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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Nets have verbal agreement with Avery Johnson

Per ESPN’s Marc Stein…

The New Jersey Nets and ESPN analyst Avery Johnson have reached a verbal agreement to hire Johnson as the Nets’ new coach.

Johnson, who has been working for ESPN since his dismissal from the Dallas Mavericks after the 2007-08 season, was the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2005 and took the Mavs to the NBA Finals in 2006. He posted a record of 194-70 in three-plus seasons, good for a winning percentage of .735, and will be reunited in New Jersey with point guard Devin Harris.

This could be a good thing for Harris, who had a nice season in Johnson’s last year in Dallas, averaging 14-2-5 and 48% shooting.

It strikes me as funny that it has taken Johnson this long to get another job. He was 190-74 (.735) in four seasons in Dallas and was the Coach of the Year in 2006.

Why was Vinny Del Negro fired?

Vinny Del Negro has been fired as coach of the Chicago Bulls.

The decision to fire Del Negro came after organizational meetings last week and over the weekend. Del Negro met with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on Sunday and made a pitch to return for a third season, citing the accomplishments during his two seasons.

But, in the end, Reinsdorf took the recommendation of Forman and executive vice president John Paxson and decided to make a change.

But Del Negro did lead the Bulls to two playoff appearances. With the likely addition of a big-name free agent this summer, the franchise seems poised to become a serious contender in the East. Why exactly was he fired?

The major reason was the growing rift between him and management, which gained national attention when news broke of a postgame confrontation between Del Negro and Paxson in late March.

”That was a toxic situation,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said Monday night. ”Vinny’s a good guy; Paxson’s a good guy. I said two weeks ago they had to fire him.”

Is Del Negro a good coach? It’s tough to say. He’s 82-82 in two seasons with two playoff appearances, but one could argue that the talent in Chicago is better than that. He was unable to develop Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons flourished in Milwaukee after he was moved at the trade deadline.

By removing Del Negro now, the franchise may be able to use the opening as a selling point to potential free agents. Would LeBron James or Dwyane Wade sign with the Bulls if Phil Jackson agreed to return to Chicago? How about Doug Collins or Avery Johnson?

Though the Bulls do expect to have the position filled by the start of free agency, I fully expect that they’d put feelers out to see how their top free agent targets feel about their top coaching targets. They’d be fools not to.

Dirk Nowitzki opens up about the downfall of Avery Johnson

On the eve of opening training camp, it didn’t take long for Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki to give his views on former coach Avery Johnson’s handling of last years’ team.

In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki felt Johnson’s regimented style and lack of offensive creativity were the chief reasons for the Mavericks troubled 2007-08 season. He was optimistic the offense would open up with the acquisition of Jason Kidd from New Jersey, but it never materialized down the home stretch of the regular season.

Nowitzki is excited about playing for new coach Rick Carlisle, as the two have communicated over the summer about implementing a uptempo offense for this coming season. He was noncommittal on his plans after his contract expires in the 2010-11 season.

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