Kobe Bryant


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A lot of words are thrown around when Kobe’s name comes up. From the nice, such as competitor, winner, clutch, GOAT (Greatest of All Time), to the not so nice: ballhog, selfish, once even rapist. At the beginning of his career, everyone thought he looked just like Tupac Shakur (above). While there was a resemblance way back then, It doesn’t seem to be true any longer. But that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that a lot has been said of Kobe, especially this season. With his team struggling to remain relevant, Kobe has tried everything. From taking all the shots to, recently, becoming a pass first point guard. In that time the Lakers have gone 3-0 and Kobe has averaged 13 assists.

Still, the most frequented knock on Kobe’s game this season has been that he is a ballhog. Not necessarily that he is selfish, he’s just trying to win and it is not selfish to want to win–at least not from a team’s standpoint. But is this even true? Is he taking more shots than normal? And how valuable and effective has he been for his team? His AST% or percentage of teammates buckets he assisted on while on the floor, is 26.4%, up from last year’s 23.7. Still, that might be boosted from the last three games. So what is his USG% (A measurement of the percentage of plays utilized by a player while he is in the

game)? Basketball-reference.com says it is 32%, down from last year’s 35.7% and well below his career high of 38.7%. His offensive rating is also up to 114. He even has more Win Shares that last year at 6.8 compared to 6.2 last year.

Kobe’s Effective Field Goal Percentage is a career high 51.6% this year. His True Shooting Percentage is a near career high 57.4%. What does all of this mean? It means that he actually doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much this year, is shooting significantly better, and is actually getting more assists. Kobe is averaging 6.57 assists per 48 minutes on the court. He is taking 21.42 shots per game this year, 26.567 per 48 minutes. That’s a lot. But is it a lot for him? For his career, Kobe shoots 19.62 shots per game. So he is shooting 1.8 more shots than his career average. But those numbers are diluted. He didn’t become a starter until his 3rd year in the league. Taking that into account, Kobe has averaged 21.15 since his 3rd year in the league. However, last year Kobe was shooting 23 shots per game, and at his peak he was shooting 27.2 shots per game. So on the whole, this is about average for Kobe Bryant. At 23.98, Kobe’s PER is higher than last year’s too, which was 21.99.

Kobe’s Assist to Turnover Ratio is higher this year too at 1.59. Last year it was 1.29. Kobe has only topped 40 points four times this year. In 2006 he topped it 27 times. He already has seven triple doubles compared to last year’s three. He even has a triple double.

Realgm.com uses the FIC stat, or Floor Impact Counter. It is similar to the PER, Plus-Minus system, and the Player Value System. Kobe’s FIC is 15.93. Last year it was 13.63. His unadjusted Player Value is 8.58, so he is currently as valuable as a star point guard, but a very weak shooting guard. Last year, Kobe had an 8.85. For his career, Kobe is a 51.66. His Adjusted Player Value this year is 12.95. Last year it was 13.846. For his career, Kobe’s Adjusted Player Value is 89.1. The longer a player plays in the NBA, the more valuable their career is. In other words, the longer a player plays, the more likely they are to win a championship.

Michael Jordan once had a 152.02 unadjusted Player Value in a season. That isn’t even a record. This year, LeBron has a 154.64. LeBron is having a historic season.  There is a reason he is a 3 time MVP and was a champion last year. Last year he had a 107.  So unless a couple other players have taken major hits in their Player Value this year, the Heat are the favorites to win it again this year.

There is something about Kobe that lowers his Player Value. He is a terrific player individually. One of the top five players of all time talent-wise. He’s even won five championships. But he’s been surrounded by a wealth of talent as well. He was coached by the greatest coach of all time. He’s played with Shaquille O’neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest (Metta World Peace), Andrew Bynum, Glen Rice, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Lamar Odom, etc. Not all of these players were in their prime when they played with Kobe, and some were at the very dead end of their career (Horace Grant). But all these players added leadership and veteran experience, and some of them could have taught a young Bryant. Some of the super stacked rosters that he was on didn’t pan out. This year is an example. So was the Karl Malone-Shaq-Gary Payton-Kobe team. But when he doesn’t have another star or two next to him, the Lakers have always failed to make a major impact in the playoffs. You have to remember that LeBron had very little talent around him in Cleveland, and took a very talentless team to the NBA Finals. The Utah Jazz Finals teams were devoid of scoring talent outside of John Stockton, Malone, and Hornacek. In 1997, Bryon Russell was the only other player averaging double digits for the Jazz. The next year, only Malone, Hornacek and Stockton did. That trio carried the team to The Finals two years in a row, but they never won the championship.

