Sunday, December 30, 2012

How the Golden State Warriors match up with the best in the West


The Golden State Warriors have destroyed their reputation for being lazy on defense and merely a bunch of shooters. The revolution by the bay has begun with a tremendous defensive effort—going from a bottom-five team in rebounding to a top-five team. They have an impressive résumé to build off of, most of which is predicated on historic performances that the Warriors franchise has not seen in decades.

Don’t believe that they are a group of players to be reckoned with? Ask Steve Nash, who said after the Lakers came back to beat them on December 22, that the Warriors “have a great spirit…they play with energy at both ends. That’s what we got to do.”

Translation: we need to be more like the Warriors.

If a two-time MVP and well-respected veteran of the league says that, you must be doing something right. With that in mind, how do the Warriors stack up against the best in the West? They are right in the midst of the hunt, not quite comfortably in the upper echelon but clearly better than the vast majority of the Western conference.

Here is a look at how the Bogut-less Warriors (21-10) match up against the four teams that are ahead of them in the standings. (Note: my analysis of each team will end with a semi-concrete conclusion in the form of a prediction for a hypothetical seven-game series matchup.)

Los Angeles Clippers

Like the Warriors, the Clippers have risen fast. The difference is that Los Angeles is riding an impressive 16-game win streak. Again like the Warriors, the depth that supports the strong starting rotation of the Clippers is what makes them a formidable team. Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Eric Bledsoe have started a combined one game this season but have over 35 points, nine rebounds, and six assists per game total.

The Warriors second squad of Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, and Draymond Green (who have zero combined starts) all fit in perfectly with the team-first style of play that Mark Jackson has instilled. Jack has been an assassin, nailing clutch jumpers and threes at the most crucial times for the Warriors. But his negative TSR stands up well to moments like this assist to Draymond Green for the game-winning basket against the defending champion Miami Heat:

 

At 6’9” and 6’7” respectively, Carl Landry and Draymond Green provide defensive energy from two forward positions and the ability to knock down shots when called upon (see above).

The big stars on both squads are at the point guard and power forward position. Chris Paul is nearly unanimously recognized as the best on-court leader in the NBA and is one of the best at creating shots for his teammates. What makes him elite is that play-making ability also includes a scorer’s touch and a top defensive effort from the point guard position. Stephen Curry is not quite on Paul’s level from a defensive standpoint, but his offensive firepower is remarkably comparable in his own right. Recently his encore performance of eight three-pointers followed up a night where he hit seven threes (both times his 3PT% was well over 50). Quite simply, Steph Curry has one of the best shots in the NBA.

David Lee and Blake Griffin are both athletic power forwards whose strengths are unique to the NBA and from each other. Lee’s ambidexterity in the post is second-to-none. Blake Griffin lifts off like a rocket when going up for rebounds and dunks. Both are working on complementing their inside games with outside shots and shoot over 50 percent on jumpers (per 82games.com).

The Warriors beat the Clippers back in November, but that is not a reasonable predicate of future success or failure. Both teams have vastly improved from that early season game. A better judge will be the first two games of 2013, where Golden State and Los Angeles begin by playing each other twice. Look for the Warriors to split the pair and end the Clippers winning streak. Even if Golden State can’t pull out a win at Oracle, they are 9-1 after losses and 11-6 away from home. However, in a seven-game series, the favorites have to be the guys with the best record in the NBA.

Los Angeles over Golden State, 4-2


Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC has figured out a way to continue to get the job done in the post-Harden era. But, this hardly comes as a surprise with the reigning scoring champion, Kevin Durant, leading the way. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are still doing what has made the Thunder the top dog out West. Harden’s replacement, Kevin Martin, has shot a staggering 47 percent…on threes.

The Warriors are one of the few teams that would be unimpressed by that number considering they have not one but two players shooting 44 percent from downtown (Curry and Jack).

Golden State’s team defense would truly be put to the test with Westbrook and Durant wreaking havoc from every angle, but they will get two opportunities to see OKC before the playoffs. While the Thunder are certainly favorites, the Warriors match up well with Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, Andris Biedrins, and Carl Landry throwing different looks at a potent offense.

Oklahoma City over Golden State, 4-2


San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are that pesky team that you always want to count out but never can. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan took a controversial night off in November but combined for 84 points against the Houston Rockets on December 28. They are still playing like a premiere team, as their record shows.

