Friday, February 3, 2017

Introducing Net Differential Part V: Sacramento Through Washington

In Part I, I introduced net differential as a tool for evaluating the NBA and began evaluating all 30 NBA teams. The first part looked at Atlanta through Cleveland. Part II included evaluations for Dallas through Indiana. Part III evaluated the L.A. teams through Minnesota. Part IV looked at New Orleans through Portland. This final part of the introductory series will break down Sacramento through Washington.

Net differential is the difference between a player's on court net rating and the player's off court net rating. On court net is a lineup-influenced stat while off court net is completely isolated to the individual player. All numbers are current as of Thursday's games. For this installment, I've added a column for 2015-16 net differential so we can begin to compare a player's performance year-over-year. You can view net differential data for 2015-16 (minimum 500 minutes played) here. In the entries below, if a player did not play in the NBA last season or played fewer than 500 minutes, their 2016 Diff column will be blank.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Introducing Net Differential Part IV: New Orleans Through Portland

In Part I, I introduced net differential as a tool for evaluating the NBA and began evaluating all 30 NBA teams. The first part included Atlanta through Cleveland. Part II included evaluations for Dallas through Indiana. Part III broke down the L.A. teams through Minnesota. Part IV will look at New Orleans through Portland.

Net differential is the difference between a player's on court net rating and the player's off court net rating. On court net is a lineup-influenced stat while off court net is completely isolated to the individual player. All numbers are current as of Tuesday's games. For this installment, I've added a column for 2015-16 net differential so we can begin to compare a player's performance year-over-year. You can view net differential data for 2015-16 (minimum 500 minutes played) here. In the entries below, if a player did not play in the NBA last season or played fewer than 500 minutes, their 2016 Diff column will be blank.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Introducing Net Differential Part III: L.A. Through Minnesota

In Part I, I introduced Net Differential as a tool for evaluating the NBA and began evaluating all 30 NBA teams. The first part included Atlanta through Cleveland. Part II included evaluations for Dallas through Indiana. In this part, we'll look at the L.A. teams through Minnesota.

Net differential is the difference between a player's on court net rating and the player's off court net rating. On court net is a lineup-influenced stat while off court net is completely isolated to the individual player. In cases where the player has either a small on court or off court sample, net differential becomes less useful. It is optimal when the player has at least 1000 minutes on and off court. For this reason, net differential is listed only for players with at least 300 minutes on court. All numbers are current as of Thursday's games.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Introducing Net Differential Part II: Evaluating NBA Teams

In Part I, I introduced net differential as a new tool for evaluating the NBA. Net differential is the difference between how an NBA team performs with a player on court and how it performs with that player out of the game. I'm going alphabetically through the entire league. Part I included Atlanta through Cleveland. This post will look at Dallas through Indiana. All numbers are current prior to Friday's games.

Net differential is the difference between a player's on court net rating and the player's off court net rating. On court net is a lineup-influenced stat while off court net is completely isolated to the individual player. In cases where the player has either a small on court or off court sample, net differential becomes less useful. It is optimal when the player has at least 1000 minutes on and off court. For this reason, net differential is listed only for players with at least 300 minutes on court. All numbers are current as of Thursday's games.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Introducing Net Differential Part I: A New Tool for NBA Player Evaluation

By Buddy Grizzard

If you’ve followed my writing, you know I’m one of the most ardent proponents of plus-minus among NBA observers. There’s a very simple reason for this. In the game of basketball, if your team scores more points than the other team, you win. I’m constantly challenged on observations based on plus-minus, but for me the essence is this: Did a player contribute to winning basketball? What follows is an attempt to answer that question in a new way.

When I first joined ESPN TrueHoop Network as a contributor in 2012, stats such as net rating (plus-minus regularized to a per 100 possessions basis instead of the traditional box score, per game basis) were not in common use. On former TrueHoop Hawks blog Hoopinion -- and here on my personal blog RepATL.com -- I compiled plus-minus numbers by hand. When I later became aware of net rating on NBA.com I quickly realized that it gave my observations more force.

For example, in this piece about Larry Drew’s absurd decision to sit Kirk Hinrich in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Hawks’ 2012 first round series against the Celtics, I noted that Jannero Pargo was -20 and Willie Green -18 through the series’ first three games while Hinrich was +18. This link shows net rating for those three games. Through Game 3 of the Boston series, the Hawks outscored the Celtics by 3.7 points per 100 possessions with Hinrich on court, but were outscored by 21.7 per 100 with Green on court and 41.7 with Pargo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lynching by Laptop: Palast Reveals New Jim Crow System

By Buddy Grizzard

Approximately one in seven African-American voters and one in eight Asian-American voters were purged from the voter rolls in states carried by Donald Trump, according to investigative journalist Greg Palast of Rolling Stone. Palast conducted a press conference Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to share information on Interstate Crosscheck, a voter purge system that is the brainchild of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump adviser. When Trump talks about the millions he alleges voted twice, he's stating the rationalization for voter purges via Crosscheck, which may have removed 1.1 million voters -- predominately of color -- from the voter rolls in those states.

