenge in measuring individual defense causally: his greatest strength is probably communicating where to be and what is coming at all times to those around him. Now that’s difficult to quantify.

Finally, here is the complete list of defensive EV from the 2010 playoffs for all qualifying players (min 30 defensive possessions “used”).

Author’s Note: All EV values are relative to league average.

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As a follow up to this post, I’ve compiled the numbers from 82games clutch statistics in the postseason. They define “clutch” as the last five minutes of a 5-point game or closer. Unfortunately, the samples are much smaller and they don’t include 2010 playoff figures. The ten most notable players from that period:

Again, LeBron James comes out looking like Kal-El from Krypton. He and Carmelo Anthony are the only players to increase their shooting percentages down the stretch of close playoff games. Apparently, it’s impossible to shoot well in the playoffs. So much so that Kobe Bryant’s drop in eFG% of 5.6% over these six years is actually better than most of contemporaries.

LeBron somehow also ups his assists, which means from this group, only Steve Nash is setting the table as much at then end of close games. Nash bodes quite well, with per 36 minute averages of 22 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds with an eFG% of 47% (second only to James). No surprises coming from perhaps the two best offensive players of the decade.

Garnett vs. Duncan

It’s worth revisiting how the two best “power forwards” of the era did here, since KG is so often criticized for shrinking down the stretch of games. In the regular season study, Garnett held his own again Timmy. Here, Duncan has a clear advantage:

Give Duncan some credit, although nothing overly spectacular. In Minnesota in 2004, Garnett averaged about 22 points per 36 minutes on 44% eFG% in these situations. He darn near disappeared in 2008 in Boston. In both cases, the rebounding and passing suffered. Garnett did shoot 80% from the line to Duncan’s 61% , but that’s about his only advantage. Although an extremely small sample — just 74 minutes — it’s a modicum of evidence supporting KG as a choker and validating Duncan’s endgame over Garnett’s.

EDIT: Thanks to drza’s contributions, it should be noted that if we include 2003, Garnett’s per36 numbers change to: 22.7 points 8.1 rebounds 0.9 assists 1.7 turnovers 55.7 TS% 48.6 eFG% in 84 minutes.

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True Shooting percentage is a popular statistic roughly designed to capture points per shot. But since it mashes together 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws, the final percentage isn’t exactly intuitive. What does it mean to have a TS% of 55% versus one of 60%? Precisely, how much more efficient is that?

Let’s look at three different types of players: low-usage, medium-usage and high-usage, defined as

  • low-usage players take roughly 10 attempts per 75 possessions (FGA’s + FTA’s*0.44)
  • medium-usage players take roughly 15 attempts per 75 possessions
  • high-usage players take roughly 20 attempts per 75 possessions

Current examples: Shane Battier is low-usage, averaging 9.4 attempts per 75, Kevin Garnett is a medium-usage player, averaging 16.2 attempts per 75 and Dirk Nowitzki is high-usage, averaging 21.3 attempts per 75. Kobe Bryant is the league-leader right now, at just over 27 attempts per 75 possessions.

So, what is the relationship between TS% at these rates and actual scoring efficiency? Well, the more a player shoots the more the percentage points matter. By definition, there is a simple linear relationship between TS% and points, shown below graphically:

So for someone like Battier, every one percent change is worth about 0.2 points. For Garnett, about 0.3 points and for a high-usage guy like Nowitzki, every single percent change is worth about 0.4 points. So, returning to the idea of low, medium and high-usage players, we can look at their affect on a team’s Offensive Rating. For every one percent change in TS:

  • low-usage players change an ORtg by 0.2 points
  • medium-usage players change an ORtg by 0.3 points
  • high-usage players change an ORtg by 0.4 points

That means when comparing high-usage stars, a small change in TS%, say 2%, roughly equates to almost 1.0 point in offensive efficiency. This is not inconsequential, as that approximates to an SRS point, usually good for a handful wins in a season. A 4% change is worth about 1.5 points in ORtg, and a 6% difference 2.5 points or nearly 3 SRS points. A change of that magnitude in SRS is often the difference between an average team and a solid playoff team, or a solid playoff team and a title contender.

In other words, the 5.9 % TS difference between LeBron James in 2010 (24.8 “attempts” per 75) and Kobe Bryant in 2010 (24.7 “attempts” per 75) is worth about 2.9 points, based on their shooting efficiency.

Keep that in mind when comparing TS% numbers. For a better look at estimating overall “offensive efficiency” as it changes with usage see this post at Basketball-Reference.

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