Today Tom Habersroth wrote a great article about how James Harden played with and without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the floor. It showed that he is a legit #1 option. This made me wonder how each of our bigs is impacted by playing with each other.
I start this research without a thesis statement and without much of any idea how this will turn out. I will use the numbers from last season because the sample size is greater but I will check this year to see if anything is relevant after 4 games (doubt it)
One note on this –the playing pair numbers include the highly productive big line-up last year that was so far out of the statistical norm that it skews some of the results.
The Line-up of Millsap, Favors and Jefferson played 113 minutes together last year and was an insane +30 per 48 minutes.
NOTE – All +/- mentions are per 48 minutes
Let’s start with Millsap and Jefferson, the pair that played the most together. According to NBA stats, Millsap and Jefferson played on average 28.7 minutes together each game. Meaning, they only played about 4 to 6 minutes a night separate. The Jazz were +3.3 per night last year with the Millsap/Jefferson combo.
How does Jefferson’s presence impact Millsap. See the chart below
Without Jefferson on the floor Millsap shooting drops from 51% to 44%, that is really stunning. I would presume when coupled with Favors or Kanter teams zeroed in on him and he is not able to get his shot as easily. Positively, Millsap did go to the line more when Jefferson was off the floor. There was no difference in how the team performed.
Flip it around how is Jefferson impacted by Millsap
The plus minus number shows the Jefferson needs Millsap along with him on the floor. Jefferson shots more without Millsap and his production goes up but his efficiency is very similar. Jefferson seems relatively non impacted. .
How is Jefferson impacted if he is playing with Derrick Favors.
Remember this is skewed by the big line-up’s 113 minutes totally 25% of the time Jefferson played with Favors. However, it is interesting that again Jefferson is not impacted and the team’s plus minus with Jefferson with Favors on the bench is only 1.7 whereas it is 6.6 when they are on the floor together.
Flip it around – here is Favors with Jefferson
This might be the most eye-opening result. Favors seems to really need Jefferson. When Favors plays with someone other than Jefferson (mostly Kanter) the team was -4.2 whereas it was+6.6 when he played with Jefferson.
More striking is the contrast in shooting percentage, when Favors is playing off Big Al he shots 59% and when he is playing without Al and they are running the offense through him he shots just 47%.
Next look is Millsap and Favors. Again the big line-up accounts for 113 of the 399 minutes they played together last year.
Millsap shooting is down a little with Favors and his scoring is about the same. The plus minus for the Jazz is very good largely due to the big line-up. This graph doesn’t show a lot.
Again we get a very stark negative on the plus minus for Favors without Millsap. Similar, to with Jefferson, Favors really needs to be playing with Millsap or Jefferson. His shooting percentage is up 8% and the plus minus is out of this world. When forced to play the 5 he does seem to get in more foul trouble.
Now let’s bring Kanter into the mix. Kanter had a tough rookie year as he was learning and his plus minus numbers were not good last year. Jefferson and Kanter did not play together last year.
Favors played nearly half his minutes last year with Kanter and looking at this chart it was not a good combo.
When Favors was asked to carry the load he shot 45% from the floor and when Kanter was off the floor and Favors was a complimentary big he shot 56%. The plus minus numbers are alarming.
Surprisingly, Kanter who played 630 of his 874 minutes with Favors last year, was not impacted negatively by playing with Favors. He shot better with Favors on the floor and his rebounding was the nearly the same up a little with Favors on the bench.
This is the last combo to look at. Let’s start with the impact on Millsap because if the Jazz ever move Favors into the starting line-up this pair could start playing together.
This match-up hurts Paul’s offensive efficiency. He goes to the line more but he drops from 50% shooting to 43% shooting. Surprisingly, he rebounds more with Kanter on the floor. Yet, what jumps out the most is the +/- with Millsap and Kanter, who only played 145 minutes together last year, is better than Millsap with other players.
This is the only time Kanter gives the Jazz a positive plus minus last year. The +4.2 compared to the negative -7.5 is stunning. Kanter becomes a beast on the boards with Millsap.
4 games is not worth pulling charts. But after a quick scan here are some notes
• Favors is even +/- with Millsap but -6.4 without him
• Millsap is even +/- with Favors but +4.0 without him
• Millsap again shoots less well with Favors on the floor and shoots better with Jefferson on the floor.
• Jefferson is -6.8 this year with Millsap on the bench it has only been 16 minutes
• Jefferson has played 105 of his 121 minutes with Paul Millsap on the floor.
• Millsap and Kanter have played 4 minutes together
• Enes Kanter has played 52 of his 57 minutes with Derrick Favors – The Jazz are -6.2 with this crew on the floor.
• Favors scores at a higher rate with Kanter on the bench
• In the 24 minutes Favors and Jefferson have been on the floor together Jazz are -7.5 per 48
• Jefferson is shooting 58% with Favors on the floor and 40% without him.
Not sure I have a big conclusion here. The only thing very obvious is the Kanter/Favors combo continues to struggle. Millsap’s numbers without Jefferson are interesting. Jefferson and Favors inability so far this year leaves me without any definitive conclusion on what the best thing to do is for the Jazz. I will continue to monitor.