Those of you who saw the Bucks game today might have noticed that Mike James actually looked...well...good out there today. I mean, I think I saw one awful, contested three pointer from 3 feet out of the wing (you know, the kind of three that we expect Vince to take and actually make somehow) and one terrible floater from 16 feet, but other than that, he was moving the ball well and actually putting the ball in the basket. He even had a few nasty crossovers, and he was generally more aggressive than we're used to. Granted, most of the time he was being defended by Monta Ellis who is potentially the worst on-ball defender in the league. But still. He just wasn't painful to watch.
The Mike James experience has been a strange one for me. First: I honestly don't know where all the vitriol about Mike James is coming from here on Mavs Moneyball. He's not a good player by any means, I'm not going to try to argue that, but even from the first 10 day contract he has been our most efficient point guard at running our team, per NBA.com. With James on the floor, the Mavs score 110 points per 100 possessions to only 100 points allowed per 100 possessions. Compare that to Collison's 106.5 to 103. Collison does has a much higher floor pace, which I think is absolutely essential. Without DC's stretches of blistering fast-break offense, James can't get away with running his strong half-court offense, but the numbers just don't lie. Mike James is just way more effective at running our team on both sides of the floor.
But like I said, he's just not good. It's such a bizarre paradox, I have a hard time figuring out how he can be more effective than Collison, and so much worse than Collison. Look at this shot chart. Please. Here is the shot chart again, just to make sure you actually look at it. It's REALLY, REALLY bad. He shoots a putrid 39% eFG, and a pretty miserable 41% TS%. Given his role on the team, his 21% usage rate is astoundingly high, and mildly frightening.
Here's one important part of the puzzle: His usage rate is high, but so is his assist rate. He may end 20% of the possessions on the floor when he's there, but he has a 20% assist rate as well. Along those lines, his Pure Point rating is a remarkably high 25. So basically: he's slow, clumsy, holds on to the ball too much, and takes really bad shots and then misses most of them. On the other hand, he rarely turns over the ball and has possibly the best half court vision of any player on our team (except for maybe Dirk). When he's running our offense, we can actually run plays, that work. He's good enough at what he does to effectively run Carlisle's offense, where no one else really can. I think that's why he's so effective for us.
Here's the future for Mike James:
He's still taking really bad shots. But: over the last 15 days, he's been shooting an astoundingly "meh": 46% eFG% and 47% TS%. Much better than before, but still mediocre and borderline ineffective. As well, his usage rate has gone down, while his assist rate has gone up, making him a legitimately effective shot creator and floor general. Over the last 20 games, his net points per 100 possessions efficiency has gone down from the season numbers though, which is strange given that's he's supposedly become a better overall player. That said, over the last 5 games that he's started, he's logged a remarkable 112 points per 100 possessions efficiency numbers.
So here's the gist. He won't ever be fun to watch. He will probably always be fun to make fun of. But he's the best person we have slated to take the reigns right now, like it or not, and he is getting better over time. So here's hoping for more mediocrity, at least, from Mike James.