Dismiss Notice
Guest, I have a big favor to ask you. We've been working very hard to establish ourselves on social media. If you like/follow our pages it would be a HUGE help to us. SoSH on Facebook and Inside the Pylon Thanks! Nip

Getting Smart with Statistics

Discussion in 'Mark Blount's Port Cellar: Celtics Forum' started by JakeRae, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. JakeRae

    JakeRae Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,289
    I thought it might be interesting to have a thread where we wrestle with how to quantify the impact of Marcus Smart. Smart seems like he has a consistently positive impact on winning. His on-off stats support that. But his traditional box score stats are bad and most advanced stats tend to agree.

    This raises a few questions:

    Is Marcus Smart actually good?

    Assuming he is, how do we measure that, and, maybe, what might that teach us about measuring basketball impact more broadly?

    Assuming he is again, is he inflating BPM/RPM stats for his teammates instead of himself?

    Building on that last question, we've talked in the past about a possible Brad Stevens effect. Is there a Marcus Smart effect?
     
  2. lovegtm

    lovegtm Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    So it will be hard to confirm, and it's largely anecdotal, but multiple Celtics players have said that he's influenced them a lot on defense. We also see Tatum and Brown making huge defensive leaps that *do* show up in the stats, and Kyrie has also been much better defensively, particularly with rest.

    The thing that sucks is that I don't know how you separate this from the Brad effect, or how the team itself will go about separating it.
     
  3. DannyDarwinism

    DannyDarwinism Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,632
    I think that's a part of it. I've mentioned it before, but he's great at getting bigger players on his back and clearing out space for a teammate to grab the board, even when he doesn't go for it himself. Rozier really is an excellent rebounder, but it helps him to come swoop or sky in when you have Marcus locking up any live body nearby. He's just so strong and physical, he can easily help out on bigs and even switch on them fairly regularly. He plays, for better and worse, like a 6'4 Anthony Mason. He uses his strength and leverage to help his teammates on offense too- I posted in the Smart's Value thread that video of him sealing off Dwight Howard and giving Al an easy layup. That was just as valuable as a typical assist and it's something you rarely see guards do. He also runs the defense (or co-runs it when Al's out there with him) and he's about as vocal a guy you'll see directing traffic. He's the linebacker with the green dot on the best defense in the league.

    Ultimately though, his minutes may matter most in my perception of him. Brad Stevens plays him a lot. He's a combo guard who's a career 29.1% from 3 and 35.6% overall, yet Brad Stevens plays him a lot. He has to be doing a lot right.
     
  4. Devizier

    Devizier Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    9,299
    It's easy to see why Smart is valuable on defense. But the team performs better on offense with him on the floor, too. That was mentioned in a series of articles back in December and it appears to remain true. That's puzzling, because for all the good things he does (creating open shots for teammates, drawing defenders out of positions), he bricks a lot of goddamn shots. Anecdotally, it does seem that his readiness to shoot is essential to even a facsimile of offensive performance from the second unit. And Stevens seems to use him in the most opportune situations, but that may be a chicken-egg scenario.
     
  5. Eddie Jurak

    Eddie Jurak Go Leafs Go Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    20,213
    This article from before the season made an attempt.
     
  6. Montana Fan

    Montana Fan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    7,841
    I believe that the kid that Stevens brought with him from Butler has developed a much advanced stats system that quantifies player value and that includes stuff like boxing out so TRo can grab a rebound or blocking the lane so Jaylen can get a clean layup. That's the type of data Brad is using when allocating PT, not the type of data we're looking at.
     
  7. lovegtm

    lovegtm Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    I think what Jake Rae is getting at is that if Marcus were making lots of winning plays not captured by traditional stats, you'd expect those to show up in his RPM numbers. His RPMs this season and last are quite meh, however, even on defense. That leaves us with only a few possibilities:

    1. Marcus Smart just isn't that good--his defense is overrated due to highlight plays, and his bricks tank offenses. He's not that *bad* either, but he's a guy you pay about $3-5M a year for.

    2. RPM is noisy and flawed. (However, it's rare for it to diverge this much from reputation, particularly on defense, over multiple seasons)

    3. Brad Stevens has a huge man-crush on Smart, and keeps playing him heavy minutes and in closing lineups regardless of performance.

    4. Marcus Smart is able to motivate all of his teammates to play harder, regardless of whether he's on the court. This is usually referred to as "setting the culture", and the team definitely seems to think he does this to some degree. However, you'd expect them to play him somewhat fewer minutes if this were the case.

    5. Brad Stevens is setting most of the culture, but the team doesn't know how much of that is actually attributable to Marcus, and doesn't want to mess with a good thing.

