2011-2012 Utah Jazz Official Point Guard Dating Game!

This was, for certain, the one piece I did not think was necessary this year. Why would it be necessary? This, after all, was Utah. And our team – the Utah Jazz – is a team that is built around the concept of order and organization. The squabbles that other teams used to get into from time to time just did not happen here. Or at least that is what I thought. It has come to this though; the Point Guard Dating Game.

Last season this was unnecessary. We had what we had for more of the franchises’ history: a clearly defined starter, a backup, and a 3rd string guy. Sometimes it would be a Hall of Fame starter, or a scrappy third stringer, or an overachieving back up. There were adjectives which described the players thrown about; however, the clear roles always stayed the same. Last season was a great example, we had the "underachieving starter", "solid backup", and "versatile but unreliable third string guy". While it didn’t scare anyone, a Devin Harris, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price rotation at point did still make ordinal sense. Last season made sense. Every season has made sense . . . be it the Rickey Green, John Stockton, Eddie Hughes days, or the John Stockton, Howard Eisley, Jacques Vaughn days. And I contest that every year this type of post would have been unnecessary (save for in Stockton’s 3rd and 4rd seasons).

Yet somehow this post is necessary this year. I did not want to believe it myself. I’d rather goof off on twitter than do research in Microsoft excel. But then I looked at the stats, and man, this post is a bit overdue now . . .

The Dating Game:

We did this a few weeks ago with wing players. I covered up all the personal information about the players, and asked you to rank them based upon their quantitative production this season. We played with Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, C.J. Miles, Alec Burks, and Josh Howard. You guys voted hhere, and here. The winners were Hayward and Burks. Everyone seemed to agree that Howard sucked.

Well, the players for this round are our PGs: Devin Harris, Earl Watson, and Jamaal Tinsley. When Harris is on his game, he clearly needs to be playing ‘real starters minutes’, which is at least 32 minutes a game. Sadly, despite a great upward swing in production these last few weeks, he’s not always on his game. Earl Watson was everyone’s favorite player for a while, he had embraced the mentor role, didn’t mind coming off the bench (he could start for some NBA teams right now), and played well when he was in. Coming back from injury he’s a bit rusty though, and hasn’t produced like we hoped he would. Jamaal Tinsley is no ordinary back-up. He still has starter talent, if not the consistency nor conditioning to play those minutes. Somehow he was okay being the 3rd string guy, but when he was given a chance he has proved to be a much more superior player than we were used to having so low down the totem pole. He clearly deserved more minutes. So did Harris. And Earl would not have any of it. So now we have to do this . . .

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The Stats:

I’ve decided to do things a little differently this time around. I’ve broken up the stats into discrete sections:

  • Scoring
  • Assists
  • Three Point Shooting
  • Rebounds, Steals, Blocks
  • Advanced Offensive Stats
  • Specific Defensive Scouting

I think that this way the important information you need will be found fast, and it’s easier to see the meat and potatoes of each of these guards.

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Part 1: Scoring

This is the easiest one, I think. You still want your PG to score. And you still need your PG to be a threat out there to make life easier for your bigs. Who could forget Devin Harris’ game winner vs. the Miami Heat? That’s something you have to appreciate from a guard; especially us John Stockton fans. How many times were our butts saved by a timely drive and make by him?

Player A Player B Player C
Points 10.9 13.7 5.2
FG% 42.0% 44.4% 35.0%
eFG% 46.0% 50.5% 38.1%
FTA 0.5 4.0 1.3
PPS 0.94 1.29 0.93
PPP 0.71 0.91 0.55
NBA Rank 384 167 421

Right off the bat you see that Player C is out of his league here. This season Player C has not shot the ball well at all. The relative similarity in the PPS (Points per shot) value of Player C with Player A seems to be the free throw attempts disparity; the actual PPP (Points per possession) data shows Player C to be inferior here. Player A is not much to write about either; it is clearly Player B here who is heads above the other two when it comes to scoring.

Category Winner: Player B

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Part 2: Assists

Even more important than scoring for our team, historically, has been a PG who can get his guys involved without playing sloppy. Let’s take a look at Assists, Turn Overs, and their ratio.

Player A Player B Player C
Assists 9.3 6.6 7.7
Turn Overs 3.4 2.6 3.1
A : TO Ratio 2.7 2.5 2.5

Wow, only one of our dudes is getting close to 10 apg in 36 minutes of action. If you look at the data from the scoring section you see that this is a double double guy, while everyone else is not. That player is Player A, he leads in Assists per 36 minutes, and has the best Assist to Turn Over ratio.

Category Winner:Player A

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Part 3: Three Point Shooting

As a team, we’re really bad at threes. We don’t defend them too well, we hardly take them, and when we do – we usually miss. Even if they are wide open looks. You still need a dude who is at least a threat to make a three, even if he’s not specifically in the game to take them.

