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Tim Duncan

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  • Mike Goodman
    I have endeavored to find out if in fact Tim Duncan is a barely- average offensive player, as DeanO has contended, or if he is an extremely good offensive
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 25, 2001
      I have endeavored to find out if in fact Tim Duncan is a barely-
      average offensive player, as DeanO has contended, or if he is an
      extremely good offensive player, as intuitively seems to be the case.

      I took last season's individual statistics for Duncan, and for
      opposing players in the western conference (whose teams played San
      Antonio 4 times in the regular season). I listed only those players
      who averaged at least 10 points per game. I compared Duncan's
      shooting in those 4 games to opponents' shooting in those same 4
      games.
      Where scoring efficiency is defined as ScoEf = Pts/(FGA*2+FTA), I
      have listed Duncan among the 10+ PPG scorers from each opponent.

      Opponent PPG ScoEf SE*PPG*2
      DAL
      Duncan 22.2 .524 24.7
      Nowitzki 21.0 .579 24.3
      Finley 23.5 .503 23.6
      Nash 14.0 .609 17.0
      Howard 14.0 .389 10.9

      Now this last column is a crude estimate of 'scoring ability', since
      it factors in both total points and shooting efficiency. It does
      not, however, include minutes, so 'scoring specialists' are not going
      to rate as highly as guys who get more minutes.
      Still, Duncan is either the best scorer in these 4 games, or he is
      one of the best.


      DEN
      Duncan 21.3 .578 24.6
      Van Exel 16.3 .570 18.6
      McDyess 17.3 .510 17.7
      LaFrentz 13.8 .579 15.9
      Lenard 11.0 .471 10.4

      GS
      Duncan 21.5 .601 25.9
      Jamison 24.3 .519 25.2
      Jackson 12.0 .381 9.1
      Hughes 12.0 .316 7.6
      Sura 8.5 .327 5.6
      Blaylock 7.7 .354 5.4

      HOU
      Francis 26.7 .552 29.4
      Duncan 24.5 .488 23.9
      Mobley 21.8 .489 21.3
      Taylor 13.0 .477 12.4

      LAC
      Duncan 24.5 .495 24.3
      Maggette 12.5 .495 12.4
      McInnis 10.8 .426 9.2
      Odom 11.0 .324 7.1
      Piatkowski 5.3 .304 3.2

      LAL
      Bryant 37.7 .541 40.7
      O'Neal 26.0 .523 27.2
      Duncan 24.3 .449 21.8

      MIN
      Garnett 27.0 .537 29.0
      Duncan 23.8 .519 24.7
      Peeler 13.5 .557 15.0
      Brandon 15.0 .479 14.4
      Szczerb'k 10.8 .434 9.3

      PHE
      Duncan 18.8 .532 19.9
      Marion 16.0 .565 18.1
      Delk 12.8 .411 10.5
      Rogers 10.8 .387 8.3

      Notably absent are Kidd and Cliff Robinson; reason being, my source
      (NBA.com split stats) does not list players who were traded, or at
      least I couldn't find it. Grizzlies are similarly disrupted.

      POR
      Wallace 17.0 .459 15.6
      Duncan 17.5 .446 15.6
      Wells 14.7 .506 14.8
      Pippen 11.8 .566 13.3
      Stoudamire13.0 .510 13.3
      Sabonis 4.3 .419 3.6

      SAC
      Duncan 30.8 .532 32.7
      Webber 26.0 .468 24.4
      Stoyako'c 15.5 .405 12.6
      Divac 8.8 .432 7.6
      Christie 9.0 .387 7.0

      SEA
      Payton 25.0 .556 27.8
      Lewis 17.3 .612 21.2
      Duncan 18.0 .576 20.7
      Baker 10.3 .360 7.4

      UTA
      Duncan 22.5 .573 25.8
      Malone 19.3 .470 18.1
      Stockton 12.0 .615 14.8
      Marshall 11.5 .447 10.3
      Russell 9.8 .470 9.2

      VAN
      Duncan 30.8 .687 42.3
      Dickerson 15.0 .409 12.3
      (see comment under PHE)

      Of the 6 players with better scoring head-to-head with Duncan, only
      Shaq and Garnett are true inside players, Rashard Lewis and Kobe go
      all over, Francis and Payton are clearly guards.

