From Out of Nowhere

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Published: March 24, 2013
grandfather-mountain-heavy-fog-bridge-to-nowhere-dave-allen

You come from out of nowhere
My glance turns to a stare
One minute here and one minute there
Don’t know if I’ll laugh or cry
One minute here and one minute there
And then you wave good-bye…

– Faith No More, From Out of Nowhere

Sports

2 losses following 2 wins this week brings the record to 24-46, with 12 games remaining for the New Orleans Hornets. This puts them squarely in the middle of a pack of 4 teams within 2.5 games of one another in the West and in the middle of a pack of 5 teams in the East within 4.5 games of one another, all ahead of Charlotte and Orlando. Thus, they can realistically finish with anywhere from the third worst record in the NBA to the eleventh worst. Also, they are on the verge of being officially eliminated from the playoffs, if they are not already; I can’t tell if there’s a weird multi-team tie situation involving at least one of Minnesota, Sacramento, and Portland. I’ll sort it out of the Hornets win all their games next week and the Lakers lose all of theirs, since anything else would make the calculation useless.

The 95-97 loss to the Timberwolves was not just close, but it was very avoidable. The Hornets grabbed 50% of offensive rebounds and 75% of defensive rebounds and took 21 more shots than Minnesota. They also bested the Timberwolves in scoring the paint, 58-46. Minnesota, however, converted only 3 fewer shots than the Hornets and ended up sinking 8 more free throws . . . that’s the 2-point difference. The last 4 points in the game were scored by the Timberwolves and all were at the line; they left one out there, too. All of the Hornets’ bigs played well, but Vasquez had only 5 assists in over 38 minutes, a total Roberts nearly matched in less than 9 minutes. Vasquez put up 24 points on 25 shots, and someone else could have done a better job with a couple of those. Anderson also had only 4 3-point attempts, and Gordon was not a great help in the box score.

The 93-72 loss to the Warriors was about as unwinnable as the Timberwolves game was winnable. The Warriors had a TS% of 0.607 compared to 0.406 for the Hornets, an incredible difference. The Hornets slight advantages here and there just could not stand up to that barrage with their weak offensive performance, including going scoreless in the last 5:50, starting off down only 8 points. Looking at the allocation, the Warriors guards scored 54 points in 108 minutes while the Hornets guards scored 23 points in 96 minutes. This leaves the other players on each team scoring 49 points total, with slightly more minutes used by the Hornets for them. Still, it’s clear where the disparity was, especially when the Warriors went 10 of 19 from 3, a better percentage than their 2-point shots.

The 86-87 win over the Celtics was a thrilling figurative slugfest. A slight advantage when shooting from the field for Boston was offset by a slight advantage at the line for the Hornets. In the end, it came down to rebounding (the Hornets had them on the offensive glass 31.4% to 10.5%, flip it get the defensive advantage) and a rebound. The Hornets had a nice drive and kick from Gordon to Anderson who drilled a 3 to keep the Hornets in the game after Pierce remembered who he was earlier in the fourth. Down 2, the Hornets put the ball in Gordon’s hand who dribbled the clock down, lost the handle momentarily, drove and left the ball bouncing around the rim until it started to fall out of the cylinder . . . until Davis tipped it in. Fantastic on many levels. Putting yourself in the position to take advantage of good luck and to mitigate bad luck is what it’s about. This night, the Hornets did that.

This 90-83 win over the Grizzlies was the opposite of the Warriors loss in many respects. For one, it was a closer win than it appears, whereas that loss was much worse than the score showed. In that game, it was their guards that ran the show, while the Hornets big men held court Friday. The Hornets starting frontcourt played for 67 minutes scored 41 points on 26 shots, went 7 of 10 at the line, and added 25 rebounds, 11 of them offensive. Their Memphian counterparts played for 66 minutes, scored 30 points on 27 shots, went 2 of 3 from the line, and added only 15 total rebounds, 9 of them offensive. The Hornets led the Grizzles with an ORB% of 42.1% compared to the Grizzles’ 25%. The guard play is a different story entirely, of course. In their 67 minutes played, Gordon and Vasquez combined for 23 points on 26 shots, 11 assists compared to 6 turnovers, and 3 rebounds. Conley and Allen’s 62 minutes delivered 28 points on 17 shots, converted 9 free throws of 11 attempts, had 6 assists compared to 3 turnovers, and added 6 rebounds. So, not totally opposite.

The coming week features the Nuggets, Clippers, and currently-streaking Heat who have a combined record of 151-58. 1-2 this week will be an achievement.

