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Utah Jazz Karl Malone's scoring efficiency Vs. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors

[Ed. Note: There was a cool image here that used to be Karl Malone doing a one hand junk on a Nuggets player, while he had his other hand around the Nuggets player's neck, like he was choking him at the same time]


It's getting a little too touchy-feely around here, so let's look at some cold hard numbers. If we are going to continue to structure our offense around an inside-out philosophy we must be getting what we want on the inside at a "good enough" rate. Teams that had one amazing inside player >>> teams that had three good inside players. That's usually how things went. We know this. We beat a lot of good front courts with Karl Malone paired up with Greg Ostertag and Adam Keefe. Right now we have a really good front court with Al Jefferson teamed up with Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. Alone, none of them scare you. And together they get you zero playoff wins. What we saw in their 4 games together was excessive inefficiency. Al shot 52.9 fg%, but went to the line 1 time a game and only managed 18.3 ppg -- despite shooting great. Paul shot 37.0 fg% and got to the line 4 times a game, but shot only 50 ft%. Derrick shot 41.7 fg%, got to the line 7.3 times a game, and shot only 58.6 ft%. Together they added up to three guys playing inefficiently, but also at a high volume.

One amazing dude >>> three good guys playing poorly. Let's throw out the 2012 playoff data and look at Karl Malone's career (regular season + playoffs) against the scoring efficiency of our trio from just this 2011-2012 regular season. We'll look at the raw numbers, and go a little advanced. Why? Because I haven't written any stats posts in a while. That's why.

What is efficient scoring?

Efficient scoring is, really, a situation where you are putting point on the board at a good enough rate that the team should keep going to you. Some guys do it by managing a ratio of three point misses to makes (Ray Allen). Some guys do it by only taking good shots (John Stockton). Some guys do it by only taking easy shots (Buck Williams). Still others do it because they are damn good scorers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). One way to be an efficient scorer is to get to the line, and make your shots at the line. These are FREE throws, and if you are good, you can create a lot of situations where you are sent to the line and have a chance to give your team FREE points.

This may seem like a trick (oh, he's not a good scorer, he just gets to the line a lot) -- but free throws still count towards the final score, and that final score still determines winning and losing. If you can get to the line, and give your team points, you're still scoring in my book. And your scoring in a good way.

As a result, I really love Points per shot (pps). ESPN keeps track of it, but it's super easy to track yourself. It's total points / total FGA. If you take one shot, and it goes in, you get 2 points. This is a great way to expose volume shooters -- a guy who'll get you 20 a game, but take a lot of shots to get it.

It also glorifies the best scorers. If you are going inside-out, you need an efficient inside guy to be your anchor on offense. Part of that is getting to the line. Not only does getting to the line help your team out (other team gets in foul trouble, you take our the other teams best defender, you make their best defenders play 'off' of you on defense because of foul trouble etc), but as I said above -- you get a chance to add free points to your teams final score. Win-win.

For this I look at that LR (or line Ratio) which is just FTA / FGA. It's how many free throw attempts you get per 1 field goal attempt. The better you are, the more FTA you get. The less aggressive (if you just score on jumpers) the lower your ratio will be. I represent this in a percentage form below to make it easier for people who don't like numbers with three decimal places.


The Numbers

Career Totals Per Game Advanced



Karl Malone Career (reg) 1476 54852 26210 13188 36928 . 37.2 17.8 8.9 25.0 .



Career (play) 193 7907 3768 1725 4761 . 41.0 19.5 8.9 24.7 .



Career (tot) 1669 62759 29978 14913 41689 . 37.6 18.0 8.9 25.0 .



Season Totals Per Game Advanced
Al Jefferson 2011-12 (reg) 61 2075 1048 177 1170 . 34.0 17.2 2.9 19.2 .



Paul Millsap 2011-12 (reg) 62 2100 861 255 1061 . 33.9 13.9 4.1 17.1 .



Derrick Favors 2011-12 (reg) 65 1376 445 194 570 . 21.2 6.8 3.0 8.8 .



Holy crap Karl Malone was great. He's a good frame of reference if you want to grade your current players against excellence. We're the Utah Jazz. We're used to excellence and efficiency. I don't see why we should lower our standards. As a result, all three of our guys don't cut it.

The best, more efficient guy, clearly, is 20 year old Derrick Favors. Favors NEARLY gets to the line at the same rate as Karl Malone. Malone was nearly at half (49.7), and Favors last year was at 43.6 -- which is way higher than Millsap who never gets calls, and Jefferson who never goes into contact.

Not surprisingly there seems to be a very linear relationship between that LR and PPS. Favors was the best here as well. Not as good as Karl, but Derrick needs to improve on his FT%.


Well . . .

I guess this is yet another example of me trashing Al Jefferson for being inefficient. If you want to go inside, and your best inside guy isn't efficient, you're only tricking yourself into thinking you're going to go anywhere. We already have the template for success. And we already know what good scoring is. Scoring 18 ppg in the playoffs as the primary option isn't doing enough.

Millsap isn't the 1st option, but he's more average in terms of efficiency. The guy who is actually PLAYING / PRODUCING efficiently right now is the 2nd year player who SHOULD become a bigger part of this team going forward. Just my two cents.

Big Al is a lovely guy, and he was GREAT down the stretch in that must-win home game against the Phoenix Suns. But that was the same game where Favors was destroying Marcin Gortat on BOTH ends of the court. So it's not like Jefferson was remarkable. He was just one part of a very good front court. Not one great front court player who scored efficiently.

And what we learned before the jump was that one great player >>> three good players. Especially when it comes to getting wins and losses. We know this, because Karl Malone won us a lot of games being paired up with trash, despite facing very solid opposition inside.