Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why the Hawks are the league's best

The Hawks are a league best 11-3 with a league best 7.72 SRS at press time. Yet the only player the 2K Insider has really bothered to edit is Joe Johnson. Let's examine what the real story is behind the Hawks surge.

ORTG: 112.8 (4th)
DRTG: 105.7 (16th)
PACE: 92.8 (16th)

ORTG: 109.3 (10th)
DRTG: 107.6 (12th)
PACE: 89.6 (24th)

The Hawks have been running more, which is making them more efficient on the offensive end. It starts with their frontline of Josh Smith and Al Horford (more on that in a bit). Their defense has slipped a bit, as it would for any team that brought in Jamal Crawford (who at least contributes to that improved offense).

Smoove and Horford have combined for 43 dunks which is 2nd best of any duo in the league (trailing Melo and Nene's 47). I compiled their career "Inside" statistics using NBA Hotspots.

Josh Smith
2009: 303-502 (.604)
2008: 381-646 (.590)
2007: 306-540 (.567)
2006: 189-355 (.532)
2005: 206-367 (.561)
Total: 1385-2410 (.574)

Al Horford
2009: 190-309 (.615)
2008: 223-387 (.576)
Total: 413-696 (.593)

How have they fared in 2010?
Smith: 79-123 (.642)
Horford: 60-87 (.690)

This is a huge leap in efficiency, and in Smith's case it is magnified by the fact that he has stopped taking three pointers altogether. Take away their dunks and they are still finishing very efficiently.

Inside (Non-Dunks)
Smith: 57-101 (.564)
Horford: 39-66 (.590)

Smith in particular has raised his game and according to Dave Berri he's been worth as much as "Superman" Dwight Howard. Check out Berri's blog "The Wages of Wins Journal" when you're done here, as he illustrates Smith's improvements much better than I can (or at least am willing to at present time!).

As I said earlier, the 2K Insider hasn't given either of these two a lick of credit and has instead continued deferring to Joe Johnson. Here are Johnson's shot ratings from the latest update.

Inside 89
Close 84
Med 88
3pt 81

Let's look at each of these one at a time.

2009: 237-421 (.563)
2008: 230-426 (.540)
2007: 202-357 (.566)
2006: 284-501 (.567)
2005: 160-295 (.542)
Total: 1113-2000 (.556)

Johnson is only 56-107 (.523) to start the season. JJ is not off to a great start but it's still a bit early to be tanking his rating. Let's see how he holds up next to Kobe.

Kobe Bryant
2009: 291-468 (.622)
2008: 320-513 (.624)
2007: 293-502 (.583)
2006: 321-554 (.579)
2005: 266-469 (.567)
Total: 1491-2506 (.594)

Let's take out their dunks since there's a discrepencie between the two (Kobe had 59 while Johnson a mere 8... which is also a reason his dunk rating should be knocked down a peg).

2009 Inside Non-Dunk
Kobe: 232-409 (.567)
JJ: 229-413 (.554)

Only a .13 difference in similar attempts. Kobe is rated 90, while JJ is 89, so that seems fair. JJ would be a bonafide superstar if he had Kobe's athleticism, but hey, so would a lot of people. On to close rating...

2009: 115-270 (.425)
2008: 111-253 (.438)
2007: 74-145 (.510)
2006: 100-239 (.418)
2005: 98-208 (.471)
Total: 498-1115 (.446)

Johnson is 19-43 (.441) to start the season.

Kobe Bryant
2009: 174-397 (.438)
2008: 120-270 (.444)
2007: 143-293 (.488)
2006: 174-383 (.454)
2005: 75-205 (.365)
Total: 687-1548 (.443)

The crux of my whole "Joe Johnson is overrated from mid-range" argument is that JJ's mid-range game is actually his "Close" game. He is among the best SGs in the league and as evidenced by his keeping pace with Kobe albeit in fewer attempts. Of course, Kobe is 42-85 to start the year (.494) but it's also been well documented that Kobe worked on his post game over the summer.

Johnson and Kobe were rated 84 and 92 respectively entering the year (Kobe obviously gets a bump but that's another topic). I don't think one can justify an 8 point gap given their statistical similarity (though Kobe was def better over the last two years). Without flooding this post with data on every SG, I'd say JJ is maybe about 2-3 pts underrated here. Let's move on to mid-range.

2009: 110-299 (.367)
2008: 139-377 (.368)
2007: 142-326 (.435)
2006: 120-295 (.406)
2005: 110-307 (.358)
Total: 621-1604 (.387)

Johnson's Med started off at 72 which was pretty much deserved given his showing over the last two seasons. The Insider then boosted this to an 83 because the common fan complained that JJ's "amazing" mid-range game was being mis-represented. JJ's numbers are worse than Andre Iguodala's and I don't hear anyone calling him an amazing mid-range player. The 2K Insider then boosted JJ's med to an 88 in the latest update!

