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Pessimism: why I expect Raymond Felton to regress this year.

No real purpose for the timing of this post except that I was reading Basketball on Paper and it got me thinking about the shot clock. The shot clock makes shot creation a crucial commodity in basketball. You lose your possession after 24 seconds whether you shoot or not. That leads some to shoot a shot they have little chance of making. If he misses that shot, he is then charged for a missed shot, even though the responsibility for the lost possession is not his alone.


The flaming bag pass (FBP) and subsequent buzzer beating miss are staples of Nate McMillan's offense. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. The conservative approach of the offense ensures that most possessions result in shots (the Blazers were 7th in turnover percentage) and that offensive rebounders are in position to maintain possession for another shot (the Blazers were in the top five in offensive rebound percentage).

Other offensive approaches eschew the opportunity for offensive rebounds in favor of playing at a faster pace and hoping to increase their effective field goal percentage. One such coach is Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks. So what does this have to do with Raymond Felton?

Felton apparently made a tremendous improvement offensively after leaving Charlotte for New York. Although his offensive rating increased only from 107 to 108, his usage went from 19.2 to 22.6. Neil Paine tells us that for a mid-usage player like Felton, offensive rating should drop 1.25 points for every point increase in usage. That means we would anticipate a drop in offensive rating of 4.25, instead of an increase. But did Felton improve at all, or was it the result of the Knicks system?

Problematically, guards are disproportionately likely to receive a flaming bag pass, and be debited statistically for the ensuing miss. For example, Andre Miller took 45% of his shots after 16 seconds have elapsed on the shot clock in 2011. On these shots, his eFG was just 41%, in comparison to 46% for all shots. For Gerald Wallace, the story is similar. When the offense stops, Andre and Gerald have to take a crappy shot. When it creates an opening at the end of the shot clock, those are more likely to fall to Nicolas Batum (whose eFG is 53% in the last 8 seconds of the clock, but who has 91% of the baskets assisted).

Mr. D'Antoni's fast pace offense, where Felton played for most of the year, resulted in very few flaming bag passes for Felton. While with the Knicks, Felton took just 26% of his shots in the last 8 seconds of the clock, and 10% of his shots in the last 4 seconds (Miller took 22% of his shots in the last 4 seconds).

Since coaches basically dictate pace, we can expect Felton not to affect the pace at which the Blazers play. Instead, he will assume a similar role to the one Miller filled. He will be asked to facilitate first, then probably take a terrible shot at the end of the shot clock should it come to that. As a comparison, we can look at Felton's numbers from Charlotte, where he was forced to take 42% of his field goal attempts with less than 8 seconds left on the shot clock.

Felton 09/10 Shot Clock Usage (from 82games)

Secs. Att. eFG% Ast'd Blk'd Pts
0-10 36% .566 33% 5% 4.3
11-15 22% .548 31% 7% 2.6
16-20 21% .420 50% 6% 1.9
21+ 20% .387 48% 5% 1.7
Crunch 42% .404 49% 5% 3.6

 

Miller 10/11 Shot Clock Usage

Secs. Att. eFG% Ast'd Blk'd Pts
0-10 32% .526 35% 10% 3.5
11-15 23% .471 40% 6% 2.2
16-20 23% .449 42% 8% 2.2
21+ 22% .374 29% 3% 1.7
Crunch 45% .413 36% 5% 3.9

 

Pretty similar, right? Well, here we go:

Felton 10/11 Shot Clock Usage

Secs. Att. eFG% Ast'd Blk'd Pts
0-10 47% .464 22% 3% 6.5
11-15 27% .491 35% 3% 4.0
16-20 16% .512 36% 3% 2.4
21+ 10% .455 23% 3% 1.3
Crunch 26% .490 31% 3% 3.7

 

OK, here's where it gets fun (and speculative). Let's try reconfiguring Felton's efficiency as if he had taken his shots at the same time in the shot clock as Andre Miller took his. What I've done to calculate the modified eFG% is assume shoots the same percentage on the first 16% of 16-20 second shots and 10% of 21+ second shots, then assigned the remaining shots the percentage at which he made those shots in Charlotte.

secs     att.        modified eFG% modified attempts
0-10    47%        46%                    32%
11-15  27%       49%                     23%
16-20  16%       48.13                   23%
21+      10%       38.27                   22%

(sorry that table probably just made you seasick, I can't figure out how to import them properly).

Calculating eFG based on these assumptions gives him an overall eFG% of 45.39. His eFG% in New York was 47.8. My conclusion is that at least half of the apparent improvement Felton displayed in New York was the result of not having to force shots, and that will quickly be exposed as Nate's FBPs begin to harm his efficiency.


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