I'm bored so forgive me. Watch this over & over & over like me. (Or don't and be smart.)
As some of you may have noticed, I've been blabbering a lot about efficiency and TS%. However, I thought I would do something a bit deeper to look at where the Kings rank within individual positions (PG to C) at the moment. All data according to the always excellent Hoopdata and Basketball-Reference. Let's rock this after the jump shall we?
First, let's acknowledge a few things. I wrote this to JJ earlier today when talking about Devin Harris and what I see as the issue. I apologize in advance for the long blockquote, but, if you've ever read anything I wrote, you probably are expecting 5000 words. It won't be that long. (Hopefully.)
I don’t think this team needs a ton more defense in the frontcourt than the development of DMC/Omri/HW can provide (or another player that could fit between Omri/DMC if things don’t work out with Whiteside).
I also think this team’s greatest problem is finding players who can score the basketball, and efficiently. Beno Udrih’s recent uptick in tremendous offense has led him to a career high TS% of 58.6%. Look at the rest of the Kings team? Nobody is above 54% in TS%. That’s awful JJ. You can’t have an efficient offensive team without A) efficient offensive players or B) a mix that creates such offensive opportunities for players who wouldn’t be that efficient on their own at the NBA level.
The only player who has ever had a 55 TS% for a single season on the roster is Carl Landry, and that was when he was in Houston. (His TS% hasn’t been above 55% since coming to Sacramento.) ED NOTE: Read my paragraph at the bottom as this isn't quite true.
JT is having another season of average to slightly below average offensive efficiency. Omri Casspi the same thing (although in Omri’s case I expect that to rise).
OJ Mayo has never had a TS% of higher than 56%. (Devin Harris meanwhile has had 3 season. All of them were with Dallas and/or Vince Carter on the Nets. Shocking as that may be.) Josh Smith ditto. And while Gerald Wallace (who is also injury prone—which is something I’m not willing to accept at this point with him). I don’t care what G-Dub represented once upon a time: There is a real player there with a big contract who is injury prone. Also, he isn’t a good enough ball handler to create shots for himself consistently IMO.
According to Hoopdata, the league average for TS% is 54.1% this season. ED NOTE: In my original paragraph it was 54.8%. That's how quickly these things change. Usually middling efficiency has been around 54% or so. Devin Harris is slightly above that figure. Harris can do many things all of which the Kings need. First, he’s a better defender than Beno. Second, because both Harris and Beno are big combo G’s, and both can handle the ball extremely well, and while Harris is better getting to the basket (similar to Reke), Harris can also facilitate much better than Reke can.
In otherwords, I think where this team needs to get better is in running the offense with the players it has combined with an extra player to be had.
I honestly think that if the Kings acquired Harris today, and played him from day one (barring injury—which is a risk with any player), we would see both Landry and Casspi in the 57-58 range for TS% at a bare minimum. (Maybe higher.) DMC’s would be middling to below average and Reke’s might get to average himself. Beno and Cisco would soar to 60+ just on the sheer amount of higher quality looks from deep they would get.
My philosophy is simple: Go out and find the players and find ways they can work together. Some ways work well, others dont. And the difference between Kevin Martin and Devin Harris is distinct for me. One, Martin isn’t as good defensively, and two, Harris is a much better ball handler. Harris mid range game is much better than Martin’s too.
As wonderfully efficient as Kevin is, he’s pretty much become the prototypical one trick pony: He gets to the line and can shoot the 3. He’s a nice guy, isn’t a cancer (around better players anyway) and as long as you aren’t expecting him to carry you offensively, he’s a wonderful 3rd option. You need guys like him after all.
Devin Harris is a better player than that, and frankly, Josh Smith, OJ Mayo and Gerald Wallace aren’t. There’s a reason Atlanta runs so many Iso’s for Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. If Josh Smith ever learned how to take advantage of all his tools (and he still hasn’t), I would agree with you. Josh Smith isn’t as bad as JR Smith, but he’s close in the sense that he isn’t committed to doing everything he can to be the absolute best player. One of my criteria’s for players is do they lay it all on the line to win. (It’s one reason I don’t like LeBron. And Bosh for that matter.) I don’t think Josh Smith ever has. As far as OJ Mayo, I don’t think he does enough as Harris to even remotely be considered costs be damned. And Gerald Wallace? He’s not really a PF even if he plays one on your broadband channel. He’s a hybrid F whose better off playing SF in the Western Conference. There’s also a reason Charlotte is so goddamn awful offensively. They don’t have many shot creators other than Augustin (who is best in a Rondoish role), Stephen Jackson (a mouthy twat who couldn’t get out of his way with a road map, a magnifying glass and Jesus in his ear) and Wallace.
