Mystery Statistics Theater: Point Guard Edition

Welcome to 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 Conrad, Analyzed by Jared
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
6.0 13.5 .445 0.7 2.4 .306 3.2 3.7 .865 0.6 3.2 3.8 6.8 0.8 0.2 2.4 1.9 15.9
6.6 16.5 .402 2.1 6.0 .352 4.5 5.4 .836 0.6 2.9 3.5 8.3 1.0 0.3 4.3 2.0 19.9
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.527 .472 2.1 10.7 6.3 34.4 1.3 0.6 13.6 22.8 109 107
.527 .466 1.8 10.3 5.9 45.6 1.5 0.7 18.7 29.9 104 113
Player B has flashier counting stats, but I’m going to go with Player A. Though Player A doesn’t assist on as many or as high a percentage of his team’s baskets, he makes up for it by turning the ball over less per-36 minutes and less often per-100 possessions (and his assist numbers are nothing to sneeze at either). Taking care of the ball is of tantamount importance for a point guard. Additionally, Player A is a better and more efficient shooter than Player B despite the 4 percent deficit in 3P%. His efficiency is what allows for the 6-point advantage in offensive rating, and though defensive rating is often influenced heavily by your teammates, Player B’s 112 is too low to dismiss entirely. Player A’s 107 isn’t great, but it’s better. Taking care of the ball, efficient shooting and defense, that sounds like a point guard to me.
(Player A – Jarrett Jack 2011-12, Player B – Deron Williams 2011-12)
Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names
Mystery #2 – Created by Conrad, Analyzed by Jared
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
4.2 9.3 .451 1.1 3.2 .348 1.4 1.5 .935 0.5 3.1 3.6 8.9 0.7 0.0 1.9 2.0 10.8
4.5 9.5 .475 0.1 0.6 .233 1.1 1.9 .568 1.2 3.0 4.2 10.8 2.2 0.2 3.3 1.7 10.3
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.547 .510 1.5 9.9 5.7 44.4 1.0 0.1 16.2 15.6 115 107
.495 .482 4.5 9.7 7.2 47.1 3.2 0.3 24.3 18.3 104 100
This one is really tough. Do you want an offensive specialist like Player A or a more well-rounded point guard in Player B? Player A has a sizable edge in shooting and turnovers, while Player B has a slight advantages in rebounding and a bigger edge in assists and on defense. A player that is as good of a shooter as Player A is a huge asset, especially at the end of games. A knock-down 93.5 FT% can create a tactical advantage. Player B’s defensive prowess is just as valuable, as collecting 2.2 steals per-36 and holding a 7-point edge in defensive rating is big. His advantage in rebounding and assists is small though, and he turns the ball over almost twice as often. I’m taking the more well-rounded specimen here: give me Player B.
(Player A – Jose Calderon 2011-12, Player B – Rajon Rondo 2010-11)
Note: Highlight the area above this to reveal player names
Mystery #3 – Created by Conrad, Analyzed by Jared
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
7.7 17.2 .445 2.3 6.1 .366 2.5 3.0 .820 0.7 2.6 3.3 5.4 1.6 0.2 2.4 1.5 20.0
7.2 16.3 .441 0.2 1.0 .250 3.5 4.5 .780 0.5 2.7 3.2 8.5 1.1 0.0 2.8 1.4 18.1
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.541 .510 2.1 8.4 5.2 27.9 2.3 0.5 11.5 26.1 108 104
.496 .449 1.6 8.8 5.2 40.4 1.6 0.1 13.1 27.1 106 106
This is just a ridiculous toss-up. Look how similar those lines are. Points per-36 is within 0.2; rebounds per-36 is within 0.1, turnovers per-36 is within 0.2, offensive rating and defensive rating are both within one. What this decision comes down to is wther you want a guy who is a better long-range shooter and can thus stretch and defense or a guy who is a slightly better distributor and thus will get your other players more and better looks. I was all set to take the distributor (Player B) until I noticed the approximately 10 point advantage in both 3P% and FT% for Player A. Thus, Player A gets my vote.
