Archive for the ‘Bucks Diary’ Category

Bucks’ Bogut not quite an All-Star

February 7, 2010

With his excellent play so far this season (and his health… knock, knock) there have been more than a few on the Bucks blogosphere who have argued that Bucks center Andrew Bogut ought to be an All-Star.  My numbers indicate that is not true.

In order for Bogut to be an All-Star he must displace one of the big men who made the team.  I did a Marginal Win Score analysis of the five “big men” on the Eastern team, and Bogut’s very good numbers are not good enough to supplant any of the chosen five.

Click Here to see “Andrew Bogut vs. Eastern All-Star Big Men”

As the chart shows, all five of the power forward/centers chosen for the Eastern Conference team have superior Win Contributions, Player Win Averages, and Marginal Win Scores, as well as more Win Credits.  In fact, the only category Bogut bests any of them in is “Game Responsibilities” where he is slightly better than the oft injured Boston Celtic PF Kevin Garnett (though Garnett still has a higher Win Contribution Index and more Win Credits).

So even though Andrew Bogut has had a very impressive season in Milwaukee, and even though he has been the most valuable Milwaukee Bucks player by far, he isn’t quite at the level where we can legitimately call him a deserving Eastern Conference All-Star… yet.

Huge night for LRBMAM

January 16, 2010

I have updated the Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart to reflect the productivity in last night’s win over Golden State.  Luc Moute and Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings all had big nights.

If you notice on the Win Chart I have eliminated positional data.  Two reasons for that move.

Popcorn Love (but its more than that to me)

One, as you know, I’ve detached the Bucks Win Chart from 82games.com reliance.  I now do a straight Marginal Win Score myself off the awesome Play-by-Play data “flow chart” provided on Popcornmachine.net.  Truly awesome feature.  It makes straight Marginal Win Score so much easier to provide.

And with true straight Marginal Win Score, position is irrelevant.  It’s all about matchups.  For instance, if Jennings is on Monte Ellis, who cares if I call the pair “point guards” or “shooting guards”?  Its Jennings vs. Ellis, and that’s all.  That’s the important thing.

Second, eliminating positional data makes updating the chart so much faster and easier to do.

Popcorn’s “Quarter-by-Quarter” chart does the same.  Now I can discern, without having to read the unreadable NBA transcript, exactly who is on the floor at any given moment.

The net result will be a Marginal Win Score that is even more reliable.

Why?  Because if I can see clearly who is on the court I can cross check their heights and weights.  If I have that information I have a system that almost always gets the defensive matchups right, and that’s the key.

So, back to the game.  Last night everyone on the Bucks had “positive” MWS games except Charlie Bell, who is sinking like a ship, and Jodie Meeks, who was rising before last night.

When you read the Win Chart, pay attention to the last column.  It tells you which way a player has been trending this month.

Notice how Bogut, who we criticize for being up-and-down, is almost right at even?  Ironic.

Charlie Bell is one downward facing dog.  Don’t be fooled though by Ridnour.  Bear in mind he is falling from virtual Mount Everest.  Bell most certainly is not.

Luc Moute just completely changed his numbers around last night.  Dominant.

Pay attention to how these numbers trend now that I have a bullet proof method of pairing Buck vs. Opponent.  I’m interested to see what happens.

Did Michael Redd contribute to his own fate?

January 16, 2010

I’m a little dumbfounded I’ve only seen one explanation for why the Milwaukee Bucks most expensive asset, Michael Redd, suffered the same injury to the same knee when that is not supposed to happen.  The explanation I saw, Will Carroll’s “lightning twice“, was not satisfactory.   I tend not to believe in freak occurrences.

But I believe another part of Carroll’s answer contains the truth.   His qualification.  He qualified his answer with “We’ll assume he rehabbed right”.  I’m not willing to make that assumption. In fact all signs point to the fact that he did not rehab right.

