Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Westbrook, Parker & Analytics

b-ballOkay, the most significant long term takeaway from last night’s pivotal OKC Western semi W in San Antonio is that the Spurs are on the cusp of refurbishment. Whether or not they win the next two and survive this series with the Thunder, and even the next with Golden State.

Tim Duncan is but a holographic image of his former HofF-quality baller, and frankly, on the court, is a detriment to his team’s play these days, other than as a leader and calming presence.

I’ll get to Tony Parker in a minute.

LaMarcus Aldridge, important newcomer, is over 30. Kawhi Leonard is a budding superstar, but his demeanor is so reticent, it’s hard to see him as a “leader” for the future.

So, yeah, there’s that goin’ on. Actually, not goin’ on, as in needs the franchise needs to fill.

As for OKC, there’s all the conjecture about where KD might go, should he feel it’s time to move away from Tornado Alley. But, hey, if the Thunder make a big run this campaign, maybe their dynamic duo will stay put. Add a big — Dwight Howard, anyone? — and who knows?

But, enough of all that conjecture.

I’m fascinated by some of the numbers from last night’s OKC W at the Alamo.

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Russell Westbrook was his usual he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere human dynamo.

All the wags this morning after are lauding him for “willing his team” to victory.

On the face of it, his numbers justify the acclaim. 35 points. 11 boards. 9 assists. Eight turnovers, yeah, but, you know, he’s goin’ for it, balls out, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The flip side is aging Tony Parker. He tallied only 9 points, even though it seemed like all of SA’s plays at crunch time were designed for him. Aldridge, Leonard and Danny Green were all 20 or 20+, but none seemed to get any touches in the final moments, when Parker always had the rock.

So, the initial impressions: Westbrook, great. Parker, disappointing.

Which is where my favorite analytical statistic comes in, and stands inapposite. The +/- number. It emanates from the world of hockey, and reflects the scoring appreciation or depreciation of the entire team while the player is on the court, or ice, or field, depending on the sport being played.

I hold the statistic in great store, as a harbinger of how a player fits into a team’s system, and contributes to the game’s final result.

So, I was a bit stunned, a bit inclined to take Bill James name in vain — He started all this number crunching years ago in the world of baseball — when I noted Parker’s and Westbrook’s +/- number from last night’s 95-91 OKC W.

Parker was +8. Which means the Spurs were -12 when he was on the pine.

While Westbrook, lauded as he may be for his importance in last evening’s victory, was -4.

So these planets aren’t lining up right. Something’s skewed.

Which tells the truth? The numbers. The face test. Both. Neither. ???

Or, maybe I just need to not put so much store in the =?-.

— Seedy K

7 thoughts on “Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Westbrook, Parker & Analytics

  1. credit Billy Donovan for “forcing” Parker to have to play out the plays, as Thunder wouldn’t let Leonard or Aldridge be available as options. He learned from Pitino that you give the less likely player to be the hero.
    As for Dwight Howard… neither Billy D, KD or Westbrook have been trained in heart transplants, or ego reduction surgery, although I must admit Russell would probably give it a shot

  2. Howard is a cancer. History bears that out. Chuck Barkley’s question to him about why no one “likes you,” hit him like a diamond between the eyes, pink suit and all. Only the desperate will sign him, so gawd-awful was his HOU tenure. Nets anyone?

    Sadly Duncan and Ginobli are thru, and Parker’s odd miss of a 15 footer in the last minutes was… I’m not sure? Too open? Or no longer the go to man. Aldridge was a bad signing, IMHO, all along. He’s toast. Green? No comment. Leonard’s demeanor is what Pops loves, but someone with fire needs to compliment it.

    John Wall to the Spurs, Leonard to the Wiz? I’d love, obviously. Beal? Anywhere but DC.

    Your wish will come true. Cavs v. GS. If someone is kenai enoug to play Bad Biys ball against Curry, they have a chance. Slight. But it’s the only way. Steph HATES contact. Where are you Bill Lambeer?

  3. Errata: kenai enough. Bad Boys a la Detroit. I kinda miss them these days…

  4. Hoya…I must be in an agreeable mood today. You are absolutely correct that SHoward is a cancer. Even Steven the Pirate Adams would be preferable over that no free throw shooting scum bag bow hard. Why he ever left Orlando is a mystery. They loved him and built the team around him. No one else can or will put up with his petulant behavior.

    He is done….

    So, yes, you are right

    1. Counselor, get this… I think he is going back to the Magic. I can only see them, the Nets or the Mavericks taking him (the latter because Mark Cuban is certifiably insane.) As for Steven Adams? The Nick Cave look alike MIGHT be one of the best big men in the NBA now? If “bigs” are being phased out, he’s not going quietly into that good… locker room? I kinda like his game. I hope they beat the GS Dubs, to be honest. Because I like Durant & Westbrook a lot. And happy to see Billy The Kid be successful.

  5. I too am happy for the Thunder, they seem decent dudes. Buuuuuuut, the prospect of GS vs. Cavs must trump all other desires. It has the prospect of being one of the great Finals ever. GS path is certainly more difficult. The LeBrons look to go fo’ fo’ fo’ to the Finals.

    I could care less where Howard ends up. I just threw it out there.

    I’m thinking OKC stays intact.

  6. I agree that they stay intact (OKC). KD signs a one year deal. Sorry DC, KD2DC was a pipe dream. I concur, Seedy, about the prospect of the Cavs v. The Dubs. Buuuuut, I so would like to see KD get a ring. Always liked the man/player. And there’s something about Curry that I dislike. Not his game; it’s brilliant. I’m the type of fan who likes the cool cats on the hardwood. Kareem, Bird, Clyde, Black Jesus…

    Howard? I suppose he’s the NBA’s equivalent of a piñata. If it’s there, swing at it. That’s not very nice of me. I confess. I also confess he should just head to Japan, Europe, somewhere besides the NBA.

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