Tag Archives: Los Angeles Lakers

Basketball Stacks part 2: Rebounding

Yesterday, I posted a new idea for visualizing box scores: Game Stacks. While the first version did a good job of showing shooting percentages and turnover rates, it didn’t do a good job on rebounds. As my pops pointed out, Indiana had a big rebounding advantage over Michigan by the basic numbers (36-22), so it seemed wrong to rely only on the height of the stacks to determine who rebounded better. The reality: Michigan got more chances not because they rebounded better, but because they had more misses — and you have to miss to get a second chance. The height of the stacks just showed that Michigan got more offensive rebounds, even though their rebounding rate was terrible.

So, round two. Here’s the Michigan-Indiana Game Stack redesigned to capture rebounding:

Michigan at Indiana 2-2-2013

Without play by play data, I had to keep the rebounding simple — I figured out the offensive rebound rate for each team:

Off reb rate = your off rebs/(their def rebs + your off rebs).

Then, I multiplied this rate by the relevant number of shots to generate the “Missed (O Reb)” category for each type of shot (the dashed regions). Each dashed/empty combo now visualizes the offensive rebound rate for the relevant team.

Now the picture is clearer:

One more Kobe

I promise I’ll give Kobe a break soon. After all, he took a break himself last night, in a game where Bynum played great (8-13 shooting, 15 boards), Kobe shot awful early and backed off from trying to score 40 (7-22, 14 points), but the Lakers won with their defense. Before I give it a rest, I wanted to link an interesting alternative approach to the numbers that I’ve been presenting.

Zach Lowe at SI breaks down Kobe’s decision making in a series of videos (granted, they are probably cherry picked). Lowe reminds us Continue reading

Barkley on Kobe

Before the Mavs – Lakers game tonight, here’s Barkley:

“If Kobe scores 30 tonight the Lakers lose.”

“The Lakers need to pound the ball down low to Bynum and Gasol, with no Tyson Chandler.” (Chandler is out).

The Jet then interjected that it’s not whether Kobe shoots a lot, but the type of shots he takes. Ernie Johnson said something about Kobe having a chip on his shoulder, and Barkley:

“It’s not about a chip on your shoulder, it’s about strategy.”

Thank you, Barkley.

Maximizing offensive efficiency

During Kobe’s “hot streak,” I’ve been writing that he’s actually inefficient compared to Andrau Gasnum, the Lakers’ superb tw0-man post presence. I’ve said that he should give up some shots until his efficiency equalizes with Gasnum’s. Adrian the Canadian was quick to send me a Sloan Sports Analytics Conference paper arguing that teams  might equalize offensive efficiency too much already. The author (Brian Skinner) uses some network theory for unknown reasons (it’s not related to his point), but the paper boils down to Continue reading

Stop Kobe before he shoots again; gearing up for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

My apologies for missing the last couple days on the blog, but don’t worry, I was hard at work on two projects that I’ve just submitted with a couple other guys to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. I’ll have more to say about them soon — one project looks at the effects of temperature, rest time, and turf type on MLS games, and the other examines the true value of winning the NBA draft lottery and measures how much tanking really goes on in the NBA.

In the meantime, Kobe Bryant is lighting up scoreboards and shot charts. He must be reading this blog, but I think all I did was make him angry. He’s taken 31 shots in each of the last three games and managed 40 points in all of them. Reading the ESPN write up from the last one, it looks like we have our new MVP.

However, over those games he’s made 47 shots for a Continue reading

Kobe’s back!

Kobe Bryant is all fired up because people think he’s over the hill. I’m not sure he’s over the hill, but I do think that he excludes his teammates and plays macho, low percentage basketball. Looks like the Lakers can expect more of the same, especially with his 48 points last night. Even simple stats suggest that Kobe could play smarter. Despite shooting 46% from the field, he’s only shooting 18.8% from three point range this year on 4.4 three pointers per game (his career numbers, 33.7% and 3.8 attempts, are more reasonable but not great). He’s also averaging 3.9 turnovers per game this season.

