Do you want to know one key reason advanced statistics have found a foothold in the NBA front offices? Because they give you evidence to challenge your beliefs and understanding of the game. It can confirm or make you re-evaluate what you think you know. And a good GM is always questioning everything.
For example, when Joakim Noah left the Bulls to have thumb surgery, they were going to keep on scoring just fine with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer. Where Noah would be missed is on defense. Right?
Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward blog looked at the numbers since Noah went down and found just the opposite.
Using Hoopdata.com’s points per possession metric (which differs slightly from the one I usually use — on Basketball-Reference), we see Chicago has scored just over 103 points per 100 possessions this season. That’s just about league average.
Since Noah was sidelined, Chicago has hit that mark just six times in 14 games despite an incredibly easy schedule, and they’ve come in at 102 points per 100 possessions or worse — the equivalent of a bottom-10 offense — in seven of those 14 games. Toss out one huge outlier — their 121-76 destruction of the Sixers last month — and the Bulls’ offensive numbers without Noah look even worse. Their defense, meanwhile, has shot to the top of the league in points allowed per 100 possessions.
Why? Well, one reason is what you’d expect — the Bulls are not as good an offensive rebounding team with Noah. The fall off is not dramatic, but it is felt.
The other reason Lowe found is less obvious — the Bulls three-point shooting has gone missing. They are taking two fewer threes a game and are shooting just 30.5 percent since Noah went down. That could be just random coincidence (14 games is a small sample size so you can see big streaks like that) or it could be that having a big man who can roll to the rim opens up some better looks on the perimeter. Either way, it has hurt the Bulls scoring.
The Bulls will be without Noah for another month, maybe more. They need to find a way to get the offense working again.
The defense by the way? Never better.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.