Advanced Scouting: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST December 18, 2010
Memphis: -0.69 (19th)
San Antonio: 8.67 (3rd)
Key Player Statistics (courtesy of 82games.com (effective December 15, 2010):
|Player||Fraction of teams minutes||PER minus Counterpart PER||2 Year Net PER||On court +/-per 48 minutes||Off court +/-per 48 minutes|
Adjusted plus-minus numbers are not available for Memphis on basketballvalue.com in the current season. Among the leaders, you can find Marc Gasol at 6.23, Rudy Gay at 4.66 and DeMarre Carroll at 4.68. OJ Mayo is among the trailers at -8.30.
Conley,Mayo,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +20 in 221 minutes
Conley,Henry,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +4 in 186 minutes
Conley,Mayo,Gay,Arthur,Gasol +23 in 100 minutes
Last season Memphis relied heavily on transition, isolation and post plays. This season, the reliance on the fast break and isolation plays has reduced (thanks in part to a diminished role from OJ Mayo), leaving the post game as their top option. Memphis has two very solid options down low with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Although neither is having the statistical success that they had last year, both are very crucial to the Grizzlies success.
Zach Randolph is the top option on the post for Memphis. According to Synergy Sports, his points per possession (PPP) are down from 1.03 (76th percentile) to 0.88 PPP (46th percentile). His value on the blocks is increased by his ability to pull down over 4 offensive rebounds per game. (He is grabbing a higher rate of offensive rebounds than last year when he led the league in total o-boards.) Marc Gasol has averaged 0.99 and 0.85 PPP in post possessions last year and this current season.
Rudy Gay has also proven to be a productive scorer in isolation sets. Last season he scored 0.84 PPP (42nd percentile) and this season he is averaging 0.9 PPP (57th percentile).
When Memphis does run the pick and roll, it is almost always through Mike Conley Jr. Conley is an effective option in the pick and roll game, ranking in the 66th percentile at 0.95 points per possession. Last season he ranked in the 41st percentile at 0.89 PPP.
Appropriate Spurs counter: Lots of bodies defending the post help, box out
With two bigs capable of scoring on the post, the Spurs are going to need a lot of big bodies. In the past, Duncan had defended Gasol while McDyess, Bonner and Blair took turns matching up against Randolph. I definitely think the Spurs could use some of Splitter tossed in there as well. Blair and McDyess are good defensive rebounders, which could be useful for trying to limit Randolphâ€™s second opportunities.
Additionally, Duncan should keep in mind that Marc Gasol has had considerably more success turning his right shoulder (1.09 PPP since last year) than his left (0.90 PPP). One more thing to consider is that OJ Mayo makes the Grizzlies a much faster paced team with far more transition opportunities. It might be tougher to play big lineups against a lineup involving Mayo.
This season, Rudy Gay has altered his shot selection to include more outside shots. Gayâ€™s attempted jumpers on 81% of his field goal attempts, up from 68% last season. He has also seen an increase in his shooting effectiveness from that range. Gayâ€™s three point percentage has increased over 8% from last season. Although his shooting numbers are up across the board, I would suspect that his outside shooting efficiency will become closer to his historical numbers. Although Gay is too good a shooter to be left open, the Spurs will likely benefit from encouraging him to continue with his new shot selection. (The Spurs primary defensive option defending Rudy Gay last season was Richard Jefferson.)
In addition to encouraging the outside shot, the Spurs should also take advantage of Gayâ€™s inability to hurt teams through passing the ball. Although he is averaging a career high 2.3 assists per game, Gay only has 17 close assists on the season (close assists are far more important in terms of passerâ€™s value). He has nearly twice as many passing turnovers, 32, as close assists this season.
Defensive Weakness: Look to score on the break and run the ISO against Mayo
The Memphis Grizzlies have allowed the 5th most transition points in the NBA. This is despite the fact that they rank on 14th in the NBA in pace. In addition to them allowing fast break opportunities, they also rank 24th in PPP in transition plays and they ranked 29th last season. Parker is able to look for quick strikes and take the ball to the rim on fast breaks. Jefferson is the Spurs best finisher on the break and Ginobili is the best at setting up his teammates in the transition.
Last season, when OJ Mayo was on the court, his team allowed over 3 points per 100 possessions more than when he was on the bench. This season they allow more than 7 additional points. It is definitely unlikely that Mayo is 7 points per game below average as a defender, but he is very likely weak defensively. In the specific case of isolation plays, Mayo has allowed 0.95 PPP in 43 possessions this season (34th percentile), 1 PPP in 141 possessions last year (26%) and 0.99 PPP in 133 possessions in his rookies season (18%). The Spurs could profit from finding ways to score against Mayo in isolations or other offensive sets.
As thrilling as the last couple games have been, if the Spurs keep getting in these close contests, they are bound to lose some of them (nearly half of them in the long run). Memphis isnâ€™t a bad team, but they are a team that the Spurs should be able to handle.