Thoughts on Wolves – Rockets

2009 November 18
by rahat huq

•9:27 in the 1st – Hayes cuts off Al Jefferson on the baseline. I wanted to make note of this possession to underscore Hayes’ mastery of strategic positioning but unfortunately, he pretty much got destroyed the rest of the way.

•8:40 in the 1st – Ariza drives to his right, gets trapped and has to jump to make the pass. The whole sequence was incredibly awkward. Ariza’s problem is that he has no close counter moves. A normal NBA guard could easily cross-over, spin, or stutter-step in such a situation. Trevor just picks up his dribble.

•3:18 in the 1st. Trevor gets fouled on a breakaway dunk attempt for free throws. The entire play took two seconds. We haven’t had a guy with similar fastbreak prowess since Vernon Maxwell.

•The Landry-Andersen-Lowry-Budinger-Battier lineup looked terrible together in the 2nd quarter. They didn’t even look like they knew what plays to run.

•6:13 in the 2nd. Ariza gets whistled for some combination of a travel and carry on the fastbreak.

•Aaron Brooks comes in and the team immediately goes on a 7-0 run. They finish the quarter up on a 19-8 run.

Extremely odd 6 minute stretch. As the team was in the midst of the run, I made sure to pay close attention to Brooks’ contributions as his replacement of Lowry was the only substitution. Except for a pull-up jumper, he made none. Guys just suddenly started drawing charges, running the floor, and cleaning up on the offensive glass. Unless you subscribe to the belief that there was some conspiracy against Lowry, this was incredibly bizarre.

This is demonstrative of the greater point that caution needs to be exercised in utilizing unadjusted +/- for single-game microanalysis. One can be sure that, without a doubt, this stretch greatly inflated Aaron Brooks’ +/- contributions for the game. However, unless I’m missing something observationally, he didn’t really do anything that contributed positively to his team’s output. Single game +/- tells us what happened but not why it happened. Don’t make the mistake of deducing definitive conclusions on the basis of what is intended as merely one of many tools that help us understand the occurrences that take place in a game.

•Ariza hits corner 3 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd. I would be interested in seeing his splits on spot up 3’s vs. “I’m Tracy McGrady” pullup 3’s.

•Brian Cardinal checks in midway through the third. Their pbp guy remarks that “[he's] Minnesota’s answer to Chuck Hayes.” Um. No.

•Ariza dribbes it off his leg with 4:40 left in the 3rd.

•6 minute mark in the 4th, Lowry hits a pull-up jumper inside the arc going straight ahead. I have begun to notice that when he pulls up after dribbling to his left, he usually misses, whereas he seems fairly accurate going straight or to his right. This is incredibly odd because the norm is the complete opposite for right handed players (and vice versa for left handed players.)

•2:45 left in the 4th and Lowry hits another jumper going straight ahead. I think I’m on to something.

•1:35 left in the 4th and Lowry takes a jumper going to his left and misses. I’m on to something.

•My main intent heading into this game was to observe the interaction between Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks while together on the court. As I posted earlier, the team’s most efficient offensive quintets contain that duo. Strangely, the two did not share any court time today.

You can be assured that Daryl Morey is cognizant of the same statistic cited earlier. This tells us either one of two things:

A) The data holds no significance. Either the sample size is too small for conclusive implementation or Daryl Morey is utilizing a more exact metric (with different data.)

B) This game was deemed as experimental.

I think B is the likely case as I remember seeing the Brooks-Lowry combination in every game this season. The rotation change certainly wasn’t for matchup purposes – Corey Brewer weighs about 125 lbs.

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