Golden State and San Antonio have remarkably similar recipes for success, both which have remained under-the-radar because of their often lack of national attention. Stephen Curry’s revamped defense could contain Parker and if he got in trouble, the Warriors defensive rotations could provide a safety net. Curry, Thompson, and Jack are certainly better shooters than Parker, Ginobili, and Danny Green which is the only significant advantage either team has.

With that, if Golden State can limit their turnovers—which Steph Curry mentioned is in fact their Achilles heel—they could compete and beat San Antonio. Mark Jackson likely shoots for the culture that Gregg Popovich has created with the Spurs and has the pieces to do it. After taking down the Heat, Golden State knows that they can compete with any team, and the Spurs would be in for a long (hypothetical) series. The young OKC squad took the Spurs down in the 2012 playoffs…maybe the Warriors can do that in 2013.

Golden State over San Antonio, 4-3


Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis beat Golden State in early November, but like the Los Angeles Clippers matchup, that means very little at this point. As easy as it has been to write off the Grizzlies in years past, they are another team that has a legitimate shot at a deep post-season run. Look no further than a three-game stretch where they beat Miami, Oklahoma City and New York—all by at least 10 points.

Both teams average over 15 turnovers per game. Decreasing this is a focal point to success but because the Warriors and Grizzlies are such talented organizations, they have been able to succeed despite those giveaways. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph lead a very intimidating front line (over 30 points and 20 rebounds per game combined), but the Warriors offensive success does not rely solely on getting to the paint.

Golden State has depth in their bench and Memphis has a reliable starting lineup (four players average at least 34 minutes per game) which are points of contrast. If the Warriors can tire the likes of Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley, then there may be an opportunity to exploit a weakness. Jarrett Jack thrives in late-game situations and has (and will) add a punch to the Warriors offense.

Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, and San Antonio all have more household names than Memphis but this matchup would be possibly the most interesting because both teams have something to prove this year. They know that early season success means nothing once May and June roll around. That chip on their shoulder(s) makes for some great basketball. Who would come out on top? An early lead for the Warriors with some great shooting would discourage Memphis the most out of the top-four teams in the West. In a seven-game series, that bodes well for Curry and Co.

Golden State over Memphis, 4-3

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Right now, the top five teams in the West are all very competitive franchises, some with reputations as such (San Antonio) and others not (Golden State). The beginning of 2013 only means so much to an NBA team, but these teams will in all likelihood lead the West into the playoffs. The only question mark is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have been steadily improving. For now, I elected to leave them out of this discussion. The Warriors did lose to the Lakers but watching the game there was no question who was truly the better team. That may change in a couple of months, but a .500 record is not impressive in a deep conference.

On that note, the Warriors do have their work cut out for them. The unity and cohesiveness of this franchise will be what carries them as the season progresses. If Mark Jackson can continue to get the best out of his guys and keep an onward and upward mentality the Warriors would do best never looking back. The past couple years says they can’t, but this team has a short memory and a lot of talent.

Without a doubt, their upside is greater than that of the 2007 team.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kobe vs. Duncan: A Complete Comparison of Two Great NBA Champions



Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan quite literally owned a generation of basketball. From highlights to championships, these two have made their mark on the NBA in the nearly two decades they’ve been in the league. In the 12-year span from 1999 to 2010, Kobe’s Lakers and Duncan’s Spurs won nine championships. Can you be any more dominant?

Yet somehow Kobe and Duncan have never been considered much of rivals. Likely because of the different positions that they play and Kobe’s constant desire to be compared to Michael Jordan, the TD vs. Black Mamba comparison has not been given much thought and publicity. That’s where this column comes in.

Nobody is questioning the greatness of either player. What I seek to provide with this column is a comparative analysis of two players that had spectacular careers. So, here is my take as to how these two compare in terms of what they have accomplished.

Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant played different positions which makes a direct statistical comparison inadequate. Each player is ahead in the traditional categories that their position dictates that a great player should excel in. Kobe’s got points, assists, and steals; Duncan’s got rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage. A great indicator of the equality in this statistical comparison: Kobe’s PRA (points plus rebounds plus assists) is 35.5 and Duncan’s PRA is 34.6.

Per game statistics
Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan
Points
25.5
20.2
Rebounds
5.3
11.3
Assists
4.7
3.1
Steals
1.5
0.7
Blocks
0.5
2.2
FG percentage
.453
.507
Games played
1188
1138
*Stats as of 12/23/12

Advanced stats will shed some more light into a direct comparison.

