The Microscope: Reading Between the Stats of Shannon Brown's Season (and More)
The Microscope is your recurring look at the NBA's small-scale developments—the rotational curiosities, skill showcases, coaching decisions, notable performances and changes in approach that make the league go 'round.
Shannon Brown and the Masking of the Steve Nash Effect
It's not at all uncommon to see Steve Nash's newfound teammates see a bump in their production and shooting efficiency; there are plenty of intangible benefits to playing with an elite playmaker, but Nash's passing translates in a way that's both incredibly obvious and statistically observable.
Yet Shannon Brown—who's playing as Nash's teammate for the first time this season—seems completely immune to the effect on face; his per-minute scoring is practically identical to his averages as a Laker, and his true shooting percentage has dropped from .518 last season to .501 this year.
In truth, a performance like the one Brown rattled off on Tuesday night—in which he scored 32 points on just 18 shots—stands out precisely because it's so unlike the rest of his Phoenix profile.
Inefficiency has more or less been the norm, and though Brown has still been a largely effective player, it would be fair to have expected more out of a smart cutter sharing a team with such a tremendous passer.
That goes against everything we know about Nash's playing style and effectiveness, but only due to a bit of a statistical smokescreen. Alvin Gentry has actually stashed Brown at the end of the rotation virtually opposite Nash; by serving as a complementary ball-handler to alleviate the pressure on Sebastian Telfair, Brown's floor time with Nash has been minimized (he's logged 617 minutes this season with Nash on the bench, compared to just 297 minutes with him on the floor) to the point of quantitative muting.
When Nash does share the floor with Brown, the results are actually pretty profound: He posts a significantly higher true shooting percentage (.523 compared to .490), a lower turnover rate, sees a noticeable bump in scoring (19.4 points per 36 minutes, compared to 17.6), has fewer blocked attempts, and of course—has a greater number of assisted field goals.
It's a bummer for Brown that he hasn't been able to score more floor time with his best teammate, but them's the breaks of being a decent shot creator on a team lacking in that particular commodity.
Still, it's good to know that the non-existent impact/slight dip in efficiency we see in Brown's season-long numbers isn't indicative of an immunity to the Steve Nash Effect at all—it's merely the Sebastian Telfair Effect.
A Meeting of the League's Top Feast-or-Famine Shooters
Both can convert attempts from beyond the arc on occasion (Parsons is shooting just below average at 32 percent for the season, and Marion is slightly worse at 30 percent), but more importantly, their shooting habits are completely polar.
When Marion misses one of his three-point attempts from the corner, it's almost certainly due to a wild air ball. When Parsons botches one of his attempts from outside, it's seemingly likely to take a bounce off of the far side of the backboard. Anything short of a make ends up in a crazy attempt.
Streakiness doesn't quite capture it; three-point attempts are an all-or-nothing proposition for these two, even beyond the make-miss nature of any shot. They're the most obvious examples of this phenomenon, in my experience, but I'd be curious to know who else comes to mind.
Remember Tracy McGrady?
Depending on your definitional leanings, it may have been two months since Tracy McGrady—once an essential component of Atlanta's reserve core—has played an effective basketball game.
He still steps out of hibernation to create a shot now and again, but the idea that McGrady could serve to replace some of the shot creation lost in Jamal Crawford's departure now appears misguided—if only because he has seemingly had trouble keeping up with the pace of the season.
McGrady hasn't played badly, but relative to expectation and his early season demonstrations, his latest bottom-out has been a bit of a disappointment. The days of McGrady's bench contributions in Atlanta seem like ancient history at this point, as do those of Vladimir Radmanovic's rotation relevance.
That in itself makes it slightly amazing that the Hawks are as good as they are; despite the fact that Marvin Williams and Ivan Johnson are Atlanta's top two bench performers (and the only consistent ones), the Hawks are still hanging in the thick of the Eastern Conference.
The stats used in this post are courtesy of NBA.com.
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