    6. Other things I'm not thinking of.
     
  8. JakeRae

    JakeRae Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,289
    Basically this, except I think RPM adjusts plus minus stats based on box score stats. If I'm correct in that regard, option 6 is that Smart is so bad at box score stuff relative to his actual contribution to winning that he breaks RPM.

    Option 6 would also mean that people who play with Smart look better than they really are by both BPM and RPM. This isn't a claim that Smart makes his teammates better. It's that if he isn't getting credit for his positive contributions then someone else is.
     
  9. lovegtm

    lovegtm Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    Ah, I was under the impression that RPM was box score-independent, and just adjusting for performance of teammates and opponents, but I could be way off there.
     
  10. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    27,041
    Stevens usage of Smart, coupled with his results with other players (e.g. Turner, Crowder and even Kyrie) suggests a few things.

    First, in a lesser system, I strongly suspect Smart's numbers would be even worse. The other thing it suggests is that Stevens et al are, indeed, using other metrics we don't look at here - I buy that more than the culture argument - and that those metrics more accurately reflect Smart's impact on winning games. I don't know if Smart breaks RPM but DD's great example of him sealing off Howard last week shows pretty clearly that his willingness to do the stuff that doesn't get captured in our stats, traditional or otherwise, contributes to winning.

    Finally, we've discussed how defensive stats are tricky. I wonder if players like Smart, Green, Beverley and Leonard between their physical and mental games, wear opposing players down in ways that also don't immediately manifest in their box score data. Its purely an eye-test thing but I've watched quite a bit of the former three and they appear to really get under the respective skins of those they are covering. The Smart/Harden plays were great in isolation, however I wonder if some of Harden's frustration was bubbling up all game or even built up over prior games where they faced off. Beverley appears to elicit similar reactions from opponents as well. Its hard to measure but having the ability to get in an opponent's head has value too.

    While Marcus Smart is often maddening to watch, he also may be the most fascinating player in the NBA today.
     
  11. Jimbodandy

    Jimbodandy Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,532
    Yes, and Yes on the bolded. I would bet a month's pay on both.

    In the most recent game, Harden was getting more and more pissed off as the game went on. If you go back and watch it, he took a few unnecessary cheap shots on Smart in the second half. Nothing serious, but an elbow or shoulder here and there. He did not like Marcus riding him the whole game, and the refs kind of eating their whistles did not help at all.

    I went to a game last year at home that was very similar. Harden never lashed out, but he was gradually taken out of the game. He didn't really score much and seemed (to my untrained eye) to get more frustrated as the game went on. I don't think that's just a Marcus thing. Avery last year, and Rozier this year and last--both provided the same whistle-to-whistle relentlessness as well, albeit with less physicality.

    I think that Marcus has managed to earn a longer leash from the referees since he came into the league. It reminds me of how lefties like Andy Pettitte get away with obvious balks in their old age, as umps just figure "well, that's his move, everyone knows, and I can't call it a balk all of the time". Marcus is gonna Marcus--be physical, body guys relentlessly. For a guy like Harden, who is used to getting those calls, it must be pretty frustrating.

    Side note--Marcus seems to have gotten a million times better at dealing with referees over time. He doesn't complain much. When he does have something to say, he does it the right way. He nods in agreement generally, but then he goes over and gets an explanation of the call.
     
  12. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    15,791
    Didn't know where to put this, but Cs defense against top-10 offenses is the best in the NBA by a wide margin.

    [​IMG]

     
  13. chilidawg

    chilidawg Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,225
    Best record too.
     
  14. DannyDarwinism

    DannyDarwinism Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,632
    Moved.
     
    #14 DannyDarwinism, Jan 25, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  15. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    9,497
    First 18 games: .265/.244/.764 8.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.3 steals. He averaged 10.1 FGA and 4.8 3PA in 30.5 mpg.
    Last 28 games: .419/.336/.709 10.9, 3.1, 4.4, 1.2. He has averaged 9.5 FGA and 4.5 3PA in 30.1 mpg.

    Interesting. The shooting has improved while the rest of his game has "regressed." I'm guessing it's all just sample size but we all heard the offseason chatter. We can continue to dream. I think all of us would take a Marcus Smart who shoots .419/.336/.709. His season totals are now .357/.299/.736, remarkably similar to his career line of .358/.293/.758.

    Here's hoping though.
     
  16. Light-Tower-Power

    Light-Tower-Power Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    7,624
    Strange story going on with Marcus right now. Looks like he is going to be out against the Warriors and Nuggets after injuring his hand on glass and requiring stitches. All this came after missing the game winning shot against LAL and apparently some ex or whatever posted a bunch of stuff on Instagram about how he knocked her up, threatening to release sex tapes, crazy shit like that. I'm guessing Smart lost his cool and punched something which is.......not good.
     
  17. Reverend

    Reverend for king and country Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    37,369
    Never punch with your pitching hand.
     
