Rockets Early Numbers

15 games so far and a 7-8 record. Not bad for a team that is:

- The lowest paid roster in the entire league by far. At $48M, the Rockets are paid roughly 20% less than the second cheapest roster (the Phoenix Suns) and less than 50% of the most expensive (the LA Lakers).
- The youngest roster in the entire league. The oldest members of the team are Carlos Delfino (30), Toney Douglas (26), and Omer Asik (26).
- The least experienced roster in the entire league. Kobe Bryant has more NBA minutes than the entire Rockets team combined.
- Without their head coach for the past 11 games (RIP Alexandra “Shasha” McHale).

What was expected to be a very rough rebuilding season has turned into a potential playoff run (whether that’s good or not in the long term). Currently ranked 11th and 17th respectively by the Hollinger and Stein Power Rankings on ESPN, the Rockets have shown to be outperforming their record. In a comparison to other 30 teams, the Rockets actually run the fastest and 10th most effective offense in the league.

PACE AST TO REBR EFF FG% TS% OFF EFF DEF EFF
1st 17th 24th 8th 10th 9th 10th 20th

Individually, the Rockets have a wide breadth of skills that may not shine individually, but thus far balance out the team as a whole.

PLAYER GP MPG TS% AST TO USG REBR PER
Greg Smith 10 11.8 0.637 15.7 5.9 15.0 16.9 21.61
James Harden 15 38.8 0.574 17.2 13.1 27.1 6.0 20.90
Patrick Patterson 14 29.7 0.560 6.8 7.3 18.4 9.7 16.72
Chandler Parsons 14 38.1 0.596 18.6 11.4 16.8 10.2 15.98
Marcus Morris 15 21.4 0.552 7.5 6.8 16.8 11.2 15.46
Omer Asik 15 32.7 0.508 8.1 20.6 16.7 20.9 13.50
Jeremy Lin 15 34.4 0.456 31.2 14.2 18.5 7.2 12.64
Cole Aldrich 8 8.6 0.538 7.6 7.6 14.2 13.6 12.43
Daequan Cook 8 13.9 0.490 14.8 5.6 16.9 6.5 12.18
Carlos Delfino 8 23.6 0.467 15.9 10.6 17.6 9.0 10.59
Toney Douglas 14 15.6 0.455 19.0 16.7 20.3 4.3 7.70

Individual accolades for the starters:

Omer Asik – 3rd in the league for rebounds
James Harden – 5th in scoring, 15th in steals, 25th in assists
Jeremy Lin – 7th in steals and 14th in assists
Chandler Parsons – Top 50 in scoring, FG%, rebounds, and assists
Patrick Patterson – 19th in FG%

A very encouraging start for a team that should improve through experience and additions over the season(s).

Early Number Crunch

Jeremy has played 8 games into the season as a Houston Rocket, so we have some real world data to look at to where his game is going this season.

Here is a raw snapshot of his current Player Efficiency Rating (PER) numbers after 8 games:

PLAYER

MPG

TS%

AST

TO

REBR

USG

PER

Jeremy Lin

34.5

0.462

30

12.3

7.2

18.7

14.56

Keep in mind that the PER stat is normalized so that the league average is 15, which unfortunately, means that Jeremy is currently slightly below that (151 overall rank among all qualified players).

Interpreting these stats against all other point guards leads to the following:

  • 38th overall in PER
  • 49th in True Shooting Percentage
  • 26th in Assist Ratio
  • 27th in Turnover Ratio (lower the better)
  • 18th in Rebound Rate
  • 45th in Usage Rate

The positives are the rebound rate, the vast improvement in turnover ratio, and unlisted is the fact that Jeremy is currently tied for 3rd in the league for steals (2.5) per game. Usage rate is primarily due to the strength of James Harden handling the ball periodically and coordinating plays, which can be a good thing for the team, but often leaves Jeremy out of it.

The real problem is Jeremy’s shooting this season, as it’s the lowest of all the Rockets starters and is really starting to affect the outcome of games. At the end of last season, Jeremy’s TS% was around 55.2%, significantly higher than the current 46.2%. Not only is his shooting percentage getting lower, but the number of shot attempts seems to be lowering as well over the past few games. Jeremy started the first 3 games averaging 14 FG attempts, while the later 5 games dropped to 9 FG attempts. Those watching the games may realize that part of this is from the relatively fewer number of foul calls the referees are giving out this year for drives to the basket, which may be discouraging Jeremy from getting to the rim and settling for the outside shots he’s less adept at.

