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Emphasis on ANALYSIS

Please post your insights under the Top Level Comments below. We also encourage the use of the 'report' button for any comments you see that violate our rules. Mods can't see everything, and your reports help greatly.

Yesterday's Box Scores:

AwayBox ScoreHomeSynopsis
POR129Link137MILLillard: Out (back spasms)
NOP124Link121PHXRubio: Doubtful (back spasms)
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As most people probably know, the Jazz utilised a pretty unconventional defensive technique in last years playoffs (first used by the Bucks to stop Harden), which is explained in these videos:

https://youtu.be/VwynmarNMkI

https://youtu.be/7ougHDwFQJU

Basically, Harden’s defender tries to force Harden to drive right, trying to induce a uncomfortable Harden layup (with Harden being a weaker right handed finisher than left) or a wide open floater(which Harden is also unspectacular with).

Whilst execution was poor for the first 2 games of the series, resulting in easy Houston wins, execution tightened up for Games 3, 4 and 5 resulting in a grind of a series with Houston’s last two wins coming by a combined total of 10 points, with a 7 point differential in favour of the Jazz over the last 3 games.

A common theme, and excuse used by Jazz fans with regards to their series is astronomically low shooting percentages across virtually the entire rotation. Some of these numbers are jaw dropping. Korver 33.3% from 3(y’all know who he is). Ricky Rubio 20% from 3(ok small sample size and a mechanically flawed shot, but a >30% shooter across the last 2 regular seasons and playoffs). Mitchell 25.6% from 3(also a >30% shooter across last two regular seasons and playoffs, shooting >35% in the regular season on 7 attempts a game over his regular season career). Crowder 30% from 3. Ingles 27.6% from 3(great shooter). Virtually the only player to shoot close to their career percentages was Royce O’Neale, who shot 34.8% from 3 on 23 total attempts for the series.

Now, your first thoughts may include: Jazz are a bad shooting team/small sample size/tight rims etc. I don’t dismiss all of these factors, but I will propose a hypothesis(that hopefully hasn’t been discussed at length before): the Jazz’ defensive system was the main cause of their poor shooting performance.

With the way they guarded Harden, Capela(or whoever Gobert is matched up on) sets a ball screen on Harden’s defender and Harden instantly gets a wide open floater/mid range pull-up. However, Harden doesn’t take that shot early in the shot clock, due to D’Antoni’s system favouring slow, grinding play and either 3s or layups(although I think this is a somewhat idiotic philosophy and that’s reflected by Paul who shoots plenty of ISO 2s and Harden made some clutch floaters).

Instead, Harden can easily draw out the possession. Gobert mostly has to stay put to discourage the lob to Capela(which he often didn’t do games 1,2), so he can’t step out on Harden. Harden can easily draw back, dribble back to the 3 point line, and run the exact same action at least 2 times in the shot-clock.

Over time, being hit/fighting through tonnes of screens, and playing such high strung isolation defence against a player like Harden has an effect on fatigue and your shooting. I think this could be a contributing factor to Steph’s worst shooting performances of his career against the Cavs in the 2016 finals(where he was continuously isolated by Bron and Kyrie) and the 2018 WCF(although another reason was KD’s ISO play hindering the Warriors traditional motion offence).

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Luka is having an impressive season overall with a 29 point near triple-double averages. Mirroring Westbrook's MVP season but with way better efficiency and worse defense. But arguably even crazier is just how good he has been inside the arc.

As of 21/11/2019 or 14 games in, he is shooting 61.3% on 10.7 attempts inside the arc. To put this into context, he is 8th on 2pt% for players with at least 10 attempts in the last 10 seasons. He is 1st for Guards. All-time he is 17th overall and still 1st for Guards. This is when compared to All-time greats such as Magic Johnson.

Diving even further he is shooting 73% on shots 0-3 feet from the rim, 50.7% on 3-10ft, 56.3% on 10-16 ft, and 75% on 16-3pt. His impressive percentage in long 2s is mainly down to his low attempts there so it should not be taken too seriously. However his percentages in the rim are something else, 22% of his shot comes from the rim and his percentage there is centre-like.

