One Team, One Stat: Grizzlies can't take care of ball without Conley
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2018-19 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Memphis Grizzlies, who couldn’t take care of the ball without their point guard.
The Grizzlies committed 15.6 turnovers per 100 possessions last season.
The Grizzlies have been no better than average offensively in any of the last 11 seasons. When they’ve won, they’ve won with defense. But last season, in which they ranked 27th and scored 4.3 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average, was their worst offensive season since 2008-09. Even though the Grizzlies ranked 19th the season prior, only the Celtics saw a bigger drop in points scored per 100 possessions from ’16-17 to ’17-18.
Even when healthy, the Grizzlies have not been a good shooting team. They’ve ranked in the bottom three in effective field goal percentage in each of the last three seasons. But they’ve managed to be a not-so-terrible offensive team overall by getting to the free throw line, grabbing offensive rebounds and taking care of the ball.
Last season, they saw drop-offs in both free throw rate and offensive rebounding percentage. But where they fell off most was in turnover rate, the second most important of the “four factors” on offense (behind effective field goal percentage). And it’s fairly easy to draw a connection between that drop-off and the absence of point guard Mike Conley.
Two seasons ago, the Grizzlies scored 10.8 more points per 100 possessions with Conley on the floor (109.0) than they were with him off the floor (98.2). With Conley on the floor, they committed just 12.9 turnovers per 100 possessions (a rate which would have ranked fourth). With him off the floor, they committed 14.1 per 100 (a rate which would have ranked 14th).
Conley himself committed just 9.0 turnovers per 100 possessions. That was the sixth lowest rate among 57 players who had an assist ratio of 20 or more assists per 100 possessions.
Through 13 games last season, the Grizzlies were 7-6 and ranked second in turnover rate (14.3 per 100 possessions). But Game 13 was Conley’s last and the second game of an 11-game losing streak. After Conley’s injury, Memphis ranked 29th in both turnover rate (15.8 per 100 possessions) and offensive efficiency (103.2 points scored per 100 possessions).
A healthy Conley is not going to make the Grizzlies a great offensive team. Perimeter shooting is still going to be an issue in Memphis. But with their point guard back and taking care of the ball, the Grizzlies will at least get to shoot more often.
Note: Stats marked with an * below are based on possession estimates. All other stats are based on true possession counts.
GRIZZLIES NOTES – GENERAL
- Last season ended a seven-year playoff streak, which had been the league’s third-longest active streak.
- Have ranked in the bottom five in pace in each of the last six seasons and are the only team that has ranked in the bottom five in each of the last three.
- Saw the league’s biggest drop in wins from 2016-17 (43) to last season (22).
- Saw the league’s second biggest drop in NetRtg (point differential per 100 possessions), from plus-0.5 (12th in the league) in 2016-17 to minus-6.7 (27th) last season.
- One of four teams — Chicago, Phoenix and Sacramento are the others — that ranked in the bottom five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
- Had the worst record (9-20) in games played between the 12 teams that finished with losing records.
- Outscored by 4.0 points per game at the free throw line. Only Sacramento (minus-4.1) had a bigger discrepancy.
- Were 12-29 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Only Dallas (12-38) was worse and the Grizzlies’ winning percentage (0.293) was down from 0.522 (24-22) in 2016-17. That was the league’s biggest drop in clutch winning percentage.
- One of two teams – Dallas (20-21) was the other – with a losing record (the Grizzlies were 15-16) in games they led by double-digits.
- Were the league’s worst team, statistically, after the All-Star break, getting outscored by 12.2 points per 100 possessions. Were one of two teams (Chicago was the other) that ranked in the bottom five on both ends of the floor after the break.
GRIZZLIES NOTES – OFFENSE
- One of three teams — Chicago and Phoenix were the others — that ranked in the bottom 10 in field goal percentage in the paint (52.4 percent; 25th), mid-range field goal percentage (39.2 percent; 21st) and 3-point percentage (35.2 percent; 25th).
- Also one of five teams that ranked in the bottom 10 in both 3-point percentage (25th) and the percentage of shots that came from 3-point range (21st). Did have the league’s best 3-point shooting game (15-for-21 on Dec. 30 at Golden State) of the season (and lost it).
