What kind of point guard is he?

The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose shoots a free throw while playing the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter of their NBA game in Chicago February 17, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

We hear it all the time. NBA analysts call one point guard “pass-first” and another “shoot-first.” Or they say one guy is “turnover-prone” while another “takes care of the ball.” But really, what makes a player a “pass-first” point guard? How carefree must he be with the ball to be considered “turnover-prone”?

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.

I narrowed the list of players to 33, one for each team plus a few extra for teams like Cleveland, Sacramento and Denver, who have a couple of players manning the position. I also added eight prospects (indicated in green) just to see where a few of the younger guys land. Here’s the graph — it’s small, but if you click it, you’ll get to a bigger version:

So the pass-first/shoot-first aspect goes left to right, and the turnover-prone players will be towards the bottom, while the guys that take really good care of the ball will be up top. Players indicated with a blue diamond are in the Top 10 in this group in Efficiency Per Minute. I set the axis for each category at the average of the 33 players in question, so 1.97 for FGA-to-assist and 2.70 assist-to-turnover.

Two years ago when I conducted this study, seven of the top 10 EPM performers were in the top left quadrant (pass-first, takes care of the ball). This year, only five of the top 11 (I included both Rondo and Calderon, since they tied for #11) are in that quadrant. This is due to the emergence of three shoot-first, (fairly) turnover-prone guards who are emerging as stars: Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry.

A few takeaways:

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

One reason the Nuggets might be dragging their feet…

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony warms up at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

I missed this tidbit from a TrueHoop post from about a week ago:

The Nuggets have a great offer on the table now, but might see some merit in stalling, too. For one thing, it’s hard to see what could happen to make the Nets’ current offer disappear. Derrick Favors has spent much of the season playing behind Kris Humphries in New Jersey, and unlikely to increase his market value drastically. Then there’s some gamesmanship surrounding the Nets’ 2011 draft pick. Very high picks like that one, used skillfully, are nearly essential ingredients to winning titles, and they’re damned hard to find. As the Nuggets root for that pick to be as high as possible, they root, of course, for the Nets to lose. And every loss matters, as a heated battle is under way for the NBA’s worst record. The 10-27 Nets have the NBA’s fifth-worst record today, but they’re a mere two games out of the 8-29 Cavaliers’ first, or last — depending on your perspective — place. Of course, the Nuggets can’t do anything to make the Nets lose more … or can they? Giving them an All-Star like Anthony may well cause the Nets to rip off some wins. It sounds a little out there, but one thought is that the longer the Nuggets keep Anthony from the Nets, the better that Nets’ pick is likely to be.

Gamesmanship, indeed.

Let’s assume that on Jan. 7 the Nuggets decided that the offer of Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and a first round pick for Melo and bad contracts was an agreeable offer. The trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 24, so during that span, the Nets would play 20 games. If the Nuggets were to trade Carmelo on Jan. 7, it would almost certainly help New Jersey’s win/loss record during that span. The Nets are currently winning at a .244 clip. Let’s make another assumption: They start winning at a .500 rate once Carmelo is on board. So that means they would go 10-10 during the 1/7 to 2/24 span instead of 5-15.

Those five wins could be very important come lottery time for the Nets’ 2011 first rounder that will no doubt be included in the Anthony trade. As an example, at the end of last season only four games separated the team with the third-worst record (Kings) from the team with the ninth-worst record (Knicks). As a result, the Kings had a 15.6% chance of landing the first overall pick while the Jazz (who had the Knicks’ pick) had just a 1.7% chance of winning the #1 pick.

So assuming that the Nets aren’t going to pull the offer from the table (and that Carmelo is agreeable to signing an extension with the Nets), Denver stands to benefit by dragging its feet as long as possible.

Nets appear to be closing in on Carmelo

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony (L) moves against the New York Knicks guard/forward Landry Fields during the first quarter at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010. UPI/Gary C. Caskey


As of late Sunday night, sources said, New Jersey was poised to receive [Carmelo] Anthony, [Chauncey] Billups and [Rip] Hamilton, with Denver landing two future first-round picks and six players. The Nuggets’ haul would feature Nets rookie Derrick Favors, former All-Star guard Devin Harris and Nets sharpshooter Anthony Morrow. In addition, the Nuggets would bring in the New Jersey threesome of Quinton Ross, Ben Uzoh and Stephen Graham included for salary-cap purposes.

Detroit, meanwhile, was to receive Nets big man Johan Petro and the expiring contract of Nets forward Troy Murphy, with the Pistons motivated to join in by the $17-plus million in long-term savings they’d earn by shedding Hamilton’s contract.

Denver threw a wrench into the works by choosing to play Anthony and Billups in Sunday night’s game against New Orleans. Generally, if a player is about to be traded, the team sits him down until the deal is consummated to avoid a deal-killing injury. The Nuggets’ move indicates that the trade is not as close to the finish line as some would like to believe.

