THE 2019-2020 KEEP, TRADE, LET WALK SPURS THREAD

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Re: THE 2019-2020 KEEP, TRADE, LET WALK SPURS THREAD 

Post#21 » by GREY 1769 » Sun May 24, 2020 2:15 am

I was thinking about our transition situation, and about how it can expand with some tweaks. Whereas the half-court game worked well last season, this season we were between a half-court and transition-oriented game, and these at times didn't gel well together. Between DJ getting acclimated back to the starter's role (both half-court set while balancing it with pushing the pace at times) and new starter Trey growing-by-fire, it was just enough learning to put us a bit behind where we left off last season rather than pick up where we left off.

There's only so much Pop could do in terms of accommodating players (DJ along with DD and LM) while balancing it with having others earn their minutes (LW, KJ) and others still learn the system as they played in it (Trey). With some tweaks, vets can still have important roles but with a smoother incorporation of roles for the younger group as we move to a system that integrates them more. I think this is something we have been shifting towards - leaning on vets as young guys develop - and can showcase younger guys and their strengths more now. It's a more versatile and fun style where sharing the ball and taking pride in defense takes precedence. I think young guys being given more responsibility allows Pop to teach more, make plays for strengths of more players, and cater less to styles that star vets prefer but which may not be optimal for the team we've been growing to become going forward.

We needed a reliable second scoring option beside LMA, but with DD also preferring the half-court game, playing other styles more - more transition, movement-oriented rather than what ended at times with ISOing - was secondary. You play to the hand of the best scoring options so I can see the reasoning, but we do have another year of young guys developing. The good thing is that it has kept us afloat more or less and we can now raise the floor of our level of play with our young players who are one year further along in their development in the fundamentals of our system.

We sorely need to regain our defensive prowess. Our defensive rating was 25th this season. Even though our O was 11th, several players underperformed, and given our defensive challenges, they needed to at least have matched last season's efficiency and output to give ourselves a bigger cushion.

I think LMA and DD are still desirable for teams that need extra juice, and given the cap drop, that their contracts are relatively affordable and short (nothing in the dreaded $30+M for multiple years range), is actually a plus for us should we go the trade route with either.

We're in the bottom third in the league in terms of average team age, which may or may not mean something - it's who is the oldest, and in our case, LMA, Beli, Rudy, DD, and Patty. These are key contributors:
- Each was in top 10 in minutes per game
- Four of five (not Beli) averaged double digit scoring (top ten on team) per game
- Four of the five (not Beli) averaged at least 20% usage (top six on team)
- Four of five (not Beli) were in the top five FT attempts per game (team rank 18th)
- All five were in top ten FGAs per game (although this is highly skewed because LMA and DD each averaged 15, the only two in double digits - Patty 9.1, Rudy 8.4, Beli 5.2)
- Three of five (Patty 4th, LMA 8th, DD 9th) were in the top ten in eFG%

- Crucially, four of five are in the top five in 3FGAs per game (guess who's not? lol), but the sweet spot between numbers of attempts and makes is off - LMA is 4th at 38.9% (3 attempts per game); Patty is 7th at 38% (6.2 attempts); Beli is 9th at 36.8% (3 attempts); Rudy 11th at 31.4% (3 attempts); DD is 12th at an eye-watering 26.7% on a hair-pulling 0.5 attempts behind the arc per game.

So, big disparity between our top two players in this category, Patty is about right where he should be for his role, and Beli and Rudy noticeably underperformed. But there was disparity as a team as well; we were 28th in the league in 3FGAs at 28.7 per game, but 7th in efficiency at 37.1%.

Equally crucially, we were 3rd in 2FGAs at 60.8 per game, but 22nd in efficiency at 51.7%. And we ranked 18th in the league at getting to the FT line with 22.8FTAs per game even as we ranked 2nd in efficiency at 80.9%.

So the things we're impressively efficient at we didn't do nearly enough of, and the things that were the main thrust of our O we weren't nearly as efficient at as we needed to be. Out of balance. Couple it with bad D, two new starters, and less efficient shooting from shooters and it made for the inconsistency we saw throughout the season.

These are broad brush strokes and context matters. Still, MPG and usage especially show the obvious that we rely on vets, but also I think we're not necessarily getting the most out of other guys when LMA and DD operate so much and so much at half court which brings me back to the point of broadening our versatility and raising the floor with incorporating more of our two-way players. And for the love of Spurs basketball, better defense.

We need more balance between D and O as well as 2s and 3s. While I fully appreciate that we tried to do just that last summer, the results should remind that character (and lack of it) matters (MM) and well, I don't know how DC dropped off so badly from being a serviceable player, but he even got DNPs in Houston where all he had to do was run out to the sides and wait to shoot. I don't know how we could have known he was so bad. Players get tested with physicals, but do they work out with a prospective team? Wright has some pressure on him to have a better off-season.

