INSIDER – Favors minutes compared to his draft class

Since posting the surprising numbers of Favors minutes compared to similar bigs in recent years numerous people have said what about Favors draft class. It does feel as though Favors has been held back in his playing time compared to his draft class.

Both DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe have been integral starting players for their respective teams. Ed Davis who was drafted by Toronto and since traded to Memphis has had consistent playing time as well. However, both Cousins and Monroe entered the league a year older than Favors as did Ed Davis. Other big men in the draft were Ekpe Udon ,23 and Cole Aldrich was 22.

When equalizing his draft class Favors has still played more minutes by the same age. Favors total minutes as of 21 years old, 4,698 surpass Greg Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins.

Additionally, surprising is how close Favors is in production to Greg Monroe when you equalize for minutes played. They both are taking the same shots per minute, rebounding the same and scoring at similar rates. Favors blocks more shots. Cousins 44% shooting is abysmal.

favors compared to draft class

In conclusion, I don’t disagree that Favors could have played more or that Millsap and Jefferson presence restricted his minutes on the floor. However, these last two comparisions show very clearly that Favors is not behind in development or that his development has been stunted in any way.

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INSIDER – Is it possible Favors is not behind in minutes played?

The mantra around the Utah Jazz for the past two seasons has been that Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have stunted the playing time opportunity for Derrick Favors. Anyone who has watched the Utah Jazz has felt Favors is on the verge of exploding and ready for a larger role.

Yet, when compared to other similar current bigs and a Utah Jazz all time great Karl Malone, Favors is not behind in minutes played at all. Favors entered the NBA as a young 19 year old, born July 15 1991. Now as a 21 year old he has played 4,698 minutes. More minutes than Tyson Chandler and Jermaine O’Neal played at the same age and other comparable big Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert didn’t play in the NBA until they were 22 years old. Same goes for Jazz great Karl Malone who didn’t play until he was 22.

Below is a comparison of Favors, Chandler, Mailman, O’Neal, Noah and Hibbert. The numbers for Noah, Malone and Hibbert are after their first year at 22 years old. For a fair comparison project Favors plays 30 minutes a night next year for 2,400 minutes in the season and by 22 he will have played 7,000 minutes to Hibbert’s 1,000, Noah’s 1,500 and Malone’s 2,400.

Favors per minute or per game production doesn’t seem off-line either.

favors comparision with malone

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INSIDER – Defensive Improvement Case Study #1 – Boston Celtics 2007-08

INTRODUCTION
The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.

For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz have finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.

Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.

Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.
Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT CASE STUDY #1 –BOSTON CELTICS 2007-08

DEFENSIVE CHANGE: 2006-07 Boston allowed 106.9 pts per 100 possessions (16th). The next season 98.9 (#1 in the NBA)

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: Were 20th in EFG% become #1, were 28th in fouling were still 23rd, and 10th in forcing turnovers and moved to #1. Pace of play didn’t change and offensive rebounding didn’t change.

PLAYER MOVEMENT: The 06-07 team started Pierce but only for 47 games with Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Deltone West, Sebastian Telfair and a gaggle of other players. In the off-season they had major roster turnover and added Kevin Garnett arguably the best defensive player of the generation and the entire culture changed. In addition, Rajon Rondo went from starting 25 games to being the starting point guard.

COACHING: No head coaching change – Doc Rivers head coach. On August of 2007 the Celtics added defensive guru Tom Thibodeau to their staff he had previously been with Jeff Van Gundy in Houston. Other members of that staff were Clifford Ray, Armond Hill and Kevin Eastman.

CONCLUSION: This one is really basic. Kevin Garnett and no Al Jefferson. However, the increase time with a long point guard in Rondo and the addition of Tom Thibodeau to the staff can’t be underplayed. Kevin Garnett was the defensive player of the year.

INSIDER – Warriors giving Jazz a blueprint but not where you think

Are the Golden State Warriors the model for the Utah Jazz to follow for the upcoming season. Not in their collection of draft picks such as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. Not in way they surrounded their young players with veteran role players Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry who have willing embraced their roles. Not in their fabulous late 1st round and 2nd round additions of Fetus Ezeli and Draymond Green.