I’m after players who can be acquired who will help this team create better shot opportunities, not just for themselves, but in turn for the other numerous players whom in the right situation will flourish with the right caliber of high end talent around them. I believe that situation is out there, and I don’t think Mayo/Smith/Wallace are that answer. Is Devin Harris the best answer? Maybe, maybe not. I’d have to think about it. I don’t know if I’d really want Rashard Lewis playing PF against the Western PF’s either now that I think about that.
Chauncey Billups and Devin Harris are 2 of the players I’d really prefer. Maybe there isn’t an answer out there, but I know damn well it won’t be in the Free Agent crop that is out there. As good as Nene is, he won’t answer the team’s problems in that department of shot creation. That isn’t his game. He’d make the team better defensively, and he’d play well off DMC. Then again, you’re relying on Nene to take on the teams best big defensively, and ask DMC to create shots for Nene at 21 years old. It can be done, and I wouldn’t be against it. Are you willing to take that risk and just let it lay for the moment to see how this summer plays out? And remember, Nene is an efficient player in his own right right now in Denver’s mix. (It’s one reason Carmelo Anthony works so well there.) But look at Nene’s career, and even though he’s an above average efficient offensive player, he’s also played every season, except his rookie season, with Andre Miller, Allen Iverson or Chauncey Billups. That helps a guy like him not having to take more shots.
Right now, you’re arguing cost benefit, and I’m saying that Devin Harris is the kind of value that Ron Artest should have been: He’s a valuable player, still relatively young but with a good amount of NBA experience, and has a reasonable contract for someone of his abilities.
I would love to see how the Kings top that type of scenario particularly if they expect to build the franchise around RekeDMC. But you know what? I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. I just have a sneaking suspicion that in part the team is pushing the "wait ’till summer" attitude to not get high hopes up. They’ve learned you can’t sell the future until the future’s here. That "Here we Rise" signs was perfect evidence of such.
I’m quite good with the team saying publicly that they will until summer and in private will be going hard after players like Devin Harris if it’s a reasonable cost. (We can all differ on what that cost is.)
Right now, I think the Kings are in an excellent position to go after a player like Harris that offers a lot of valuable qualities this Kings team absolutely needs. I know one thing: I’ll believe it when I see it with Gerald Wallace, Josh Smith or OJ Mayo.
Now in this, there are a few errors. I've said that there aren't any players who aren't higher than a 55 TS% on the Kings squad. That isn't true and that was merely an error when I wrote it. Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih have nearly identical TS% at the moment. I also mention that there isn't a history of being over 55 TS% for anyone else on the squad, and that isn't true either. Luther Head had a year over 55 TS% in Houston (although you may think it doesn't apply and that's where I'm at with it) and Sammy Dalembert has had multiple years while in Philly over 55 TS%. Again, I'm not sure that really applies much in the situation. The rest of the blurb still holds true though.
One other note: I'm only organizing this list as positions to avoid confusion. It's not like I suddenly believe in PG's vs Combo G's or anything.
According to Hoopdata, the average TS% for a PG is 53.7%. I think that's important to note given that PG's usually take longer shots and therefore have a greater opportunity to A) miss more shots and B) do so less efficiently.
That said, here is the top 10 PG's in TS% for the current season and for players playing 15+ Minutes Per Game (MPG):
- Steve Nash 62.9%
- Chauncey Billups 62.6%
- Chris Paul 61.4%
- George Hill 60.7%
- Mike Bibby 59.9%
- Deron Williams 59.4%
- Stephen Curry 58.4%
- Luke Ridnour 57.9%
- Carlos Arroyo 57%
- Ty Lawson 56.8%
A couple things about this list. One, guys like Nash, Billups and Paul are all excellent FT and 3 pt shooters. That's one reason you ascend to the top of the TS% list. Next, Mike Bibby is high on this because he shoots a lot of 3's and makes a lot. George Hill gets to the line about 3.5 times a game (which is good for PG's) and shoots both 2's and 3's at an above average clip. Eventually this list will actually have Beno Udrih on it as he should be according to this list 6th if you're going by current TS%. However, mostly I want to highlight why these players are more efficient than others.
The main point I want to get across is that shooting the 3 and getting to the line matters a great deal in TS%. But, you can also have a decent TS% if you're adept at getting quality looks and getting a decent percentage in all of them. Devin Harris gets a higher TS% simply because he gets plenty of opportunities at the line.