News

The Hornets signed Terrel Harris to a second 10-day contract on Monday. It will expire prior the Heat game. They can not sign Harris to another 10-day contract this season. They must sign him for the rest of the season or pick up another player.

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have signed guard Terrell Harris to a second 10-day contract.

Harris, an Oklahoma State product, originally signed his first 10-day contract with the Hornets on March 8, 2013. As a Hornet, he has appeared in two games and averaged 0.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 6.0 minutes per game. Earlier this season, Harris appeared in seven regular season games with the Miami Heat before being waived on January 5th, 2013. In nine total appearances this season, Harris has averaged 1.1 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.3 assists in 4.6 minutes of play with the Heat and Hornets combined.

The 6’4” guard is in his second NBA season after going undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft. A Texas native, Harris originally signed with the Heat on December 10, 2011. In two seasons, Harris has played in a total of 29 games, including one start, and recorded career averages of 3.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game in 12.0 minutes. Prior to his signing with the Heat before the 2010-11 season, Harris spent professional stints with Strasbourg IG of the France ProA League as well as the Maine Red Claws and Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League.

The 25-year-old played for years at Oklahoma State University where he won a Big 12 defensive award but went undrafted. He played in France, Germany, and the D-League before playing with the Heat for 29 games over the past 2 seasons. He was waived on January 5th, returning to the D-League, then was signed by the Hornets to his first, and now his second, 10-day contract with the team.

Around the Site

The In the NO podcast this week focused on the upcoming draft, looking at the tiers of players available and how they’d fit with the Hornets.

With so much focus on trying to get a good slot in the lottery, it behooves one to look at how much drafting in the top 5 has actually helped teams go on to win titles. As it turns out, not so much. So, there’s more to this then just drafting high and waiting for the trophies to roll in.

In terms of getting help now, Michael Pellissier looked at what Eric Gordon can do on the court right now to help the team.

`Voices’ of the People

I was fortunate enough to have seats directly behind the bench (first row) and I payed close attention to how players interacted on the bench.

Clearly Jason Smith is the heart and soul of the team and most likable guy. Lance is the same way. They’re always joking around and are by far the most enthusiastic on the team. Gordon and Anderson were relatively quiet. AD was joking around some in warm ups but you can tell once the game starts he’s 100% locked in.

Also, saw Bogut talk so trash to Lopez and Harris, and kept holding Lopez’s arms and jersey when he came through the lane. He’s listed as only 5 pounds bigger than Robin, but he looked at least 15.

Curry’s jumper… Just incredible.

JJacob

This was my favorite win of the season. Mainly because I was there, and I love to see all the bandwagoners go home sad.

Cloud520

While losing games at this point helps more than winning I cannot complain at all about this win because it is a win that the team and the fans needed. This is a signature win to give the fans some excitement to close out the season, nothing wrong with that. Our future star and face of the franchise was able to have a signature moment of his young career, nothing wrong with that.

The only other wins that I really want would be against the Heat and the two games against the Clippers.

Chris W

42 Sense

Anthony Davis has been playing extremely well of late, something that encourages Hornets fans after a long bout of inconsistency from the young forward. This inconsistency was partially due to Davis’ minutes.

The graph below shows Davis’ minutes played in each game. The x-axis is the date, and gaps are shown for days where Davis did not log minutes. Generic games are marked in blue, yellow indicates that Davis did not start, and red denotes a game where Davis was injured and suffered a reduction in minutes.

Minutes Per Game:

The first short gap is Davis’ concussion, and the long gap is due the stress reaction. The small gaps later in the season are the All-Star break and the time he missed due to his shoulder injury.

It’s clear that Davis was playing at or above 30 minutes per game before the stress reaction. Upon returning from this injury, he was limited to 30 minutes per game for 3 games, then played closer to 35 minutes per game, including one game of over 40 minutes for about 2 weeks. He then played over 30 minutes in only 5 games in 8 weeks. After that, he’s played over 30 minutes per game except when Monty limited him against Dwight Howard, when he racked up 5 fouls against Washington, and when his should had him sitting for most of the fourth against Boston. All of his games logging below 25 minutes without injury or foul trouble, excepting the Lakers game mentioned above, occurred during this 8 week period.

In terms of performance, many fans noticed lower quality of Davis’ play intermittently during this stretch. The inconsistent minutes affect some attempts to analyze even time-normalized data, but there are some clear changes in performance over this time.

First, his FT% (as a decimal) is independent of time played, at least in aggregate and it involves nothing but his ability. Changes here may give clues to what to look for in other plots.

