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  1. #1

    Joey Baker's Interesting Year

    Joey Baker’s interesting year

    JB sometimes seems like a kind of human Roschach test for DBR folx –maybe you see in his future what you would like to see for someone that for whatever reason you relate to, maybe it’s a reflection of one’s optimism or pessimism in life. I’ve had opinions too, and I finally decided to actually look at some data to see if it can tell us something about who Joey really is as a player and what can we expect in his (probably) last year in a Duke University uniform.

    Parsing data is ultimately a fractal activity. So, I limited this exploration to last year’s data and focused on shooting, because that’s Baker’s wheelhouse. (Even his biggest stans don’t think he’s going to get on the court for his defense.) I wanted to look at more than just overall shooting percentages, because those can be misleading. A player could hit a respectable percentage of threes overall but not actually be that helpful, because they are mostly hitting against weak opposition or in garbage time.

    And the data are…interesting.

    Initially Duke played a lot of cupcakes, as one does. But in the three games against big league opponents prior to the ACC season Baker was 0-2/ 0-1 (FGA-FGM/ 3PtFGA-3PtFGM) against Kentucky in 11 minutes, 2-3/2-3 in 14 minutes against Gonzaga, and 2-4/1-1 in 21 minutes against OSU. Which actually…isn’t horrible for someone who’s role is to play limited minutes off the bench.

    And Baker began the ACC season on a good note as well. Through the Clemson game of 1/25/22 Baker went 9-18 from three for 50% shooting—pretty impressive, especially for someone coming in cold off the bench. (He was 14-27 overall as well.)

    But then the wheels came off. Except for a nice 4-5 three-point performance against NC State, Baker was a woeful 2-14 from three for the rest of the year. Probably not coincidentally, his playing time declined at the end of the season. He got on the court in only 4 of Duke’s last 9 games, for a total of 16 minutes. He did not play at all in the last 4 NCAA tournament games.

    A discurson to be made here to also mention another kind of shooting. Baker’s free throw performance last season was also “interesting,” to use again a word that can be either positive or negative depending on context. Pre-ACC time, he was 15-18 from the stripe, and although he was a bit inconsistent, that’s still very good. However, after the Appalachian State game of 12/16/21, he was 2-8. Which highlights an even bigger issue—in the last 18 games Joey baker appeared in, he did not attempt a single free throw.

    I don’t know. Maybe if we knew what happened after the Clemson game? An injury? A big change in coaching strategy? Broke up with a girlfriend? Who knows. I think the data show that Baker can shoot, or at least could shoot at one time, against decent competition, but only actually seeing the games next season will see which Baker will show up. And the lack of free throw shooting is concerning, and I think confirms our eyeball’s take that Joey was lacking in aggressiveness on the offensive end this year. Since, as I said, he has shown times of effective shooting, if he were empowered/able to be more aggressive on offense, he could possibly be effective enough on that end to make offense a net gain over his defense liabilities and be an asset, maybe even a fairly important one. Only time will tell.

    TL;DR for Baker fans; “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Atlanta 'burbs
    His offseason hip surgery might indicate that this drop off in shooting due to a physical problem.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    WA State
    Quote Originally Posted by rocketeli View Post
    Joey Baker’s interesting year

    JB sometimes seems like a kind of human Roschach test for DBR folx –maybe you see in his future what you would like to see for someone that for whatever reason you relate to, maybe it’s a reflection of one’s optimism or pessimism in life. I’ve had opinions too, and I finally decided to actually look at some data to see if it can tell us something about who Joey really is as a player and what can we expect in his (probably) last year in a Duke University uniform.

    Parsing data is ultimately a fractal activity. So, I limited this exploration to last year’s data and focused on shooting, because that’s Baker’s wheelhouse. (Even his biggest stans don’t think he’s going to get on the court for his defense.) I wanted to look at more than just overall shooting percentages, because those can be misleading. A player could hit a respectable percentage of threes overall but not actually be that helpful, because they are mostly hitting against weak opposition or in garbage time.

    And the data are…interesting.

    Initially Duke played a lot of cupcakes, as one does. But in the three games against big league opponents prior to the ACC season Baker was 0-2/ 0-1 (FGA-FGM/ 3PtFGA-3PtFGM) against Kentucky in 11 minutes, 2-3/2-3 in 14 minutes against Gonzaga, and 2-4/1-1 in 21 minutes against OSU. Which actually…isn’t horrible for someone who’s role is to play limited minutes off the bench.

    And Baker began the ACC season on a good note as well. Through the Clemson game of 1/25/22 Baker went 9-18 from three for 50% shooting—pretty impressive, especially for someone coming in cold off the bench. (He was 14-27 overall as well.)

    But then the wheels came off. Except for a nice 4-5 three-point performance against NC State, Baker was a woeful 2-14 from three for the rest of the year. Probably not coincidentally, his playing time declined at the end of the season. He got on the court in only 4 of Duke’s last 9 games, for a total of 16 minutes. He did not play at all in the last 4 NCAA tournament games.