Player A Player B Player C
3's Made 0.9 1.3 0.4
3PT % 38.9% 33.8% 19.6%

Player B actually is making threes, 1.3 threes to be exact, in a 36 minute stretch of play. Shooting 34% is all pretty respectable. Player A almost makes a three as well, making 0.9 threes in 36 minutes; but shooting it at nearly 40% makes up for making 0.4 less threes. Player C is not looking so hot into this competition so far. He was last in Scoring, and last in Threes. Player C has to pick it up . . . that 2nd place in assists doesn’t absolve being last in everything else.

Category Winner: Player A

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Part 4: Rebounds, Steals, Blocks

We want well rounded guys to get playing time. You have to help out on the glass, and show some hustle on defense.

Player A Player B Player C
Rebounds 3.4 2.3 4.0
Steals 1.1 1.4 1.9
Blocks 0.8 0.3 0.8

Player C did pick it up, he’s clearly the winner in this category. He gets the most boards, steals, and blocks in 36 minutes of action. Everyone seems to get at least a steal, so it’s not like they are all lazy. One of them doesn’t do much on the glass though. Player C wins this round easily.

Category Winner: Player C

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Part 5: Advanced Offensive Stats

This is opening the hood and checking out how things really work, if you are unfamiliar with any of these terms don’t be shy and ask me, I’m easy to reach (via this blog, the comments section, twitter, email, uh, telepathy . . . ).

Player A Player B Player C
USG% 18.9% 18.6% 11.6%
AST% 39.9% 28.1% 29.2%
Ortg 96 109 88

If ORtg is your deal, there’s a clear winner. It is Player B, everyone else is below the baseline average of 100. In terms of USG% and AST% it’s hard to deny the contributions of Player A though. In the time he’s in the game, the Jazz offense is being dictated through him. He has the best USG% and best AST%. I think that ORtg depends more on who else you are running with, so it’s a less perfect stat. At least with USG% and AST% we know who has the ball in their hands and is running things. In this case it’s Player A

Category Winner: Player A

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Part 6: Specific Defensive Scouting

All of this data comes from MySynergySports, and I can’t believe how much harder my life would be without them.

Player A Player B Player C
PPP Rank PPP Rank PPP Rank
Opp. PPP 0.81 130 0.91 312 0.84 182
vs. Iso 1.09 - 0.82 154 0.76 117
vs. P&R 0.72 52 0.99 182 0.73 56
vs. Spot Ups 0.90 - 0.86 93 1.03 248

Overall, Player A is our best defender, in terms of opponents PPP. He’s also our best defender of the Pick and Roll (Ballhandler). Player C is our best defender off of isolations, and not too shabby against the Pick and Roll either. Both players are almost lousy defending Spot Up jumpers though. That is where Player B shines.

What is the most important here? Probably a mix of who is best over-all, and who isn’t bad in any one place. I’m giving this to Player C as he is mostly good here, while Player A does not even rank in some of these categories.

Category Winner: Player C

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Final Tally:

Let’s make 1st place finishes worth 5 points, 2nd place finishes worth 3 points, and 3rd place finishes worth 1 point.

Player A Player B Player C
Scoring 3 5 1
Assists 5 1 3
Three Point 5 3 1
Rebounds, Steals, Blocks 3 1 5
Adv. Offensive Stats 5 3 1
Defensive Scouting 3 1 5
Total Scores 24 14 16

Hmmm. Player A seems to win this, and wins it by 8 points. That is a lot more than I thought ANYONE would have won by. Player A does not finish third in any of the six categories, so I think that makes a big difference. Player B comes in last here, and only really shows up in terms of scoring (including threes), and having a high ORtg. Player C was flat out awful in some categories, but did show up big in terms of being a hustle guy who defended. He won the "Rebounds/Steals/Blocks" and "Defensive Scouting" sections. He could not make a three for the life of him, and in 36 minutes of play still only managed to score 5.2 points? Wow.

There is no clear winner in my mind, despite what these stats show. In reality we know the strengths and weaknesses of our three point guards: Devin Harris, Earl Watson, and Jamaal Tinsley. In a perfect world the three roles would be as easily defined in this season has they had been in previous seasons. It’s not a perfect world, and we have all three of them playing less than 30 mpg, and all three of them having legit gripes this season. Some vocalized them, some internalized them.

In reality we know that Earl Watson is a great guy who has intangibles that can’t be measured – how he protects the kids, and works hard to get them easy baskets . . . you just HAVE to love that in a veteran. In reality we know that Devin Harris is the only legit starting PG on this team, and when he’s playing at a high level we are capable of very special things. Even more-so than how far Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap can take us, our Jazz team will only go as far as Devin can take us. And Jamaal Tinsley . . . man . . . he didn’t make any waves this year, he waited his turn, and when he got a chance to play we made us all believe in him.

The actual Per 36 minute data makes this more complicated than it was supposed to be. But hey, it’s just that type of season for the Jazz.

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