If this deal does go through, it looks fairly equitable from all sides. The Nets get their man, and they also upgrade (in the short term) at point guard. Billups is getting on in years so one wonders if the inclusion of Harris was at the Nuggets’ request. Denver would get a young prospect at power forward (Favors) and a proven guard (Harris) whom they can plug in at the point or move to another team for another piece to the rebuilding puzzle. I suspect that Ty Lawson is the future at point guard in Denver, and Harris could potentially bring in more talent later. After what happened to the Raptors and Cavs this summer, getting Favors and Harris for Anthony and Billups isn’t a bad haul. I’m sure there will be a first round draft pick or two included as well.

If anyone is wondering why Carmelo has apparently become agreeable to signing an extension with the Nets, it’s probably due to the Knicks’ inability to offer the Nuggets something equitable. If Melo finishes the season as a Nugget, the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement could mean that Anthony would leave a lot of money on the table by passing on the Nuggets’ extension offer. In other words, he’d like to lock up his contract now, and since the Nets and Nuggets have worked out a deal in principle, Carmelo can start counting his money. Certainly the prospect of continuing his career with Billups in New Jersey/Brooklyn also has to help.

If this deal does go through as described, the Nets could have a starting lineup of Billups, Hamilton, Anthony, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. That might be enough to turn the Nets into a playoff team despite the 10-27 start. After all, they’re only five games out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.

LeBron in favor of a less watered-down NBA, not contraction

LeBron is in some fairly hot water (…again…) after he spoke without thinking (…again). Here’s what he said about the idea of a less watered-down NBA.

“Hopefully the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the ’80s where you had three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team,” James said. “The league was great. It wasn’t as watered down as it is [now].”

“[Contraction] is not my job; I’m a player but that is why it, the league, was so great,” James said.

“Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the [league]. Looking at some of the teams that aren’t that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren’t that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let’s take New Jersey and let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I’m not stupid, it would be great for the league.”

Anyone who knows the definition of ‘contraction’ knows that’s what LeBron is talking about here. Some people believe that it would be good for the NBA if there weren’t so many teams because there would be more stars on each team and the quality of play would go up. The downside with this strategy is teams (like Minnesota and New Jersey in LeBron’s example) would no longer exist.

So LeBron is in favor of contraction. Wait — no he’s not:

“That’s crazy, because I had no idea what the word ‘contraction’ meant before I saw it on the Internet,” James said after the Miami Heat’s practice Monday. “I never even mentioned that. That word never even came out of my mouth. I was just saying how the league was back in the ’80s and how it could be good again. I never said, ‘Let’s take some of the teams out.’ ”

“I’m with the players, and the players know that,” James said Monday. “I’ve been with the players. It’s not about getting guys out of the league or knocking teams out. I didn’t mean to upset nobody. I didn’t tell Avery Johnson to leave either. I didn’t say let’s abandon the Nets, and not let them move to Brooklyn or let’s tear down the Target Center in Minnesota. I never said that.”

Welcome to Semantics 101, with Professor LeBron. No, he didn’t say that we should be “knocking teams out,” but he did say how great it would be if the league weren’t so watered down, which would absolutely require fewer teams. He didn’t say the T-Wolves shouldn’t exist, but he did say it would be great if Minnesota’s star player were arbitrarily moved to another team. What happens to the T-Wolves in his world?

Just because he didn’t say the word contraction doesn’t mean that he didn’t come out in favor of contraction.

I like the Sportress of Blogitude‘s take on this:

Aha! That is sound, logical reasoning right there. How can LeBron be in favor of something if he has never even heard of the word until he saw it on the internet? Allow me to illustrate: let’s say – simply for the sake of argument only – that some misguided pundit argued that killing some of the babies born into the world every day would be an effective means of population control. Obviously, such a deplorable opinion would generate a lot of controversy. But if someone later asked said pundit how they possibly could be in favor of infanticide, that person could potentially argue that if they have never heard of the word “infanticide” before, how could they be in favor of it? Unless a person can identify the exact word which perfectly describes some particular act, they cannot in any way support said act, even if that person previously stated they were in favor of exactly what that particular word means. It’s all about semantics, you see.

Well played, LeBron. Well played. Your keen mastery of logic mystifies us all.

That about sums it up.

Nuggets dragging their feet in the Carmelo deal

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony scores against the Utah Jazz during the fourth quarter of the first round playoffs game two at the Pepsi Center on April 19, 2010 in Denver. Utah beat Denver 114-111 to even the series at 1-1.  UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

According to the New York Post (a bastion of honest, sober reporting if there ever was one), the Denver Nuggets are taking their sweet time committing to the four-team trade (discussed here in more detail) as they see if there are any better offers out there. As it is currently constructed, the Nuggets would received Derrick Favors, Andrei Kirilenko and two first round draft picks, which isn’t a bad haul all things considered.

Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the deal is in neutral and that the Nuggets are going to hope that Anthony shows up to the team’s media day on Monday and “beg him to stay.”

It’s not even clear if Anthony has signed off on the Nets by agreeing to sign the three-year extension required to get New Jersey to give up Derrick Favors and Devin Harris to acquire his rights.

Rumored four-team trades have a way of falling apart, but this story seems to have legs, so I’d peg the chances of this getting done at around 40%. This week should be interesting as the Nuggets’ camp opens and Anthony has to decide whether or not he wants to report to work.

Related Posts