Offensively, Kobe and Duncan are close. TS% and offensive rating are nearly identical, Duncan has a higher eFG% and Kobe has a higher offensive win shares (which is the estimated number of wins contributed by the player because of their offensive contribution). Defensively, TD owns the comparison. Defensive rating is an estimated number of points allowed per 100 possessions and Kobe allows 10 more points per 100 possessions. Defensive win shares show the greatest discrepancy of any statistic between these players.

Advanced statistic (career)
Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan
Player efficiency rating
23.5
24.8
True shooting percentage
.555
.551
Effective field goal percentage
.487
.508
Offensive rating
112
110
Defensive rating
105
95
Offensive win shares
119.4
89.2
Defensive win shares
47.8
90.5

And one final consideration regarding PER: Duncan owns the ninth-highest PER of all time. Kobe has the 18th best PER.

Now let’s look at the peak regular season performances of their respective careers:

Kobe Bryant’s best season, 2005-06, ended with 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 45 percent shooting. One could certainly make the argument that the following two seasons were his best, but since Kobe is regarded primarily as an elite scorer it only seems appropriate to choose the season where his PPG was highest (even though his FG% was below his career average).

Duncan’s best regular season, 2001-02, was the first of his back-to-back MVP years. With a FG% above 50 and 80 percent shooting from the line, Duncan dominated the game and stuffed the stat sheet with 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game.

Which season was better? I’ll leave that up to your judgement because both had multiple seasons like the aforementioned where all you could do is watch in amazement. Kobe had his Hollywood style that gained a lot of attention in a big market; Duncan was content with the quiet, small San Antonio market. Both players exhibited greatness throughout more than a decade's worth of regular seasons in order to get them to the playoffs.

One final variable that should be mentioned in the regular season equation is the head-to-head matchups. When great players meet, regardless of the time of year, it’s safe to assume that they treat it as a particularly significant challenge. And while each player owns similar statistical categories as overall regular season numbers, the final record of 46 games shows Duncan over Kobe: 26-20.

So, in terms of regular season performance, the slight edge has to go to Tim Duncan. Head-to-head win totals, a clear defensive edge, and most importantly the MVP count are what have to put Duncan on top here despite Kobe's scoring supremacy.

Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan
5x NBA champion
4x NBA champion
2x NBA Finals MVP
3x NBA Finals MVP
1x NBA MVP
2x NBA MVP
14x NBA All-Star
13x NBA All-Star
10x All-NBA First Team
9x All-NBA First Team
2x NBA scoring champion
NBA ROY
17-season career
16-season career

But the regular season is only part of the equation. As the title of this column suggests, the defining feature of Kobe and Duncan is their championships résumé. Kobe is a five-time champion and Duncan has four rings.

Those numbers alone are misleading.

Part of being a great champion is your singular contribution to the team’s title.  Great champions contribute particularly heavy loads to the success of their franchise—or in the case of Kobe and Duncan, their dynasties. This is where NBA Finals MVPs is a helpful and more effective judge of a players greatness. Kobe and Derek Fisher have won five titles together, but nobody considers them in the same sentence when discussing greatness. One measure of differentiation between those two is Finals MVPs, of which Kobe has two and Fisher has zero.

And Kobe’s two Finals MVPs come up short to Duncan’s three. This is due to a variety of factors, but the simplest explanation boils down to teammates. For his three-peat, Kobe Bryant was the second-best player on his team. This isn’t debatable—it’s a fact. Shaquille O’Neal took home all three Finals MVPs and was in the prime of his career at that time. It would be inaccurate to say Kobe was merely “tagging along for the ride,” but he was clearly not the primary reason for their championship success.

Duncan, on the other hand, won Finals MVPs in three out of his four championships. The only title that Duncan didn’t win the award for was in 2007, which was also the least competitive Finals series that the Spurs played (it ended in a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers). Furthermore, a closer look at the 2007 playoffs shows that for the duration of the playoffs, Duncan provided the foundation that got them in a position to play in the Finals.

After winning the 2007 championship, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said this of Duncan: “Tim is the common denominator…He's [had] a different cast around him [in] '99, '03 and '05. He's welcomed them all. He's found a way to help them all fit, feel comfortable in their roles, and not many players can do that."

The same cannot be said for Kobe Bryant.

One more specific comparison that must be made when comparing the greatness of these two players in the playoffs is the peak of playoff performances. Similar to the analysis of regular season peak, playoff peaks gives us a glimpse into what the absolute best of each player can accomplish. Furthermore, it is the best means to evaluate clutch ability when comparing these two players because Duncan, as a big man, is not as relevant in last second situations as Kobe is. (Not to mention that, as Chasing 23 discusses in-depth, Kobe is not quite as effective in those situations as is commonly assumed.)

