First of all, thank you PJ for following the logic of the argument. I too dont know if OJ can change the way he plays. Im just trying to explain how incredibly un-point guard like he played last year. If there is some locker room issue, or he was forced to play that way by coaches, I don't know. But in the absence of any other info, I usually give stats some future predictive value.
Not a fan of Rate Stats. I'm definitely open to being proven wrong, but I feel Rate Stats even things out in a vacuum, and we all know basketball games are not played in a vacuum. As players play longer, fatigue becomes a factor, and with fatigue comes mental and physical mistakes that lead to turnovers, bad shots, bad passes, bad defense, etc.
I think the point of rate stats is to just put player comparisons on an even playing field. For example, if a player plays 20 min a game and averages 10 pts and 4 rebounds, can you compare him to a player who plays 30 minutes a game and averages 15 points and 6 rebounds? And the answer is absolutely yes. Rate stats will tell you both those players score and rebound at equivalent rates. John Hollinger has proved the stats hold up, and you can predict future performance based on rate stats (I wish I could find the link!)
Now you have to use some logic as well. If a player averages 4 min and 2 pts per game, the method breaks down. You can't reliably say that player would average 20 points if he played 40 minutes. It is too small of a sample size, and invariably players who play 4 minutes a game are in mostly during garbage time when you can throw stats out the window. But in players who play at least a reasonable amount of minutes, the rate stats absolutely hold up. I know people point to fatigue. But there is also the benefit of being out there longer and getting into the flow of the game, knowing you wont be pulled if you mess up, etc. The bottom line of Hollinger's proof is that there may be slight variances affecting player performance with more minutes. But they are both minor, and seem to be both positive and negative (largely cancelling out). In the end, the rate stats are infinitely more reliable than just comparing total pts, rebs, and assists.
You had me until "Ricky Davis". Now that we have established that you smoke lots of pot, please provide me contact details of your hook up.
There is a huge difference between Davis and Mayo. Davis never saw a shot he didn't like. Mayo has at least shown a bit of decorum regarding his master-blaster ways. I hope you would agree that comparing Ricky Davis and OJ Mayo to an open PG slot with the Celts is lunacy... nobody in their right mind would pick Davis over Mayo.
Well the Ricky Davis example was just the first gunner who popped into my head. I think Mayo will be a better player than Ricky Davis. Make it Ben Gordon if it makes you feel better. But the point Im trying to make is that OJ has not shown any "decorum regarding his master blaster ways". Some people think of him as a combo guard, so the inclination is to assume he was one last year. But he was anything but.
The point was that if today I was forced to pick between Mayo being an successful point guard or a shoot first gunner, I would pick gunner based on the available evidence. Doesn't mean I think its a 100% lock, just that if I had to bet, thats the better guess.
Honestly, and this is wicked funny, you should read through this thread on the Red Sox main board
To summarize, the main thrust of the argument is JD Drew sucks because he's not an RBI guy. That's how I look at "assist ratio". Honestly, assist ratio is only as good as the finishers you have on your team. If you have some evidence to show a player from a shit team that has a decent "assist ratio", I'd be interested in doing a compare/contrast. But we can easily make an argument that Rondo, for example, has benefited from an "assist ratio" standpoint because he has great finishers around him. (in comparison, Rondo is #5 out of all PG in this stat. The 4 ahead of him are Jason Kidd, Jose Calderon, Brevin Knight and Anthony Carter)
Well you kinda disproved youreself at the end of the paragraph by listing a couple perfect examples of players on crappy teams with good assist ratios. Jose Calderon's was 41.5 last season and the Raptors stunk.
I agree that assists, and indirectly assist ratio can be affected by ones teammates. But its not as much as you'd think. I mean, these are all NBA players here. The best passing team in the league was Utah at 24.7 assists/game and the worst was Memphis at 17.4. Now even if you attribute that entirely to worse finishers instead of worse passers (which I would argue against, but just to give critics the benefit of the doubt), thats still less of a difference than you might think. Basically, being on a bad team might deflate your assists a bit, but it shouldn't make them evaporate.
If you want to go back to the RBI analogy, Jason Bay on the Pirates was a 100 RBI a year guy. On the Red Sox hes at 120 RBI. Much of that bump is surely due to better teammates, more opportunities and a better hitting park, but its not like on a crappy team suddenly he would get 40 RBI a season.
To take this a step further, if we are to take "assist ratio" at face value, that would mean the likes of Brevin Knight, Anthony Carter and Earl Watson are better than Deron Williams and Chris Paul. To which, I say simply, "bullshit".
This is actually the main point of the argument that somehow didnt get through, so please try critically thinking about assist ratio again.
Its not as intuitive as some other stats (in fact, Id argue its not even a stat at all). Its very tempting to dismiss its relevance. Look at how deceiving it can be.
Question 1: Is Chris Paul better than Antony Carter?
Correct Answer: yes
Question 2: Is Chris Paul a better passer than Anthony Carter?
Correct answer: yes
Incorrect Conclusion: Anthony Carter has a higher assist ratio than Chris Paul??!! That stat sucks!
Assist ratio is saying nothing about how good someone is. And it only indirectly describes how good a passer someone is. All it does is explain how a player plays (basically, does he look for his own shot or does he look for his teammates). Its a "mentality" stat if you will. A hypothetical player who sucks at passing, but still only passes and refuses to shoot will have a high assist ratio. Obviously this player should be glued to the end of the bench, but that's a separate issue.
So someone like Anthony Carter and Brevin Knight will have high assist ratios becasue they come in and just move the ball around and try to get others involved. They only shoot if forced to. But assist ratio isn't saying they are better players, or even better passers than Chris Paul. Its just saying Chris Paul looks for his own shot more than them (as he should, since hes so damn good).
Being a good point guard doesn't even require a high assist ratio in my mind. Jameer Nelson's assist ratio was 25.6 last year, and his career high is 32.1. But he is a very good shooter, so I think its worthwile for him to look for his own shot a good chunk of the time. But I think there is a theoretical point when a player's assist ratio is so low you don't want him running your offense. And OJ Mayo's was so low last year it was laughable. I mean, the guy basically never looked to pass. I find it hard to believe the Memphis coaches saw point guard skills but supressed them so much he became Flip Murray. Again, with more seasoning his style of play he could develop, but it's a mammoth hill he would have to climb to reach a PG's mentality.
I won't speak for anyone else here, but this is what I said. Yes, he would have to change the way he plays to be considered a PG. But it is not outside the realm of reality that he could make this transition and be an extremely competent PG for an NBA team.
I think you are better than this. You must understand it is inherently unfair to take a newfangled stat like "assist ratio", compare it to folks asked to be a SG, and say the result has some predictive value compared to whether or not said individual can man the point. For example, are you going to ask Ben Gordon, Wally Sczerbiak, or Jason Kapono to be your PG? Of course not. Their respective ships have sailed regarding their NBA position. Mayo, on the other hand, has time to change his game.
This is getting back to PJ's point a bit. You're right, we dont know how much OJ was coached into playing like that last season, or if thats how he will always play. Stats simply tell us what has already happened.
But to use your Ben Gordon example, yes, his ship has sailed as far as being a point guard. But if you could go back in time to after his rookie year, do you think you could change him and make him into a point guard? I would argue probably not. I think he is what he is, and coaching will likely only shift him slightly in one way or another. I tend to believe the same about Mayo. He is a good ballhandler, and if he was forced into passing more he could do it more often I'm sure. But I find it hard to believe that someone who played a rookie season like he did has the makings of a successful PG beneath the surface.
Edited by radsoxfan, 03 October 2009 - 03:50 PM.