Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fast Five: Paradox and Basketball

Paradox is "a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true."

Basketball's central paradox rephrases Star Trek, "In The Wrath of Khan (1982), Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk replies, “Or the one.” The growth of the many (the team) depend most on the development of the individual. "Soldiers eat first." 

The lower percentage shot (three pointer) informs success. The game evolves with rule changes. 

Effective field goal percentage correlates closely with team success.

Playing with the ball should slow you down. But we've all seen players who play faster with the ball than they move defensively

Similarly, we see players who confine aggression exclusively to offense or to defense.

You can be an effective player without a good effective field goal percentage. 

Marcus Smart is a top 20 NBA plus-minus player with an abysmal (41%) effective field goal percentage. Players need to find ways to impact the game. Bobby Knight remarked, "Just because I want you on the floor doesn't mean that I want you to shoot."

Nobody told Golden State that "Rebounding wins championships." If you make your opponent rebound out of the net, winning comes easier

The Warriors (and several other strong teams like Cleveland and Toronto) are near the bottom of the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage. GSW, CLE, and TOR are 14, 19, and 22 in total rebounding percentage. 

Too much dribbling offends basketball sense. Kyrie Irving is the paradoxical rule-breaker. 

"You can only improve your shooting so much." Andre Drummond has astounded the basketball world by improving his free throw percentage mid-career. 

Well, he's come back to earth, but still vastly improved over his career line. 

Michael Wilczynski researched NBA players with mid-career free throw improvement and shared remarkable data. 

Here were his top ten. As an aside, Wilt Chamberlain's career field goal percentage (.540) exceeded his free throw percentage (.511). His best year at the stripe was at age 25, when he shot .613 and his worst was at age 31, shooting .380. 

Some guys couldn't get much better. Only a handful of NBA shooters belong to the true 50-40-90 club, 50 percent field goal percentage, 40 percent three point percentage, and 90 percent free throw percentage with no rounding up. 

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