I want to see more of Greg Oden. He and Martell Webster have been the shining lights in an otherwise horribly disappointing beginning to this season. The number one obstacle to me seeing more of Greg is...you guessed it...fouls (no, not Nate McMillan's substitution patterns - grin). I've poured over the five games we played and charted the mean time between Greg's fouls. Yes, I'm that desperate to find some way to expend my Blazers frustration. Check out the results.
I'll start with the caveat that this is not scientific since I'm dependent on play-by-play accounts of the game. If they missed something, I missed something. Feel free to check my work. Check out the link here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tM8k14-weQ8ySZaVY0Bz_IA&output=html
I charted every time Greg entered the game, exited the game and drew a foul. I then took an average of time between fouls for each game, and mean time between fouls for the season-to-date. A few tidbits:
- The longest time Greg has been on the court without drawing a foul = 11 m 52 sec
NOTE: That is not one single contiguous block of time. In this case during the OKC game, Greg drew a foul at the 10:03 mark of the 2nd qtr, exited the game at the 6:50 mark, re-entered at the 3:12 mark all the way until halftime, then started the 3rd qtr and didn't foul until the 6:33 mark of the 3rd. Add that all up and you get his longest stint without a foul.
- The shortest time Greg has been on the court before drawing a foul = 16 sec (start of Denver game)
- # of times more than 7 mins has elapsed without Greg drawing a foul = 5
- # of times Greg has drawn a foul in less than 2 mins = 7
Best Game For Greg Avg Time Between Fouls = @OKC, 6 min 15 sec
Worst Game For Greg Avg Time Between Fouls = ATL, 2 min 53 sec
Looking over the first five games, Greg averages a foul every 4 mins 9 sec of playing time. Given that you get 6 fouls in the NBA, that means he projects to being able to play 24.54 mins/game. His actual season average is 23 mins/game. That means Nate could be getting an extra 1 min 54 sec of Greg each game if he chose to. Setting aside the Nate bashing for a moment (since there is another thread on that), I wanted to see what would happen if Greg made the modest improvement of increasing his average time between fouls by a single minute to 5 mins 9 sec between fouls.
That would increase his projected playing time to 30 mins 54 sec. Given that Greg averages .30 pts/min, .43 reb/min, and 0.1 blocks/min, that single extra minute would add 1.8 pts, 2.58 reb, and 0.6 blocks to his per game averages, which would raise his averages to 8.6 points, 12.38 reb, 2.8 blocks. I'd argue that larger blocks of playing time would lead to more points as well just from a rhythm and flow perspective, but I have not numbers to back that up. My guess is if someone did an analysis of games Greg played 30 or more mins, they'd see an average far higher than 8.6 points.
Taking it a step further and just asking for the average time between fouls to go up two minutes to 6 mins 9 sec, would get you averages of 10.4 pts, 14.96 reb, 3.4 blocks per game.
My point in all this minutiae is it's time for someone to explain to Greg that even adding 60 seconds more time between his fouls would have a major impact on this team. If he can set a stretch goal of adding two extra minutes between fouls, he becomes an All-Star. Last year, we could point to a host of things that were holding him back. This year, it's almost exclusively fouls. Nate and team should be pulling out all the stops to increase the mean time between fouls, including little things like talking about this to the refs before every single game and even having Greg ask the refs for tips on how to avoid fouls. People in authority, like refs, love to feel like they hold the power. Having Greg put himself in subordinate position to them increases the chances they will think twice about making a call and actually pull for him to improve in this area. Call me crazy, but this strategy works across almost everything in life.
Bottom line: we're minutes away from seeing Greg explode.