When Ray Allen Plays 30 Minutes…
Posted by Neil Paine on June 4, 2010
After last night's Laker rout, in which a foul-troubled Ray Allen only took the floor for 27 minutes, I wondered how important it was for the Celtics to have Allen play a substantial amount of time. Because while he may be the 3rd-best player on the team (4th-best if Garnett is anything like his vintage self), his ability to knock down huge threes has been indispensable to Boston over the past 3 years, especially in these playoffs.
To make a quick-and-dirty test on how important it was for Allen to play 30 or more minutes in a game, I created a sort of bastardized version of Adjusted Plus-Minus (using RS + playoff data in the "Big Three" era -- 2008-10) that predicts a team's homecourt-adjusted efficiency differential in every game based on whether or not any given player played at least 30 minutes or not in the game (a 48 minute game, that is -- the threshold was proportionally higher for OT games).
Controlling for the player's teammates and opponents in the game, we can get a rough estimate of what the impact in efficiency differential is on a given player playing 30 or more MPG. Here are the results for all 450 players who had a 30+ minute game in the past 3 years (except Lorenzen Wright, who had 1 such game and was dropped due to singularity issues).
Obviously, the sample sizes are small and the standard errors are huge there, but if we limit the list just to guys who had 50 or more 30+ minute games (the players with the smallest standard errors), look who leads the way:
|Player||30mp Games||Estimate||Std. Error||t value||Pr(>|t|)|
(View the full table here.)
Obviously, Allen's foul trouble was not the Celtics' only problem in last night's game -- on defense, L.A. was getting to the rim with impunity, and there's not much Allen could have done to stop it that his replacements weren't already doing. But he could have spaced the floor better on offense and opened up room for Boston to attack the basket instead of hoisting contested Js. Either way, we'll see what kind of adjustments the coaches make before Sunday's Game 2, and I'm sure keeping Allen out of foul trouble will be high on Doc Rivers' list.
June 4th, 2010 at 12:25 pm
Great post; the refs called last night's game way too tight. I'm not saying the Celts would have won, but they didn't have a chance with Ray Ray stuck on the bench
June 4th, 2010 at 12:41 pm
I think that's a major flaw in the offense right now. Ray Allen and Pierce are the only big minute floor spacers on the team, and Pierce is the best one on one scorer, hence he's the one who needs the space. Obviously they've found a way to win, but against a huge front line and disciplined defense, it's tough.
June 4th, 2010 at 1:46 pm
My friend always rolls his eyes when I show him how confusingly high Ray's APM is.
Looking at general trends in APM, non-volume floor spacers (like Ray, Rashard Lewis a year ago) are generally really underrated.
June 4th, 2010 at 4:59 pm
Yeah. Ray Allen shows up as a clear top 30 player in the league.
June 5th, 2010 at 1:45 am
But ray is traditionally characterized as the fourth best player on the celtics - after Rondo, Pierce, and KG. His skills (making the simple percentage play every time, shooting an eFG% of at least 50% from everywhere on the floor) are hugely underrated.
June 6th, 2010 at 3:48 pm
The question -- "how important it was for the Celtics to have Allen play a substantial amount of time" -- should perhaps be asked as:
"How much time should Allen get when he's this unproductive?"
According to DSMok1 in this thread:
-- Ray had SPM of -8.59 in game 1 .
If a 'replacement level' player has SPM -3 (or thereabouts) it seems the Celts would have been better served if he had not played at all.
Giving him a few more minutes, would he have become very much better?
A good coach can see when a guy isn't doing well, and he goes to the bench. Fouls aren't the only reason.
June 6th, 2010 at 4:26 pm
I don't know that it's possible to determine in a given game if a player is doing poorly that he will continue to do poorly--you'd think that the weight of years of production is greater than a bad first quarter in terms of choosing whether to play a player (unless there is an injury/illness or something like that). That's an interesting quandary for the coach.
June 6th, 2010 at 5:01 pm
I would be curious what the correlation is between these numbers and the source overall APM numbers.
June 6th, 2010 at 7:49 pm
According to Simmons, Allen had 5 fouls in 14 minutes. Hard to get a rhythm going when you're getting whistled every other minute; it's also hard to play agressively in the 13 remaining minutes when your next foul results in disqualification. The Celts wouldn't have been better off if he hadn't played, they would've been better off if the refs hadn't blown the whistle every time he breathed on Kobe