Using advanced stats to predict fantasy part II
Last month I used advanced stats to predict whether Tim Duncan's strong free throw shooting, Paul Pierce's hot shooting from the field and Rajon Rondo's horrid free throw shooting were trends or mirages. At the time (December 4) Duncan was shooting 75 percent from the line, Pierce had just edged under 50 percent from the field (49.4% FG), and Rondo was shooting 41 percent from the line. Six weeks later, Duncan (who I predicted would keep it up) is holding steady at 74 percent from the line, Pierce (who I said would regress) is down to 46.7 percent from the field, and Rondo (who I said would pick it up) is up to 58 percent from the line. In the short term I have to give myself an 'A' on those predictions, so I decided to try it again.
Dwyane Wade and Vince Carter are both currently shooting career-low percentages from the field. Based on Wade's epic season last year, and Carter's move to a team where in theory he should have more help and thus get more open shots, I would have predicted that each would have shot much better this season. And the easy thing to do would be to say that they will pick it up as the season goes along, assuming they will bounce back later to make up for their cold starts. But you know I never take the easy route, so instead I decided to dig back into the advanced stats on 82games.com to see whether I could find any trends with which to predict their futures.
Wade is a career 48 percent shooter from the field who is coming off shooting 49.1 percent last season, but when I blogged about this last Thursday he was shooting only 44.9 percent this season. I went back and examined Wade's shot pattern since he entered the league in 2003, and what I found was that in every season he has progressively taken more jumpers and fewer inside shots. As a rookie in '03-'04 he took jumpers on only half of his shot attempts, but over the last couple of years he has taken jumpers about two-thirds of the time. This season his effective field goal percentages from the inside (62%) and on jumpers (39%) are very close to his numbers from 2003-08 (average 63% inside, 39% jumpers), but the difference is that he is taking a lot more of the lower percentage shots to bring down his overall average. Last season Wade was able to shoot over 49 percent on the same ratio of jumpers as this season by shooting a by-far career best of 44 percent EFG on jumpers. Thus, it looks to me that the main culprit for Wade's "down" shooting season this year is that his jumper has reverted back to his career norm after last season's possibly flukishly high result, and thus it might not be a "cold streak" or "poor start" that has Wade's shooting percentage so low - that may just be who he actually is now.
Carter is a career 44 percent shooter from the field who is currently shooting 39 percent. When I looked at his shot pattern over the last several years two things jumped out at me. First, Carter isn't getting set up by his teammates like he used to. From 03-04 in Toronto up through 2008 when the Jason Kidd years ended in New Jersey, Carter took the majority of his jumpers off of assists. This year in Orlando, only 38 percent of his jumpers are assisted. This means that he is doing more dribbling around trying to create shots instead of taking set jumpers, which does not appear to be his forte. Second, Carter is shooting by-far the worst percentage of the last seven years on inside shots (45%, usually in the 55-60 range). This could reflect a lack of athleticism due to nagging injuries and/or advancing age (Carter will be 33 next week). Unfortunately, with Carter filling the Hedo Turkoglu "point swingman" role for the Magic and legs that just won't get any younger, these don't look like situations that will improve for him any time soon.
Wade ramped up big time in the latter part of last season once the postseason came into sight, and thus far in January he seems to be getting hot again. So I predict his field goal percentage climbs a bit, but he'll end the season shooting in the 46-47 percent range - better than he is now, but not as good as his career average. For Carter, on the other hand, I don't see his average getting up to even the 41.7 percent mark that's his career low. Let's check back in a couple months from now and see how close I get.
Situations to Watch and Quick Hits
Mike Miller (41% owned): Miller returned from a 21-game absence (calf) with a solid 13-point/4 board/4-assist effort. Miller will likely get solid minutes whether he starts or comes off the bench, and if he re-finds his shooting range could be an asset down the stretch.
Matt Barnes (35% owned): Barnes has been consistently solid of late since moving into the Magic starting lineup, averaging 14.8 points with 7.5 boards and 2.0 treys over the last week.
Steve Blake (11% owned): Blake is a low-ceiling short-term add candidate, as Brandon Roy is banged up which has allowed Blake to play a larger role for the Trail Blazers. Blake has averaged 13 points, 4.7 assists, 4.0 boards and 2.7 treys over the last week and is borderline start-worthy when Roy is out.
Carlos Delfino (9% owned): Delfino is still coming off the bench for the Bucks, but with Michael Redd down he has flirted with taking on a larger role. He has scored double-digits in three straight games, including one huge 28-point explosion against the Jazz. He has also averaged more than 37 minutes played in the last two games, in which he also knocked down nine total treys.
Robin Lopez (18% owned): Lopez has moved into the starting lineup for the Suns, and he responded with a career-high 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, seven boards and three blocked shots in 29 minutes before fouling out. He has scored in double-figures in three straight games and is worth an add for as long as he holds onto the starting job for the fun-and-gun Suns.
Article first appeared 1/19/10