Category Archives: Season Preview

Will the 2011 Heat Emulate the 2007 Patriots?

Sorry to go on a 2011 Miami Heat bender here, but BBR Blog reader Nick had an intriguing comment in response to yesterday’s post about a possible weakness of the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade tandem:

“Trying to compare the Heat to anything that has ever come before is an exercise in futility. You have the best player in the league, who happens to LOVE to pass teamed up with the second-or-third best player, who also is pretty fond of passing to the open man. They may both have had similar styles, but they ended up in those styles due to their teams’ set-ups. How LeBron will act now that he can people to pass to who are good in their own right cannot be predicted with the information we have.

There’s never been anything like it before. Every Heat game is going to be worth watching, especially against the crappy teams, because you don’t know what sort of thing they’ll bring out when they’re way ahead. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have regular season games where Miller shoots 20 3s and scores 30+ points, just because they think it’d be fun to do. This Heat team goes way beyond special into the realm of surreal.”

That reminded me of a Chase Stuart post at PFR in October 2007:

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Hard-Driving New Teammates

One common observation about the new-look Miami Heat goes something like this:

  • Dwyane Wade is a great perimeter player who makes his living attacking the basket. He’s unstoppable when he drives into the lane, but not as good when you force him to shoot a jump shot.
  • LeBron James is also a great perimeter player who makes his living attacking the basket. He, too, is unstoppable when he drives into the lane, but not as good when you force him to shoot a jump shot.
  • Won’t this redundancy in skills make the Heat easier to defend?

If only we could quantify this dilemma, find similar situations in the past where two hard-driving teammates joined forces, and see if their offenses were as potent as expected…

Oh, wait, we can.

Enter good old Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA). Because the majority of fouls are assessed on interior shooting attempts and/or aggressive offensive plays, FTR is actually a pretty good indicator of where a player likes to operate from on offense. Players like Glen Rice and Dennis Scott were known for their low FTRs because they took a ton of perimeter jumpers, shots on which a foul would land you in the serious doghouse. And at the other end of the spectrum there’s Reggie Evans, whose legendary FTRs tell the story of a player who rarely attempts a shot outside of point-blank range. Obviously there are some players who are exceptions to this rule, but the majority of players’ inside-outside tendencies can be described simply by looking at FTA/FGA.

So that should be the starting point in examining the issue of hard-driving teammates. The next step is to compare everyone’s FTR to some universal standard, and to do that I borrowed this method from PFR’s Doug Drinen. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but it basically compares everyone to the league average; 100 is average, numbers greater than 100 mean the player attacks the rim more than the average player, and numbers under 100 mean the player is less aggressive than the average player. The theory is that if we just look at these “FTR Index” numbers for perimeter players (PG, SG, SF), we can find players who drove to the basket the most, which best describes LeBron and D-Wade’s playing style.

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Lee, Robinson Make Knicks a Playoff Contender in 09-10

This week, the news Knicks fans have been hoping to hear finally came: David Lee and Nate Robinson re-signed with the club, each inking 1-year deals in the $5-7 million range that (most importantly) will not interfere with the Knicks’ long-awaited free agent pursuit of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or any of the other headliners in the star-studded FA class of 2010.

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