Back to adjustments available to us, if we pull back a bit on the half-court game and 2s a little more and put up some more 3s (we made a concerted effort at it in the new year where 30 attempts was the goal) while getting playing time for better defenders, we can better balance out what we've done with what we are capable and should do more of. And we have the options with which to do it. Most answers are on the team and after more experience this year I think they will be ready for bigger roles next season, others are worth exploring via trade or FA. We don't need a huge star to raise the floor, but consistency in 3&D is crucial. We don't need a huge shift and follow the 3-on-steroids trend either, but we have an opportunity to better balance out and match our strengths in efficiency with a system that increases scoring attempts in them while defending better.

Jakob can be incorporated on O more even as he needs to expand his passing and shot range (and, of course, FT accuracy); KJ (smallest of sample sizes, so caveat, but he's so eager) showed great flashes, and efficient, too. They along with DJ, DW, LWIV need to take a step forward - again, not huge leaps, but we need to explore the LMA cog with more scoring-by-committee of several of the younger guys who have learned our sets and have grown defensively responsible.

Even with DD likely opting in, trading him is optimal - he will want to keep showcasing his game, and in a contract year, asking him to step back his game won't likely go over well. We already know his play does not mesh well with the type of game that makes us a multi-pronged threat. (I suspect he was asked to be more of a facilitator and he ended up taking 1-2 shots per half post-AS - totally passive aggressive response there. Maybe he was going through something, but this dip happens every year. Every year). As much as DD has been a stabilizing force and has eased the scoring pressure off of LMA, I think Pop, as much as he respects DD as a person, will be relieved not to cater to DD's game. It's helped but also hindered us, and with other guys more ready to step in, we'll be playing a faster more dangerous style.

Keeping LMA until at least the February deadline (hopefully we will have addressed the 4/5 via FA and/or draft and/or trade) means he would be a feature of our O but not as much as he was in years past. Hopefully he's on board about being kept fresh as he gets older. I'd rather not lose him for nothing, but if we can't swing a deadline trade that works for us, he's still a good 3&D player it's just we can't rely him and Rudy at the 4/5 positions as we have previously.

The main thrust of this post is to make a slight shift in our style of play, and given that we have the young guys coming up seasoned in our system and that they're all two-way versatile players who defend, we can do it next season without a great wholesale changes to the team. If we move on from DD and LMA one at a time that transition to a style of play that stats say we are efficient at, we can do it smoothly while remaining competitive with guys familiar with what Pop wants from them and with Pop not having to be limited to the half-court demands of two main players nearly as much. Having something to play for and giving more guys a bigger stake while remaining competitive is primary. I think the shift to a more equitable system will be freeing for Pop and the players alike, playing a style for which we've been developing players and working towards being able to play.
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Re: THE 2019-2020 KEEP, TRADE, LET WALK SPURS THREAD 

Post#22 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:13 am

Some interesting stats have emerged with respect to our young guys and vets. Some are on the money, others are quite surprising in terms of discrepancy between the eye test and the stats behind them.

As to the former, no surprise that DJ and Derrick are in the 98% and 97% respectively (3rd and 4th) on the list of time guarding all star players. Phenomenal. And to think we are just scratching the surface of both!

Definite keepers, both:

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Re: THE 2019-2020 KEEP, TRADE, LET WALK SPURS THREAD 

Post#23 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:58 am

I have been forthright about being outright put off with LMA's pining for his former team while on our payroll, so these stats are encouraging.

And while I long thought we have needed him to win, it turns out that many stats show guys around him fare better when he's not on the court. We do win more with him than without, but I suspect that is also a function of sets that cater to his game, and so the quick adjustment without him in the lineup takes some getting used to.

This article shows some key stats that shift perceptions of LMA's impact on other players:

The Problem With LaMarcus Aldridge
Here’s what stands out the most: the Spurs have worse performance with Aldridge in lineups using nine of the top 11 players in minutes.

Spurs Net ratings With/Without LaMarcus Aldridge
Player With Aldridge Without Aldridge Differential
Bryn Forbes -4.1 -12.8 8.7
DeMar DeRozan -2.7 -1.2 -1.5
Dejounte Murray -5.1 -4.6 -0.5
Lonnie Walker -12.6 4.7 -17.3
Marco Belinelli 0.3 3.7 -3.4
Trey Lyles -3.3 0.4 -3.7
DeMarre Carroll 10.5 5 5.5
Derrick White -2.4 3 -5.4
Jakob Poeltl -9.1 5.4 -14.5
Patty Mills -0.14 8.3 -8.44
Rudy Gay -4.3 2.2 -6.5

A positive number in the differential column means the team is better with Aldridge on court, a negative number means they are worse with Aldridge on-court.