(Player A – Brandon Jennings 2011-12, Player B – Tony Parker 2007-08)
Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names
Mystery #4 – Created by Conrad, Analyzed by Jared
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
8.6 16.7 .511 1.4 3.5 .411 4.0 4.9 .821 1.1 3.0 4.1 6.1 0.9 0.6 4.1 3.0 22.6
5.2 12.1 .430 0.6 2.3 .282 5.1 6.0 .847 0.8 4.3 5.1 7.8 2.2 0.1 2.3 2.8 16.1
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.597 .554 3.6 10.2 6.8 35.1 1.4 1.2 17.7 28.5 111 107
.546 .456 2.5 14.8 8.5 38.2 3.4 0.2 13.7 22.2 114 104
Holy efficiency, Player A! That’s just a monster season. He’s dangerously close to achieving a 50-40-90 season, the holy grail of shooting in basketball. He makes up for the fact that he’s not averaging as many assists by scoring 6 more points per-36. He’s not as good of a defender, rebounder of free throw shooter; but again, that efficiency. The fact that Player A averages 1.7 assists per-36 less but is still within shouting distance of Player B’s AST% tells me his teammates aren’t very good scorers, and that might be why he’s scoring the basketball more. His defensive stats don’t look great and he turns it over a bit too much, but as a scorer who is that efficient and is still a good distributor, he’s my guy.
(Player A – Kyrie Irving 2011-12, Player B – Chris Paul 2005-06)
Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names
Mystery #5 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
5.3 12.6 .418 2.1 5.1 .408 5.4 5.9 .913 0.4 2.7 3.1 6.5 1.2 0.2 2.3 2.1 18.1
7.7 17.2 .445 2.3 6.1 .366 2.5 3.0 .820 0.7 2.6 3.3 5.4 1.6 0.2 2.4 1.5 20.0
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.592 .501 1.4 8.4 5.0 28.9 1.7 0.5 13.0 21.7 121 110
.541 .510 2.1 8.4 5.2 27.9 2.3 0.5 11.5 26.1 108 104
Man, this is a close one. Player A scores slightly less, dishes out slightly more assists and has a lower usage rate. Player B has a better FG%, but only gets to the free throw line about half as often as player A. Furthermore, Player A shoots a stellar 40%+ from behind the arc and an incredibly useful 90%+ from the charity stripe. The thing that really gets my attention is their respective offensive and defensive ratings. Player A boasts an offensive rating of 121, which is somewhat ridiculous. His defense isn’t that good, but I’m willing to accept that when the offense that he runs is so effective. Point guard defense doesn’t have a ton of impact on the overall team defense, but the play of a point guard definitely has a big impact on the team’s offensive efficiency. I’m going with Player A.
(Player A – Chauncey Billups 2008-09, Player B – Brandon Jennings 2011-12)
Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names
Mystery #6 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
3.9 10.2 .382 0.8 2.4 .354 3.3 4.1 .817 0.4 4.5 4.9 9.3 2.3 0.2 3.4 2.4 12.0
5.5 13.4 .409 0.5 1.6 .296 4.2 5.4 .766 0.5 3.9 4.4 7.9 1.7 0.5 3.6 2.4 15.6
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.500 .424 1.4 14.0 7.7 41.7 3.4 0.4 22.1 19.0 104 100
.494 .427 1.5 12.8 6.9 36.0 2.4 1.0 18.6 23.8 100 110
Ew, neither of these guys can score at all. Player A is kind of confusing because he’s shooting a respectable 35% from 3-point land, yet is shooting just 38% from the field overall. In addition to the decent 3-point stroke, he knocks down his free throws which makes me question his field goal percentage even more. Player B just looks like he’s a poor shooting. Both of them seem to distribute the ball pretty well, despite turning the ball over too much for my liking. Ultimately, I’d have to lean towards Player A because he seems to recognize the fact that he doesnt score very well and instead looks to get his teammates better looks.
(Player A – Ricky Rubio 2011-12, Player B – John Wall 2010-11)
Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names
Mystery #7 – Created by Jared, Analyzed by Conrad
FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
4.7 12.2 .387 1.6 4.7 .352 3.6 4.2 .873 1.2 5.2 6.4 8.0 2.0 0.3 3.3 2.7 14.7
5.1 11.1 .463 0.6 1.9 .286 2.2 2.9 .755 1.2 3.3 4.4 8.4 1.6 0.2 2.7 1.9 13.1
TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
.525 .454 3.9 16.3 10.1 33.9 2.9 0.6 19.0 21.6 108 101
.526 .488 4.0 10.0 7.1 35.9 2.2 0.3 17.6 18.7 110 104
Once again, these guys are really damn close. The assist rates are really close and the difference in turnovers isn’t something to get worked up about. There is a pretty big discrepancy in field goal percentage as Player B shoots a respectable 45.2% while Player A is just closing his eyes and hoping it goes in. Also, why the hell is Player A taking 4.7 threes per 36 minutes when he’s shooting just 35.2%? With most of the other important factors pretty equal, I’ve got to go with Player B because Player A needs to learn not to shoot so many threes when he’s this good at running an offense effectively.
(Player A – Kyle Lowry 2011-12, Player B – Andre Miller 2011-12)
Note: Highlight the line above this to reveal player names