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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Philadelphia

    Relative productivity of "big" and "small" lineups

    This seems to be somewhat of a hot topic, so I did some basic math, using pfrduke's +/- calculations. Since the debate started as a discussion of Kyle's role on the team, I calculated our +/- in three groups -- two bigs plus Kyle; two bigs without Kyle; and one big plus Kyle. Here's what it looks like so far:

    PRINCETON
    -----------
    2 bigs + Kyle: 10 minutes; +22 (2.2 plus differential per minute)
    2 bigs, no Kyle: 14 minutes; +6 (0.429 pdpm)
    1 big + Kyle: 16 minutes; +9 (0.563 pdpm)

    MIAMI (OH)
    -----------
    2 bigs + Kyle: 16 minutes; +9 (0.563 plus differential per minute)
    2 bigs, no Kyle: 11 minutes; -3 (-0.273 pdpm)
    1 big + Kyle: 13 minutes; +28 (2.154 pdpm)


    TOTAL (2 games)
    ----------------
    2 bigs + Kyle: 26 minutes; +31 (1.192 plus differential per minute)
    2 bigs, no Kyle: 25 minutes; +3 (0.120 pdpm)
    1 big + Kyle: 29 minutes; +37 (1.276 pdpm)


    So, after two games, all three configurations have been used for roughly the same amount of time. And the two configurations containing Kyle have had roughly the same aggregate success. It shouldn't be a surprise that our team isn't as good when Kyle isn't on the floor.

    Of course, this doesn't take into account other factors. For example, Kyrie almost never played in a "2 bigs, no Kyle" configuration against Miami, which probably has something to do with the poor performance of that configuration, as does the fact that it was that configuration that played the last 6 minutes of the game while we appeared to be coasting. But it's a start. If people like this analysis, I can continue to update it after every game.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Nashville
    Quote Originally Posted by Kedsy View Post
    This seems to be somewhat of a hot topic, so I did some basic math, using pfrduke's +/- calculations. Since the debate started as a discussion of Kyle's role on the team, I calculated our +/- in three groups -- two bigs plus Kyle; two bigs without Kyle; and one big plus Kyle. Here's what it looks like so far:

    PRINCETON
    -----------
    2 bigs + Kyle: 10 minutes; +22 (2.2 plus differential per minute)
    2 bigs, no Kyle: 14 minutes; +6 (0.429 pdpm)
    1 big + Kyle: 16 minutes; +9 (0.563 pdpm)

    MIAMI (OH)
    -----------
    2 bigs + Kyle: 16 minutes; +9 (0.563 plus differential per minute)
    2 bigs, no Kyle: 11 minutes; -3 (-0.273 pdpm)
    1 big + Kyle: 13 minutes; +28 (2.154 pdpm)


    TOTAL (2 games)
    ----------------
    2 bigs + Kyle: 26 minutes; +31 (1.192 plus differential per minute)
    2 bigs, no Kyle: 25 minutes; +3 (0.120 pdpm)
    1 big + Kyle: 29 minutes; +37 (1.276 pdpm)


    So, after two games, all three configurations have been used for roughly the same amount of time. And the two configurations containing Kyle have had roughly the same aggregate success. It shouldn't be a surprise that our team isn't as good when Kyle isn't on the floor.

    Of course, this doesn't take into account other factors. For example, Kyrie almost never played in a "2 bigs, no Kyle" configuration against Miami, which probably has something to do with the poor performance of that configuration, as does the fact that it was that configuration that played the last 6 minutes of the game while we appeared to be coasting. But it's a start. If people like this analysis, I can continue to update it after every game.
    Hmm, applying actual data to a hotly contested debate . . . that's no fun!

    All kidding aside, I think this is excellent. By the time we get into the meat of the ACC schedule, these cumulative stats will really start to paint an accurate picture of what lineup is most effective. Early results indicate that the most accurate conclusion so far is that any lineup with Kyle = good while most lineups without Kyle are not as effective. I will be curious to see if this stat may change a bit as a lineup with Andre plus the starters (minus Singler, of course) plays a bit more together in competitive games. My hope is that such a lineup won't suffer as much as one might think so that Kyle can get some rest or sit because of foul trouble and the team can continue to function at a high level. More possessions equals more fouls per game for many of the players and so far Kyle has been the one most affected by this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, D.C.

    Thanks for doing this

    It would be great if you could continue to update it.