- One of three teams — the Hornets and Clippers were the others — that shot better on above-the-break 3-pointers (35.7 percent) than they did on corner 3-pointers (35.1 percent).
- Worst shooting team in the clutch, with an effective field goal percentage of 36.8 percent with the score within five in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
GRIZZLIES NOTES – DEFENSE
- One of three teams — New York (3) and Phoenix (4) were the others — that ranked in the bottom 10 in at least three of the four factors on defense.
- Have ranked in the top 10 in opponent turnover rate in seven of the last eight seasons.
- Saw the league’s second biggest increase in the percentage of opponent shots that came from the restricted area, from 30 percent (sixth lowest rate) in 2016-17 to 32 percent (18th lowest rate) last season.
- 23.2 personal fouls committed per game were most in the league. Have ranked last in opponent free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in each of the last three seasons.
GRIZZLIES NOTES – LINEUPS
- Players still on the roster accounted for only 51 percent of the team’s minutes last season. That’s the second-lowest returning rate (higher than only that of Atlanta) in the league.
- One of five teams that didn’t have a lineup that played at least 200 minutes together. Most-used lineup played just 196 total minutes.
- Averaged just 95.5 possessions per 48 minutes with JaMychal Green and Marc Gasol on the floor together. That was the slowest on-court pace mark among the league’s 250 most-used two-man combinations.
- Were 11.8 points per 100 possessions better with Tyreke Evans on the floor (plus-0.5) than they were with him off the floor (minus-11.3). That was one of the 10 biggest on-off NetRtg differentials among 266 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team last season.
GRIZZLIES NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- Kyle Anderson had a ratio of 1.54 steals + blocks per personal foul ((115+60)/114)). That was the third highest rate among players who played at least 1,000 minutes last season.
- Dillon Brooks ranked fifth among rookies in total minutes and seventh among rookies with 94 3-pointers.
- Brooks had en effective field goal percentage of just 32.8 percent on pull-up jumpers, the second worst mark among 95 players who attempted at least 200.
- Omri Casspi‘s effective field goal percentage of 60.4 percent last season was a career high.
- In 2016-17, Mike Conley recorded career highs in usage rate (26.3 percent), effective field goal percentage (54.5 percent) and true shooting percentage (60.4 percent). He shot 38.9 percent on pull-up 3-pointers, the second best mark among 25 players who attempted at least two per game.
- Marc Gasol has led the league in elbow touches per game in all five seasons for which we have the stat, though his average has dropped every year, from 15.2 in 2013-14 to 8.0 last season.
- Gasol shot 39 percent on post-ups, the second worst mark among 40 players with at least 100 post-up field goal attempts.
- Gasol allowed just 0.49 points per possession when defending post-ups, the best mark among 47 players who defended at least 75 post-up possessions.
- Gasol shot 13-for-51 (25 percent) in the clutch (with the score within five in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime). That was the worst mark among 45 players with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. His 2-for-21 from 3-point range was the worst mark among 48 players with at least 20 clutch 3-point attempts.
- JaMychal Green grabbed 9.6 percent of available offensive rebounds while he was on the floor. That was the fifth highest rate among 211 players 6-10 and shorter who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more.
- Green had an effective field goal percentage of 50.1 percent, down from 55.5 percent the season prior. That was the eighth biggest drop among 160 players with at least 400 field goal attempts both seasons.
- Andrew Harrison had an effective field goal percentage of 47.7 percent, well below the league average (52.1 percent), but up from 38.5 percent in 2016-17. That was the third biggest jump among 206 players with at least 300 field goal attempts both seasons.
- Shelvin Mack had an effective field goal percentage of 36.2 percent as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, according to Synergy tracking. That was the second worst mark among 104 players with at least 100 pick-and-roll-ball-handler field goal attempts. Brooks had the third worst mark (36.4 percent).
- Garrett Temple shot a career-high 39 percent from 3-point range last season. His 42.6 percent on catch-and-shoot threes ranked 20th among 151 players who attempted at least 150.
NBA TV’s Grizzlies preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
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