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The Boxscore Geeks Show: Aldridge is Overrated


We also have the show in audio form (some call that a podcast!)

The All-Star Reserves

Devin broke down the All-Star reserves. We were a bit shocked on some missing names. We've been pounding the Lance Stephenson drum for a while now. As commenter carlherrera pointed out, we couldn't even bring ourselves to leave Anthony Davis off the list, for good reason!

Another name we love, DeAndre Jordan, couldn't even make it on to some of the All-Star snub lists (See here and here)!

LaMarcus Aldridge is Overrated!

I wrote a piece on this. And of course, this topic is nothing new around here.

Aldridge's stats are pretty damning. He shoots decent from way out, but requires assists from his teammates to do it. He is content to settle for shots closer to the hoop, but not right by the hoop. And on a team with amazing perimeter shooting, why is a top rebounder backing away from the hoop on offense, unlike, say, Robin Lopez?

Thanks to shawn_woods15 for pointing out that Aldridge's "elite" midrange shooting amounts to a 29% three point shooter. As a follow up to that though, thanks to commenter ziggy for pointing out that a downside of threes is an increase in available possessions (via rebounds) for the defense.

Marion's Bad Labor Advice

Patrick wrote about Shawn Marion's bizarre logic that the NBA should up the minimum age requirement. Patrick and Dre are both tech people that have seen the impact of a scarce resource (software developers) on a market. The NBA avoids this problem by using artificial means (the draft, the age requirement, the salary cap). However, is there a scarcer resource than a tall, talented NBA player? And as Kobe (I side with Kobe over Marion!) points out, college may be hurting the development of future players(h/t to Andrew Sutton).

Mail Bag

Thanks as always to our amazing producer Brian Foster. GoldShammGold asked in a recent thread if we'd be open to question and answer threads. Absolutely! What better place than the Boxscore Geeks show! Leave questions you might have in the comments, or tweet them to @nerdnumbers, @nbageek, @boxscorebrian, @arturogalletti, or @devindignam. If you add a #boxscoregeeksshow to it, it will make it easier for us to find them around show time. We'll see you next week!

The 06/07 Mavs team won 67 games. Only Dirk was truly a Legit Star. That team certainly didn't have more than one Superstar, or anything close to 3 stars. Josh Howard was very good at times...but not great.
Thanks for the mention. First, wagesofwins' article. All of these days scrapping in the comment warehouse, I finally made it. (using Andres' HP career track as a metaphor) Next step, getting on the show as a guest.
sike,

The 06/07 Mavs had a big collection of borderline great players. Maybe no other superstars, but certainly other stars, regardless of what the mainstream thinks.

Dampier was probably the king of underrated players, and Johnson's benching of Dampier during the GSW series is a big reason they lost (and one of the reasons I consider AJ to be one of the worst coaches of all time).
If the NFL picked players for the pro bowl the way the NBA picks for the all-star game your entire starting line-up would be quarterbacks (and a few running backs and wide receivers).
Nice pod guys but wanted to clarify the spacing argument for LMA. I judge spacing value compared to position. Eg LMA may not shoot longer than Derozan but LMA shoots farther out than majority of bigs while Derozan shoots closer, bc majority of 2s hit 3s. So LMA provides much more spacing value than him. I don't know if LMA helps spacing as much as Lillard, Matthews or Batum though. But the LMA helps teammates argument is not just about floor stretching but also drawing double teams which also helps teammates get open for 3s

I think the comparison is DEN Melo. Overrated yes but played a part in the success of their offense. I think if a PF the equivalent of Gallo like Favors got plugged in POR would keep chugging along at 50 W rate
ASFW,
As I mentioned on the podcast, and will ask for follow up here: show me that Melo and Aldridge's midrange shots systematically lead to better shots. I keep hearing this argument, but I don't see a lot of this.
In case ya'll haven't heard, but I'm sure you might have, Davis has been picked as the replacement All-Star for Kobe Bryant.

Patrick,

From what I've sort of gathered from Pacers fans on r/nba is that Stephenson has been carrying the team as of late.
I'm thinking about writing a piece on college recruiting. My theory is that same evaluation process goes into who gets scholarships and who is considered the best players coming out of high school. Now, it could be that high school stats are static but when I look up an nab players stats from college then to high school, the same conclusion applies that if you were great in college then you more likely to be great in the pros. For Example, Kenneth Faried was great in High School, College, and the Pros for all the same reasons (rebounding, shooting efficiency, and defense). So if this inefficiency goes back to college recruiting, how far does it go back? Were there jeremy evans sitting on high school benches? How short is the supply of tall people? This is a big task but i'm willing to look and research.
NBA*
Whenever I hear about the spacing argument, I keep thinking back to the days when much of Bargnani's value was supposed to be in his ability to create space for others by bringing out his big defender.
This shows the spacing lost when the PF lacks the ability to hit the 12-18 foot jump shot. Start at 1 :12 mark.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OOPK87Ha44
It also contains the contrast with a PF that can hit that shot.
James,
As I said on the show and just said to ASFW, I would like systematic proof. To clarify this:
1. Show me that Aldridge (and Melo, A.I., et.c) taking below ave shots produces better shots.
2. Show me the net effect is positive. Meaning that the value from the good shots outweighs the bad shots. As I mentioned on a previous article, Aldridge is shooting like the 25th worst team in the NBA on average.
3. Show me that they need to take such a high volume of these shots for that to happen.

A 3 minute clip with a bad player doing bad players is not systematic proof.
The crazy part of spacing argument is it goes against even the traditional basketball wisdom. For years we've heard countless analysts telling us winning playoff teams need a legitimate post scorer who will attract double teams and give shooters and cutters extra space. Remember all those assists dropped by Karl Malone to the cutters on the weak side?

