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Thread: Jonas Valanciunas' Offence

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    Default Jonas Valanciunas' Offence

    Lately there's been a lot of talk of building around certain players, and whether the Raptors currently have a talent worth building around. In those discussions, the topic of Jonas Valanciunas' offence came up. Obviously there is also plenty of discussion about his defence, but I thought we could focus just on the one end for now. It seems to me there are several criticisms of his offensive game.

    First, his high efficiency is because of his low usage, and because of his high proportion of dump offs and put backs right at the basket. Second, that he does not have a workable jump shot to stretch the D, nor does he use it often enough. And finally, that he doesn't have a dominant enough inside game to forgive that lack of a jump shot.

    First, let's consider Jonas' usage. It was 19%. Among all players with more than 16.5% usage and 40+ games played, only Steph Curry had a higher true shooting percentage. So clearly having a low usage in Jonas' range doesn't guarantee that sort of efficiency.

    Only 20% of his offensive possessions were put backs. That's still good for the 4th most put backs in the league (which is great) but is a much lower proportion of his possessions than less versatile offensive players like DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Andre Drummond (all close to 30%). Another nice point is that among the top players in number of putbacks, JV is by far the most efficient (of the 9 players with more than 150 putbacks, none break 1.19 PPP except JV, at 1.24).

    Meanwhile, only 8% of his possessions are finishing as the roll man. As a team, the bigs are ignored a lot on the pick and roll - league wide, the Raptors had the single lowest proportion of plays finished with the roll man on pick and rolls (looking only at PnR plays) and the highest where the guards finished it (obviously). But even within those low standards, JV was dramatically underused in the pick and roll. He had the highest FG% of the bigs on the pick and roll (or pop, Synergy doesn't differentiate) and yet Patterson, Amir and Hansbrough all got fed on the roll at least twice as often as JV. Point being, though, that this is another high percentage scenario that JV simply didn't get used in very often. Especially considering it was his strength when drafted, and has continued to be in international play.

    As for those dump off passes in the lane, they seem to be collected under the "cut" category. Again, only 20% of JV's possessions were used in this fashion. This is in line with the number of possessions Amir Johnson got in this way, and of the top 15 players league wide in total cut plays, JV's 20% of plays ending that way ranks 4th lowest. Lots of players get more looks on easy cuts under the basket - and JV is a little below average converting there among that group - and yet JV remains much more efficient than them overall.

    And so here come the two other big questions: first, why doesn't JV have a developed jumper just yet. Well, in terms of not taking them, yep, he doesn't. A full 2% of his possessions were spot up jump shots. 19 shots. That's... not a lot. The good news is he hit 10 of those. So when he doesn't hesitate, he hits those shots. But I recall more than 19 jumpers from JV.

    So far as I can tell, when JV pump fakes, then shoots the jumper, those possessions get filtered into Isolation and Miscellaneous possessions. And between those two, he went 7 for 22. Not so nice. But that's after his pump fake (I'm pretty sure), so he's got to cut that out (or at least stop shooting after the pump fake). So that criticism seems warranted - he needs to develop a more consistent jumper, and he needs to be more fearless taking them.

    But the follow up criticism was that JV is not dominant enough inside to lack a jumper. Now, setting aside his huge number of put back points, is he a good post player? Can he become one?

    First, JV used 34% of his possessions in the post. This is very high. Of the top 50 players in points scored in the post, only 11 had a higher proportion of their possessions used that way than JV. Overall, JV finished 306 possessions in the post. That ranks 17th in the league, while his per-game post-ups would rank 25th in the league. So it's not like he was rarely used in the post, or wouldn't have been scouted for posting up.

    So, if we set a baseline for "post" players, in terms of total possessions, what seems reasonable? At least two possessions per game, with lots of games played? At least 1.5 possessions per game? 1.5 possessions per game would work out to 123 possessions used in a full season. So let's filter the results to players with at least 123 possessions used in the post. Note that this is still about 1/3rd the number of possessions JV used, so we aren't cherry picking close to his usage, including a bunch of guys used a lot less than he was.

    That filtered group contains 53 players. The top 53 post players in the NBA, in terms of how often their teams go to them in the post. They range from Al Jefferson and his 600+ possessions used to Shaun Livingston and his 128 possessions.

