Inside the numbers: For better or for worse?

Discussion in 'Pistons and NBA' started by roscoe36, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    As we breach the 2006 calendar year, the Pistons have taken a slight stumble from the frenetic pace that started their latest NBA campaign.

    Losers in 2 of their last 4 games, Detroit's torrid start will level off.

    No the sky is not falling, however the Pistons seem less likely to achieve a magical season like the 95/96 Bulls. No matter how talented the starting five may be collectively, eventually the wear and tear of chasing the three headed monster of playoff home court, All-Star selections and in Chauncey Billups' case, an MVP award will be too much for this group of five to manage without destiny's hand playing a large part.

    While I truly believe that God created defense to train the Detroit faithful, times have changed and so too must our understanding of this team.

    With a new offensive system providing a quicker tempo and lethal half court efficiency, the Pistons appear to have lost their previous identity. Defensive supremacy in the Eastern Conference.

    Still one of the most athletic and cohesive units in the NBA, monikers like "Goin' to Work", or "The No Fly Zone" cannot be applied. The Pistons defensive paint has become the playground of every face up power forward as quicker guards are exploiting the interior defensive rotations on dribble penetration like pre-Carlisle era teams.

    Defense for offense? Let's look inside the numbers...

    For the sake of comparison, we'll look at the second half of the 2004/05 season and the first 31 games of the 2005/06 season.

    [table=600][tr=tcat][td]Statistic[/td][td]2004/5 Rank[/td][td]2004/5 Value[/td][td]2005/6 Rank[/td][td]2005/6 Value[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]Off. PPG[/td][td]20[/td][td]96.0[/td][td]9[/td][td]99.3[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]Def. PPG[/td][td]1[/td][td]89.2[/td][td]7[/td][td]91.7[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]Pts Diff.[/td][td]3[/td][td]+6.8[/td][td]1[/td][td]+7.6[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]FG% Diff.[/td][td]4[/td][td]+0.031[/td][td]13[/td][td]+0.009[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]FG%[/td][td]13[/td][td]45.7%[/td][td]9[/td][td]45.7%[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]FT%[/td][td]28[/td][td]71.5%[/td][td]11[/td][td]75.5%[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]Def. FG%[/td][td]3[/td][td]42.6%[/td][td]15[/td][td]44.8%[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]3Point %[/td][td]16[/td][td]35.4%[/td][td]3[/td][td]39.2%[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]Reb. Diff.[/td][td]2[/td][td]+3.5[/td][td]15[/td][td]-0.2[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]Fouls[/td][td]1[/td][td]18.54[/td][td]1[/td][td]19.58[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]Assists[/td][td]8[/td][td]22.93[/td][td]3[/td][td]23.48[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]Steals[/td][td]24[/td][td]6.78[/td][td]26[/td][td]6.26[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]TO Diff.[/td][td]15[/td][td]-0.02[/td][td]26[/td][td]-1.68[/td][/tr][tr=alt2][td]Assist Diff.[/td][td]5[/td][td]2.83[/td][td]2[/td][td]4.16[/td][/tr][tr=alt1][td]Blocks[/td][td]4[/td][td]6.02[/td][td]11[/td][td]5.74[/td][/tr][/table]
    Note: TO Diff, lower rank and lower negative value is better.

    In the second half of 2004/5 the Pistons were a sparkling 31-10. Through 31 games in 2005/6, Detroit finds itself at a league best 26-5.

    What I find interesting in the stats above is that the Pistons vaunted offensive attack is functioning at a 0.8 PPG (differential) better clip than the year before. Detroit's FG% is unchanged, which with the increased 3 point shooting efficiency means less makes inside the arc.

    Where is Detroit getting their increased differential from?

    Ironically, a propensity to nail more bunnies. At almost the same number of FTs taken between the two periods I chose to compare, Detroit is earning on average just over an extra 1 PPG at the line by shooting a higher percentage.

    The Pistons are actually less efficient (differential wise) by the smallest of margins once the increased FT conversion is removed from the calculations.

    In Flip's guard oriented offense, Chauncey Billups and Carlos Arroyo have gone from contributing 36% of the team's assists to just under 50% this season. Chauncey's turnovers have decreased by 0.1 per game, and his assist totals have skyrocketed due to the offense starting almost exclusively in his hands. However looking at the stats, the Pistons are only producing approximately 1 more assist per game than they did in the second half of last season.

    Was Flip Saunders' arrival the catalyst for this squad playing like an efficient basketball machine?

