Metta World Peace doesn’t like that Mike Brown relies on stats that prove Metta World Peace is playing badly

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Tricky thing about stats. Some of them, you can get away from. “Well, yeah, he had six turnovers, but most of those were drops by his teammates.” Or “Well, yeah, that one player named after a snake shot 28 times and only hit 11, but the offense was stagnant, he had to keep them afloat.” It’s definitely true that statistics, even advanced metric, must be measured in context and on a curve.

But then there are some things that are hard to get away from. You might consider Metta World Peace shooting 32 percent from the field and 16 percent from three when he’s expected to at least be decent offensively one of those things. But MWP would argue with that assertion. As he does when it’s the assertion of his head coach, who he threw under the bus in an interview with CBSSports.com:

The player formerly known as Artest believes that Brown’s coaching is too dictated by stats, and that his 16.4 percent (9-of-55!) shooting from beyond the 3-point line and 51.4 percent from the free-throw line shouldn’t keep him off the floor in the fourth quarter, when, he said, “I’m gonna make a big stop and I may make a big shot.”

You don’t have to be a stat-head to recognize how damning those numbers are. World Peace suggests that when he was on the floor at the end of the Boston game, the Lakers won. When he was on the bench in Philly and Utah at the end of the fourth, they lost.

“I’m trying to win,” World Peace said. “And right now, coach is a stats guy. His background is video coordinator or whatever. So he’s all stats. But Ron Artest is all feel. He doesn’t understand that. Having me in the game at the end, he was worried about me shooting bad from the free throw line. And I was like, ‘I could care less because I’m gonna get a stop at the end of the game.’ He didn’t understand the rhythm that we had — me, Fish [Derek Fisher], Kobe [Bryant], Pau [Gasol] and Drew [Andrew Bynum]. I’ve been through games where I would have two points, go 1 for 9 and we’d win. That’s what matters. Stats are for people who need stats.”

World Peace cites the Celtics going away from Paul Pierce at the end of regulation Thursday night –- when Pierce had to give up the ball to Mickael Pietrus for a desperate 3-point heave that missed at the buzzer.

“If I could count how many times another team went away from the best player when I was on him, I’ve got to be like No. 1 in the league,” World Peace said. “That’s not a stat, and coach doesn’t … you would have to play basketball to feel that. When Phil Jackson was here, that’s why I was in the game, because he understands that. Philly and Utah, I was on the bench because of stats.

via Lakers, World Peace struggling to adjust to Brown and vice versa – NBA – CBSSports.com News, Scores, Stats, Fantasy Advice.

“Stats are for people who need stats.”

Well, fair enough, Ron. I mean, Metta.

But professional basketball players also need outcome-related data. Artest’s defensive metrics by Synergy Sports’ standards are not great either. They’re not horrible. But they’re not good. Is MWP still a top defender in this league? Well, no. But is he a pretty great one? Yes, absolutely. One problem.

The Lakers’ problem is not defense. That team is coached by one of the best defensive teams in the league. They are going to defend well whether MWP is on the floor or not. Defense has become largely systemic in the NBA and the Lakers’ system is strong, and features quality defenders at more positions than just MWP’s. The Lakers need offense. They are desperate for it. It’s why Kobe is shooting 30 times a game. It’s why teams with strong offensive performances are toppling them. It’s why they can’t get separation from bad teams, it’s why they allow comebacks, it’s their biggest issue. They can’t score.

And MWP doesn’t help them there. He’s not throwing hockey assists. He’s not forcing the issue. He’s not dominating the glass. There is process data, like how you played by the eye’s estimation, and there’s outcome data, like stats. The problem is that the Lakers have great process data, and their outcome data has been underwhelming and concerning, short and long-term. It’s hard to blame Mike Brown for looking towards results, and more than just one game against a struggling Boston team.

As usual, the connection between MWP’s publicly-shared perception and reality is tentative, at best.

76ers second-rounder Jonah Bolden signs in Israel

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Jonah Bolden – No. 16 on my draft board – slipped all the way to the 76ers at No. 36 in the NBA draft. An impressive summer league has raised his stock significantly.

But Philadelphia won’t reap the rewards this season.

Bolden signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The club also said the deal contained NBA outs and the 76ers helped facilitate his move from his previous team, Red Star in Serbia.

This is a helpful arrangement for Philadelphia, which is running out of roster spots. Bolden will develop elsewhere while allowing the 76ers’ to maintain his exclusive negotiating rights.

