Part 1 (where I just talked about Go Rating) was over here. Here’s part two – which is a few games late, but still involves ONLY the stats up to game 70 of 82 for the Jazz. (Previous statistical reviews: 10 games, 20ish games, 30 games (not uploaded), 40 games, 50ish games, and 60 games)
[Chart too small? Click here (opens in new window)]
[Chart too small? Click here (opens in new window)]
I wonder, readers, what’s worse – a wall of text, or a wall of numbers? Indulge me by clicking onwards to read the wall of text . . .you've already seen the wall of numbers.
How about instead of going over each group of guys from some random pairing (big men / age / experience / role, etc) like I have in the previous incarnations of this stat write up to look instead at trends?
Gotten better as the season has gone on:
Despite the depredations he receives from fan and beat writer alike, Al Jefferson has been getting better all season long. His Go Rating increase has been documented by me already. Some people think he’s a black hole who only shoots the ball. He does shoot a lot. That’s not startling. You know what’s startling? He’s playing more minutes, scoring more points, shooting the ball more, and actually shooting the ball better than he had ever before this season. The more we’ve been going through him the better he has become in return. He started off the season scoring 16.7 ppg off of a 46.9 fg%. He’s upped it (along with taking 2 more shots a game CUMULATIVE AVERAGE) to 19.0 ppg and 49.6 fg% (again, CUMULATIVE AVERAGE!). Why is cumulative average a big deal? Well, these are simply not just stat breakdowns for a 10 game stretch. What Al has done is upped his season average by leaps and bounds (at this point 70 out of 70 games) in increasingly smaller chances to do so. This means that his value production has been more than equal to the task. He has been playing way beyond what he started off playing. Mr. Black hole has also upped his cumulative averages for APG and Assist to Turn over ratio. He’s seeing the Jazz offense now, instead of seeing only his struggles to fit within it. His rebounding has increased as well all season long. He also leads the team in Pure Hustle (a metric that attempts to quantitatively enumerate an individual’s performance based upon the natural checks and balances of offensive rebounds, steals, and blocks against turnovers and fouls). I wasn’t an Al Jefferson fan before the season, and after the first 30 games I still was not. His ridiculous improvement over the course of the season has won me over more than any cute sound bite in the preseason may have for other people.
It should be no surprise that Calvin Jr. Miles has picked his game up significantly as the season as gone on. He’s barely playing more now than he did at the beginning of the season, and while he is taking 1.2 more shots a game – his scoring is up by nearly 3 points a game. What’s the difference? The difference has been in his shooting percentages (which are cumulatively up across the board: 35.9 fg% to 41.8 fg%; 80.9 ft% to 82.1 ft%; 30.6 3pt% to 34.6 3pt%; 41.3 eFG% to 48.4 eFG%). What’s the difference in how well a shooter shoots? Confidence. He’s playing with much more confidence now. It shows. He’s upped his Gestalt Offense this season from a 31.9 to 52.5 as well. That jump is the difference between an end of bench guy to a starter on a good team. He hasn’t made significant numerical strides in other parts of the boxscore, but he is rebounding better on the defensive glass now and is making smarter gambles on defense.
Surprisingly, Raja Bell has also improved as the season has gone on. It’s not been a flat out improvement from every 10 game block to the next. There have been some ups and downs. He’s playing more minutes, shooting less frequently than before, but his shooting percentages are up as well. They aren’t as dramatic as C.J. Miles’ increases, but they are still good. And to his credit, Raja’s percentages are all still better than CJ’s. Raja has also impressed me by increasing his assist to turn over ratio from 1.4 assists to turn over to 2:1. That’s something you’d expect from a veteran though, so I don’t know if he gets points for doing what he should be expected to do.
Earl Watson also improved drastically over the course of the year. While I’m guilty for liking the Go Rating metric, I think it is quite telling. At the beginning of the season he was running the show with a 3.9 Go Rating. He was shooting horribly (36.4 fg%, 0.0% from deep – and he was shooting threes, just missing all of them), had a points per shot of 1.09, and a 1.33 assist:turnover ratio as a point guard. He wasn’t playing well. Today (well, at the 70 game mark) his Go Rating stood at 19.0, and he was putting way more pressure on the defense by having significantly more respectable stats in ppg, apg, and a:to ratio. That doesn’t mean he should be playing 20 mpg, but it means he’s gotten better.
Last, but not least, is the improvement we’ve seen by Gordon Hayward. G-Time, OG-Time, Hayseed, G’ayward, The Precious – he goes by many names, and the once highly coveted Knicks lotto pick is finishing his rookie season strongly. The most notable improvements have been with his shooting percentages – again a confidence thing. He started the season shooting 36.7 fg%, 50.0 ft%, and 14.3 3pt%. At the 70 game mark he was shoting at 45.3 fg%, 69.8 ft%, and 44.2 3pt%, which is NOT a typo. He’s shooting less frequently, but he’s doing more with the shots that he takes now. His shooting worth (points per shot, as most people call it) is 1.25 now, he started off a 0.8 back in November. He’s also diming more, rebounding about the same, but making smarter gambles on defense. He’s getting it together.
