Suns head coach Gentry cares not for your three-point field goal defensive statistics

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The Phoenix Suns, just like most teams in the league, pay a fair amount of attention to all kinds of statistical data. And, just like most teams in the league, they have their favorites. It’s safe to say that three-point field goal defensive statistics are not one of them.

Before Friday night’s win over the Trail Blazers, it was pointed out to Suns head coach Alvin Gentry that Portland was among the league’s best at defending the three-point shot — an area where the Suns have struggled mightily so far this season, despite taking a high number of attempts from distance. So, the question was this: Would Phoenix try to do anything differently in that area given Portland’s defensive success?

Not exactly. And Gentry was completely dismissive of the statistic while giving his response.

“I don’t buy into that,” Gentry said of a given team’s supposedly strong defensive numbers against the three-point shot. “I think that’s the worst stat in the NBA, defending the three. I think teams either shoot it well against you or they don’t. You know, most of the three-point shots that are taken are open shots; people are usually not forcing three-point shots.”

For the record, the Suns haven’t faced Kobe Bryant and the Lakers yet this season, but you get the idea.

“Maybe they close out better or they do a good job of running you off, I don’t know,” Gentry said. “It’s just not a stat I think is relevant at all, I really don’t.”

Now, Gentry’s comment on this particular stat isn’t at all indicative of the way his team approaches statistical data in general. Phoenix considers publicly available information like defensive field goal percentage allowed valuable, and went so far as to place boards in the locker room last season which tracked those numbers league-wide for his players to see on a daily basis.

This year, Gentry and new assistant coach Elston Turner have talked about the difference between dead-ball and live-ball turnovers, and the importance of making sure his team is making a conscious effort to cut down on the latter. And, the team tracks its own internal numbers in a variety of areas to provide data to back up the coaching staff’s chosen points of emphasis.

The three-point defensive statistic, however, is not one of them.

It’s easy to see why Portland currently leads the league in defensive three-point field goal percentage allowed at .254. They have a seemingly endless number of long, athletic guys who, by merely getting a hand up in the vicinity of a long-range shooter, would seemingly be able to alter that shot.

But looking at the teams that rank third and fourth in the same category — Milwaukee and Sacramento respectively, who combined have just 5 wins in 14 games on the season — it becomes a little bit murkier to see the correlation.

In case you were wondering, Gentry isn’t simply being a “hater” here. Phoenix is better than average in this regard, currently sitting at eighth in the league by holding teams to a .299 shooting percentage from behind the three-point arc.

We’re early in the season, and still in the area of extremely small sample size when trying to measure the validity of certain statistical information. What is clear, though, is that the Suns won’t be altering their approach based on another team’s statistical success in defending the long-range shot.

In fact, Gentry was so cavalier in discussing the topic that he jokingly equated it to the statistical data surrounding the “defense” of an opponent’s free throw attempts.

“I think teams shot worse against us from the foul line last year; I think we were in the top five,” Gentry said. “I don’t know that we did a whole lot to defend the free throw line.”

Magic Johnson: “The only player that we… would probably not move is Brandon Ingram”

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The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had flashes, but he largely struggled through his rookie season. He averaged 9.4 points per game, shot 40 percent from the floor, he had a true shooting percentage of 47.4 and a PER of 8.5, and he finished with the fifth worst “value over replacement player” number in the NBA. Watch him play, and he looked better than those numbers — he did better with the “eye test” — showing some tenacity, and his offense improved toward the end of the season. Still, his rookie season tempered expectations somewhat.

Except amongst the Lakers’ front office.

They have been high on him all the way through, higher than D'Angelo Russell, and that’s what Lakers president Magic Johnson said on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles.

“I would say probably the only player that we would say, hey, we would probably not move is Brandon Ingram,” Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations said Thursday in a radio interview with ESPN Los Angeles. “I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about, you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”

First off, no this doesn’t mean if the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball No. 2 (as expected) they will look to trade Russell. Expect them to see if those two can play together. It means the Lakers think just one of the guys on the roster is a potential key piece of a contender. Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and on down the line may fit into the rotation, but they are not seen as cornerstone pieces that can’t be moved.

Is Ingram really a cornerstone? The jury is still out, but does anyone feel as confident he will be a star as they did a season ago when he was drafted?

Ingram certainly needs to get stronger, something the team and he have worked on (and will focus on this summer). He also was young coming into the league, and with his style of game it was going to take him a little time to find how he fit in the NBA. He wasn’t going to come in and just overwhelm opponents with athleticism, it was going to be a process for him. Like nearly every rookie, his shooting needs to be more consistent.

The questions are how high is his ceiling, and can the Lakers develop him?

This summer and into next season those will come into focus more, but the early returns don’t have some of us as optimistic as Magic.

Josh McRoberts opting into final year of Heat contract

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Heat power forward Josh McRoberts has missed 165 games over the last three years due to injury.

So, the 30-year-old sure isn’t turning down a guaranteed $6,021,175 salary.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

Any long shot chance of Josh McRoberts voiding his Heat contract was eliminated Tuesday when agent Mike Conley told The Miami Herald that McRoberts will exercise his opt-in and return to the Heat for $6.021 million next season.

Miami will have major cap space this summer with Chris Bosh coming off the books. At this point, McRoberts’ salary is just an impediment to even more room to add an impact player.

The Heat could again try trading McRoberts, but they’ll likely have to attach a positive asset just to dump him. They could also waive and stretch him.

But if his salary doesn’t come between Miami and a big-time free agent this summer, perhaps McRoberts returns for one last chance at helping the Heat on the floor with his passing and outside shooting.

Mike Brown thinks it’s “cute” Tyronn Lue thinks Celtics’ sets harder to defend than Warriors

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Celtics’ coach Brad Steven is already one of the best in the NBA. His out of time out plays are brilliant, and his Boston team’s flow of ball and player movement is among the best in the league.

It’s those things that were giving the Cavaliers trouble in the first half of Game 4 Tuesday, and ultimately prompted this comment from Tyronn Lue.

“We’re just focused on Boston. The stuff they’re running, it’s harder to defend than Golden State’s [offense] for me.”

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle asked Mike Brown about that.

You can certainly make the case that the Celtics have a wider variety in their offense, and that with Isaiah Thomas out the rather balanced, anyone can score nature of the Celtics is challenging to defend for a team with inconsistent help defense like the Cavaliers.

But Boston is running these sets with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk. Golden State will use ball and player movement to create space for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Which is to say, Golden State is tougher to defend because the space they need to make you pay is much smaller. And even if you do everything right the Warriors may just score anyway.

I get what Lue was trying to say, but don’t give the Warriors more motivation.

Magic sending Raptors draft pick as compensation for hiring Jeff Weltman

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The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.

That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat valuable.

In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.