When you dig deeper, this becomes the key metric to watch for. Here’s defensive rating for Spurs rotation players with and without Aldridge:

Spurs Defensive Rating With/Without LaMarcus Aldridge
Player With Aldridge Without Aldridge Differential
Bryn Forbes 113 117.1 4.1
DeMar DeRozan 112.6 114.1 1.5
Dejounte Murray 113.3 112.6 -0.7
Lonnie Walker 114.6 105.6 -9
Marco Belinelli 108 107.8 -0.2
Trey Lyles 114.5 110.6 -3.9
DeMarre Carroll 108.7 99 -9.7
Derrick White 109.9 106.7 -3.2
Jakob Poeltl 118.9 107.2 -11.7
Patty Mills 112.4 104.3 -8.1
Rudy Gay 108.7 106.7 -2

In this instance, a positive number means the defense is better (gives up fewer points per 100 possessions) with Aldridge on-court, a negative number means the defense gives up more points with Aldridge on-court....

Now, the mistake people make is looking at these numbers and thinking the data says Aldridge is a bad defender. And if you’ve watched his career, you know that at this point, he’s a really good defender. So the numbers must be wrong, right?

Well, no. Because you’re inferring what the numbers are telling you. The numbers aren’t telling you anything about Aldridge’s individual defense. What they are telling you is that, for whatever reason, the Spurs defend at a better rate and therefore outscore their opponent by more with Aldridge off the floor.

There are other numbers that stand out, like transition. The Spurs rank 30th in the league in transition defense, per Synergy Sports. With Aldridge on-court, they give up 114.3 points per 100 possessions in transition. That gets worse with Aldridge on the bench and DeRozan on. But here’s the kicker: with neither one on-court they give up just 105.4.

To put this in English: the Spurs with either DeRozan, or Aldridge on-court get run off the floor. With neither on, they do a pretty good job. Sure, the fact that they are playing starters vs. the other players playing bench matters, but bear in mind the fluidity of the Spurs’ rotations....

Here’s what doesn’t make sense: if it’s not Aldridge’s fault, then why are they so much better without him in this regard? You can chalk up a marginal improvement or even a substantial one to playing bench rotations.

But the kind of improvement you see across the board suggests that, for whatever reason, the Spurs simply play better without Aldridge. Finally, there’s the first quarter issue. The Spurs started in a hole for much of the season with Aldridge on the floor. The Spurs were outscored in Aldridge’s first-quarter minutes in 29 of the team’s 53 games....

The Spurs are always a process-over-results team first and foremost. They play the right way, or at least whatever Popovich has determined is the right way. A key part of Aldridge’s absence is that they are much more likely to play fast, move the ball, and take more 3’s.

They didn’t take more 3’s with Aldridge off-court this season, but with Aldridge gone, they have a chance to redefine their identity and play to their strengths, something they have not done since Aldridge was signed as a free agent years ago (despite their tremendous success).

https://www.actionnetwork.com/nba/spurs-odds-nba-playoffs-betting-lamarcus-aldridge-injury?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=mattmoore

While I'd love it if we adjusted so much as to break out and run our D-to-transition and movement game, I suspect it will be more of an adjustment on the young guys without LMA. Still, I welcome the chance for the young guys to prove themselves more, even if there are some bumps along the way.

Stats have room for interpretation and context, but many Spurs fans are hungry for the young guys to get bigger roles - as do the players themselves. We've catered to the two mid-rangers for two + years now, and I think the young guys are chomping at the bit to show what they can do. We have had a collision of styles between mid-range / half-court of the vets and the transition / run and passing style of the younger group, and now we are almost forced into pushing the latter more. It's funny how circumstances thrust change. Good thing we've been developing the young players from D out, learning the half court sets while also growing their style on the second unit. It's time we show more of it and see where we go from here forward. Looking forward to it.
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Re: THE 2019-2020 KEEP, TRADE, LET WALK SPURS THREAD 

Post#24 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:02 am

Trey without LMA in recent games:
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Wow. Keeper. Maybe not starter material, but thinking back to where he started with us at the beginning of the season, he's come a long way. Trey tends to defer with LMA there, but when thrust into doing more without LMA, he shows an aptitude for stepping up. More assertive Trey is good Trey.
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Re: THE 2019-2020 KEEP, TRADE, LET WALK SPURS THREAD 

Post#25 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:05 am

And finally, Lonnie is obviously a keeper, but for those frustrated by the development path he has been on, the results speak to it being right all along. He's been put into games late for defensive purposes - big responsibility - and has shown better results on O as well. With more consistency and gelling with the other young guys, he's going to be special:
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