With it being the end of the year, I decided to take a closer look at each Mavs player, commenting on various things that were interesting (or simply pointing out the obvious), for the sake of assessing performance and hypothesizing over future expectations and results.
Much of the analysis of the players' are performed with the usage of various advanced basketball statistics, taken from places such as Basketball Reference, HoopData and 82Games.com. This link: http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/glossary.html ought to explain most of them - these aren't perfect stats for all means, but I consider them as giving a clearer indication than simple 'raw' player stats would (i.e. points per game, rebounds per game and such).
For the sake of logical progression during analysis of individual player statistics, the player order will descend according to win shares - despite what I see as the metric’s imperfections.
DIRK NOWITZKI (4.8 Win Shares; 0.226 Win Shares/48 minutes; 24.9 PER):
Basic stats: 24.1 PPG, 0.545 FG%, 0.403 3PT%, 0.879 FT%, 7. RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 2.2 TOV/G
Notable stats: 24.1 PPG (8th in NBA), .545 FG% (8th in NBA), .632 TS% (2nd in NBA), .573 eFG% (8th in NBA), 24.4 PER (4th in NBA), 4.8 Win Shares (13th in NBA - damn it, injury!), 0.227 Win Shares/48 Minutes (4th in NBA)
-Overall, a pretty typical year for Dirk - in being the best player on this team, carrying the scoring load most nights, taking the important shots throughout the game.
-In terms of raw statistics, Dirk's stats pretty much emulate last season's: a little drop in PPG, probably caused by the team's fall in scoring; practically identical RPG; turnovers only major change, jumping up from 1.8 per game to 2.3 - I'll address it later. His FT% is down just a teeny-weeny down to 87.6%, having recovered from a temporary early-season ‘underperformance' where he hovered as low as about 84%, but no biggie.
-However, the big thing of note here arguably are the spectacular shooting percentages, both basic and advanced, which Dirk has put up. Currently, his normal FG% is at an amazing 54.5%, a marked jump over his previous high, the 50.2% he put back in his 06-07 MVP season.
-This is particularly significant considering where Dirk makes his shots - or moreso, where he continues to make his shots. According to hoopdata.com, the majority of Dirk's shots (unsurprisingly, one must say) come in the 16-23 feet range (7.3 of his 16.1 attempts per game) - and he's hitting shots from there at an obscene 53%, compared to league average of 39.6%. No problem from a few steps in either - 51% from 10-15 feet (making up 3.4 of his 16.1 attempts per game), compared to league average 37.8%.
-Adding it all up, Dirk's 0.573 eFG% - 8th in the NBA, as noted previously, is just a tremendous figure, for someone who take so many shots, many of which are mid-to-long range two-point jumpers (not exactly the peak of NBA shot efficiency). It's unfathomably good for this era. It's Kevin Love's rebounding figures. It's Barry Bonds taking 232 walks in a season. It's Cliff Lee and his K/BB rate. Compound it with the fact that those above him on the list either don't combine their stunning shooting performances with the impressive volume scoring, or mostly get their points from close-range, and I'd begin to argue it would be a historical figure, as a shooting season by a high-scoring jump-shooter since Larry Bird (who admittedly found a lot of ways to get to the rim.) If Dirk keeps it up, it could well be that - and Larry Legend's highest eFG% had him at an equally brilliant .556 eFG%, in an era of low three-point shooting volumes. Unfortunately, I don't think Dirk will keep it this high, but you never know...
-Among the variety of stats which suggest of Dirk's brilliance at a highly efficient level, there is one particular dark mark, being his TOV%, which has seen a jump from 7.8% the past two seasons, to 10.4%, the highest since his rookie season. Of course, that in itself really isn't a high number. But for someone who has constantly posted near league-low turnover rates through his career, and especially in the post-Nellieball era, it's somewhat of an issue - though one would expect some regression back to mean.
-As for his other advanced stats, there isn't really much to note. His Total Rebounding Percentage is up just a tick from 11.7% to 12.1%; his USG% has dropped just a little from 28.8% down to 28.4%; his ORtg and DRtg have both improved, though rather marginally, and probably reflects upon other factors.
-To sum it up, Dirk is typical Dirk. The league's best scorers are the high USG% players who can consistently maintain their scoring efficiency over the course of their volume input, while keeping their turnovers down, and Dirk has done so - and so far, at an absurdly high rate. I don't expect his eFG% to stay in the stratosphere all season, but even if it does regress a little, hopefully it comes with the same natural regression in his currently uncharacteristically high turnover percentage. His other stats have changed very little, which doesn't mean all too much when he does a couple of things so brilliantly. When it all clears up, Dirk Nowitzki is the same player - a highly-efficient franchise player, undoubtedly one of the best in the league, and the lynchpin upon which the Mavs' title hopes lie.
