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Playoff Rotations: The In and Outs (Part II)

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IN: Shawn Marion (PER: 20.91 +3.68)
The Playoffs are around the corner and the Matrix shows up big time. I will make a case here for him being our second best player behind Dirk. Not Terry. It's Shawn. He averages the second highest PER in March and April behind Dirk. Terrys PER is slightly above his season average with a Standard Deviation of 12.48. Marions PER has improved a lot with a Standard Deviation of 9.62. So Marion not only plays better but also is maintaining his productivity. Furthermore he keeps a decent PER in games played against future playoff foes in March and April (20.54) while Terry clearly declines (11.93). According to SynergySports he averages 0.98 Points per Possession on Post-Ups. He converts 48.9% of these plays into a score and ranks 34th among all NBA-Players. Just to get you an idea how good that is: Players that rank lower in that category contain Marc and Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace and Zach Randolph. For a team that is supposed to have no post presence at all these numbers seem pretty good. The team will need him in late game situations to take pressure off Dirk Nowitzki. In the last game against the Houston Rockets the Mavericks showed confidence in running their offense through Marion late in the 4th and Overtime. He did had problems passing out of the double team ... maybe he should get accustomed to that.

IN: Dirk Nowitzki (PER: 23.88 +0.19)
We could start a whole lot of praising here, but I think it's quite well spread: Without Nowitzki we wouldn't even be a playoff team. He is the heart and soul of the team and we need him at his best to win any series. There is one stat I would like to mention though because his free throw shooting has been criticized through certain stretches: He hit 111 of 118 (94.07%) in March and April.

OUT: Corey Brewer (PER: 18.34 +/-0.00)
That doesn't mean I would vote to not play him at all. But just like Rodrigue Beaubois he was totally overhyped after his two decent showings against the Nuggets and Clippers. He got back to earth in the last two games and it's likely that Carlisle will give him some minutes here and there from Peja Stojakovic to see if he can bring his level of energy and intensity. But it doesn't make any sense to alter the rotation that close to the playoffs.
He shoots 56.00% from the floor and 40.00% from three. He also leads the team in Steals per Game and they shoot a team high 41.46% from three with him. But the sample size is still small and that may be the best argument against him: We don't know enough just yet.

OUT: Brian Cardinal (PER: 8.91 -0.49)
One of the more obvious picks. He shoots a team high 45.45% from three in March and April and delivers hard fouls. But the offense collapses with him. They shoot 39.83% and 27.59% from three. Both team lows. They also give up the most free throw attempts and only grab 72.36% of the defensive rebounds. Why? His rebound total is 7 for March and April. Seven! He shouldn't play at all unless our Frontcourt is in really bad foul trouble.

OUT: Brendan Haywood (PER: 13.72 +1.97)
Well, at least he should be. You'll notice that I go overboard here, but there is no way that you aren't disappointed with the big fella. Because of my future profession I think I am one of the more sensitive persons in terms of seeing the human being behind the professional. Yes, you're getting a huge contract and are supposed to be a starter for many years. Yes, there comes a guy named Tyson and he's not only getting your starting job but also emerges as the most important player on the team. But no, there is no way that you shoot 35.90% from the line. That is nothing you can't work on. And it is important. Tyson will eventually be in foul trouble against the Bynums of the NBA and virtually everybody will just hack Haywood down low. So a pass to this guy is statistically a turnover. Simple as that. He is a big presence in the paint (the team blocks the most shots with him on the floor), but in all other terms the defense just suffers with him: 115.50 DefEff with the opponent shooting 49.46% and 40.00% from three. Team high, team high and, well, team high. According to SynergySports he averages 0.47 Points per Possession on Post-Ups. Ugly. There is hope though. He played better recently and hopefully he'll carry that into the playoffs.