    I think the answer lies in last year's second half run and thrilling playoffs. Chauncey Billups had a 4.88 assist to turnover ratio in his last 10 playoff games of 2004/5. The standard at PG for the Pistons had been set. Not to take anything away from Coach Saunders, but Chauncey had already established his reputation in the 2004 playoffs by winning the Finals MVP.

    D-Fence, D-Fence

    To no one's surprise, the Pistons are no longer defensive specialists. They have compromised defensive and rebounding dominance for balance on both ends of the court. Currently ranked 7th in defensive PPG, the lowest ranking the Pistons have had since 2000/1.

    This is where Flip Saunders' influence must assert itself. Coaches are not judged on the first 30 games of the season, and Championships are never won before the All-Star break. The Pistons will need to approach the 05/06 playoffs with the same level of intensity and excellence they finished the previous season at. This fast start must continue without burning out the starting six.

    Flip's job is simple. Keep Chauncey Billups healthy (above all else) and either find a way to solve the dribble penetration woes or establish control over the boards. Preferably both. Preferably now.

    The only remaining question is the defensive identity of this team. Can they find ball pressure and own the glass again? Or is "the system" designed to control the game through finesse execution as opposed to dogmatic discipline with little flexibilty for pressure on both sides of the rock?

    Offense for Defense? Indeed. It's a wash in this fan's opinion. The epiphany lies in the minor scoring gains when contrasted with the defensive sacrifices.

    ~~Comments?~~
    -
     
  2. himat

    himat Bench Warmer

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    i'm not worried about opponents ppg. i knew that would go up with pistons taking less time to shoot. i'll worry about dribble penetrtion if lindsey some how can't stop that when he comes back. my main concern is rebounding.

    what i think is happening is that the starters are still great defensively, but the bench isn't and flip plays the bench more than lb, and the opponents sore a lot when the bench comes. hopefuly when lindsey and dale davis wake up during the playoffs the bench gets better at D. rip seems to do good against the quick guys who penetrate us i think he should defend the slashers.
     
  3. Abe Froemen

    Abe Froemen First Round Draft Pick

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    i agree with everything:nod: when hunter comes back i expect to see other teams struggle to penetrate and our bigs can refocus on the no fly zone. hopefully our bench will find its true identity and be more productive.
     
  4. basketbills

    basketbills All-Star Forum Donor

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    I'm still worried that come playoff time this may end up being a team that is not (cliche warning) built for the playoffs. We may end up missing the one thing that no amount of scheming or practicing can fix once we enter the playoffs.....the Iron fist of Larry Brown.

    Typically defensive intensity beats offensive proficiency in the playoffs. So while the talk of winning 70 games and Chauncey winning an MVP has been great fun ...this ain't the real season yet. All the virtual back slapping and high fiving that has been going on in forum land will turn to weeping and whining if Flip turns this team into the T-Wolves in the playoffs.
     
  5. himat

    himat Bench Warmer

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    when we reface the spurs it will be a true test can the pistons step up and beat them at full strength on the road. unlike other teams the pistons will easily outrebound the spurs. will the pistons stop penetration? that's the true thing i want to see, i'm telling you when rip switched to wade in that miami game he wouldn't penetrate, yes he did score but on all jumpshots he just had a great shooting night, rip should gaurd tony or manu, he's quick enugh to stick with them. instead of being an offensive contributer against san antonio do you think rip could be more of a defensive contributer?
     
  6. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    Micro- That was very well written.

    The Pistons know about adversity. They tasted failure. This is one of the most amazing/ scariest units to face with their backs against the wall. Their achilles heel is: Success. I have less faith in them when they have the advantage than when they don't. The worst thing they can do in my opinion is to tear through the league with this system. The rhetoric of "we can rely on our defense when our offense falters" is empty words.

    Let's see some defensive improvement flip.
     
  7. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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    Nice job pulling the comparisons together (the 2nd half of the season took work).
    I will agree with himat on the quicker shot clock leading to more PPG for both sides...
    There are a couple significant numbers in your comparisons...
    The most important number is points differential... bottom line thats all that matters (next to W's)
    Certainly this scoring differencial would increase if there was more of a focus on rebounding... I look at this as an opportunity instead of a deficiency... this team can rebound well... the talent exists... and yes you can draw a comparison with LB and Flip on rebounding efficiency... LB wanted to work everything inside... we had more bodies in the paint... he preached rebounding non stop.

    I don't hold much stock in the recent trend vs the end of last year... the season is full of spikes and sags.

    We have similar personel and we're winning more.

    It will be intersesting to see if the points differential maintains when Lindsey is added to the mix.
     
  8. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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    I think Ginobili will have a field day (if healthy) on Delfino and Evans... this could be a wake up call for Joe.
     