*Get well soon, Dirk
TYSON CHANDLER (4.3 Win Shares; 0.221 Win Shares/48 minutes; 17.2 PER):
Basic stats: 8.9 PPG, 0.694 FG%, 0.752 FT%, 9.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.2 TOV/G
Notable stats: .730 TS%, .694 eFG%, 18.7 TRB% (8th in NBA), 3.2 BLK% (20th at 3.4%), 133 ORtg, 99 DRtg, 4.3 Win Shares (T-20th in NBA), 0.221 Win Shares/48 (6th in NBA)
-Chandler's low shot attempts and generally limited minutes means he doesn't qualify for a number of stat counts, such as for TS% and eFG%. If he were included, he'd probably blow most of the field away, only outperformed by those with delightful statistical oddities formed by sample sizes of a handful (or perhaps just one) shot.
-Unsurprisingly, Chandler gets all his buckets at the rim. When he manages to combine that >60 FG% with 4 free-throw attempts a game at a decent 75.2% (at least in comparison with previous seasons, where he struggled to touch 60% until his injury-plagued 09-10 season with Charlotte, where he showed improvement to 73%, which luckily for Mavs fans, continued to uptick), that's an extremely efficient scorer for the number of attempts he provides.
-Points per shot is the very rudimentary method I like to use to quickly evaluate for a player's scoring efficiency. A good scorer - say, 15 PPG and above, who can manage a points/shot of about 1.5 or so, is someone I like, and the more PPG at that rate, the better. For example, Dirk is right around 1.5 points/shot, to get his 24 a game - that's excellent according to my obvious theory, and it is as so in real-life. I raise my standards for those who take less shot attempts, but even so, when looking, Chandler's points/shot is right around 2 - which are really good for a low-volume shot taker.
-Tyson Chandler is the poster boy of the Mavs' supposed new regime in emphasizing defence (and successfully too...so far.) His DRtg is an impressive 98. Although it isn't a great measure of defensive aptitude in my opinion, I consider it a fair measuring stick. Likewise, his ORtg of 137 is inflated by his high FG%/low shot-attempt role. But I trust both ratings enough to use them to indicate that while on-court, Tyson Chandler has made a huge impact on the team on both sides of the floor.
-The truth is that I want to rag on Erick Dampier for being a general waste of space during his time in Dallas. But here the advanced stats, especially the ratios, suggest that Damp certainly did his job rebounding and protecting the rim - his TRB% and BLK% are comparable to Chandler's current numbers, although he played fewer minutes and his lumbering nature never made you feel comfortable about his production. The separations in PER and WS/48 appear to come from Damp's higher TOV%, a shooting disparity (though Chandler's is still probably held to SSS). Of course, I feel a lot more confident in Chandler than Damp (probably because of the eye test) to finish in the lane, or contest a shot properly, but they aren't majorly different, though enough points to Chandler as an improvement over Damp.
-Although Chandler has certainly been a tremendous difference-maker in Dallas so far, there is still an obvious need for continued evaluation - the sample size is still relatively small, and Chandler's injury history -knock on wood- still lurks. But so far, he's been everything that Mavs fans have hoped him to be since he was the anticlimactic return for the DUST chip.
JASON KIDD (2.8 Win Shares; 0.120 Win Shares/48 minutes; 15.5 PER):
Basic stats: 8.3 PPG, 0.355 FG%, 0.342 3PT%, 0.875 FT%, 4.7 RPG, 8.8 APG, 1.9 SPG, 2.4 TOV/G
Notable stats: 8.8 APG (5th in NBA), 1.8 SPG (8th in NBA), 38.9 AST% (11th in NBA), 2.9 STL% (6th in NBA)
-The old man keeps on trucking. His raw stats are down pretty much across the board, but not so as to be a cause for concern. Perhaps the most important of these falls is the reduction in minutes - at least so far - from 36 last season to 33.4, and of course this plays into his other counting stats. The Mavs need him to be rested for the playoffs.
-Kidd has shot like shit so far. That's all I can say. He's shooting a career low, abysmal 35.5% from the field, down from the 42% or so he's managed so far in his second jaunt in Dallas, his 3PT% has dipped from the 41% or so he's shot in his previous two seasons (a pretty darn good rate), down to his mediocre pre-Dallas rates, at 35.1%. Consequently, his TS% (.577 to .478) and eFG% (.554 to .452) have also degraded. Hopefully he's just gone through an extended slump, and these rates can tick up a bit by the end of the season. Still, if the Mavs can manage with these, it won't matter in the regular season - perhaps an upwards regression to the mean in the playoffs, which would be a big bonus.
-Another reduction to note is the drop in TRB% from 8.9% to 7.4%. Again, this could just be a product of an improved rebounding performance by the bigs, but it could be taken as a sign of decline. Hopefully not. (Update: his recent efforts have pulled it back up to 8.2%
-No surprises: Kidd's AST% is sky-high again. At 38.9%, it's his highest since 2007-08. To evoke a stream of clichés, there is nothing like watching the precision and vision of Jason Kidd in full flow as he runs a half-court offense, or throws passes around in transition. Rob Mahoney did a fantastic video for TheTwoManGame about the simplistic brilliance which Kidd possesses - go search it up on Youtube, since my location right now prevents me from accessing. I don't need to say much - we all agree that watching Jason Kidd at work is pure joy. Watching a point guard like Stockton or Kidd execute a basic half-court offense to perfection, just like perhaps a deep-lying midfield playmaker picks out passes in soccer, or a quarterback nailing throws in a West Coast offense - it's so easy to wax poetic about such things.
