Utah Jazz John Lucas III is the president of the hipster point guard club

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

This season is going to be very interesting to those of us who like to delve into stats. There are crazy things happening every night of this NBA season, and particularly so when the Utah Jazz play. You may not know this but I'm fascinated by point guards who play high minutes who do not actually do much with their time on the floor. Just so we're clear here, the point guard is essentially the quarter back in basketball. They call the plays. They tell people where to be. They have the ball in their hands. And they are the ones who should be doing a lot of the passing to players in scoring position. As a consequence of their importance, defenses are set up to stop them and get the ball out of their hands. As basketball is a 5 man (or woman, or whatever, golden retriever) on a side team game simple maths tells us that in a perfectly equal distribution everything could happen at a 1/5th rate, or 20%. The game is built up of specialists though so the distribution is not equal. As stated before, a point guard handles the ball the most. These players then have normative AST% and TOV% that are greater than 20%. Today's NBA point guard also likes to shoot and drive, so their USG% is higher as well. (Another example would be centers with usually higher TREB% and so forth)

The point guard has three tell-tale signs of activity on the court -- and I think those are USG%, AST%, and TOV%. So, well, it's crazy to me to see point guards who have these values of lower than 15%. Not only are they lower than the 20% random, equal distribution value; but they are waaay lower than the normative ball handler role values as well.

John Lucas III, who just turned 31 years old today so as an aside, Happy Birthday, is one such player. For the season he isn't doing much on the court that shows up in the advanced stats boxscore. Of course, there are things that you can do on the court that don't show up on the boxscore that are good. But I'm not really a 'qualitative guy', I'm more into things you can measure. So in this case I had to find out if John Lucas III was unique in the combination of doing so little with your time on the floor, while at the same time getting a lot of playing time.

So I searched to find players who played point guard within the last 15 seasons (2013-14 and backwards) who had USG%, AST%, and TOV% all lower than 15.0%. And well . . . here's the list:

Player Season GS G S% Min MPG Age PER USG% AST% TOV%
1 Derek Fisher 2008 2009 82 82 100.0% 2,441 29.8 34 12.1 14.7% 14.9% 8.8%
2 Patrick Beverley 2013 2014 9 10 90.0% 291 29.1 25 12.6 15.0% 11.7% 14.0%
3 Derek Fisher 2010 2011 82 82 100.0% 2,297 28.0 36 8.9 12.8% 14.0% 10.9%
4 Derek Fisher 2009 2010 82 82 100.0% 2,227 27.2 35 9.3 14.0% 12.9% 11.2%
5 Damon Jones 2005 2006 7 82 8.5% 2,089 25.5 29 9.3 12.6% 12.6% 9.7%
6 John Lucas III 2013 2014 5 13 38.5% 303 23.3 31 6.8 14.8% 12.8% 12.7%
7 Charlie Bell 2009 2010 39 71 54.9% 1,611 22.7 30 7.9 14.8% 9.8% 10.3%
8 Oliver Lafayette 2009 2010 0 1 0.0% 22 22.0 25 12.8 14.9% 11.1% 14.3%
9 Daniel Gibson 2012 2013 3 46 6.5% 919 20.0 26 7.7 14.3% 13.4% 10.5%
10 Daniel Gibson 2009 2010 10 56 17.9% 1,068 19.1 23 11.3 14.2% 9.8% 11.1%
11 Mike Penberthy 2000 2001 0 53 0.0% 851 16.1 26 11.2 14.2% 12.4% 12.6%
12 Kevin Ollie 2005 2006 23 70 32.9% 1,069 15.3 33 7.8 9.6% 13.8% 12.9%
13 Billy Thomas 2004 2005 0 25 0.0% 356 14.2 29 8.2 14.1% 8.0% 8.4%
14 Derek Fisher 2013 2014 0 9 0.0% 127 14.1 39 7.7 12.0% 10.5% 11.3%
15 Matthew Dellavedova 2013 2014 0 6 0.0% 82 13.7 23 7.4 10.9% 11.6% 10.1%
16 Royal Ivey 2005 2006 66 73 90.4% 978 13.4 24 8.4 14.0% 12.2% 7.6%
17 Royal Ivey 2012 2013 5 53 9.4% 698 13.2 31 8.1 11.3% 6.7% 11.7%
18 Antonio Daniels 2002 2003 2 67 3.0% 872 13.0 27 13.3 13.3% 14.9% 12.7%
19 Steve Kerr 2002 2003 0 75 0.0% 952 12.7 37 11.4 14.9% 11.9% 11.4%
20 Tim Legler 1999 2000 2 23 8.7% 284 12.3 33 7.2 13.6% 12.8% 6.5%
21 Royal Ivey 2008 2009 0 71 0.0% 861 12.1 27 7.6 13.2% 7.4% 9.2%
22 Steve Kerr 2000 2001 1 55 1.8% 650 11.8 35 10.6 13.5% 14.1% 11.3%
23 Chris Whitney 2003 2004 5 16 31.3% 186 11.6 32 10.1 12.6% 12.5% 11.3%
24 Shammond Williams 2006 2007 0 30 0.0% 345 11.5 31 10.8 13.2% 13.3% 12.8%
25 Kevin Ollie 2009 2010 0 25 0.0% 263 10.5 37 7.0 9.3% 9.3% 11.0%
26 Royal Ivey 2011 2012 0 34 0.0% 354 10.4 30 4.7 10.9% 4.1% 10.5%
27 Lindsey Hunter 2009 2010 0 13 0.0% 122 9.4 39 -2.2 12.8% 10.1% 11.5%
28 Jerry Smith 2011 2012 0 5 0.0% 46 9.2 24 7.8 13.9% 13.0% 0.0%
29 Charlie Bell 2010 2011 0 19 0.0% 171 9.0 31 4.7 13.1% 10.1% 11.8%
30 Antonio Daniels 2010 2011 0 4 0.0% 35 8.8 35 6.7 9.1% 7.9% 14.5%
31 Steve Kerr 1999 2000 0 32 0.0% 268 8.4 34 10.6 14.8% 7.2% 8.2%
32 Royal Ivey 2009 2010 0 44 0.0% 326 7.4 28 11.0 13.8% 12.4% 11.1%
33 Royal Ivey 2010 2011 0 25 0.0% 155 6.2 29 8.2 12.8% 6.8% 11.4%
34 Andrew Goudelock 2012 2013 0 1 0.0% 6 6.0 24 -6.4 14.8% 0.0% 0.0%