"It's probably what you would call intentional and purposeful racial discrimination in voting for Crosscheck to exist," said voting rights activist and attorney Barbara Arnwine at the National Press Club conference. "It is an overly-broad program, it is over-inclusive in violation of the 14th amendment of the constitution, it has clear racially-discriminatory impact and it's avoidable."

Not only is Crosscheck discriminatory but it violates federal law according to Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida. The former federal judge hand-delivered a Congressional member letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an investigation and calling for indictments.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016 Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

It's the start of a new NBA season and that means it's time for the annual low expectations for the Atlanta Hawks. During the season premiere of Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley emphatically declared that the Hawks will miss the playoffs this season. Doesn't Barkley do that every year?

ESPN.com currently ranks the Hawks fifth in the Eastern Conference and 13th in the league although NBA.com ranks Atlanta fourth in conference and a surprising eighth in the league. Last season I had outsized expectations for the Hawks with the caveat of a healthy Tiago Splitter. That remains one of the biggest questions facing the Hawks, and Splitter's uncertain health led to the extraordinary step of waiving Jarrett Jack's fully-guaranteed contract for just under $1 million. The Hawks opted to go with only two point guards entering the season so the team could keep both Mike Muscala and Edy Tavares to bolster the front court depth.

My expectations for the Hawks are more modest this season: 50 wins. But that's still higher than most projections. A healthy Splitter last season wouldn't have put the Hawks anywhere near the preceding 60-win season, but just one additional win would have given the Hawks a top three seed and consecutive division championships for the first time in franchise history. Atlanta would have also avoided the Cavaliers in the playoffs unless the teams met in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hawks Ready to Let Real Games Begin

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In one of the final tune-ups before NBA teams must cut their rosters to 15 players, the Atlanta Hawks got a bounce-back game -- of sorts -- from Tim Hardaway Jr. and a dominating performance from Paul Millsap in his first action of the preseason.

Millsap returned to live basketball for the first time since undergoing a non-surgical procedure to reduce swelling in his knee. He was the only Hawks starter to appear in the game as coach Mike Budenholzer rested Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore, Kyle Korver and Dennis Schroder. Millsap torched the Magic for 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a game-high +21 in just 19 minutes. Millsap was in midseason form, especially with his passing, as you can see on NBA.com's highlights.

Hardaway meanwhile was the first sub for Atlanta and scored 19 points on 15 shots. He had a key basket down the stretch to help thwart a comeback attempt by the Magic. Coach Frank Vogel used his starters for much of the fourth quarter while Budenholzer countered with mostly reserves. Only Nikola Vucevic was held out of the game for rest, with offseason acquisition Bismack Biyombo filling in at center.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hawks' Offseason: A Master Class in Risk Management



Hey folks. So I'm working to get a magazine off the ground. No progress to report but I want to go ahead and get this piece I've had in the can published. I know there's a limited audience for the sort of longform stuff I like to write but I'm grateful to every person who reads me. Images courtesy of the Atlanta Hawks and NBA.com. Kacy Sager and I couldn't figure out which parts of this were her original ideas, so please consider this a co-writing credit. - Buddy Grizzard

When the rumor first circulated that the Atlanta Hawks were interested in signing former Rockets center Dwight Howard, my reaction was immediate and visceral.

This was the Dwight Howard who put his arm around Stan Van Gundy moments after the coach had confided that Howard was seeking to have him fired. In addition to being painted as disingenuous by that infamous moment, I felt he had committed the cardinal sin for a basketball player: failure to respect the game.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hawks 2016 NBA Draft Depth Chart by Jim Gaylor

In 2013, while writing for ESPN TrueHoop Network, I started a tradition of creating an NBA Draft Depth Chart for the Hawks. The idea is to list in order of preference a number of first round prospects equal to the Hawks' draft position in the first round. That year the Hawks had two first round picks and the depth chart consisted of 18 players since 18th was the last of Atlanta's two picks. The highest-rated player still available when the Hawks pick then becomes the player recommended for the Hawks to draft.

This system has allowed me to have a lot of fun playing armchair GM. It has also proven to be a huge success. In three drafts since I started publishing the depth chart, my first round picks for the Hawks were Lucas Nogueira, Gorgui Dieng, Rodney Hood and Sam Dekker. The players the Hawks actually selected were Nogueira, Dennis Schroder, Adreian Payne and Jerian Grant, who was traded to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway, Jr.

To take the comparison further, I'm going to cheat a little and back up to the 2012 draft. I hadn't decided to do a draft depth chart at that point but I'd had some success in identifying sleepers in previous drafts such as Ty Lawson and Eric Bledsoe. In the comments of the AJC Hawks blog for that draft, I had identified three players I was targeting: Evan Fournier, Festus Ezeli and Marquis Teague. Fournier was a wing with a nice shooting stroke and some point guard abilities. Ezeli had dominated top overall pick Anthony Davis in the SEC championship game. Teague had my interest because I believed the Hawks might seek a backup point guard in the draft.