The Mikan Drill

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Player Profile: Channing Frye

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After missing the entire 2012 season after the Phoenix Suns’ training staff discovered that Channing Frye had an enlarged heart, Frye tweeted earlier this week that he is healthy and will be returning to the Suns. In the 2011-12 season, Frye averaged 10.5 points while shooting 47% on 2’s and 34.6% on 3’s. At 6’11”, he only averaged 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, as he plays mainly around the three point line. He’s been away from the game for a year but we can review what his strengths and weaknesses on the court were from his last season.

Strengths

Three Point Shooting

Frye’s most recognizable skill is his outside shooting, as he averaged at least 4 attempts per game the last three seasons. He reinvented himself as a player once he got to Phoenix, as he took only 70 3’s in his first four seasons before taking 392 in his first season with the Suns. He has actually seen a decrease in his shooting percentage the last three seasons, from 43% to 39% to 34.6% but he is still a dangerous outside shooter.

Here is Frye’s shot chart from 11-12, which shows that most of this attempts come from the top of the key, with very few coming from the corners.

Shotchart_1380633830766

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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Unconventional NBA Rank: Best Screeners

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This series will rank the top players in some intangible skills or statistical areas that do not show up in traditional boxscores. This will be for last season’s production and does not necessarily reflect upcoming potential. 

One aspect of the game that is overlooked and under appreciated on a regular basis is the ability to set screens. I believe that setting screens is a skill and needs to be given more attention. Brett Koremenos argued that we should find a better way measure and quantify screens, which would help NBA teams put a larger emphasis on this area.

In an attempt to bring some clarity to a muddled view of who the top screeners are the NBA, I tried to determine who the top four screeners were last season. I looked at who set the best ball screens, as well as the best off ball screens. This list then has an inherent bias toward players that are more involved in pick and roll while leaving some deserving players (notably Reggie Evans) out of this analysis. Therefore, this list should help start the conversation but is by no means the final discussion. This is one of the most qualitative aspects of the game at this point and there are plenty of great screeners not recognized here.

#4 Bismack Biyombo

After the Al Jefferson signing, it was clear to see how moving from Biymobo to Jefferson on ball screens could affect the offense of the Bobcats. Biymobo is a player who understands his role as a screener and works hard to set good screens. He is not a threat to roll to the rim, so he focuses on setting screens to free Kemba Walker.

Off the ball, he works well to free shooters but is not utilized often in this role and sometimes looks to slip screens in this area. He is much better on ball screens, as he pays more attention to getting to an area and making sure he slows the defender down. His limited offensive skills force him into a screening role to be an effective part of the offense and he does a nice job of taking out the defense with solid screens.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Unconventional NBA Rank: Best Transition Bigs

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This series will rank the top players in some intangible skills or statistical areas that do not show up in traditional boxscores. This will be for last season’s production and does not necessarily reflect upcoming potential. 

Our next set of rankings attempts to rank the best big men in transition from last season. This set of rankings incorporates speed, quickness in getting down the floor, filling space, decision making and finishing. Outlet passes are a big part of sparking transition opportunities for teammates but I was more interested in which big men could actually run the floor, so they were largely ignored for this purpose.

#4 DeMarcus Cousins

After just signing his four year extension, Cousins lands at #4 on this list, as he showed some nice quickness for a player of his size. According to My Synergy Sports, he ranked 37th among all NBA players with 1.32 points per possession (PPP). He did not use many transition possessions, as only 8% of his possessions were in transition, despite the Kings being the 8th fastest team last season.

He has nice acceleration and determination to get down the floor when he sees the potential for an easy basket. However, many of his transition opportunities came because he had not yet made it all the way back down the floor for defense before the Kings secured the ball. He was then able to leak out with nobody in front of him for the easy finish.

In transition, he also struggles with his decision-making, which is a problem in other areas as well. When he gets a full head of steam, he does not always have the recognition to see when he needs to give the ball up to a teammate, which puts him in position to create offensive fouls.

Due to his elite finishing and desire to get those easy baskets, Cousins is a strong transition big man. However, his turnovers (13% of transition opportunities end in turnovers) hold him back from moving further up this list.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Unconventional NBA Ranks: Post Passers

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This series will rank the top players in some intangible skills or statistical areas that do not show up in traditional boxscores. This will be for last season’s production and does not necessarily reflect upcoming potential. 