In conclusion, Kobe is actually passing and sharing more than usual this year. But compared to the rest of the NBA, he still isn’t sharing very much. Because he doesn’t share the ball as much as he should, his Player Value takes a hit. He’s not as valuable as everyone thinks he is, and that is why he only ever won a single MVP trophy. He is certainly one of the top five most talented players in NBA history, but he’s not the most valuble to his team. Big numbers and flashy play often just hypnotizes fans and teams into thinking that. He’s won a lot, but he probably relied on the other stars on the team more than people realize.

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NBA Champions and Point Guards Pt. 2


From 1990 to the present, championship point guards have averaged just 11.35 points and 4.52 assists per game. Amongst those point guards are a few sure fire Hall of Famers, a player who might make the Hall of Fame for simply being European, and a player who should make the Hall of Fame should his career continue at the current rate. But Rajon Rondo was still a young player trying to leave his mark on the league and Jason Kidd was well past his prime. And who cares about Tony Parker anyways? I mean he’s French!

Anyways, it would seem that the point guard position is relatively weak on championship teams, implying that point guards might not be as important as generally thought. But the last entry on the list was Isiah Thomas, leader of the Bad-Boy Pistons squad. As Royce Da 5’9 says in Welcome to Hell, “Anybody thinkin’ that the game don’t need the Bad and the Evil regime/that’s like saying that the Bad Boy Piston team didn’t need Isiah.” Thomas was an integral piece to that team, so maybe the further we delve in history, the stronger the point guard position will become. In fact, Thomas was the Finals MVP in 1990 and Magic Johnson was the regular season MVP. Though Johnson’s size puts him into another category from other point guards. What other point guard was as well balanced as Johnson statistically? Only Oscar Robertson, and he was an oversized point guard as well (triple doubles!).

Anyways, onto the point:

1988-1989 Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas started. he averaged 18.2 points, 8.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals.

1987-1988 Los Angeles Lakers: Ok we need to boycotte the NBA or something. Not because it’s ridiculous how many championships the Lakers and Celtics have won, but because of this: the Lakers averaged 112.8 points per game, good for 5th in the league that season. Tops was 116.7 by the Denver Nuggets. We’re getting screwed out of some awesome basketball! Anyways Magic Johnson obviously started. He averaged 19.6 points, 11.9 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals.

1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers: On second thought, it is ridiculous how many Championships the Lakers and Celtics win. Where’s parity? Magic Johnson started again. He averaged 23.9 points, 12.2 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Remember that because of his height, Johnson is in his own category. He once played every position for the Lakers in a Finals game. Including starting at center for the opening tip.

1985-1986 Boston Celtics: The Celtics allowed 104.7 points per game this season, but that’s ok because they averaged 114.1 points per game. Seriously what happened? Teams struggle to average 100 points for a season now. In fact if a team does, it is usually a top 5 offense. The New York Knicks averaged 98.7 points per game and that was good for last in the league. Next to last? The Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) who averaged 103.  Dennis Johnson started and he averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 assists.

1984-1985 Los Angeles Lakers: (118.2 points per game) Magic Johnson started (opponents scored 110.9 points per game). He averaged 18.3 points, 12.6 assists (it must have been so easy to rack up the assists when your team is averaging 118.2 per game! Now I’m actually disappointed in Magic and John Stockton. Of course it may have been because of the high assist numbers that other players were scoring so much). He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

1983-1984 Boston Celtics: Gerald Henderson started. He averaged 11.6 points and 3.8 assists.

1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers: Maurice Cheeks started. He averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 assists along with 2.3 steals.

1981-1982 Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson started. At 22 years old he averaged 18.6 points, 9.5 assists, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals.

1980-1981 Boston Celtics: Tiny Archibald started and averaged 13.8 points and 7.7 assists.

1979-1980 Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson at 20 years of age. He averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.4 steals. Also my job gets harder now. They didn’t keep track of starts back this far. It was a simpler time.

