Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who's the Best Rookie?

Bradford Doolittle attempts to answer that question over at Basketball Prospectus.
The Al Horford vs. Kevin Durant debate harkens back to a fundamental problem with any rookie-of-the-year designation. We generally award the guy who was best in that season. That's pretty much what the award is for. But in this case, the award is likely to go to the guy who is the best prospect simply because voters will see that 19+ scoring average and think, "That's great...for a 19-year old."
The most interesting table in the article is the list of all rookies who have played at least 200 minutes ranked by their usage rate [The number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes. Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33) + TO] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace)] compared to the league average. Horford's fourth from the bottom which is partially a testament to his tendency not to take bad shots and partially a testament to the Hawks not getting him the ball often enough.

Ballhype: hype it up!

5 comments:

Ron said...

Good point. Al has shown a pretty decent low post game. If the Hawks dumped the ball in to him more often, it would allow their shooters to get open more often -- assuming of course Woodson condescended to put the shooters in the game in the first place.

BC said...

Al has my vote for Rookie of the Year. Durrant is good don't get me wrong but Horford has but that team in a different position. He is great on defense and he is great on offense. it is just that all around player and it come to the Hawks just in time.

Bronn said...

There's a lot of reasons Kevin Durant is NOT the rookie of the year. You can make your arguments for any other candidate, but it's the negatives on Durant's resume that really stand out the most to me.

I remember reading somewhere, and don't quote me on this, that out of all the players int he NBa, Durant had the largest negative effect on his team's offensive efficieny because he's shooting under 40 percent and jacking up 17.5 shots per game. So you can think of him like Seattle's version of Josh Smith , only with a far worse shooting percentage and he's taking even more shots.

Secondly, even though Durant is really a guard for the Sonics, his rebounding rate is well what you would hope for from a guy who's 6'9 with freakishly long arms like his.

And thirdly, I'd love to point to his assist/turnover ratio. Averaging only 2.1 assists to counter his 2.9 turnovers, he's again a negative influence on his team on the offensive end of the floor. Even though he's only a rookie, he is primary scorer on his own team and you would hope he'd find a way to spread the ball around more. 2.1/2.9 isn't exactly damning for a rookie-Al Horford is only 1.4/1.8-he is in a position where he's handling the ball as much as anyone else on the Sonics' roster.

Bret LaGree said...

Ron, I agree. As I've pointed out repeatedly, if the Hawks would post up someone other than Joe Johnson when Johnson was on the floor, they'd add a shooter on the perimeter.

BC and Bronn, I haven't seen the Sonics play a ton this year, but I think it's an extremely questionable decision to play Durant as a guard. The only times he struggled at Texas were when he was matched up against a smaller, quicker defender.

His whole life he's been faster than tall guys and taller than fast guys. Seattle's playing him at the one position that minimizes either of those advantages he's learned to take advantage of. He's having to learn a new way to play while making the biggest leap (in terms of level of competition) of his career.

He was such a good rebounder at Texas that I have to believe his rebounding numbers in the NBA would be better were he not on the perimeter so much.

Bronn said...

Concerning Seattle's decision to play Durant as a guard rather than a forward, I think it's to make sure that he's not a defensive liability. He's still a kid, essentially, and doesn't have the strength to match up with guys in his own divison like AK47, Carmelo Anthony, or even guys like Travis Outlaw, much less the Marions and LeBrons of the world. And it's worked out pretty well on the defensive end of the ball because he's such great length that he can really both opposing twos. Maybe as he gets older his body will fill out more and he'll evolve into a three where he's really a more natural fit anyawy.