“A lot of individuals would say that the rehab’s half the battle. Because if you don’t do adequate rehab, you have weaker muscles and your range of motion isn’t where it should be, that it puts you at higher risk of reinjuring your ACL. I’ve seen several athletes where they’vetorn their ACL and then re-torn it and had that surgery all over again. And usually when you look at muscular structure, it’s because they never really got the full strength back that they should have had from the initial surgery. So the rehab’s a really important thing.”

-Dr. Russell TorontoPreventing  ACL injuries

Evidence Michael Redd not rehab right:

1. I and many others noted he looked heavier than his normal playing weight;

2. He suffered a “lack of strength” type injury early on when he pulled his patellar tendon;

3. Redd was off his career norms in every major activity that involved the legs… even free throw shooting (from a consistent 80% down to 70%) .  Free throw shooting should be like riding a bike.  It should come back immediately.  Unless their is a mechanical issue.

4. According to HoopData, Redd was getting 9.9% of his attempts blocked whereas last season he only got 2.7% blocked. No lift?

5. Redd’s shooting accuracy was down across the board, from every spot on the court.  Mechanical?

But the best piece of evidence is this.  The only other explanation is the “lightning” one.   If you accept that you also have to account for all of the circumstantial evidence above then you have to believe that not only did the lightning strike him twice, it just so happened to hit him a second time within months after he came back from his original injury.  In other words, lightning struck for a second time at precisely the time you would most likely expect a “didn’t rehab properly” reinjury to occur.  IF there is one logical explanation and one “freak” explanation, which do you think carries more credibility?

Jennings excels against “shorter” teams

January 16, 2010

I may have inadvertently fallen into an explanation for Brandon Jennings fast start and then seeming decline when I wrote my “Effective Height” post yesterday.

Last night Jennings at long last had an excellent game.   He certainly loves playing against Golden State.  Check out where they rank in “Effective Height”… 29th.  They’re not long.

Nor were most of the Bucks early opponents, opponents that fueled JenningsMania09.  Compare the Bucks early schedule to the team’s listed below the Bucks in “Effective Height”.  They’re mostly all there.  I note that Jennings did also have a nice game in there against a “tall” Charlotte, but Charlotte was missing Tyson Chandler, so they weren’t that tall.  And in the midst of his spree of big games early he played a very poor game against Dallas… a team ranked up in the top 10 in effective height.

Obviously it gets back to his inability to finish at the rim.  If he can do so, he’s okay.  If he can’t he struggles.  And the Golden State’s and Minnesota’s of the world let him do so.

Bucks perimeter defense consistently bad

January 16, 2010

Whatever success the Bucks are having on defense is coming from somewhere other than field goal defense.  At least lately.

I went on Hoopdata.com and examined their advanced box scores to see how teams were shooting against the Bucks in each of the five charted arc areas.  Then I compared that shooting to the opponent’s season average from each of the areas to see how the Bucks defense compared.

Since Christmas the defense has been poor, with periods of “total crap”.  Either the Bucks are just subpar in some way or they take nights off.  Probably a bit of both.

Here are the results.  Now if it says (“-”) that means the Bucks ALLOWED more than the average.   Remember also, this is “against the team’s average”, so if their are “-” points it means they were allowed to score more points from that area than they normally shoot.

Here are the five areas, which will just be in order for each game

(0ft)——(<10ft)——(10-15ft)——(15-23ft)——(3pt)

Golden State:  +2.2 (win)

(-4.9)(+2.9)(+0.9)(+0.3)(+3.0)

Portland: -30.1 (loss)

(-1.5)  (-5.6)  (-10.0 )   (-9.7) (-3.3)

Phoenix: -12.7 (loss)

(-3.9)  (-1.4) (-2.5) (-6.9) (+1.9)

Chicago: -3.4  (win)

(+2.8) (+4.1) (+0.2) (+2.0) (-5.7)

NJ: +2.5 (win)

(+3.6) (+3.1) (-1.4) (-5.2) (+2.4)

OKC: +7.8 (win)