  4. #4
    I appreciate the work Kedsy but I caution people from drawing too many conclusions from this data because its insufficient. Claiming one side is right or wrong based on this data you'd have to rely on the assumption that every opponent we play is the same exact height, has the same talent distribution, and is playing the same style of defense.

    Why was the bigger lineup more effective vs. Princeton? Maybe it had something to do with the Tigers having eight players over 6'8". Or maybe because they packed it in ona 2-3 zone?

    How about Miami? Maybe the Redhawks only playing one guy over 6'8" impacted the smaller lineup's effectiveness?

    I'm going to predict that this all ends up in a wash but that both sides of the argument claim victory...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Quote Originally Posted by airowe View Post
    I appreciate the work Kedsy but I caution people from drawing too many conclusions from this data because its insufficient. Claiming one side is right or wrong based on this data you'd have to rely on the assumption that every opponent we play is the same exact height, has the same talent distribution, and is playing the same style of defense.

    Why was the bigger lineup more effective vs. Princeton? Maybe it had something to do with the Tigers having eight players over 6'8". Or maybe because they packed it in ona 2-3 zone?

    How about Miami? Maybe the Redhawks only playing one guy over 6'8" impacted the smaller lineup's effectiveness?

    I'm going to predict that this all ends up in a wash but that both sides of the argument claim victory...
    I agree with your prediction airowe, but once we get more datapoints it will hopefully smooth over the one-game anomalies. And if not, at least we'll have some numbers to cite while we're arguing.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kedsy View Post
    At least we'll have some numbers to cite while we're arguing.
    That would make it worth it right there. Carry on!

    BTW, I'll stake my claim in this debate now. Coach K will play whatever lineup he feels gives his team the best chance to win. We might disagree with it and not understand his rationale, but it will always be his opinion and more often than not, the right decision.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Nashville
    Quote Originally Posted by Kedsy View Post
    I agree with your prediction airowe, but once we get more datapoints it will hopefully smooth over the one-game anomalies. And if not, at least we'll have some numbers to cite while we're arguing.
    Absolutely. That's actually why I targeted the middle of the ACC schedule as the moment when we can really start to see some clear patterns. Even then, my hope is that both lineups remain effective and it is almost impossible to make a definitive statement that one or the other is actually better. Andre looks like a new man and Mason is clearly improving. It is clear that Ryan is getting every chance, as well. It really looks like our top 8 guys have the potential to be interchangeable without sacrificing effectiveness.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by airowe View Post
    I appreciate the work Kedsy but I caution people from drawing too many conclusions from this data because its insufficient. Claiming one side is right or wrong based on this data you'd have to rely on the assumption that every opponent we play is the same exact height, has the same talent distribution, and is playing the same style of defense.

    Why was the bigger lineup more effective vs. Princeton? Maybe it had something to do with the Tigers having eight players over 6'8". Or maybe because they packed it in ona 2-3 zone?

    How about Miami? Maybe the Redhawks only playing one guy over 6'8" impacted the smaller lineup's effectiveness?

    I'm going to predict that this all ends up in a wash but that both sides of the argument claim victory...
    As is usually the case with the regard to the bolded part. I also think that the debate has diverged away from the original discussion questions (i.e., will Singler start/play mostly at the 3?) into a big/small debate. The "big/small" debate is a different issue and a little bit more complicated than the "Singler's position" debate, but I think a lot of folks have simply lumped the two together.

    The Singler debate is fairly black and white. He'll either start primarily at the 3 or he won't. He'll either play more at the 3 or more at the 4. This may vary from game to game, but there shouldn't be any post-game argument about either of these once we have the numbers. However, the "big/small" debate depends on whether you lump Dawkins with the smalls and whether you lump Hairston exclusively with the bigs. Personally, I'd call Dawkins a hybrid 2/3, but I think Hairston should be viewed exclusively as a big. But I think there are a lot of people who think of Dawkins as strictly a small and Hairston as a hybrid 3/4. Depending upon how you view these two players, two people might look at the same lineup and have a different opinion as to whether it's a big or small lineup.

    To this point (and this is always subject to change), I think the only people who have been definitively wrong where those that said any of the following: Singler would play exclusively at the 3; Singler would play exclusively at the 4; Singler would start at the 4 (this is the one that could eventually change, but to this point hasn't happened). And I don't think there were many (if any) who said that Singler would exclusively play at either the 3 or the 4. For those of us who said Singler would split his time between the 3 and the 4 (which I think is the VAST majority of folks), we're all correct. The question comes down to how much of his time he spends at each spot, and that's likely to vary game to game based on matchups and foul trouble.

