Braess’s Paradox and "The Ewing Theory"
Gravity and Levity, a physics blog (don't be intimidated by this fact; it's an easy and interesting read), takes a look at the "Ewing Theory" and correlates it, a bit, to Dwight Howard. If you're unfamiliar with the "Ewing Theory", the article explains what it is.
The message is fairly clear: when your big man is used as the primary offensive option, his efficiency suffers. When he is used more rarely, to clean up misses and take advantage of low-post mismatches, he is significantly more effective. [...]
As you can see, the team is most efficient when Patrick takes only about 21% of the team’s shots, just slightly more than everyone else. It seems ridiculous at first: in such a game Patrick would be shooting 60% while his teammates shot only 45%; surely he should be getting more shots. But the added benefit of keeping Patrick more poorly-defended pays off, and his team’s shooting percentage improves to about 48.5%.
This is the price of anarchy in basketball. A team that looks for the best play each time down the floor will shoot only 45%, whereas a team aware of its "global optimum" can do as well as 48.5%. They just have to purposefully refrain from going to their superstar, even when he is the best option.
I think about this sometimes when I watch the Magic use Dwight Howard sparingly, or when the Lakers use Pau Gasol only as a third option, even though he’s clearly their most efficient scorer. Maybe that’s not bad teamwork; maybe it’s good strategy.
Dwight's usage rate last year was 26.1%. The issue of touches with Howard was covered at Third Quarter Collapse a few months ago and the data showed that when he is struggling offensively, it made sense to use him sparingly. After looking at the graphs in the linked article, it's clear that a happy medium should be met with Dwight. In essence, use him enough on offense where Howard's (and the team's) productivity & output is maximized.
Banks, Fades, and Hooks: A Look at the Ways Players Take Their Outside Shots
Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics takes a look at the league leaders in banks, fades, hooks, and jumpers this past season in the NBA.
- 3QC Programming note. Tomorrow morning, Ben will analyze and list nearly all of the available point guards on the free agent market.