Johnson is 24-54 (.444) from mid-range this season. That's a pretty damn small sample size to be giving the dude a mid-range rating only two points worse than Kobe.

Kobe Bryant
2009: 217-512 (.423)
2008: 185-492 (.376)
2007: 240-564 (.425)
2006: 302-717 (.421)
2005: 102-264 (.386)
Total: 1046-2549 (.410)

On top of the huge percentage advantage, Kobe averages about 100 more makes per year than JJ.

This season Kobe is only 27-80 (.337) from mid-range, but you don't see anyone rushing to tank his mid-range rating, do you? So why the double standard?

Brandon Jennings is 27-58 (.465) and the Insider gave him 86 med. If we're gonna go by the JJ scale Jennings should be in the 90s.

LeBron James is 40-86 (.465) and he's only an 81 med. Guess he should be in the 90s too if we're going by the JJ scale.

I could go on for awhile, but I think you all get the point. It's incredibly early to be giving Johnson such a high rating, and at best he shouldn't be anything more than upper 70s until he shows he's for real.

All in all it's a bit embarrassing that JJ's getting such a huge boost for what amounts to a much smaller sample size than Smith or Horford's improvements on the interior.

I'd like to transition this to defense really quickly (and I do so, seamlessly!). This is an area the Hawks have slipped in despite the return of Josh Smith's elite shot blocking. I tenatively blamed this on Jamal Crawford, but the truth is he's also been paired with Mike Bibby (another weak defensive guard) and Joe Johnson (an average defensive guard with a lot of hype).

Let's check out the Hawks 2010 DRTG and see whose been the most effective.

Defensive Rating (Pts allowed per 100 possessions)
Josh Smith 98
Horford 102

Teague 103
Pachulia 106
Joe Smith 106
Williams 108
Evans 108
Johnson 109
Crawford 109
Bibby 109

Well, that wasn't exactly surprising. The team average was 105.7, which effectively means Smith and Horford are carrying the defense on their back, and that the Hawks would be an elite defensive team if they didn't have such a sub-par backcourt.

Here's 2009 to see if there's any major changes.
Horford 104
Smith 104

Pachulia 106
Williams 108
Bibby 109
Murray 109
Johnson 110

Evans 110

Pretty consistent, as Crawford essentially replaced Murray. Smith has indeed improved substantially, but this seems to confirm the Hawks will be nothing more than average defensively due to their backcourt.

Johnson gets a lot of defensive credit and he seems to be a decent man to man defender, but he doesn't force many turnovers, is a poor rebounder for his size, and his defensive effort just isn't consistent when you factor in his heavy workload and energy spent on the offensive end.

Unfortunately, that doesn't spell great things come playoff time, where poor defensive teams get exposed. They needed 7 games to put Dwyane Wade away, and got swept by LeBron in round two. They're a better team thanks to their offensive improvement, but they're going to need an upgrade on defense if they're going to take the next step and become true contenders.


Theo said...

good stuff man, the Hawks being one of the most athletic/running teams in the league do u think Marvin Williams & Al Horford's speed rating seems a bit low?

Rashidi said...

Marvin I've boosted 5 points (63 from 58). Horford is 54 and I'd have to make some comparisons to say if that's low or not. That's pretty good for a center.

Speed Rating of average starter
PG: 87
SG: 80
SF: 64
PF: 49
C: 33

Horford is 21 points better than the average starting C and 5 points better than the average starting PF. I'd say that's accurate.

Marvin is 1 point worse than the avg SF which is also probably accurate, though it does look like each position deserves a boost so they are not so embarrassingly behind the guards. There is a 15-16 drop between the front court positions but only a 7 point drop from PG to SG.

roflloser said...

get a life scrub

Anonymous said...

roflloser said...
get a life scrub
November 25, 2009 5:25 PM

Huh?! ... man, you dont have to be so hard ... if you keep considering yourself as that ... you might end on a hospital for threatment or even worse, on a morgue ...

so, roflloser, put yourself together and please, get some autoestime ... stop calling yourself a scrub and apprecciate your life, cause as bad as it might be ...

we can always look up and try to improve, be better ... like Rashidi, for example, try to emulate him: a real editing guru ...

thus if you keep trolling around you might trully be on point ... you have to get a life then.

Its ffaacc:
- Rashidi do you think that lowering the diference between the frontcourt speed might help to get an even better defensive rotation from those bigs (thus the patch has done a superb job) ?

- Is it OK to assume a 7 point differential between each position, could it be considered the standard scale ?