Beyond Assists: Why Derrick Rose Is A More Efficient Playmaker Than You Think

Derrick Rose has been called a lot of things this season: MVP candidate, inefficient scorer, the most explosive point guard in the game, an elite floor general who isn’t an elite passer. So when his pass found teammate Luol Deng for the game winning three-pointer last Thursday against the Heat, some may have considered it an aberration. Despite ranking 10th in the NBA in assists per game, Rose’s distribution skills are generally not held in the same regard as the likes of Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul or Steve Nash. Upon closer inspection however, the 22-year-old is remarkably efficient with the assists he does dole out.

HoopData tabulates a statistic called Assist + which is simply assists per game with added weight for assists leading to three-pointers. Rose sees a 13.6% increase in his assist numbers when factoring in three’s, the third highest increase of any player ranking in the top ten in the NBA. Only Raymond Felton (14.4%) and Steve Nash (14.3%) see a greater increase when incorporating the perimeter shooting of teammates.  Yet Rose manages this degree of augmentation playing on a team that is only average when it comes to both three-point shooting efficiency and sheer volume of shots.

Chicago attempts 16.2 three-pointers per game, which puts them in the bottom half of the league at 18th. For perspective, New York (the team Felton has spent the majority of his season with) and Phoenix are among the most trigger-happy perimeter teams in the NBA, shooting 24.8 (2nd) and 22.9 (3rd) three’s per game respectively. Furthermore, the Bulls hit 36.3% of their total shot attempts from beyond the arc, which ranks 12th, while the Suns (37.8%) are 5th and the Knicks (36.4%) sit at 10th. As a whole, Rose ranks 7th in the NBA in three-pointers assisted

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HoopSpeak Network

Blame Twitter, not Carmelo

(Beckley’s grappling with what big markets are, while I grapple with how they influence us)

Writers say: NBA players are choosing themselves over the people.

LeBron, Carmelo, and Deron left plucky cities, as rumors of future departures wafted about. Who’s next to go? Chris Paul? Dwight Howard? It seems today’s ballers view small markets as a rest stop before a destination. It’s a selfish lot, our athletes. Coddled by Yes Men, they float on clouds of whispered sweet nothings, oblivious to terrestrial small town pain. Aye, there goes my monocle into the champagne flute. Before I faint, let us lament how our once gritty, humble, olden basketball culture is dead. I blame AAU. No wait, is it the lack of college? Wait again: Don’t we view every generation as more narcissistic than the last? Perhaps these guys are logically responding to a larger trend.

In the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, Americans marched towards individual pods, conscripted to lives of isolated media consumption. We were destined to run from each other, to ensconce ourselves in virtual tech bubbles. Jeff Bezos won the Time Magazine “Man of the Year,” because Amazon.com helped people chase niches. Soon after, iPod-adorned subway passengers looked newly aloof–in a world where chat rooms still claimed relevance.

That Internet was a socially-balkanizing agent, whereas this one connects us to a bigger picture. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the most recent “Man of the Year,” and Twitter carries the zeitgeist on a nightly basis. Droves are tweeting “big events,” boosting TV ratings by the word of mouth vested in their fingers. Shared experience is trumping the novel pursuit.

For a Salon.com article, I once asked Neilsen Sports Vice President Steven Master about social media’s impact on games:

“One of the drivers behind increased viewing is that people

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What’s in a market?

(This post is meant to accompany this data!)

The term “big market” gets tossed around a lot this time of year as NBA front offices negotiate and jockey for a chance to improve their team. It’s a common perception that larger media markets, because they generally earn more money from local TV deals and non-shared revenue like team store gear, have an increased ability to spend on free agents. In the view of many, this means that big market teams have an unfair edge when it comes to signing the most coveted players available. These advantages in resources tear top talents from cities nestled in the peaceful Mountain Time Zones like Utah, Phoenix and Denver, and deposit them under brighter lights in bigger cities.

