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Reasons for concern? pt. 2

A quick background on the idea for these posts before I jump into the numbers – the idea came when I was trying to figure out just how much the departure of Tyson Chandler was going to hurt the Bobcats. I pulled up the Swap Tool and plugged Tyson and Nazr in – and the results surprised me. The Bobcats are projected to become not just good, but great – in Tyson's absence. That did not pass the “Does this make sense?” test – and that was before even leaving the swap tool.

Plugging in Nazr Mohammed and Tyson Chandler into the NBA Player Swap Tool
Notice anything? Their actual net efficiencies contradict the results of the swap tool – the Bobcats were better with Tyson than Nazr last year, so why would next year be different? That was what I wanted to investigate and try to put some numbers to.

So, that explains part 1 – Reasons for concern? The Nazr and Tyson Swap and now it is time for part 2: Replacing Raymond Felton with D.J. Augustin, Shaun Livingston, and Sherron Collins. This time, there is no false sense of optimism created by the swap tool – the Bobcats are projected to take a small hit with D.J. on the court, and a swan dive when Livingston replaces him. Wait – what?

Click on the below images to see what the swap tool is projecting – and then I try to make some sense of it.

The Bobcats with D.J. replacing Raymond
Plugging in D.J. Augustin and Raymond Felton into the NBA player swap tool

The Bobcats with Livingston replacing Raymond
Plugging in Shaun Livingston and Raymond Felton into the NBA player swap tool

Raymond has D.J. beat on both sides of the ball – Felton was a more efficient scorer last season and a slightly better defender. Overall the Bobcats are projected to drop 0.7 points in net efficiency. The defensive drop off may be a bit higher though, as D.J. was able to be hidden last season on defense as the backup, but the offensive letdown may not occur at all. Last season was a career year for Felton from the field – and D.J. looked nothing like the shooter he was in his rookie year or during his time in college. I am not saying the Bobcats will be better off with D.J. than Raymond – but there is reason to think that offensively, they could come out of this swap relatively neutral.

It is on the other side of the ball where I am really curious about the projections for Shaun Livingston – the Bobcats are projected to surrender 4 more points per 100 possessions, due entirely to Shaun relieving Raymond. That seems excessive, with Jose Calderon-ish defensive sieve capabilities necessary. So, I went to used some synergy – not the corporate buzzword, the incredibly cool basketball scouting tool: mySynergySports.com. And you know what? Shaun still does not look that great – at first glance. Here is that first glance – click to expand:

Shaun Livingston's Defensive Numbers from Synergy:
Shaun Livingston's defensive numbers from Synergy Sports

Raymond Felton's defensive numbers from synergy sports

So, about that first glance – Livingston allowed 1.1 points per play, which is bad enough for 442nd in the league. Raymond was at 0.84, 61st in the league. Open and shut, right? Well, there is the whole matter of basketball being a team game, with that probably being even more true on the defensive side of things. Notice that in isolation, Livingston manages to be mediocre – 0.92 for 232nd in the league. No, it is not good – but it is not “All Matador” either. In fact, in the 3 areas of defense where Shaun acquired enough plays to rank, he seems rather mediocre, with ranks of 232, 225, and 307. Again – not good news, but not atrocious.

What is atrocious, however, is a couple of marks Shaun has where team defense would come in rather handy – Off Screen and Hand Off situations. In those 2 categories, Shaun gave up 1.24 and 1.17 points per play – while Raymond, playing for the best defensive team in the league surrendered just 0.87 and 0.51 in the same situations. Does Raymond's own good to very good defense play a part in that? Absolutely. Did his teammates' effort and the team's defensive game plan also play a role? Also absolutely. Would the same not be true in reverse for Livingston in D.C., with a team that gave up? Abso…you get the idea.

While the numbers understated the impact of Tyson's departure on the team's defense, they may be doing the opposite in the case of Livingston and Felton. If it turns out that Livingston just hasn't been able to regain his quickness following his knee injury, then the swap tool may be proved right. But if it is not able to account (yet – I am always tinkering) for team defense in a way that some numbers from Synergy indicate it may be lacking, then maybe this cause for concern is a bit lessened for the upcoming version of the Charlotte Bobcats.

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