  9. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    The scary thing is, the Pistons have not been a poor rebounding team since Carlisle. That was back when Rick had Ben out on an island, and everyone else worrying about his fancy rotation scheme.
    Well, individually the Pistons have a lot of defensive talent. But being a dominant defensive team means scheme, team work, discipline, so many other factors besides good leaping ability or quick lateral movement. I think that the Pistons are a lousy defensive team right now. No sense in avoiding that. They are getting by strictly on talent, some nights out playing their opponent, other nights breaking down.
    I would feel a lot better if Flip yelled at a player just once. This has to be an awkward situation for him, having a team that has strong bonds and a pecking order defined before he ever hit the practice room floor with them. One thing that Larry has (to his detriment at times) is that no one is bigger than him. He'll yell at anyone, anytime. Some players get leniency, but everyone knew that what he said, that was gunna be the way it was.
    It's almost crazy that we get blown out by the Cavs and beat on homecourt by Utah within a week and people are unfazed. I for one will be very disappointed by anything less than a 6 game Finals loss.
    Rip played great D on Wade in last season's ECF. He's long and annoying. I still think that Rip's best defense is running his man ragged off of screens. But we don't seem to run many sets for him like that anymore.
    Thanks.
    From your lips to my ears.
    And how....
    That's the truth, but I had some help from Doug. ;)
    That's true, and I may have posted my observations prematurely. Consider that if the Pistons go .500 over the next 10, they would have a similar record to last half season. And if we weren't resting players, that final game of the season probably would have been a win.
    My favorite stat was CB's playoff AST to TO differential. It speaks volumes about how far his game has come.
    I'm really hoping that Lindsey costs us a PPG on offense and gives back two on defense. That would move us back into the defensive top 5, and instead of 20th and 1st like last year, we might be 12th and 3rd for offense and defense.
    We've been blessed thus far with no injuries, but fatigue is becoming a factor. You'll see the offensive stats slip further if we are without any of the starters.
    He needs one in my opinion. I really thought we went into last year's playoffs without enough weapons. Evans/Davis are not exciting me. It's not enough for Delfino to get better. He needs to become an impact player FAST.
     
  10. 16 Mile

    16 Mile Bench Warmer

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    Good job with the stats, I think Flip has coached much better, and much worse than LB.

    For the better part, he simply has us playing a much better version of O, with minimal cost to our D. Flip knows O.

    For the worse part, LB's biggest coaching flaw was his substitution patterns, IMO, he put in the wrong guys. LB looked for his bench to send a message, not neccessarily to play well, so guys like LH and DH got more time than they deserved.

    As for Flip, he's just afraid of playing the bench, period. He's unable to handle the drop in play for any amount of time, which he needs to realize, happens anytime you play anyone on the bench (otherwise, why would they be on the bench). Which causes a HUGE problem with our starters. They:

    1. Coast in the beginning of games, pacing themselves for the fourth
    2. Play soft D, to avoid getting fouls. Watching Ben just walk away from a guy who got inside position, because he didnt want to risk a foul, almost caused me to trash my TV. Whatever happened to earn it at the line?
    3. Get tired in the fourth. And it's only gonna get worse. The Detnews had an article today talking about how tired our guys are, and yet they never mentioned WHY they are tired, like it never occurred to them that if they were tired last year, and they are playing more minutes this year, that that might be a problem. Noo, they say Fans are crazy for worring (sorry off on a tangent, horrible sports writers covering are team is for another day, another thread)

    So Flip, here's some advice, you can get a better D, without doing anything other than PLAYING the starters less, playing the bench more. Half of D is effort, and our guys aren't putting effort out there, mostly because they just too darn tired.
     
  11. Mad Hatter

    Mad Hatter First Round Draft Pick

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    Good work on the stats Micro.

    I also think Flip is afraid of playing the bench. With good reason I might add. Heck, I'm afraid of playing the bench! I don't buy the "play the bench inorder to make them better" argument. I prefer the tried and true. Play better = Play more.

    Seems to me our starters are running out of gas in the 4th. Sometimes they coast early and hope to hit the switch late. Other times they blast em out early and coast late, allowing our opponents to erase the early lead. I'm worried about a lack of focus on execution and too much reliance on late game heroics from Chauncy. I don't see Flip in anybody's face and I have no confidence in that rag-tag group of assistants he seemingly hastily assembled.

    All's not well in Motown, IMO. We've got problems. All it takes is one turned ankle and those problems will become GLARING! Our guys are getting by on talent, chemistry, and adrenalin. Sooner or later our opponents are gonna figure that out. Last year we snagged Arroyo at the deadline. Year before it was Sheed. We need a boost....a shot in the arm. Get it done Joe!
     