Then suddenly it's the opposite. If the post player goes outside, that's creating space! Obviously NBA players and coaches usually are good enough that they will find and play within free space given. In other words a good offensive player can create space no matter what. Instead we get a half baked post-hoc analysis to validate player's value when stats do not support it.

In short, Aldridge gets a lot of love for stretching the defense. Somehow Kevin Love doesn't.
Andres, here is the Blazers SL with LMA on and off according to nbawowy

On court
LMA - 1.09 points per possession (PPP), 1.03 PPS (points per shot)
Lillard - 1.14 PPP, 1.14 PPS
Matthews - 1.31 PPP, 1.25 PPS
Batum - 1.06 PPP, 1.16 PPS
Lopez - 1.15 PPP, 1.16 PPS

Off court
Lillard - 1.13 PPP, 1.11 PPS (-0.01, -0.03)
Matthews - 1.13 PPP, 1.14 PPS (-.18, -.11)
Batum - .99 PPP, 1.14 PPS (-.07, -.02)
Lopez - 1.13 PPP, 1.12 PPS (-.02, -.04)

The average of the 4 players is -.07 PPP, -.05 PPS. Which makes total sense because POR is overall +6.2 points offensively with Aldridge on the court. On that note, dropping 5-7 points offensively would move POR from 1st in the league offensively to average.

If that and video evidence isn't enough to show LMA is helping his team's spacing, I don't know what else could.

Clearly, open shots are essential to offensive results. We know that there's a .15 eFG difference or something between contested shots and uncontested. And I think this is the heart of the Blazers offense strategy. LMA can both take a lot of open midrange shots and his presence helps create them from 3/at the rim. Which means he's doing a lot in the "Blazers taking open shots" tally.
ASFW_jrodger, that doesn't really prove things one way or another though. The net effect on the field goal is hard to judge. I have a quick example here.

If you go to the 82games.com page, you'll see the Blazers shoot 1.2% eFG better when Aldridge is on court.

Let's look at the guy who isn't known for creating a lot of space through mid range shooting, DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings eFG jumps by 2.1% when he's on court.

Then we have Kevin Love. Timberwolves have a whopping 6.9% improvement when he's on court as opposed to him being off the court.

Does this prove anything? Not much but at least as you can see, picking on-off court number to prove a player's offensive value goes well above his box score stats have just far too many variables. Love is rarely accused of making players around him better, in fact he's usually considered as a stats hog who doesn't make others better. Yet the Timberwolves score a heck of a lot better with him on court. Do we value him higher because of this? No, there are just far too many murkiness in the picture.
Well Kevin Love absolutely helps team spacing as much as any big does (him and Dirk), I haven't seen people disputing that. Cousins also draws doubles and has a perimeter jumpshot.

I am not saying it's indisputable evidence that LMA is improving teammate eFG. Personally the best test is simply logic/visuals. Teams are defending LMA in a way that leaves their 3 point shots more open (if he is doubled from a 3point shooter's defender) nd leaves one less defender in the paint (if they are guarding his jumpshot)

Thanks Simon!
ASFW_jrodger, that's an excellent example of logic/visuals fooling us. Love and Dirk aren't alike. Dirk relies extremely heavily on jump shots for a big man, Love doesn't. Even though Love is known for his 3 point shooting and does shoot a fair amount of long threes, he still scores a lot around the basket with only a little amount of midrange jump shots. See their shot charts.

http://vorped.com/bball/index.php/player/page/897-Kevin-Love
http://vorped.com/bball/index.php/player/page/991-Dirk-Nowitzki

Yet when Dirk is on the court, the Mavericks doesn't shoot all that much better than when he's off, with eFG% improvement of only 0.6%. Midrange jump shooter should open up the court and help others shoot better according to the logic though, right?

Thus as we can see, there really isn't a consistent pattern. Years ago I've had the same discussion from the opposite point. Some would show game plays where the defenders would layoff Rondo and argue Rondo should be penalized because he makes his teammates suffer with his inability to shoot, yet mysteriously with him on the court the Celtics would shoot significantly better.
It was nice being mentioned in the podcast (as the one who thinks fortune 500 companies are idiotic). Just to make sure my point is clear, companies (not just the fortune 500 ones) frequently have a requirement for a degree even if the position does not require a degree. That is because people are terrible at judging talent. If the NBA feels they need the handicap of at least 1 year post-high-school (even if they mess it up) and they have a monopoly of positions then that is that. You cannot get a job as a nuclear scientist if you don't go to a place that has a position in the same way you cannot get a job as a basketball star unless you go to a place that has a position. Is it "fair"? NO. But the job marketplace isn't fair and unless the NBA players decide they want to defend the least powerful it will not become fair. Please lets stop crying over spilled milk and just admit that sometimes the ludicrously talented DO get screwed in the marketplace (just like everyone in the bottom 75% of the talent pool gets screwed).
Simon - like 55% of Kevin Love's shots are either long 2s or 3s and in general 6.2 3PA a game for a PF is MASSIVE, so I don't know how people can't argue spacing isn't happening there

As for Dirk, well his on/off eFG has been better in previous years (eg +4.6% in 2011), as you alluded to context can affect the stats. Keep in mind the Mavericks never stop playing 'stretch' 4s, Marion is their backup PF. Anyways I don't need these stats to tell me whether a player is helping his teammates by spacing, I just brought it up due to the request for evidence.

Dodgson - agree with most of your post. As has been pointed out here before the NBA hiring system is far more communist than capitalist, with no real market correction at place to eliminate bad management, in part because of the total power of the owners who may or may not know what's up. As long as things like the Nuggets replacing Masai with bad management because WTF??? is possible, teams will always be vulnerable to bad management.

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