We are unveiling a new pregame series at Project Spurs, where Quixem Ramirez dives into the San Antonio Spurs' opposing team's SportVU data, mostly because he has no life. SportVU, powered by cameral technology in all 29 NBA arenas, tracks miles per hour, distance traveled, touches, where they touched the ball, how long they touch the ball, and lots of other basketball minutia.
Today's team: the Boston Celtics. DISCLAIMER: If you do not like numbers, do not read ahead.
Jordan Crawford has been a reasonably productive offensive player.
Which is kind of surprising. This is the same Jordan Crawford who has scored just a few more points than shots (2369 points/2209 field goal attempts) — just barely, though. Crawford is an unabashed gunner at heart, and playing him extended minutes entails several low percentage shots.
He's tapered down his shot selection a bit thus far. Crawford is averaging 4.5 drives per game according to SportVU, and he's made half of his shot attempts on his forays to the rim. He hasn't completely eradicated bad shots — Crawford is taking six pull up jumpers per game, which is kind of a problem since he doesn't make them often (40.9 percent) — but Boston does not have many options better than Crawford. They'll live with his bouts of inefficiency, rather than relying on the rest of their ravaged rotation to score.
Boston has made just 23.7 of their 3-pointers with Crawford on the bench, an efficiency that middle school teams can beat on a regular basis. They have scored a whopping 10.2 points per 100 possessions more with Crawford on the floor, to boot.
Right, the immortal Jordan Crawford. I forgot.
Is Gerald Wallace alive?
I'm legitimately asking, because he's been terrible this season. But he's making a career high 52.3 percent of his shots! That's something!
He has attempted just 44 shots in 11 games, though.
Wallace, 33, is a shell of his former shelf. His usage rate has plummeted to a career low, and his turnovers have climbed dramatically.
The 12-year veteran is still garnering 40 touches per game in Boston's middling offense, though SportVU suggests that might be too high.
Only five players averaging 40 or more touches per game score fewer points per touch than Wallace (0.13). That is even more egregious considering nearly three-fourths of his touches have occurred on Boston's offensive side of the court.
The only thing the artist formerly known as "Crash" will do this year is crash down to the bottom of the leaderboard. (See what I did there? I'll just
show myself out.)
Kelly Olynyk is a defensive sieve.
The 7-foot Gonzaga product was not drafted with the 13th pick in last year's draft for his defense.
Opponents have feasted on Olynyk at the rim — SportVU tabbed Olynyk as the primary defender on 53 shots within five feet of the rim, and opponents have made 32 shots.
60.4 percent. Dallas Mavericks forward DeJuan Blair is allowing the same rate this season.
Olynyk, the starting center in four of Boston's last five games, is slowly transitioning to the starting rotation and everybody is invited to the rim.
Did I mention the Spurs are in the top 10 in restricted area attempts per game and field goal percentage on these shots?
Avery Bradley should, um, stop shooting.
Bad shooters should not shoot often. Avery Bradley is a bad shooter. He leads Boston in field goal attempts per game.
That kind of thing happens in the league's 26th-ranked offense.
Bradley is a capable shooter inside the 3-point arc — he's made 50.4 percent of his 2-pointers, including a healthy 47.7 percent on mid-range shots, the very shots that might open up space for his teammates on the perimeter.
He just needs to eliminate 3-pointers, since they are not his thing. Bradley has converted on less than a third of his catch-and-shoot attempts according to SportVU, meaning Boston should STOP PASSING THE BALL TO HIM WHEN HE'S OPEN BEHIND THE 3-POINT LINE.
Savvy opponents habitually cheat off Bradley when he is off the ball, even in the corners which is generally a no-no. They welcome the extra pass to Bradley, who isn't good enough to score consistently on drives to the hoop or make open shots either. Funneling Boston's offense to an inefficient shooter is a very simple way to leverage your defensive advantage, and any NBA team with any foresight will exploit Bradley on the offensive end. Bradley all too often falls for the trap, and his efficiency (and Boston's) dips.
Bradley is a defensive hound, so he has value. These shots just need to go.
Boston is protecting the 3-point line though.
Boston is 4-7, primarily because their defense has squeezed every ounce out of their individual pieces. Bradley is a pain, and there are a few competent defenders scattered throughout their roster, but you can only do so much with Olynyk, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger soaking up the majority of the frontcourt minutes. (Opponents are shooting nearly 57 percent on shots defended by the aforementioned triad, according to SportVU.)
Brad Stevens' team is doing some very things conducive to sustainable success. Protecting the perimeter is one, especially in the modern NBA, where the average team hoists 20 3-pointers per game.
Boston's opponents are mustering up a shade over 16 3-pointers a game, and these shots have not been successful. The Celtics are second in field goal percentage allowed on 3-pointers (30.2 percent).
Their is still several defensive components that need to be addressed — like abstaining from fouls and protecting the defensive glass — but their defense is 11th overall, despite these salient flaws.