Neil Paine at Basketball-Reference compiled a post on Wednesday, "Percentage of Team Shot Attempts 'Created' While on the Floor." I decided to post the top-ten from the lists he found, ranking percentage of team shots from the field, percentage of true shooting attempts, and a percentage of true shooting attempts equating assist rate. Derrick Rose is in the top-five of all three.
It's funny that when it's the star of 'your team,' players on this list are 'doing what it takes to win.' When the player is on a another team, players on this list are 'ballhogging, showboating bad teammates.'
Another way to look at these lists are say the guys on winning teams are the former and the ones on losing teams are the latter. And then, the logic of all four arguments produce little more than cognitive dissonance.
Paine added that this is a "very 'dumbed-down' version of the FGA, FTA, & AST aspects in Dean Oliver's individual possession rates."
To which I replied that it looks more like a "simple (in a non-pejorative sense) gauging relative volume. It's a
more in-your-face reflection of through whom offenses are run."
Though, Paine acknowledges "double counting every assisted TSA and giving the passer and shooter equal credit, he added that: "it's still useful to see how guys like Rose, Lebron, Kobe, etc. have a
level of "creating" beyond what a one-dimensional pure scorer like Melo
brings to the table."
I'm not sure of the utility of these volume calculations and it's a conflict within the basketball analytics community, from what I've seen. No one who understands basketball isolates value to efficiency and environment variables. Baseball is a great example because it's a sport where you can't scheme volume like basketball; hockey is somewhere in between. Football is one where you can definitely scheme volume -- not on the same level as basketball -- but, with the sample sizes and the truly, brutal intangibles, the scheming aspect of football makes it extremely difficult to quantify.
In basketball, I see the statistical revolution in its infancy because we're just beginning to scratch the surface of scheming and how individual players contribute to them -- and how the scheme needs to hide liabilities. How despite schemes, certain liabilities can't be hidden and how certain schemes allow individuals to shine along with said scheme being conducive to winning.
The Bulls have a scheme conducive to winning a high volume of regular season games. The defense is too complex to be trite, but the offense is almost completely in Rose's hands -- and, remember, this is no secret:
"Never in my whole life of playing basketball," Rose said. "He don't
care. He just cares about defense. When we come down or shoot a bad
shot or whatever, he don't really care about that. He wants to pick that
up on the defensive end where that mistake on the offensive end, it
can't happen on defense. He just says that he can live with missed
shots, but he can't live with people not giving their full effort."
Rose is in a perfect system for him, but this isn't a knock. Tom Thibodeau has a great player to trust with the offense, so it doesn't take time and energy away from the more complex aspects of the game -- defense and scouting.
I've said that there's nothing more valuable to a team in a player than high efficiency at a high volume. I wonder how these "simple" numbers shed more light on the MVP, if at all.
(For the record, I see the "MVP conversation" as LeBron James; then, everyone else.)