But then how do we explain Miami or Portland, two cities that have been active and aggressive in acquiring talent over the past few seasons? Portland is in only the 22nd largest media market and Miami the 17th (neck and neck with LeBron’s old home market of Cleveland-Akron). To start, the two teams have the first and third wealthiest owners in the NBA, respectively. What’s more, Paul Allen and Micky Arison have both shown they are willing to shell out cash to pull in players, despite their relatively small-time locales.

Or consider the dichotomy between the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers. The two teams play in the same building, but does anyone think of the Clippers as a big market team? Probably not, because it has historically been a cut-rate organization that could never develop the assets or cultural cache of the Lakers due to awful ownership and perhaps a bit of bad karma.

The 76ers play in the league’s sixth largest media market, but Philadelphia is so focused on football and baseball that seats

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NBA franchise market strength indicators (Data)

Judging the strength of an NBA market is a more complicated task than our casual use of the term “big market” often suggests. The following is a table that allows you to compare the relative strength of every NBA team when it comes to some (but not all) of the major factors that determine market strength for NBA clubs.

Most headings are self-explanatory, but “Swag Factor” certainly is not. This ranking (subjectively) takes into account many of the factors that attract NBA players to a certain market, but are not exactly quantifiable. Factors such as: weather, tax law, nightlife, franchise tradition, culture and lifestyle (eg- Houston happens to house one of the greatest concentration of NBA talent in the summer), health of the organization, team facilities, proximity to the beach, and other factors that would entice the typical twenty-something millionaire professional basketball player (or anyone else, for that matter) to live in a city.

Lest you think the Swag Factor rankings are completely subjective, I did clear them with bloggers from around TrueHoop Network.

To calculate the Total Market Rank, I added the rankings from the other columns (excluding the team win rankings at the far right of the table). In doing so, these data assume that a strong NBA market would include: a large TV market (important for player sponsorships, legacy), an excessively wealthy owner who spends heavily on players, fans who will pay to fill up an arena, and access to a lifestyle befitting a young millionaire.

Note that a team’s on-court success if only tangentially factored into these rankings. However, also included are rankings of how each team has fared over the past five and ten seasons, for comparison against the market factors to the left.

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Basketball Culture 101: The revolution was not televised

[Editor's Note: Jared Wade is the one of the founders of the ESPN TrueHoop Blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds, as well as the proprietor of the witty Both Teams Played Hard and a contributor to Hardwood Paroxysm. Often the future writes history, in that we don't know what things means until their consequences are laid bare. For a rebel and ultimately doomed league, the prospect of defining pro basketball for the next half century must have seemed distant indeed. Here, Wade describes how the soul of today's NBA was influenced by if not inherited from the innovations and ethos of the ABA, as captured by Terry Pluto in Loose Balls.--Beckley]

It’s appropriate that we are discussing Loose Balls right after the All-Star break. Terry Pluto’s classic work is the definitive record of the ABA, a short-lived league known as much for its flair, charisma and innovation as its champions and legends. And at no time is the legacy of history’s greatest alt-hoops movement more apparent than during NBA All-Star Weekend.

First off, the ABA invented the dunk contest as a mainstream event. Dr. J’s free-throw-line dunk was a frozen moment for the ages that ushered in a new era of creativity and imagination for a sport that, just two decades prior, had been defined by George Mikan post moves and Bob Cousy high dribbles. It wasn’t just an athletic feat; it was the real-life imprint of a dream that became etched into the consciousness of every kid with a pair of Converses. It was man extending the limits of the possible. With an afro.