Free Throw %:

Anthony Davis FT%

The change may not jump out, but it’s clear once you stare. The swath of games after his relatively quick return from the stress reaction contain 8 of the 9 games with a FT% below 0.5. Also, the number of games with a perfect free throw percentage increased as time went on. His FT% increased by about 0.07 from when his minutes were first reduced until the apparent limit was removed.

What’s missing from the above is the number of games in which Davis played by had no free throw attempts. So, next we look at FTA/36.

Free Throw Attempts:

Anthony Davis FTA/36

Again, it takes a second look to see what happened. There’s a clear norm throughout of 2 to 4 attempts per 36 minutes. That did not change. What changed was the extremes. Following his return from injury, he logged 7 games with no FTA (all before the limit was removed) compared to just 1 prior to the injury, excluding the game where he suffered a concussion and was removed from the game early. At the other end, only 3 of the 9 games where he’s logged over 8 FTA/36m occur during the time period, and all are at least 4 weeks after his return or 8 weeks after the injury was reported. All of the games with at least 10 FTA/36 are outside of this period, as well.

Keep in mind that during the time of worst performance, Davis’ minutes were lower, so normalizing to attempts per 36 minutes inflates the numbers more relative to later games where longer minutes were played. This does not imply that Davis would have been capable of meeting these numbers during that time if the playing time was extended; this is just a tool to get as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible. This sort of things applies to many such graphs below.

To complete the free throw picture, we include made free throws per 36 minutes:

Made Free Throws:

Anthony Davis FT/36

Note the same sort of pattern as with attempts. In fact, there was a good stretch there where he rarely got more than 2 per 36 minutes. This is as common as not now. Again, only 1 game with no made free throws before the stress reaction, 10 while his minutes were limited, and none in March.

Now that we know how to read these graphs, let’s quickly look at some more.

All counts are normalized to 36 minutes.

Offensive Rebounds:

Anthony Davis ORB/36

Same sort of story. The common theme is a lack of aggression on offense following the stress reaction through the start of March. All 15 games with less than 2 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes, including 7 with none, were during this time period.

Defensive Rebounding:

Anthony Davis DRB/36

His defensive rebounding was less affected, but there was an effect. Just compare the number of games above and below 6 DRB/36.

Total Rebounding:

Anthony Davis TRB/36

Given the above, an effect here is not surprising. That the `magic number’ is around 8 is also not surprising.

Turning to back to scoring, we look at field goals. 3′s aren’t really a factor for him (0 of 6 on the season), and looking at total points is influenced by free throws, and we don’t want to double-dip.

Field Goal %:

Anthony Davis FG%

This plot shows some expected degraded performance in the expected range. It also shows some surprisingly high percentages. As it turns out, this is an effect (in many cases) of attempted a small number of shots and making them. While this actually happened and should be reported as such (4 of 5 is 80%) as a descriptor, that does not mean that the 80% is a good predictor of future performance. So, scaling up the time in small sample cases exaggerates the extremes as a function of the low number of attempts and the low minutes.

The rest of the chart shows that. For example, in March so far, the smallest number of shots Davis attempted was 7, and it occurred once. Davis took 7 or fewer shots in 16 games from his return through the end of February. This is shown more clearly below:

Field Goal Attempts:

Anthony Davis FGA/36

Same deal, with 12 FGA/36 being a number of interest.

Made Field Goals:

Anthony Davis FG/36

This time, the low end is clear at 4 FG/36, 6 FG/36 with him now making around 8 FG/36. Again, some of those higher values are effects of small numbers of shots in small minutes.

The standard defensive statistics all suffer from the small sample issues, so we look at fouls as a proxy: if we can’t measure defense well, then why not measure something that will change when the effectiveness of defense changes, at least in terms of execution.

Personal Fouls:

Anthony Davis PF/36

Aside from the recent Washington game, all of the games with over 5 fouls per 36 minutes were during the expected date range.

It seems clear to me that Davis was not `right’ when we returned to action after the stress reaction, but things seem to be getting better now. The question of how much better is such an enticing one.

5 comments
mateor
mateor

I have held off on this article until I have the time to pay attention, but the song quote caught me...that was basically my favorite tape at one point. And then I found Mr.Bungle...

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I like Bungle, but FNM is classic. I thought the quote fit the feeling of the week.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

Loved the graphs. Davis is going to be such an incredible player

504ever
504ever

Great analysis that explains why Davis' minutes were properly limited by the Hornets' staff after Davis's stress reaction. Thankfully, that limit appears to have been lifted.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I was wondering if anyone would buy it... it's a noisy dataset. If I'm crazy, at least I'm not crazy alone.