  18. chilidawg

    chilidawg Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,225
    I'd like a Marcus Smart that turns the ball over less as well. That bothers me more than the poor shooting.
     
  19. Boston Brawler

    Boston Brawler Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    8,409
    He is out 2 weeks after he "swiped at and hit a picture frame".

    Marcus dumb.
     
  20. Big John

    Big John lurker

    Messages:
    1,332
    Well, you have to take the bad with the good. Smart cares about winning or losing, unlike a number of NBA players who are happy to collect their paychecks on 30-35 win teams and shrug off the losses. I believe Smart also put his fist through a wall after a loss in Washington last year.

    Smart is a flawed and polarizing player, but I want him on the floor at the end of every close game. If Smart's 3 doesn't spin out the other night, he's a hero, not a bum.
     
  21. Ed Hillel

    Ed Hillel Wants to be startin somethin SoSH Member

    Messages:
    21,252
    And apparently Instagram model “LA Doll” posted video of she and Marcus smoking a bunch of weed. Then she started fighting with another Instagram model who said Marcus was her guy, to which LA Doll followed up by posting a pic of a sonogram.

    So, yeah.
     
  22. JCizzle

    JCizzle Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    8,702
    Getting Smart with Sex, Sonograms, Smoking, Stiches and Statistics
     
  23. Sprowl

    Sprowl Emile de Becque Dope

    Messages:
    30,684
    Stitches, Damned Stitches, and Statistics
     
  24. Sam Ray Not

    Sam Ray Not Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    5,069
    Dammit Marcus! You can't swipe a picture in a frame like you swipe pictures on Tinder!

    Ah well, not like they could have used his services with the Splash Bros. on tap...

    (Seriously, look to TB12 for inspiration and get well soon, Marcus).
     
  25. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    30,249
    Wait, Marcus actually hit a shot?
     
  26. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    27,041
    Marcus Smart is not just a polarizing player. He is a polarizing PLAYER
     
  27. Light-Tower-Power

    Light-Tower-Power Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    7,624
    Brad needs to coach these guys to get some protection before driving to the hole and finishing.
     
  28. Deathofthebambino

    Deathofthebambino Drive Carefully SoSH Member

    Messages:
    30,070
    Is anyone else more than a little curious to see how the Celtics do in Smart's absence? I think they'll certainly have their struggles on the defensive end, but on offense.....They didn't look like they missed much of a beat, if they didn't increase one, against the Clippers the other night.

    I guess now is our chance to find out if Marcus is a net negative, or if his defense and intensity makes up for the constant stupidness with the ball in his hands.
     
  29. luckiestman

    luckiestman Son of the Harpy SoSH Member

    Messages:
    10,723


    Oh... nice job
     
  30. Light-Tower-Power

    Light-Tower-Power Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    7,624
    I think it's all about Rozier. If he's hitting shots they'll look great, if not they'll struggle.
     
  31. Big John

    Big John lurker

    Messages:
    1,332
    I think it's all about Kyrie. If he stops dancing with the ball and sharing it instead, they will be fine with or without Smart in most situations. In close games against good teams with good guards (e.g. Toronto or Washington) they will miss Smart.
     
  32. JCizzle

    JCizzle Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    8,702
    I was really impressed at how quick he was pushing the ball against the clippers. If nothing else, that's how Brad wants our guys to play. I'm hoping he can keep that intensity up.
     
  33. chilidawg

    chilidawg Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,225
    I agree. To me Rozier has a far greater upside than Smart, and this becomes a dangerous team if he starts reaching that level.
     
  34. pjheff

    pjheff Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    407
    In situations like this one we certainly miss Pitino's experience.
     
  35. benhogan

    benhogan Baynes Hogan SoSH Member

    Messages:
    5,629
    Marcus bypasses the trey (that's a first) and hits the grand slam for ignominy this week:
    1. smashed a mirror with his hand and goes to the emergency room
    2. filmed smoking copious amounts of weed
    3. knocked up LA DOLL
    4. does a porn video

    All the while in his contract year. Someone needs to call his agent and cancel that new Porsche order.
     
  36. mikeot

    mikeot Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    A love letter from the Celtics for Marcus Smart
    By Max Lederman February 13, 2018 5:24 PM

    Dear Marcus,
    You’ve been gone for 21 days, but it feels like 21 years. Things just haven’t been the same without you, especially the Celtics' defensive rating, which was a league-best 99.8 before your departure and has been 103.3 since.

    Like a true gentleman, you never hesitated to snatch the ball from an opponent if the team was in need. But now, it’s you that we need, because the Celtics are last in the NBA in steals per game since you’ve been gone.

    Like an umbrella on a summer day, you never let the opposing team rain on our parade, helping the Celtics to the best opponent three-point shooting percentage in the NBA. We are drenched in your absence, falling to 20th in opponent three-point percentage in the 10 games you’ve been out.