(+4.0)(-3.0)(+2.6)(-4.0)(+7.4)

Orlando: -15.3 (loss)

(-2.6)(-3.4)|(-2.3)(-0.3)(-6.7)

Charlotte: +5.8 (loss)

(-2.4)(+2.4)(-0.8)(+1.0)(+5.6)

San Antonio: -17.4 (loss)

(+o.o)(+0.3)(-7.6)(-10.5)(+0.4)

Washington: -13.9 (loss)

(-1.1)(+0.0)(-4.4)(-1.2)(-7.2)

10 GAMES (4-6) AVERAGE (-6.5)

ZONE AVERAGES

O Ft: (-0.6)

<10 Ft:(-0.1)

10-15 Ft: (-2.3)

15-23 Ft: (-3.5)

3 pt: (-0.0)

Perimeter Trouble

Clearly a lot of the problems come when opponents step the Bucks away from the basket.  This could speak to a lack of quickness.  It could also be a strategy… let our weak spot be the long 2, the lowest value shot.

Now I advocate that position but not when the net result it is more points allowed.  If indeed this is a “Long Twos” strategy, then the benefits of forcing those low value shots should be seen in many fewer points around the rim and beyond the three.  That’s not happening.  The Bucks are not realizing any benefit.

So, either this is indicative of a failure on the medium perimeter, or if that is a strategy, then there is a failure to execute the strategy with surplus defense in other areas.

Jennings vs. Sessions: which one is “special”?

January 15, 2010

This summer for some odd reason the Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t wait to run PG Ramon Sessions out of town.  They had to make room for the redundant draft choice Brandon Jennings.  One of the reasons given publicly for this switch — and this is cruel irony at its finest — was that Sessions supposedly “couldn’t shoot”.

At the time I pointed out (or “whined” depending on your point of view) that history was not on the Bucks side.  Rarely do you see examples of 19 year old inexperienced point guards succeeding in the NBA.  And Jennings past statistics gave ZERO indication that he would be different.

At first it looked like I was dead wrong, as Jennings shot a mindboggling percentage in his first few professional games.  But I remained skeptical.  I not only believed the fast start was a mirage, I thought it was a dangerous mirage.  Jennings now had carte blanche to hoist away.  And its hurt the Bucks.

Expected points versus actual points

I’m in the process of doing a quick analysis of how many points each Milwaukee Buck is costing the team or adding to the team based on the type of shots he’s taking and the number of points the average player would deliver on those same mix of shots.  I am using the “shot location” data on Hoopsdata.com, as well as their “expected field goal %s” from each range to do the study.

I’m not done but its looking like the costliest Bucks are Jennings (-35.8), Redd (-26.6), and Delfino (-25.4).  The most productive shooter, it looks like is going to either be Ilyasova (+2.1) or possibly Warrick, who I haven’t yet done.

Just for shits and grins I jumped over to the Twolves list and checked our old friend Ramon Sessions to find out how he’s producing.  The guy they needed to replace… because he couldn’t shoot.

He’s actually producing (+1.2) points above average.

Given that Jennings almost certainly took minutes that would have gone to Sessions, and given that in most other statistical categories Sessions is either even with or superior to Jennings, we can replace the two and make a dirty “what if” calculation (I note that Jennings defense is statistically better, but Sessions numbers are hampered by playing with the NBA’s  smallest frontline behind him.)

If you give the Bucks those missing points they would be on a trajectory that would land them around 41 wins rather than the sub 34 wins they are headed for now.

Counterfactuals are never conclusive, but its interesting to speculate.  Hopefully Jennings better days are ahead of him.  We’re probably in “wait till next year” mode anyway.

FOOTNOTE:  I was right about Bogut too.  Its not that he’s shooting poorly (he’s actually dead even in points delivered), its that he’s taking poor shots.  Based on the type shots he’s attempted, he’s making as many as the average shooter.  But he’s not delivering the shooting percentage he usually delivers and he’s not delivering what a center usually delivers, so that’s not good enough.  The problem has to be that he needs to take more high percentage shots.  Shooting below positional average is just as detrimental to the team as shooting below “shot mix” average.

