Short Pre-Season Statistical Review and Early Surprises

Six games down. Two more to go. Eight days till our first regular season game starts. Two more days till my desktop even arrives at its’ manufacturer for repairs. No time like now to look at the statistics, identify trends, and speculate on what all of this means.

First of all, depending on which team you root for, the preseason means something, or it doesn’t mean anything at all. Utah is 6-0 so far, four of those victories were on the road, and all of the games played so far are against Western conference foes. Five of the six wins were against playoff teams last year. I can’t properly discount these wins when the Jazz have been playing without regular starter Mehmet Okur since Game 1 of last year’s playoffs, and without Deron Williams for the past two games. (Not to mention the massive turn over in players over the off-season) The Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics also have 6 wins so far this off-season. I guess their wins shouldn’t count either, because the Lakers are not trying right now. (Oh wait, didn’t the Lakers finish their last game, a loss, with Gasol and Odom playing most of the 4th quarter vs. 2nd and 3rd stringers and had a 9 point lead in the 2nd half?)

Coming into this season we all had some sort of idea made up in our minds about what to expect from our players. Deron Williams would dominate. Paul Millsap would be unleashed. Andrei Kirilenko would be in a contract year. Al Jefferson would continue his double-double ways, and so on. What we’ve actually seen so far in the preseason reveals something quite different.

Did you know that…?

  • Deron Williams’ turn over circus continues this pre-season, and so far has only achieved a 1.3 Assist to Turn Over ratio? Not only does every other PG on the roster have a higher value, but Al Jefferson has a higher value as well! (So much for not being able to pass)
  • Only two of our players (Deron and C.J. Miles) are averaging one or more made three pointers per game. The next most prolific three point maker on the team is Sunny Gaines, with a whopping 0.75 threes per game. Right now the Jazz are missing Mehmet Okur all over the place . . . except for at center . . .
  • Because the strongest spot on the entire team (statistically) is Center. This is the exact opposite of what we thought (according to off-season polls here at slcdunk.com). In a combined 45.67 mpg Al Jefferson and Fesenko are giving other teams 24.2 ppg (53.6 fg%), 10.5 rpg, 2.83 apg, 1.03 spg, and 1.63 bpg.
  • Andrei Kirilenko is playing great, though he’s not overtly doing so (statistically). What’s important to see is his Defensive Gambling rating is above 2.0. This means that he’s being called for a foul only once for every 2 combined blocks and steals he is getting so far. As a point of reference, Paul Millsap’s value is 0.68, Raja Bell’s is 0.33, and Ronnie Price’s is 0.95.
  • No one shoots more frequently than Jeffers. He’s shooting more often than Boozer did. He’s throwing up a shot every 1.69 minutes of action. Our best player, Williams, shoots the ball once every 4.22 minutes of action.
  • On the flip side, no one on the team shoots the ball worse than Earl Watson. His shooting worth (or points per shot if you like conventional nomenclature) is an abysmal 0.95. The league average for the past 20 years has been 1.22. There are six guys who are under that, but I’ve never seen someone shoot that poorly.
  • At the risk of suggesting something against popular opinion, Gordon Hayward hasn’t been that great so far this off-season. He had a stellar game against the Lakers (be sure that Phil Jackson warns his team about him this time around), but even after going 8 for 10 in that game, he’s only shooting 43.6 fg% so far. I know he’s a rookie and I have nothing but great hopes for him going forward – but he’s just not ‘there’ yet. His passing and nose for the ball encourage me to look beyond stats when judging his performance so far. I’m really surprised he hasn’t blocked anyone yet this pre-season though, he was blocking people all over the place in the Orlando Summer League.
  • Player A is averaging 8.17 points per game (40.9 eFG%, 73.9 ft%, 3.83 free throw attempts per game), 5.33 rebounds per game, and 0.33 blocks per game in 25.00 minutes per game. Player B is averaging 8.00 ppg (75.0 eFG%, 55.6 ft%, 3.60 FTApg), 5.40 rpg, and 0.40 bpg in 17.20 mpg. Player A is Paul Millsap. Player B is Jeremy Evans. One of these guys is playing way under his ability. The other guy is really showing us a lot of stuff to be excited by as a young Rookie.

The Stats after six games:

I’m not trying to suggest that the general consensus was wrong about everything, but there are definite surprises so far in the preseason. Because I’m reduced to laptopping it, we’ll look at the stats in a different way today. Everything is blurry because this was turned into a jpg by Microsoft Paint a Trial Copy of LViewPro from 2005. (My desktop has photoshop, and I don’t think this lappy will be able to even install it)

I’m not even going to talk about Go Rating in this at all . . . no one is playing their correct minutes yet.

If we were saying goodbye to guys from just the stats....

Then it would be hard not to say goodbye to Nichols, Jeffers, and Ryan Thompson. I don't think that the Jazz will axe three wings and keep four point guards on the roster though -- so Sundiata Gaines may be a casualty here. Why would the Jazz get rid of three guys? Because the Dutch personification for "waste of a roster space" in Franny Elson is still on the roster, hope we'll get to see something out of him tonight. I think that Jefferson and Fesenko are holding things down with Memo out right now, but hey, I'm not an expert, so what do I know?

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