    Your sturdy presence helped guide our ship through the stormiest of weather conditions, but I fear the ship cannot hold. Four of the Celtics' eight worst defensive rating games have come without you. And we are drowning in a February swoon, with a defensive rating of 106.9, which is closer to the Cavaliers level than to our lofty standards.

    Time heals a broken heart, and I hope in time you can return to heal our broken defense.

    Love,
    The Celtics

    http://www.nbcsports.com/boston/boston-celtics/love-letter-boston-celtics-marcus-smart
     
  37. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    15,791
    posted this in the game thread but punching the mirror may have made Smart more $ than his play. What a career move!
     
  38. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    27,041
    Agreed. Furthermore, when the C's have to choose between him or Rozier, I won't be surprised if they opt for the former. Ainge and Stevens appear to already be clued in to something that is now becoming apparent to the rest of us - Smart positively impacts games in ways that aren't necessarily captured via the eye test or conventional metrics.

    As maddening as Smart can be to watch play sometimes, the guy does things defensively few other NBA players can do. I love Rozier but his skill set appears to be way easier to replace than Smart's defense.
     
  39. JCizzle

    JCizzle Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    8,702
    They also lost four straight in the last four he played to the Pelicans, Sixers, Magic and Lakers. He's not going to be a magic fix.
     
  40. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    27,041
    I would be surprised if anyone who has watched the Celtics regularly this season thinks Smart will be a cure all. Their offense is basically Irving and then pray for a few more hot hands - something other teams have adjusted too (Kyrie rarely isn't doubled as soon as he gets near the arc and even on PnRs) - so Smart's abysmal shooting and penchant for taking last second shots won't help with that. However he can help on the defensive end and also with smaller things on offense such as sealing off pursuit defenders on screens (as another poster - DD I think - pointed out upthread).

    The Celtics may not win at the clip we saw earlier this season but it will be surprising if they are as bad as they have been of late, especially defensively, when Smart returns.
     
  41. Reverend

    Reverend for king and country Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    37,369
    Given our recent "natural experiment" with Marcus Smart and the ongoing conversations and confusion about his value, I thought it might be interesting to some to revive Benjamin Morris's "Rodman Dissertation."

    It's long and crazy enough that he made a mini-guide to all the work which I linked to.

    The basic gist though is that, through correlation studies, he could make a very, very strong case that Rodman had a much greater effect on basketball games than is realized, and that it was not apparently explained by any of the major stats kept at the time and, in that vein, the rebounds along couldn't come close to explaining it... BUT... he couldn't for the life of him explain any causal mechanisms that he found.

    So basically he makes a compelling case that Rodman was a way better player than people realized, but we don't know why because we basically may just not understand basketball well enough, which is kinda cool--and which I think speaks to a lot of the conversations I've seen going on in here.

    [​IMG]
     
  42. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    15,791
    With respect to offense, they've really been hurt by Tatum's regression / dislocated finger. Hope it gets better over the break.
     
  43. RetractableRoof

    RetractableRoof Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,129
    I've a question for you. Do you think a PG that looks to get others involved early would have an impact on Tatum's 'regression'? I'm not criticizing Kyrie at all, I'm just wondering if sometimes his teammates get out of rhythm watching his magic.
     
  44. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    15,791
    Without doing any in depth analysis, my sense is that Kyrie does try to get people involved early.

    One of the Rising Star articles described Tatum's pinkie and "red and discolored" even now IIRC. So I think in JT's case, some of it is physical (and I hope his mechanics hasn't changed as be tries to play through it); some of it is that wopponents are taking great pains to run him off the 3P line, and some of it is regression (he's taking more shots and harder shots and he was never going to shoot 50% or 48% or even 45% from 3P all season).
     
  45. RetractableRoof

    RetractableRoof Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,129
    Thank you for offering your opinion when I asked, I appreciate you doing so.
     
  46. DannyDarwinism

    DannyDarwinism Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,632


    I am very glad to see there’s now a statistical basis for an observation I’ve been beating like a dead horse. Smart boxes out like a beast.
     
  47. benhogan

    benhogan Baynes Hogan SoSH Member

    Messages:
    5,629
    Arash at Porsche of Beverly Hills is ready to take that order.

    Smart was a difference maker all over the floor tonight. +15
     
  48. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    15,791
  49. Reverend

    Reverend for king and country Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    37,369
    I understand that enormous desire sportswriters have to build whole pieces around a stupid cliché, but how big do you suppose the author thinks Smart’s hand is?
     
  50. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    15,791
    Average hand is about 7 inches. Smart's hand is 9" long, 8.75" wide. (They measure this for the draft).

    Think the author was trying to be more conservative than millimeters.
     

Share This Page