    But with regard to the big/small debate, I think that there will be a lot of arguing past each other from both sides. There's far more room for people to be looking at the same variables from different perspectives. Which will lead to (as you said) both sides claiming victory when the answer is somewhere in the middle.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Perhaps this supports my contention earlier that Kyle is our best player, regardless of position. Figuring how to get the team to play better than the opponent in any game - that's the tough job. It involves understanding how the pieces can fit together (witness all the different lineups we've played in just two games), and which lineups will work best tonight.

    Part of what makes college basketball so much fun (and march madness, especially) is there are so many different ways to win, any number of offensive and defensive schemes. Last year's team presented a consistent look, and it was very effective with the players we had.

    A few years ago, we lost our best big man just before the UNC game. UNC was big and slow, so K went small and fast and ran them off the court.

    It's early, but this year's team has a lot more versatility than last year's, so we'll likely use it in different ways for different opponents. For some, we'll go smaller and faster. For others we'll go bigger and not so fast. I'm sure we'll wind up in some half court, grind-'em-out games, too.

    But worrying about whether Kyle is a better "3" or "4" misses the point. He's a damn good player on a damn good team.

    -jk

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kedsy View Post
    I agree with your prediction airowe, but once we get more datapoints it will hopefully smooth over the one-game anomalies. And if not, at least we'll have some numbers to cite while we're arguing.
    Yes, and the same can be said (and has been said) of the +/- numbers in general. Data from any one game is subject to anomaly. Hence the repeated refrain of "try not to read too much into the +/- from any single game." That's not to say that a single game +/- can't accurately reflect performance. It's just that point production in basketball can be so variable in small samples.

    For individual player +/-, we should hopefully be able to see the "randomness" work it's way out of the season after 10 or 15 games. I'm a bit more skeptical with regard to the comparison of big/small lineups, but hopefully the same is true in that analysis as well.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by airowe View Post
    BTW, I'll stake my claim in this debate now. Coach K will play whatever lineup he feels gives his team the best chance to win. We might disagree with it and not understand his rationale, but it will always be his opinion and more often than not, the right decision.
    Ahh, come on, Airowe. That's no fun! It's like going into a scientific controversy saying, "I'll take whatever side Nature ends up on." You can't wait and pick your horse after the race is over.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    However, the "big/small" debate depends on whether you lump Dawkins with the smalls and whether you lump Hairston exclusively with the bigs. Personally, I'd call Dawkins a hybrid 2/3, but I think Hairston should be viewed exclusively as a big.
    This is a good point and, for the record, how you describe it is how I calculated it (Josh always counting as a "big" and when Andre is in for Kyle along with two bigs it goes in the middle category).

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jderf View Post
    Ahh, come on, Airowe. That's no fun! It's like going into a scientific controversy saying, "I'll take whatever side Nature ends up on." You can't wait and pick your horse after the race is over.
    In this instance, I'd rather be accused of being unfair than of being wrong.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Kedsy View Post
    This is a good point and, for the record, how you describe it is how I calculated it (Josh always counting as a "big" and when Andre is in for Kyle along with two bigs it goes in the middle category).
    Yeah, it's a bit confusing in that Singler is actually bigger than Hairston. But in terms of skill set and positional experience, Singler is much more suited to play the wing than Hairston. Hairston is an undersized big, but his game is a big's game right now. Maybe sometime down the road he'll develop a more diverse game (and surely he'll get bigger with time too). But I think you have it right in calling Hairston exclusively a big, whereas Singler is definitely a hybrid 3/4.

  15. #15
    I have no idea of what will in the end be more successful....It will probably depend upon the team.

    Against Miami, we went small effectively, using our snipers to hit lots of baskets. If the snipers aren't hitting (due to D or just bad luck), we might try switching it up. Hard to tell.
    <devildeac> anyone playing drinking games by now?
    7:49:36<Wander> drink every qb run?
    7:49:38<loran16> umm, drink every time asack rushes?
    7:49:38<wolfybeard> @devildeac: drink when Asack runs a keeper
    7:49:39 PM<CB&B> any time zack runs, drink

    Carolina Delenda Est

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Quote Originally Posted by loran16 View Post
    I have no idea of what will in the end be more successful....It will probably depend upon the team.

