Bucks Diary

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thoughts on Camp Scotty and the apparent rise of Malik Allen

For those of you who think I'm already in the tank for Scott Skiles and Scottyball, you're only half correct. I love the new attitude he's brought to the team, there's no question about that. But his assessment of personnel can at times be suspect (I just know he's going to favor Ridnour too much, and his love for Malik Allen isn't justified). I'm going to take issue with him below on those grounds. Here's a Green and Red training camp report, with a little thumbs up, thumbs down action.

Thumbs Up

ATTITUDE CHANGE... The attitude and culture change Scott Skiles has brought to the organization has been awesome. From the reports we're getting out of St. Francis, "Camp Scotty" sounds like "Camp Krusty" with basketballs and whistles ("Up against the wall, maggots!!"). He's putting the players through a little bit of hell... which they need. Bogut says the entire coaching staff is persistent with criticism of errors and lazy play (which begs the question... did the previous regimes just silently accept those things??). And I love the "make em or ur running" drills he puts the team through at the end of practice. According to a study cited in Psychology Today, the most effective sports practice drills involve repeated simulation of real in-game pressures. That's what Skiles approach seems to incorporate. He knows what he's doing, in other words...

Thumbs Down

OVERRATING MALIK... The reports we are getting suggest that Malik Allen has, possibly, surpassed Charlie Villanueva on the depth chart. That is probably bad news on two fronts. First, it indicates that the "New" Villanueva we've been hearing about is just as unimpressive to the new coaching staff as the "Old" Villanueva was. No real surprise there. Second, it probably means Malik Allen is going to get a lot of playing time this season. That could be harmful. While Allen is certainly an upgrade defensively, he is a serious downgrade on the offensive end (see the comparison chart below). Sure, he has the requisite size at 6'10, 255 pounds, to play the 4, but he has never shown the ability to rebound effectively, which the Bucks desperately need from their big men, nor has he ever been an efficient scorer.

MALIK'S WIN RATE IS VERY POOR... Last summer I did "Win Profiles" for every player in the NBA who played at least 100 minutes for any team. In my analysis of the New Jersey Nets, I found that Malik Allen was indeed an above average defender, which the Bucks need. He held his Nets opponents to a Win Score per 48 that was below average the NBA average (-0.9), and, similarly, in his brief stint with the Dallas Mavericks, he held his opponents right at average (+0.0). Pretty good. Thus I pegged Allen's Defensive HalfWin Rate at 0.125 for the Nets, and 0.100 for the Mavericks... which combined is above average (the average being 0.100). But the problem is his offensive production is so poor it overwhelms any defensive contribution he makes. When Allen played for the Nets, I pegged his offensive HalfWin Rate at -0.063. When he played for the Mavericks, it was -0.028. Both are terrible. And they combined to lower his overall WinRate for the Nets to 0.031, and his overall WinRate for the Dallas Mavericks to an even lower 0.028. Both well contributions are obviously well below the NBA average of 0.100. Very poor. On the other hand, while Villanueva has been an underachieving power forward, no doubt, his numbers have been consistently better than Allen's. Last season Villanueva's Defensive HalfWin Rate was a below average and well below Allen's (0.023), but his Offensive WinRate was well above Allen's at 0.073, and so his overall WinRate was better than Allen's (0.047).

ALLEN VS. VILLANUEVA IN THE STARTING LINEUP... Click here to see a chart comparing the production of Malik Allen and Charlie Villanueva to the production of the average NBA power forward. As you can see, each are below average in overall offensive efficiency, and in several offensive production areas, but the edge clearly goes to Villanueva. Now let's project each into the Bucks starting lineup, using last season's WinRates for each of the other 4 likely starters (Ridnour, Redd, Jefferson, and Bogut). Last season, I calculated Bogut and Redd's WinRates at just about 0.097 -- in other words, slightly below the NBA average. Then I have Luke Ridnour's WinRate for the Seattle Supersonics at 0.051, well below average, and Richard Jefferson's WinRate for the New Jersey Nets at 0.057. If you assume that the projected starting five will play all of the Bucks minutes (which they obviously will not, but this is just an academic exercise), then by last season's production, the Bucks would have an overall winning percentage of 0.334 with Malik Allen, which projects to a record of about 27-54, while the team would have an overall winning percentage of 0.351 with Villanueva, which projects to a record of 29-53. Any way you slice it, the starting five must perform better than it did last season, but with that said, Villanueva is a slightly better option than Allen.

SKILES ASSESSMENT IS OFF BASE... Coach Skiles said the following about Malik Allen "He's a very reliable player. He's always going to be in the right place and (he) knows what he is doing. He executes the game plan and makes open shots." Now, if you look at the chart above, the record clearly shows that Allen is not that reliable (if your game plan involves having your big men rebound) and he certainly does not make open shots (his adjusted FG% is well below the average).


At October 5, 2008 at 10:24 PM, Anonymous paul said...

Is it possible Ty that the idea here is to get CV into the second unit to provide some much needed scoring punch out of it, rather than actually rewarding Allen? Whilst we seem to have added a slew of reasonably solid 'role-playing' veterans the one thing we appear to lack from the bench is anyone who can provide any real scoring impact.
I could be way off base but it did occur to me that Skiles may try to run with Ridnour/Redd/RJ/Allen/Bogut as a starting 5 while giving CV probably 25 minutes off the bench to provide that scoring power against opposition defensive units.
I know CV stunk off the bench last season however that was a totally different situation with Yi and 'the promise' of his minutes etc, I think if CV is put into that position and is very clear that this isn't some form of punishment he could thrive. Again, just spitballing.

At October 6, 2008 at 2:33 AM, Blogger TCW said...

If that is the idea, no way it works because I guarantee Villanueva will play as though he has gotten his "feelings hurt" -- just like he did last year -- and his production will reflect it. He admitted a few weeks ago that his play last season was affected by the team's decision to start Yi in front of him and to bring him off the bench. So rather than play his way back into the first unit, last season he decided to just sulk. This guy is a real professional (sarcasm).

Actually I think this is what is happening. In interviews prior to camp, Coach Skiles made it clear that the one motivational "stick" he has as head coach is playing time. And he said with conviction that he is not afraid to bench anyone whom he feels is not giving 100%, especially on defense, and Villanueva, just by his demeanor, can fit into that category on almost any given practice and any given night.

So I'll bet Villanueva's body language, at the very least, put Skiles or one or more members of the Bucks new coaching staff, off and they just finally said "lets go with Allen in the first unit for a while and see if that doesn't light a fire under Villanueva's ass."

I'll bet you any money words of that exact nature were stated at some point out in the coaches room out in St Francis and that's what is going on.


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