The average TS% for SG's is 54.5%. Here is the list for SG's with the highest TS% and with 15+ MPG. The top 10 are:
- DeShawn Stevenson 66.6%
- Arron Afflalo 62.4%
- Kevin Martin 62.1%
- JJ Redick 61.3%
- Manu Ginobili 60.8%
- Francisco Garcia 58.1%
- Anthony Morrow 58.1%
- Josh Childress 58%
- Dwyane Wade 57.5%
- Jamal Crawford 57.4%
Now, again, the same principle applies. 3 pt FG% shooting and FT% shooting matter here. And, again, you have good 3 pt shooting and FT shooters topping this list. The only surprise is Jason Richardson who went from being inefficient with Golden State and Charlotte to being efficient in Phoenix and so far in Orlando. And as far as DeShawn Stevenson? Five words: Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki.
Here is the SF link and the avg TS% is 54.5%. Again, here is the top 10 for guys with 15+ mins (and I've added a caveat of at least 20 games):
- James Jones 64.6%
- Paul Pierce 62.2%
- Richard Jefferson 61%
- Jared Dudley 59.4%
- Kevin Durant 58.8%
- Wilson Chandler 58.5%
- Marvin Williams 57.9%
- Matt Barnes 57.9%
- LeBron James 57.8%
- Grant Hill 57.6%
Now, again, the principles of good shooting apply. It shouldn't surprise anyone that stars are this high too. One of the appeals of a guy like Kevin Durant and LeBron James is that they both use a lot of possessions and make a lot of them. Then, you have the James Jones effect where he's managing to make a lot of out of the few shots he gets every game in Miami. The biggest surprise is Richard Jefferson who has had one other season as good as he is currently having, and that was in 05-06 with Kidd at the helm. Noticing a trend? Good, let's carry on.
Well here is the link for PF's and the average TS% is 54.8%. I'll note that TS% will rise for both PF's and C's because they take closer shots and get more FT's. Or, that's the principle anyway. Since quite a few PF's can hit and draw FT's at a high rate, that always helps too. Plus, there is always the point that more than a few guys can hit the 3 consistently too. (Hence why Kevin Love will be top 10, and I haven't even looked at the top 10 yet. Actually, he's tied for 10th with Derrick Favors. Go figure.) So, here are the top 10 guys with 20+ games and 15+ MPG on the season:
- Dirk Nowitzki 63.2%
- Matt Bonner 63.1%
- Hakim Warrick 61.5%
- Lamar Odom 61.5%
- Amir Johnson 60.6%
- Serge Ibaka 59.6%
- Paul Millsap 59.1%
- Brandon Bass 58.9%
- Nick Collison 58.9%
- Derrick Favors & Kevin Love with 58.7%
Just for posterity a note on the next 5 PF's on this list: Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol and Kris Humphries. Chris Bosh is just a bit behind Humphries. (They are all within 1% of Love & Favors.) Again, like I said a bit before, this is about guys who play closer to the basket and hit a high amount of shots when open. Plus, they all draw fouls and hit them at a decent rate. Sometimes it's that simple. One note about Lamar Odom here. I thought it seemed odd that he was so high, and it turns out he's having an astronomically brilliant year in this area. The only other year he's been over 56% is the 07-08 season.
Now, before reading this list, I'm going to expand this to 20 guys because there are going to be low usage guys on this list who are dunk and putback guys and get to the line occasionally. That means there is going to be some noise (as you stat junkies might say) and thus I want to expand the list to show the types of players that populate this list. The average TS% for C's is 55.2%. However I'm also going to add the wrinkle that USG% over 20 means they are a consistent scoring threat or not. You'll know because I will add the USG & TS% (this link is for those that don't know the definition of USG) for these players. So the top 20:
- Tyson Chandler 73.5% TS% USG 12.34
- Nene 68.7% TS 17.85 USG
- DeAndre Jordan 65.5 TS% 11.69 USG
- Shaquille O'Neal 65 TS% 20.51 USG
- Ronny Turiaf 62 TS% 9.82 USG
- Anthony Tolliver 61.6 TS% 14.1 USG
- Andrew Bynum 59.8 TS% 18.59 USG
- Chuck Hayes 59.6 TS% 12.42 USG
- Al Horford 59.8 TS% 20.86 USG
- Emeka Okafor 59.1 TS% 15.96 USG
- Dwight Howard 58.9 TS% 28.06 USG
- Brad Miller 58.5 TS% 17.05 USG
- JaVale McGee 57.7 TS% 15.19 USG
- Marc Gasol 57.7 TS% 15.86 USG
- Joel Anthony 57.4 TS% 5.5 USG
- Joakim Noah 57 TS% 17.74 USG
- Chris Andersen 56.2 TS% 12.01 USG
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas 56.2 TS% 17.74 USG
- Marcin Gortat 55.8 TS% 13.4 USG
- Jeff Foster 55.5 TS% 10.72 USG
Like I said, you can tell the quality guys and guys who really are offensive options for their teams. I put Joel Anthony in there to point out how easy it is to be efficient with a possession if you don't even have the ball. Chuck Hayes 12.42 USG astounds me. Question to Rick Adelman: You don't have anyone else who can shoot? (I'm kidding. Sort of. I'm amazed that Hayes is hitting 70+ % on his FT's this season. That should be like an award or something. Anyways....) Again, this list identifys who the real options to score and who aren't. There is Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Nene, Andrew Bynum, Shaq, Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah. That's 7 guys and one (Shaq) doesn't really play enough minutes to be considered anything other than a spot option. This isn't necessarily to say the C position is weak, but mostly that C's are not necessarily primary offensive options as they once were 15-20 years ago. So when you really here that the game has become a perimeter game, you really shouldn't be surprised by that.
