Eric Gordon: Attention, Please

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Published: March 21, 2013
Eric GOrdon Mavs

I’m confused too, Eric^^

I began writing this article before the Boston game, not realizing just how appropriate the game’s finish would make this post.  On the final Hornets play, Eric Gordon drove to the basket and missed his shot, but Anthony Davis was there to tip it in and seal the victory.   While I am in favor of hoarding ping pong balls like dragons hoard gold, it was nice to see the Hornets grab a win against a solid team.

This week’s post about Eric Gordon will focus on something specific, rather than giving a long, general overview of his recent games.  He was aggressive against Washington early, but he was not a factor in the second half.   He disappeared entirely versus Minnesota, and per usual, he had to sit out the second game of a back to back (vs Golden State).  Finally, he became more aggressive against Boston after a quiet start, and although he wasn’t particularly efficient from the field, he did manage to earn 8 free throws.  Perhaps more importantly, he had two nice drive and kicks to Ryan Anderson at the end of the game, along with the drive that led to the Davis tip-in.

There is a term frequently used on the In the NO Podcasts: “Kobe Assists.”  This occurs when someone draws extra defenders, but shoots anyway.  He misses the shot, but because of the attention he drew, a teammate grabbed an easy rebound and scored.  This is fairly common, and it is one of the reasons that players who can draw extra defenders are so valuable, especially if they can get to the rim.  Shot-blockers usually come over, which often frees the shooter’s teammates for easy rebounds and points.

I decided to chart every single Eric Gordon missed field goal attempt of the year (using Synergy video), and I divided each of his misses into two categories: ones derived from driving to the basket, and ones resulting from jumpers.  Driving to the basket entailed any movement towards the hoop, not just shots at the rim.  Then, I marked down the result of each miss.  Any result in which the Hornets maintained possession of the ball is labeled under the “Retained Possession” category, whether it was through a Hornets putback attempt, a botched rebound by the other team, etc.  Conversely, any instance in which Gordon’s missed shot resulted in the other team gaining possession was marked in the “Lost Possession” category.  Rocket science, I know.

The results

Shot Miss Type Number of Occurences Retained Possession Lost Possession Retained Possession Rate
    On Drive               101               47           54                  47%
    Jumper               137               40           97                  29%

 

What they mean
When I began doing the video research for the post, I was under the impression that there would be a material difference in the Hornets’ retained possession rates, but I did not expect the difference to be so drastic.   The Hornets managed to retain possession at a substantially higher rate when he missed a shot after driving, as they maintained possession nearly half of the time.   When he missed jumpers, they only kept possession just under one-third of the time.

*There were about 7 shot misses that I did not factor in.  6 of them were buzzer-beaters, and as time had run out when each shot reached the basket, there was no opportunity for a rebound.  Also, there was a problem with the video on one of his shots.

Other considerations

  • As stated above, the Hornets have a better chance of keeping possession when Gordon misses shots while moving towards the basket.
  • Gordon’s highest success rate occurs at the rim
  • Gordon draws the majority of his free throws while driving to the basket
  • Driving to the basket helps teammates get open shots

Conclusion
So Gordon is most successful scoring when he drives to the basket, and even when he misses, the Hornets have a higher chance of keeping the ball?  Sounds like he might want to try it a bit more often.  I’m not trying to say that Gordon should never take jumpers, because that’s unrealistic.  Sometimes, jumpers are all that is available.  Opposing defenses often bait him into jump shots by sagging and giving him just enough room to pull up for a shot.  When Gordon has his feet set, some of these are decent shots.  However, there are plenty of times when Gordon forces step-back jumpers, and not only are many of them missing, opposing teams are grabbing the rebounds and attacking the Hornets for easy transition points.

 

11 comments
ktrufant
ktrufant

First, a disclaimer: I have an almost knee-jerk reaction against any term that creates an excus for Bryant taking bad, contested shots. Wouldn't be easier to pass to the one of the open player's created rather than putting up a shot that may miss and when it does, giving the opponent (in Gordon's case) a more than 50% chance of taking possession? As for your work and conclusions, I have a few questions. Did you run this for all of the players on the team to get at least a team average to see if Gordon is 'good' at this compared to his teammates? Another question, did you run this for other players at Gordon's position and then compare his numbers to theirs? That would allow us to see how his numbers compare to the league average at his position. Is Gordon, below, at or above average at this given his position? Does position affect the Kobe Assist? Did you run this for every player in he league in order to create a league wide picture for where Gordon sits compared to a league average? (Putting it all together, maybe it's something he is good at and should do more. Maybe he's not good and should make other decisions with the ball. Maybe the Kobe Assist has little positive affect in the outcome of a game. Etc., etc.) Granted, I have a bias against something called a Kobe Assist, (and so my knowledge on the depth of research and testing done to establish it's veracity is limited) but these are just some of the things that occurred to me off the top of my head as I read the article. It seems like possibly a good start but I don't see anything from which I can draw a useful conclusion.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