    A discurson to be made here to also mention another kind of shooting. Baker’s free throw performance last season was also “interesting,” to use again a word that can be either positive or negative depending on context. Pre-ACC time, he was 15-18 from the stripe, and although he was a bit inconsistent, that’s still very good. However, after the Appalachian State game of 12/16/21, he was 2-8. Which highlights an even bigger issue—in the last 18 games Joey baker appeared in, he did not attempt a single free throw.

    I don’t know. Maybe if we knew what happened after the Clemson game? An injury? A big change in coaching strategy? Broke up with a girlfriend? Who knows. I think the data show that Baker can shoot, or at least could shoot at one time, against decent competition, but only actually seeing the games next season will see which Baker will show up. And the lack of free throw shooting is concerning, and I think confirms our eyeball’s take that Joey was lacking in aggressiveness on the offensive end this year. Since, as I said, he has shown times of effective shooting, if he were empowered/able to be more aggressive on offense, he could possibly be effective enough on that end to make offense a net gain over his defense liabilities and be an asset, maybe even a fairly important one. Only time will tell.

    TL;DR for Baker fans; “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
    Joey had an undisclosed hip injury. I think we can pinpoint about the point in the season it occurred from your stats.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Quote Originally Posted by rocketeli View Post
    I don’t know. Maybe if we knew what happened after the Clemson game? An injury? A big change in coaching strategy? Broke up with a girlfriend? Who knows.
    AFAIK, there are few details, but Baker had hip surgery a couple weeks after the season. An injury like that could certainly explain a drop-off during the season.

    (Edit: Bah- three minutes too slow)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by rocketeli View Post
    And the lack of free throw shooting is concerning, and I think confirms our eyeball’s take that Joey was lacking in aggressiveness on the offensive end this year.
    I think the lack of FT shooting was related more to his role than to his lack of aggressiveness. Below is a table showing all Duke players in the past five seasons who played more than 200 minutes and attempted more than 45% of their shots from three, along with their free throw rate:

    Code:
    Player		Year	%threes	FT%
    White		2019	74.0%	20.6%
    Baker		2021	71.8%	11.3%
    White		2020	65.0%	22.5%
    O'Connell	2019	65.0%	20.3%
    Allen		2018	63.7%	29.3%
    Baker		2022	62.7%	22.9%
    Reddish		2019	61.8%	26.4%
    Baker		2020	58.2%	9.8%
    Goldwire	2019	56.8%	13.6%
    Trent		2018	56.4%	22.7%
    Griffin		2022	53.7%	17.9%
    O'Connell	2020	52.0%	12.8%
    O'Connell	2018	51.1%	21.6%
    Keels		2022	49.3%	27.6%
    Roach		2021	48.5%	23.4%
    Steward		2021	47.5%	20.0%
    Hurt		2020	47.3%	23.9%
    Brakefield	2021	46.1%	15.8%
    As you can see, the only guys on this chart who shot higher than one percentage point more free throws than 2022 Baker's 22.9% were three NBA talents who drove a lot: Grayson Allen, Trevor Keels and Cam Reddish. And even those guys weren't soooo much higher. Legit guys like Trent, Griffin, Steward, and 2021 Roach all had a lower FT% than 2022 Baker. So I don't think Joey really had an issue with aggressiveness.

    Now, if what you're talking about is his drop off in free throws after mid-January, then I suppose it might be a lack of aggressiveness against stronger competition (he only shot two free throws combined against UK, Ohio State, and Gonzaga, for example), or it could be the undisclosed hip injury, or it even could be he simply didn't play enough minutes after mid-January to get fouled very much. My guess is some combination of the three.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, D.C.

    Hip injury

    Brendan Marks of the Athletic described Baker's surgery as being a "clean up", rather than a particular injury. My reaction when I read that was that it seemed unusual to have clean up hip surgery, but what do I know?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Hot'Lanta... home of the Falcons!
    Quote Originally Posted by MChambers View Post
    Brendan Marks of the Athletic described Baker's surgery as being a "clean up", rather than a particular injury. My reaction when I read that was that it seemed unusual to have clean up hip surgery, but what do I know?
    There seems to be no real consensus on whether the hip injury was seriously impacting Baker's ability to perform in games nor is it even clear when it occurred. I have not gotten anything definitive from sources on this but I've somewhat gleaned that the injury was not why he did not play down the stretch. Coach K simply felt Joey was not helping the team late in the season.
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Hip scopes are interesting in that they can range from a clean up procedure involving simply trimming worn labrum (debridement) to a more significant procedure involving sewing the labrum back to the bone (repair). In either case, bone spurs that may contribute to the labral tear may be removed. The postop is very different for the two procedures in terms of limited weight bearing and time to return to play, the repair being significantly longer to recover from.