No defense for Bango’s defense in Rip City

January 14, 2010

I don’t know if any of you Antlerheads stayed up and watched that garbage the Milwaukee Bucks put out last night, but I did.  What a pathetic effort.  Possibly the worst defense the team has played all season.

Let me put into perspective how bad the Bucks defense was.

First you have my “tell-tale” defensive marker — assists allowed.  If a defense allows the opposition to produce more than 21 assists, that means the ball was moving too freely.  That speaks to a lack of effort on defense.  The Portland Trailblazers had 25 assists last night.  The ball was moving so freely, I thought I was watching the Harlem Globetrotters.

Then you look at the Blazers’ field goal percentage.  Ridiculous.  It was like a lazy game of Noon Ball at the Y for them.  If you factor in 3 point shots made, the Blazers effective field goal percentage was well over 60%.

Ed Peterson did a landmark study a few years ago in which he shot-charted and play-described an entire season of Sacramento Kings basketball.  Ed’s data shows that the average NBA player will make 60% of his “wide open” jumpers, and somewhere in the range of 35% of his “contested” jumpers.

The Blazers shot 60% overall from the field last night.  They had a lot of “wide open” jumpers.  Complete crap effort.  Complete crap.

Milwaukee Bucks “Needs Improvement” list

January 13, 2010

Here are some random items Bucks players need to work on in the second half of the season:

Andrew Bogut

1. Defensive eFG

In general Andrew Bogut does a nice job of limiting the production of his opponent centers.  There’s one area he can do better in though: opponent field goal percentage.  He is currently allowing centers to shoot 53.3%, which is below average and Bogut’s worst on the ball defense since his second season.

2. No Jumpers Andy!

Remember my post a couple seasons (and a couple of blogs) back about Andrew Bogut and his useless jump shooting?  Essentially I reckoned he could be a much better win producer if he simply stopped shooting jumpers.  Last season he basically did and the results followed.  Now he’s back to shooting them and his eFG is way down.  I’d fine him every time he shot one.

3. Fear not the free throw line

If you look at Andrew Bogut’s “clutch” stats its obvious that late in close games he goes soft.  His jump shot percentage goes way up, and his numbers go way down.  I know why.  He doesn’t want to risk having to shoot a free throw.  That’s stupid!  Even if he makes only one of two, that’s much better than the average Buck possession.

Brandon Jennings

1. Get some Nash

Did you realize that when Brandon Jennings goes into the lane he gets his shot blocked 21% of the time, but when the supposedly “unathletic” Steve Nash goes into the lane he gets his shot blocked a mere 4% of the time?  Athleticism is THE most over rated trait in basketball.  Basketball skill and craftiness are much more important.  Jennings needs to learn how to finish at the rim then he will be complete.

Luc Moute

1. Get on the offensive boards

The one  area where Luc Moute’s game has diminshed is the offensive boards.  He still gets an above average percent, but with his limited offense he needs to do better than that.  He has to live off those easy put backs.

Hak Warrick

1. Finish in the lane

Warrick is making only 44% of his “close” shots.  He has to better than that… he’s a power forward.

Carlos Delfino

1. Find the three

Without the three, Delfino is useless offensively.  I realize its a high variance shot, but a half a season of missing is a high enough variance I think.

Every Buck

1. Get on the offensive glass

When you can’t shoot a lick, you have to pound the offensive glass relentlessly for second chancers.  The Bucks are currently 21st in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage.  They have to do better than that.  I doubt they will, though.  Last season they were 22nd.