Hey Michael - did you consider the players he played on the floor with and the opponents he played on the floor with? That would have been additional important data :) I think there's a way to do this, you can contact Evan Zamir on NBAWOWY.com :) He parses play by play data, so he might actually be able to parse the data out :) Awesome job on the Eric Gordon articles :)

mateor
mateor

Original research....awesome work. Confirming what we would expect, but it is only theory until someone actually watches the tape and tabs the numbers. When the hornets were looking for their last shot yesterday, I had already visualized the Gordon iso jumper. The win is 100% due to taking it inside and it was pleasantly surprising.

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

I can't say I'm entirely shocked by this. When a guard drives to the rim a defender needs to rotate over, usually, which leaves gives an offensive big a better position to get a rebound/putback/whathaveyou than otherwise. On a jump shot the defenders have more time to get in better rebounding position than they would on a drive, especially if someone rotates. Also, on a jump shot the shooter is using more force with the ball which can lead to the ball bouncing further off the rim than a missed layup which stays in that general area. Guards are the defensive rebounding guards are usually in better position than the shooting team to grab those boards. That's like how Greivis grabs most of his defensive boards. And isn't Synergy awesome!

Drew
Drew

Excellent post. I love that you dug through synergy to find all this stuff, articles like this are what makes this site top-notch in Hornets coverage. Really appreciate the work you guys put in

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

The term was coined by the Grantland fellows I believe, not Michael or Michael or Ryan. Also, I'd like to see the stuff you are talking about . . . people wanting more of this is proof that Michael may be onto something . . . it'll happen, at least in part, but the point is look at how Gordon needs to grow, at least for a bit, to improve his game for the team. If everyone needs to grow that way, then it should be even more clear. If not, than we all owe Michael some gratitude.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

Ideally, we would be able to compare Gordon's numbers with other NBA players on a number of different levels: vs. guards, elite players, etc.. whichever category you may choose. But as I created the data, there is not something to compare it with. Not realistic to do it for all NBA players, but I'm going to compare these numbers with a couple of other players in an upcoming article. The point of the article was not to compare Gordon to other players, but to evaluate the difference between Gordon the driver and Gordon the jump shooter.. when he's missing, what's happening? The conclusion is pretty clear: the Hornets are retaining possession at a much better rate on his misses in which he's moving towards the basket. I both agree and disagree with you about "Kobe assists." I agree in the sense that he's prone to missing open teammates because he's taking bad shots. It's something I've always disliked about him. If Kobe is taking it to the hoop, I tend to be more forgiving, because secondary defenders aren't always there BEFORE he's in the process of shooting. The article is also not concerned with whether Gordon should be passing the ball instead of shooting. Again, it's about evaluating what happens on two different types of missed shots. If I were evaluating whether or not he should be taking specific shots, I'd refer to his field goal percentages at different spots. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that we are just talking about misses. If Gordon is making 60% of his shots at the rim, and we're keeping the ball on 47% of his misses (which happen 40% of the time at the rim), then the Hornets are getting points on at least 60%, and they're not losing the ball on 18.8% of his total shots. So 78.8% of the time he takes a shot at the rim, something good or neutral is happening. But again, that's not the focus. It's Eric the driver vs. Eric the jump shooter

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

I wanted to take that into consideration, but it just wasn't reasonable to mark down every lineup for every shot, because I was pulling it off of Synergy. Also, as I didn't use just offensive rebounds, I don't think they have a stat for what I'm doing. I will definitely look into contacting Zamir, because that would be very helpful in what I'm trying to do. I had been on that site once or twice, but man, I just visited again.. and they have some incredible stats. I will definitely be using it going forward. Thanks for the reference, because I'm always looking for data to analyze

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

Right there with you- I thought he was gonna pull up for a jumper at the end. He drives to the basket instead, and look what happens. Whammy. I was just as pleased, and probably moreso, that he found Anderson twice off of drive and kicks. On the second shot, Jen Hale reported that Gordon was going to look for his shot, and that Anderson was the 2nd option. Sure enough, he drives and hits Anderson for a corner 3. That's the kind of action I've been waiting to see all year.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

Right, and I was under the impression that it would turn out that way, I just had no idea how different it would be. 47% is pretty remarkable, and although this added a few plays that weren't offensive rebounds, if you compare it to team offensive rebound rates, it's incredibly high. Like you say, jump shot misses create longer rebounds, which means opposing guards can initiate fast breaks more quickly. Synergy is great, and they get games up very quickly

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