Stack’s Stats: Shooting Struggles Reign
Players shooting well below career marks, and a Q+A with a Clippers broadcaster.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
Bad shooting leads The Main Dish this week, but I’d rather see the newest Stack’s Stats hold a more positive tone. That comes in the form of a Q&A on the next page with Ralph Lawler, who has been doing play-by-play for the Los Angeles Clippers since the late ’70s, when they were in San Diego.
Lawler calls Clippers games on Prime Ticket and on the team’s new flagship radio station, KFWB 980 AM, for the games which don’t make it on TV. (What games don’t make it to TV anymore?)
Lawler has a wealth of experience in the NBA, although this current Clippers squad might be the best team he’s called games for since he was the Philly 76ers’ play-by-play guy during their Finals runner-up season in 1976-77. On a call last Tuesday from Lawler’s home in La Quina, south of L.A., the broadcaster discussed how he developed one of his signature calls and why he never gets bored with his job and what recent week he thinks was one of the most dramatic in pro sports history.
The Main Dish
All we hear about these days is the NBA schedule and the wear-and-tear it’s taking on players. Well, believe it. Injuries are sprouting up left and right. And those players who are healthy enough to play aren’t necessarily better for it, assuming you go by their stats. Let’s get the good out of the way first.
The 28 leaders in field goal percentage are hitting more than half their shots. Heck, only the top 26 finished 50 percent or better in ’09-10; it was 24 in ’08-09. (This is obviously discounting the players who shoot 50-plus percent yet don’t have the field goal attempts to count among the League leaders.)
Now, for the bad. Too many players are shooting far, far worse than they should, particularly guards. Take a look.
Kyle Lowry, he of the fantastic per-game averages this season (15.5 points, 8.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds), is shooting just 38.8 percent, more than three percentage points below his career average. Deron Williams’ 39.6 field goal percentage is roughly six percentage points off his career mark. Although his 34.9 percentage in 12 games with the Nets last season forecasted the difficulty he would have in efficiently running that team’s offense.
Raymond Felton followed his first two seasons, when he shot sub-40 percent, with four consecutive seasons shooting 40-plus percent from the field. Now, he’s back to sub-40, at 36.8 percent. Jamal Crawford, while never mistaken for an efficient shooter, is at just 36.1 percent. He’s been at least four percentage points better than that every season since 2004-05.
Stephen Jackson, who wants a contract extension, is hitting less than 40 percent (36.7) for the first time since 2001-02, when he played all of 23 games for the Spurs. Good luck with that extension. And good luck to the players, especially the guards, in finding their legs this season. As with the lockout-shortened ’99 campaign, there will be some ugly shooting percentages.
Fast Break Points
–Billy Walker hit seven three-pointers for the Knicks on Friday against the Heat, but reaching that number isn’t unusual for a Knicks player. Toney Douglas nailed nine 3′s Mar. 17, 2011 in a game versus the Grizzlies. Danilo Gallinari wetted eight of them Oct. 31, 2009 against the 76ers. And in a 56-day span in early 2007, Jamal Crawford (Jan. 26 vs. Miami), Stephon Marbury (Mar. 6 vs. Seattle) and Nate Robinson (Mar. 22 vs. Portland) each totaled seven 3′s in a game.
–The Knicks lost to the Heat on Friday despite making 18 three-pointers. Even though they’ve found many ways to lose games, at 7-12, it’s notable that they’re 1-5 this season when they make at least 10 3′s in a game.
–The top four three-point percentage leaders are at 50 percent or better – Brandon Rush (57.4 percent), Ray Allen (56.3 percent), Manu Ginobili (51.9 percent) and Thabo Sefolosha (50 percent). Kyle Korver (’09-10, 53.6 percent) and Jason Kapono (’06-07, 51.4 percent) are the only players since ’96-97 to finish a season shooting 50 percent or better from long range. It hasn’t been since ’95-96 that two players achieved that mark – Tim Legler (52.2 percent) and Steve Kerr (51.5 percebt).
–Russell Westbrook has five games this season (in his first 19) in which he’s turned the ball over seven times. In only one of those did he accumulate seven or more assists – Friday vs. the Warriors.
–Marcus Camby knows how to affect a game without scoring. He grabbed 20 rebounds while going point-less Friday against the Suns. One other time in his career has he accomplished that same feat – Dec. 5, 2007 vs. the Lakers. Camby also has six career games in which he’s totaled 15-19 rebounds while scoring two or fewer points.
–Andre Miller (997) and Chauncey Billups (996) should join the 1,000 regular season games played club this week. They will be the 99th and 100th entrants.
–Kobe Bryant is 42 made field goals away from passing Dominique Wilkins for 10th all-time. At 9,922, it shouldn’t be long before he catches ‘Nique’s 9,963. From there, it’s only a matter of time this season before Kobe becomes the 10th player ever to make 10,000 field goals for his career.
–Billups (1,764) passed Peja Stojakovic (1,760) this week to become fourth all-time in three-pointers made.
–Another Kobe stat: At 7,157 career free throws made, he needs just four more to pass Jerry West for fifth all-time. Side note: Tim Duncan has 4,971 made shots from the charity stripe, and 29 more will make him the 30th player ever to reach 5,000.
–Kevin Garnett needs 46 more rebounds to become the 14th NBA player to record 13,000 career rebounds.
–One more reason for Baron Davis to get on the court: He needs four more steals to reach 1,500 for his career. Metta World Peace needs 13 more for the same figure. They would become the 37th and 38th NBA players to accomplish that.
NBA Schedule Quirk of the Week
(The team arguably most screwed for the next week)
Denver Nuggets – Six games in nine days
At this point in the season, it’s tough to discern which team has it worse than the other. However, the Nuggets have a brutal upcoming slate. They beat Toronto 96-81 Friday, which was good. But they host the Clippers Sunday, go to Memphis Jan. 31, play at the Clippers Feb. 2, host the Lakers Feb. 3 and play at Portland Feb. 4. Yikes.
Honorable mention: Milwaukee Bucks. Now without Andrew Bogut for the season (left ankle fracture), the Bucks lost to Chicago 107-100 on Friday. The host the Lakers Saturday, then Detroit Jan. 30. It doesn’t end there. They host Miami Feb. 1, go to Detroit Feb. 3 then host Chicago Feb. 4. That’s the Lakers, Heat and the Bulls twice in one week.
Insightful NBA Player Tweets of the Week
(Tweets unedited from how they were originally written)
Paul George @King24George
“#IHate when you know you gone make the light so you speed up but the car in front of you slows down.. And STOPS!”
Stephen Curry @StephenCurry30
“My dog barks too much when the doorbell rings. So, we train her by watching $100,000 Pyramid reruns on GSN. She loves the 7/11. Too funny”
Vernon Macklin @vernon_macklin
“In Bed Bath an Beyond doin a Lil shoppin for da crib | NEED help lol smh I’m the worst at this stuff”