2. Better free throw line defense

I’m being sarcastic.  But did you realize this is the second season in a row the Bucks opponents have  shot a higher than average free throw percentage against them?  That’s got to be bad luck, right?  Anyway, it costs the team real wins.  Last season the Bucks were the unluckiest “free throw  in the entire NBA.  This season they’ve improved to third unluckiest.  (and it doesn’t have anything to do with the extra opportunities the Bucks give up either.  Indiana gave up the second most opportunities last season yet their opponents shot well under the NBA average… and one has to assume they played virtually the same schedule as Milwaukee.  Curious.)

Tough Day’s Night for Bango

January 12, 2010

I was going to write a post a few weeks ago expressing concern about Coach Skiles health, specifically his heart, but I was afraid it would be received as a lame attempt at comedy.

But my concerns were genuine.  He seems to have the kind of personality that lends itself to heart problems, and he probably has a few physical markers as well.  Then on top of that he coaches  a basketball team that must cause him tremendous anguish.  Its not a positive recipe.  Hopefully his episode on the West Coast yesterday will end up being a false alarm.

The Redd Situation… End of the Era?

Michael Redd is all but finished physically, yet he holds a 17 million dollar option for next season that he would be a fool to waive.  I predict this is not going to end pretty.  I’m not familiar with their contractual options, but you know the Bucks will use every available means to attempt to get out from under their obligations to Redd.  They have to.  They would be just as foolish not to.

And so things will get rough.  But for today, you had to feel for Michael Redd.  He must feel as though he were climbing a slippery mountain and he just slid all the way back down to the valley.  He’s where he was last season, where he never thought he’d be again, and it has to be crushing him inside.  He said as much when asked.

“Shaken. I’m a man of faith but I’m a little shaken. You never expect it to happen and then for it to happen again….”

As a Bucks fan, I guess I have to hope that he becomes a medical casualty so that the Bucks can use the money they owe him on someone — or more likely someones — who can actually help them win basketball games next season.  You can’t waste whole seasons on sentiment when you’ve wasted so many on incompetence.

With that crass acknowledgment, I have to say I’m sort of pulling for the guy.  I was genuinely moved by the words he used at his press conference, “Something in my heart won’t let me give up”.

How can you root against a guy like that?

The Ghost that won’t die

I updated the Bucks Win Chart to reflect the team’s fine effort on the road against the Phoenix Suns.  As I said to a commenter, I thought the 22 year curse of Neal Walk (a player whom Bill Simmons refers to as “the hairiest in NBA history“) was finally vanquished.   I thought the ghosts of the Alcindor flip were finally gone.  I thought the deal we made with Lucifer for six years of glory was finally paid in full.

Then Bogut missed that little bunny.  Just a little bun-bun, and he couldn’t quite work it over the rim.   And the Antlers took their annual “L” in Phoenix.

But, as I say repeatedly, don’t overemphasize “key moments”.  Games are won and lost because of every single play made in the game, not just the ones that come nearest to the end.  And, overall, Bogut had a nice defensive night.  But I wish he would have made that layup.

The player of the game for the Bucks, however, was PF “Hack” Warrick.  He had an awesome game.  If he keeps this kind of play up, perhaps the Bucks fortunes will turn.

Remember, I said “If”…

Why was I so wrong about the Bucks?

January 11, 2010

Its time to call myself to task.  Remember back in the days preceding the current Milwaukee Bucks season when I made my final Bucks win projection?

Remember the hubris?  Based on preseason performance, and other variables, I claimed the Milwaukee Bucks would win 40 games, and I provided an estimated win chart to back up my prediction.  At this moment, nearly half way into the season, the team projects closer to 33 wins.  How, or rather “why”, did I get it so wrong?

An Examination of My Errors

Lets examine.  Because MVN.com went down, the post itself is no longer accessible, but I still have the google document with the original win chart.  Here it is.  I have added two columns to the chart to show how far off I was on my original prediction based upon each player’s win contribution (because that takes into consideration not only the player’s performance but also his availability).

Initially, it looks as though I was way off.  Oddly enough, the one guy I got right was Ersan Ilyasova, and that was based upon a guesstimate more than anything.  But more often I got players production numbers pretty wrong.