    Among those 53 players, JV was:
    17th, as noted, in possessions used.
    1st (!) in points per possession (1.02, no other player broke 1.00)
    3rd in FG% (51.3%, one of 4 players better than 50%)
    18th in free throw rate (15%, just behind DeMar's 16%)
    20th best in turnover rate (10.5%, nowhere near the 17-18% of the worst offenders)
    1st (!) in score frequency (generates at least a point on 52% of his post plays, only 3 players were over 50%)

    When I started looking into this, I was hoping to see some glimmer of optimism for Jonas' post game - maybe a decent foul rate to offset his unfortunate turnovers, or at least a middling efficiency to show how improved his running hook and counter spin move had become, even if they were the only two moves he had. I was astonished to find the above rankings.

    The single most effective post scorer in the league. The single most reliable post scorer in the league. One of the top post shooters in the league (meaning he does not rely on fouls to score there, and just scores over people, which shocked me). Above average among post players for turnover rate in the post. Above average foul drawer but not reliant on it. Even the 17th rank in total possessions shocked me - but when a full third of your possessions (as scarce as they are) are in the post, and you play 80 games, I guess you get up there.

    Now, yes, there are asterisks. Although he did rank far higher than I expected in total possessions, he still was a far cry from the top post possession guys, who had about twice as many. So defences probably didn't key on him entirely. That said, he did average close to 4 post ups a game (and remember, that's possessions finished in the post - pass out and it doesn't get counted), so opposing coaches shouldn't have been shocked by him posting up. In any case, the same is true of almost every player on the list, and none of them hit the efficiency marks that Jonas did. Obviously no guarantees, and there's a lot of upward room to go from 4 posts per game to the top end of 8-10 posts per game, but he's not starting from a tiny sample or just opportunistic post ups.

    So can Jonas be a primary option as a post player? Obviously his passing out of the post needs work. But that can only come with repetition and opportunity. But the starting point, of being able to score efficiently in the post, forcing teams to double and thus opening passing opportunities and inside-out play for the team - that part seems to be there already. And the most promising bit is that watching him play, you can see he is not polished in the post yet - he has a move and a counter move, and that's it. If over the years he can develop a counter to his counter, and work on an up and under, and become even more consistent with his current options, that's a lot of reason for optimism.

  2. #2
    Raptors Republic Superstar consmap's Avatar
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    JV has really nice efficiency, especially for someone who usually operates from posting up on the low block. Once he cleans up his footwork and adds a handful of other moves it'll be really exciting. Higher pick and roll usage for JV is exciting to think about too.

    I don't expect him to develop into an incredible passer from the low post, but if he's able to keep himself from turning the ball over during double teams and what not, I'll be happy. He has a lot to offer the team on the offensive end, and he's more engaged on defense when he gets going. It's nice when he plays with fire!

    Cool post Dan.
    "Oh my god man" - Jonas Valanciunas

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    Raptors Republic All-Star MixxAOR's Avatar
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    If he becomes something like Al Horford it still won't be enough to win championship. But we will get out of 1st round maybe even ECF is a possibility.

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    Quote MixxAOR wrote: View Post
    If he becomes something like Al Horford. It still won't be enough to win championship. But we will get out of 1st round maybe even ECF is a possibility.
    He just needs to learn how to do the Al Horford elbow drop.
    "Oh my god man" - Jonas Valanciunas

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    Quote consmap wrote: View Post
    He just needs to learn how to do the Al Horford elbow drop.
    already dropped Lebron once and elbowed Cousins. He's on his way.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star OldSkoolCool's Avatar
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    I thought he was good, but damn that is a nice collection of stats for a 22 year old "stiff" big man.
    Quote iblastoff wrote: View Post
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    Quote OldSkoolCool wrote: View Post
    I thought he was good, but damn that is a nice collection of stats for a 22 year old "stiff" big man.
    The DD nut huggers won't be happy about this thread

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    The biggest thing he needs to do is make quicker and smarter decisions. Also the most difficult thing since you can't really just do drills for it. You need game-speed experience. That will hopefully help him be less deliberate. I mean, what he's doing now is working out ok for him. But obviously you'd just like a bit more.

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    i feel like part of the reason he is hesitant with his decisions because theres no movement a lot of the time so theres no passing reads to make on cuts, just waiting for a double team then trying not to get picked off

    it would be nice to see some back door movement instead of 9 guys being able to watch the ball

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    Fantastic post Dan. Really great stuff.