A big part of why he is so effective on the rim is his improvements in the athletic department. He is very strong for a guard and his amazing touch from his strong floater game seems to have translated to layups. I see him outmuscling his man while in the air and following it up with a sweet touch on the layup. His passing threat also sort of gives him a "negative spacing" near the rim where help defence would not commit fully to him, worrying about his throw to the corner. Making his euro step even deadlier.

Idk if 14 games are enough of a sample size, but this definitely look promising.

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A few games back it was announced that Draymond was going to be used as the point guard for the Warriors. There were several doubters that Green could get the job done. He doesn't have the foot speed, he is too slow, etc etc. were the usual comments. Some people were claiming some stats showed he couldn't do this or that.

Anyway, for those who were doubters, what were your reasons? Was there some stat you depended on or had he not passed the eye test? What did you think he would have trouble with regarding playing the point? He's obviously no long term answer but seems to be getting the basic job done for now.

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By all accounts, both Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are having career years, but to what should we attribute their newfound success to? When looking at Parker specifically, I do not really see anything new in terms of skill development, rather it seems as though his improvement has come as a byproduct of a change in what he is being asked to do.

How much of a player's perceived improvement each season is down to their actual improvement vs how much can we attribute to changes in circumstance (coach, roster changes, etc)? This article makes the case that coaching likely plays a larger role than we give it credit, specifically in the case of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

http://craftednba.com/blog/new-beginnings

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RealGM just concluded their most recent peaks ranking project.

What are your thoughts? Where do you disagree with the list? Where do you think they handled it well? How do you feel about the ongoing debate about how to weigh postseason versus regular season production, how to weigh impact versus box score production, and how to weigh championship seasons versus early exit seasons? How did this list improve or worsen by comparison with the 2015 list?

Note #1: I am linking to a specific comment summary detailing the changes from the previous project (which I believe was set from something like 1960-2015). The new additions, starting with Russell Westbrook, are thus “disruptive” to some of the relative rankings. For example, Bob McAdoo saw a base gain of +2; however, four brand new players were added from years not considered in the earlier list, so his relative change is more like +6. Reed’s relative change is +7; Gilmore’s relative change is +4; Harden’s relative change is +2; Nash’s, Howard’s, and Pettit’s relative change is +1; Paul’s relative change is +0; Barkley’s and Karl Malone’s relative change is -1; and Frazier’s relative change is -4.

Note #2: I think the methodology changed from the prior iteration. Previously, I think posters voted for a player year, but in tallying the votes, the moderator first counted total player votes and then counted specific year votes. If the votes were evenly split between two seasons, the player’s individual placement would not suffer. As an example, in this project, 1990 and 1993 Barkley are completely separate votes. This benefits players with clear and indisputable peak years (e.g. McAdoo, Westbrook, McGrady, Garnett, Walton, Barry, Giannis) and hurts players with more contentious peak years (I believe this most affected Kobe, West, Nash, and Frazier within the project).

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The hidden athleticism of Luka Doncic

Watching Luka for his entire career its always blown my mind that he can create separation in the paint and on his stepback at will. Of course a lot of this is due to his dribble skills and strength but he has some of the most athletic hips I’ve ever seen. Take a look at this gif where he creates separation for the stepback. His right foot plants and he internally rotates his hip to a large degree and abducts the other to create a huge distance from his defender to shoot from. This is yogi level hip flexibility and a huge part of what gets him open shots. The internal rotation allows his force to push himself away from the defender because the force vector is close to parallel with the ground, rather than a perpindicular force vector that wouldn’t create nearly the same amount of separation and would just create vertical power.

Now think about his scoring in the paint. While Luka is not thought of as “athletic” in the traditional sense compared to guys like Lebron, one of his athletic abilities is truly elite - his stopping. He has an ability to stop on a dime and hold that pivot foot due to his athletic hips which opens up a variety of post moves. If you watch these clips of him in the post, you’ll see that he uses his hips to create horizontal separation rather than vertical. His hips are always in a slightly internally rotated position for this purpose. Even when he shoots free throws.

So while traditional athleticism is a big deal for basketball players (like vertical jumping or straight line speed), other qualities you might not think about can be just as - if not MORE - important.

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