Hollinger's Mavericks Profiles Released

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ESPN's head stat-nerd and polarizing internet figure John Hollinger has released his annual profiles for the Dallas Mavericks. What provocative nuggets might we find inside?

Welcome to the new format, everyone!

ESPN's resident sabermetrician(or stat-geek, computer dork, take your pick) has begun his annual NBA profiles, and today has released his breakdown of the Mavericks for Insider members. If you're like me, then it just doesn't quite feel like basketball season is closing in until Hollinger's previews come out. Hollinger and, specifically, his Player Efficiency Rating system, have their share of detractors, but his work almost always contain quality insight, reasoned analysis with factual evidence to support his points(a rarity among analysts) and something Hollinger rarely gets credit for: humor.

For those who aren't Insider members, some selected highlights:

Dirk Nowitzki

Scouting report
+ Nimble 7-footer with a devastating midrange jumper and unblockable fadeaway.
+ Moves well on defense but lacks strength. Not a leaper.
+ Great going left and quickly pulling up for shot. Rarely turns the ball over.

Nowitzki's stock in trade is turning the usual rules of offense on their head. As I wrote a year ago, for every other player in every other league a long 2 is not a desirable shot. Nowitzki shoots them so well that it is. He made 50.3 percent beyond 16 feet last season, the second-best figure in the league, and that opens up everything else. Defenses foul and double him because of it, making him a threat in several other ways, especially because he rarely turns the ball over despite all the attention.

This is a roundabout way of saying I don't expect Nowitzki to decline much, if at all, despite being 34 this season. He was good in the latter half of last season, and his two differentiating skills -- being 7 feet tall and shooting 18-footers like they're layups -- won't diminish with age.

Chris Kaman

Scouting report
+ Avid Bill Simmons reader with good footwork in low post and wide base.
+ Ambidextrous finisher in the paint who has 18-foot range. Sloppy ball handler.
+ Blocks shots despite short arms, average hops. Good post defender. Injury-prone.

The most glaring indicator, however, comes in his shooting marks at the rim. Kaman had the worst percentage of any player with at least 150 attempts (Marcus Camby technically was a few attempts short; see his player comment for more), barely converting half his tries in an area where most 7-footers make close to two-thirds.

Defensively, Kaman isn't the most mobile or athletic guy, but he has real value because he is big, controls the glass and has great timing on blocks. He ranked in the top third of centers in blocks and his adjusted plus-minus numbers consistently rate him as a positive at this end.

Worst Shooting At Rim, Bigs, 2011-12

Player Team FG%
Marcus Camby Por/Hou 49.3
Chris Kaman NO 52.6
Greg Stiemsma Bos 4.44
Marreese Speights Mem 54.7
Brandon Bass Bos 55.6
Zaza Pachluia Atl 55.8

Min. 150 attempts. Source: Hoopdata.com

Elton Brand

Scouting report
+ Slow-footed big man with a devastating midrange jump shot off the pick-and-pop.
+ Has lost speed and athleticism. Decent handle for his size. Struggles to finish in the paint.
+ Strong, smart team defender but overmatched against good post scorers.

Subjectively, Brand lost more zip last season than the stats show -- he looked a bit tired and heavy all season, and he failed to make much of an impact in the playoffs. Statistically, however, you'd have a hard time proving it. Brand again put up a very solid PER and his defensive stats remain world class.

Brand may be the most underrated player in the league in this regard. He had the best Synergy grade on the Sixers, the league's No. 3 team in defensive efficiency, and among the best overall at his position. Philly gave up 2.8 points per 100 possessions less with him on the court, and he was fifth among power forwards in blocks per minute and 17th in steals. While he's undersized and he struggles against long jump shooters (like, say, Kevin Garnett, his foe in the second round of the playoffs), he was extremely effective in every other situation.

Brand may be the most underrated player in the league in this regard. He had the best Synergy grade on the Sixers, the league's No. 3 team in defensive efficiency, and among the best overall at his position. Philly gave up 2.8 points per 100 possessions less with him on the court, and he was fifth among power forwards in blocks per minute and 17th in steals. While he's undersized and he struggles against long jump shooters (like, say, Kevin Garnett, his foe in the second round of the playoffs), he was extremely effective in every other situation.

Rodrigue Beaubois

Scouting report
+ Speedy guard who can score. Penetrates but doesn't see the court well.
+ Gets out of control on drives. Inconsistent shooter. Good rebounder for his size.
+ Active, athletic defender but needs to improve strength and fundamentals.

Beaubois intrigued everybody with an impressive rookie year but has gone sideways since, doing just enough to stay relevant but not quite enough to give his career any traction. The problem starts with his being a classic "2 in a 1's body" -- unless he can improve his passing numbers some more; last season he was 47th among point guards in pure point rating.

Beaubois can score, but he's not efficient enough. Last season he averaged 16.4 points per 40 minutes, which was higher than his previous two, but he neither makes 3s nor draws fouls, resulting in subpar true shooting percentages. Last season Beauhois shot 28.8 percent on 3s and 36.2 percent on long 2s, and the season before wasn't any better. Meanwhile, he was in the bottom third of point guards in free throw rate.

The tantalizing part is that if he did either of these things -- create for teammates or convert his own shots -- just a little bit better, he'd have some real value. But right now he's just another low-efficiency creator.

Interestingly, on Roddy, though Hollinger, like many of us, remains doubtful about Roddy's instincts as a passer and defender, his system projects something of a breakout year for him, with a 16.7 PER and 17.6 points per 40 minutes, both of which would surpass his numbers from last year. As I noted in my breakdown of Roddy yesterday, there is a bit of a disconnect between Roddy's broad statistical output and the general view of his performance as a disappointment. Sometimes, this is just the way it is with certain players, who can fill the statsheets but who can't play consistently or do the little things well enough to stay on the court. Other times, these type of players are just waiting for the last part of the game(usually a mental issue) to click so they can take off. We'll see if maybe, just maybe, Roddy is one of the latter cases.

Stay tuned for Mavs Moneyball's own Player Previews series, which will continue today with Vince Carter.

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