Still a lot of basketball to look forward to and realistically, the Rockets agenda is much more long term with such a young team, but Jeremy needs to keep working at it to solidify his role as the primary ball handler and 2nd/3rd option for scoring.

Full statistics per game in forums

Everybody Wants to be King of New York

Stanford, UCLA, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and the New York Knicks.

The list of organizations that had Jeremy Lin in their grasp just to let him go again. Each one expressed the deepest regret of using their biased gut, and not taking a closer look and believing in their eyes. The Rockets learned their lesson and made an effort to rectify their mistake, one that seemed futile two weeks ago, but only succeeded when the Knicks made the same mistake as so many have done before them. What makes it so much worse for the Knicks is that they saw Linsanity up close and should have known exactly how much Jeremy changed basketball in Madison Square Garden. The lack of offer from the Knicks came down to three factors, two of which should have heavily favored Jeremy, while the last ultimately trumped both others.

The Money

Ticket prices and sales of Jeremy’s jersey (#2 for 2012) are only a glimpse of what he brought to the team. Linsanity also brought prominence to several of his Knicks teammates, most notably Landry Fields, Jared Jefferies, Steve Novak, and Iman Shumpert. Being a public company, Madison Square Garden stock has benefitted greatly from Jeremy and its increase in market value since February 2011 is about 10 times the annual salary of the entire Knicks roster. The reality is that nobody has even begun to truly capitalize on Jeremy marketing value. Since Linsanity, he’s only signed two endorsement contracts, one for Volvo and a renewal with Nike [edit: also Steiner Sports as a 3rd]. A countless number of firms have unofficially used his name and likeness to sell products, but we have only seen the tip of the iceberg due to his flash celebrity. It’s been analyzed over and over again, but the cost of Jeremy’s contract, which would have been a very distant 4th on the team, would be nothing compared to his revenue generating potential. This factors in if ALL of the luxury tax were to be attributed to him solely and his performance regresses to an uninspiring league average despite increased NBA experience. Aside from Jeremy destroying his own image (i.e. Jason Kidd’s drunk driving), which is unlikely given his flawless background, signing him would have guaranteed a substantial net positive income for the Knicks. That being said, it wasn’t about the money.

The Basketball

A popular argument against Jeremy is that he’s still unproven and his limited experience of 35 games last season is a risk. Being good in a competitive sport is about perspective. If the Knicks had gotten Steve Nash, then one could argue that Nash is still producing great numbers consistently and would be a safer bet at greatness next year. Fact is, the Knicks didn’t get Nash, they got Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. Remember the Hollinger PER stat discussed in previous entries? Jeremy ended the season at 19.97, Raymond Felton at 13.46, and Jason Kidd at 13.11, while the league average is fixed at 15.0. Disregarding Jeremy’s numbers for a moment, his two replacements are both BELOW AVERAGE. The argument will then shift to Jeremy’s “inflated” number since he only played 35 games. In 35 games though, Jeremy’s added value of 125.8, which only accumulates through games played, is more than the added values of Felton  (70.1) and Kidd (43.4) COMBINED playing 108 games. For reference, Nash’s added value is 271.9 over 62 games, but again, the Knicks didn’t get Nash. In a good scenario, Jeremy improves as he should, since he’s young, has limited experience, and point guards tend to peak much later in their career. In a bad scenario, Jeremy regresses to league average… which is still better than Felton and Kidd. The last argument will be about turnovers… let’s just say that the four players mentioned in this section had turnover ratio rankings of 10, 11, 13, and 20 in the league this past season (#1 ranking = the most frequent turnovers). If reducing turnovers was the Knicks top priority, it hasn’t been solved by switching between any of these guys. Add it all together, it wasn’t about the basketball.

The Ego

So if a player is bringing in more money and wins, the only real factor left is whether they like him or not. Despite being wildly popular amongst fans and publicly socializing with teammates, somebody in the Knicks organization clearly doesn’t like Jeremy. The two main suspects are the owner, James Dolan, and Carmelo Anthony.

