Trends, Ranks, and Outliers

December 5th, 2012 by Tom Pestak

“It’s early.”  Repeat that 3x.  Of course with time: trends, ranks, and outliers become less noisy and more meaningful.  Trends level off, ranks become more stable between games, and outliers become more impressive.  Here’s a few that I researched after a little quiet reflection.

Trending: UPWARD.

Omri Casspi and positive adverbs can stand to be in the same room with each other lately.  Now, I can only count on one hand the number of times I have been forced to pay attention to Omri Casspi on a basketball court since Kyrie Irving had his suit drycleaned.  However, almost every one of those times I saw something positive.  He looks like a walk-on playing defense – earning every minute he gets. (It’s quaint)   He seems to be a three point threat, even though a few of the shots have the body language of “this could be my last chance – better make it count”.  You could make the case that Casspi’s NBA career has been in decline since he arrived on the scene.  But this year might be different.  Casspi’s production in general seems to be trending back up.  Specifically his 3PFG% the last 11 games looks like this.

a healthy 18/36 on the year

If he can keep his 3PFG% above even 40% that would be an asset for this shooting-deficient team (assuming he gets more playing time – something that many on this blog have advocated).  The Cavaliers have no shortage of 3 point gunners, but are lacking in marksmen (at least so far this year).  We’ll check back with Casspi at a later date.  There are some harbingers that he’s on the up and up.

"I don't always google my name, but when I do, I make sure safesearch is on." - CJ MILES the most interesting man on the Cavs bench

Ranks: Dead last, 6th Worst

Is there anything more irritating than a guy shooting contested jump shots off the dribble and missing?  Repeatedly.  With no course correction.  This irritant alienated one fan so much that he blessed the world with this url: http://heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com/.

I think we need to find that guy and ask him to author:

http://heycjmilespleasetrysomethingdifferentperhapsspottingupforthreeortryingtodrawfouls.com/.

I had high hopes for CJ Miles.  At least until my buddy Wes (@WesEarick) prophesied to me that CJ Miles would be the Cavs 2nd leading scorer.  Given my history debating Wes on NBA topics I had this premonition that CJ Miles was headed for a Lamar Odom-like deterioration.  (He once said Wilson Chandler was a future MVP)  I was looking over Miles’ season stats and one thing that I found particularly jaw-dropping was his 4 FTA to 89 FGA.  Wasn’t this guy supposed to be a pseudo-slasher?  I swear I’ve seen a youtube video of him dunking OVER people.  At the very least, he seems to have some competency putting his head down and driving.  So what the heck?  As it turns out, Miles career FTA to FGA is around .2, meaning, he shoots 1 free throw for every 5 shots.  For comparison’s sake – Alonzo Gee’s career FTA:FGA ratio is .37, almost twice as high.  So clearly, getting to the rack and drawing a whistle isn’t his strong suit.  For the irrationally-optimistic Cavs fans out there I guess we could argue that “CJ Miles just hates flopping” or something.  But 4 for 89?  That’s GOT to be the worst mark in the league right?  Actually no, that record belongs to San Antonio’s Matt Bonner who has yet to attempt a freebie despite 47 FGA.  Once I saw this I was challenged, as Matt Bonner can be pretty valuable.  But my preconception was/is that having a respectable FTA:FGA ratio is a sign of a good player, especially for a wing.  It’s a little more complicated than that, but so far this year, if an NBA player had a higher than league average FTA:FGA ratio his Win Share/48 minutes would also be higher than average.  Obviously the corollary is that owning a less than league average FTA:FGA ratio would have a lower than league average WS/48.  There’s no succinct (sorry RickOH) way to describe the relationship between FTA:FGA and WS/48.  But I think the visualization is kinda neat.  So I put one together here:

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bxo35h7IHewyNGhXY1poeVhYMUk ]

Click on the 100% thing to blow it up and then use the arrow keys to scroll along.  The dotted red line is the league average WS/48, and the vertical red arrow is the range.  The dotted blue line is the league average for FTA:FGA and the vertical blue line is the range (which is quite more dynamic).  [A quick note on everything to do with league related statistics: I filter out all players with less than 150 minutes at this juncture.]   Draw your own conclusions from the data, but, on average, it doesn’t pay to have a very low FTA:FGA ratio unless you are an elite spot up shooter or have some other ways to contribute.  So CJ Miles is the worst in the league in WS/48 and 6th worst in FTA:FGA. I think he needs to drastically change both of those ranks immediately.  Actually I think he needs to draw some fouls and hit a few quiet set shots from the stripe to calm the heck down.  Getting to the rim should could open things up for him a bit more –  making him harder to defend.  He needs to change SOMETHING especially if Wes’s “2nd leading scorer” prediction has any hope of materializing. (Although that would be all the proof you need that the Mayans were, in fact, right).

From Oct 30th chat

Outliers: Tristan Thompson’s Block Party

Yes, this title in intended to inflame the masses.  Honestly, it’s the Cavs entire team that is partying, it just seems wrong to have it anywhere other that TT’s house.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this.  I knew the Cavs were getting stuffed at the rim a lot.  But I had no idea how prolific they are at it.  I was also aware that TT’s blocks (the ones where he blocks the OTHER guy) were down from last year.  Digging a little deeper, I learned that the Cavs are worst in the NBA in getting blocked (not completely surprised) but also worst in the league at wagging the finger (a little surprised).  The Cavs block differential?  That is our outlier of the day – and it. is. BREATHTAKING.   For the full effect, click on the image, and then click on it again to get the full screen.

The Cavs block differential (-99) is more than DOUBLE the next worst team – Golden State(-48), who has played without Andrew Bogut for all but 73 minutes this season.  Let that sink in.  I think we can safely tar and feather the next person that utters something along the lines of “Tristan Thompson can be our Serge Ibaka”.

Pass it around: