BREAKDOWN – What stats lead to wins and how do Jazz rank?

A good hoops conversation with Ron Boone today lead into a discussion about what statistically area lead most directly to wins. Four or five years ago Tom Nissalke and I did this exercise and were stunned to find out one of the primary indicators to wins was 3 pointers attempted. Not made but attempted. The game has changed since then since the 3 pointer has become more universal.

Here are what we discovered today. The methodology is very simplistic. Rank the teams top 5, top 10, bottom 5 and bottom 10 in certain statistical categories and see what the combined winning percentage is for top 5, top 10, bottom 5 and bottom 10 in those categories.

If the statistic has no correlation to winning it should be near 50%.

3 point shooting is where this research started and it is not as a big factor as it once once. The 5 teams that use the most % of their possessions to shot three’s only win 52% of the time, the top 10 teams using three’s as part of their offense win 56%. However, if you don’t shot the three it is hard to win. The bottom 5 teams in the NBA using three pointers win just 35% and the bottom 10 win 50% of the time. The Jazz use the 2nd fewest possession to shot a three.

Does offensive rebounding help a team win? Maybe not. The top 5 offensive rebounding teams have a combined 50% winning percentage, the top 10 a 46% winning percentage. In fact, the argument might go the other way you are better off not offensive rebounding as the bottom 10 offensive rebounding teams win 60% of their games. The Jazz rank 4th in offensive rebounding.

Defensive rebounding, on the other hand, seems to be important. The top 5 defensive rebounding teams have a combined 62% winning percentage and the top 10 are at 58%. What is clear if you don’t defensive rebound it is going to be hard to win, the bottom 10 teams in defensive rebounding win 40% of the time and the bottom 5 win 41% of the time. The Jazz are 20th in defensive rebounding.

Let’s turn to turnovers. Lots of being made of the Thunder’s problem with turnovers is this legitimate. Taking care of the ball seems to have very little indicator if you win or not. The top 5 teams at taking care of the ball are winning at 51% and the top 10 win 54% of games. The worst teams in the NBA do about the same, the bottom 5 teams win 53% (have OKC helps) and the bottom 10 teams win 50% of their games. The Jazz are 6th best at taking care of the ball.
Surprisingly, it looks as though forcing turnovers can hurt your team’s chances to win. Or at least the best teams don’t force turnovers. The Top 5 teams in the NBA at forcing turnovers win 55% of the time and the top 10 teams forcing turnovers only win 53%. Here is the surprise, the bottom 5 teams in the NBA at forcing turnovers win 57% of the time and the bottom 10 teams in the NBA forcing turnovers win 60% of the time. The Jazz are 14th in the NBA at forcing turnovers.

The big indicator is free throw, teams that get to the line win. The top 5 teams going to the line win 65% of their games, and the top 10 teams going to the line win just 50% of the time. Teams that don’t go to the line come in at the mean line. The bottom 5 and the bottom 10 teams win at 50%. Jazz are 8th in the NBA at getting to the line.

The biggest indicator yet is if you foul or not. The top 5 teams at keeping the opponent off the line win at 67%. The top 10 teams at keeping teams off the line win at 60%. If you put teams on the line it is significant as well. The 10 teams that put teams on the line the most win at just 40% and the bottom 5 teams win at just 41%. Jazz are 29th in the NBA.

The #1 issue as it always has been if you make shots. Using effective field goal % which weighs three point shots you get the expected results. The top 5 teams in the NBA at making shots win 69% of the time and the top 10 teams win 63%. For all the talk of defense if you don’t make shots you are not winning . The bottom 5 teams in the NBA at EFG% win at just 26% and the bottom 10 teams wins at 40%. The Jazz are 19th in the NBA at EFG%.

Finally is defense more important than offense? You better be great at 1 or the other. The top 5 teams in DEF% win at 66% and the top 10 teams are at 61% whereas the bottom 5 teams win just 33% of their games and the bottom 10 win just 40%. The Jazz are 23rd in the NBA.

Digest how you wish.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz beat the Cavs

• Jazz get a must needed road win over the Cavs, give the Jazz credit for taking control of the game in the 2nd quarter and blowing this game out and then holding on for the win. Then realize the Cavs looked awful. They weren’t engaged at all early in the game. The Jazz took advantage of that and for that they deserve credit.

• Gordon Hayward reacted exactly as you would want him to react to being benched. He is a tough competitor and he was appropriately pissed today and it showed.

• Before the game I was with Earl Watson and I asked him about getting Gordon going, and he said that he would outlet to him on the wing so he could play in space as much as possible and then once in the half court run a lot of side pick and roll with him and a big. It worked.

• The second unit is better for Gordon in a lot of ways. It gets him the ball in the open floor and it allows him to play with the ball in his hand and that is when he is at his best and engaged.

• Al Jefferson lead the team in points, rebounds and assists tonight. Before the game Byron Scott said in his keys to the game that they were not going to let Millsap and Jefferson beat them and they would be sending double teams and prevent the inside game from dominating. Jefferson took advantage with 7 assists, a new career high. Most remarkable he had zero turnovers. Jefferson has become a willing passer.

• Before the game I was talking with Devin Harris and we were talking about what he needs to do to get going in this offense. He said I have to go in transition, but when I mentioned the guys he plays with don’t run a lot he laughed looked at me and basically said I don’t need to have anyone run with me. He showed that early in the game as he was a one man fast-break.

• Derrick Favors played as well as I have seen him. In the second quarter the Cavs shot 3 of 16 in the 2nd quarter and Favors lead the way defensively. He was everywhere.

• I feel like Favors is about to take a big step. His offense is still really raw but he is playing the game with a lot of confidence right now.

• Favors had a great post move tonight when he caught on the left block and drove baseline and finished on the reverse side. That is a nice compliment to back to the basket left block move where he goes to the middle with a hook.

• Burks really battled on the defensive end tonight on Sessions

• Devin Harris says he knee is ok not too serious but he didn’t say no problem. Tinsley was ok, he hit two set shot threes that will make everyone think he had a good night but I didn’t love the way he ran the team and I thought he was pretty loose with the ball in some key possessions. After a few mistakes he seemed to tighten the screws and play better

• Raja’s three point streak came to an end tonight and he seemed rusty on the floor and with his passing.

• It is worth taking a moment and looking at the Cavs roster compared to the Jazz. The Jazz have 4 pieces for the future and some other assets that are tradable or can be a part of the future. By trading Deron before he went to free agency they gained three of those and gained them two years ahead of when they would have. The Cavs on the other hand, went to the wire with LeBron got nothing in exchange and have 2 pieces for their future Irving and Thompson and nothing else on the roster. The Jazz could add two more pieces this draft and the Cavs will add one . That is a pretty huge difference by acting early on the Jazz part. Cleveland couldn’t do that they were close to a title and it was the home

PLAYBOOK – Great rotation defense by Utah Jazz Youngsters v. Dallas

One play against Dallas showed me the growth of the Jazz young players. It was the final play of the 1st quarter. The Jazz had Watson, Burks, Miles, Favors and Kanter on the floor.

The Mavericks ran a high pick and roll with Terry and Nowitzki, one of the best late quarter combos in the NBA.

The Jazz play the pick and roll correctly pushing it to the side of the floor. Burks gets on Terry’s left shoulder and Favors reads the defense perfectly cutting off his sideline drive and making himself big.

Terry makes the pass back to Dirk and Watson rotates perfectly to Nowitzki at the top. The key here is look at Favors. He has already started his sprint to the corner to help Watson and Kanter is alert enough to realize he is going to need to be a part of this as well. This is the growth of these guys.

Roddy Beuabois gets the ball in the corner, he is not a great outside shooter so the Jazz are fortunate. However, Kanter closes hard and fast forcing him off the three point line. Burks has also done a nice job coming down to help on Kanter’s man. CJ has too be on his toes for a skip pass to Carter.

Favors is the next line of defense after his super effort to get over to the weakside after being part of the pick and roll defense and he forces Roddy into a bad shot and the Jazz get a stop.