Instead the Warriors have done something remarkable on the defensive end of the floor. This year the Warriors defensive rating (pts allowed per 100 possessions) is 102.6. A year ago it was 106, two years ago it was 107.6 and three years ago it was an abysmal 109.4 only to be outdone by the previous years 110.1.

One of the league’s worst defensive franchises has transformed themselves into one of the best. The last two seasons the Utah Jazz have been the 21st ranked defensive team in the NBA. They must find a way to move into the top 15 in the NBA and even the top 10 if they want to be a team that is still playing this time of year.

The 4 best EFG% (weighs three point shooting) defenses in the West are the 4 teams still playing right now. In 2009-10 the Warriors allowed an EFG% of 52.5% this year they allowed just 48.6%.

The addition of Andrew Bogut has been only a small portion of this transformation. Mark Jackson has young group that has bought into his defensive system. The ability to always have a 7 footer on the floor in Biedrins, Ezeli or Bogut is a must and young athletic wings are equally important.

The real area of improvement for the Warriors has been their defensive rebounding. For the last 4 seasons they allowed opponents to garner 31% of their own misses for another possession. This year’s opponent only got 24.5% of their offensive rebounds.

Changing from a bad defensive team to a good defensive team is a very difficult thing to do in the NBA, but the Jazz need to see how the Warriors have achieved this and emulate in the upcoming seasons.

INSIDER – Big man playing pairs tell a lot about Jazz season

Throughout the year I have been looking at playing pairs to see what we could learn about who works well together and who doesn’t. I caution you on some of these numbers because there is a ton of statistical noise in these numbers.

I thought it would be interesting to see what has been working recently and compare it to the season. I choose the day Mo Williams returned. Mo has been back for 19 games.

BIG MAN PAIRS OVER LAST 19 GAMES
Kanter played almost none with Jefferson and Millsap before the injury in this span.

Favors and Millsap have been the best at +3.3. The defensive rebounding has been unreal at 78.6%. They have played very slow.

Favors and Kanter were even. They played 104 minutes together. The defense has been terrific at 99.6 pts allowed per 100 possessions as they have been all year. The offense has been very poor at 100.1 despite an outlier offensive rebounding rate of 40.2%.

Favors and Jefferson who had a tough time defending earlier this year have been very good defensively over the last 221 minutes but now they are having a very difficult time scoring. An offensive rating of 99.1 per 100 possessions.

Millsap and Jefferson are still struggling. They are rolling offensively over the last 351 minutes together scoring at 108.2 pts per 100 possessions but defensively when the two of them are on the floor the Jazz have been close to awful. The Jazz are allowing 112.6 pts per 100 possessions when they are both on the floor. This is not helped by being on the floor with Mo and Randy as a guard combo.

BIG MEN PAIRS FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON

For the season the best playing pair has been Millsap and Kanter but they have only played 169 minutes together this season. They have an outlier for offensive rebounding rate of 44% that is driving much of the success. However, the defensive rate of 93.6 is fantastic.

Jefferson and Favors are -6.5 in efficiency differential for the season (offensive efficiency – defensive efficiency). For the season the defensive rating is 108.8 which would put the Jazz near last in the NBA. Offensively they have only been ok at 102.3 and recently have really struggled.

Millsap and Favors have been a stronger combo for the season at +4.4 per 100 possessions .

For the season Jefferson and Millsap at -2.4 with a hard time defending at 108.1 rate.

Kanter and Favors were a +1 they struggled offensively at 99.4 but defensively were good enough to stay positive. However, so many of these minutes are against second teams that it is disturbing they were unable to be better offensively. They are a good defensive unit.

The line-up Corbin has avoided at all cost is Kanter and Jefferson and rightfully so in the limited 51 minutes they played together they were a -10 per 100 possesison

TAKE AWAY
The variance from one section of the season with Jefferson and Favors to the other either shows how impossible it must be to manage this team or how flawed these numbers might be.

These numbers would say that Millsap and Favors should spend more time on the floor. Interestingly, Millsap has really struggled this year when Jefferson is off the floor. When Millsap is on the floor with Favors he shots 44% and Favors on the floor with Milsap he shots 42% so I have no idea how this line-up has worked. Millsap shots 51% when Jefferson is on the floor and 43% when he is off the floor.

