The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Gooden at PG?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 May 2007

That headline is a joke, but I’m going to toss out a few interesting stats that might make you think otherwise (though probably not).

In the 2007 playoffs LeBron James leads the team with an assist ratio of 23.55. Assist ratio is a measure of the number of assists a player generates per 100 possessions. 23.55 is quite good, especially for a small forward.

Sasha Pavlovic is second, generating 14.20 assists per 100 possessions. We all pay attention to his inconsistent-but-pretty shooting stroke and rightly note his poor ball-handling, but who’d have guessed that he’s our second-best assist man? I mean, it’s not like he gets that many touches per game. I’d put him at #4, with only Gooden getting fewer touches.

As you’d expect, Larry Hughes is third on the team, with an assists ration of 12.85. He is the point guard, after all. It’s his job to distribute the basketball to people who will score. (1) By sheer virtue of playing the position he has to dish out a few assists, right? And he does! Just not that many.

You’d never guess the two players vying to take over that coveted #3 assist man spot: Drew Gooden (10.77) and Anderson Varejao (10.24). (2) What might be even more surprising is how close they are to catching Hughes.

But being a point guard is about more than dishing out assists. You also have to secure the ball, which means one must factor in turnovers as well. This is where things get interesting.

Just as you can measure assists per 100 possessions you can also measure turnovers per 100 possessions. And who’s the big leader in this category? Pavlovic! His turnover ratio is 25.33, thanks to that wonderful propensity to dribble the ball off of his butt. Next in line? Hughes! His turnover ratio is 24.85. Varejao is third at 19.01. Where’s Gooden? Near the bottom, actually. His turnover ratio is just 12.60. This is mostly due to the fact that he doesn’t touch the ball that often, but still. Gooden has routinely been under-appreciated and this is just another area where he is better than most people think.

To wit: If you take the difference between assist ratio and turnover ratio he comes in second on the team, behind only LeBron, who is the only player on the team with a positive differential in the playoffs (Daniel Gibson is darn close, at -.689). Gooden’s differential is just -1.827. Hughes (-11.999), meanwhile, is battling Ilgauskas (-12.027) for the worst differential.

Anyone who still thinks that Hughes could be the answer at point guard must hope he learns how to a) generate assists and b) not turn the ball over. So far there are no signs of that happening.

Good luck, Mr. Ferry.

1: What does it mean when your starting point guard has a relatively pathetic assist ratio when he has one of the most dominating scorers in the league on his team? Does Hughes just not pass to LBJ? How does this happen?

2: Quick: Is it pathetic that these two big men generate almost as many assists as our point guard or pathetic that our point guard generates almost as many assists as our starting power forward and backup center?

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