ESPN lists Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan each once in the 25 greatest playoff performances of all time. Kobe’s 48 and 16 game in the 2001 Western conference semifinals is 19th on the list. Duncan’s 32 point, 20 rebound, and seven block game in the 2003 NBA Finals is four spots higher at 15.

Thus, consideration of the totality of playoff greatness comes to the same conclusion as that of the regular season: a slim margin leans in favor of Tim Duncan.

Kobe and Duncan are great, and it’s amazing that they are still performing at extremely high levels this late in their career. Duncan and the Spurs are near the top of the Western conference yet again, and Kobe has virtually single-handedly kept the Lakers’ heads above water. But what they do from here on out is icing on the cake and their legacies will (likely) not change drastically from this point until their retirement. However, if there's one thing we have learned from the careers of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, it is to never count them out.

In terms of a comparison, though, Tim Duncan bests Kobe. In a discussion of their careers as a whole and ultimately where they fit amongst the NBA’s greatest players of all time, TD has the edge. Popular opinion may state otherwise but that’s the size of the Los Angeles market talking. The faces that Kobe makes after making a shot mean he would probably be a better actor that Duncan but they don’t make him a better player. Duncan’s NBA career speaks for itself.


If you liked this comparison, check out our series of comparisons that includes: Kobe vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. Jordan, and Jordan vs. Kobe.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Traditional vs. scoring point guards: a statistical analysis


The NBA of today looks quite different from the game that was played a decade or two ago. With the disappearance of the center from the 2013 All Star ballot, no longer do scouts and general managers seek the monstrous talents like Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan but prefer forwards like LeBron James and Kevin Durant who are multi-faceted players (or at least strive to be). Specialization in one skill is no longer coveted by coaches and players looking for the next great thing. Players are expected to be well-rounded—possessing size, speed, and basketball skill. Point guards like Ricky Rubio are flashy but youngsters like Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook are typically regarded as more electrifying. Unlike Rubio, those players gifted scorers. This attribute is sought after because when a play breaks down, they do not always have to look to teammates to shoot, but rather have the option to create—and make—their own shot.

So, I thought that it would fruitful to look at the statistical successes of the current crop of point guards. Ultimately, the goal is to see if it is possible to ascertain which type of point guard is better: the scoring one (which is gaining popularity), or the traditional one who is a pass-first play-maker.

Here’s the general idea: I have created a statistic that gives players a traditional-to-scorer rating (TSR) and then will compare that rating to the success of their team. For the purposes of this analysis, I have chosen winning percentage and whether or not they make the playoffs to be that measure of success. Undoubtedly, a point guard like Russell Westbrook has more to work with than Ramon Sessions, but the idea is that by using a large sample size (namely the NBA as a whole), the outliers will have less of an impact considering they are only one of 33 point guards.

TSR uses field goal percentage (FG%), field goal attempts per 48 minutes (FGA48), assists per 48 minutes (AST48), and assist-to-turnover ratio (AST/TO). A scoring point guard would have a relatively low FG% because he is taking more shots, a higher FGA48/AST48 ratio, and a higher TO/AST ratio (which is the inverse of AST/TO ratio). I used per 48 minute statistics to even out the players statistics that may have been inflated or deflated based on minutes played. I believe this to be the most efficient way to measure a player’s true ability because all of these guards play generally around 30 minutes a game, but some closer to 35 and others closer to 25. Anyone who played less than 25 minutes per game (essentially half of a four-quarter NBA game) was not included in this analysis.

Conversely, a traditional point guard likely has a higher FG% because he takes more high percentage shots, a lower FGA48/AST48 ratio, and a lower TO/AST ratio. Without getting into too much more detail (as if this isn’t enough already), the final formula for raw TSR is as follows:

[(FG%)-2 x (FGA48/AST48)] + TO/AST

In order to make sense of this number, I will compare it to the median point guard. Thus, the final TSR rating = raw TSR – median PG TSR. This gives the TSR of the median point guard a value of 0. The more of a scoring PG the player is, the more positive the TSR; the more of a traditional PG the player is, the more negative the value. Using TSR, here is a graphic (click to enlarge) of where six prominent scoring PGs and six prominent traditional PGs fit onto the spectrum:
TSR of 2012 point guards, as of 12/18/12.
    
