Team play and scoring: Touches vs. Chucking

April 24, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz point guard Devin Harris (5) and shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) celebrate their 100-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns at Energy Solutions Arena. The victory clinches a spot in the playoffs for the Jazz. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Some guys are a big part of the offense, they touch the ball almost every trip down the floor. That doesn't mean they shoot the ball each time, it just means that they are involved in the offense, for better or worse (be it an assist or a turn over). Some guys don't touch the ball each time down the court, but darn it, if and when they do -- they are doing to be shooting the ball. Still there are other people who score efficiently, but don't touch the ball to shoot it or be part of the offense. Sucks to be those guys, right Comrade Andrei Kirilenko?

Well, because I'm undersupervised again as she's gone off with her gals to the movies . . . I looked at the stats for the 2011-2012 Utah Jazz. And I found some interesting stuff.

The Method:

I found and added up the USG%, AST%, and TOV% for each of our 15 players, from what they did in the regular season. This effectively gives you a disproportionately large number that shows their 'touches'. It's not the most accurate thing in the world, but I'm not going to go into synergy and re-watch the entire season for a post on a Saturday afternoon.

I thought about adding in Offensive Rebound % as well to the mix, but it really messed up the data -- as some garbage men were getting larger values than the 'eyeball test' of how frequently they touched the ball. Sorry Enes Kanter, you're not Magic Johnson.

Then I collected the 'easy' stats of total minutes, total points, total FGA and so forth. With this I calculated ratios for Points per shot and Minutes needed to play / shot. No one seems to be crazy about PPS except me, but as I'm the author of this post, it's the metric I use. MPS isn't used by anyone, but it shows the amount of time a player needs to be on the floor, for them to take a shot. The guys who shoot the ball more frequently will have a lower value. For example, Earl Watson never shoots, and his Mins/Shot value is 6.46. That means he needs to play 6.46 minutes (or 6:27:06 minutes) for him to get enough time to shoot the ball once. Big Al shoots the ball once every 1.98 minutes on the floor, which means that in the amount of time Earl needs for 1 shot, Big Al would have shot it 3.26 times.

How frequently you shoot is a big deal. Especially if you shoot frequently but aren't really good at shooting. This season Derrick Favors shot the ball 445 times, and C.J. shot it 465 times. CJ shot the ball 20 more times. CJ also played in less games and shot the ball more frequently. D-Favors needed 3.09 mins to get one shot, while CJ needed only 2.46 mins. Doesn't seem like much of a different? Well, in terms of output it was. Favors has a 1.28 points per shot value (above average for the League), while CJ's was only 1.09 this year. CJ shot more, shot more frequently, but his shots counted for less points.

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The idea:

I felt like by looking at these factors we could find guys who shot the ball frequently, guys who shot the ball efficiently, and guys who touched the ball a lot. Very rarely did I expect to see a player fall into all three categories.

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The Numbers:

Touches vs. Points and Shots
Player Mins USG% AST% TOV% Total Points FGA Points / Shot Mins / Shot
Jamaal Tinsley 507 17.8 36.3 25.9 . 80.0 .. 137 141 0.97 3.60
Earl Watson 1033 11.5 28.9 32.0 . 72.4 .. 149 160 0.93 6.46
Devin Harris 1741 19.5 28.3 16.1 . 63.9 .. 715 542 1.32 3.21
Blake Ahearn 30 28.4 5.2 26.3 . 59.9 .. 10 14 0.71 2.14
Gordon Hayward 2015 17.8 15.9 13.7 . 47.4 .. 782 586 1.33 3.44
Paul Millsap 2100 23.2 12.4 10.3 . 45.9 .. 1061 861 1.23 2.44
Al Jefferson 2075 25.7 12.1 5.2 . 43.0 .. 1170 1048 1.12 1.98
Alec Burks 939 22.5 9.5 10.8 . 42.8 .. 425 357 1.19 2.63
Derrick Favors 1376 20.7 5.0 16.3 . 42.0 .. 570 445 1.28 3.09
C.J. Miles 1145 22.7 9.6 9.2 . 41.5 .. 508 465 1.09 2.46
Josh Howard 991 20.7 7.9 11.6 . 40.2 .. 372 361 1.03 2.75
Enes Kanter 874 17.3 1.4 16.1 . 34.8 .. 304 236 1.29 3.70
DeMarre Carroll 327 15.8 6.9 7.8 . 30.5 .. 95 99 0.96 3.30
Jeremy Evans 217 11.2 9.1 9.3 . 29.6 .. 62 42 1.48 5.17
Raja Bell 796 11.6 7.0 10.2 . 28.8 .. 217 174 1.25 4.57

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The players:

  • Jamaal touched the ball all the time, shot horribly, and was smart enough not to shoot a lot
  • Earl toughed the ball all the time, shot horribly, and was smart enough not to shoot a lot
  • Devin perhaps did not touch the ball enough, shot GREAT, and did not take enough shots
  • Blake touched the ball enough, shot the worst on the team, and shot it all the time
  • Gordon did not tough the ball enough, shot GREAT, and did not take enough shots
  • Paul touched the ball nearly half the time, shot above average, and shot it sufficiently
  • Al touched the ball nearly half the time, shot the ball poorly, and shot it the most on the team
  • Alec did not touch the ball enough, he shot just under average, and shot it sufficiently
  • Derrick did not tough the ball enough, he shot the ball GREAT, and did not shoot enough
  • CJ touched the ball enough, shot the ball poorly, and shot too much
  • Josh touched the ball enough, shot the ball horribly, and shot it too much
  • Enes did not tough the ball enough, shot the ball GREAT, and shot too infrequently
  • DeMarre touched the ball enough, shot it horribly, and was smart enough not to shoot too much
  • Jeremy never touched the ball, was GREAT when he shot, and never shot the ball
  • Raja never touched the ball, was very good when he shot, and never shot the ball

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Justifications / My thoughts:

Big Al has to shot the most, and the more you shoot, the more often you aren't just taking "the easiest shots ever". Similarly, Raja shot great percentages, but the difficulty of his shots were very low. He would only shoot when open, and never in traffic. Some guys knew their flaw and did not try to do too much, guys like Jamaal, Earl, and DeMarre.

Some guys were chuckers. Yes, it is true. And there were some rare cases of guys getting the right amount of touches, who did not force things.

Over all, though, I think Devin Harris needs to shoot it more, and I think our younger guys need more touches (not necessarily shots). The fact that some people do not see the difference in semantics between what touching the ball is, and what a shot is happens to be part of the reason why Andrei isn't on the team anymore, and Sloan kept him in the dog house when he was here.

Don't make the same mistake as those guys did.

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