FanPost

A few inconvenient truths


Narrative: If only we had a bright, young coach (like Brad Stevens) who understands the value of the three pointer, we'd be in much better shape as an organization. The Jazz (esp. everyone not named Lindsey) doesn't understand contemporary basketball.

Fact: Utah and Boston have identical 3-pt shot rates (Basketball reference). Both are on the low side, admittedly. But both make up for this by being among the league's best in preventing 3 point shots (ESPN stats. Celtics are very slightly better at preventing such shots now and Jazz are very slightly better at keeping the percentage low. Both stats are close enough a single game could cause the teams to switch places.)

Narrative: Burks and Kanter have not been given sufficient playing time to develop.

Fact: Burks is 87th in the league in total playing time. With a 30-team league, this works out to be 3rd in playing time on an average team. Kanter is 121st in total league playing time. This works out to be on the margin between the 4th and 5th highest playing time on an average team.

Narrative: The Jazz as an organization (perhaps even DL if recent quotes are to be trusted) don't understand young player development. This season has been ruined because we refuse to trust the youngsters and develop.

Fact: The fact I'll present here is a bit more complicated than the others. But if you follow the logic of the statistic I've created, I think you'll agree that it fits the SLCDunk narrative about the value of playing time for young players' development:

I've created what we might call a Franchise Development Index. Thus it incorporates both what front offices (through player acquisition) and coaches (through playing time) achieve in providing for young player playing time. Basically it's based on the idea (which I don't wholly agree with, but seems to have some power here on SLCDunk) that a young player benefits from playing time and that the developmental returns from playing time diminish as a player ages. In other words, for development, the more playing time at younger ages, the better.

For this measure, I start with the assumption that a 22-year-old player is a normal age to be getting plenty of developmental minutes. So I assign that player's playing time a weight of 1.0. A 25-year-old player is nearly through with his development, so the developmental significance of that player is much less (I assign a weight of 0.25). On the other hand, a 19-year-old player getting minutes is turbo-charging development goals so his minutes get a higher weight (1.75). The ages 19-25 are each assigned weights according to this idea (players 26 and older are assumed to not be developing anymore and thus get a weight of 0):

Age 19 1.75

Age 20 1.50

Age 21 1.25

Age 22 1.00

Age 23 0.75

Age 24 0.50

Age 25 0.25

So in order to create the Franchise Development Index for 2013-14, I multiplied each player's playing time on a team by the weights above, and then added all the weights up. Then I divided those weighted playing time numbers into the team's total playing time for the year. Each team computed out to a number less than 1.0. (Theoretically it's possible to exceed 1.0, but this would probably require an unheard-of-level of giving playing time almost exclusively to very young players.) But the way to interpret this is: the higher the number, the more the franchise is doing to promote the definition of development given above. (Of course weights and definitions can be disputed, and I'd be interested to see your ideas, but I think, as mentioned already that these definitions and weights fit in well with prevailing ideas on SLCDunk.)

Here's the of the Franchise Development Index for 2013-14 (to this point of the season). (I didn't calculate for 10 teams that are well known to be featuring veterans, i.e. Chicago, San Antonio, Miami, Clippers, Atlanta, Nets, etc.):

0.63 Utah

0.60 Philly (interestingly they traded two of their top three recipients of playing time away for almost nothing and probably would have traded the third if they could have -- each was 25 years old. If you take those players away, their score is probably closer to Detroit's).

0.59 Orlando

0.56 Cleveland

0.55 Detroit

0.54 New Orleans

0.54 Milwaukee (High score thanks in large part to the 19-year-old Greek Freak)

0.47 OKC

0.45 Sacramento

0.38 Charlotte

0.38 Golden State

0.38 Boston (did you notice that their entire starting lineup yesterday consisted of what we'd here call "worthless vets" -- partly due to injury, to be sure, but still: Brandon Bass is still heavily eclipsing Kelly Olynyk in minutes, for example.)

0.37 Washington

0.37 Toronto

0.31 Houston

0.27 Portland

0.26 Denver

0.24 Indiana

0.21 Phoenix (Horny's not winning AND developing youngsters. Though, to be fair, the Bledsoe injury hurts a bit here.)

0.20 Lakers (what a mess unless they get a superstar free agent.)

Lesson: Trust the Narrative less. Trust reality more. Though there's always things to criticize (the "5" have hardly played together at all, Corbin blew the time management the other day, etc.), I don't think the deep malaise that I've seen on SLCDunk toward the season is really warranted. Enjoy the season more.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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