Ramon Sessions 
6.9
Rodney Stuckey 
6.4
Brandon Jennings 
6.4
Raymond Felton 
4.2
George Hill 
4.1
Kyrie Irving 
3.8
Brandon Knight 
3.7
Alexey Shved 
3.3
Stephen Curry 
3.1
Kemba Walker 
3.0
Damian Lillard 
2.9
A.J. Price 
2.1
Kyle Lowry 
1.9
Russell Westbrook 
1.3
Jameer Nelson 
1.2
Deron Williams 
1.0
Ty Lawson 
0.0
Jeremy Lin 
-0.3
Jeff Teague 
-0.5
Luke Ridnour 
-0.6
Kirk Hinrich 
-1.3
Jrue Holiday 
-1.6
Darren Collison 
-1.7
Mike Conley 
-1.8
Mo Williams 
-2.0
Goran Dragic 
-2.2
Jarrett Jack 
-2.5
Tony Parker 
-2.7
Greivis Vasquez 
-2.8
Jason Kidd 
-2.9
Jose Calderon 
-4.7
Chris Paul 
-5.1
Rajon Rondo 
-7.3
Now, to answer the question: which point guard is better for his team?

To do this, let’s look at the player’s TSR and compare that to winning percentage and playoff seeding. Of course, this will certainly change as the season progresses, but as of mid-December, the 2012-13 point guards show an interesting trend. Again, a traditional point guard has a negative TSR (see table to the left, all statistics as of December 18) and a scoring point guard has a positive TSR.

Ty Lawson happened to be the lucky man in the middle and is thus excluded by convention of TSR calculation. Now for the results:

        ·         TSR shows that 7 of 16, or 44 percent, of scoring point guards have a winning percentage of at least 50 percent (which is the “average,” by default). Additionally, 44 percent of scoring point guards are playoff-bound (according to their seeding).

How about those traditional point guards?

        ·         TSR shows that 11 out of 16, or 69 percent, of these point guards have at won at least half of their games; 10 out of 16, or 63 percent, of traditional PGs are on playoff teams.

Based on TSR, 2012-13 PGs are more successful if they are traditional (pass-first) as opposed to scorers.

The next logical question would be: what about comparing only the players who did make the playoffs? After all, teams that struggle may look to their point guard to be more of a scorer (see Ramon Sessions, Rodney Stuckey, and Kyrie Irving).

Just looking at the above statistics, there were 17 point guards out of 32 that would make the playoffs if the NBA season ended in mid-December. Out of those 17 players on playoff teams, 10 of them, or 59 percent, are traditional PGs.

TSR thus seems to at least lean us to show that traditional point guards are more successful.

Of course, it could not hurt to see how this conclusion stacks up against previous seasons. So, I did the same quantifications for the 2011 point guards (see the table below). Statistics for these PGs based on TSR:

·         53 percent of scoring point guards had a winning percentage above 50 (8 out of 15)
                                                                    ·         73 percent of traditional point guards had a winning percentage above 50 (11 out of 15)
Shannon Brown
38.8
Randy Foye
17.6
Iman Shumpert
10.4
Kemba Walker
9.7
Avery Bradley
8.6
Brandon Knight
7.7
Brandon Jennings
7.5
Russell Westbrook
6.8
Monta Ellis
6.0
Tyreke Evans
5.5
Jrue Holiday
5.4
Deron Williams
2.0
Mario Chalmers
1.3
Isaiah Thomas
0.6
Jameer Nelson
0.2
Raymond Felton
-0.1
John Wall
-0.7
Darren Collison
-0.7
Jeff Teague
-0.9
Mike Conley
-1.2
Devin Harris
-1.5
Tony Parker
-1.9
Goran Dragic
-2.1
Ty Lawson
-2.2
Greivis Vasquez
-2.3
Chris Paul
-3.2
Andre Miller
-3.7
Rajon Rondo
-6.7
Jose Calderon
-6.9
Steve Nash
-7.3
       ·         40 percent of scoring PGs were on playoff teams (6 of 15)
       ·         60 percent of traditional PGs were on playoff teams (9 of 15)
       ·         40 percent of playoff PGs were scorers (6 of 15)
       ·         60 percent of playoff PGs were traditional (9 of 15)

         Of course, it would be inaccurate to surmise that this implies that traditional PGs are better than scoring PGs.
   
Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, and the six scoring PGs mentioned in the graphic are better than the majority of PGs in the league. But it is worth nothing that the collection of players who are at the top of the league follow a similar pattern as to that of the league as a whole. This pattern shows that traditional point guards generally have more success.

