"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:
We have reached an agreement with Steve Lipofsky of Basketballphoto.com to display his player photos on our site. Right now we have photos for about 300 players, but we will be adding more as time goes by. Here's an example of what those pages will now look like:
Please note that these photos are copyrighted, and as such they may not be used in any way without the permission of Mr. Lipofsky. We hope you enjoy this addition to the site, and thanks for your continued support.
Kevin Pritchard may have been (undeservedly?) fired as the Blazers' general manager last month, but that's apparently not stopping him from appearing on my third-favorite summer show (Mad Men is always #1, btw, and Psych is clearly #2 for the 80s references alone):
"Kevin Pritchard will be on the show Leverage, Sunday (August 1st) at 9 P.M.. He plays a car salesman. They shot the episode back in April (IIRC) in Portland. [...] Kevin's seen in it around the 50 second mark."
If you missed Monday's post, I encourage you to go back and check it out -- I looked at player performance in 2009-10 (regular-season + playoffs) against above-average and below-average defenses to see if certain players thrived vs. weak defenses and/or wilted against strong ones. Today, I'm going to break it down even further by looking at performances against top-/bottom-10 and top-/bottom-5 defensive teams.
Last March, I wrote a piece that compared LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade's 2008-09 advanced stats against four groups of defenses: all 30 NBA teams, the top 15 in Defensive Efficiency, the top 10 in D.E., and the top 5 in D.E., to see if certain players thrived vs. weak defenses and/or wilted against strong ones. The results? James was the league's overall best against all teams, but his efficiency took a hit as the D got tougher. At the same time, Bryant was more immune to tougher defenses than James, and Wade was actually better than either Kobe or LeBron vs. the cream of the defensive crop.
"Throughout [Michael Jordan's] professional career he wore two pairs of shorts -- the ones we all saw on television, but beneath the Chicago Bulls uniform he also wore the blue University of North Carolina shorts from his spectacular days at the college level.
No, the researchers aren't suggesting that Michael became 'air Jordan' because his shorts were too tight. But the fact that he believed his college shorts could bring him luck might have made his performance a tad better."
They go on to explain the results in more general terms:
"What it all boils down to, according to four experiments the scientists conducted in Germany, is sometimes superstitions actually work. Not because they bring luck (either good or bad.) It's because believing that a rabbit's foot brings good luck can increase self confidence (luck is on his or her side) and thus the true believer performs better and sets higher goals."
I'm pretty sure Jordan wouldn't have lacked for confidence (or performance) even without his "lucky" UNC shorts, but in general I don't see anything too controversial about the finding. Furthermore, couldn't it also apply to a phenomenon like the "hot hand"? That is, if superstition is beneficial because the player's belief in some quasi-magical power increases his confidence, maybe the similar belief that you were "hot" might also give your performance a boost, simply because of that extra confidence.
Maybe. However, previous studies have actually confirmed that feeling "hot" boosts confidence... in a bad way. Players who considered themselves hot forced bad shots more often and ended up hurting the team, offsetting any benefit derived from the performance boost the German study found. In other words, you certainly want your players to be confident, and if a little superstition gets them there, fine... just make sure they're not too confident.
In preparation for the updated "Who Rules the Top Defenses?" post I'm planning to write next week, I had to run the advanced stats for every player-game of the 2010 season (all 26,488 of them, including the playoffs), in addition to SRS scores for defenses only. Since I now have that data completed, today I thought I might as well make a post out of it and list the best opponent-adjusted offensive games of the 2010 campaign (according to offensive SPM, at least).