Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Big Lineup and the Frontcourt Rotation

Jason Collins has the best on/off numbers of any Atlanta Hawk so far this season. The Hawks have outscored opponents by 20.4 points per 100 possessions with Collins on the court. A sample size caveat exists: Collins has been on the court for just 13.9% of Atlanta's possessions.

The Hawks have been at their best when Collins plays alongside Josh Smith and Al Horford (again, we're talking about just 141 offensive and 140 defensive possessions here) but the Hawks have still been well on the plus side of things during the other 117 offensive and 113 defensive possessions Collins has been on the floor:

CombinationOff EffDef EffDiffPoss
Smith & Horford & Collins110.688.6+22.0141
any other (incl. Collins)107.789.4+18.3115

My suspicion is that everyone deserves credit here. Collins, for getting in shape before the season, for converting more than half of the few scoring opportunities he receives, and rebounding reasonably well by his standards, Larry Drew for spotting Collins in situations* he's most likely to succeed, and his teammates for possessing the talent to allow Collins to make use of his narrow range of ability without compromising the team's performance in general.

*Let's not forget that Collins has played more than a quarter of his minutes this season against the Magic and the Magic were without Jameer Nelson in both games. Collins might not look so good if forced to defend the pick-and-roll repeatedly. Another third of his minutes have come against New Jersey and Minnesota, teams that are -6 and -7 per 100 possessions on average, respectively.

And, should Collins remain limited to spot duty, the Hawks have another, less limited option should they want to go big: Zaza Pachulia.

TrioOff EffDef EffDiffPoss
Smith & Horford & Collins110.688.6+22.0141
Smith & Horford & Pachulia114.098.3+15.758

I presume you're noticing a trend here: the Hawks outscoring opponents by a ton when Josh Smith plays small forward. Here are the season-to-date totals for Smith by position:

Josh SmithOff EffDef EffDiffPoss
at the 3106.899.4+7.4310
at the 4110.1106.2+3.91124

One reason these unusual lineups look so good is that there's a regular member of the rotation that is, according to the on-off data, killing the Hawks:

Josh PowellOffense


Yes, the Hawks have outscored opponents by 7.7 points per 100 possessions (over 1465 possessions) when Powell's off the court and have been outscored by their opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions (over 625 possessions) when Powell's on the court. Essentially, the Hawks are slightly better than the 2010-11 Orlando Magic (+7.3 points per 100 possessions) when Powell's on the bench and the 2010-11 Los Angeles Clippers (-6.4 points per 100 possessions) when Powell's on the court. Powell's season-to-date performance* might, in and of itself, be argument for more playing time for Jason Collins.

*Not to mention its predictability.

One explanation for why the Hawks are so much better with Powell off the court is the continued excellence of Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia playing alongside each other.

Horford & PachuliaOff EffPossDef EffPossDiff

More of that, please.


M said...

On an unrelated note, I just found this gem of a rap video with a cameo from Josh Smith doing his best "guy in the background of a rap video" impression

M said...

forgot the link: