colts18 wrote: Doctor MJ wrote:
colts18 wrote:I'm not questioning Nash's offensive impact. All I'm saying is you can't analyze Nash's impact without mentioning the Offensive environment he played in. Nash's prime came in Mike D'Antoni's system which emphasized Offense by sacrificing defense. The same thing in Dallas with Nellie, another offensive minded coach. He played in a system that played to his strengths. The Suns played at a high pace, shot an absurd amount of 3 pointers, and he played after the handchecking ban came into effect.
Stockton's prime otoh came during handchecking, in a slow offense, and with oaf centers clogging the basket (Ostertag and Eaton).
Do you know where the Jazz were ranked in 3 point attempts during their 2 finals years? Last place both seasons even though they shot well from deep. Despite that, the Jazz finished 2nd and 1st in O rating. In 97, the Jazz shot just 11 3 Pointers per game with a shortened line. In 1998, they shot a measly 8 3 pointers per game. It was absurd how Jerry Sloan was holding back the Jazz from shooting 3's. Stockton was shooting just 2.2 3 pointers even though he was shooting over 42% from 3 and the line was shortened that year. Freakin Gary Payton was shooting over Double the amount 3 pointers and barely hitting above 30%. Their Pace in 1998 was 90 during those years, very slow.
Compare that to Nash's MVP 2005 year. The Suns were 1st in 3 point attempts at 24 per game (3x as many as the 98 Jazz). They played at a 96 pace, 1st in the league.
How does Nash do in an offense where he isn't allowed to shoot as many 3's, his teammates don't shoot 3s, the pace is slowed to a crawl, he has Greg Ostertag clogging up the paint, and teams are allowed to be physical with him? He would struggle. And that's what happened when Nash played from 96-2000.
How would John Stockton fare if his coach allowed him to release the shackles, shoot 3s, play with 4 3 point threats spacing the floor, no handcheck, with an uptempo offense? He would thrive in that scenario.
I'm all for asking how Stockton would do in a D'Antoni-like situation. I'm less interested in asking how Nash would do with a dumber coach because I see "good coaching" here as essentially just a) use strategy we now see as obviously correct and b) letting make the on-court decisions.
I don't see Stockton as having demonstrated the ability to do what Nash did.
I don't think Stockton was the same level of shooter as Nash. Nash was a drastically superior free throw shooter, more established shooting 3's at greater volume, and far more comfortable shooting basically anywhere in the half court with his arsenal of floaters and off-balanced shots.
I don't think Stockton was the same level of passer as Nash. You can argue that they were comparable in transition and that Stockton wasn't given the same chance to improvise in the half court, but Stockton wasn't probing and manipulating the defense on the regular like Nash was, and Nash was doing that long before his MVP season.
Nash isn't having the same impact if he doesn't have the perfect situation for him. No coach in history has given his PG's more freedom than D'Antoni. Nash isn't having that same impact if he is transported to the Jazz with an established Alpha like Malone. Nash would go along with the program and be Malone's sidekick. Only in Phoenix was he allowed to have a system revolve around his talents. We saw Nash in Dallas with another Alpha, Dirk, and his impact was not on the same level. He was a good, all-star level player in Dallas. It was only when he went to Phoenix did he elevate to MVP level.
I don't see Nash and Stockton that different as shooters. Both of them have a career TS%+ of 114. Stockton's peak is 122 and Nash is 121. From the data we have, Stockton shot 49.8% from 16-23 Ft (Nash is 48.5%) and 46.4% from 10-16 Ft (Nash is 46.8%). Stockton came into the league when the 3 pointer was a primitive strategy. Nash came in when it was an established strategy. If Stockton got to practice 3's, I'd imagine he is shooting close to what Nash was shooting.
I can't emphasize enough how PG friendly D'Antoni's system was. It's no coincidence that a number of PG's had their career best impact's with D'Antoni.
James Harden's Houston Career:
1st 4 years: 27/7/5, 6.9 3PA/Game
Last 4 years: 32/9/7, 11.4 3PA/Game
Can you guess the difference between those two 4 year runs?
Raymond Felton averages 12/7 with Denver, gets traded mid-season to New York and his numbers skyrocket to 17/9. Next season in Portland without D'Antoni, Felton drops back to 11/7.
Who was the coach during Jeremy Lin's Linsanity run where he averaged 19/8, career bests?
Look at Kendall Marshall's career Assists per game. Can you spot the outlier?
Wanna guess who his coach was during his outlier season?
Wanna guess who Steve Blake's coach was when he posted his career-best Assist numbers?
Who was the coach during Chris Duhon's best season?
Can you spot a theme here. If Raymond Felton can score 17 and Jeremy Lin can score 19 PPG with D'Antoni, why can't Stockton score 20 PPG on 14 Assists per game with D'Antoni?
Ah. Okay, so this is something I've thought a lot about for a long time.
#1 thing: It's a mistake to look at D'Antoni as if what his system is doing is systematically providing lots of assist opportunities. What it's doing in general is empowering one decision maker, and thus if that guy is someone who, say, generally isn't seen as worthy of getting such empowerment, his numbers are naturally going to get a lot higher.
Let's note that when D'Antoni came to NY, he had Stephon Marbury at his disposal. He chose instead to hand the offense to Chris Duhon. Worth noting that Marbury previously was in Phoenix with D'Antoni, and got traded the same season D'Antoni took over as head coach. I think that tells you a lot about the fact D'Antoni wasn't someone who was taking a player and adding X to his capabilities. D'Antoni was willing to side with a guy that pretty much the entire basketball world thought was drastically less talented than Marbury, which means it wasn't about Duhon being "the best point guard on the roster", it was about Duhon being someone that D'Antoni could work with.
And let's also note that that while the Knicks became better on offense that year, they were still a below average offense.
Felton was the next guy to take the reins and it has to be noted that in Felton you're talking about a guy who had previously averaged 7+ assists being able to crack 9 with D'Antoni's empowerment, it's not like Felton was making some clear cut difference from the impact side of things.
Nash & Harden are the two true success stories of D'Antoni in terms of actually producing something elite. D'Antoni's given other guys the reins to rack up stats, didn't do the same trick. D'Antoni's coached a variety of other stars in NY & LA, also didn't work. I think we need to acknowledge that Nash & Harden deserve specific credit here rather than trying to act as if they were D'Antoni's puppets.
#2 thing: It's a mistake to try to map Nash's APG in Phoenix in comparison to Dallas and think that APG addition can be assumed to have a direct causal link to Nash's impact improvement. In Dallas, Nash was clearly more impactful during his '01-02 & '02-03 seasons than '03-04 despite the fact his APG went up in '03-04. Why? Nash shot less and passed more because the Mavs brought in Jamison & Walker, and this represented Nash taking on a lesser primacy not a greater primacy. The causal relationship between APG and primacy is a complicated thing with many confounding variables.
#3 thing: Some systems actually do generate a lot of assists as a matter of course that doesn't necessarily relate to effectiveness. The '11-12 Celtics were 2nd in assists as Rondo lead the league in APG while playing at a relatively slow pace and and being only 27th in ORtg. The system involved a lot of Rondo making passes to mid-range shooters who then shot the ball. Rondo was getting tons of assist opportunities without really doing much to earn them, and moreover, the shots being generated by the scheme weren't actually that great.
This is where we get the term a "Rondo assist", meaning an assist that anyone could have gotten if they'd simply been allowed to be the point guard in Doc Rivers' offense.
#4 thing: Stockton came of age in a system that shows signs of being a bit similar to the Boston system.
In '86-87, before Stockton became a starter, the Jazz were 21st out of 23rd in ORtg, but 6th in assists. Not as glaring as the Boston discrepancy, but still, I'd say what you're seeing there is an offensive scheme that systematically produced scoring attempts that were assist-eligible, and thus could be said to "inflate" the passing effectiveness of the team.
To be clear: That Jazz would of course later on have a very effective offense with Stockton as the floor general so I'm not remotely looking to say that Stockton was doing something wrong or damning here. But if you only thought about D'Antoni as an "assist generator" and never considered that for what Stockton was experiencing, think again. Stockton may well have made more Rondo assists than Rondo, which is also part of the reason that while Stockton by far leads NBA history in assists, there really wasn't ever a time when Stockton was considered "by far the best passer in NBA history". The league at the time knew that Stockton's stats were a bit inflated, and I think over time we've forgotten this.
All this is to say, that while Nash got a slight boost in assists under D'Antoni and Duhon got a huge bump, it's entirely possible that Stockton's APG would go down under D'Antoni even if it turned out that he was more impactful than under Layden/Sloan.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.