What kind of point guard WAS he?

My post from a few days ago was relatively well-received at reddit, and one of the readers there said that he’d like to see the same graph for some of the all-time great point guards.

So with a little help from Basketball-Reference.com, I compiled a list of (all?) the Hall of Fame point guards: Oscar Robertson, Lenny Wilkens, Bob Cousy, Jerry West, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Dennis Johnson, Tiny Archibald, Calvin Murphy, Pete Maravich and Walt Frazier. Unfortunately, the NBA didn’t start keeping track of turnovers until the 1977-78 season, so there’s no assist-to-turnover data for the first four (Robertson, Wilkens, Cousy, West) and the data for Archibald, Murphy, Maravich and Frazier is incomplete, so I could only use their post-1977 numbers.

I also compiled a list of the top non-HOF point guards who are both retired and still active: Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, Steve Nash, Gary Payton, Rod Strickland, Maurice Cheeks, Terry Porter, Tim Hardaway, Andre Miller, Muggsy Bogues, Kevin Johnson, Derek Harper, Stephon Marbury (yes, Stephon Marbury), John Lucas, Norm Nixon, Mookie Blaylock, Sam Cassell, Avery Johnson, Baron Davis, Nick Van Exel, Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Mike Bibby. All of these players have at least 5,400 career assists, which seemed to be the cutoff for players I was interested in using for this study.

Lastly, I added seven of the top current point guards who have yet to break the 5,400-assist barrier: Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and of course, Chris Paul.

I first tackled this subject two years ago, and settled on the shot-to-assist ratio to determine whether a player is “pass-first” or “shoot-first.” The higher the number, the more of a “shoot-first” player he is. To determine whether or not a player is “turnover-prone,” I calculated each player’s assist-to-turnover ratio. The higher the number, the better the player is at taking care of the ball, relative to what he’s asked to do as a playmaker for his team. The graph takes a gentle downward slope because assists are part of both calculations. (Note: While I do like FGA/A as the criteria for shoot-first/pass-first, I am not completely sold on A/TO as the criteria for turnover-prone. Perhaps (A+FGA)/TO would show shoot-first guards in a better light? Maybe I’ll try that next year.)

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Portland the only road team to win Game 1

Late last year, there was some question as to how Andre Miller was fitting in with the Blazers, but in January, he started settling in and had a nice second half of the season. With Brandon Roy out for the foreseeable future, Miller had his best game of the season, posting 31-5-8 along with three steals in a 105-100 win in Phoenix.

The game was pretty nip-and-tuck the whole way, but a 9-3 Blazer run late in the fourth quarter gave Portland a seven-point lead with 1:29 to play. The Suns kept fighting and a pair of missed free throws by Jerryd Bayless with 0:12 to play opened the door for a game-tying three-point attempt by Steve Nash which only hit the front of the rim.

Game 2 is Tuesday night.

Andre Miller is not happy in Portland

An argument between Andre Miller and head coach Nate McMillan to close practice is further proof that the (ill-conceived) marriage just isn’t working out (OregonLive.com).

The louder parts of the exchange, which intermittently featured raised voices and expletives from both sides, were audible through a closed door where media were waiting to enter the practice court.

He has mildly complained about the team’s “methodical” playing style, and more than hinted that McMillan is a “controlling” coach that stifles free play. He also has slipped into interviews he is confused about his role, which has twice alternated between reserve and starter, and recently has expressed bewilderment over a growing trend of playing little, if any, in the fourth quarter.

Brandon Roy is the Blazers’ star, and he does most of the ball handling in crunch time. He needs to play alongside a point guard who can space the court with good shooting. Moreover, the Blazers continue to play at the slowest pace in the league, so why they would want to sign a point guard that wants to push the ball and can’t shoot it from deep is beyond me. This signing didn’t make much sense last summer and it makes even less sense now.

Miller was Portland’s Plan C (or D or E, who knows) after attempts to acquire Paul Millsap and Hedo Turkoglu fell through. Some suggested that management didn’t want the cap space to go to waste, so they acquired Miller figuring that they’d be able to move him for another asset later in the season. That may very well happen.

Miller is signed for two more seasons at the tune of $15 million, but the final year of his deal is not guaranteed, so his contract shouldn’t be too hard to move. The Knicks and Heat jump out as good fits, but neither team is likely to squander its cap space next summer for a 33-year-old point guard.

Maybe he won’t be so easy to move after all…

Five players who could be on the move

Marc Stein lists five “big” names who could be on the move as the NBA trade season begins in earnest. Those names are: Andre Miller, Nate Robinson, Brandon Bass, Marcin Gortat and Ramon Sessions. Here’s part of Stein’s writeup on Miller:

Miller might actually find it easier to operate in Portland’s offense with Oden off the floor and less of an emphasis on throwing the ball inside. Harsh as that sounds, given Oden’s unquestioned likability and hideous luck, Miller and Roy appeared to be the main sufferers from the lack of offensive flow that has plagued Portland this season as Oden’s role expanded. If the Blazers open things up a bit more with Oden sidelined, as Roy envisions, that could really help Miller.

Yet the reality remains that Miller and Roy are an iffy tag team because both need to see so much of the ball to be effective, which explains why Miller has started only nine games. There’s this, too: While NBA front-office sources say there is considerable outside interest in young (and mostly forgotten) Portland guard Jerryd Bayless, Miller’s more substantial salary — $6.7 million to Bayless’ $2.1 million — would probably bring a bigger talent payoff in a trade.

“They need a Mo Williams-type to play with Brandon Roy,” said one rival team executive in the West. “They need a shooter to play off him.”

Stein suggests that both Miller and Sessions were signed so that the Blazers and T-Wolves would have tradeable assets that they can “flip” at some point during the season. Sessions supposedly had an opportunity to play for the Knicks on a one-year deal and probably should have done just that. Chris Duhon is struggling, so it’s likely that Sessions would be the starter by now, and with his ability, he could post some nice numbers in Mike D’Antoni’s system. The Knicks aren’t going to trade for Sessions now because his contract would eat into their projected cap space next summer.

Bill Simmons lists the 33 most intriguing people of the 2009-10 NBA season

In Bill Simmons’ NBA preview, he lists the 33 most intriguing people of the 2009-10 season. Here are a couple of excerpts.

On the Blazers’ acquisition of Andre Miller…

21. Andre Miller
We knew Miller was a bad fit when the Blazers signed him. It just didn’t feel right. He’s a moody loner; they had great chemistry last season. He needs the ball in his hands; so does Brandon Roy. He likes freelancing; Nate McMillan is hands on. But Portland felt obligated to spend its extra cap money, and nobody else was pursuing Miller, so what transpired was the equivalent of two single wedding guests going through the motions on the dance floor.

I could use someone, and you could use someone. Unfortunately, I hate bald guys and I have a tiny butt; you’re bald and you love bubble butts. We have no spark and are destined to fail. But crap, there’s nobody better. Screw it, would you like to come back to my room?

I get Portland’s thinking: It wanted to turn that cap space into an asset. And I get Miller’s thinking: He wanted to get paid and hoped things would work out. But now we’re here. Incredibly, Portland plans on bringing Miller off the bench. He’s already miserable. (And available, by the way. Make Kevin Pritchard an offer. Seriously, call him right now.) So what did we learn? Just because you have cap space doesn’t mean you HAVE to use it.

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