INSIDER – Corbin to start Howard sends Hayward to the bench

The Utah Jazz first round draft pick from the 2010 NBA draft Gordon Hayward will move to the bench tonight for the first time all year with Raja Bell’s return to the line-up. A move that had been percolating for the last week or two week has come to fruition.

Coach Tyrone Corbin explained what he liked out of Josh Howard, “I like what we are getting from Josh in the starting group, the way he cut off when Al is posting up and the way he reads situations.”

Tyrone thinks this could assist Gordon as well, “ This is a way to get the ball in Gordon’s hand more with the second unit and run a few more things through him and pick the tempo up we have gotten stagnant with the second group.”

Over the last six games as a starter Howard has averaged, 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists while shooting 48%. The 7 rebounds might be most vital to this teams needs.

The new starting line-up of Harris, Bell, Howard, Millsap and Jefferson is the most veteran line-up Corbin can put on the floor. “Most experience we have on this team, should give us a chance at the beginning of the game. Veteran guys know how to prepare themselves on how to play as we go down the stretch trying to make the playoffs,” explained Corbin.

Gordon said all the right things about the move to the bench, with each answer to each question coming out about the exact same ““Whatever the team needs, it doesn’t matter, help the team win” and “It doesn’t matter come in with the same mindset and help the team win.” And “ You can only control how you do on the court” and “ Same mindset get better each day, play good defense whatever it takes to win, don’t want to make a big deal just help this team get wins that is what we need.”

Corbin wouldn’t commit to what the second unit would be mentioning both Miles and Burks as playing with Gordon. However, he says he is more comfortable with playing Burks, Gordon, Kanter and Favors together, “it is not at beginning of the season, we have a history we have a understanding of what guys are going to do. That is what scared me at the beginning of the year is that they were so young together, they now know what to expect and we will see how they respond.”

The Jazz are currently 11th in the West three games behind Denver for the 8th spot and Corbin is trying to make his playoff push with a veteran core and an energy based young bench.

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz loss to the Mavericks

Emptying the Noggin
• Not a lot to say tonight. The Jazz got hit with the NBA Finals back to back and you have to be really pleased they got one out of the mix. Moreover, this could have been really ugly and the Jazz made it a game and stayed in the game. That is really important to avoid being blown out of games.
• Road basketball is a problem for the Jazz but they have lost 17 of the last 21 in Dallas and 6 in a row in Dallas so it is hard to say that tonight was some aberration or terrible performance.
• In the last two nights we have seen what it takes to get to the NBA Finals and it is a super human player like LeBron and Dirk. You have to have really special players to win with regularity in the NBA. We should know this we won with John and Karl and with Deron. They were all the elite of the elite and that is how you win.
• As long as Al Jefferson has this large a roll on the offense and on the team he has to play better on the road if this team has any chance to win. He is now shooting 43.8% on the road. He uses too many possessions for the Jazz to be able to win if he shots like that and moreover he doesn’t bring enough defensively to overcome that.
• Jefferson was brilliant in the win at Memphis but in the last 6 road losses he is shooting 41% and is 11 of 12 from the line and the Jazz are -46 when he is on the floor in those 6 games.
• Favors is on the verge of becoming the best big man on this team and it is going to happen sooner rather than later. He is by far the best defensive player. He needs to become a better defensive rebounder. He needs to learn to finish and get a better touch around the basket. Without those things he still scored 14 points and 5 rebounds in just 18 minutes.
• Paul Millsap changed his offensive game tonight and played more straight up rather than in the post with his back to the basket and was much more effective. He spaced the floor and hit the jumper off others activities. He got garbage points. He did a lot of things very well.
• Alec Burks is a fearless kid and he is leaving Tyrone no choice but to play him. He had 4 turnover tonight in the second quarter but he will learn how to deal with those plays and in a year or two those will become positive plays rather than negative plays.
• The offense got very stagnant in the 2nd quarter with Watson, Burks, Miles , Favors and Kanter on the floor but their defense was great. They held the Mavericks to 7 of 21.
• Lot of question to why CJ is getting Gordon’s minutes. I am not sure I have an answer, so I probably have the same question. But my best guess is that with the line-up on the floor with Kanter and Favors Tyrone needs some scoring and he sees CJ Miles as a scorer.
• Over the last 4 games CJ Miles is scoring – he is averaging 17 pts a game. He is shooting 43% but has hit 7 of 17 from three and is 14 of 15 from the free throw line. However, in the last 6 road games he is shooting 28% on 13 of 46 shooting.
• Dirk is great.
* I really like Dallas as a playoff team if they get healthy and have Lamar Odom.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz beat the Heat

