The Fast Break Jam Episode 1: Pilot

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Ah, it’s the first episode of the new Hoop City Blog podcast, The Fast Break Jam. In the first episode of the podcast, Sean and I discuss the current events, the top five moments of the season in the NBA and discuss this week’s all star events.

Notes:

-HawksHoop blogger Bo Churney was supposed to be on the show, but after about 20 minutes of a Skype call his internet crapped out and he couldn’t continue on. Please forgive us and Bo.

-Here is a look at the Warriors awful jerseys.

-When I said they couldn’t be any worse than the Jazz acid wash uniforms, these were the ones I was talking about.

-I referenced a post about a possible Seattle Expansion team. Read the article here, by Sactown Royalty.

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The Damian Lillard Effect

Photo from Flickr by MikalanPHOTOgraphy

Photo from Flickr by MikalanPHOTOgraphy

This season, the Portland Trail Blazers are  vying for a playoff spot. With JJ Hickson, Nicolas Batum, Lamarcus Aldridge, Wes Mathews and Damian Lillard starting, they look like a good team. Then comes the bench. Yeah, they have an awful bench. I could go in to many details about how bad this bench is, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today, I’m writing about the massive effect that rookie point guard Damian Lillard has when he’s on the floor.

First, let’s look at shooting. When Lillard’s on the bench, the Blazers shoot 42.3% from the floor. When he’s on the court, they shoot 44%. Not a big difference, really. That’s the difference between the 29th best shooting team in the league and the 21st best. However, when it comes to shooting threes, there’s a huge difference. The Blazers are a lowly 26th in the NBA in three-point percentage, sitting at 33.7%. Without Damian Lillard on the court, they shoot 25% from beyond the arc. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT. The worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA (Minnesota) shoots 30% from downtown. Without Lillard, Portland’s 5% worse at three-pointers than any other team in the league. Howver, when Lillard’s on the floor, the Blazers shoot 35.5%, which would be tied for 14th in the NBA. Not fantastic, but right in the middle. Yes, Damian Lillard being on the court makes the Blazers 10.5% better at shooting threes. Now, it’s a wonder how that only makes the team’s shooting percentage go up 1.7% with Lillard on the floor, right? Wrong. Although Lillard does help their three-game, when he’s on the court the team is slightly worse with mid-range jumpers and are significantly worse in the paint.

When Lillard's on the floor, the Blazers get way better from three and slightly worse in the paint and on mid-range jumpers.

When Lillard’s on the floor, the Blazers get way better from three and slightly worse in the paint and on mid-range jumpers.

Because of his ability to make the team be better at shooting treys, when he’s not on the court, the Blazers have the worst effective field goal percentage (eFG%) in the league at 45.5, but when he’s on the court the Blazers have the 11th best eFG% at 49.7. In terms of true shooting percentage (TS%), when he’s not on the court, Portland is tied for last at 49.7. When Lillard’s on the court, the Blazers’ TS% skyrockets to 53.4, which would be 13th in the NBA.

Also, when Lillard’s the team actually becomes better at rebounding. Their rebound percentage goes up from 47.9 to 50.3, but that doesn’t say as much, because looking at it closer, their defensive rebounding percentage only goes up .1%. I mean, Lillard doesn’t have much to do with defensive rebounding. The telling stat is that when Lillard’s on the floor, the Blazers’ offensive rebounding percentage increases by 3.7, which is a fairly large margin.

The most impressive Damian Lillard statistic to me, however, is this: The Portland Trail Blazers have a Net Rating of -2.1, 19th in the NBA. When Damian Lillard is not on the floor, the Blazers have a Net Rating of -10.7, which alone would put them behind the Bobcats for worst in the NBA. When Damian Lillard is on the floor, the Blazers have a Net Rating of 0.1, which would make them the 16th best in the league. That shows how much Damian Lillard means to the Blazers’ on both ends of the court. When he’s not on the floor, the Blazers are one of the worst teams in basketball. When he’s on the floor, they are close if not in the playoffs.

Oh, and he’s a rookie.

Bobcats Let Them Shoot

After reading a post on Queen City Hoops (a name eerily similar to ours) about the Bobcats letting the Pacers shoot threes, I went to check if the Bobcats let the Rockets do that to them today.

Oh, yes they did.

Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 5.40.18 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 5.43.13 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 5.43.41 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 5.45.20 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 5.46.48 PM

These are all screenshots (thanks to NBA.com/Stats) of different looks the Rockets got. Look! I stopped screenshotting with 8 minutes still remaining in the first half! I already had got my point across.

ALL OF TEH OPEN THREES

Damian Lillard: Rookie Of The Year?

As we’ve progressed through over 1/4 of the season, questions start to ring out. One of those questions: Who should win rookie of the year?