Despite being encouraged to explore his free agency options, Dolan has been reported to have felt betrayed by Jeremy working with the Rockets. This could have been easily solved (or at least made clear) if the Knicks had made the first move and made Jeremy’s resigning their first priority. Instead, they signed Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, J.R. Smith, and Pablo Prigioni before Jeremy even got an offer from the Rockets. Regardless of Jeremy’s allegiance, any decent agent would have gone ahead and secured the best offers possible for their client, just to give them options. In Jeremy’s case in particular, a man who’s danced with unemployment numerous times over the past two years should try to secure as many offers as possible for good reason.

As for Carmelo Anthony, who openly called Jeremy’s contract “ridiculous”, might as well have joined other haters in shouting “overrated”. Every player wants to both win and have the spotlight, but for an all-star that has the worst playoff record in the past 20 years, the spotlight might be the only thing that’s left and Linsanity was about to steal it away on a long-term basis. Maybe the number of fans who taped over the “1” on Anthony’s #17 jerseys to mimic the #7 of Jeremy’s started to get to him.

Perhaps other egos were at play behind the scenes. Coach Mike Woodson has long been an advocate of veterans over rookies, but had been unflinchingly supportive of Jeremy in the past month. Maybe General Manager Glen Grunwald wasn’t a fan of Jeremy either for one reason or another. Ultimately, when Jeremy has the financials, stats, and fans on his side, there had to have been somebody with influence and authority to have said “I don’t like him”. You can’t be the king of New York when Jeremy Lin is more popular than you.

Discussion on the forums

The Silver (Lin)ing

Since the regular season is over for Jeremy, we take an early look at his season personal statistics. Again using the ESPN Player Efficiency Rating (PER) mentioned in previous posts, Jeremy is currently ranked 10th amongst point guards and 37th overall in the league with a PER of 19.94. The point guard ranking is unlikely to change at all, while the NBA overall ranking should not waver by more than 4 positions in either direction as the few remaining games should have low impact on average PER for other players going forward. The two figures below compare the distribution of point guards and all players in the league, with the blue bar representing the bucket that Jeremy falls in.

While regressed from his Linsanity start, Jeremy ends the season with strong support that he not only belongs in the best basketball league in the world, but as one of the better starting point guards.

In the past two months, we’ve seen Jeremy demonstrate feats of strength, speed, skill, toughness both mental and physical, and leadership. We’ve also seen his opponents rising up to meet him by adapting to his style and playing harder than they have all season just so that they won’t get “showed up by the rookie”. As his opponents adapt to “Linsanity”, Jeremy has also broadened his array of weapons in the more recent weeks, as he is forced to drive to the basket from the left side, taken awkward jumpers against suffocating defense, fouled hard at almost every game, and become better at handling the ball against aggressive defenders looking to force turnovers. While six weeks may seem like a lifetime for true fans, the best of Jeremy Lin is still in the making.

Game Log, Full Season Statistics, and Discussion Thread

Knicks PER-spective

As a follow up to Linsanity By the Numbers, I’m going to take another snapshot of Jeremy and the Knicks using the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) developed by John Hollinger of ESPN. Jeremy’s PER ranking has fallen a bit since the game against the Miami Heat, where opponents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have the top two ratings in the entire NBA respectively. While a single bad game may diminish the Linsanity hype, it’s still only a single data point in the realm of statistics. Here are the top 10 point guards in the league with their overall rankings (*edit* added Rondo by popular demand):

Rank PLAYER GP MPG USG PER
4 Chris Paul, LAC 27 36.3 24.0 26.36
5 Derrick Rose, CHI 27 35.5 29.1 24.88
12 Russell Westbrook, OKC 35 35.2 30.8 23.26
13 Jeremy Lin, NY 22 24.5 29.3 22.99
18 Steve Nash, PHX 31 32.1 22.8 22.52
22 Tony Parker, SA 34 34.4 27.6 21.83
23 Stephen Curry, GS 22 30.6 23.0 21.72
27 Kyrie Irving, CLE 30 31.0 26.8 21.21
30 Lou Williams, PHI 36 26.4 26.7 21.05
33 Deron Williams, NJ 35 37.4 30.1 20.93
64 Rajon Rondo, BOS 24 36.7 23.2 18.26

GP = Games played
MPG = Minutes per game
USG = Usage rate (relative measure of how often they handle the ball)
PER = Player Efficiency Rating (league average is 15)

As we’ve seen in the past with various measures, Jeremy’s performance is in the top tier, though his numbers are more volatile than others since he only has 13 full games under his belt (hence the seemingly low MPG). Even with good, but not “Linsane”, performances like yesterday’s victory against the Cavaliers, his PER can easily maintain its top 20 ranking for the rest of the season.