      These exceptions aside, the players who were dominated in matchups
      against the Spurs include Malone, Webber, Odom, Sabonis, Stojakovich,
      Divac, Baker, Marshall, and many lesser players.

      At a glance, it doesn't appear that guards' games are so severely
      mauled against the Spurs.
    • Dean Oliver
      ... case. Let s take personality out of this. After all, personality gave us people like Dennis Rodman and Don King. Removing personality gives us people
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 26, 2001
        --- In APBR_analysis@y..., "Mike Goodman" <msg_53@h...> wrote:
        > I have endeavored to find out if in fact Tim Duncan is a barely-
        > average offensive player, as DeanO has contended, or if he is an
        > extremely good offensive player, as intuitively seems to be the
        case.

        Let's take personality out of this. After all, personality gave us
        people like Dennis Rodman and Don King. Removing personality gives
        us people like Pamela Anderson -- a much better person, we can all
        agree.

        So no names here. We'll just swap stats and some interesting stories
        -- kinda like online dating -- then make some comparisons among
        these unnamed players to see who is least offensive -- also like
        online dating.

        So here is the lineup:

        PlyrID oreb ast tov fg% ft% ast/to fta/fga
        1 2.8 2.6 3.1 0.485 0.784 0.83 0.48
        2 3.2 2.6 2.6 0.489 0.670 0.98 0.34
        3 3.4 2.7 3.1 0.505 0.687 0.86 0.42
        4 3.4 3.7 3.1 0.500 0.777 1.20 0.49
        5 3.9 3.2 3.0 0.476 0.708 1.10 0.39
        6 2.3 3.3 2.8 0.524 0.751 1.20 0.50
        7 3.2 2.4 2.9 0.495 0.690 0.83 0.42
        8 3.5 3.2 3.3 0.491 0.761 0.97 0.47
        9 3.2 3.0 3.0 0.499 0.618 1.01 0.47
        10 3.2 2.4 2.9 0.495 0.690 0.83 0.42
        11 2.0 2.7 3.2 0.503 0.750 0.83 0.39
        12 2.9 4.0 2.9 0.497 0.694 1.40 0.47
        13 2.5 2.6 2.9 0.509 0.802 0.90 0.35
        14 2.9 2.0 2.8 0.507 0.626 0.69 0.43
        15 2.9 3.5 2.9 0.492 0.620 1.21 0.38
        16 2.8 3.7 2.9 0.501 0.732 1.25 0.57
        17 3.3 2.7 2.8 0.511 0.735 0.99 0.62
        18 2.1 2.9 2.5 0.495 0.630 1.16 0.39

        with the stats that reflect on a player's efficiency shown. Clearly,
        a shooting percentage is important. Assists, offensive rebounds, and
        turnovers are also elements of being an efficient offensive player.

        Now find Tim Duncan.

        Could be any of them. They all look pretty decent. But among the
        players here are such offensive forces as Antonio McDyess, Corliss
        Williamson, Danny Manning, Billy Owens, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and
        Elton Brand. Offensive forces??? You decide.

        Also among this list are stats for some stars -- David Robinson, Karl
        Malone, Charles Barkley. But I would add that the years shown are
        some of their worst ones, not their MVP years.

        Across this list, the individual offensive ratings (points produced
        per 100 possessions) really don't range higher than about 109 or
        lower than about 101, which is the range Duncan's been in. The
        league average over the years shown above has been between about 100
        and 106. The best offensive players around typically are up over
        110-115. These guys are better than average, but not "extremely
        good".

        I looked at a similar group to that above (eliminating Billy Owens
        and Corliss Williamson because they didn't score as many points per
        game as the others) and, in order to avoid dealing with individual
        rating systems (points divided by shots really isn't very accurate
        since it ignores important factors above), I simply looked at the
        TEAM performance in terms of Offensive Rating:

        Points*100/(FGA-OR+TOV+0.4*FTA)

        Well, for all these players who are roughly equivalent offensively
        with Tim Duncan, the average TEAM offensive rating (they should be
        making their team good, shouldn't they?) was 0.6 points BELOW
        average. Granted, Duncan's teams have generally been above average
        -- about 2-4 points, but they were almost the same way when Robinson
        alone was in San Antonio.

        Duncan scores a lot of points. So does Iverson, so did Dominique
        Wilkins, so did Ron Harper with the Clippers -- does that mean that
        they are dominant offensively? No. Duncan is a good offensive
        player, but not in the same class as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (whose
        offensive ratings were around 113 even when the league was much
        tougher defensively), which has been the point all along. The fact
        that Duncan does well as the main offensive weapon is
        impressive, but Kareem did better as the main offensive weapon. So
        does Shaq. David Robinson was more efficient back in the early-mid
        '90's. Karl Malone, too. Charles Barkley. Nowitzki looks like he's
        going to be better offensively. Francis, too. Webber and Garnett
        are like Duncan -- defensive monsters and good offensively.

        >
        > I took last season's individual statistics for Duncan, and for
        > opposing players in the western conference (whose teams played San
        > Antonio 4 times in the regular season). I listed only those
        players
        > who averaged at least 10 points per game. I compared Duncan's
        > shooting in those 4 games to opponents' shooting in those same 4
        > games.

        Problem with the comparison is that you mix Duncan's defense with his
        offense. There is no dispute that Duncan is a great overall player,
        a leading MVP candidate. The dispute is whether it's due to his
        defense or offense. The comparison below doesn't clear that up. A
        better test would be to look at offensive stats (pts, fg%,
        ft%, tov, ast) against common opponents.

        > Where scoring efficiency is defined as ScoEf = Pts/(FGA*2+FTA), I
        > have listed Duncan among the 10+ PPG scorers from each opponent.
        >
        > Opponent PPG ScoEf SE*PPG*2
        > DAL
        > Duncan 22.2 .524 24.7
        > Nowitzki 21.0 .579 24.3
        > Finley 23.5 .503 23.6
        > Nash 14.0 .609 17.0
        > Howard 14.0 .389 10.9
        >
        > Now this last column is a crude estimate of 'scoring ability',
        since
        > it factors in both total points and shooting efficiency. It does
        > not, however, include minutes, so 'scoring specialists' are not
        going
        > to rate as highly as guys who get more minutes.

        I created a stat 13 years ago about like this, but I found that you
        had to weight the efficiency value a lot more in order to get
        reasonable correlation with team offensive #'s, the standard I used
        for comparison. Basically (translating what I did to your stats), my
        formula had ppg*ScoEf^4 (that is ScoEf raised to the 4th power).
        Frankly, I don't use the stat because it doesn't really mean
        anything.
      • Mike Goodman
        ... stories ... Is this some world-class comedy, or what? ... Clearly, ... and ... The element most obviously missing is actual production. While these
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 27, 2001
          --- In APBR_analysis@y..., "Dean Oliver" <deano@t...> wrote:
          > Let's take personality out of this. After all, personality gave us
          > people like Dennis Rodman and Don King. Removing personality gives
          > us people like Pamela Anderson -- a much better person, we can all
          > agree.
          >
          > So no names here. We'll just swap stats and some interesting
          stories
          > -- kinda like online dating -- then make some comparisons among
          > these unnamed players to see who is least offensive -- also like
          > online dating.

          Is this some world-class comedy, or what?

          > So here is the lineup:
          >
          > PlrID oreb ast tov fg% ft% ast/to fta/fga
          > 1 2.8 2.6 3.1 0.485 0.784 0.83 0.48
          > 2 3.2 2.6 2.6 0.489 0.670 0.98 0.34
          .....
          > 18 2.1 2.9 2.5 0.495 0.630 1.16 0.39
          >
          > with the stats that reflect on a player's efficiency shown.
          Clearly,
          > a shooting percentage is important. Assists, offensive rebounds,
          and
          > turnovers are also elements of being an efficient offensive player.
          >
          > Now find Tim Duncan.
          >
          > Could be any of them. They all look pretty decent. But among the
          > players here are such offensive forces as Antonio McDyess, Corliss
          > Williamson, Danny Manning, Billy Owens, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and
          > Elton Brand. Offensive forces??? You decide.

          The element most obviously missing is actual production. While these
          tidbits tell something about the way they get their points, they miss
          the main course, which is actual points produced.
          Kind of like evaluating a restaurant meal by its flavor, without
          regard for the quantity.

