The Winning Effects of Moreyball (Or: Just Give Up and Hate the Long 2)

Jared Wickerham

(Editor's Note: Great stuff from the fanpost section. Keep them coming, people! -PH)

The Rockets really really hate the long 2 pt shot.

How much?

durvasa from ClutchFans mapped it out::


You should check out their post actually, it's a great discussion.

The reasons for hating the long 2 are varied, but the basic one is that the FG% of a long 2 is about the same as a 3pt shot, but you get more points for the 3pt. Living in the paint also has additional benefits of drawing fouls, which are not only the highest % shot in the game, but puts fouls onto the other team and increases the chance of benching their players due to foul trouble. Also the long 2 sucks for your team's rebounding.

Hoopsspeak posted about how Houston's shot selection helps out its offense.

In terms of eFG%, [Houston's shot selection is] the difference between Houston being 11th [in league] at 49.2% and being 20th at 47.5%.

For kicks, I ran the numbers for if Houston's shot distribution with league average FG%; at that time, Houston would be 6th in the league.

Perhaps interestingly enough, Lin and Harden both seem to avoid assisting the long 2 as well; with Lin it might be a carryover from D'Antoni, who hates the long 2. Harden appears to have modified his assist spread based on Houston's offensive philosophy.

Lin assists 2011/2012:
3pt: 50 (~23%) <—mostly Novak, JR Smith?
Close: 60 (~28%)
Dunk :64 (~30%) <—mostly Tyson Chandler?
Jump: 41 (~19%)
Total: 215
Passing Rating: 13.8
AST48: 11

Lin assists 2012/2013 so far:
3pt: 23 (~29%) <—Parsons, Morris, Harden? Actually this number might be low because the earlier games the Rocket's team had horrible 3pt %'s, despite attempting among the most the league.
Close: 24 (~30%)
Dunk :18 (~23%) <—I expect this to rise as Asik's handle/finishing improves
Jump: 14 (~18%) <—Patterson?
Total: 79
Passing Rating: 13.6
AST48: 8.7

Curiosity's sake, I pulled up Harden too:

Harden assists 2011/2012:
3pt: 78 (~34%)
Close: 40 (17%)
Dunk: 33 (~14%)
Jump: 78 (~34%)
Total: 229
Passing Rating: 6.0
AST48: 5.6

Harden assists 2012/2013 so far:
3pt: 24 (~37.5%)
Close: 16 (25%)
Dunk: 11 (~17%)
Jump: 13 (~20%) <—dramatically lower while all other's increased
Total: 64
Passing Rating: 6.6
AST48: 6.2

(from here, 11.30.12)

I ran the numbers again today to see if there'd been much change, and the assist spread remained the same to about 0.02 to 0.01.

And decided to compare with everyone on the first page of ESPN's assist leaders.


Green = Great, Yellow = Honorable Mention, Red = Plz improve. Assist Per Game from ESPN. Assist %'s from Ast-2+1 are the sum of Close Assists and Dunk Assists, ie. 2pt assists that have a high chance of producing And1's.

ADJ (A) = points produced from assists = (AstPG*Ast-3*3) + (AstPG*Ast-Jump*2) + (AstPG*Ast-2+1*2) + (AstPG*Ast2+1*TeamsFTA/FGA*Teams!FT%)

Translation: (Total 3pt Assists x 3pts) + (Total 2pt Assists x 2pts) + (Ratio of Free Throw Attempts Per Field Goal Attempts, multiplied by assists that are close enough to draw fouls, multiplied by Free Throw Percentage)

Note: I tested Rockets Team numbers (FTA/FGA and FT%) compared against Celtics Team numbers, but the difference produced was in the 0.001's, so I just used the Rockets numbers for everyone.

It produces a number that closely correlates with flat assist #'s (especially since passing to a player that attempts a close/dunk shot but only draws foul instead of and1, so there's not as much 'surprise' variance. I'd need a bit of brain/time to figure out how to reverse engineer shot% close+dunk#'s and FTA to guesstimate how many of the team's free throw points can be credited to an assist that doesn't get counted).

Item of note: if Lin and Harden shot with Rondo's assist spread, the team would average about 2.48 points less than they currently are getting. If Rondo assisted more efficiently, the Celtics would average about 1.72 points more.

For more shits and giggles I plopped in PPG and added the Assist Points. (Result: God bless Harden.)


I expect once this team gets better chemistry (and Asik develops better handles/finishing) that Harden should squeak by Westbrook, at least. Meanwhile Lin needs to work on his shot, but we all knew this.

...and Calderon is by far pulling his weight more via assists than points. Ditto Rondo, and Vasquez but it's more obvious sorting by PPG...


lmao oh Rondo.

...I got sidetracked by pretty tables, so sue me.

TLDR; Houston's currently being helped out by it's shot selection because its personnel has shitty FG% all across the board, compared to the league. Do not blame the lack of midrange jumpshots; if the team was taking long 2's, it'd make them worse.

No cursing in title. No pirated material, such as links to online game streams. Do not cut/paste entire sections of content from other websites. Thanks.