Not a large enough sample size to put them in the previous category:
Jeremy Evans and Derrick Favors are awesome guys to root for. Part of the reason why they aren’t in the previous category is because they don’t have a large enough sample size (Evans has only played in 38/70 games for this analysis, Favors only in 11). A more in-depth reason would be that numerically they started off so strong, it’s hard to penalize (or champion them) based upon tiny fluctuations. Evans started the year with a Go Rating of 30.7 (basically playing as well as C.J. did to start the season, but as a 2nd round draft pick rookie). He made every shot he took (basically), and was full of energy. Favors was much the same when he first came here – except his Go Rating was even higher (50.1!!!!). For a point of reference, Gordon Hayward’s for the season is 9.4, but started off at a 4.5. Evans and Favors were super efficient from the start, which really elevated their appraisals. Evans has a points per shot of 1.60, Favors has one of 1.48. Both are above Karl Malone’s career cumulative points per shot. Karl Malone’s rookie season points per shot was 1.18. So these guys (obviously not ready to score 31 ppg like Karl did) are scoring very efficiently, they did from Game one as a Jazzman, and they are doing it still. They’ve both basically doubled their rpg marks as well. I could go on and on about these two players, but I have a number of posts I need to hammer out today so I will just go on . . .
Stayed about the same:
Andrei Kirilenko has had an up and down season because of injuries (like every other year), but managed to keep it together for the majority of the season. When he was absolutely on fire at the beginning of the season (50.6 eFG%, 1.42 points per shot) he was scoring 12.6 ppg and had a Go Rating of 45.8. After 62 of a possible 70 games, Andrei was scoring 12.0 ppg (50.2 eFG%, 1.39 points per shot), and had a GO Rating of 45.0. These are huge bounce back numbers for him over the last few years, and also over the course of the season when his numbers, efficiency, and ability dipped in the middle. He has also remained the leader in defensive gambling and second only to Al Jefferson in pure hustle this year. He’s actually improved in SPG and BPG over the course of this season, AND his RPG . . . while playing less MPG. This was the smart, subtle contract year that should place his next NBA contract somewhere in the $4.5-6 million range. He also has an assist to turn over ratio that is better than some of our guards.
Ronnie Price is full of heart and hustle. He’s also a short shooting guard who had to learn to play point at the NBA level, who as fate would have it, doesn’t have a reliable jumper. Price got better in some areas (mpg, ppg, shooting worth) while regressing in others (3pt%, apg, rpg, spg, etc). I love this guy, but I don’t know if I love this player. Last night was the microcosm/macrocosm of his playing ability. He led the team back from being down, but missed three throws down the stretch and on a fast break dribbled the ball off of his foot. He’s not going to win you many games, but he’s going to give you 110% in whatever game he plays in. There are legitimate concerns with his faults, but I’d rather have him on the team than Brevin Knight or Jason Hart anyday.
Francisco Elson went from a Go Rating of 3.9 to a Go Rating of 5.1. He went from scoring 1.8 ppg to scoring 2.2 ppg. He went from getting 2.3 rpg to getting 1.9 rpg. And so on. More than anyone else on the roster, he is what he is. He really showed the poise and consistency that you want from a veteran player. Aside from his amazing free throw percentage and better than expected shooting range he didn’t really show much else. The flip side is that he didn’t get worse though.
Paul Millsap finds himself in this section, and he’s here for two reasons. The first is because he started off the season like an All-Star (21.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 125.3 GO Rating) and didn’t keep it up. The second is because outside of stats, everything did kind of drop off as the season went on. He’s not a bad player, and he’s a player that all 30 teams would want to have on their roster. There are no doubts in this regard. He just got worn out, beat up, and less effective as the season went on. (Which is natural for a high impact player like ‘Sap – KG gets killed every year too) Finishing the year (or at least, this 70 game stretch) with a 16 and 8 is far from bad. It’s just far from 22 and 9 like he started with. I’m not going to trash Millsap for not having one best individual seasons for a power forward ever (61 fg%, 75 3pt%, points per shot of 1.5 etc), but those were his numbers to start the year. It’s impossible to sustain those types of numbers. Sadly, it’s impossible to place Sap in another category because he started the season off at such an epic level.
Obviously you have to put Kyrylo Fesenko here. He started off this season a mess, and he’s finishing this season somehow worse. He started off the season with a Go Rating of 9.6 (Hayward is now at a 9.4), but for whatever (mostly off-court) reasons, his game has suffered significantly since those crappy days in November. Now he’s at a GO Rating of 4.3, he has a shooting worth of 1.02, and seems to have forgotten how to block shots. He used to be a 58 fg% scorer earlier in his career, but this season it’s 42.9 fg% (after starting off at 50 fg%). His free throws have improved from 25.0 ft% to 36.4 ft%, but that doesn’t mean he’s great at them now. He rebounds about the same per game in less minutes as well. For me, though, the worst is that even the one thing that he did at an NBA level (pass the ball) seems to have left him as well. To start the season he was averaging 0.8 apg and has an Assist to Turn over ratio of 2.0. This was pretty good for a center who played 10 mpg. Now he’s getting 0.4 apg and has a ratio of only 0.7 – which means that he’s gone from having 2 assists for ever turnover to now having 0.7 assists for every turnover. That’s a bigger regression than losing 7 fg%, or anything else. Fes, buddy, you better get a copy of those pictures Raja has of Scotty Layden soon, or else you’re not going to be on the team (any team) in another few weeks.
Devin Harris is a good NBA caliber point guard. He’s been playing at the point for us as well as a starter should in this system. His numbers have gone a bit down since his first few games on the team, but 12 games is not enough to make a decision on him. Sure, he’s not D-Will, but who is? He went from 15.5 and 8.5 down to 15.6 and 5.5 in terms of points per game and assists per game. His boards are way down from earlier in a Jazz uniform as well. He’s not even playing now. But that doesn’t mean he’s not fit to be a Jazzman for the next few seasons.
Mehmet Okur was the cavalry that was supposed to come and save the day for us. He tried to come back, but wasn’t in any position to bail us out this time around. He only played 13 games (his jersey number), and while he was far from what we’ve known him to be capable of, he was miles ahead of some of the other guys who had to suit up for us this season.