[Editor's note: defintions for these metrics can be found here. As well, some of the links need ESPN Insider access]
Scoring efficiency and offensive production
Sonny Weems was impressive the first few weeks, but has cooled off significantly this past week. He’s shot 29.7% FG% (and eFG%) over the last three games. Not so “money”. It’s early yes, but Jerryd Bayless has been solid – TS% of 61.9%, AST% of 26.3% and a very high ORtg. He also has 15 FT attempts in only 48 minutes of play. If he keeps this up, we’ll quickly forget about Jack. Linas Kleiza still brings up the rear with a poor 9.2 PER. He’s ranked 47th in this metric for small forwards. I’m also looking for better results from DeMar DeRozan, who struggled this week and has a PER of only 11.7.
Rebounding, defense and “hands”
Joey Dorsey started against Atlanta on Sunday. Coach Jay Triano’s reasoning was to provide “less disruption in our rotations”. Makes sense on paper as Dorsey’s numbers are quite similar to Evans’. (Leadership and defensive communication is another matter). Another sad stat? Our wings cannot rebound worth a lick. It’s a tough situation: you have Reggie or Amir in there to rebound, but they both have their limits on the offensive end. Yet if you take them out, you’re left with a big defensive and rebounding void.
I would personally like to see more minutes for Julian Wright in a defensive role. His numbers above are solid, he has a 2 year adjusted +/- of +3.65 (Second best on the team behind Amir’s 4.02) and has a on/off court defensive rating of -7.10 (i.e. the defense is that much better with him on the court). I’m not talking much more than perhaps 10 minutes a game, but he has too many DNP-CD during many games we desperately need defensive help on the floor. What does everyone think?
Confirmed or busted? Chris Bosh held Andrea Bargnani’s game back
This topic has come up over the years and now we have at least a little data to analyze. First, let’s look at a raw comparison between this year and last:
Andrea is getting about 35 minutes a game this year – nearly identical to last. The biggest change with the departure of Bosh? It seems to have allowed Bargnani to drive more and he’s getting to the line at almost double the rate of last season.
As expected, his usage is stands out the most – up 24% this year. He is attempting 17.7 field goals per game versus 14.7 last year. His assist percentage is up nicely, but it was off a fairly low base. And having the ball more on offence would suggest this improvement.
His rebounding has declined, but can be explained by the change of playing with Evans more. His blocks are down, but his turnover percentage is up. The latter is a function of having the ball more as well as seeing some double teams whereas last year the focus would be on Bosh.
What about his shot selection and effectiveness?
One big surprise here. I did believe his eFG% would decline as he’s unlikely to be open as often and would see more double teams. This is also somewhat confirmed by “shots assisted on” metric, which is down from 75.4% to 61.3% this year. The surprise? He’s taking more long 2s + 3s than a year ago! Several broadcasters and writers have highlighted his reduced dependence on the three ball, which is true – only 18% of his shots this year are from beyond the arc versus 28% a year ago. However, he takes 47% more long 2s than a year ago! While he shoots a good percentage vis-a-vis his peers from this distance, its still an area where you want to limit your takes. Look at the distinct contrast in eFG% from 16-23 feet and from Three – almost 20% better. Thus, as much as possible, he needs to step back a few feet and look to get the extra point.
One conclusion is opponent’s are playing him tighter around the arc, but double teaming after he makes his move. Why can they do this now? Simply because you had to worry about Bosh before and now you don’t have to worry about him dumping off to Evans. This is why Evans’ effectiveness is worth a healthy debate. No question he’s a leader, a monster on the glass and a solid defender, but how much does the lack of being a threat on offense negate these assets? Looking forward to your comments on this – I currently do not have an easy answer to the question.
Verdict? Busted. While Bargnani’s scoring average is up, his effectiveness is not. Bosh created space for Bargnani by drawing double teams. Couple this argument with lower blocks, higher turnovers, less rebounds etc and we will conclude (so far) Bargnani was not “held back” with Bosh in the lineup.
Lineups of the Week
Best lineup? The lineup data continues to be tough to analyze, especially with so many combinations due to several injuries. So I’ll pick Bayless, Barbosa, Weems, Evans, Johnson who out-hustled Philly and went +7 in less than 3 minutes to end the first. Four of the five (Calderon for Bayless) had another great stretch that game. Calderon, Barbosa, Kleiza, Stojakovic and Bargnani also had a great run in the loss to the Celtics. Worst lineup? Perhaps not statistically, but Calderon, Barbosa, DeRozan, Kleiza, Bargnani gave up a big run to Atlanta. Yo have so little ball movement with that lineup, not much D and very little rebounding. Please do not play them together again.
Sources: basketball-reference.com, espn.com