A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Boozer

Why the Bulls will be in trouble after the 1st round

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Derrick Rose

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Despite an evenly played series, the Chicago Bulls jumped out to a 3-0 lead against the Indiana Pacers – now 3-1, and should close it out in Chicago in Game 5.

There have been teams who’ve looked shaky in early rounds but still proved title winners or contenders. The 2008 Celtics needed 7 games to dispatch the Hawks in their 1st round. The 97 and 98 Bulls had low margins of victory in their first round sweeps. But I believe the Bulls struggle to dominate the Pacers indicate flaws that will likely come back to haunt them.

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Written by jr.

April 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Understanding the scale of the Bulls’ success

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Image via awesomestories.com

I want to take a moment to hammer something in that I don’t think people have quite grasped. That being: What the Bulls have accomplished in the last 4+ months is absolutely staggering.

First let me give some credit to our commenter lpb who made me really start thinking about this. He responded my first post analyzing how elite teams (top 8 in the league) were doing against each other before the all-star break noting that while the Bulls overall record was nothing terribly noteworthy, the team was undefeated against the other elites since Carlos Boozer joined the starting lineup (on Dec. 4th). It was a good point then, but I wanted to see them keep it up (and figured they probably couldn’t). Guess what? The Bulls have completed the last of their regular season games against the other elites, having gone 12 & 0, undefeated against the elites in the over 4 months of play since that date.

In the time span, their overall record has been 51 & 12. That’s a 66 win pace with their average margin of victory in that time has been 9.14 points per game. If that last number doesn’t mean anything to you, just know that there has only been one team in the post-Jordan era to have an average margin of victory north of 9 points per game (the ’08 Celtics).

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 12, 2011 at 6:57 am

Rose vs Howard and the Inescapability of Narrative

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Image by joguldi via Flickr

In a very strange year where every candidate has something “wrong” with them, we’re still debating the MVP race with only a few games left. The race has narrowed around the star of the golden team (Derrick Rose) and the one MVP candidate from last year who can say he’s improved (Dwight Howard).

Opinions tend to be with the mainstream guys going for Rose and the heavy blogger thinker guys on the internet going for Howard. (And let’s note that the poll on the APBRmetrics board sides with LeBron.) I’m personally on record as being on the fence between Rose and Howard, so what gets me ornery enough to write a piece is someone being dead set that even sitting on the fence is wrong.

Enter John Hollinger. With him, it seems I’m guaranteed to find both compelling arguments, and some stuff I disagree with enough that I end up writing about it. (Unfortunate that  I end up writing about the “bad” because I really do respect the guy, and I absolutely use his stats.)  He’s now written Truth about the Derrick Rose Story, trying to take down Rose, and favoring Howard, so it’s on.

Turn Me On, Dead Man

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 7, 2011 at 2:00 am

The value of “Tyson Chandler buckets” – Low volume, high efficiency scoring

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Tyson ChandlerOne of the advancements of basketball statisicians is a movement towards better wars of measuring scoring efficiency. The most popular is True Shooting % (TS%), which is more accurate of points per shot than FG% because it accounts for 3pt line and FT line scoring. The average TS% for teams in the league is .54. Thus player efficiency is measured by scoring above and below this line. Usually, we value players who score 20 points a game at .60 TS%. Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer are examples of players capable of this. But what about the players who score at an even higher efficiency, but at a low volume? Examples of this include Tyson Chandler who scores 10.3 points a game at a league leading .70 TS%, Matt Bonner who scores 7.6 points a game at .669 TS%, and this year’s Shaq who scores 9.3 points a game at .655 TS%. These seasons are usually not as valued due to the lower volume. But is this accurate? Let’s do a quick calculation:

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Written by jr.

March 15, 2011 at 12:11 am

Why I Love Sports: Paul Millsap

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Last night’s performance by Paul Millsap pretty much embodies everything about what makes sports great.  You want a drama where the plucky hard-working underdog comes from behind against all odds  to grab victory by the slimmest of margins?  A great game can tell this story better than the best literature.

46 points in as clutch a performance as you’ll ever see.  Here’s the fantastic rally to tie the game in regulation where Millsap miraculously scores 11 points in 30 seconds with three 3-pointers, which people are now comparing with Tracy McGrady’s 13 point outburst a few years back:

People are debating about degree of difficulty here, and they shouldn’t – what McGrady did was harder, the defense was completely focused on him and he still pulled it off.  The focused on him of course because he was an established superstar – and that’s exactly what makes it so much less captivating.

Millsap came into this league a lightly regarded 2nd round pick from Louisiana Tech (ironically the same college Karl Malone came out of), and had to beat the odds to even have an NBA career.  For his first 4 years, the man worked hard and impressed with every opportunity he was given, but he was limited because the Utah Jazz already had star power forward Carlos Boozer.

This off season, Boozer left to join the Chicago Bulls, and I was initially hopeful that this would become Millsap’s break out year.  I was prepared to champion the guy as a candidate for Most Improved Player (and I’ll mention the irony again of ‘improvement’ in the NBA being more about opportunity than actual improvement), but then the Jazz swindled the often-swindled Minnesota Timberwolves out of Al Jefferson.  At that point, my expectation was that Jerry Sloan simply didn’t see Millsap as star material, and I was disappointed but figured he knew better than me.

Of course, he does know better than me, but clearly his opinion of Millsap isn’t what I feared.  Millsap’s getting his greatest opportunity and he’s killing it.  Lead scorer on his team, with ridiculous efficiency, even before this last game.  Now he’s in the top 3 in the league in both PER and Win Shares, and you have to start thinking about him for the accolades reserved for stars.  This isn’t a guy getting great efficiency off of limited usage and small sample size, this is a guy capable of taking over a game.

Now on the other side of things, The Heat have to be concerned.  The worry from the inception of Miami Thrice was that they didn’t really have a big man, which could be a huge problem on defense.  The Heat have proven to be very effective on defense against most teams, but now both Emeka Okafor and Millsap have torn them up.  Both fundamentally sound big men, and neither really considered a star.  I have no qualms about singing Millsap’s praises because his performance was so amazing it doesn’t matter that issues with Miami’s defense helped it happen, but in the long run the most informative part of this game might have been the realization that the Heat have a huge problem right where we feared they’d have one.  They need to make some adjustments ASAP, and if they can acquire a solid defensive big like Erick Dampier, they need to do it.

Written by Matt Johnson

November 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm