Monday, May 17, 2010

Suns-Spurs ADS

Before we proceed to the Conference Finals, I wanted to spend a little time on the new theory of ADS, and what it told us from the Phoenix vs. San Antonio Series. If you are not familiar with ADS, this might be a good time for you to read up on what the heck I am talking about:

ADS Explained and Kidd's first round .

As I explain in those, this is not a case of me thinking I got this all figured out and sharing it with the world. Rather, this is you joining me on this experiment of "is this new metric useful?"

One of the flaws with the Average Distance Per Shot is that it doesn't measure certain things like defensive objectives. For instance, if the Mavs' ADS for 10 games is 13, then it shoots up to 17, the question would be, "Did the Mavericks change, or did teams defend them better?" In this case, were the Spurs just that good defensively to stop the Mavs from doing anything but taking jump shots at certain parts of the series (especially in the 4th Quarter of half-court scenarios)?

Well, in the Suns vs Spurs, we luckily have that same Spurs team. Whether you think the Spurs are anything special or not, they are the same group of guys in the 1st Round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs as they are in the 2nd Round. We may actually have a constant. Now, admittedly, the Suns and Mavs are not the same offense or defense, and Greg Popovich had to defend Amare Stoudamire way differently than Dirk Nowitzki on the high pick-and-roll, just as Jason Kidd/Jason Terry run the guard spot 100% differently than Steve Nash, but at least we have some similarities.

Then, I have added FTA (Free Throw Attempts) to our charts. When a player is fouled while shooting, I am sure you know that it only counts as a field goal attempt if he makes the shot (the "And-1"). Well, this surely throws off the spirit of ADS, because if you don't get credit for an attempted dunk if you are fouled, it shouldn't be counted against you. You should not be labeled as passive if you are fouled each time. So, somehow, when considering ADS, I think we need to look at FTA, or at least FTA that result from shooting fouls. It would also seem useful if the NBA logged the spot on the floor where someone is fouled just like they do the spot on the floor where someone shoots. It would make this even more meaningful.

Another problem with adding FTA is that we don't always know the spirit of the foul. Many times the winning team can be fouled over and over to extend the clock. Also, we have hack-a-Dampier to consider. So, this is not exact, either.

One last item for you to think about when you consider this data (and to me, the most important): This study is NOT saying that the team that shoots the closest wins. The number should NOT compare the Suns' ADS to the Spurs or to the Mavs. It is important to be good shooters from the perimeter and the Suns and Mavs have way better collections of perimeter talent than San Antonio. Also, the Spurs have Tim Duncan, one of the only true post producers in the game today.

What ADS measures for me is a player's tendencies (does he like to drive or is he always launching) and most importantly, a team's measure of aggressiveness against itself. If we have 20 Mavs games, we can see that the Mavs "took it to the hoop" more in this game or that game. Or against this opponents, they settle for more shots from deep.

So, with those fun facts in mind, here is what we found for the Phoenix sweep of San Antonio from an ADS perspective:

14.829Game 115.130
15.237Game 214.622
14.017Game 311.628
13.228Game 49.536

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(Winning team is in Bold)

A few things jump out at me here. The Suns rely on the 3-pointer as much as anyone in the league, so their ADS is going to be further out. But, with FTA, we can now make sense of how the Mavs and Suns had really high ADS in certain games (Phoenix, Game 2 and Dallas, Game 5) but it corresponded with a huge amount of Free Throws Attempted. So, I think the addition of FTA is a must.

Also, just like the Dallas series (which I reprinted below), we see how San Antonio gets so much closer to the rim when they are at home. This might be true with everyone, but in all 10 of their playoff games, it seems clear that the Spurs are determined to get in the paint more when they are at home.

Here is a reprint of the Mavs-Spurs numbers (with Game 5 now making more sense with the FTA added):

13.834Game 113.614
14.520Game 214.722
13.015Game 310.326
13.023Game 413.728
15.033Game 514.228
13.415Game 610.531

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It is also worth noting that although Phoenix shoots from further out than the Mavs, they also average 4 or 5 more FTA's per game. Ah yes, they shoot 3's AND take it to the rim every game. Interesting difference.


I also wanted to take a look at Point Guard Play in the famous Nash vs Kidd discussion.

From the post above, I was interested in how Steve Nash played the PG position differently than Jason Kidd. This will not factor in Kidd's flu, but since we have the data, let's see what it says:

STEVE NASH vs SAN ANTONIO, 2010 Playoffs

Game 113-1911.96
Game 27-1311.26
Game 36-1416.74
Game 48-1512.01

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What should jump off the page at you is how Nash can take long range shots, and still average "12" a game on his ADS because of the huge volume of trips in the paint. This is very Beaubois of him. And, this should be the name of the game of a point guard.

And here is Kidd from last series:

JASON KIDD vs SAN ANTONIO, 2010 Playoffs

Game 15-1413.80
Game 21-615.52
Game 31-625.04
Game 43-1019.22
Game 53-59.24
Game 61-623.00

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Nothing but launches for almost all 6 games.

12.9 versus 17.6??? Against the exact same defense 1 week apart? This demonstrates the issues the Mavs face. Both teams run the pick-and-roll in the half court set, but the Mavs with Jet or Kidd are trying to find an open launch point, whereas the Suns are attacking the rim with Nash and Amare taking parallel paths to the rim.

I believe Mr Nash shows that you can penetrate against the Spurs if you have the mind and ability to do so. His frame should not allow his ADS to be that much better than Kidd's at a similar age, but I think we all know that they are entirely different players at this portion of their amazing careers.

And now we have the ADS to prove it.


Now, here is the game-by-game and quarter-by-quarter data for the entire Spurs/Suns series so you can see for yourself where

Game 1 in Phoenix

Suns 111, Spurs 102

15.1 (17)41st Q14.3 (20)9
12.8 (18)72nd Q13.1 (14)13
14.8 (18)03rd Q15.1 (16)3
17.5 (11)184th Q17.7 (17)5
14.8 (63)29Total15.1 (67)30

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Game 2 in Phoenix

Suns 110, Spurs 102

13.0 (20)81st Q14.6 (19)8
18.5 (15)102nd Q12.6 (18)2
15.2 (18)63rd Q15.6 (17)2
14.8 (13)134th Q17.7 (15)10
15.2 (66)37Total14.6 (71)22

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Game 3 in San Antonio

Suns 110, Spurs 96

15.4 (20)01st Q14.6 (19)7
13.7 (18)82nd Q10.2 (18)8
14.6 (18)43rd Q14.9 (21)6
12.5 (21)54th Q12.0 (18)7
14.0 (77)17Total11.6 (78)28

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Game 4 in San Antonio

Suns 107, Spurs 101

12.5 (19)61st Q8.8 (19)3
14.0 (22)52nd Q8.3 (15)9
13.4 (18)83rd Q10.9 (22)9
12.6 (19)94th Q9.5 (16)15
13.2 (78)28Total9.5 (72)36

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