Emptying the Noggin
• Super win for the Jazz this evening and a huge tip of the hat to the crowd at Energy Solutions tonight, it was rocking.
• What an amazing game – for the final 5 minutes the game was within one possession the entire time. Tied at 88,90 and 92.
• The last few minutes will get most of the attention but the game was won with the relentless effort early in the game and through the game. The Jazz jumped on a tired Heat team and not until LeBron went into super human mode did the Heat get anything consistently going.
• The Jazz won this game on the glass. They dominated the offensive glass getting 25 offensive rebounds while the Heat got 27 defensive rebounds.
• First quarter Jazz got 7 of the 12 rebounds on the Heat defensive glass, 2nd quarter they got 8 of the 13m 3rd quarter they got 4 of 11 and in the 4th quarter 4 of 11.
• Devin Harris hit the big one. The floating runner with 4.5 seconds left plus the foul to tie the game and give the Jazz the lead with the free throw.
• Al Jefferson stayed engaged on the play late when CJ missed the driving layup and was there for yet another offensive rebound and followed it for 2. Jazz won 2nd chance points 29-17.
• Jazz didn’t allow a fast break point from the Heat for the first 20 minutes of the game.
• The 4 young kids, Hayward, Burks, Kanter and Favors played great defense. These guys really work hard on the defensive end and do a terrific job. Kanter has some lapses, Burks tries to make some plays he could in college that he can’t in the pros but those are the exceptions. The effort level of these 4 on defense is a great sign for the future. Favors is really super. He is so athletic and impacts a ton of plays. Even when he makes a mistake he recovers.
• The effort and energy on the glass was awesome and huge amount of it came from the wing players. Miles had 5 rebounds, Gordon had 5 rebounds and Howard had 9 rebounds, yes 9 rebounds.
• The Heat are awesome defensively and they come at you in waves. The Jazz never got rattled and kept battling the whole game. Devin Harris did a really nice job of getting into sets running the offense and getting the ball where it needed to go.
• The Jazz only shot 42%, hit just 3 threes. They won this game with effort.
• Gordon Hayward had a really nice stretch in the 3rd quarter and finished the night with a solid box score, 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on just 3 of 7 shooting.
• The 2nd quarter play by Watson, Burks, CJ, Favors and Kanter was terrific. They took it from a 1 point game to a 12 point lead. Most of it was against Cole, Wade, Miller, Haslam and Pittman. Once James, Battier and Chalmers re-entered it was even.
• In the 4th the same lineup — went up against, Cole, james, Miller, Haslam and Anthony and kept it even but once Wade replaced Cole it slipped to a 4 point game from a 7 point game.
• Burks is so cool. He was completely unphased by the environment and the opponents. He only played 9 minutes but he had a huge impact on the game.
• I would usually bang on CJ for his 5 for 14 and Josh for his 4 of 15 but not against Miami, they devour wing players
• LeBron James had 35-10-5 for the second straight night and both nights he was without a turnover, I am guessing that has never happened in NBA history. His 4th quarter performance was one of the great ones you will ever see. He literally took his whole team on the ride. He was screaming and yelling defensively, he was unreal offensively, hitting shots that were unimaginable and then he passed. The pass will make some forget how brilliant he really was. It was a once in a lifetime performance.
• Heat need more than Norris Cole as the back-up to Mario Chalmers. They can’t win it with Cole. A huge part of the game was when Chalmers went to the bench with 2 fouls.
• Paul Millsap still does not have any lift.
• Kanter 11 points and 6 rebounds and was a force inside, teams are grabbing him, holding him and preparing for him and he is still battling. He made some nice offensive plays tonight as well. He has a really nice touch