The players I got really wrong were Ridnour, Bogut, Redd, Moute, and Thomas.  Four of them I was too optimistic about, and Ridnour I was too pessimistic about. (Remember I wrote Meeks off altogether based on his poor preseason, but for the purposes of the chart Ukic’s numbers serve as the generic “3rd string SG” numbers).  You could also say I got Jennings wrong, but everyday he is working very hard to make my numbers right.

Reexamining based on average Bucks seasons

But actually, upon further examination, I didn’t do too badly at all.  The one area that is supposed to be the most reliable, each player’s offensive Win Score statistics, turned out to be the area that mucked me up.  There’s no way to account for that.  And the area that should be most difficult to predict — each player’s “defensive” Win Score statistics — I actually got almost exactly right.

A second chart

I did a follow up chart that compares each player’s numbers to date versus the numbers they would be producing if they merely met their average career offensive Win Score numbers.  Meaning, I held their current defensive (or “Opponent”) Win Score per 48 averages constant, and then plugged in their career offensive (or “Individual”) Win Score numbers and then I calculated what their new MWS48 averages and win production would be.  Here is that new chart.

As you can see, if every Milwaukee Bucks player who had NBA experience coming into this season played the exact same defense and merely produced their personal average offensive numbers (save for Ilyasova who clearly had improved in Europe over the NBA numbers he put up as an 18 year old, so I didn’t include him), the Bucks would actually be exactly where projected them to be.  Remember, that isn’t asking for their best performance, just their run-of-the-mill performance.

Is this good news going forward?  Maybe, but probably not.  As you can see, the one player who was most underperforming himself was, of course, Michael Redd.  He was a whopping 1.1 wins under average.  And now he’s gone.  The next biggest underperformer has been Luc Moute.  Since he was a rookie last season its hard to tell if this season is the aberration or if last season was, or if the numbers he’s producing this season are actually his norm.

Players who might provide for some improvement are Charlie Bell, Hakim Warrick, and Carlos Delfino.  If each of them can continue with their respective defensive numbers, and then can merely add their average offensive numbers to that, the Bucks could improve.

But actually, the one player Bucks fans may legitimately place some hope in is a surprise.  It’s Jodie Meeks (the player I was so low on I didn’t even include him in my preseason win chart!).  He’s actually having a pretty good offensive season, much better than Michael Redd was having.  What he needs to do is clean up his defense.  If he can improve there, he could — surprisingly — be an upgrade from Redd.

Bogut’s having “Above Average” Season?

One other point.  Andrew Bogut is actually performing above his career numbers at the moment.  As you recall coming into this season I did a career win resume for Andrew that showed that for most of his career he’s been just an average center.

The disappointment for me is that Bogut is performing well below the numbers he produced last season.  I was hoping (probably against logic) that Bogut had established a new norm for himself last season.  It looks instead like last season was a bit of an outlier, as they say.

Also, it seems as though he is a really situational center.  Meaning, it seems as though he can produce well against poor centers, but if you put someone decent in front of him he really doesn’t do much.   I have an idea how I can check that theory and I will report back with my findings.

FOOTNOTE TO THE POST

I just reexamined my original win chart once again.  Actually, if I had to do it all over, I probably wouldn’t change anything.  None of the numbers are ridiculous.  Most of them were actually fairly conservative — except for the playing minutes, I guess, and I relied on BasketballProspectus for those.

Otherwise, nothing was really out-of-whack.  Bogut was coming off a +2.40 MWS48 season and I projected him at +1.80.  I projected Redd under his career average, and the same goes for Moute.  In fact, every one of the projections was made under each of the player’s demonstrated best season.

The problem is, everyone except Ridnour is well below his best season, never mind his “average” season.  And Kurt Thomas, a player I really relied on despite the fact that he showed some wear on his tires in the preseason, has simply dropped off the cliff.  In retrospect the team would have been much better served had they kept Amir Johnson and given the backup center minutes to him.  He’s having a productive season in Toronto.


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