Why Monta and Steph can both be "the man"






One of the things that I appreciate the most about the GSOM community is the exposure to an expanded knowledge base. Meaning, not only do I get to talk about Warriors with folks who care (the wife tends to start snoring when I get too deep into Warriors lore), but many of the folks around here are intelligent and well-read in b-ball statistics.


Since the founding of debate, people have had problems agreeing on the simplest concepts, such as causality, correlation, and why chinese food is the only food group that does not pair well with cheese.


I would like to insert a caveat here. I know pretty much zero about advanced statistics. I took one class in college. I am almost certainly missing a few key points, please try to help me learn and grow rather than feel bad about how ignorant I am. 


Around here, there has been a fair amount of debate/argument (since there is a difference) centering around the use of player efficiency rates to "prove" the merits (or lack of) of certain players. As a background project, I have taken it on myself these past few weeks to look into the issue. My core starting principle was that it seemed much too easy to prove that playerX (ok, Monta Ellis) is crap because of his TS%.

Rebounding rate, fine; man-on-man defensive stats fine, but player shot efficiency just seemed like such an uncertain aspect of the game. For example, take Monta, put him in a game and put him in these two scenarios

Scenario 1: "Monta, just play an all-around game, take open shots when they come to you, but don't force anything"

Scenario 2: "Monta, we suck. Please use your judgement to decide when and where to create offense. We need you to score a lot of points. Efficiency is nice too."

I bet that for each scenario, the player in question would have a distinctly different stat line

 On the advice of some GSoM members, I shelled out 15 bucks for a copy of Wages of Wins.

Sadly, after reading (most of) it, I am still not satisfied with what the statisticians are doing. There seems to be a complete disconnect problem of mistaking effect for cause.

More on that later...Now, back to Monta. One of the more interesting articles my half-assed research turned up was this one:


 Something called Braess' paradox. Bill Simmons (of ESPN) coined the term to describe the observation that the New York Knicks always seemed to play better when their best player, Patrick Ewing, was out. I noticed this last year, when both Steph and Monta were out, the team seemed to play better. Turns out, this is related to the fact that making the highest-percentage play every time down the court is not the same as playing your best possible game.

The article is good, and you should definately read it if you have the time. But, 

The message is fairly clear: when your big man is used as the primary offensive option, his efficiency suffers.  When he is used more rarely, to clean up misses and take advantage of low-post mismatches, he is significantly more effective.


And here is where I think we are not giving Monta the correct benefit of the doubt. We are over-using him as our primary offensive weapon and his efficiency has suffered because of it. Now, the next obvious question is if this is by our team design/game plan, or if Monta does in fact get stupid and greedy and take dumb shots (I leave that question for the commenters to work out below)

Comparing the TS% of a player like Monta, to a player like Reggie Williams is not really an "apples to apples" comparison. Because Williams is not under the same pressure to provide points on a consistant basis. To a lesser extent, the same thing goes for comparing Steph's TS% to Monta. When you are asking a player to carry a large-ish share of the offensive burden, unless that player is very good, they will tend to miss more shots.

The article above supports this contention. Players generally see a decrease in their shooting efficiency as the percentage of a team's shot  that a player takes goes up. Defenses adjust, they pack the lane, the cheat of their man. This all contributes to Monta's lower TS% rating.

Now, I know this post is getting too long, but I do want to introduce one more point. Steph and Monta are both heavily used. This was pretty unsuprising to me, but the Warrriors were ranked pretty highly as far as allocating their possessions most wisely. Here's the b-ball reference article (from just a few days ago)

To sum it up for you, the Warriors are ranked fifth. That's pretty good I think. It means that we understand who our best players are and game-plan accordingly.
But to me, the biggest take-away was that Steph and Monta are both heavily used. Perhaps too heavily?

Monta  is 11th in the league in "%POS" (at 27.5) and Steph is not too far behind (ranked 25th, with a score of 25.8). The fact is that we rely too heavily on these two guys. And on Monta in particular to generate offense for our team.  


 I love this picture. I am not completely convinced that this backcourt duo can win a championship, but I am certain that they are one of the most entertaining backcourts ever.  So while we argue our points back and forth, let's try to remember that we are lucky enough to get to watch both of these guys play for our team!

And while arguing over who is the best, please try to give a moment of consideration to the fact that all statistics are not to be compared as equal. The stats do show what actually happens, but not why they happen.

 thanks for reading

now, let's go git some more wins!!!

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!

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