If Corbin tried to get Millsap and Favors on the floor more the first step would be to bring Favors in the game for Jefferson instead of Millsap. However, this would catch him on the back side because when Jefferson re-enters he would be coupled with Kanter on the floor and that line-up is not successful.

In addition, you would likely lose the combo of Millsap and Kanter that has played sparingly but has been successful and would be entirely eliminated.

If the Jazz had started Favors and Jefferson the numbers say that line-up was never successful. The next sub could have been Millsap for Jefferson and then brought Kanter for Jefferson to create the Kanter Millsap line-up and time for Millsap and Jefferson but you still get caught in a Jefferson Kanter combo by the end and your starting line-up of Favors and Jefferson has struggled woese than Millsap and Jefferson.

Not sure I have an answer here.

INSIDER – Jazz starting line-up doing some amazing things

The Jazz current starting line-up of Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson is putting together some amazing numbers.

Here is a collection

* In the month of March they are +6.9 per 48 minutes on the floor.

* For the season the Jazz are shooting 51% from the field and 50% from three with these five on the floor.

* In March they are shooting 54% from the field and 56% from three point range. Insane. They are 29 of 52 when this 5 is on the floor.

* They have 79 assists on 133 field goals.

* Defensively they still have some work to do as they are allowing the opponents to shoot 54% for the season when this 5 is on the floor and 53% since becoming the new starting line-up.

* For the season the offensive ranking is 117 pts per 100 possessions which is off the charts, league best is 100. However, the season long defensive ranking for this group is 118.7

* However, since becoming the starting line-up in March the defensive rating is 111.3 and the offense is 121.4.

* Surprsingly, the defensive rebounding with this group has been very good – 78%.

* How come we didn’t use this line-up earlier. When Ty first used it in November it was a disaster getting out scored by 48 pts per 100 possessions in the first 33 minutes it was used. Then he went back to it in December and it was successful but Mo Williams got injured.

INSIDER – Moneyball basketball via shot charts

The entire premise of the Houston Rockets and moneyball basketball is to shoot the three (preferably the corner 3) or get to the rim and to avoid taking any midrange shots.

The logic of this is …
Shot at Rim: 1.28 pts per shot
Shots from 3 to 23 feet: .76 pts per shot
Three point shots: 1.08 pts per shot

ROCKETS SHOT CHART
rockets shot chart for jazz game

JAZZ SHOT CHART
jazz shot chart for rockets game

INSIDER – Are Foye’s struggles related to who plays the point?

Randy Foye has been struggling to make shots since the All-Star break. Numerous factors have gone into Foye shooting woes. Prior to the Minnesota game he took a shot to the leg and willed his way through that game and his legs have struggled to return to him.

In addition the Jazz have been swinging between 4 different point guards and that has made it difficult for Foye. Each of these point guards play the game very differently and for a shooter that is a considerable adjustment to how and where they are going to get the shots.

Randy was struggling prior to the Mo Williams injury in December. In fact, the night in Orlando when Williams injury was announced, Foye spent a large portion of that day watching film trying to discover where he can get looks in the offense.

Part of Foye’s struggles are he hasn’t had the big night where he nails 4 or 5 three’s. He has only had two games since Feb 4th with more than 2 three’s in a game.

Since Mo Williams has returned Foye is just 10 of his last 42 from the field. This is consistent to a season long trend that Foye is having a tougher time when Mo is on the floor. Looking solely at the point guards Foye’s struggles may be a case of missing Jamal Tinsley.

Here are the numbers for Randy Foye depending who his point guard has been
Foye with Mo Williams – 37% and 36% from 3 – 1.4 FTA per 36 – Mo off – 40% and 42% 3.0 FTA per 36
Foye with Jamaal Tinsley – 43% and 46% from 3- 2.7 FTA per 36 – JT off – 36% and 36% 2.4 per 36
Foye with Earl Watson – 35% and 36% from 3 3.2 FTA per 36 – EW off – 40% and 41% 2.4 per 36
Foye with Alec Burks – 39% and 42% from 3 4.1 FTA per 36 – off the floor – 39% and 40% 2.3 per 36

Interesting that not only does Foye shoot less well with Mo on the floor but he also goes to the line a great deal more. Tinsley seems to have a rhythm with Foye as he shoots 10% better from three with Tinsley than anyone else.

A lot goes into making a good shooter and right now those items are not clicking for Randy Foye and the Jazz.