Speed It Up « Queen City Hoops

Speed It Up

I was watching the San Antonio/Denver game last night on ESPN (the program guide told me Fox Sports South had the Bobcats game – it was a liar), and they showed a graphic about pace for various teams. Since it was a matchup of one of the leagues faster teams and slower teams, it seemed reasonable, but Hubie and whoever was working with him last night to their analysis a step farther than they should have. They saw that the two slowest teams in the league were Detroit and San Antonio (which has since changed, Portland is now slower for the season after the Spurs playing Denver last night) and made a comment something like “Hmm – and who has been the two best, most consistent teams of the last 5 years?” (end pseudo-quote). Well, and before that, the Lakers were dominating the league, as one of the faster teams, so success is not directly related to pace.

It made me wonder though, what pace are the Bobcats most effective at? The Spurs play slow because they have one of the best big men of all-time in Tim Duncan, they need to get the ball in his hands, and posting up takes longer then dribble drives and kicks or whatever else. Since coaches are easier to change than players, I have to say that pace should be a factor of personnel, with an offensive and defensive game plan built on a coaching philosphy suited for the players (or core players anyway) on a team. Ok, finally the question: What speed should be the Bobcats be playing at? Here are their efficiences broken down by pace of game:

Speed of Game – # poss/game Off Eff Def Eff Net Eff # games
Slow – < 90 101.4 105.4 -4.0 14
Slightly Slow – 90 to 94 102.7 109.2 -6.5 21
Slightly Fast – 95 to 99 100.9 105.3 -4.4 19
Fast – > 99 104.7 107.7 -3.0 7

So…what does it tell us? Not much – there is no definitive trend to see here. And even the good numbers playing at a fast pace need to be taken with a grain of salt – it is the smallest sample, with only 7 games…and 5 of those were against teams in the bottom third of the NBA in defensive efficiency, with 2 against Golden State, and 1 each against New Jersey, Sacramento, and Washington.

No answers – I was curious about it and I will run the numbers again at the end of the season to see if there were any shifts. I would have included last years numbers, but with the coaching change and the loss of one of the better offensive Bobcats (Walter) it would not be a valid pairing, in my mind.

Final thought: Watching the halftime show of the Spurs/Nuggets game on ESPN last night, and STEPHEN A. SMITH starts yelling (of course). But, again, incorrectly. The focus of his tirade was on Denver's poor defense – not last night specifically, but over the course of the season, taking George Karl to task for having a poor defensive team despite the presence of Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin. All well and good, except the Nuggets are a very, very good defensive team: 6th in the league in defensive efficiency, at 101.7 points per 100 possessions (and they put the clamps on the Spurs last night). But because too many people look at game averages and see the Nuggets surrendering 104.6 points per game, they assume they do not play defense. I am sure STEPHEN A. SMITH would like to commend the Wizards on their defense this year, allowing only 98.5 points per game. Must be better than the Nuggests right? It only appears that way because of the slower game they play: Per 100 possessions, it is 105.7, in the bottom third of the league. STEPEHN A. SMITH, quite frankly, I am tired of your “analysis”. Look further than the stats section in the newspaper before your next rant.
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