What kind of point guard is he?

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”?

Taking an analytical approach to these questions, I decided to bust out an Excel spreadsheet and try to come up with some answers. Below you’ll see a graph that attempts to classify the top point guards in the league. But first, a little background…

I chose to categorize each player based on two stats. First, to determine if he’s “shoot-first” or “pass-first,” I calculated the shot-to-assist ratio for each player. The bigger the number, the more of a “shoot-first” mentality the player has. Second, to determine whether or not a player is “turnover-prone,” I calculated each player’s assist-to-turnover ratio. I thought about using turnovers per 48 minutes, but I like the idea of including assists so that playmakers are rewarded for the positive as well as the negative. Next, I calculated each player’s Efficiency Per Minute (EPM) to see if there is any correlation between these other statistics and the overall efficiency of the player in question.

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Sixers shock Magic

The Philadelphia 76ers were down by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter, and they managed to outscore Orlando 35-19 in the final period to spring the upset. Andre Iguodala is a difficult matchup for Hedo Turkoglu, but with time running down in regulation, the Turkish forward forced the “new AI” into a tough shot, but Iguodala nailed it to give the Sixers the lead for good, 100-98. On the previous possession, Donyell Marshall hit a HUGE three-pointer (with 0:34 to play) to tie the game at 98-98. (Truth be told, I didn’t even realize that Marshall was still in the league.)

How did Orlando lose this game? Dwight Howard had 31 points and 16 rebounds, but Turkoglu and Rafer Alston combined to shoot just 7 for 23 from the field. Three-point shooting was the difference — Orlando shot 5 of 18 (28%) from long range while the Sixers knocked down 7 of 12 (58%) attempts. Iguodala had a great game, posting 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Lou Williams pitched in with 18 points.

The Magic miss Jameer Nelson. Rafer Alston is a serviceable replacement, but he’s no Jameer. Rashard Lewis needs to play better as well. Fifteen points, three rebounds and three assists is a decent line, but not for a guy making more than $17 million per season.

Mo Williams upset about All-Star snub

The All-Star reserves were announced last night and Mo Williams’ name was not on the list. And he’s none too happy about it.

The Magic will get three All-Stars—Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis now as well as starting center Dwight Howard—but the Cavs, despite having the best record in the NBA, will only send LeBron James.

Really, it came down to Nelson or Williams, and Mo first and foremost didn’t want to take anything away from his colleague.

“Congratulations to him,” Williams said with a smile. “He deserves it, but there’s only a certain amount of players that can play.”

“You want me to tell you like it is?” Williams chuckled. “Then I’ll tell it like it is. It’s a tragedy. How many players get into the game, and how many players did the Magic get in? They’ve got three players, and we’ve got the best record. Not just in the Eastern Conference, but in the whole league… Best team in the world, and we got one player.”

The guy’s got a point, and [Ben] Wallace’s got his back.

“He took us from a team that was on the verge of competing for a championship to making us a legit championship contender,” Wallace added.

I disagree with Wallace that Williams is the main reason that the Cavs are playing as well as they are (or were, before getting trounced by the Magic last night). LeBron has returned from his stint with Team USA with a focus on defense, and that has translated to the rest of the team. He even has Williams gaining a rep for being a decent defender, which is something that has plagued him throughout his career.

Here are the YTD stats for Williams and Nelson:

Williams: 16.92 PER (#16 PG), 17.0 p, 4.1 a, 3.3 r, 0.8 s, 47% FG, 38% 3PT, 94% FT

Nelson: 20.94 PER (#4 PG), 16.9 p, 5.3 a, 3.4 r, 1.2 s, 51% FG, 45% 3PT, 88% FT

The two players are essentially the same in points and rebounds. Mo has an advantage in free throw percentage, but Jameer has a big advantage in assists, steals, FG% and three-point accuracy. Moreover, Williams plays an extra two minutes per game, so he has more time to post stats. Clearly, from the Player Efficiency Rating, Nelson is the far more productive and efficient player.

Williams has also come up fairly small in the Cavs’ three “marquee” games this season. He shot 6-16 in a bad loss against the Lakers on Jan. 19 and posted just 13 points and one assist against the Celtics on Jan. 9. That trend continued after the reserves were announced when he shot just 4-15 from the field against the Magic last night.

So this comes down to how many players elite teams should get on the All-Star team. I actually think that Mo is more deserving than Rashard Lewis, but that Nelson is more deserving than Williams. But this probably has to do more with LeBron than anything. He is viewed as a one-man wrecking crew and that will automatically discount the contributions of his teammates. Throw in the fact that Allen Iverson was voted in by the fans and it was obvious that someone was going to get screwed. It happens every year.

Williams has a gripe, but Jameer Nelson deserves to be an All-Star, there’s no doubt about that.

2009 NBA All-Star reserves have been announced…

…and here they are…

East: Devin Harris, Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Rashard Lewis and Paul Pierce

West: Shaquille O’Neal, Chauncey Billups, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Brandon Roy and David West

When comparing the final rosters to my picks, there were three changes. I didn’t have Allen Iverson on my roster, much less a starter, but he was voted in by the fans. Rashard Lewis replaced Vince Carter, which goes to show that the coaches value team wins more than individual (albeit gaudy) stats. David West replaced Carmelo Anthony, and I think it’s a good call, especially with ‘Melo’s injury. The longer he was out, the better the chances that the coaches would leave him at home. It didn’t help his All-Star stock that Denver has played very well without him.

The only thing that’s really wrong with these rosters is the inclusion of Allen Iverson. There were a host of players in the East — Carter, Tayshaun Prince, Ray Allen, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo, Caron Butler and Josh Smith — that were more deserving, but there’s no doubt that AI is a very popular player. Unsurprisingly, we can’t really argue with the coaches’ picks. They know what they’re doing.

It’s especially good to see Devin Harris, Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson and Tony Parker get recognized for their fine play this season.

Picking the 2009 All-Star reserves

I made my picks more than two weeks ago. Then the All-Star starters (as voted in by the fans) were announced.

Now that we know who the starters will be, I’m wondering if there’s any reason to change any of my other picks. Let’s take a look…

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Starters: Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard

My original picks: Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Devin Harris, Danny Granger, Tayshaun Prince, Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter

I didn’t have Iverson on the team, much less starting, so one of my other eight picks has to go. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be Prince because the Pistons aren’t good enough to warrant two All-Star nods. The same could be said about the Nets, but Vince Carter’s stats are pretty big. I think I’ll go with this group, though there are a number of players that could take Carter’s spot. If any of these other guys — Johnson, Pierce, Bosh, Harris, Granger and Nelson — don’t make it, it’s going to be a pretty big snub.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Starters: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan and Yao Ming


My original picks: Dirk Nowitzki, Brandon Roy, Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Chauncey Billups and Shaquille O’Neal

I had Nowitzki starting over Stoudemire, but no worries there. Would I swap out any of the players? Well, ‘Melo is still sidelined and the Nuggets don’t seem to be hurting too much without him. That weakens Anthony’s position and strengthens Billups’ argument. I could see David West, LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Jefferson or Deron Williams replacing Anthony, but I doubt it will happen. I think the other picks are safe, though Williams could replace Parker or Billups, though I don’t think either guy deserves to miss the All-Star Game.

The reserves will be announced this Thursday on TNT.

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