The group averages (n=34) are starting 31.3% of their games, playing 17.2 mpg, being 30.4 years old, and having a PER of 8.3. Also, the averages of USG% / AST% / TOV% are 13.2% / 10.8% / 10/4%. This is listed by MPG highest to lowest, and John Lucas III is 6th best out of this group of 34 players. His other numbers? Well, he's ABOVE average in almost everything. He starts a higher percentage of game, he plays more minutes per game, and he's older. BUT, his PER is below average, his USG% is up, his AST% is up, but his TOV% is also up (which is bad in this case).

There appears to be a lot of riff raff in this sample, so let's remove everyone who hasn't played 300 minutes and see what you get:

Player Season GS G S% Min MPG Age PER USG% AST% TOV%
1 Derek Fisher 2008 2009 82 82 100.0% 2,441 29.8 34 12.1 14.7% 14.9% 8.8%
2 Derek Fisher 2010 2011 82 82 100.0% 2,297 28.0 36 8.9 12.8% 14.0% 10.9%
3 Derek Fisher 2009 2010 82 82 100.0% 2,227 27.2 35 9.3 14.0% 12.9% 11.2%
4 Damon Jones 2005 2006 7 82 8.5% 2,089 25.5 29 9.3 12.6% 12.6% 9.7%
5 John Lucas III 2013 2014 5 13 38.5% 303 23.3 31 6.8 14.8% 12.8% 12.7%
6 Charlie Bell 2009 2010 39 71 54.9% 1,611 22.7 30 7.9 14.8% 9.8% 10.3%
7 Daniel Gibson 2012 2013 3 46 6.5% 919 20.0 26 7.7 14.3% 13.4% 10.5%
8 Daniel Gibson 2009 2010 10 56 17.9% 1,068 19.1 23 11.3 14.2% 9.8% 11.1%
9 Mike Penberthy 2000 2001 0 53 0.0% 851 16.1 26 11.2 14.2% 12.4% 12.6%
10 Kevin Ollie 2005 2006 23 70 32.9% 1,069 15.3 33 7.8 9.6% 13.8% 12.9%
11 Billy Thomas 2004 2005 0 25 0.0% 356 14.2 29 8.2 14.1% 8.0% 8.4%
12 Royal Ivey 2005 2006 66 73 90.4% 978 13.4 24 8.4 14.0% 12.2% 7.6%
13 Royal Ivey 2012 2013 5 53 9.4% 698 13.2 31 8.1 11.3% 6.7% 11.7%
14 Antonio Daniels 2002 2003 2 67 3.0% 872 13.0 27 13.3 13.3% 14.9% 12.7%
15 Steve Kerr 2002 2003 0 75 0.0% 952 12.7 37 11.4 14.9% 11.9% 11.4%
16 Royal Ivey 2008 2009 0 71 0.0% 861 12.1 27 7.6 13.2% 7.4% 9.2%
17 Steve Kerr 2000 2001 1 55 1.8% 650 11.8 35 10.6 13.5% 14.1% 11.3%
18 Shammond Williams 2006 2007 0 30 0.0% 345 11.5 31 10.8 13.2% 13.3% 12.8%
19 Royal Ivey 2011 2012 0 34 0.0% 354 10.4 30 4.7 10.9% 4.1% 10.5%
20 Royal Ivey 2009 2010 0 44 0.0% 326 7.4 28 11.0 13.8% 12.4% 11.1%

This is a much tidier list of 20 players. For the record, even for this more distinguished sample, John starts a higher % of games, plays more minutes per game, and has a lower overall PER than average. He's also 3rd worst in TOV%, but above average in a good way for USG% and AST%. Most of them are spot up three point shooting point guards like Fisher, Bell, Boobie, and Kerr. Does Lucas fit the mold of a spot up three point shooter? Yes. But is he actually a starter quality one on a team that does well in the playoffs? No. Not quite. But he's playing minutes like he is one.

And that is kind of a tank oddity if you ask me. And this post wasn't even supposed to be looking for strange things like that. Happy Birthday John. You are a great teammate and a really sweet guy according to those who know you best. But you are playing too many minutes, and for the sake of the franchise you now play for, I hope Trey Burke supplants you as soon as possible. A non-distributing point guard has no place playing half a game, every game, when you shoot 32.1% on spot up three pointers.

But at least I know you are not alone in this hipster point guard club of point guards who don't pass, shoot, or turn the ball over.

EDIT: Because I'm clearly insane, I grouped the n=20 data set by MPG, and got the average values. John looks even more average here compared to his peers in the 19-24 mpg sub-group (n=4). Fun stuff. His PER is still worse and he turns the ball over more though. And he starts and plays more minutes too.

Hipster_pg_values_n_20_set

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