1978-1979 Seattle Supersonics: Fred Brown started (super creative name!). He averaged 14 points and 3.5 assists.

1977-1978 Washington Bullets: Led by Wes Unseld, one of the few players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. He was Finals MVP this year. But he was the center at 6’7″. As a side note, did you know at one point super tall people (say 6’10” or 7′) didn’t dominate basketball? In fact these behemoths usually didn’t play basketball. It was a commonly held belief at the time that tall people were stupid and thus didn’t have the brains to play a complicated sport like basketball (hint: put it through the hoop!). Thus Wilt Chamberlain was able to score 100 points in a game and average 50.4 points and at another time 27.2 rebounds. He later decided to show that he knew how to pass too by averaging 7.8 assists and 8.6 in consecutive seasons.  On yet another side note, Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to be Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season and the legend goes that he could pick up his 200+ pound teammates like feathers. Tom Henderson started at point guard and averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 assists.

1976-1977 Portland Trail Blazers: Lionel Hollins started and averaged 14.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals.

1975-1976 Boston Celtics: Jo Jo White started. He averaged 18.9 points and 5.4 assists.

1974-1975 Golden State Warriors: Butch Beard (now that’s a cool name) started. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.2 assists.

1973-1974 Boston Celtics: Jo Jo White started. He averaged 18.1 points and 5.5 assists.

1972-1973 New York Knicks: Walt Frazier started. he averaged 21.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists. We’re also officially to the point where not only was there no three point line, but they didn’t even collect stats on steals, blocks, turnovers, nor even differentiate between offensive and defensive rebounds.

1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers: ok the Lakers averaged 121 points per game this season. Did people just not know how to play defense? I mean 121 is ridiculous. And Jerry Sloan was in his prime at this point! The coach that had such a great reputation as a defensive coach, and as a player was known as a hard nosed, no jokes style of play and was one of the greatest defensive players in the game. What was he telling his teams as a coach? “Just keep them below 121! Below 121, that’s all I ask!” Jerry West and Gail Goodrich started at point guard and shooting guard respectively. Though West is more of a shooting guard himself (and also happens to be the logo! I mean who else gets to brag about that? “I’m Michael Jordan.” “I’m the logo!”). West averaged 25.8 points and 9.7 assists.

1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks: Oscar Robertson started. This man was a walking triple double. He averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds this season, but in the 1961-1962 season he averaged a triple double with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. In fact over his first 5 years in the NBA he averaged a triple double.

1969-1970 New York Knicks: Walt Frazier started. He averaged 20.9 points, 8.2 assists and 6 rebounds.

And that takes us through the 1970’s. Next up: hippies, war, and the Boston Celtics winning the championship all but one year of the 1960’s. Not to mention a whole bunch in the 1950’s. We’re about halfway through the NBA’s history. so far it looks like point guards were very important throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, but seem to have lost their value ever since the 1990’s. Sorry about all the weird tangents and side notes, but I can’t help myself. This stuff is fascinating! What have we learned? Defense was not an issue in this time period and a bunch of other stupid little facts.

NBA Champions and Point Guards Pt. 1


Ok this is going to be a long list. For now I’m going back to 1990. But eventually I’ll get all the way back to the 1946-1947 season, before the NBA was even called the NBA. Back before the original ABA folded (not the one semi-pro one that has been running since 2000). This is a list of every NBA championship team ever, and their point guards to match. We’ll start with Last years Miami Heat. Their point guard was, and still is, Mario Chalmers. 9.8 points per game and 3.5 assists.

2011 Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd. At this point, Jason Kidd was too old to be an all-star. A shell of his former self. Still averaged 7.9 ppg and 8.2 assists with 1.7 steals though.

2010 Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher 7.5 ppg and 2.5 assists.

2009 Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher 9.9 ppg and 3.2 assists.

2008 Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo. This was before Rondo broke out as a star. He was just averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 assists.

2007 San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker. Finally an All Star caliber point guard. In fact Parker was the Finals MVP. He averaged 18.6 points and 5.5 assists.

2006 Miami Heat: Steve Nash was busy winning his second MVP award in a row but his team didn’t make the finals. Jason Williams was the Heat’s point guard. He was a promising talent originally but never quite filled his potential. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.9 assists.

