I used to watch football, now I'm watching Basketball. I'm trying to learn how to breakdown tape, one game at a time, and would love your input and guidance. Scroll down til you see a gif!
My name is Dan, and I'm relatively new to basketball. After years of obsessive NFL fandom, I decided to wean my way off the heroin of encouraging young men to turn their grey matter into grey slushie to satisfy the bloodlust that overtakes me between truck commercials.
I grew up primarily in Washington, and watched Isaiah Thomas lead UW through the Pac-10 tournament with a never ending story of clutch shots. During the 2011-2012 season I was living in Sacramento watching Kings games with my boss, both of us convinced that Jimmer, IT, Tyreke, and Boogie were going to lead this team into a sort of purple Valhalla.
After moving away from Sacramento I fell off, once again spending the majority of my sporting focus on taking the Golden Years away from men more talented than myself. Last year I finally made a commitment to use the NBA as my NFL methadone, once again choosing the Kings as my team. Every night, after spending my customary hour and a half reading every Denver Bronco's blog I could find, I would go to youtube and watch that night's Kings' highlights.
What started as a force of habit slowly became a genuine obsession, and this offseason I found myself poring over every piece of draft material I could get my grubby little fingies on. I got swept up in the Luka prophecy. Every little detail about it was too perfect. The likelihood of us getting the second pick was so unlikely. So many things had to go perfectly right, down to our having swapped picks with the Bulls. I consider myself a skeptic, but I had started to believe that u/KingsPickDoncic2nd might actually be communing with a higher power. We were going to get Doncic, and he was going to usher in a new age of the Greatest Show on Court. A pass-happy offense that would be unstoppable by all but corrupt playoff refereeing.
We picked Marvin Bagley. I was devastated. My hopes had been so high, everything was going exactly as I hoped, then the rug was yanked out from under me by management. I felt like I had been baptized. I was finally a real Kings' fan.
I tried to talk myself into it:
"DimeDrop calls him the most surefire bet in the draft!"
"Coach K says the only comparison to him in his years of coaching is Kyrie!"
"Chris Vernon thinks he's obviously the best player in the draft!"
But there were doubts:
"DimeDrop was more excited about Luka..."
"Literally every Ringer Staffer other than Verno was more excited about Luka..."
"....I was more excited about Luka..."
Then the season started to play out. Fox seemed to take a monstrous step forward, and suddenly the idea that management didn't want to take the ball out of his hands and put it in Luka's didn't seem so ludicrous. Bagley's preseason, which consisted in large part of fringe NBA players blocking his shots repeatedly because they didn't have to respect his right hand turned out to not be representative of his regular season to come. He's not perfect, but he obviously belongs on an NBA court, grows every game, and has an incredibly high ceiling. My faith in Management, assuming Joerger keeps his job, has been restored.
Now, onto the meat of this post: I'd like to learn the ins and outs of how this game works. Even in my NFL fandom days, I've been a fan of the storylines: Who's old and chasing a championship, who's young and exceeding expectations, who's on their way to greatness, and who's just trying to come back from the fact that they didn't meet the early expectations of greatness assigned to them. I've never been a nitty gritty fan, understanding the cogs that make up the machine, and I'd like to change that. I plan on writing these in an effort to study tape and get a better feel for what I'm watching. If you think I've misidentified something, please correct me. If you think I've missed something, please correct me. A big part of the idea of this series is to use other fans as a resource, so by all means, if you've got information you think I don't, throw it my way.
Each game I'm watching at least twice. The first time for fun, enjoying the emotional ups and downs of the game. The second time with my eye on something specific, watching the tape to see what I missed the first time. The first game I'm doing is the recent heartbreaking loss to Golden State, with a focus on Bagley's rebounding.
Let's give it another look shall we?
(All of my GIFs will have Demo Mode across them, for recording the game and rewatching it/ gif-ing it for now, I've been using Screenflow, and without paying 100 dollars I can't get rid of the Demo Mode watermark. If you have a suggestion on a different piece of software to use to screencap the game as I watch that will allow me to cut it into gifs later for free, PLEASE suggest it!)
Coming out of the draft, all the experts said the same thing about Bagley, he was the kind of guy who could "roll out of bed and give you 20 and 10."
To my eye test, he had yet to live up to those expectations on the boards. After digging into it a bit, he's actually been better than I thought, averaging 6.7 rebounds at 24 minutes a game (according to NBA.com.) The league leader in rebounds is Andre Drummond, who's averaging a whopping 16.1 in 33.7 minutes per game. If Bagley were playing the starter's minutes of Drummond or most of the other league leaders in Rebounds, he would be at 9.4 a game. Just short of the "10" that was expected of him.
