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Dumpy's Statistical Analysis - Orlando and Toronto

Orlando at New Jersey, January 6, 2006
Final Score: New Jersey 113, Orlando 106

Player Min. Plus-Minus Eff.
Nenad Krstic 32.1 +13 15
Jason Collins 26.5 +13 10
Vince Carter 39.0 +11 29
Jason Kidd 37.6 +5 31
Richard Jefferson 33.0 +2 14
Cliff Robinson 17.0 +1 11
Jacque Vaughn 20.9 +0 10
Lamond Murray 11.8 -2 7
Jeff McInnis 8.5 -3 2
Scott Padgett 13.5 -5 7

Nice bounce-back performance by Jason Collins after a few sub-par games.

This was the second time during the winning streak that the Nets faced the Magic. Just for fun, let’s review the prior game:

Prior Game against Orlando:
New Jersey at Orlando, December 21, 2005
Final Score: New Jersey 96, Orlando 85

Player Min. Plus-Minus Eff.
Jason Kidd 39.0 +11 13
Richard Jefferson 40.3 +10 23
Vince Carter 36.5 +8 32
Nenad Krstic 21.3 -1 6
Jason Collins 4.8 -5 0
Cliff Robinson 27.2 +18 4
Lamond Murray 27.4 +7 15
Jeff McInnis 5.9 +1 -1
Jacque Vaughn 9.2 +1 4
Scott Padgett 13.7 0 6

Totals—New Jersey vs. Orlando

Player Min. Plus-Minus Eff.
Vince Carter 75.5 +19 61
Jason Kidd 76.6 +16 44
Nenad Krstic 53.4 +12 21
Jason Collins 31.3 +8 10
Richard Jefferson 33.0 +2 14
Cliff Robinson 44.2 +19 15
Lamond Murray 39.2 +5 22
Jacque Vaughn 30.1 +1 14
Jeff McInnis 14.4 -2 1
Scott Padgett 27.2 -5 13

These two games present a nice study in symmetry. In each game, one Nets starter left very early due to early: Collins in the first meeting, Jefferson in the second. The other key big men, Cliff Robinson and Nenad Krstic, each had one good performance and one poor performance, but at different times. On the other hand, Carter was very consistent, posting nearly plus-minus and efficiency stats against Orlando.

New Jersey at Toronto, January 8, 2005
Final Score: New Jersey 105, Toronto 104

Player Min. Plus-Minus Eff.
Vince Carter 45.2 +5 35
Nenad Krstic 33.7 +4 17
Jason Collins 23.1 -1 1
Richard Jefferson 2.0 -3 1
Jason Kidd 39.7 -5 34
Lamond Murray 22.2 +11 14
Cliff Robinson 20.1 +5 5
Jeff McInnis 3.5 -1 1
Scott Padgett 16.7 -3 6
Jacque Vaughn 31.3 -3 4
Marc Jackson 2.4 -4 3

For one of the only times during the winning streak, we see a lot of minus signs in the plus-minus column. Lamond Murray’s +11 rating stands out, and we’ll discuss this a bit more in a minute.

Let’s take a moment to review some of my comments contained in the prior Statistical Analysis in light of these two most recent games. I made several points about the Nets’ recent play that bear another look:

(1) In the previous Statistical Analysis, I noted that, during the winning streak, Jason Kidd had yet to play with at least one of Richard Jefferson or Vince Carter on the floor alongside him. What happened? Approximately three minutes into the second quarter against Orlando, Coach Frank introduced a unit consisting of Kidd, Jacque Vaughn, Lamond Murray, Scott Padgett and Cliff Robinson. That’s right, J-Kidd was on his own. This grouping remained on the floor together for 2:20, during which they were outscored by four points as Orlando concluded an 8-2 run. Undeterred, Coach Frank tried it again against Toronto, at the very same point of the game (a few minutes gone in the second quarter). Once again, Coach Frank opted for a unit consisting of Kidd, Vaughn, Murray, Padgett, and Robinson. This time, the unit played slightly better, and was outscored by two points in 2:45 of play. (I note that there was also a brief appearance by a similar unit with Marc Jackson instead of Robinson; that group earned a -2 rating in 17 seconds of play, the two points coming on two free throw attempts that they inherited before the unit was fashioned). Lesson: We’re heartened that Coach Frank is tinkering with the lineup and giving Kidd a chance to play with four reserves at a time. Although this particular combination has not shown much success in (very) limited minutes so far, we’d like to see this Coach Frank give this combination a chance to develop some chemistry. At the very least, it gives these reserves an opportunity to play with Kidd simultaneously, as a unit, something that they should be prepared for in the event that a series of injuries hits the team later in the season.

(2) Also in the previous Statistical Analysis, we noted that Vince Carter appeared to have more success than Richard Jefferson playing with a unit of Vaughn, Murray, Padgett, and Robinson, and we suggested that the Nets open the second quarter with that unit. What happened? Sure enough, the Nets opened the second quarter against Orlando with a unit of Vaughn, Carter, Murray, and Robinson. Krstic began the quarter with the unit, but after about a half-minute, he was replaced by Padgett. How’d they do? In the 37 seconds when Krstic was on the floor, the unit earned a +0; after Padgett replaced Krstic, the unit earned a -3 in about 2:30. Previously, we discovered that this unit typically earns a slightly negative rating, and this performance is certainly consistent with that.