2005 San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker again. 16.6 points and 6.1 assists.

2004 Detroit Pistons: Finally a team that was indisputably led by it’s all-star point guard. How else do you describe this team of misfits? Chauncey Billups was the only player from this team worthy of becoming an all star at any point in his career. And before he got to Detroit, he himself was a misfit. No one wanted this guy. He was too much drama for even the team that had too deal with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. Still, he averaged 16.9 points and 5.7 assists.

2003 San Antonio Spurs (again):  Tony Parker in his 2nd year in the league. He averaged 15.5 points and 5.3 assists.

Have you noticed that none of these point guards, even the all-star caliber worthy ones, get over 10 assists? Through ten championship teams, the best point guards have been Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker, Jason Kidd well out of his prime and Rajon Rondo well before his prime. Billups and Parker were at their peak but they were both more of scoring point guards rather than pass first.

2002 Los Angeles Lakers: This is a split between Derek Fisher and Lindsey Hunter. Hunter started more games and averaged 5.8 points and 1.6 assists.

2001 Los Angeles Lakers: Fisher was injured most of this season but he was otherwise the starting point guard. He averaged 11.2 points and 2.2 assists. Ron Harper also started averaging 6.5 points and 2.5 assists.

2000 Los Angeles Lakers (this is the reason everyone hates them): Ron Harper was the starter. He averaged 7 points and 3.4 assists.

1999: San Antonio Spurs: Avery Johnson. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 assists.

1998: Chicago Bulls:  Ron Harper was the starter. He averaged 9.3 points and 2.9 assists. On a side note, besides the 1989-1990 season, Michael Jordan won every championship of the 1990’s when he wasn’t retired. When he wasn’t in the NBA (instead playing baseball) the championship was up for grabs. Also, from 1996-1998, the second place teams always had a premier point guard. Beat out John Stockton.

1997 Chicago Bulls: Ron Harper (by the way, Harper was a shooting guard primarily and a point guard secondarily). He averaged 9.9 points and 4 assists. Beat out John Stockton.

1996 Chicago Bulls: Ron Harper: 11.3 points and 4 assists. Beat out Gary Payton.

1995 Houston Rockets: in 1994 and 1995 the Rockets seized their chance with Michael Jordan gone. Kenny Smith started. He averaged 10.4 points and 4 assists.

1994 Houston Rockets: Kenny Smith. He averaged 11.6 points and 4.2 assists.

1993 Chicago Bulls: B.J. Armstrong. 12.3 points and 4 assists.

1992 Chicago Bulls: John Paxson with B.J. Armstrong playing significant minutes. Paxson averaged 7 points and 3.1 assists. Armstrong averaged 9.9 points and 3.2 assists.

1991 Chicago Bulls: John Paxson started with B.J. Armstrong playing significant minutes. Paxson averaged 8.7 points and 3.6 assists. Armstrong averaged 8.8 points and 3.7 assists.

1990 Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Thomas. Hall of Famer. 18.4 points and 9.4 assists along with 1.7 steals.

This is the end of part one. So far there has been one Hall of Famer, Isaiah Thomas, one for sure future Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd, and two players that might end up in the Hall of Fame. Tony Parker could end up there purely for paving the road for future European point guards into the NBA. Rajon Rondo is currently the best pure point guard in the game right now. But neither Kidd nor Rondo were in their primes when they won the championship.

Part two coming soon…

The Reality of Point Guard Defense– RealGM.com


I liked this article from RealGM.com

http://basketball.realgm.com/article/225017/The_Reality_Of_Point_Guard_Defense

Player Value and Adjusted Player Value


Statistics are wonderful. Statistics help provide evidence that the eye can’t provide. Statistics can be chaotic on the small scale but always even out to a neat pattern on the large scale. In the NBA, the largest problem with statistics is minutes per game. A player’s minutes per game can either inflate or deflate a players stats, boosting a player’s image or destroying it. There are ways to get around this though. One way is the great Plus-Minus System. The Plus-Minus System is meant to show what kind of an effect a player has on his team while he is on the floor. Other ways are the Player Value System and Adjusted Player Value System.

The Player Value System is simple. A players positive stats–namely steals, assists, blocks, points, rebounds and shooting percentage–are all multiplied together. The negative stats, turnovers and fouls, are then multiplied together. The positive stats are then divided by the negative stats. The resulting number is then divided by how many minutes the specific player plays. This is then divided by the number of players on the court for one team at any one time (5). It is the same procedure for Adjusted Player Value, except that per 48 minute stats are used instead.

