Monday, June 20, 2011

Offensive Four Factors: Charlotte Bobcats

Coming off the best season in franchise history which saw Charlotte make the playoffs for the first time, there was some optimism that the team could build off of that experience and slowly position itself as a sleeper in the East.  This never materialized, as 2010-11 saw Charlotte miss the playoffs yet again.  This was due in large part to an anemic offense.  We'll attempt to explain why.

Charlotte Bobcats

Offensive Rating - 103.4 (26th)

Offensive Four Factors Performance:

eFG: .482 (25th)
TOV: .141 (24th)
OREB: .257 (18th)
FTA/FGA: .237 (7th)

As is the case with the league's other bad offenses, the problem begins with shooting.  It is rare to find a team perform shoot poorly yet still do well offensively.  Unfortunately for Charlotte, they matched up poor shooting with a high turnover rate and mediocre offensive rebounding.  Let's take a look at why they struggled putting the ball in the hoop.

If we look at a combination of USG% and Minutes Played, the 4 players who had the biggest impact on their season were Boris Diaw, DJ Augustin, Stephen Jackson, and Gerald Wallace.  Of those 4, Diaw had the lowest USG% (only 16.8% - meaning he was rarely the focal point).  Neither of the 3 remaining players did well in terms of efficiency.  Augustin had an eFG of 47.4%, Jackson's was 46.8%, and Wallace's was 46.3%.  All three of these players had similar profiles in terms of their shot attempts - all three were poor 2 point shooters on varying degrees of volume and all were decent 3 point shooters on varying degrees of volume.

Lacking any credible inside threat allowed defenses to adjust accordingly, and the possessions that didn't end in a turnover typically ended in a low efficiency shot taken by one of those three players.

Charlotte was also poor at limiting turnovers.  The biggest culprit here was Stephen Jackson, who had a TOV of nearly 15% compared to the 11.4% league average for small forwards.  The big issue here is not just his turnovers in a vacuum, but that he was by far Charlotte's number one offensive option.  The other culprit of Boris Diaw.  Diaw will always have a higher TOV than most bigs given his style of play, but that is no excuse.  Teams that have difficulty shooting the ball need to protect the ball incredibly well to have any success, and having two players who are some of the worst at their positions in terms of protecting the ball makes matters worse.

Charlotte's offensive rebounding was a tinge below average.  I suspect that part of this was due to the inexcusable decision to limit Tyrus Thomas' minutes early in the season (and then, of course, his season ending injury).  The other factor here was Boris Diaw (again).  Diaw put up a putrid 4.5% offensive rebounding rate, and given that he played all of his minutes at either the 4 or the 5, we can quickly pick up why Charlotte struggled on the offensive glass.

Getting to the rack was the only bright spot in Charlotte's offensive resume this past year.  However, when we look at the free throw rates of some of their players, we see some confusion, as outside of Gerald Wallace's (1872 minutes) 5.6 attempts/game and Kwame Brown's (1714 minutes) 4.9 attempts/game, the only player who got to the line with any frequency was Stephen Jackson at 4.6 attempts/game.  This is where their inability to protect the ball coupled with their inability to grab offensive rebounds hurt them.  Even though they got to the line a good deal as a proportion of their total field goal attempts, their raw free throw attempts were low, simply because they had fewer possessions per game.

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