Here are the PER numbers for the rest of the Knicks (Baron Davis, J.R. Smith, and Jerome Jordan are not included due to limited minutes/games):

Rank PLAYER GP MPG USG PER
40 Tyson Chandler, NY 36 33.4 11.4 19.77
50 Carmelo Anthony, NY 26 34.2 29.2 19.37
72 Steve Novak, NY 24 15.6 15.9 17.61
103 Amare Stoudemire, NY 30 33.6 23.4 16.12
194 Landry Fields, NY 36 31.8 14.8 13.12
213 Josh Harrellson, NY 16 18.5 12.6 12.36
254 Jared Jeffries, NY 26 22.1 11.0 10.69
257 Iman Shumpert, NY 29 29.9 19.5 10.56
300 Bill Walker, NY 30 20.3 14.2 8.46
323 Toney Douglas, NY 26 20.8 23.1 6.32
326 Mike Bibby, NY 21 13.9 13.2 6.11

For the Knicks fans that had to watch Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby be the primary point guard, I feel your pain through the numbers. The other big disappointment from projections at the beginning of the season has been Amare Stoudemire, who is heralded as one of the stars of the team, but is currently barely cracking the league average in PER. Jared Jefferies and Tyson Chandler have both been producing better than their initial predictions, in no small part due to Jeremy’s ball handling for the past 13 games. Jefferies is still undervalued in that the number of offensive fouls that he draws from opponents is one of the best in the league, but doesn’t appear on any stat sheet (should be counted as steals in my opinion).

It will be interesting to see how the PER of each individual Knicks player shapes up throughout the season as their point guard troubles seemed to have been solved.

Full Stats and Discussion on the Forums

2nd Most Efficient Player in the League

After last night’s game, Jeremy currently stands as the second most efficient player in the entire league according to ESPN analyst John Hollinger. Jeremy is also the top point guard on the list, beating out all-star Chris Paul and last year’s MVP, Derrick Rose.

Full description of each stat through the link: http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/statistics

TS%: True Shooting Percentage
AST: Assist Ratio
TO: Turnover Ratio
USG: Usage Rate
ORR: Offensive rebound rate
DRR: Defensive rebound rate
REBR: Rebound Rate
PER: Player Efficiency Rating
VA: Value Added
EWA: Estimated Wins Added  
Player Efficiency Rating (PER) League average: 15.0 

RK
PLAYER
GP
MPG
TS%
AST
TO
USG
ORR
DRR
REBR
PER
VA
EWA
1
LeBron James, MIA
26
37.5
.614
20.6
11.8
30.6
4.0
20.2
12.7
31.66
307.7
10.3
2
Jeremy Lin, NY
13
16.1
.625
25.7
13.1
29.5
3.2
10.8
6.9
28.79
55.5
1.8
3
Kevin Durant, OKC
27
38.0
.598
11.3
12.4
28.1
1.7
21.5
12.3
26.36
243.1
8.1
4
Chris Paul, LAC
19
36.2
.591
33.0
7.5
23.1
1.9
9.7
5.8
26.28
156.9
5.2
5
Dwyane Wade, MIA
18
33.8
.543
17.9
9.6
28.8
4.2
9.5
7.0
25.70
138.2
4.6
6
Kevin Love, MIN
25
39.4
.581
6.7
10.4
24.7
11.7
26.2
19.0
25.56
206.9
6.9
7
Kobe Bryant, LAL
27
38.6
.533
14.2
10.1
34.9
4.0
12.8
8.6
25.37
231.3
7.7
8
Derrick Rose, CHI
23
35.5
.560
25.7
9.5
28.7
2.1
8.6
5.5
25.13
172.3
5.7