I never really passed this thought through my head, but on page 129 of the Hardwood Paroxysm season preview they thought of just that. You can see, the consensus is basically either Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis. Over a quarter of the way through the season, it’s looking like it’s Damian Lillard.

Obviously, the contest for this season isn’t over, but if the season ended right now, would Lillard be a good candidate? Let’s take a look at the last 5 winners of ROY that were point guards, and recap how they were in order. At the end, we’ll see whether Lillard is deserving or not.

Blue- Worst out of the sixRed-Best out of the six

Blue- Worst out of the six
Red-Best out of the six

Player Comparison-Guards Who Won ROY (ADVANCED)

Blue- Worst out of the six
Red-Best out of the six

Allen Iverson: Allen Iverson, the oldest ROY out of the people I picked, was probably the most prolific, but was also pretty bad in some stats you don’t see a lot. The biggest reason he won rookie of the year was most likely because of his scoring average (23.5 PPG) which was 5.4 PPG higher than the next-highest scorer. Other than that, Iverson didn’t really play amazing compared to the other rookies. He had the worst true shooting percentage, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and the most turnovers. All of those stats are things you don’t see a lot, but are essential to a team’s success. Essentially, Iverson was the worst non-three point shooter out of these rookies and also probably made the most mistakes.

Steve Francis: Steve Francis was a hidden player out of the past six point guard ROY winners. Unsurprisingly, he also didn’t have the best stats. He isn’t the leader in any category, but at the same time is also the worst in only one category (turnover percentage). In pretty much every stat you look at, Francis is even with most of the bunch, with the exception of his excessive turnovers.

Chris Paul: When looking at normal stats, Chris Paul didn’t have a fantastic season. He had the lowest PPG and wasn’t very prolific in any category- except for the ones that you don’t see as much of. Chris Paul’s stats are kind of like the opposite of Allen Iverson’s. Iverson’s were cool initially, but once you look at all of the less-popular stats, he didn’t excel. For Chris Paul, compared to all the others in their rookie season, he averaged the most assists and steals and the least turnovers per game, all stats that you like to see out of a point guard. If you keep going to advanced stats, Chris Paul kills. The most impressive stat out of all of this is that he had the best offensive AND defensive rating (114 and 104, respectively) and had more win shares (10.4) than any other player on this list by at least four. Chris Paul’s rookie season was a great one.

Derrick Rose: Derrick Rose had a great rookie season, as did everyone else on this list, but not as good as some of the others that we see. The only stat category he led in that’s worth noting is field goal percentage, and that didn’t even translate to the highest true shooting percentage or effective field goal percentage. He also was the worst in assist percentage and steal percentage, categories you don’t want to be the worst in as a point guard.

Kyrie Irving: Kyrie Irving. Last year’s hidden gem. No one really knew who he was until towards the end of the year, when everyone realized how good he was. Irving’s strong suit was definitely his shooting. He had the highest true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three point percentage (he blew out the competition with a39.9% shooting beyond the arc) and was second in field goal percentage. His downfall, though, was the other aspects of his game. He was second-worst in steals per game and the worst in assists per game, showing his lack of excellency in other areas. Nevertheless, he had a fantastic rookie season.

Damian Lillard: Through 1/4 of the season, Lillard is the best candidate for ROY. His stats are just about as good as all of the other ROYs that were point guards, too. He’s not the best in any category by any means, and is the worst in the win share category by a landslide, but is pretty on par with the other guys. He’s one of the better shooters, passers and point scorers in general.

——

The Final Verdict: Damian Lillard wouldn’t be the best guard who won ROY in the past 15 years, but he also wouldn’t be the worst. If he stays on course for the rest of the year, his stats will fit right in with all of the other guys. Keep an eye on Damian Lillard. He’s following a good path.

Toney Douglas vs. Austin Rivers: Who’s Worse?

Toney Douglas

Toney Douglas

A few days ago on Twitter, I asked everyone who they thought the worst guard in the NBA was. I got a lot of responses, but they were mostly between Austin Rivers and Toney Douglas.

Here are some stats:

Player          Age   MP  FG%  3P%  FT% TRB AST STL PTS

Toney Douglas    26 16.6 .343 .362 .966 1.4 1.9 1.0 6.9

Austin Rivers    20 27.1 .310 .333 .632 2.4 2.9 0.8 6.6

Ok, now that we’ve got that all sorted out let’s take a look at some of our Hoop City Blog writers and what they think. I’m going first.