A look at cleaningtheglass.com makes his numbers even more interesting, and I think, even more exciting. When he's on the court, Bagley is pulling down 10% of his teams Offensive rebounds, which would put him in the 72nd percentile for his position, and he's pulling down 3.1% of his teams live ball missed free throws, which would put him in the 56th percentile for his position.
However, on the defensive side he suffers. He's pulling down 14.5% of the opponents missed field goals, and 19.5% percent of the opponent's missed free throws, which puts him in the 30th and 34th percentile for his position, respectively.
The reason I think this is exciting is that it seems to me that his defensive rebounding numbers are so much lower in large part because he's got the body of a rookie. He's thinner than other guys, and isn't super capable of boxing out. As he bulks up, he'll be more capable of keeping his opponents at bay, and fighting past their boxouts.
Against Golden State, Marvin's rebounding exploded. Given the chance to play 33 minutes, he grabbed 17 boards, keeping up with Drummond's pace, if only for the night.
Let's dig into them:
This was Bagley's first rebound of the game. Pretty straightforward, he crashes in after Fox, and uses his quick twitch athleticism to his advantage, he's mid dunk by the time Livingston even considers leaving the ground.
Bagley's first defensive rebound of the game. Not a whole lot of competition, because he was much closer to the ball than Looney, but I love how violently he rips the ball away anyway. It was a habit of his that was consistently helpful throughout this game, and will only be more so as he gets stronger.
Because of Looney's over the back foul here, I don't think this actually got recorded as a rebound (again, correct me if I'm wrong) but I love the fact that, because of how high Bagley can jump, he would have gotten it anyway. Again, as he gets stronger, and he's more capable of boxing Looney out in the first place, this rebound would be uncontested.
This one's ugly. I'm pretty sure that this is technically an offensive rebound, (for dead horse kick's sake, correct me if I'm wrong) but it's only a rebound because of how ugly his attempt to score is beforehand. I can't tell what exactly is happening here, but Doug said that he was just too close to the basket.
A lot of these rebounds he didn't have much competition on, and this one is no exception.
I like this one a lot. He boxes out Durant pretty effectively, then uses that physicality mentioned above to rip it out of his grasp entirely and put it back up for two.
This is another one that I don't think ended up being counted as a rebound because of a foul on Shump, (If I'm wrong lemme know!) but I like pretty much everything about it, he gets himself in position to put it back up, he misses, but with his second bounce he was absolutely in position to put it right back up.
No competition here.
This isn't a rebound, because he makes it the first time, but it's a great example of that second jump. He's up in the air to make sure it goes in before the two defenders have a chance to consider it.
I love this one, following Willie's second free throw miss, he yanks it out of the hands of two defenders to give the team another possession.
An argument could be made that he should have caught this the first time, but I'm glad he was able to recover it:
One of my favorites. First his quick jump to attempt a tip in, then again with the the violent ripping motion on the rebound, pulling it away from three defenders and putting up a shot and getting fouled. Even to a newbie like me this is beautiful.
Something interesting: with 3:59 remaining in the 3rd, Bagley only had 9 rebounds, which means he got 8 of them in the last 14 minutes of the game. Between him, Fox, and Bogi we're in for one clutch team going forward. In this one he gets boxed out pretty effectively by the Warriors, but ends up with the rebound anyway, partially from lucky bounce, partially his leaping ability and that ripping motion I keep mentioning.
A couple with no competition:
Here's a couple I'm not sure about, and would love your input. On both of these he recovers a block, does that count as a rebound? On the second one I love that he immediately tries to put it back up and forces the foul.
And finally, a couple angles of the horrible play at the end of the game. From what I can tell, this is just a matter of bad luck, Bagley gets to the ball first yet again, and it just manages to wedge at the worst possible moment. I don't have any further insight on this one and would appreciate any thoughts ya'll have.
That concludes the Inaugural "Learning Hoops With Dan". Please let me know any thoughts you have! All feedback is encouraged. Have thoughts on what I should focus on at some point going forward? Leave it in the comments. Think I missed something? Leave it in the comments. Advice on a superior piece of recording software so my gifs aren't watermarked? Leave. It. In. The. Comments. Anyway, I'm off to start looking at the Jazz game to see what I can learn from that sad 48 minutes.