(3) We also stated that we thought that Scott Padgett deserved more playing time with a unit that includes the "Big Three." What happened? In the second quarter against Orlando, Padgett found himself on the floor with, you guessed it, Kidd, Carter, RJ, and Collins. This unit earned a +2 in two minutes of play. Nice job!

(4) We also feel the need to update the starting unit’s first quarter/third quarter disparity. If you remember, we showed that the starting five have been much more effective in the first quarter than the third quarter during the winning streak when playing as a unit. What happened? Against Orlando, the starting unit earned a -2 in the first quarter in just over ten minutes, and a +3 in the third quarter in just less than ten minutes. Go figure.

(5) Finally, we also noted that a lineup consisting of the "Big Three" plus Vaughn, while not used often, appeared to be relatively effective. What happened? The Nets tried this approach (with Krstic filling the fifth position) towards the end of the game against Orlando. In an attempt to come from behind, the Magic resorted to a strategy of shoot-and-foul, and outscored the Nets by seven points in about four minutes of play. Still, we’re not prepared to write off this combination—they may have bent a bit, but they didn’t break.

Unfortunately, as you all know, Richard Jefferson suffered an early injury against the Raptors, so we didn’t get a chance to see if Coach Frank was planning to repeat these combinations again. Thankfully, RJ’s injury is not considered serious, and he should be back in action shortly. But his injury raises an interesting question: What should the Nets do should RJ suffer a more substantial injury? Specifically, which combinations involving Carter and Kidd—but without RJ—have been the most effective? What combinations should the Nets rely on the most if RJ is forced to miss time? Now, RJ often plays between 38-40 minutes a night (if not more), so there isn’t very much evidence to look at, but let’s see what we can do.

It turns out that, over the past ten games, Kidd and Carter have played together without Jefferson for about 46 and a half minutes, during which they were minus-two. Of that, nearly 35 minutes happened against Toronto, so you can see that this is a relatively rare scenario. Moreover, of the approximately eleven and a half minutes remaining, fully nine and a half occurred against Denver, during the first game of the winning streak. The Nets then promptly went eight games during which Kidd and Carter played together without Jefferson for a total of just two minutes or so. So, you can see, the evidence is a little limited, and skewed towards the experience against the Raptors.

With that minus-two rating, it seems as though the Nets would be doomed to a season of mediocrity should RJ be lost for an extended period. Let’s take a closer look. Forging forward, we see that the Nets have used 13 different combinations over the past ten games that include Kidd and Carter but not Jefferson. I’ll just summarize the findings here in terms of three-man combinations instead of listing them all separately.

By Additional SG/SF:

Kidd/Carter PLUS: Total Time Plus-Minus
Vaughn 27 min. -5
Murray 13.5 min. +8
McInnis 4.5 min. -5

Interesting. We see that while the Nets are generally mediocre overall when Kidd and Carter are playing but Jefferson is off the floor, we can identify a significant difference between units that include Vaughn, Murray, and McInnis. Nearly all of the combinations involving Murray occurred against Toronto.

By Additional PF/Center:

Kidd/Carter PLUS: Total Time Plus-Minus
Padgett 13 min. -14
Collins 22.5 min. +4
Robinson 17.5 min. +9
Krstic 34.5 min. +1

Similarly, we can identify stark differences in how Kidd and Carter performing depending on which bigs are in the game. Specifically, we can see that a trio of Kidd-Carter-Padgett has struggled significantly, and that a trio of Kidd-Carter-Robinson appears to flourish. Looking a little closer:

Select Quartets Involving Kidd, Carter, and Murray

Kidd/Carter PLUS: Total Time Plus-Minus
Robinson/Murray 6.5 minutes +11
Collins/Murray 7.5 minutes +3

In limited experience, it appears as if the Kidd-Carter-Murray combo is very effective, certainly more than the Kidd-Carter-Vaughn combo. This combination is at its best when alongside Cliff Robinson, but we can also say that a quartet with Collins has also performed well in limited opportunities. Coach Frank has tried this four-man combo with Padgett, Krstic, and Collins/Robinson each filling the final position, and each of these five-man units has exhibited success, each earning a plus rating. Again, we point out that the far majority of these combinations occurred against Toronto. Incidentally, a five-man unit that adds both Collins AND Robinson to the Kidd-Carter-Murray base earned a +6 in about two and a half minutes.

On the other hand,

Select Quartet Involving Kidd, Carter, and Vaughn

Kidd/Carter PLUS: Total Time Plus-Minus
Padgett/Vaughn 4.5 minutes -8

Coach Frank has tried this combination with either Krstic or Robinson in the fifth slot, to no avail.

Admittedly, it is hard to justify reaching a conclusion based on such limited evidence. We can say, however, that it appears that the Kidd-Carter-Murray combination may be a unit that will exhibit success in the future. This is especially true with regard to a Kidd-Carter-Murray-Robinson quartet. At this point—again, based on limited evidence—it may be said that this unit deserves more of an opportunity than a Kidd-Carter-Vaughn unit. We’d also be cautious of playing Padgett with that quartet (this quintet performed once, earning a +1 in about 45 seconds). We certainly hope that RJ recovers quickly, and does not suffer another injury. Even so, we’d like to see more of the Kidd-Carter-Murray combo, even in limited minutes. The numbers are there. Coach Frank? The ball is in your court.