Welcome to the newest installment of Stat of the Week. This feature, posted each Monday, focuses in on one statistic or number to recap and tell the story of the Pacers' performance for the previous week.
The Pacers dropped all four of their games this week, including three extremely winnable games to the Clippers, Warriors and TrailBlazers. The losses are serious as they've dropped the team out of the 8th playoff spot, trailing Charlotte by half a game. The Pacers' have now lost 5 in a row and 8 of their last 10. John Hollinger's Playoff Odds give the team just a 47.8% chance of participating in the postseason. All is not lost, but the downward spiral the team is riding shows no sign of letting up.
The Pacers had three huge 4th quarter collapses this week. On Sunday, Tom put up up a post that included some quotes from Danny Granger about the team's inability to execute with the game on the line. To follow up, on that I thought we would look at some of the team's statistics for clutch situations.
The stats we are going to look at today all come from 82games.com. 82games defines clutch situations as 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points. The table below shows several statistics for clutch situations broken down by player. Min% is the the percentage of the team's clutch minutes that a player has been on the floor for. The Offensive and Defensive Ratings are the team's ratings when the player is on the floor during those clutch minutes, same thing for the Offensive and Defensive Rebound percentages.
If you look closely you'll notice there are some obvious problems with the numbers themselves (or how I'm reading them). I am not a mathmatician but I don't think it's possible for Solomon Jones to average 12.2 FGA/48 with a 100% FG% but score 0.0 Pts/48. It's not impossible, but I also find it hard to believe that Collison is averaging 36.3 Pts/48 on 55.6% shooting but the Pacers are scoring just 76.3 points per 100 possessions with him in the floor. Even with those issues there are still some things we can look at.
First off, it's striking how unbelievable bad the Pacers have been in clutch situations. 82games only provides percentages and ratios for their clutch statistics, no raw numbers, so I can't calculate what the actual numbers are for the whole team. However, a rough estimate of their Net Rating being in the -12 to -18 range seems entirely appropriate. Again, we're generalizing here, but the Pacers have been worse in clutch situations than the Cleveland Cavaliers have been across their entire season.
By these numbers only five players have a FG% above 50% in these clutch situations. Of those five, only Collison can be considered someone who can legitimately create a scoring chance for himself. Hansbrough, Foster, McRoberts and Jones are all finishing on offensive rebounds or cuts to the basket. Danny Granger in particular has been atrocious in these late game situations.
Granger is still clearly the offensive focal point with the game on the line, leading the team with an average of 23.5 FGA/48 in clutch scenarios. However, he's shooting just 33.3% in these cases. Even if we factor in his made three pointers and look at his eFG%, it's only 36.7%. The most troubling thing for me is what type of shots he's taking in these situations.
82games tracks the type of shot, but not the distance of the shot like Hoopdata does. In clutch situations, 80% of Granger's shots have been jumpers. Again, not knowing the distance, that category covers everything from 8 or 9 feet all the way out to three pointers. According to 82games, 79% of his shots across the whole season have come on jumpers. This makes sense; Granger is primarily a jumpshooter, and usually a very effective one. It would be nice to see him taking some more shots closer to the rim, but realistically you don't want him doing things at the end of the game that he doesn't do effectively throughout. My real issue is with the Ast% of his clutch shots. Overall, Danny has 61% of his jumpshots assisted on. In clutch situations just 14% of his jumpshots are assisted on.
In late game situations too often he is relying on contested jumpshots. Granger is a very good shooter, he's certainly proven that across his career. But when there's a hand in his face, all the natural advantages of skill and muscle memory dissapate and he becomes just a regular old inefficient jumpshooter. Arturo Galletti wrote a piece this week adding to some of the numbers from 82games and breaking down clutch statistics by Usage Rates. Danny Granger fell into the 2nd tier of players by Usage Rate. Of those 26 players only Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge were worse with regards to Points Created per Possession in clutch situations.
Part of these issues are the responsibility of the coaching staff. If Jim O'Brien feels like a Danny Granger jumpshot is their best weapon in a given offensive possession, I won't argue with him. However the recognition has to be there that having him handle the ball in a pick and roll, ball-screen hand-off or isolation is not going to result in an open jumper.
There has been a lot of talk in the comments about Granger not having the skill or mettle to be a true #1 on an elite team. I can't say that I agree with that statement but I think when it comes to late game situations he definitely needs a 1b to his 1a. When the Pacers need a bucket, everyone in the league knows Granger is going to get the ball and that he's going to take a mid-range jumper if given the opportunity. The team really needs to develop some other options in these situations. Options involving Darren Collison or Tyler Hansbrough seem particularly promising. When those options are developed teams will have to split their defensive attention among several offensive threats. This will allow opportunities for Granger to work as a catch and shoot finisher in those situations instead of as a creator.
Statistical Query of the Week: Last week I got some great questions from Lefty about when the Pacers' shots are coming in the shot clock:
- how well do the Pacers shoot at different times on the shot clock?
- how much time is on the shot clock when the Pacers get open looks? and how well do they capitalize on those opportunities?
- are assisted buckets happening at the middle of the shot clock?
- is there evidence that the pacers should never shoot when there is __ time left?
I started coding play by play data, an extremely tedious process, before someone pointed out that 82games tracks this exact statistic. They don't have all the information Lefty was looking for, but enough to get us started while I finish coding. The table below shows the percentage of FGA, the eFG%, the Ast% and the points per game broken down by when the shots came in the shot clock. The shot clock times represent the elapsed seconds before the shot is taken.
At 82games you can only look at the team numbers on an individual basis. However, looking quickly through some of the other team's pages leads me to believe that the numbers for the Pacers' are pretty standard. They are most efficient when scoring early in the shot clock. Their best shooting percentages come in under 10 seconds; transition and early offense. It seems like quick hitters and fast sets (11-15 seconds) are where their ball movement is the best. As the shot clock winds down their effectiveness drops, particularly when working in the last 4 seconds.
Next week we'll look at these same numbers broken down by the individual players. As always, if you have a Pacers' related statistical idea you'd like me to look into, send me an email at Levy2725@gmail.com and include Indycornrows somewhere in the subject line.
Rebound Percentage Update:
In the first installment of Stat of the Week we discussed Rebound Percentage and identified it as a season long focus and bellwether statistic for the team. The team's percentages 41 games into the season look like this:
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 24.1% (24th in the NBA)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 75.2% (7th in the NBA)