    Both scenarios, one that Baker had the injury sometime before the “slump” OR that he suffered it around the time of the “slump”, are certainly conceivable based on the information we have.

    More interesting (at least to me) is the prevalence of labral tears in “normal” athletes. A study a few years ago reviewed the incidence of labral tears on MRI imaging in asymptomatic 11-20 year old athletes. 69% of these asymptomatic athletes had labral tears by MRI criteria. Again, these athletes had no symptoms at all.

    There was a story several years ago about Shavlik Randolph putting cut tennis balls in his shoes while at Duke to help his hip pain. He ended up having hip surgery to fix it.

  9. #9
    I think the sample size is too small to read anything into his shooting numbers at the end of the year. What's more telling is that other teams would abuse him on defense when he was in the game. That is the bigger factor in his playing time IMO.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    WA State
    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    I think the sample size is too small to read anything into his shooting numbers at the end of the year. What's more telling is that other teams would abuse him on defense when he was in the game. That is the bigger factor in his playing time IMO.
    Just spitballing here as I'm not a doc nor a valued guest at Holiday Inn Express, but I'm guessing that a hip injury might well take Joey's already limited ability to move laterally to near zero. His defense in the early part of the season, while not great, was not nearly as bad as late in the season.

    A change in defensive scheme may be beneficial to Joey next year should that come to pass.

  11. #11
    To each their own, but to me Joey Baker is not all that interesting a player. He has one ACC-level skill - the ability to hit open jumpers - and he's pretty good at it. He shot 40% this past year and 38% for his career. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a quick release and can't easily create his own shot, so even his use as a 3-point specialist is limited.

    Joey's path to the rotation was always to broaden his skill set. If he improved his ball handling or his defense, he would be a much more useful player. I know he's worked at it, but he's still mostly the guy he was as a spohmore.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Maturin View Post
    To each their own, but to me Joey Baker is not all that interesting a player. He has one ACC-level skill - the ability to hit open jumpers - and he's pretty good at it. He shot 40% this past year and 38% for his career. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a quick release and can't easily create his own shot, so even his use as a 3-point specialist is limited.

    Joey's path to the rotation was always to broaden his skill set. If he improved his ball handling or his defense, he would be a much more useful player. I know he's worked at it, but he's still mostly the guy he was as a spohmore.
    Was it the Syracuse game last year (meaning 2020-21 season) where Joey almost singlehandedly brought us back? Although we ultimately still lost. It's a small sample size certainly, but in a time of desperation, Joey showed some skills, driving to the rim, taking his man off the dribble and hitting shots. It was over just a few minutes really. I bring this up to suggest that perhaps it's a role thing in his mind and he's possibly capable of doing it more of the team asks it of him. I guess we'll find out.

  13. #13
    Joey seemed to get yanked very quickly this year - perhaps to avoid further mistakes? But it looks to me like it took a toll on his confidence….

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by dukesouthbasement View Post
    Joey seemed to get yanked very quickly this year - perhaps to avoid further mistakes? But it looks to me like it took a toll on his confidence….
    How could it not?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    Was it the Syracuse game last year (meaning 2020-21 season) where Joey almost singlehandedly brought us back? Although we ultimately still lost. It's a small sample size certainly, but in a time of desperation, Joey showed some skills, driving to the rim, taking his man off the dribble and hitting shots. It was over just a few minutes really. I bring this up to suggest that perhaps it's a role thing in his mind and he's possibly capable of doing it more of the team asks it of him. I guess we'll find out.
    Nope. In the 2021 Syracuse game, we won by 14 and Baker played 3 minutes and scored zero points.

    The closest I have seen was the GT game, where he hit one 3 and got fouled on a 3 late in a close loss in 2021. But we haven’t really seen him driving to the rim with success in tight games late.
    Last edited by CDu; 05-08-2022 at 12:07 PM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    Nope. In the 2021 Syracuse game, we won by 14 and Baker played 3 minutes and scored zero points.

    The closest I have seen was the GT game, where he hit one 3 and got fouled on a 3 late in a close loss in 2021. But we haven’t really seen him driving to the rim with success in tight games late.
    Yeah GT is the game I was referring to. Thanks.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by dukesouthbasement View Post
    Joey seemed to get yanked very quickly this year - perhaps to avoid further mistakes? But it looks to me like it took a toll on his confidence….
    Or the other way around... his lack of confidence led to him being yanked quickly, since he had no record of success.

  18. #18
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    Atlanta, GA/Durham, NC
    They keep saying "hip" but to me it seems like he might have had a hernia. Much more typical of athletes his age. Painful but able to be played through.

  19. #19
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    Feb 2007
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    Morganton, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by SupaDave View Post
    They keep saying "hip" but to me it seems like he might have had a hernia. Much more typical of athletes his age. Painful but able to be played through.
    Don't tell Shavlik Randolph that,,,

  20. #20
    Joey walked in graduation today. He’s still on crutches.

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