Saturday, December 21, 2013

Analyzing Offensive & Defensive Efficiency


I'm not going to lie, you won't see me fork over cash for any type of basketball analysis service. You also won't see me get overtly crazy by creating spreadsheets or charts in regards to any type of statistical realm of thought. But I do like numbers of any type. I'm a finance guy after all. I also have zero problem giving credit to individuals or groups of people who put in hard work and effort to provide the numbers that are behind what our naked eye observes.

So I'd like to thank RealGM poster doct3r dr3 for utilizing Synergy Sports' often rare and complex data to break down some very informative Orlando Magic data. Keep in mind, everything shown is as of December 20th as your 8-18 Orlando franchise seeks to get better against a dangerous Sacramento squad. Below are the top 20 best and worst plays on a per play scoring basis that the Magic have run so far this season. Notice the importance of the 1 minimum play per game portion.


Top 20 Effective Plays (Points Per Play) (minimum 1 play per game)
    1.52 - N. Vucevic - Cut
    1.29 - A. Afflalo - Spot-Up
    1.29 - A. Afflalo - Transition
    1.25 - G. Davis - Cut
    1.21 - J. Maxiell - Post-Up
    1.21 - E. Moore - Transition
    1.16 - G. Davis - Spot-Up
    1.13 - A. Nicholson - P&R Roll Man
    1.11 - T. Harris - Post-Up
    1.10 - J. Nelson - Transition
    1.10 - N. Vucevic - Offensive Rebound
    1.10 - J. Maxiell - Cut
    1.04 - A. Afflalo - Isolation
    1.00 - T. Harris - P&R Ball Handler
    0.99 - A. Afflalo - Post-Up
    0.97 - N. Vucevic - Spot-Up
    0.96 - J. Nelson - Spot-Up
    0.95 - V. Oladipo - Spot-Up
    0.92 - A. Nicholson - Spot-Up
    0.91 - N. Vucevic - Post-Up
    HM: A. Nicholson - Post-Up (0.89); J. Nelson - P&R Ball Handler (0.86); E. Moore - Spot-Up (0.86)

That's pretty staggering as far as what an in-motion Vucevic can do. For every cut Nik makes where he receives the ball, he scores 1.52 out of a possible 2 points. You win championships behind efficiency like what that figure is revealing. That also explains why in Saturday's shootaround I asked Nik about how he can re-visit cutting to the basket at the rate he was earlier this season. It doesn't take a genius to notice that Vucevic has been forced to settle for more jumpers and stationary post-up opportunities. You also don't need to be brainy to know that Arron Afflalo is playing like an All-Star. It just so happens that the numbers do indeed support that he's basically the best option at offense Orlando has. Also, Glen needs to cut to the hole more and Maxiell's sky-high post-ups are rather effective. This is 26 games of sample size, so I deem an adequate enough amount of data.

Now to the bad:

Bottom 20 Effective Plays (Points Per Play) (minimum 1 play per game)
    0.32 - N. Vucevic - "All Other Plays"
    0.32 - J. Nelson - "All Other Plays"
    0.37 - V. Oladipo - "All Other Plays"
    0.46 - T. Harris - Spot-Up
    0.50 - G. Davis - "All Other Plays"
    0.63 - G. Davis - Isolation
    0.68 - J. Nelson - Isolation
    0.71 - G. Davis - Post-Up
    0.75 - A. Afflalo - P&R Ball Handler
    0.76 - G. Davis - P&R Roll Man
    0.77 - V. Oladipo - P&R Ball Handler
    0.78 - N. Vucevic - P&R Roll Man
    0.78 - V. Oladipo - Transition
    0.78 - M. Harkless - Transition
    0.80 - T. Harris - Transition
    0.82 - A. Afflalo - Off Screen
    0.83 - M. Harkless - Spot-Up
    0.83 - T. Harris - Cut
    0.83 - J. Nelson - Hand Off
    0.84 - V. Oladipo - Isolation
    HM: E. Moore - Spot-Up (0.86); J. Nelson - P&R Ball Handler (0.86); A. Nicholson - Post-Up (0.89)

Let's ignore all the 'All Other Plays' portion of Synergy's data. What's being measured is 'cut', 'hand off', 'pick-and-roll ball handler', 'pick-and-roll man', 'post-up', 'isolation', 'spot-up', 'off screen', 'transition', and 'offensive rebound'.

What we're seeing is that Tobias Harris is very rusty still, and that Big Baby and Jameer need to stop chucking unwanted attempts at the bucket. Which most Magic fans complain about anyway when it comes to those veterans, but the complaining is warranted now. Basically Glen in anything other than cutting to the hole or a putback attempt will spell disaster. You also see in that RealGM post what plays have been used the most and least. Hint: Victor and Jameer have the ball in their hands a lot.

But what about the defensive side of the data? That's where we all expect Glen to make up for some questionable offensive decisions. Well...



I swear I don't have a vendetta against Glen, it's just that the numbers don't lie. Glen is 236th overall. Tip of the hat to RealGMer 'p0peye' for the defensive screen shots. Some other big men to compare against: Vucevic is 181st and Andrew Nicholson is 125th. Not a typo on the Canadian's part. 'Drew has really progressed as a defender. Glen's post-up defense is a respectable 41st. That's nothing. Check it out:




Nikola Vucevic is 8th in post-up defense, but ANDREW NICHOLSON IS THE 4TH BEST POST-UP DEFENDER IN THE NBA! That's bonkers! I don't care if 3-of-19 is a tiny sample size. 'Drew was getting absolutely abused and obliterated last season to the point where Jacque had to hold him out of some games because he was such a liability on the defensive end. NO MORE!

The Magic as a whole have the 18th overall best defense in the league:


2nd best in defending post-ups. 6th against hand off plays. The glaring hole is guarding the pick-and-roll man (49.4 FG% stings terribly) and spot-up defense (43.3 FG%). In both categories they're ranked 26th and it's what opponents have been targeting. Orlando's interior resistance is sturdy to say the least, but Orlando is paying for over-rotating on defense by coughing up a lot of open jump shots (see 41.1% from 3-pointers).

Of late, scoring has been the larger issue considering the Magic have a bad 8-18 record while showing off a mediocre (on the cusp of the playoffs) defense. The Magic are 22nd in points per game scoring average and 25th in offensive rating. Hopefully that can change beginning this evening against the 29th ranked defense that Sacramento brings to O-Town. This post is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the entire roster goes.

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