          > Also among this list are stats for some stars -- David Robinson,
          Karl
          > Malone, Charles Barkley. But I would add that the years shown are
          > some of their worst ones, not their MVP years.
          >
          > Across this list, the individual offensive ratings (points produced
          > per 100 possessions) really don't range higher than about 109 or
          > lower than about 101, which is the range Duncan's been in. The
          > league average over the years shown above has been between about
          100
          > and 106. The best offensive players around typically are up over
          > 110-115. These guys are better than average, but not "extremely
          > good".

          I have to admit, I have never understood what is the absolute
          significance of 'possessions'. The fact that one guy passes on the
          shot, and the next guy takes the shot, generally means that both guys
          agree the 2nd guy has the better shot.
          So Steve Kerr may have had a scoring efficiency of .625, and Michael
          Jordan may have been at .550, and we all know Kerr is not the scorer
          that Jordan is. The ability to get a shot off is quite a bit more
          valuable than shot selection, sometimes. That is why Sprewell,
          Finley, and Jalen Rose get 40 minutes a game: because you need that
          guy on the floor who can always get off a decent shot.


          ...> Duncan scores a lot of points. So does Iverson, so did
          Dominique
          > Wilkins, so did Ron Harper with the Clippers -- does that mean
          that
          > they are dominant offensively? No. Duncan is a good offensive
          > player, but not in the same class as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (whose
          > offensive ratings were around 113 even when the league was much
          > tougher defensively),

          I have to take exception here. The league was much tougher
          defensively when games were 112-110, than now, when 92-90 is more
          common?

          >...which has been the point all along. The fact
          > that Duncan does well as the main offensive weapon is
          > impressive, but Kareem did better as the main offensive weapon.

          Put Duncan today on the 1980-90 Lakers, and I would not be a bit
          surprised to see him scoring 30 a game, shooting 55% from the field.
          We know he can outrun all the centers in the league today. Add
          several fast-break dunks to his fabulous half-court game...

          > So
          > does Shaq. David Robinson was more efficient back in the early-mid
          > '90's. Karl Malone, too. Charles Barkley. Nowitzki looks like
          he's
          > going to be better offensively. Francis, too. Webber and Garnett
          > are like Duncan -- defensive monsters and good offensively.
          >
          > >
          > > I took last season's individual statistics for Duncan, and for
          > > opposing players in the western conference >

          > Problem with the comparison is that you mix Duncan's defense with
          his
          > offense. There is no dispute that Duncan is a great overall
          player,
          > a leading MVP candidate. The dispute is whether it's due to his
          > defense or offense. The comparison below doesn't clear that up. A
          > better test would be to look at offensive stats (pts, fg%,
          > ft%, tov, ast) against common opponents.

          At this point, I invoke the Joe Dumars principle. In the 1989
          Finals, you could say coming in that James Worthy and Magic Johnson
          were the best scorers in the series. Yet in the warfare that ensued,
          unsung Mr. Dumars proved to be the guy most capable of getting a shot
          and making it.
          Now Dumars may have overachieved, but the point is that defense has
          much to do with offense. Some guys just wilt under defensive
          pressure. Such pressure extends to both ends of the court: Playing
          defense takes much energy that could be used for offense; frustrating
          your man's offense makes him vulnerable defensively ...

          Dean, you lean toward dividing player-effectiveness into offense and
          defense, with many factors in each one. I talk
          about 'scoring', 'passing', 'rebounding' (not distinguishing ORB and
          DRB). Maybe your goals are more comprehensive, or even applicable.

          As for correlation with team success, this is definitely an
          intriguing avenue; I feely admit, when I total a team's talent (as
          measured by me), I don't get a team ranking compatible with their
          success rate (Denver looks better than NY).
          So I blame it on coaching. Easy!
        • Dean Oliver
          ... these ... miss ... Exactly. I would also say that neither flavor nor quantity translate perfectly well from one team to the next. So making predictions
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 27, 2001
            >
            > The element most obviously missing is actual production. While
            these
            > tidbits tell something about the way they get their points, they
            miss
            > the main course, which is actual points produced.
            > Kind of like evaluating a restaurant meal by its flavor, without
            > regard for the quantity.

            Exactly.

