Thursday, November 17, 2005

Guest Article: +/- And The Myth Of Scrappy

Once again, BlazersBlog contributor The Loch has another fine article written. For your enjoyment ...

+/- And The Myth Of Scrappy
By The Loch

The Portland Trailblazers are in first place. Wow. That’s where they sit right now on November 17, 2005, cut it out of the paper and pin it up because it’s certainly something nobody really expected even 6 games into the season. Now, before we get into the roster through 6 games I need to squash something that I’m a little worried is gaining momentum. Jason Quick, who I like, wrote this in today’s Oregonian: “the Blazers once again unveiled a scrappy style of play to pull out another close game in the fourth quarter on Wednesday”. First of all, I know people like to read that their team is scrappy, has heart, and all that other rubbish, so I’ll let Quick off the hook this time because I assume he knows that. However, the Blazers did not win last night because they were “scrappy”. They won because they shot 51.5% from the floor and held the Bulls to 39.1%. Plus they managed to only hoist up 6 three pointers, which is good because this team can’t shoot them. It’s really that simple, they played smart, took good shots, made the good shots they took, and for the most part prevented the Bulls from getting off a lot of good shots. If anything they almost lost because they were being “out scrapped” by the Bulls, who crushed them on the boards, had more assists, and less turnovers. So let’s just agree to stop the “scrappy” non-sense, just play smart, take and make open shots, and you’ll win games.

Now, let’s look at the roster from a +/- standpoint, a terrific statistic that you can find for every player on every team by using the link to 82games over on the right hand side of this page. The Blazers roster breaks down like this, and we’re only using the 10 guys who have really played so far this year, along with a minutes percentage thrown in there for easier analysis later on:

Randolph +33.1, 80% of the available minutes

Telfair +15.8, 58%

Miles +15.2, 80%

Joel +13.5, 48%

Monia +12.3, 19%

Ratliff +2.3, 46%

Reuben -4.0, 41%

The Chaz -6.3, 16%

Dixon -6.5, 40%

Jack -17.2, 46%

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way, there are a lot of small sample size hi-jinks involved with looking at these numbers right now. We’ll revisit these numbers later in the year when there is a larger sample size and compare. So the question arises, what can we take out of these numbers to date? Well for one thing it certainly appears that Nate has figured out who to start the game since they are the top 5 guys in +/- on the team. It also shows the overall value that Zach Randolph brings to this team. When he’s on the floor, the team is pretty good, when he’s not they’re very simply a bad basketball team. I would theorize that his presence opens up cutting lanes for Miles, frees up open shots for the 2 guard du jour, and really helps out a player like Sebastian because they can run that high screen and roll and he can blow by the big man on the switch and create havoc or he can dish back to Zach for the mid range jumper that he seems to hit almost every time. Ratliff and Joel have formed a pretty formidable duo in the middle, and the only weak spot appears to be Nate’s reserve 3-some that he loves so much, Reuben, Jack, & Dixon. A spaz, a rookie point guard, and a mad gunner, shocking that it doesn’t work out that well. The other issue with those 3 on the floor is it usually involves Reuben at the power forward. This is problematic because, well for one he’s not a power forward, but it also takes Zach out of the lineup and they really can’t score without him out there. I think Jack is being small sample sized a bit, probably hurt a great deal by that Denver game, but just looking at those numbers it’s pretty clear that Telfair changes the game for the better when he’s out there ahead of Jack. 20-25 games in we’ll take another look at these numbers but for now, scroll up and read that first sentence again.

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