Bolden must get stronger and more adept at handling physicality. The athletic stretch four can also continue developing his burgeoning perimeter skills.

Then, next year, maybe the 76ers will have room to sign him themselves.

Anthony Davis does #DriveByDunkChallenge (video)

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If you’re not up with what the kids are doing, the cool thing this summer is the #DriveByDunkChallenge – driving to random houses, running out of a still-running car, dunking on their basketball hoop, running back into the car then driving off.

It sounds like a lot of fun for those who can dunk (and don’t get accosted by startled homeowners). An example:

Pelicans star Anthony Davis took his turn:

Report: Thunder signing Dakari Johnson two years after drafting him

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Two seasons ago, Dakari Johnson was the youngest player by more than two years on the D-League’s All-Rookie team. Last season, Johnson was the youngest player by more than a year on an All-D-League team – and he made the first of three teams.

Now, Johnson – who the Thunder drafted No. 48 in 2015 and whose rights they continued to hold – is finally moving up to the NBA.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Thunder have already used the full taxpayer mid-level exception, so presumably Johnson will get the minimum – $2,128,226 over two years. That, plus two years of meager D-League salary, will be Johnson’s return for granting Oklahoma City four years of his services.

He could have forced the Thunder’s hand either of the previous two years by signing the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum – a team must extend to retain a draft pick’s rights. Accepting the tender would have meant Johnson earning an NBA salary (and gaining a year of service) if Oklahoma City kept him past the preseason. Or, if they waived him, he would’ve been an unrestricted NBA free agent. He still could have developed with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate while available to any NBA team.

Instead, Johnson repeatedly rejected the tender, allowing Oklahoma City to maintain exclusive negotiating rights.

At least the Thunder helped develop him. A strong 7-footer, Johnson has improved his mobility and skill level. He’s still an old-school center in a league moving away from that style, but he’s now more equipped to keep up.

Whether he’s ready enough is another question. Johnson will fall behind Steven Adams and Enes Kanter on the depth chart. At just 21, Johnson is still a decent developmental prospect.

Johnson gives the Thunder 16 players on standard contracts, one more than the regular-season maximum. They could waive Semaj Christon, whose salary is unguaranteed, but I’d be leery of having only Raymond Felton behind Russell Westbrook at point guard. Nick Collison at least provides insurance at center.

So, there’s no guarantee Johnson sticks into the regular season. One thing working in his favor: His salary will be luxury-taxed at the rookie minimum, because the Thunder drafted him. Christon or any other player acquired through free agency would be taxed at the second-year minimum.

No matter how it shakes out, Johnson is at least finally getting significant money in his pocket.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey: DeMar DeRozan to play some point guard

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The Raptors gave away backup point guard Cory Joseph to save money. So, who will play behind Kyle Lowry?

Presumably, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet will each slide up a spot on the depth chart. The third-year Wright looks ready to join the rotation, and he deserves at least the opportunity.

But Toronto also has another – unexpected – option at point guard: DeMar DeRozan.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Bryan Meler of Sportsnet:

“DeMar DeRozan, have him handle the ball a bit more as a point guard, a facilitator, a passer. Kyle Lowry moving the ball a bit more, spacing up. We don’t want to give our whole ‘what we’re going to try to do next year’ away, but again it comes down to passing the basketball and better spacing more so, than we know, one-on-one play.”

“Everyone and their brother knows we want better ball movement,” said Casey.

DeRozan didn’t play point guard at all last season.* So, this is a pretty big shift.

*Defined as playing without Lowry, Joseph, Wright or VanVleet.

Known as an isolation player, DeRozan has quietly improved as a distributor. I don’t think his ability to run an offense is at a point-guard level, but I’m also not sure that’s the point.

The Raptors are trying to change their style and promote more ball movement. This could help in the long run.

I supported the Timberwolves playing Zach LaVine at point guard as a rookie even though it was clear he should be a shooting guard. Playing point guard was a crash course that helped him develop skills useful at shooting guard, skills he couldn’t have as easily developed while playing off the ball.

The same could be true with DeRozan. Some rocky minutes at point guard could better equip him to play with Lowry in better-passing units come playoff time.

It was more conventional to play a 19-year-old on a bad team out of position to focus on skill development than it is for a 28-year-old on a good team. But he we are.

The Raptors have achieved enough success in the regular season and not enough in the playoffs. Experimenting during the long regular season is a good plan.