Is There Room on the Caps Bandwagon?

My latest at the Washington Post:

To call myself a casual hockey fan would have been an insult to casual hockey fans. My hockey experience is a bit limited. In high school, my buddy Scott Krystinak and I took a day off from classes for a Caps high school media day. This was 1988. We drove out the Capital Centre, caught the tail end of practice, and then got to do some interviews.

My highlight was asking Ed Kastelic whether he thought “goon hockey” was a problem for the sport. I’ll pause for you puckheads to stop giggling.

For the more casual fan, Kastelic played in 228 NHL games (including playoffs), during which time he compiled 12 goals, 10 assists, and 751 penalty minutes. Google his name and you’ll find his profile, as well as grainy videos of him pummeling opponents. Thankfully, his response didn’t involve a left hook.

Read the rest.


A Look at Blatche’s Shooting

Inspired by Michael Lee’s attempt to explain Andray Blatche’s low shooting percentage this season, my latest at the Washington Post breaks down Blatche’s shooting numbers.

In his recent article about Andray Blatche’s “career-best two-game stretch,” Michael Lee explains Blatche’s poor shooting with this:

“His problems began when he broke a bone in his right foot last June and was unable to do much basketball-related activity. He gained weight, arrived in training camp out of shape, and developed problems with his left knee that affected his burst and his lift. With his shot getting blocked inside, Blatche was forced to take jumpers, resulting in a 43.8 field goal percentage that is his worst since his second season.”Sounds plausible, but is this accurate? Did Blatche shoot more jumpers because his shot was getting blocked inside? Is this what caused Blatche’s sub-par shooting? Let’s test these theories against data extracted from the league’s official play-by-play reports.

Turns out, Lee’s explanation doesn’t hold up. But, there may still be some encouraging signs for Blatche’s future.

Read the rest.

Is Nick Young An Efficient Volume Shooter?

Rook6980 poses the question over at BulletsForever. And, he answers it in the affirmative, pinning the decline in Nick Young’s shooting as the season wore on to a knee injury sustained near the All-Star break.

While Rook’s analysis isn’t bad, he overlooked a more meaningful in-season signpost — the trade of Gilbert Arenas, which led to Young becoming a starter.

Here are some telling numbers about Young’s shooting this season, first using TS% (Rook’s preferred metric).

  • Full season TS% — .538
  • Starter — .532
  • Starter, Pre All-Star break — .538
  • Bench (pre-Arenas trade) — .570

As I’ve noted before, Young’s heavy reliance on long 2pt attempts is worrisome long-term. Much of his decline in overall efficiency is related to the drop in effectiveness shooting that long 2pt shot once he became a starter.

Young’s long 2pt percentages:

  • Bench (pre-Arenas trade) — .574
  • Starter — .412
  • Starter, Pre All-Star break — .414

Shooting percentage on long twos for his first three seasons: .403.

The starter “signpost” is more significant than the All-Star break/injury one because that’s when the decline first began, because it marks a step up in the caliber of competition Young faced, and because it marks the point at which opponents began game-planning Young.