    Against Miami, we went small effectively, using our snipers to hit lots of baskets. If the snipers aren't hitting (due to D or just bad luck), we might try switching it up. Hard to tell.
    My guess is the snipers will be hitting most of the time. What I think will be the determining factor is effectiveness on defense. Against a small team like Miami we weren't giving up much (if anything) on D with Andre or Seth defending their SF. And I know they say Andre guards Kyle in practice, but still it has to be a challenge to guard a much bigger guy, and if Seth (or Nolan) has to guard a Harrison Barnes/Chris Singleton-sized player, it could get dicey.

    It should be interesting to watch as the season moves along.

  17. #17

    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    As is usually the case with the regard to the bolded part. I also think that the debate has diverged away from the original discussion questions (i.e., will Singler start/play mostly at the 3?) into a big/small debate. The "big/small" debate is a different issue and a little bit more complicated than the "Singler's position" debate, but I think a lot of folks have simply lumped the two together.

    The Singler debate is fairly black and white. He'll either start primarily at the 3 or he won't. He'll either play more at the 3 or more at the 4. This may vary from game to game, but there shouldn't be any post-game argument about either of these once we have the numbers. However, the "big/small" debate depends on whether you lump Dawkins with the smalls and whether you lump Hairston exclusively with the bigs. Personally, I'd call Dawkins a hybrid 2/3, but I think Hairston should be viewed exclusively as a big. But I think there are a lot of people who think of Dawkins as strictly a small and Hairston as a hybrid 3/4. Depending upon how you view these two players, two people might look at the same lineup and have a different opinion as to whether it's a big or small lineup.

    To this point (and this is always subject to change), I think the only people who have been definitively wrong where those that said any of the following: Singler would play exclusively at the 3; Singler would play exclusively at the 4; Singler would start at the 4 (this is the one that could eventually change, but to this point hasn't happened). And I don't think there were many (if any) who said that Singler would exclusively play at either the 3 or the 4. For those of us who said Singler would split his time between the 3 and the 4 (which I think is the VAST majority of folks), we're all correct. The question comes down to how much of his time he spends at each spot, and that's likely to vary game to game based on matchups and foul trouble.

    But with regard to the big/small debate, I think that there will be a lot of arguing past each other from both sides. There's far more room for people to be looking at the same variables from different perspectives. Which will lead to (as you said) both sides claiming victory when the answer is somewhere in the middle.
    Agree. Wer'e actually quit a bit bigger with Kyle at 4 (6'8) and Andre at 3 than with Josh at 4 (6'7) and the three smaller guards . It makes sense to separate when Kyle is on the bench but I'm not sure what we learn from it. I'll be interested to see what if any conclusions can be drawn. I predict having Kyle in the game will usually be a plus. Too bad he can't play 40 minutes every game.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by airowe View Post
    That would make it worth it right there. Carry on!

    BTW, I'll stake my claim in this debate now. Coach K will play whatever lineup he feels gives his team the best chance to win. We might disagree with it and not understand his rationale, but it will always be his opinion and more often than not, the right decision.
    Well now you're starting to sound like John Fox, airowe.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kedsy View Post
    My guess is the snipers will be hitting most of the time. What I think will be the determining factor is effectiveness on defense. Against a small team like Miami we weren't giving up much (if anything) on D with Andre or Seth defending their SF. And I know they say Andre guards Kyle in practice, but still it has to be a challenge to guard a much bigger guy, and if Seth (or Nolan) has to guard a Harrison Barnes/Chris Singleton-sized player, it could get dicey.

    It should be interesting to watch as the season moves along.
    Eh, there are ALWAYS games (at least once or twice a year) when nobody can seemingly buy a basket. In those games it should be interesting to see what we do.

    It shouldn't matter.Duke really has too much talent simply to be a sharpshooting team from the perimeter...with Irving and the bigs supposedly being better, we should be able to get a lot of good looks inside as well. Assuming we improve on that.
    <devildeac> anyone playing drinking games by now?
    7:49:36<Wander> drink every qb run?
    7:49:38<loran16> umm, drink every time asack rushes?
    7:49:38<wolfybeard> @devildeac: drink when Asack runs a keeper
    7:49:39 PM<CB&B> any time zack runs, drink

    Carolina Delenda Est

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Given the versatility and depth of this team, I don't think K will stick with one configuration or the other; he'll simply use whatever the matchups and/or hot hand calls for. What he's trying to do now is not only discover which combinations are best, but use lots of different ones so he can have different ones ready when he needs them. I would guess he could use as many as four or five different starting lineups, depending on matchups and how individuals are playing.

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