  12. pistonsloyalist

    pistonsloyalist First Round Draft Pick

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    Agreed. Flip seems unwilling to take any chances with the bench; he seems overly concerned that increasing bench minutes will cost us victories in the regular season. A team with our record can afford to give our bench players more minutes, and, as you point out, extra minutes for the bench will enable our starting five to play even better.
     
  13. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    Ok guys, but look at the numbers. It's about a systemic change, not the usual bench griping.
     
  14. lapiston

    lapiston Team Captain

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    There are problems with the perimeter defense and the bench for sure. And, we do have to keep our starters fresh for the playoffs. But to me, looking back to last year, the biggest concern is STILL the offense. We are better this year but we still have a tendency to break down in tough situations. Think back to last year. We had no bench, the starters were tired and we had a very limited offense and we almost won. But in the end, we couldn't score when we needed to. If we score, it will be hard for teams to beat us. When the playoffs come, our superior athleticism will produce the stops--but we need to score. We don't have a super star and with Ben in the lineup, it is very important that our offense is run like a machine. I do worry about the Shaq-Wade combo scoring on us. And about Ginobli. But I worry most about the offense.
     
  15. DirtyMoney

    DirtyMoney First Round Draft Pick

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    The best example of defense taking over when offense faltered was last season's Utah Game. I have fallen in love with shutting teams down with defense. that was the trademark. Man, I would love to have a one on one with Dumars.
     
  16. LA Sam

    LA Sam Second Round Draft Pick

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    Micro, you did a fanstastic job looking inside the numbers. I'm jealous and impressed, and wish I had the time to do that stellar a job. That's the kind of stuff a bball forum is all about.

    I would add one thing. I think the admirable assist to turnover ratio's that Arroyo and Chauncy have is due in large part to Flip's offense, and if comes from probability theory.

    In LB's offense, the goal was to use as much clock as required to find, not the first good shot, but the best shot available. As a consequence, the probability of a turnover was greater, because we put the ball on the floor more, and passed it to more people.

    In Flip's offense, we look for the first good shot, and the guy takes it. This reduces the possibility of a turnover, so the guards don't get dinged, but it also reduces the probability that we are in position to rebound offensively.
     
  17. TheeTFD

    TheeTFD All-Star

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    Micro I'll play Devils Advocate.
    We've watched this team over the last 5 yr. progress with only one hickup, Finals games 5 and 7. Our boys and the guys upstairs have met every challange. Including 3 coach changes, almost 3 diff. systems, player turnover and the refs. and the league F'in with us. Our boys are kicking teams down from the top of the hill. I like it.
    ...But what the numbers show is how little diff. there's between top 4 and bottom 15 in various stats. We're talking 1zs and 2zs. Is that what seperates the winners from the losers? This isn't your 1 dimensional team. Our guys want to show us "ShowTime"!! So don't sweat it if they drop to a .750 win % -- teams are gunnin' for us. But our boys are best. Deal with it.
    ...To some of the concerns of others, our guys will throw the switch come crunch time -- whatever it takes.
    ...And the Bench is fine...we got Mayhem Mo., TDrib, Top Model, Dice, Davis and Darko. What's to worry?
     
  18. Lee356

    Lee356 All-Star

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    Its very simple why we are doing so darn well since the 2nd half of last season

    Carlos Arroyo joined the team for the 2nd half of last season. Our point guard play has been improving ever since. We saw a 35% increase in our assist to turn ratio last year after Arroyo got here. (I am not counting the first 10 games after he came here, since it takes time to affect things. I am comparing the games before he came here to the games after he was here 10 games.)

    This season, the Pistons had the absolute blessing of having Arroyo in camp, and the progress has continued on the point guard play.
     
  19. himat

    himat Bench Warmer

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    Re: Its very simple why we are doing so darn well since the 2nd half of last season

    i don't understand how the pistons can be so bad at rebounding. we have the wallaces, the strongest point gaurd, and 2 long guys to get long boards it confuses me.
     
  20. 16 Mile

    16 Mile Bench Warmer

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    I think Flips system is fine, it's his execution that is the problem, and mainly the execution of the bench (insert pun here). I looked at our scoring for and agaisnt for of our first 10 games, and our last 10:

    1st 10 99.3-90.4, last 10 97.9-93

    Our defense and offense is getting worse, and I think it has mostly to do with tired legs. LB's offense allowed the starters to rest on O, letting them play harder on D, no such thing with Flip's O.
     

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