Conclusions: it's your time to step up to the plate.
Part of the reason I've written this is to illustrate what I'm talking about as far as personal efficiency and to back it up (gasp!) with data. The other part is where this comes in: Why does this stuff matter? Well, efficient offenses make more of their opportunities. That's a perfect description of why this Kings teams struggles. Because they so often to struggle get quality shots in their own games, it's very difficult to put in a system to get the players as a collective unit to get them easier and/or higher quality open looks. But even when this team has gotten open looks, they've simply missed them. Here is the TS% by player on the Kings roster (and yes I'm including Luther Head and Antoine Wright unfortunately):
- Beno Udrih 58.6
- Francisco Garcia 58.1
- Carl Landry 53.9
- Luther Head 53.8
- Jason Thompson 53.7
- Omri Casspi 53.7
- Darnell Jackson 52.1
- DeMarcus Cousins 47.6
- Tyreke Evans 46.1
- Samuel Dalembert 45.4
- Pooh Jeter 44.7
- Jermaine Taylor 44.3
- Donte Greene 43.9
- Antoine Wright 12.5
- Hassan Whiteside (Doesn't qualify)
Now, tell me how are you going to win with virtually every player on the roster sans Beno & Cisco under the league average in TS%? It's kinda hard to score if you can't make the most of your opportunities right?
One last point, and you can walk away cursing me. Here are the top 10 teams in Offensive Rating (Or points scored per 100 possessions) in the NBA:
- LA Lakers (112.2)
- San Antonio Spurs (111.6)
- Miami Heat (111)
- Denver Nuggets (110.9)
- New York Knicks (110.7)
- Phoenix Suns (110.2)
- Houston Rockets (110)
- Utah Jazz (109.8)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (109.3)
- Boston Celtics (108.6)
Now, if you're wondering why I did those top 10 (or in the case of the C's top 20), here's why. The Lakers have 1 guy who shows on this list. The Spurs have 4 guys on this list. Miami has 4 guys that aren't part of the C list, and other than those 7 I highlighted as offensive options, I'm going to leave the other guys off. If I included everybody in each list, Miami would have 6 guys. And so on & so on. It's really clear that to have an efficient offensive team, you have to have multiple players who are efficient to make your offense work well.
None of this isn't to say that you can't have guys on your team use a lot of possessions and not necessarily be heavily efficient. Kobe Bryant isn't for instance. Neither is Russell Westbrook or Rajon Rondo. Here's the difference between teams like LA & Boston: When you have multiple stars that can make more of their possessions, it's okay if a guy like Rondo or Westbrook or Bryant can't. (This is one reason I don't love Rondo. But not the only reason.) Kobe Bryant's TS% is at 55.2% this season. Only Cisco & Beno are above that figure, and, frankly, that speaks to how difficult the shots that the rest of the Kings are getting. Does it hurt the team that Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins have used a lot of possessions and done relatively little with them? Yes, it has big time. This is one of the learning curves for young "star" players at the NBA level. Lowered shooting percentages, high turnover rates, and frustrating moments usually accompany these young players transition into the NBA.
One last interesting thing I noticed. There were several players on this list (Jason Richardson most notably) who have had higher TS% when they went to more efficient offenses. So, is it the mix of players or the players themselves? Sometimes, it's both. Sometimes it's not. I think one thing is clear: The Kings are either too young to score enough points in any way that even comes close to reasonable efficiency, or this complete mix of players won't work long term.
The good news is that Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins will get better in these area's as young players usually do. So will Omri Casspi, and (I'm not as hopeful for to be honest) possibly Jason Thompson.
Whatever happens though, either Tyreke and DeMarcus need to become more efficient, one needs to become more efficient with the rest of the supporting cast picking up their own efficiency too, or player X and DeMarcus/Tyreke plus the supporting cast have to pick up the efficiency.