Our first in the series will attempt to rank the best passers out of the post. To do so, one most factor in the way a player passes to cutters, shooters and out of double teams. The passer needs some help from their teammate to complete the play, as they have no control over the shot, but they do have control over who they make the pass and what position they lead that player to with their pass. There are plenty of great passers not mentioned here but these are my pick for the top four from last season.

#4 Nene, Washington Wizards

Nene is only an average scorer out of the post, as he averaged .817 points per possession (PPP), according to Synergy Sports, but he complements this with a nice passing game out of the post. When assists are factored into his PPP, it increases to almost 1 PPP, which is very good for a player with as many possessions as Nene used.

Usually, Nene starts his post move by dribbling from a few steps beyond the block. He then takes a few steps toward the baseline or the middle of the lane and if the draws the defense, he’ll then make the pass to the open man. Even on the move, he can be an accurate passer to the open teammate.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Defensive Strategies: Damian Lillard

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This series will provide strategies on how defenses can best guard, or attempt to guard, some of the most dangerous offensive players and actions. Today’s post will try to show how defenses can slow down the offense of the reigning Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard. 

There wasn’t much Damian Lillard couldn’t do on the offensive end in his rookie season, as he averaged 19 points on 46.9% shooting on 2 point field goals and 36.8% on 3 point field goals. Lillard will look to shore up some of the holes in his offensive game in his second season, as he hopes to lead a Portland team that had a great offseason back to the playoffs. It won’t be easy to defend him as he continues to grow and improve as a point guard but these strategies will put him in situations where he will be less effective.

Shade him left

It’s not a smart idea to force him completely left, as Lillard will be able to shred the defense by using the open space to his advantage but it is smart for the defense to shade him to the left side off the dribble. Lillard drove left more often last season, which is probably a result of the defense forcing the rookie to beat them with his off hand. However, he had the tendency to settle for jump shots instead of driving to the rim.

Looking at Lillard’s shot chart, he was average on mid-range jump shots from the left side of the court. He can improve on these pull up jump shots off the dribble to his left and the defense should shade him that way to encourage him into these positions.

Shotchart_1379380702312

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 18, 2013 at 2:37 am

Defensive Strategies: Paul George

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This series will provide strategies on how defenses can best guard, or attempt to guard, some of the most dangerous offensive players and actions. Today’s post will try to show how defenses can slow down the offense of the Indiana Pacers Paul George. 

Paul George had a superb third season, averaging 17.4 points per game in the regular season and cemented his status as an elite player by averaging nearly 20 points per game in the playoffs and leading his team to within a game of the NBA Finals. The Pacers will be a top Eastern Conference team again this season and slowing down George will be key to stopping the offensive attack of the Pacers.

Force him to create in the half court

George struggled when forced to create his own offense of the dribble, as he scored only 0.72 points per possession (PPP) in isolation situations last season and 0.71 PPP as a pick and roll ball handler. Most of his offense came in transition or spot up and cuts in half court sets. While there is still plenty of time in his young career to improve this part of his game, defenses would be wise to force George to create off the dribble which would give the defense the advantage in these situations.

When he tries to take defenders off the dribble, he isn’t able to get the whole way to the rim yet and has to settle for pull up jump shots. George doesn’t seem to quite have that skill yet of other elite offensive players of being able to beat defenders with his speed off his first step or with his strength to body through defenders to the rim. Defenders are able to stay in front of him while remaining on balance and George cannot get a layup attempt. This causes him to pull up for mid range shots instead of trying to get the whole way to the rim.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Defensive Strategies: Steph Curry Pick and Roll

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This series will provide strategies on how defenses can best guard, or attempt to guard, some of the most dangerous offensive players and actions. Today’s post will try to show how defenses can slow down the pick and roll of Golden State, when led by Stephen Curry. 

Stephen Curry led a lethal pick and roll game for the Golden State Warriors, as he averaged 0.87 points per possession as a pick and roll ball handler, good for 30th in the league. He relied on this as a big portion of his offensive attack, as 32.2% of his possessions ended with a pick and roll, according to Synergy Sports. Stopping him won’t be easy but slowing him down and forcing low efficiency shots is a doable goal.

One of the biggest mistakes a defense can make when guarding Curry is to ICE him. This means that the defender guarding the screener sags off into the lane to take away dribble penetration while basically conceding the three point shot. This plays right into Curry’s strengths, as his effective field goal percentage on three point shots was 66.7% while his eFG% for shots at the rim was only 60%, according to Basketball Reference.

The frame below shows the problem defenses face when they allow Curry space around the three point line coming off the ball screen. Curry has plenty of space to pull up for the long range attempt, from where is he a deadly shooter.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm

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