Mystery Statistics Theater: Shooting Guard Edition

Welcome to the second edition (click here for the first edition) of Mystery Statistics Theater, a new series here at Hardwood Paroxysm. Over the next few days, Conrad Kaczmarek and I (Jared Dubin) will be attempting to do the previously impossible; we’ll be removing all personal bias from our conclusions. Here and in the subsequent editions of this series, this is what you’ll find: a comparison of the per-36 minutes and advanced statistics lines of two different players – one from this season and one from a randomly selected season – with no names attached. Our task was to decide which of the two players was better, or more valuable, or which we’d rather have on our team; whatever you want to call it, we chose between the two players without knowing who they really were. You can see the comparisons, conclusions and corresponding player names below. Enjoy.

(NOTE: We used per-36 minutes rather than per-game stats to marginalize and/or eliminate any differences in playing time. Additionally, we recognize that these comparisons do not account for team context or player roles. Rather, this exercise intends to demonstrate how simply looking at the numbers can lead you to conclusions that may seem counterintuitive, for better or worse, and that surface opinions and bias can lead to drastically different conclusions than simply analyzing the stats. Also, we whited out the player names so you can play along for fun!)

Mystery #1 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad

I’m going to have to go with Player A here. The two players are very similar, but Player A scores a bit more and even more efficiently than Player B. The steals and blocks from Player B almost swayed me that way, but Player A does what you want your shooting guard to do: score. Both guys contribute across the board so it’s close, but I’m leaning slightly towards the scoring ability of Player A. I’m no expert, but I’d also advise Player A to stop taking so many threes. You’re obviously not good at them (just 32.9%), so don’t take so many of them.

(Player A – Kobe Bryant 2009-10, Player B – 2011-12 Dwyane Wade)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names

Mystery #2 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad

This is really a matter of opinion and of what stats you value more. Player A is really good at distributing the ball as well as scoring from the SG position. His FG% is pretty poor, but the TS% ends up being nearly identical to Player B. On the other hand, Player B grabs a staggering 8.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. That’s ridiculously impressive from your shooting guard. Because these guys are pretty damn close, I guess I’ll take the cop out and look at the DRTG to break the tie. Player B is grabbing a bunch of rebounds, not scoring a ton (but does it efficiently-ish), and seems to be better at defense than Player A. Ultimately, it’s a toss up, but I’ll go with Player B.

(Player A – Monta Ellis 2011-12, Player B – Evan Turner 2011-12)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names 

Mystery #3 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad

We finally get a comparison that I can definitively make a decision on. I’m taking Player A. Player B scores more, and I know that’s what you want from your shooting guard, but Player A shoots an ungodly percentage from 3-point distance, has a semi-ridiculous 61.6 TS% and does some solid work on the boards. Player B is certainly a nice player and the 4.1 assists per 36 minutes are nothing to sneeze at, but the more that I look at these stats, the clearer it is that I want Player A. This obviously has a lot to do with the team that he is on, but an ORTG of 115 and a DRTG of 98? Jeez. Player A all day.

(Player A – Paul George 2011-12, Player B – Jason Terry 2011-12)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names

Mystery #4 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad

Once again, I’m going to have to choose Player A. Pretty even stats across the board as far as TS%, TRB%, and usage rates are concerned. The two things that stand out to me are the assist rates and turnover rates. Player A manages to score more per 36-minutes, dish out more assists, AND turn the ball over less often. That’s the guy that I want playing shooting guard for my squad.

(Player A – Joe Johnson 2011-12, Player B – O.J. Mayo 2011-12)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names

Mystery #5 – Created by Conrad, Analyzed by Jared

This is tough. Other than assists and turnovers, these guys have very similar stats. They both shoot pretty well from the field for guards, and neither is a very good three-point shooter. Player A is slightly better from three, but takes way too many per-36 for a guy shooting that percentage. At least Player B recognizes it as a weakness and doesn’t take very many. Player B turns it over too much for my liking, but Player A’s defensive rating is a preposterously bad 112. Ultimately though, you want your shooting guard to be able to stretch the defense on the offensive end, and Player A is a better offensive player overall (111 to 101 advantage in offensive rating) and a better three-point shooter, so he’s my man. You can hide his defense through schemes, and his good positional rebounding is a plus.

(Player A – MarShon Brooks 2011-12, Player B – Dwyane Wade 2003-04)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names

Mystery #6 – Created by Conrad, Analyzed by Jared

This is a weird match-up. Player A seemingly has the advantage in every offensive category, but then you look up and Player B has a ridiculous 128 offensive rating and Player A’s is 12 points lower. This is basically a question of whether you like your shooting guard to be your primary offensive option (Player A and his 28.7 USG%) or a hyper-efficient shooter who blends in well with the team concept (Player B and his 21.5 USG% and 64.7 TS%). Player A’s seeming advantage in the play-making department might be due to the fact that he just has the ball a lot more than Player B. I’m taking Player B because it seems like he gives up 90% of the production on 75% the usage.

(Player A – Manu Ginobili 2007-08, Player B – James Harden 2011-12)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names

Mystery #7 – Created by Conrad, Analyzed by Jared

Player B’s rebounding edge was almost enough for me to take him, because that’s a really good stat line right there. But if you think I’m going to pass up Player A and his 56.6% three-point shooting on 5.0 attempts per-36, you’re out of your mind. So give me Ray Allen (spoilers).

(Player A – Ray Allen 2011-12, Player B – Paul George 2011-12)

Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names

Jared Dubin

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He is the co-editor in chief of Hardwood Paroxysm and the HPBasketball Network.