JamesonOverall, it’s a pretty close battle of who’s worse. Neither player is that good, but when push comes to shove, Austin Rivers is probably worse. Granted, Rivers probably could have sharpened his skills if he stayed a few more years at Duke, he’s in the NBA now, and expectations are high. Rivers, on average, plays about 11 minutes more than Toney Douglas and gets only about one more assist and about the same amount of points. Really the only stat categories Rivers leads in at all are blocks and rebounds, which are both things you don’t really expect much of out of your guards. Douglas has a higher shooting percentage, three point percentage, and about a 10% higher true shooting percentage. Also, Douglas’ PER (Player Effeciency Rating) is 11.3, which looks like a fantastic PER compared to Rivers’ lowly 6.1. If you want to get WAY deep in sabermetrics (do they call it that for basketball?) into win shares, Douglas contributes for about 0.3 wins while Rivers contributes for -0.6. Although both of these players are bad, Rivers is probably worse.

Tucker: It’s close- they’re both inefficient shooters that don’t offer much else on offense. If you ask me, though, Austin Rivers has played worse so far this year. While Douglas does take more shots, he also hits 3s at an above-average rate (.362), which Rivers does not do (.333). Douglas gets to the line only slightly more often than Rivers (3.7 to 3.0 FTA per 36 minutes, respectively), but Douglas also is shooting .966 from the stripe, while Rivers is at a .632 clip. One thing I find interesting is that the difference between Douglas’s ORtg and DRtg is a bad -10, but Rivers’s difference is a Diop-esque -29. So I say Rivers is worse right now, but know fully well that, being only 20, he has a lot more room for improvement over the 26-year-old Douglas.

Ok, those are all of the opinions from your Hoop City Writers, now a couple of others from around the web

Caleb Nordgren (Writer for Bulls101.com and Michigan State’s The State News): Well, given a choice, I would choose self-immolation over either of them. But at gunpoint? I’d go with Toney Douglas. Rivers at least seems like he might have potential to improve, even though his numbers are significantly worse. Douglas has proven at this point that he’s just awful.

Bo Churney (Writer for HawksHoop.com): I want to say Toney Douglas, just because he has a history of being terrible. Rivers could just be dealing with a lot of rookie struggles.

What’s your decision?

3 Big Surprises of the 2012 NBA Season So Far

(Sam Sharpe / US PRESSWIRE)

The 2012-2013 NBA campaign is about 20% completed, and there are some things that haven’t been changing. The Thunder and the Heat are two of some of the best teams in the NBA, Washington is one of the worst.

Throughout these unsurprising events and results, there have been some surprising things that have happened. Let’s see three big surprises of this year so far.

The Charlotte Bobcats

While another historically bad season was unlikely, no one thought that the Bobcats were actually a legitimate team. The general consensus coming in to the season was that the Bobcats would be towards the basement of the NBA this year.

Boy, were they wrong.

As of today, the Bobcats are 6-5 and 3rd place in the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs started today, they’d be the 7th seed in the playoffs, facing the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

Kemba Walker has carried the team this year, along with unlikely heroes such as Byron Mullens (yes, BYRON MULLENS) stepping up to the plate and playing very well.

The Toronto Raptors

The Raptors weren’t supposed to be a great team, but they were a legitimate pick for the 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs.

It hasn’t gone as planned. Following a loss to the Pistons tonight, Toronto’s 3-10, second-to-last in the Eastern Conference. DeMar DeRozan has played well, but the rest of the team has underperformed and Kyle Lowry hasn’t played very well.

The Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies were supposed to get better and maybe make it farther in the playoffs this year.

What no one expected was a 9-2 team that has crushed pretty much every team they have played. At this point, the Grizzlies look like the best team in the NBA.

Led by Zach Randolph (16.7 PPG, 13.8 RPG), the team’s only losses are to the Clippers and the Nuggets and they’re tied with the 10-3 San Antonio Spurs for first place in the Western Conference.

What are the biggest surprises to you guys?

The Sad Case Of The Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons. 2004 NBA Champions. 2012 NBA laughing stock.

The Pistons came into the season looking like a team on the rise that had a small chance of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They had a mediocre defense with an improving offense, and a star in Greg Monroe. This was looking, to Pistons fan, like the most exciting season since 2007.

The Pistons started the season off with a close loss to the Houston Rockets. It wasn’t too big of a downer, as James Harden dropped 37 points and the Pistons stuck with Houston until late in the 4th quarter.

But it just went downhill from there. The Pistons followed up that game with a disappointing loss to the new-look Phoenix Suns, followed by crushing 108-79 loss to the then-winless Los Angeles Lakers. After that game, the Pistons looked to rebound against the 0-3 Denver Nuggets, only to lose 109-97 in which six of Denver’s players racked up double-digit scoring.

Now 0-4, the Pistons are NOT where they wanted to be. They don’t want to repeat last season’s opening woes (started 4-21), but are already on their way to repeating that feat.