In terms of Xs and Os, the three-point shot was an even more important innovation. The ABA did not coin the new rule (that was the ABL), but it did popularize it. And perhaps more

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Basketball Culture 101: The Echoes of the Game

[Editor's Note: Patrick Hayes is a writer with the ESPN TrueHoop Network Blog PistonPowered. For this project, Hayes chose one of the most venerated books in the annals of basketball writing, David Halberstam's Breaks of the Game. Like the best early writers in any genre, the themes that Halberstam so expertly culled from the drama of the 1979 season have become cliché by virtue of their timelessness--individual versus collective, apathy versus intensity, and the complex racial relationships at play between a mostly white audience and mostly black performers. Here, Patrick  traces these themes in the writing of today's commentators, and assesses the progress made since Halberstam's iconic work.-Beckley]

When Buzz Bissinger published his screed, ‘White people hate the NBA, I tells ya!’, last week, sports and non-sports sites alike predictably picked it up. Poorly researched opinions are so hot right now:

But a major problem with the NBA, one that is virtually never spoken about honestly, is the issue of race. I have no hard-core evidence. But based on my past experience in writing about sports, I know that whites ascribe very different characteristics to black athletes than they do white ones. I also make a habit of asking every white sports fan I know whether they watch the NBA. In virtually every instance, they say they once watched the game but no longer do. When I ask them if it has anything to do with the racial composition, they do their best to look indignant. But my guess is they felt very differently about the game when Larry Bird and John Stockton were playing.

Any time someone fearlessly writes about race — and say what you want about Bissinger’s conclusions, it’s clear that he wrote this column without tiptoeing around any of the points, however flawed (read

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Snitchin’ on Melo

Rocky Mountains have shielded Carmelo’s transgressions from media attention. He’s been of a small, scenic snowglobe–often far from the minds of casual sports fans who fondly remember the Gerry McNamara days. Conversations regarding his move to New York have pertained to stats, chemistry, contracts and palace intrigue. Few Knicks fans are worried about the guy who can’t stay out of trouble. Even fewer fret about the risk incurred with bigger, brighter lights. But…

There was that time he walked through an airport, with weed in a backpack. Now, I have zero issues with marijuana use, and I don’t think the NBA should even test for it. But in these United States, it’s generally not a good idea to walk through airports while holding. It’s also not a good idea to accidentally appear in a “Stop Snitchin” video–even if the drug war is stupid, futile, and brutal.

Those were relatively benign run-ins, to little consequence. A friend absorbed legal ramifications for the pack. Anthony apologized for his unintentional “Snitchin’” cameo, relieving snitches everywhere. But, you know…

It’s also not a good idea to swerve your way to a DUI charge. And if an NBA player asked me: “Should I physically threaten this groupie on Twitter, as my wife publicly eggs me on?” Well, the answer would be somewhere between, “Wow! A pro-athlete is talking to me!” and “I see you just went ahead and did it while I gawked. Say the account was hacked, call your beleaguered lawyer.”

In a vacuum, these events can be explained away or dismissed. With dots connected, the pattern speaks to a running oblivious streak. I’m not one to judge a player’s character as “bad” or “good.” Humans are complicated, so is morality. I don’t know Carmelo and he could be a fantastic person

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So what will Carmelo Anthony and the new look Knicks look like?

It’s on everyone’s mind: Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are set to become the most potent front-court scoring twosome since Vin Baker and Glen Robinson!

OK, maybe that’s not the analog that has the New York fan base so fired up. But no one (besides perhaps Isaiah Thomas) is expecting instant dominance a la the Heat or Celtics either; rather it seems to be the consensus that the new Knicks will be somewhere in between these extremes. So what will it look like?

It’s going to be fascinating watching Mike D’Antoni cram Carmelo into his system. Typically, his best small forwards have been do-it-all glue guys like Wilson Chandler and Shawn Marion–the type of wing who could switch onto a number of offensive threats, rebound, spot up, and wouldn’t get in the way of a middle pick and roll.

Anthony doesn’t exactly fit that bill, but the Knicks, a team with plenty of problems to solve, are hoping that adding the ultra-talented wing won’t be a team chemistry solvent.

