Is Joe Johnson a Good Teammate (Roy Revisited)

I suppose this post--the secondof two as it turns out--is really proof that the adage "Familiarity breeds comtempt" is nothing but true.

I had been wondering if Roy was a good teammate. I had checked the play-by-plays to see how much of Roy's game is "in the flow" of the offense versus self-created / self-initiated (ie, "out of the folow). As it turned out 53.5% of Brandond Roy's points (excluding free throws) were deemed "unassisted" by the courtside statisticians. In 5 of the first 13 games, Roy scored more unassisted points than assisted points. Additionally, I had looked at the type of assists: did Roy's passing lead to easy buckets (in the paint) or jumpers (a little more pressure-packed and indicative of potentially standing around by other players "watching"). 62.2% of Roy's assists led to jumpers with the remaining to easy buckets.

Given the above, I had openly wondered if these stats are indicative of a Roy being a good / helpful teammate? Is he the kind of guy that faciliates a team game? Is he the kind of guy that players want to play with? I had been thinking these things because--I'll admit it (once again exposing myself to some BEdge scorn)--I cringe at some of Roy's plays.

To revisit the issue, I went to Joe Johnson of Atlanta as a likely comparison. (Unfair to compare Roy to other PGs like D-Will or CP3.) Would this box score investigation show Joe Johnson in a better or worse light than Roy?

Well, first of all, Johnson is having a better season. He's scored 247 points to Roy's 189 (they're tied with 66 assists through 13 games each). But what about the quality of those points? Do other Hawks like playing with Roy?

The numbers show this: 61.5% of Johnson's points end up being unassisted (compare to Roy's 53%). Furthermore, in 10 of those first 13 games, Johnson had more unassisted baskets than assisted. (I should point out that the bulk of Johnson's assisted points come courtesy of the 3-pt line--if we were looking at plain old baskets, it would be an even starker story).

  • 6 unassted points to 4 (Washington)
  • 14 to 5 (at Portland)
  • 16 to 6 (at Sacramento)
  • 8 to 2 (at Charlotte)
  • 12 to 8 (Denver)
  • 14-3 (at NY)
  • 12 to 7 (at Boston)
  • 12 to 10 (New Orleans)
  • 18 to 10 (Portland) what a game this was!
  • 12 to 0 (Houston)

As far as assists go, 57.5% of Johnon's assists are to jump shots versus 62.1% of Roy's (perhaps this just means that the Blazers are better shooters and/or Oden finishes really, really well... bu then again, Josh Smith is good too). There is one thing worth noting--there are a few examples of Joe Johnson tip shots (off of an offensive rebound); these are unassisted points of course but it is revealing that I didn't notice any of these in Portland's play by play.

So, if you buy that these sorts of numbers help shed light on how much a wing player is contributing to the flow of the offense, then Roy is comparing very favorably to Johnson as a "team player." It makes one wonder if the Atlanta blogs have people crying about Johnson's lack of team play.  

I had asked in the first post if I had inhuman expectations of Roy. Reactions were mixed. Some people had the same sort of disquiet I had been experiencing. Others seemed rather perturbed or bewildered (or both) that anyone would question Roy's play in this fashion. In any event, it seems I was wrong. Roy is actually a better team player relative to other star-level SGs (if you take Joe Johnson as a proxy--I highly doubt K*be is playing less selfishly but I refuse to give links that have L*kers data any traffic whatsoever and will not look at them).

So, familiarity breeds contempt. I watch only Blazers games (mostly) and that leads me to find unrealistic fault in Roy's game. Just like people find tiny flaws in their spouses over time (except for mine, mine is perfect).

It can also give us some lessons on Nate and the general phenomenon of fans hating coaches and loving back-up PGs. Again, over-familiarity and a lack of relative context can (and does) lead to foolish assessments.

Still, I personally would find the game more enjoyable to watch if there were fewer isolation plays. That we can say players who score the majority of their baskets unassisted is ok says something about the state of basketball itself (perhaps).

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