Does Diaw relish playing Amare? « Queen City Hoops

Does Diaw relish playing Amare?

Big scoring nights aren’t common for Boris Diaw. Except when Amare Stoudemire lines up across from him. At least that is what my memory was telling me after Boris led the Bobcats to a win against the Knicks last week. “Gee, Boris sure seems to get more engaged and score more when facing off against his former teammate/team” is a thought I’ve had more than once – anytime Boris has played well against the Suns/Hawks since coming to the Queen City, I’ve chalked it up to Boris’ equivalent of revenge for those teams giving up on him. But is it just perception bias, with me remembering the couple of exceptions, with Diaw’s actual efforts not that unusual? Here’s a quick look heading into another matchup with Amare tonight.

Boris Diaw in Charlotte
Points/Game Rebounds Assists Turnovers FG% FGA Mins Played
Overall 12.2 5.4 4.3 2.4 48.9% 10.2 35.3
Against Amare 18.4 6.6 4.7 2 58.8% 12.1 37.4

Since coming to CLT, Diaw has faced off against his former teammate seven times (3 with the Suns and 4 with the Knicks) – and averaged better than 18 points a contest. That’s more than a 6 point jump on his per game average and certainly can’t be explained away by the 2 additional minutes of court time. Is Diaw a little more aggressive? Based on the small sample, maybe, as he gets up an extra couple of shots each game Amare opposes him. The real leap is in effectiveness – Boris enters dead-eye mode in these games, shooting a scorching 58.8% from the floor (and better than 60% from 3).

So, is Boris trying to show up the man who made him irrelevant in 7 seconds or less? Or is it an aberration brought on by a handful of hot shooting games? Boris gets the chance tonight to swing the balance a little more one way or the other. Something to watch for, at least. Here’s a similarly condensed set of boxscores for Boris from these games – they’re about as up and down as we have come to expect from him, with the highs being among his best work.

Date Opponent Points Rebounds Assists Turnovers FG% Attempts Minutes
1/23/2009 Phoenix 26 11 4 2 62.5% 16 32.2
1/16/2010 Phoenix 9 4 5 1 40.0% 5 33.7
1/26/2010 Phoenix 24 11 5 2 52.9% 17 47.1
11/23/2010 New York 12 5 3 1 55.6% 9 33.3
11/24/2010 New York 11 4 5 3 55.6 9 38.2
3/26/2011 New York 20 8 5 0 50.0% 14 38.3
1/04/2012 New York 27 3 6 5 80% 15 39.4

And for those mathematically inclined, there is statistical significance to Boris’ scoring average against Amare compared to overall (t=2.19, p=0.032) – so, we can say that his average against Amare is higher than his overall average with some confidence.

2 comments to Does Diaw relish playing Amare?

  • Base rates

    This is an interesting point, but an alternative explanation is that Amare Stoudemire is an terrible defender, and almost all opposing power forwards see a bump in their average performance when facing Amare. Along the same lines of logic, it could also be that Amare’s teams tend to play at a faster pace than most of the Bobcats opponents, so Diaw would get a bump up in various stats because both teams are going through more possessions per minute.

    • Amare’s defensive ineptitude/apathy is certainly a part of it, and pace is a factor as well. For pace free numbers, Boris’ attempts per 100 team possessions goes from 15.3 as a Bobcat to 16.2 as a Bobcat against Amare. A smaller gap than the unadjusted attempts, but still an increase.

      As noted in the post, the real change is in efficiency – Boris fg% skyrockets, and he actually drops his turnovers despite being a larger part of the offense. Shooting percentages are pace independent, and actually lowering his total turnovers despite a faster pace (and more involvement) is even more impressive.