A qualitative comparison along with some hypothetical questions also sheds some light on this debate. Take the Lakers, for example: a star-studded team with one of the NBA’s greatest players leading the way at shooting guard. Would Russell Westbrook work at point guard? Would even someone like Deron Williams or Stephen Curry work?

The answer to Westbrook is a resounding ‘no,’ and the other two are up for debate. What is more obvious is the fact that choosing a PG from the opposite end of the TSR spectrum would likely work better. Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, or Jrue Holliday all fit the bill better for what is going on in Los Angeles. Thus, the Lakers decided to pick up an aging Steve Nash who is the ultimate traditional PG (according to TSR and popular opinion).

Los Angeles is an extreme example because only a handful of other teams have rosters as star studded as the Lakers. They are were a model of consistency for over a decade. But a look at a team with fewer household names gives us the same result.

Golden State traded Monta Ellis last year for Andrew Bogut and a host of other players that have had a marginal impact this season (Richard Jefferson, etc.). In that regards, the Warriors essentially lost one of the best scoring PGs in the league for nothing. While it is questionable to list Monta as a PG—I’m taking ESPN’s word on that one. Every statistic that I pulled up listed him as a one guard, not a two. And for the amount of ball handling he did, that is a reasonable conclusion. Taking Monta as a PG and completely removing him from the equation in Golden State, what do we have as a before and after?

Monta broke out in the 2009-10 season, averaging 25.5 PPG and gaining national attention as one of the best scorers in the league. From that year through last year (and the trade to Milwaukee) the Warriors never won more than 44 percent of their games. Stephen Curry was on the team, David Lee and Dorell Wright were there, even coach Mark Jackson and then-rookie Klay Thompson tagged along for the latter part of that three year stretch.

But the Warriors were awful—as a team. Monta's talent and a dedicated fan base packed Oracle on a nightly basis, hoping to bring back some of that magic that enveloped the “We Believe” 2007 playoff run. Until this year, the only thing worth watching was the incredible scoring ability of Monta (who averaged 26, 24, and 22 PPG for that three year period).

A look at the re-inspired Warriors of 2012 says everything. They have begun this season with their best start, 17-9, in years and a 6-1 road trip that included a win over the Miami Heat. That trip rivals road performances by some of the best teams in NBA history (Spurs of last year and Lakers of early 00s, among others). Warriors GM Bob Myers was quick to point out that it is only the first quarter of the season, but there is no denying that the culture within Golden State has changed. The previous culture created by the scoring nature of their former (point) guard, Monta, was transformed into a team-oriented style where Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack are able to play off of each other’s strengths as scorers and facilitators. More importantly, their scoring does not sacrifice team chemistry.

Curry isn’t exactly a traditional point guard with a TSR of 3.1, but Jack is more of a facilitator (TSR of -2.5). Both are certainly looking for their shot but they are willing facilitators. And they are light years more "traditional" (or more willing to pass-first) than Monta Ellis (TSR 6.0).

This is where I believe TSR is an excellent statistic. We can see that Curry is a scoring guard but he leans more toward the median than Monta Ellis, and still further toward the Nash/Rondo side is where we find Jarrett Jack. It gives us a quantifiable measure of a PGs tendency to be a pass-first or shoot-first player and then we can compare them as such.

The conclusions from my brief study of the past two years point guards brings to light an interesting thought, and one that I still believe to be true despite the popularity of players like Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving. Traditional point guards should still be valued in the NBA today. TSR puts some weight behind that thought.

One final remark: I have been a critic of Westbrook’s style of play, especially as it pertains to three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant. KD, in particular, would be better off with a traditional PG...in my opinion. In my pre-season ranking of the top 10 players in the NBA, I said that Westbrook could be a top-five player with “some modification to his gameplay.”

OKC has won 12 out of their last 13 games. As for modification to his style of play, let the numbers speak: Westbrook’s TSR last season was 6.8 and this season it has dropped drastically to 1.3.

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If you have read this far, let me know what you think of this new stat, TSR. Do you think it uses relevant statistics to accurately predict a PGs “traditional-to-scorer rating”? If you have some thoughts as to the result of my brief study, please feel free to elaborate (and ultimately that was the goal of creating TSR), but any thoughts on the statistic itself are particularly appreciated. If you need any clarification or would like a look at the data analysis, you can email me here.

TSR, or “traditional-to-scorer rating,” is an original statistic that was created by the author of this article and its full rights belong solely to this website, Bases and Baskets.