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Archive for the 'BBR Mailbag' Category

BBR Mailbag: Biggest Yearly Declines in 3-Point Attempts

30th July 2010

This is a question from Erik, who writes:

"I noticed the rather severe change in Josh Smith's 3-pt attempts from the last several seasons to the one that just wrapped up. After attempting 87 3's last year, 99 the year before and a cringe inducing 152 in '06-'07, Smith only attempted 7 3's in '09-'10. I was curious if you knew of any other players who had experienced such an attack in common sense? It seems like a huge drop off and a decision made for the betterment of the club. He played more games & minutes, had more shot attempts total, scored more points and did it all while basically eliminating the 3-pt shot from his game. Thoughts?"

From 2006 (his second NBA season) though 2009, Josh Smith attempted a 3-pointer on 12% of his field goal attempts -- despite the fact that he made just 27% of them, a rate 9 percentage points worse than the league average. And then, suddenly, he stopped shooting them: in 2010, threes didn't even make up 1% of his FGA (he went 0 for 7 on the year). In other words, apparently Smith finally got the message that he wasn't good at the 3-ball, and he abandoned it completely. How unprecedented is this? Here are the biggest single-year declines in 3-point tendency (3PA/FGA), relative to the league average, since 1981:

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, History | 17 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Post-Finals Mega-Mailbag

28th June 2010

Lots of great questions coming in the wake of Game Seven... As always, keep hitting me with your suggestions, either in the comments of the blog or at

LakerTracker 2010: Final Kobe-vs-LeBron Numbers

This isn't technically a mailbag question, but it is the final piece in a series created by popular demand. In case you missed Part I & Part II, I've been tracking Kobe Bryant's performance in the Finals this year vs. LeBron James' performance against the same Celtics team in May, as well as Bryant's own performance against Boston in the 2008 Finals. Here are the final numbers:

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, Playoffs | 29 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: The Most Offensively Balanced (and Imbalanced) NBA Finalists

3rd June 2010

Today I have a mailbag question from our friend David Biderman at The Wall Street Journal:

Hey Neil,

I had an NBA playoffs question. I took a quick (really quick) glance at the Celtics, and the first thing that jumps out is how balanced their starting five was during the regular season. Is there any way to quantify how balanced a team is? If so, could we do this for NBA finals teams?

Absolutely; in fact, it's a concept I looked into a bit for these posts:

Spreading It Around
Championship Usage Patterns and “The Secret”
Championship Usage Patterns II
Championship Usage Patterns III: Regular-Season Teams Built For the Playoffs

However, I hadn't looked at NBA Finalists in particular yet, and I also would like to take this opportunity and try out a new metric to measure how balanced teams' starting lineups are.

The new metric (well, new to me at least) is called the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), which measures how concentrated a market is among its firms. A monopolistic market will have a high HHI score, indicating that the majority of the market power rests with only a select few firms; conversely, a lower HHI score indicates a competitive market in which all firms have relatively equal shares. If you think of a basketball team as a market, you can apply this logic to a 5-man unit -- every player is working together to create points, but they're also "competing" against each other for touches and shots. A "monopolistic" lineup would be one where only one or two players take the majority of the possessions (think the 2000-02 Lakers with Shaq & Kobe), while a "competitive" lineup would be one where the offensive chances are distributed relatively evenly among the 5 players on the court.

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, History, Statgeekery | 7 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Fewest Points by a Team’s Leading Scorer in a Game

23rd May 2010

A short mailbag entry today, courtesy of a question from BBR reader Luka:

"What is the record for the lowest top scorer for a team in a NBA game?"

Well, we only have game-by-game box score data back to 1986-87, but in that span, the "record" for fewest points leading a team is 8 -- it was set on March 6, 2004, when Denver's Carmelo Anthony, Jon Barry, Earl Boykins, Marcus Camby, Voshon Lenard, and Rodney White all scored exactly 8 vs. Detroit:

The Nuggets lost the game by 31 points, though... The fewest points by a leading scorer in a win? Avery Johnson & Vernon "Mad Max" Maxwell scored 10 apiece to lead San Antonio over Cleveland on March 25, 1997, in what had to be one of the most unwatchable games in NBA history:

Posted in BBR Mailbag | 3 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: ’90s Knicks

13th April 2010

It's time for a very special edition of the Mailbag, since the questions come from my colleague Chase Stuart of the PFR Blog:

My memories of the '90s Knicks is that they were a very good team that always just came up short. They were a defensive powerhouse. They probably should have won a championship or two.

