Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The JPoint and Some Thoughts on Kobe

So we got a lot of feedback about the Kobe/JPoint post last night. Some of it was logical and literate. So I took that feedback into account and would like to present you with a revision of the stat.

The revision takes into account how often a player goes to the free throw line, relative to the number of shots they take. This was brought up in the comments section by a Kobe supporter, but the number can swing both ways. For example:

Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (last night): 31 FGA, 13 FTA (.419)
DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC (season): 3.6 FGA per game, 5.7 FTA per game (1.583)

With Jordan, if you've never watched him, the reason behind his absurd FT per FG ratio is that teams just foul him for no reason because he's such a poor free throw shooter (47.5% for his career). Well I did everyone else a favor and left DeAndre's 2011-12 season out of my calculations this time because he scored above 60. That's absurd. 

Another point brought up in the comments section was that everyone's FG% goes down if they have to face the defense that Kobe faces every night. Yes, and that's why Kobe makes so much money and gets so many shots.  The JPoint is a hypothetical stat. If your gameplan was to give a guy like Nick Collison (PF, OKC) 31 field goals a game, the other team would just double-team him and he'd end up with like 10 points. But that's real life. 

Okay, fine. The JPoint statistic needs some way to incorporate the defensive pressure the player is facing. I'll adjust it again when I get a job in the ESPN Stats & Info department and have access to Next Level shit like that. It's not perfect. But I'm writing this from a laptop - not from some fancy high-tech NBA stat headquarters in a warehouse. I just wanted a stat to show people that scoring 48 points on 31 field goals was not inhuman. What was inhuman about Kobe's performance last night was the fact that he did it with a torn ligament in his wrist. And Grant Hill is no chump on defense either. 

But people, take a step back. Kobe has 5 championship rings. Three of them were with Shaq. The other two were with Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and role players that would be able to start for the 2011-12 New Jersey Nets. 

The disconnect between rings and stats is this: as far as winning championships goes, Kobe doesn't do it all by himself. But when he throws up stats like 81 (second most all-time), 61 (most ever at MSG), or 48 points (last night against the Suns), he's doing it all by himself. He goes into pissed-off-Kobe mode, either because his team isn't playing well (81) or because he doesn't like Phoenix (48) or because his wife divorced him and gets half of his money (when all the details become public, he may just score 150 by himself). Is it good to have a player like this on your team? As a fan, obviously. As a coach, sometimes - if you can control him. As a teammate, yes and no - it sucks to not touch the ball but if he's being double- and triple-teamed that means somebody's open. 

Did I underestimate the Lakers this season? It would appear so. But I'm willing to admit that. Is Kobe Bryant a human being? I'd say about half, considering the weird German voodoo surgery that he gets. But is Kobe fun to watch? 

Answering as a fairly unbiased blogger (despite what you may think), yes. Absolutely. 

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