Daryl Morey and Houston’s Big Freed Three

I can’t remember another NBA moment where a team added three players whose contracts were so openly questioned. Jeremy Lin? A flash in the pan that reflected brighter under those New York lights. Omer Asik? You’re entrusting $25 million to a guy who can’t catch a basketball? Are you an idiot or just stupid? And James Harden, man, I don’t know about him. He just doesn’t strike ya as ya know, a number one guy. An Alpha Dog. The MAN. If he’s your No. 1, you’re never winning anything. You’re seriously going to max out a reserve?

In paying all three, Daryl Morey trusted something quite simple; He trusted what they did. Because, James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik were tangibly good when they played. These guys were doing decent work out in public. It was just a matter of someone trusting that public track record. We’re only three games in, but it would appear, at the very least, that Daryl Morey wasn’t a complete fool for going this route.

It would be ironic if stats-conscious Morey found value in ignoring small sample size concerns. Jeremy Lin’s critics fairly cite his too-brief track record, though some of them will ironically harp on Lin’s one Miami game as more meaningful than the body of work. It is difficult to know just how good Jeremy Lin will be, but we would do well to remember that his late winter success was the result of basketball skill, and not some fairy godmother’s wand wave. Just because “Linsanity!” felt magical, doesn’t mean it was magic. This was just a productive collegian, running a mean pick and roll at the next level.

Players like Lin are always battling against another statistical term–confirmation bias. If  a guy goes undrafted, we keep looking for

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HoopSpeak Network

Bulls’ bigs frustrating Miami’s mid-range game

On Monday, M. Haubs of The Painted Area astutely noted the increase in isolation attempts by the Miami Heat in their Game 1 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The overarching theme was the manner in which the Heat struggled to score on these plays as a result of Chicago’s big men disrupting the offense. This, however, isn’t anything new for the Bulls and their stalwart defense – they’ve been locking down Miami’s mid-range game all season.

According to Synergy Sports the Heat were one of the best mid-range teams in the NBA during the regular season, ranking third in scoring efficiency. However NBA StatsCube tells us that during their three meetings with Chicago, Miami was held to 35% shooting on mid-range jumpers compared to the 42% they shot from this location overall. This trend continued in Game 1 with the Heat shooting just 6-of-23.

Chicago has been lauded for the versatility of its frontcourt. Players like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik move well for big men, have the length to contest shooters and continually switch on screens without giving away much defensively. Based on play-by-play data from Synergy, a tremendous number of Miami’s mid-range shot attempts are generated out of pick and roll and Iso sets, many times with screens being used to isolate a mismatch. Unlike most teams though, the Bulls don’t lose a lot by continuously switching on these plays and leaving a player like Gibson to cover Lebron James or Dwyane Wade 18 feet from the basket.

Miami has consistently helped Chicago’s cause however, by settling for contested jumpers rather than attacking the rim. This trend has been most pronounced in Iso sets. During the regular season Wade opted for a jumper (either off the dribble or without a dribble) 58% of the time

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