Bucks Diary

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Maybe the Suns were right

Why would you trade a hugely productive forward for an aging, lumbering, injury-prone center? That was my first reaction to the Suns trade. But on further review...

Maybe Kerr is shooting for a championship

As good as the Shawn Marion Suns were at playing efficient offense, they were pretty mediocre when it came to preventing their opponents from doing the same. Because of that, recent history suggests that the Suns were not going to win an NBA championship as previously constituted.

Opponent's Win Score

The Suns "Opponent Win Score" was 42.5. That number is just above the NBA average. But every NBA champion this century has had an Opponent Win Score that was below that season's NBA average, on average 17.1% below. And though I only did a random sampling of champions from previous decades, the only champion in my sampling whose Opponent Win Score was not below their championship season's NBA average was the 1974-75 Golden State Warriors.

Suns' problem: Defensive Rebounding

The Suns defense wasn't horrible. The problem was they allowed their opponents over 400 more field goal attempts than they themselves took. That's because they were a very weak defensive rebounding team.

The average NBA team's percentage of defensive rebounds per opponent's missed shots is 94.1%. The Phoenix Suns percentage is 81.3%. Thus the extra opportunities.

The Suns hope Shaq can shore up that problem. And, if he can stay healthy, he might be able to do so.

Shaq's personal percentage of defensive rebounds per opponent's missed shots this season stands at 31.7%. Shawn Marion's, while excellent for a guy his size, was only 25.3%. Thus, the Suns might know what they are doing. By trading for Shaq they might have made a major move to shore up their biggest weakness.

And even if the trade doesn't work out, history suggests the Suns were justified in making it.


At February 8, 2008 at 9:06 AM, Anonymous Brew Hoop said...

Ty, how exactly did you calculate the rebounding stats?

FWIW, ESPN lists Shaq's defensive rebound rate as 20.6, while Marion's is 22.9. However, Shaq's overall rebound rate is 16.5 vs. Marion's 15.0 because Shaq rebounds on the offensive end at more than double the rate Marion does (12.5 vs. 6.0).

On average a Shaq/Amare combo would seemingly have to rebound better than a Marion/Amare combo, but Marion is in general a much better defender than Shaq and he's not hurt all the time (and plays a lot more than Shaq even when Shaq is healthy). I'm curious to see how it works out, but I can't say I would have pulled the trigger on this deal if I was Kerr.


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