-Other quick notes: Kidd's TOV% is pretty much identical to last season, his USG% is up a little from 14.5% to 15.7%; like a number of others on the team, his ORtg has fallen a little, and his DRtg increased, reflecting on the team's new philosophy.
-In summary: Jason Kidd is pretty good at basketball. He can't shoot one all too well, but who cares when he does so well in getting the ball to those who can?
JASON TERRY (2.2 Win Shares; 0.096 Win Shares/48 minutes; 15.7 PER):
Basic stats: 15.5 PPG, 0.436 FG%, 0.351 3PT%, 0.843 FT%, 1.8 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 2.0 TOV/G
Notable stats: 24.0 AST%, 2.3 STL% (T-20th in NBA)
-Jason Terry may be the most infuriating player on this team. The main reason us Mavs fans allude to is because of his shooting streakiness, something certainly illustrated constantly this season with his combining of cold-shooting first halves with difference-making final quarters.
-Although JET will probably never hit the scoring numbers of 08-09 where he averaged 19.6 PPG based on a 25.5 USG%, alongside a pretty sprightly .535 eFG% (which in turn was assisted by a fair volume of efficient three-point makes - 2.3 a game at a pretty fair 36.6%), he has so far improved on a rather sub-par shooting-wise 09-10 season, with a jump in FG% from 43.8% to 45.7%, which comes along with a rise in eFG% from a pretty mediocre .503 to .515 (his three-point percentages over the past three seasons have been pretty much identical; the volume has varied.) -This improvement in eFG% has come from despite a slight drop in JET's three-point shooting volumes (at .548 eFG%, the more the better for his overall eFG%). Although Terry's shot samples at each shot location are pretty small (as is the case with most players), there's still a discernible increase in a couple of areas. Firstly, a rise in FG% in the <10 feet area, from 44% over 1.1 shots/game to 54.8% on 1.5 shots/game. One or so attempts per game is not much, but over the course of a season, such a disparity produces a difference. Likewise, Terry's FG% from 16-23 feet (his major two-point shot attempt, at 4.1 a game the past two seasons) has risen from 45% to 47%. Again, I reiterate the issue of small sample size, but there's a clear suggestion that Terry has been able to bounce back from last year's slightly uncharacteristic shooting production from mid-range, a place where he's always had a reputation as a strong shooter. He's still streaky as hell though. WAY TO TAKE A DUMP ALL OVER THIS ANALYSIS CROPDUSTER
*Quickfire updated analysis: Congratulations on achieving your worst shooting percentages since 2003-04, Jason!
-The increase in Terry's AST% from 18.8% last season to 24.0%, along with the jump in TOV% to 12.1% from 8.6% (again, like Dirk, a chunk of Terry's offensive productivity does come from his low turnover rates, which can especially be seen in his 2007-2008 season, which was rated higher than his 6th Man of the Year season according to win shares, most likely due to a Dirk-esque 7.7% TOV%.), is probably the most notable changed trend for JET so far. The previous three seasons (07-08, 08-09, 09-10) saw Terry cast in a role as high-scoring sixth man, playing as either a SG or a 2 masquerading in the point guard position. As a result, Terry's AST% (17.5%, 17.6%, 18.8%) and TOV% (7.7%, 7.7%, 8.6%) have generally remained steady over this timeframe, and reflect his role as a scoring-minded guard. So far this season, his performance in those two figures more resemble his AST% and TOV% in 06-07 (where he was the primary point guard option, despite Devin Harris starting) and 04-05 (where he was expected to play Nash's role, a duty he performed erratically in). Perhaps just a coincidence, but it certainly has felt like Terry has been the second-unit PG instead of Barea at times this season - maybe someone can back me up with articles on this issue.
-Perhaps this increase in turnovers is reflected in the increase in USG% to 24.6%, up from last season's 23%. Over the past three season's, Terry's increase in USG% from his first few seasons as a Mav probably is indicative of his change in mindset from PG/combo guard with dual responsibilities, to scoring-focused. This usage increase - miniscule as it is - alongside his jump in AST% may be just a coincidence, or further suggestion of a return to role closer to past years (pre-Devin Harris emergence as PG and trade).
-I probably should address his STL%, which is his highest as a Mav, at 2.3%. Terry gained a reputation in his earlier years as a solid defensive point guard with ball-thieving capabilities, but his perimeter defense has degraded according to eye test, as a result of age. I don't think this trend quells the previous notion.
-Terry's role will be an interesting one to analyze as Roddy B returns to the rotation. Do his minutes continue to decline, and can he respond top that with better field goal percentages? Does he keep his current role as sometimes backup PG, or does he go back to a pure scoring combo guard? If so, can he maintain his AST% while cutting down his turnovers? Whatever it is, the Mavs need him there in the playoffs - whether it is making big shots or doing the backup PG duties enough to support Roddy's (hopefully) seamless return as a change-of-pace scorer.