Meanwhile, Kobe’s whipping boy Pau “the Gas Man” Gasol is shooting 57% from the field this year and Andrew “Huge Potential” Bynum is at 53%. It’s basic game theory. Kobe should stop taking threes and feed the big men (generating higher percentage shots) until the defense reacts by doubling more. Kobe’s shooting percentage should go up (he’ll be open more), meaning that the shooting percentages will even out at a higher average for the team as a whole. Based on his post game comments, though, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen.

Nuggets innovate while Kobe builds a house

On Sunday night, the Lakers traveled to Denver for the second half of a home and away back to back. The Lakers took game 1, but home court and youth were on the Nuggets side for game 2. The Lakers got great games from Pau “the Gas Man” Gasol and Andrew “Great Potential” Bynum, keeping the game close. Then, Kobe “took over” and blew the game for them. His bricklayer performance (6-28, 16 points, 2 boards) was the old man version of his 2009 finals game 7 ugly (6-24, 23 points, 15 boards) — fewer trips to the line and no rebounding. Bad sign for the Lakers.

The Nuggets took full advantage of old man Kobe, letting him take tough jump shots and then leaking a player as soon as the shot went up. On one Kobe brick, Continue reading

(Lack of) Effort in the NBA and clock management

The lockout shortened NBA season is officially rolling, and everyone is talking about the demanding, condensed schedule. The Lakers start was a case in point: three games back to back against the Bulls, Kings, and Jazz. They should have beaten the Bulls but blew a 5 point lead in the last minute. Then came the predictable, tired-legs loss to an inferior team in Sacramento.

The Lakers came into the season in disarray. The league denied their trade for Chris Paul, Kobe hurt his wrist (a full ligament tear that will likely get worse, not better, this season), they traded extremely disgruntled Lamar Odom for next to nothing (he was part of the Paul trade offer), and Pau Gasol remains somewhat disgruntled (also part of the Paul trade offer). To make matters worse, the Clippers swiped Chris Paul instead and beat the Lakers twice in the preseason. New coach Mike Brown felt it necessary to assure the media that the Lakers would make the playoffs before their third game against the Jazz.

After their loss to the Kings, a lot of people expected an 0-3 start for the Lakers. The Kings game was close until the final 1:30, so they should have been especially tired against the Jazz. Instead, the Lakers came out and demolished the Jazz.

I have a different theory for what happened to the Lakers. Continue reading

Everyone can hate Kobe now

Apart from a select few sleazeballs who admire Kobe Bryant’s philandering ways, I think everyone will hate him after the National Enquirer story this week (summarized online by Deadspin – thanks to Adrian the Canadian for the link). Apparently, Kobe has slept with 105 women — that his wife Vanessa knows about — during their 10 year marriage, which makes for 10.5 women a year. Wowsers.

I chuckled when I read Jack Dickey and Timothy Burke’s analysis in the article above. Based on his on-court scoring average Continue reading

The Seattle Scientists — an alternative to the New Orleans Mess

You all know by now — the New Orleans Mess tried to trade Chris Paul to the Lakers (involving the Rockets as well), but the other owners, who jointly own the Mess, stepped in and blocked the trade. The trade has quickly become an argument about the small market/big market dichotomy in the NBA. My brother Conor sent me a standard response from Matthew Yglesias at Slate. Yglesias argues that artificially preserving the talent on small market teams is misguided:

It’s not clear to me why they don’t just eliminate this New Orleans franchise. Everyone knows there are too many NBA teams. Nobody wants to own this team, nobody wants to play for it, and there’s no a priori reason to believe an NBA franchise in New Orleans could ever be financially viable.

Yglesias and many others feel that the Mess and maybe a few more teams should be “liquidated” and “replaced” in some way. Ideally, they could be moved to a big market, where the financial returns to winning seem higher. However, eliminating and moving teams is bad press. I also think that keeping teams Continue reading