Statistical Anomaly is a series where we explore all the mathematical nuances you may not have noticed watching the game the first time. Today, Kyle waxes Euclidian on Utah’s poor effort against Memphis in a must win situation.
Ed Davis record nine rebounds in 22 minutes of action, giving the Grizzles yet another effective glass cleaner. In fact, the former Tar Heel is averaging 20.2 rebounds per 48 minutes over his last eight games. With Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the peaks of their careers, Davis is getting a chance to learn rebounding from two all star level players. Davis is a bit lanky (6’10” 232 pounds) but the knowledge he appears to be gaining about positioning and timing seems to be outweighing his flaws. The future is bright for Davis, and his emergence of late gives the Grizzles the ability to go extremely big if they want to, something few teams can do.
The Jazz finished the season 2-5 when Paul Milsap fails to record a single assist. It’s not so much his passing that leads to success, but his overall involvement. The versatile power forward could hit the market this offseason (or at least be part of a sign and trade) and while his point production dipped a bit this season, his improvements on his all around game likely earned him a few extra bucks at the negating table. In his seventh season in the Association, Milsap set career highs in average assists and three pointers made while playing in personal best 77 games. In my opinion, he could very well prove to be a better version of this year’s Carlos Boozer for an already solid team like Boston, Atlanta, or even Golden State (if they would give up on Andrew Bogut).
If you subtract Al Jefferson’s stat line from the box score, you’ll notice that Utah shot 28.8% from the field and 55% from the free throw line. It isn’t unreasonable that the Jazz will begin the 2013-2014 season with Big Al, and that is a scary proposition for Jazz fans given the teams reliance on him when scoring is tough. Derrick Favors has promise and is still only 21 years of age, but I worry about his willingness to bloody his nose in the paint. He shot just 11 free throws in the final six games of the regular season, all of which were playoff intensity level games for Utah (196 minutes played). That equates to one FTA every 17.82 minutes, roughly half as often as Jefferson has gotten to the line over his career. Easy points go a long way in the NBA (eight of the top ten teams in FTA made the playoffs) and are a nice option when your team is struggling from the field. Here is a look at the percentage of each statistical category that Jefferson was responsible for in the biggest game of the season.
The Grizzles held one monster advantage when you line up these two rosters, and it proved crucial in the final outcome of the game. Memphis has two players in Tony Allen and Darrell Arthur who have first names for last names while the Jazz don’t have a single one. Those two players combined for 19 points in a 16 point victory. Don’t believe me that there is a correlation between players with two first names and winning? Before the Knicks waived Kurt Thomas, the top two seeds in each conference combined to have 13 such players with the best team in the league leading the way with five. In contrast, the four teams that will lead the way in ping pong balls come June, have six cumulative players (seven depending on how you feel about the name Davis). If that’s not reason enough to reach on Shabazz Muhammad or Isaiah Austin is this year’s draft, then I don’t know what is.