Detroit’s next game is against the 1-3 Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, hoping to notch their first win of the year.

Brooklyn Nets Season Preview: Starting Fresh

Team Capsule

The New Jersey Nets have been the scapegoat of the NBA for most of the past decade or so, with a few exceptions. The idea was tossed around a few times to move the team elsewhere, but the decision finally was made to give the Nets a total makeover and move them to Brooklyn to play in the Barclays Center.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s all welcome your Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets are starting a new season and have a whole new look, and with new players such as Joe Johnson and CJ Watson, the Nets are ready to turn the page.

Biggest Strength: Offense

First, the Nets will have one of the most prolific backcourts in the league with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Add in Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, and you have yourself a great scoring team. Not to mention the high-powered bench scoring; CJ Watson, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche and Marshon Brooks will provide much of that. Add that formula all together, and the sum is a high-powered scoring offense. What a relief for Nets fans.

Biggest Weakness: Defense

While Joe Johnson is a good defensive player, the rest of the Nets are a different story. Lopez, Teletovic, Blatche and Humphries all are less than desirable on defense. No one at center is taller than 6’9, so that poses a big problem. Brooklyn’s games this year will be high-scoring.

Player to Watch: Mirza Teletovic

Teletovic isn’t getting much publicity due to the other blockbuster moves that the Nets are making, but this guy’s shooting ability is definitely a force to be reckoned with. The best part? A lot of teams might not pay attention to the skills of Teletovic.

2011-2012 record: (22-44)

Coach: Avery Johnson (240-172)

Key Additions: Andray Blatche, Joe Johnson, Josh Childress, CJ Watson, Mirza Teletovic

The Nets made a lot of big moves this offseason. The biggest, obviously, was acquiring Joe Johnson from the Hawks, a player that will surely make the Nets better this season. Some may forget, however, that Blatche, Childress, Watson and Teletovic are pretty good additions too.

Key Subtractions: Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro

In my Atlanta Hawks Season Preview, I raved about the addition of former Nets player Anthony Morrow. While he’s better than people think, he is still nowhere near Joe Johnson.

Team Trajectory: Rising

The Nets organization wants more than an embarrassing team. They made big acquisitions this offseason that will result in a much better team, and will most likely keep moving forward and ultimately try to reach the final destination: an NBA Championship. However, they don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves yet. Right now, they’re playoff bound, maybe not much farther.

Projected Record: 47-35

 

Boston Celtics Season Preview: New Team, Same Goals

Team Capsule

Last year, the Boston Celtics, led by Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat in 7 games in a gut-wrenching fashion. That also marked the end of the “Big 3” era of Pierce, Allen and Kevin Garnett. Ray Allen left to join the Miami Heat.

Although the Celtics missed their goal last year of obtaining a Championship, they have re-tooled their roster and are ready for another shot at it. The only question: Will they succeed?

Biggest Strength: Depth

Last year, the Celtics had a pretty bad bench, but the additions of Jason Terry, Fab Melo, and- eeeek- I hate saying this as a Michigan State fan, but former Ohio State player Jared Sullinger add to the bench’s strength, and now with Jeff Green coming back, he’ll be a force off of the bench.

Biggest Weakness: Age

The Celtics are a bunch of old guys out on the court. Jason Terry and Paul Pierce are 35, and Kevin Garnett is 36. The biggest problem might be Kevin Garnett, because he’s prone to injuries, and the depth behind him isn’t so strong (I mean, DARKO MILICIC).

Player to Watch: Jeff Green

Jeff Green missed all of last season with an aortic aneurysm in his heart, but is back this season. He could become a huge asset to the team behind starter Paul Pierce, as Pierce is aging and Green is really skilled with a good basketball IQ.

2011-2012 record: 39-27

Coach: Doc Rivers (546-433)

Key Additions: Jeff Green (kind of), Jason Terry, Courtney Lee

Jeff Green, although this is his second year as a Celtic, is in his first PLAYING season with them, and could be a huge asset. Lee and Terry both are good replacements for the absent Ray Allen, who is now playing for the Miami Heat.

Key Subtractions: Ray Allen, JaJuan Johnson

Allen, the best three-point shooter in NBA history, is a big loss to the team and his hard to replace. Also, JaJuan Johnson was Brandon Bass’ backup, and it’ll be difficult for Jared Sullinger to appropriately fill the role of backup power forward in his first year in the NBA.

Team Trajectory: Flat

The team is having troubles making up for Ray Allen, plus, the missing pieces aren’t there for them to make it all the way to the championship with the Heat as a roadblock. They’re going to need Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to do better than expected if they want to go any deeper into the playoffs.

Projected Record: 55-27