SportVu Update: Miroslav Takes Over
January 7, 2014
By Alex Boeder
There once was a 25 year-old rookie that looked more like a 25 year-old than a rookie.
Then he turned 26. That was two days ago.
And by the way, happy belated. To you, Miroslav Raduljica. You don’t always look super-thrilled in your photos, but today is a day to smile. Because it is still your birth week, really. And at this very moment, Almost Every Statistic In The World has a crush on you.
Miroslav Raduljica PER as a rookie (18.5) > LeBron James PER as a rookie (18.3). Happy Holidays!
— Alex Boeder (@alexboeder) December 24, 2013
Anyway, it started with an innocuous holiday tweet, but we might actually have something here.
Sure, the PER is down to 17.5, but that is still second best on the team. It is also second best among all rookies (behind just Michael Carter-Williams). Sure, the numbers are in merely 10.5 minutes per game, but that is more minutes per game than #1 overall draft pick, Anthony Bennett (also, Raduljica’s true shooting percentage is roughly Bennett’s times two).
Disclaimer: No need to get carried away. Not about a player who has yet to post 15 points in a game, or 8 rebounds in a game. Most recently, he played three minutes in Phoenix, and that is with injuries to John Henson and Zaza Pachulia.
But for a reserve front court player and undrafted rookie, the very basic numbers (such as a 57.4 field goal percentage) are encouraging. Increasingly, Raduljica looks competent on the floor (and not just against Scott Williams). He sort of also just took over this SportVU update story.
SportVU on Miroslav
Just like it sounds, Contested Rebound Percentage measures the number of contested rebounds that a player retrieves. That is still somewhat subjective, but the idea is that these rebounds are not the type that just fall into your palms. These are more like 50/50 balls, which is why 61.3 is the best percentage, and anything above 50 is quite good. This is just the top six, but also highly ranked are guys like Amir Johnson, Nikola Pekovic, Roy Hibbert, Andre Drummond, and Dejuan Blair, so the company is good.
Then again, Raduljica’s overall rebounding numbers are rather pedestrian. His 12.4 total rebound percentage ranks fourth best on the team. And his defensive rebound percentage ranks way, way down at ninth on the team… and the Bucks are the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA. So that doesn’t sound so good. The issue seems to be that when Raduljica has a chance at a rebound, he usually gets it, but he is not so frequently in position to get a rebound in the first place. This makes for a curious quandary. We’ll keep an eye on how it works out from here.
Surprise: Raduljica leads the entire NBA in opponent field goal percentage at the rim, allowing opponents to convert just 35.0 percent of the time. John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo also make the top seven.
Of course, defense at the rim is not the only type of defense (though an important type of defense for a seven-footer). The Bucks rank a decidedly below-average 22nd in defensive efficiency, so it’s not as though having these three guys among the league leaders has done the trick. Some also might say that Andrew Bynum’s lofty appearance throws everything into question, and that is understandable, but most of the others high up pass the eye test. Also worth noting is that Raduljica has faced the minimum threshold of 3.0 opponent field goal attempts per game, while Hibbert faces 9.3 per game, for example.
The Bucks are also not as good statistically on defense with Raduljica on the court as they are with him off the court. He clearly is strong at the rim, yet not so effective as he moves away from that comfort zone. But as we are looking at Raduljica within the context of being a capable backup big man at this point, this stat is another reason to feel a little bit of optimism. Especially because when people say good things about Raduljica, they are almost always talking about offense, not defense.
Three More SportVU Notes
A few more notes from the SportVU Player Tracking Data.
Only Brandon Knight ranks within the top 100 in miles traveled per game on the roster, which probably doesn’t really matter in itself, but it brings up the point that the Bucks rank 26th in pace, and that might not be helping things offensively. Larry Drew talked about wanting to push the ball before the season, but readjusted that philosophy after the glut of injuries. If and when the team regains health, hopefully they can get more stops defensively and play a bit more in transition, and with a bit more fluidity in the half court.
John Henson and Close Shots FG%
Last season we had a small sample size with Henson, so the optimism was understandably cautious even after looking at his impressive per-minute numbers. But many of his per-minute efficiency metrics have actually increased, with increased minutes. The obvious one on defense has been the huge jump in blocks (1.8 to 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes). And the obvious one on offense has been field goal percentage, which has risen from 48.2 to 52.7.
The main reason for that is upgraded efficiency in his sweet spot in the post, where he favors a quick lefty hook. Henson is converting at a 58.7 % clip on close shots, per SportVU data. That is not elite status, but it is top 35 in the league, and right around guys like Kevin Love and Blake Griffin.
Brandon Knight and Driving
The Bucks rank last in the league in offensive efficiency. One of a few things that they could use a little more of? Hoops on drives. Brandon Knight ranks among the top 50, averaging 3.5 points per game on drives (shooting 43.8 % on drives). But watching him play, you get the sense that he is capable of even more. He can usually beat his man initially, and he has strong momentum toward the basket, for a guard. But at times it seems like he is caught in between the mindset of a point guard and a scoring guard when he drives to the rim.
After a slow start to the season, Knight has often been the best hope for offense on the team over the past month. He is still finding his niche offensively. Getting a few more efficient points per game on drives (like, Jrue Holiday/Mike Conley territory) could be a big next step.
Writing and the Bucks. Two of my passions. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009. I started writing for the Bucks in 2012. Before that, I co-founded and wrote for BrewHoop. I have written for the Milwaukee Brewers, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, and so on. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.