But hey, I was a teenager who knew nothing about objective sports analysis. So I'm curious what an objective, intelligent view of those old Knicks would tell me. Maybe you can get a blog post out of this. But I'm thinking...

• How awesome was the Knicks D back then? It seemed to be pretty awesome in the postseason, too. I recall Miami being the A- defense to the Knicks having the A defense. Did the NYK actually have the #1 D? Where does their best D rank historically?

• How awesome was Ewing? Defensively and overall?

• Should the Knicks have won a championship in the '90s? Were they ever the best team?

• Were any of the role players actually any good? Starks, Mason, Oakley, Ward, Childs, X-Man, etc. They all seemed like a bunch of gritty guys; they almost sound like the '01 Patriots as I think back on them.

• Any other thoughts you can think of?

Okay Chase, let's talk the 1990s Knicks...

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History | 81 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: FT% Spikes

17th February 2010

Yesterday, reader Eric S. asked:

"I'm curious if you could tell me which players have had the biggest spike in free throw percentage. Specifically, I'm looking at players with at least 10 years in the league who suddenly have a dramatic bump in FT%.

The reason I ask is Baron Davis -- a notoriously poor free throw shooter -- came into this season averaging right around 70% for his career. This year, though, he's right around 84%. I've tried to do my own searching and I'm not finding anyone who has managed to achieve this significant of an uptick. A 5% improvement over a career mark is pretty rare, but nearly 14% is downright crazy."

It's a great question, since we tend to think of FT% as one of those stats that won't change much for a player over the years, barring some kind of radical change in shooting form/motion (and it feels like the majority of those radical changes fail to make a difference in the end). You're either a good FT shooter or you're not... unless you're one of these guys -- players who, going into at least their tenth NBA season, had established a certain FT%, and then inexplicably shot far better than that established rate (minimum 100 FTA, so it wasn't caused by a really small sample, either):

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Posted in BBR Mailbag | 3 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Team Age, Height, and Weight

21st January 2010

Recently I received an e-mail from a user who wanted to know what the average weight of each team was, so I decided to do one better and post the minute-weighted average ages and heights for every team as well. Just click on the column headers to sort by each category:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag | 5 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: 10 Years With the Same Franchise

5th October 2009

In the comments section of our Andre Iguodala post last week, Joe Schaller had this request for us:

I would like to see a blog on players who played their entire career of at least 10 seasons with just one team, a truly great achievement when you really think about it and very rare. I think Reggie Miller was the last to do it.

No problem, Joe. Here's every player in NBA history to spend at least 10 seasons with the same franchise:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag | 27 Comments »

The Impact of the European Exodus

26th August 2009

Today's post topic comes courtesy of BBR reader Jared Rasmussen, who e-mailed us with this yesterday:

"Recently, especially this off-season, a lot of NBA role-players have been touring overseas. While many players have had overseas stints at some point in their careers, especially those who were drafted pre-D-League, some of the recent names are fairly relevant to NBA teams at the present.

I was wondering if there could be a blog based on the Win Shares of Josh Childress, Linas Kleiza, Von Wafer, and a lot of the 6th-12th bench players (and conceivably starters if any have gone overseas) to see the production that is being lost for the NBA franchise.

This suggestion comes today with the front-page news on that Cedric Simmons, Taurean Green, Alan Acker, and Kedrick Brown are all heading to Europe for the 2009-10 season."

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, Win Shares | 3 Comments »

Will Artest Love L.A.? And Will They Love Him Back?

6th July 2009

Over in the comments of our offseason transactions thread, there's an interesting discussion about the recent de facto "trade" between the Lakers and Rockets, which essentially ended up swapping Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest straight-up.

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, Offseason | 19 Comments »