The Player Value System is great for comparing players who play similar minutes. The Adjusted Player Value System is great for comparing players who get different minutes per game, sometimes with surprising results. For example, Derrick Favors, of the Utah Jazz, gets 22.8 minutes per game. Paul Millsap, also of the Utah Jazz, gets 30.7 minutes per game. But the Jazz might want to think about giving Favors some of Millsap’s minutes because Favors’ Adjusted Player Value so far this season is 25 while Millap’s is just 23.87. On the other hand, Enes Kanter might want to take some tips from Favors. Kanter gets just 14.2 minutes per game, and with good reason. Kanter’s Adjusted Player Value is just 5.26. Part of this can be explained by his tendency to foul and turn the ball over. Kanter averages 4.056 turnovers per 48 minutes. Even worse, he averages 6.76 fouls per 48 minutes, which means he wouldn’t even be able to make it the full 48. This in turn can damage his Adjusted Player Value even more as a person takes into account that Kanter wouldn’t even play the full time.

Player Value can also be used to compare players of different positions. This breaks an old basketball myth. Point guards are often times called floor generals or basketball’s quarterback. The Point guard is also generally considered to be the most important player on the floor. Player Value not only busts this myth, but proves that point guards are actually the least important player on the floor. The center, often shoved from the spotlight much as NFL linemen are, is proven to be the most important player on the floor, closely followed by power forwards and then by wind players. Even a player like Derrick Favors, a power forward who often plays center and who is by no means a superstar, has a better Adjusted Player Value than the best point guards. John Stockton at his best only had a 10.47 Player Value. Magic Johnson had an 18.49 Player Value in his best season. And that was largely because he got more rebounds and blocks than most other point guards. Big point guards such as Magic and Oscar Robertson are thus proved to be much more valuable than a normal point guard. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest centers of all time, had a whopping 198.55 Player Value in his best season. Michael Jordan, in his best season, had a 152.02 Player Value. Michael Jordan was most likely the most talented basketball player of all time, but was he the most valuable?

Player Value and Adjusted Player Value don’t necessarily prove that one player is better than another, but it does prove which player is the most valuable. A player can be immensely talented, and may even be the best player on the planet, but is not necessarily the most valuable. MVP voters often get confused between most valuable and most talented. Thus, players who aren’t necessarily the most valuable often win the MVP award.

Player Value and Adjusted Player Value can be used on a career scale as well. After finding the Player Value or Adjusted Player Value, the number is simply multiplied by how many seasons a player played and then divided by 5. The number five separates a players career into divisions of five. Thus it is best used with players who are already retired. It also gives a slight edge to players who played longer. A player’s Career Player Value is often higher than any particular season’s value. John Stockton’s Career Player Value, for example, was 27.43. Obviously, a player who plays 15 seasons is more likely to win an NBA championship than a player who only plays 10. Thus players who play longer are usually rewarded with higher player values, especially if they keep up their performance. A player who does not keep up his performance over his career is then rewarded with a lower Player Value, balancing out the longer career.

The Player Value and Adjusted Player Value Systems can be used in many ways. From comparing players who play vastly different minutes to players who play different positions. As the names imply, these systems prove which players are the most valuable as opposed to who is the most talented. When combined with the visual aspect of basketball–used to determine speed, motor and other such talents–the Player Value System can be used to put out the best lineups possible.

Statistics and Sports


Sports and statistics go hand in hand. You don’t get one without the other. Stats are the primary evidence of how well a player or a team plays. Simple statistics suggest that an NBA player averaging 20 points per game must be better than another player scoring just 10 points per game. The further you delve into statistics, the more information about a player or team you will get. Many baseball teams use statistics to help put together a winning team.

Sadly, many journalists, bloggers, color commentators and people in general like to gloss over stats and generally try to ignore them. They think statistics are too complicated and sometimes even misleading. These people will be called Visualists. Visualists believe that there is more to be gained by simply watching a team and making judgments based on what they see. Thus, statistics have often been pushed to the background and ignored. When statistics do pop up in an article or a commentary, they usually take the form of either outrageous facts and records or simple, base stats that don’t hold much substance.

My writings will be focused on statistics and why stats and visual results actually go together.