To Be or Not to Be: Should Rashard Go to the Three?

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To Be or Not to Be: Should Rashard Go to the Three?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

How many times have you come across a message board with some variant of, "We should move Rashard to the three; he was much more effective there in Seattle, and then we can get the banger at the four to help Dwight out?"  It is most often followed by some comment about making a mistake giving up Courtney Lee for Carter, which I will address at some other point.

Today is about Rashard. So which position would he be better at? Let’s take a look.

 

Player 48-Minute Production by Position

 Position

FGA

eFG%

FTA

iFG

Reb

Ast

T/O

Blk

PF

Pts

PER*

SF

17.6  

.679  

2.5  

17% 

6.9  

2.5  

3.8  

1.9  

5.0  

26.4  

21.2  

PF

16.3  

.533  

3.7  

16% 

6.4  

2.2  

2.1  

.5  

3.6  

20.3  

15.7  

C

115.2  

1.500  

.0  

0% 

.0  

.0  

.0  

.0  

115.2  

345.6  

50.0  

 

Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production

Position

FGA

eFG%

FTA

iFG

Reb

Ast

T/O

Blk

PF

Pts

PER*

SF

19.5  

.484  

7.6  

32% 

2.5  

3.1  

1.9  

.0  

3.1  

25.8  

16.7  

PF

17.7  

.470  

4.0  

36% 

10.8  

2.7  

2.0  

.8  

4.6  

19.5  

17.0  

C

.0  

.000  

.0  

0% 

.0  

.0  

.0  

.0  

.0  

.0  

.0  

 

Rashard was used in a reduced role last season, so to get a better understanding on how he performed, we will examine some per 48 minutes stats regarding how he performed at each position using some data from 82games.com.

For a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) over 48 minutes last season Rashard was at a very good 21.2 at the SF position. His points per 48 minutes were 26.4, and his eFG percentage (effective FG percentage) was .679. For his defense he held opponents at the SF to a PER of 16.7, an eFG percentage of .484, and 25.8 points per 48 minutes. He also held them to 2.5 rebounds, while he himself grabbed 6.9.

However, all this data should be taken with a grain of salt.

He only spent 1 percent of the total minutes at the SF, vs. 58 percent of the available minutes at the PF position. This means that if there were 100 minutes played by all the SF on the team over a season, he would have only played 1 minute of that total, so that data is unreliable, being from such a small sample.

At the PF his numbers were pretty much down across the board.

His per was an above average 15.7, while his opponents had a PER of 17.0. His points were down to 20.3 to his opponents 19.5, his eFG percentage was .533 to his opponents .470, and his rebounding was 6.4 to his opponents 10.8.

The major thing that really jumps out from this comparison is that Rashard is getting badly out rebounded at the PF position, whereas he is out-rebounding his opponent at the SF. The data from this season would seem to suggest that he plays very similar at both positions but gets out-rebounded by bigger and stronger PF’s.

Now just to put this in perspective I am going to throw up his stats from the 06-07 season with Seattle, were he primarily played at the SF (43 percent) over the PF (14 percent).

 

Player 48-Minute Production by Position

Position

FGA

eFG%

FTA

iFG

Reb

Ast

T/O

Blk

PF

Pts

PER*

SF

20.9  

0.534  

5.6  

20% 

7.2  

3.2  

2.5  

0.7  

2.5  

27.1  

21.6  

PF

19.3  

0.546  

9.1  

18% 

10.3  

2.4  

2.0  

1.1  

4.0  

28.6  

26.2  

C

27.2  

0.400  

5.4  

0% 

19.0  

0.0  

2.7  

0.0  

10.9  

24.5  

10.9  

Position

FGA

eFG%

FTA

iFG

Reb

Ast

T/O

Blk

PF

Pts

PER*

SF

17.2  

0.519  

4.3  

28% 

5.7  

4.1  

2.7  

0.6  

3.8  

20.9  

15.5  

PF

14.3  

0.569  

5.0  

42% 

10.5  

3.5  

2.3  

1.0  

4.0  

20.0  

21.0  

C

19.0  

0.286  

0.0  

71% 

21.7  

0.0  

2.7  

2.7  

0.0  

10.9  

11.3  

 

Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production

 

 

Ironically, looking at his stats from the past, his data in Seattle would suggest that he was more effective on offense as a PF, with a PER of 26.2 vs. 21.6 for the SF.

Obviously, he was attempting more shots in Seattle and was hitting them at a similar rate (.534 eFG percentage for the SF in ’07 to .533 at the PF now). And his Ast and Reb are fairly similar, although he attempted more free throws in Seattle, but that may have more to do with him being a more primary piece of the offense there. But overall, it would appear that Rashard is more effective on offense as a three.

However, the defense seems to favor the SF still, and by a wider margin. It should be noted that his defense too has improved with Orlando, though in both eFG percentage and Pts per 48 minutes dropping for his opponents (in the main positions SF ’07 vs. PF ’10), with opponents rebounds increasing at PF vs. SF (which would be expected because PF’s are much bigger than SF’s).

So he is effective at defending both PF’s and SF’s, but not at getting rebounds over the PF’s. So we know that he is a more effective defender at the SF, mainly because of rebounding, but is not a great defender by any means.

So even though the PER’s are different (because of shot attempts mostly) Rashard is just more effective on offense as a SF than as a PF, so there is some reason to switch him there (the image of him posting up Paul Pierce always makes me feel better).

As far as defense goes, the only real difference is that he will out-rebound SF’s vs. getting out-rebounded by PF’s. However, it should be reminded that Rashard is not getting any quicker, and it’s a lot easier to guard a slower PF than a quick SF. Furthermore, the SF’s will burn you more than PF’s will usually, and if you’re gonna have an average to below average defender at either position, you should pick PF over SF, due to the lack of quality scoring PF's in the league.  

As far as him being overpaid, he is. But he has not regressed like many fans assume. Remember, he had the flu for the first four games of the Boston series, and his play improved greatly in Games Four and Five.

Rashard works well in our system at the PF, and we will have a hard time finding another stretch-four (there just aren’t that many that are better besides Dirk Nowitzki). He may get out-rebounded, but remember that we are a top three rebounding team, and we do have that guy, Dwight Howard, who dominates the boards.

Bostons triangle crashing the boards on offense may have got them some rebounds, but in reality, they lucked out that half of our starters were sick or ineffective (Barnes and Lewis: sick, VC: choke). That strategy stopped working in the last couple games, and I think it is obvious that SVG won’t let it work again.

So in conclusion, I would venture to say that Rashard appears to be more effective overall at the three. In our system Rashard is not a secondary, or even tertiary scoring option like he was in Seattle, so it is unlikely he will replicate the stats he had there. But what Rashard brings to the table in Orlando is a great compliment to Dwight’s game, and another dead eye shooter.

We would be hard pressed to find someone that could truly replace him at the four (and do what he does for us), where as it is much easier to fix the three. However, there is merit to the idea that Rashard should be moved back to the three.

Whether that move will help our team overall is still up in the air, but it would appear that Rashard is a better SF than a PF, so it might just be worth a try.

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