Last night Milwaukee Bucks F Yi Jianlian played about as good a game as a player can play, the basketball equivalent of a perfect game. And coming on the heels of about a week and a half of excellent play from Mr. Yi, its about as good a christmas gift as a Bucks fan could hope to receive. Perhaps we have found our second big time win producer. I still think he should be playing SF, and I outline why below.
Here's one for all you commenters to stew on
Last night Bucks F Charlie Bell had his first good game in a long time, and was a main reason the Bucks won. Meanwhile, Bucks G Michael Redd had one of his worst games of the season and nearly singlehandedly gave the game to the Bobcats.
I can see your minds churning already readers. You're thinking: How can I write that Charlie Bell, who played 32 minutes and didn't take a shot and didn't score a point, had a good game, while Michael Redd, who had 27 points and 3 rebounds, was awful? Before you start pounding the comment section with statements like ...
"I used to like this blog until you wrote something I didn't agree with, and now I think you're an idiot because we disagree, blah, blah, blah" ...please let me explain.
Here's how no shots and no points can be good while a ton of shots and some points can be bad.
First, let's assume every Buck is willing to attempt a field goal whenever he has a high percentage (+50%) scoring opportunity (after all, if everyone refused to shoot the Bucks would never score and could not win). As such, we can assume that Charlie Bell was not presented with any high percentage scoring opportunities last night and therefore choose to use his offensive touches to set up his teammates. By doing so, Bell did not waste a single Milwaukee Bucks possession all night, and helped seven possessions produce positive outcomes via his seven assists.
Redd, on the other hand, attempted far too many low percentage jump shots. By doing so, he not only bypassed potential high percentage shots his teammates might have had, he pissed away a ton of possessions.
Specifically, Michael Redd successfully completed only 10 Bucks possessions with his own scores and, on his 17 misses, he gave the opponents the ball back without positive gain for the Bucks. Basically, he committed the equivalent of 17 turnovers (sort of, I'm not counting 3s). If you consider it that way, you begin to see the damage Redd did. He might as well have dropkicked the ball into the stands for all 17 possessions. When you consider he also had 3 more actual turnovers, and that the Bucks average 90 possessions a game, Michael Redd was Charlotte's best defender, personally stopping the Bucks offense on around 20% of their possessions.
You normally cannot win when one player is that bad. The only reason the Bucks did win was because a certain Chinese player was out of his mind good.
Searching for Bobby Simmons?
How far has the $9 million man fallen? Desmond Mason is injured and instead of starting backup Bobby Simmons, Coach K starts PG Charlie Bell there instead. Ouch, and double ouch for Simmons and the man who signed him.
Go Big or Go Home
Coach K likes to create matchup problems for the opposition by playing a smaller player at certain positions. He likes to "substitute upward" -- a big 2 becomes a small 3, a tweener 3 becomes a quick 4, etc. I think this is a stupid strategy.
The proper thing to do, in my mind, provided you have big men who are competent enough ballhandlers (which the Bucks have in Bogut and Jianlian), is to "substitute downward", in other words convert your quick power forward into a "tall" small forward, move your small forward into a big shooting guard, move your versatile center to power forward, etc. Here's my reasoning:
1. You move your advantages closer to the basket
When you go with a smaller lineup, what you are effectively doing is creating advantages out on the perimeter, away from the basket, while simultaneously creating disadvantages closer to the hoop. Since the higher percentage shots are in closer to the hoop, you have foolishly given the opposition a decided scoring efficiency advantage. We've already seen this at work in the last two games as Ron Artest and Gerald Wallace have eaten the smaller Buck defenders alive while the Bucks didn't get much scoring from the perimeter.
I would much rather have Yi and Bogut struggle to stay with outside jumpshooters (which almost every Buck does anyway) and in turn be able to take those jumpshooters down into the block on the other end, than to watch the opposite thing happen to Charlie Bell and Michael Redd.
2. You create a rebounding advantage for the Bucks
A downward subsititution, with Bogut moving to power forward, Yi moving to small forward, and Gadzuric or possibly Voskuhl becoming the power center, and suddenly the Bucks have a decided edge in the all important area of rebounding. Every extra rebound is another contribution toward a win, and currently the Bucks are getting outrebounded at the SF. Why not end that by putting Yi there?
3. You keep the big defender off of Michael Redd
Have you noticed what happens when the Bucks go to a small lineup? That frees the "bigger quick" to guard Redd. What does that mean? Return of Bad Mr. Redd. The guy who likes to sit out on the perimeter and throw up bricks. The guy who doesn't like to drive the lane. The guy who doesn't rebound. The guy who doesn't help the Bucks. With Yi at the 3, the "bigger quick" is occupied, and Good Mr. Redd can muscle with the defender who is left.
WIN SCORE AND WIN CONTRIBUTIONS calculations
Here are the "Position Adjusted Win Scores" or PAWS and overall "Win Contributions" or WC from last night's game. Remember, Win Scores basically tell you how the player's Win Score in his time on the court compares to the average player at that position, while the Win Contribution (minutes played as overall % of court minutes for team * player's PAWS) tells you in absolute terms how much value the player added above/below the value that would have been added by a replacement player of average production. As a sort of mental scale, any Win Contribution above +0.500 is outstanding, and any Win Contribution below -0.500 equates in to "You're killing me Whitey, you're killing me."