            I would also say that neither flavor nor quantity translate
            perfectly well from one team to the next. So making predictions
            about how a player will perform when trading places is an inexact
            science.

            I would also say that the bigger difference in evaluation of players
            comes not with superstars like Duncan, but with middle of the road
            players or role players.

            >
            > I have to admit, I have never understood what is the absolute
            > significance of 'possessions'. The fact that one guy passes on the
            > shot, and the next guy takes the shot, generally means that both
            guys
            > agree the 2nd guy has the better shot.
            > So Steve Kerr may have had a scoring efficiency of .625, and
            Michael
            > Jordan may have been at .550, and we all know Kerr is not the
            scorer
            > that Jordan is. The ability to get a shot off is quite a bit more
            > valuable than shot selection, sometimes. That is why Sprewell,
            > Finley, and Jalen Rose get 40 minutes a game: because you need
            that
            > guy on the floor who can always get off a decent shot.
            >

            No question there. I will reiterate what I've said before, offensive
            ratings or efficiency stats are NOT overall ratings. I frankly don't
            believe in an overall rating. Doesn't mean I don't like to look at
            what you calculate. I just won't believe it over any other rating I
            see out there.

            >
            > ...> Duncan scores a lot of points. So does Iverson, so did
            > Dominique
            > > Wilkins, so did Ron Harper with the Clippers -- does that mean
            > that
            > > they are dominant offensively? No. Duncan is a good offensive
            > > player, but not in the same class as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (whose
            > > offensive ratings were around 113 even when the league was much
            > > tougher defensively),
            >
            > I have to take exception here. The league was much tougher
            > defensively when games were 112-110, than now, when 92-90 is more
            > common?

            Offensive efficiencies were lower or the same in the '70's. Pace was
            much higher.
          • Dean Oliver
            I had to head out the door before getting to this last thing... ... Your system and just about every linear weights system (as I label all these that add
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 27, 2001
              I had to head out the door before getting to this last thing...

              > As for correlation with team success, this is definitely an
              > intriguing avenue; I feely admit, when I total a team's talent (as
              > measured by me), I don't get a team ranking compatible with their
              > success rate (Denver looks better than NY).
              > So I blame it on coaching. Easy!

              Your system and just about every "linear weights" system (as I label
              all these that add positives and subtract negatives) do tend to have
              this problem. They don't capture the defensive teams very well, which
              is NY (and Miami and probably Philly), and overrate the offensive
              teams (I really don't think too highly of Antonio McDyess). Even
              Heeren's system, which compensates for pace, doesn't do defense
              justice, as far as I'm concerned. Defense is just underweighted in
              the formula because there just aren't as many defensive stats kept
              (dreb+stl+blk is often less than pts+oreb+ast-errors). Defense is the
              biggest thing that players like Duncan, Mourning, Webber, Garnett
              provide (though they all provide some O, too). Defense is why Mutombo
              and Ratliff are in the league (and they do it very well). But that
              contribution is hard to measure. I feel like my stuff captures it a
              little better, if just because it doesn't combine offense and defense.
              But it is really hard to say how many points per game Mutombo or
              Ratliff defense is worth. And, frankly, defense is due a lot to
              coaching....

              Also, I would add that I have tried hard and will continue to try hard
              to determine the trade-off between "production" and "efficiency". I
              have looked to see whether increased player production means lower
              efficiency. We believe it must happen, but it's hard to see. For
              instance, I would have expected David Robinson's efficiency to be
              helped by not having to score as much due to Duncan's presence.
              Hasn't been the case. Ron Harper, on the other hand, was made more
              efficient by playing with Jordan. Heck, I think everyone who played
              with Jordan got more efficient -- in part because they took smarter
              shots or only smart shots. But it has really been hard to see the
              effect with stars or even pretty good players. Shouldn't every player
              shoot a little better and pass a little better when they're surrounded
              by better players? I'd like to show that "efficiency" rise with the
              simultaneous "production" decline, but it is hard to do. My methods
              are complex, but if someone wants to just look at FG% as a function of
              % of team shots while on the court -- useful stuff. (Hmm, maybe
              Shawn Kemp was an example of getting less efficient because of losing
              his good teammates. But Baker didn't exactly get better by going to
              Seattle.)

              Dean Oliver
              Journal of Basketball Studies
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