    Combined with my thread from last offseason (update pending)
    http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/forum...ad.php?t=13723

    Really don't see how anyone can not feel good unleashing JV this year.
    #provem - by playing well on the court. Don't worry about the twitterverse

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Quote DanH wrote: View Post
    ...So can Jonas be a primary option as a post player? Obviously his passing out of the post needs work. But that can only come with repetition and opportunity. But the starting point, of being able to score efficiently in the post, forcing teams to double and thus opening passing opportunities and inside-out play for the team - that part seems to be there already. And the most promising bit is that watching him play, you can see he is not polished in the post yet - he has a move and a counter move, and that's it. If over the years he can develop a counter to his counter, and work on an up and under, and become even more consistent with his current options, that's a lot of reason for optimism.
    Great post Dan. What you have extracted from the stats also easily passes the eye test. How many games did we see JV get down in the post and easily score 3 or 4 baskets only to have the team not go back to him, and then have him ride the pine in the fourth? Too many.

    To me, the real question would be just how poor is he on defense. From watching I would guess half of his defensive failures come from him trying to make up for somebody's missed assignment, scrambling around in Casey's defensive system.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Quote Axel wrote: View Post
    Fantastic post Dan. Really great stuff.

    Combined with my thread from last offseason (update pending)
    http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/forum...ad.php?t=13723

    Really don't see how anyone can not feel good unleashing JV this year.
    I remember that post well. Looking forward to the update.

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    Great post DanH!!

    Eye opening to say the least. Hopefully Masai was also aware of this and why the comments about JVs use this past season.


    All we need are some videos from Wal-Mart or #TorontoTourism tweets and he'll be #1 Raptor among fans.
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    Raptors Republic Superstar KHD's Avatar
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    eh, stiff.

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    Quote DanH wrote: View Post
    So can Jonas be a primary option as a post player? Obviously his passing out of the post needs work. But that can only come with repetition and opportunity. But the starting point, of being able to score efficiently in the post, forcing teams to double and thus opening passing opportunities and inside-out play for the team - that part seems to be there already. And the most promising bit is that watching him play, you can see he is not polished in the post yet - he has a move and a counter move, and that's it. If over the years he can develop a counter to his counter, and work on an up and under, and become even more consistent with his current options, that's a lot of reason for optimism.
    Awesome stuff, Dan. There's no reason why JV can't become a competent post passer. Steven Adams, with far less high level experience than JV, could already do impressive stuff like passing out of the post to cutters in his rookie year.



    Problem is that we leave JV on an island to create post offence on his own against 2 defenders with no passing outlets. And we rarely use cutters. And yet this is a potential solution to getting JJ and Ross involved more in the offence while putting tremendous pressure on the basket. The fact that JV is still putting up gaudy offensive numbers, while being hung out to dry on offense, speaks volumes to his natural skill level.

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    Quote consmap wrote: View Post
    He just needs to learn how to do the Al Horford elbow drop.
    I'd like him to be able to deliver a better elbow drop, Horford's drop was quite poor.

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    Those Steven Adams passes are a level or two higher than competent. Hard to say if JV's anticipation and vision will ever reach that level. (of course those highlights are cherry-picked. He could have thrown twice as many passes off of the cutter's shins, but he's still seeing a play develop and making a splitsecond decision)

    Some players are just more naturally gifted as passers than others. JV is certainly not one of those players.

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    I still cannot believe that 3 years out from bringing over a guy whose bread-and-butter in Europe was pick-and-roll offense, we use him almost exclusively as a isolation post player on offence.

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    That's Amir's bread and butter as well, and when healthy he's arguably more effective at it (imo anyway, I'll let DanH dig up the #'s). Not defending the way he's used but a big guy who can score from the block is getting more scarce each year. Doesn't hurt to have one and develop that part of his game. If a player like PP is starting next year beside JV I imagine he'll get a lot more PnR action.

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    Most of JV's possessions are also fucking isos! Compared to how other teams use their centres (Wizards-Gortat, Orlando-Vucevic, OKC-Kanter, BK-Lopez, etc.), those guys always seem to have a much easier time scoring, whether it's PnR, SnR, Drop pass inside, extra pass inside, etc. Unlike JV who always seems to have to work his ass off for his shot, which leads him to do that super slow ass pump fake. He's not yet confident on his jump shot so I don't get why you guys want him to keep taking it - and when he starts doing it, you guys might all him Primo Pasta. To add to that, having your point guard Lowry throw you terrible passes inside that leads to turnovers (mostly very low passes), that doesn't help as well.

    Offense is shit. Fuck Casey ball!

    And regarding defense, yes JV's not (yet) a good rim protector but the perimeter guys are sieves which leads to JV having to help and leaving his man open all the time.

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