When it comes to handling the ball in the pick-and-roll, Porter did show flashes of that potential, but it’s an area that will need attention. As a pick-and-roll ballhandler last season, he was in the 26th percentile, according to Synergy Sports. He had an effective field goal percentage of 34 percent on pull-ups. I think Porter also demonstrated that he can get separation off the bounce through pick-and-roll creation. I think it’s an element to his game that has room to grow.
Relph put Randle through on-court workouts that accentuated those goals, tasking him with skill drills and pushing him in games to put it all together. In one, he asked Randle to go through a post move, ball screen-and-pop, a shot off one-dribble, and lifting up for a 3. The impact on his playing style this season is clear. Randle is shooting more out of the mid-range — he’s in the 94th percentile percentage of his shots taken as long 2s, according to Cleaning The Glass — and he’s hitting them more often. Last season, Randle hit 42 percent of his mid-range jumpers, via Cleaning The Glass. This season, he’s at 50 percent so far.
That’s according to the impressive data work of Taylor Snarr, which he publishes at DunksandThrees. You might say 13 games’ worth of data ain’t worth a damn in predicting the future. (Many plus-minus stats aren’t even published this early in the season, they are notoriously noisy.) But experts with deep experience in this kind of data suggest Snarr has done a best-in-class job of smoothing out a lot of that with a clever integration of box score and player tracking data. According to several sources in the NBA data game, Snarr’s Estimated Plus-Minus (EPM) is the best plus-minus based stats in the game, replacing Real Plus-Minus. Snarr’s version is just more accurate, in a detailed review of the last six year’s worth of data. There’s an essay all about it on Snarr’s website, which includes the following:
It’s fair to say that project has been a work in progress. At the season’s start, the Rockets were making a deliberate attempt at passing the ball more and moving more on the floor. So far, there has been a regression in all areas of offseason emphasis. Houston returned to the top of the league in isolation plays at 13.5 per game, according to Second Spectrum. The Rockets are also a bottom-five team in passes made. Silas’ body language during Tuesday’s game indicated his displeasure with that side of the floor, hanging his head when the team found itself in late-clock situations having not made a number of passes or actions.
This move to off-ball allows for combinations of Rozier’s best attributes to take over. While he has never been a “knockdown” marksman from the outside — for his career, he has been roughly league average on uncontested 3-point attempts at just under 39 percent — his combination of shooting ability and athleticism has allowed him to be one of the more dynamic contested 3-point shooters in the game.
According to Cleaning the Glass, the Pacers are 23rd in the proportion of their attempts categorized as “long midrange” and 29th in proportion from all midrange areas. Indiana has been in the “top” 10 in the league in terms of the highest frequency of shots in both categories for each of the last seven seasons. That sort of change with essentially no turnover in personnel has to be attributed to schematic change, aka coaching. This shouldn’t be taken as saying that Bjorkgren is a better coach than Nate McMillan overall; rather, this is one specific area in which he has had a positive impact.