Defensively, it’s unclear how this team will guard anyone. Of Billups, Stoudemire and Anthony, Carmelo is actually the best one-on-one defender—when he wants to be. But if we know one thing about NBA defense, it’s that talented individuals have nowhere near the defensive impact as cohesive team awareness. Playing with worse defensive big men than Denver’s, Anthony will need to be a far more willing and active off-ball defender than at any time in his career, a proposition that, under the defense-optional coaching philosophy of Coach Mike D’Antoni, sounds as likely as Jason Sudeikus being invited back to the Celebrity All-Star Game.

The Knicks look doomed to become a defensive disaster, and any analysis of this issue gives way to cataloging deficiencies. But I’m curious

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Halftime Show

NBA Halftime Music History

2002 Elton John 2003 Mariah Carey 2004 Nelly Furtado 2005 Leann Rimes 2006 John Legend 2007 Christina Aguilera 2008 Harry Connick Jr. 2009 John Legend 2010 Shakira, Alicia Keys

Enjoyed the All-Star game like always. Nothing wrong with an exhibition, especially when the world’s best athletes get impish with their talents. But that halftime show? I was let down…because the NBA chose wiser than Indiana Jones. Couldn’t have been more geeked for a Kanye-Rihanna display that underwhelmed.

All Star Weekend is more event than game, so the music performance is as relevant as the hoops. The NBA has a tightrope to walk here, because it sells the genius of mostly young, black, males to a forever slavery-stained nation. Basketball elements that seem exciting, alluring, and rebellious to you, might evoke fear, jealousy, and hatred elsewhere. Same goes for hip-hop, which has tattooed the minds of NBA players, bloggers, and Biebers. Rap and basketball are a natural pairing–except for the small matter of all those middle-aged, mostly-white season ticket holders. Go with a Leann Rimes halftime show (This actually happened in 2005), and risk looking ridiculous. Go with Yeezy, and risk a moment that would dwarf the Taylor Swift controversy in terms of stodgy, racially-tinted outrage. I’m glad the NBA is embracing the cooler route, risks be damned.

Though strategically edited, Cee-Lo was good to the point of chilling on Saturday. This had me even more primed for a Sunday Kanye sighting. West is at his career’s apogee and if the ASG is more event than game, My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy is more phenomenon than CD. He’s the perfect guy at the perfect time.

And?

The result was muddled, awkward and only memorable for Rihanna’s cracking voice. Whatever buzz I felt in Staples quickly

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The Man Who Inks All Stars

When I met the tattoo artist, he was poring over fantastical designs. Reggie Sullivan’s table is a paper mill, one that spouts drawings of Eddy Curry-as-samurai. Though intentionally unobtrusive, Sullivan stands out among the All Star revelers who flood LA Live’s J.W. Marriott–otherwise known as “the player’s hotel.” This lobby is a confluence of young ballers, beautiful women, men in suits that peacocks would gawk-squawk at.

Reggie’s in a Knicks jersey, glasses, headphones, a crisp Yankee cap. He smiles bashfully when asked about inking guys like KG and Amar’e. A female friend interjects on Reggie’s behalf, chiding him with: “You should tell people about this! Let em’ know about it….he’s shy.” This woman is the unofficial PR rep for an introverted artist. She mentions some of the NBA players who carry Sullivan’s designs, exhorts Reggie to spill more names.

(“Eddy Curry…Nate Robinson…the Juggernaut over Wilson Chandler’s whole back”)

Many satellites orbit the players during All Star Weekend. They edge next to stars, so as to siphon some of their status, so as to believe that circling Durant means moving in his circle. Hangers-ons want to be hangers-ins, whether by charisma, obsequiousness, of sheer force of ubiquity. William Gates of Hoop Dreams once spoke of the people who might forget about him, and these are those. Excursions to the player’s hotel kept wrapping me into conversations with resplendent suits, bragging about how Star X was a part of their fundraiser, how Star Y was a “really good friend.” Reggie’s closer to athletes than this set, certainly closer than I’ll ever be:

“You get to know somebody over the four, five hours,” he calmly intones. Reggie tells me that some players come in, stating exactly what they want. Amar’e in particular is pretty particular. Others, like Chandler, let the

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