IN: Ian Mahinmi (PER: 7.52 -6.35)
Tyson in foul trouble and the opponent playing a little Hack-A-Wood? Mahinmi! In other news: The opponents shoot only 41.04% when he is out there. Pretty solid. He provides energy and hustle, but is not a good post defender. I guess we won't see him despite what the above scenario applies.

IN: Tyson Chandler (PER: 18.46 +1.58)
We could start a whole lot of praising here, but I think it's quite well spread: Without Chandler we wouldn't be the team we are today.
Uhm. I did use this one on Dirk, didn't I?
Okay then let's start with something else: Defense Offense: Tyson Chandler is the second most effective scorer in the league in terms of Points per Possession. Stunned? I was. SynergySports has him ranked so with scoring 1.18 Points per Possession. He turns 61.2% of his plays into a score. Surely most of them are set up by other players. He scores 1.14 out of P&Rs which contain all those lob passes thrown at him. But he is also a great Post-Up player: 1.00 Points per Possession, ranking 26th in the league. He didn't get too many touches but I am starting to ask myself why. They surely won't run their offense through Tyson in the playoffs, but when nothing else is working it still seems to be a possibility to feed the big man.

Now defense. The team plays its best defense with him on the floor: 99.67 pp100 in March and April. I think I will make myself unpopular now, but measured by the hype for his defensive impact and despite his great ON/OFF-numbers I'd say his impact is a bit overrated. Points in the Paint, Blocks per Game. Points per Game, Rebounds per Game and Shooting Percentages of the opposing Center. These are only a few areas where the team hasn't improved despite the addition of Tyson. He is an above-the-average post defender but the Mavs are still searching for a way to shut down the paint. They are allowing 43.75 Points in the Paint per Game against the other Playoff Teams in the West. That's not a good value and especially if they meet Memphis in that first round they'll have to lower it.

Finally I made a table that shows all the possibilities for tonight's games and who the respective first round opponent would be. I hope its correct because I did it in a hurry.

MIL @ OKC NOH @ DAL POR @ GSW LAL @ SAC MEM @ LAC Opponent
MIL NOH POR LAL MEM POR
MIL NOH POR LAL LAC POR
MIL NOH POR SAC MEM POR
MIL NOH POR SAC LAC POR
MIL NOH GSW LAL MEM POR
MIL NOH GSW LAL LAC POR
MIL NOH GSW SAC MEM POR
MIL NOH GSW SAC LAC POR
MIL DAL POR LAL MEM POR
MIL DAL POR LAL LAC POR
MIL DAL POR SAC MEM MEM
MIL DAL POR SAC LAC NOH
MIL DAL GSW LAL MEM POR
MIL DAL GSW LAL LAC POR
MIL DAL GSW SAC MEM MEM
MIL DAL GSW SAC LAC NOH
OKC NOH POR LAL MEM DEN
OKC NOH POR LAL LAC DEN
OKC NOH POR SAC MEM DEN
OKC NOH POR SAC LAC DEN
OKC NOH GSW LAL MEM DEN
OKC NOH GSW LAL LAC DEN
OKC NOH GSW SAC MEM DEN
OKC NOH GSW SAC LAC DEN
OKC DAL POR LAL MEM POR
OKC DAL POR LAL LAC POR
OKC DAL POR SAC MEM MEM
OKC DAL POR SAC LAC NOH
OKC DAL GSW LAL MEM POR
OKC DAL GSW LAL LAC POR
OKC DAL GSW SAC MEM MEM
OKC DAL GSW SAC LAC NOH


My personal take is that we really should try hard against the Hornets. Because if we don't win we'll end up with either Portland or Denver and the Thunder could decide whether they want to stay in the Spurs bracket or move up. The overall consensus is that Memphis will tank their game to move down and match up with the Spurs. So a win against the Hornets will land us the Hornets if the Lakers fail in Sactown. They will be without Bynum, Barnes and Blake down there and the Kings won't make it easy for them in their last game in the Power Balance Pavilion (ARCO Arena).