Poole with 32 through 3 quarters tonight.
And now he got tossed
The refs have been tech-happy in this game.
Moussa Diabate got into 2 more games (in the NBA) since our last update - an 8 point, 8 board game in 15 minutes and a 2/2 in17 minutes. Of his 10 boards in those games, 8 are offensive, still by far the best part of his NBA game so far, and those lead to basically all his baskets. He’s obviously not in the rotation, and his PT is at the whims of the comical injury state of the rest of the Clipper roster, but he’s certainly showing flashes in his sporadic playing time.
Caleb Houstan collected 4 DNP-CD’s and 13 minutes of playing time since our last update. As mentioned earlier, lots of his early season time was a result of the Magic’s complete lack of guards, and his (odd) role as a SG for them. They still only start one guard (Fultz - is Franz their 2? Bol Bol? (BR says its Franz - 42% of his minutes as shooting guard!)), but they are getting 85 minutes of guard lately between Fultz, Anthony, Harris, and Ross which doesn’t leave that much space for Caleb. He did make 2 of his 3 attempts from deep in his 2 games.
Isaiah Livers is still hurt, didn’t play since our last update.
The Magic are 8-2 in their last ten, but Franz Wagner hasn’t necessarily been part of the resurgence - he has just continued to play well. In the last two weeks, he scored 18.5 ppg on 41% from the floor (a sort of mini slump) but 36% from 3. His rebounding/assist marks remain just ok - he’s still playing rather well, but this was a ho-hum two weeks for him. The continued solid performance behind the arc is important for him, and it’s encouraging to see last update’s hot stretch settle down into another solid two weeks. One peripheral thing about Franz - he’s played 115 of the 117 possible games since coming into the league - a virtual impossibility in the modern NBA.
Jordan Poole has been pressed into a larger role with Steph Curry out with injury, and it’s been a pretty mixed bag. To the good - he had 43 on 23 shots in a win over Toronto, then put up 32 in 29 minutes (before getting ejected in the midst of a nightmarishly refereed game) on Christmas. He also lifted his overall FG% up to 45.5% over the past six games - definitely a good result, despite shooting only 25% from three - ie, nearly 60% from 2. He’s also gotten to the line a bunch, where he’s a fantastic shooter. Meanwhile, he has 21 assists to 27 turnovers (his turnover spike this year has been substantial) - he’s been right around 4 per game over hte past two months.
This has to be the most successful stretch of Mo Wagner’s career? After our pretty encouraging update two weeks ago, Mo put up 15.5 points and 7 boards in 26 minutes per game. He shot 53% from the floor despite still not really hitting threes (30%, he made exactly 1 in each of the six games in the span here). He also went 26/27 from the line, and, perhaps most notably he committed a total of 12 fouls in 6 games! The biggest stretch for Mo this year has really been on the offensive glass - his OR% is double his prior career high, and took in 12 in these 6 games, and equalled his brother’s assist count (14).
The Cavs are doing pretty well, but Caris Levert had a sort of tough two weeks. He scored 8.5 ppg, and shot 39% form the floor (33% from 3). His playmaking also slipped, picking up seven assists in the 6 games. It’s a pretty anonymous stretch from him, without much to really comment on.
Tim Hardaway Jr. got a comical 14 threes up on Christmas day (at least 10 were from the corner) as the Lakers just put on a CLINIC of ignoring corner three point shooters (it didn’t work out well for them!). He’s shot a fine 35% from three over the past two weeks, albeit on high volume (lots of that work being done by the Christmas Day game). His shooting is still not to the standard of his earlier Dallas tenure (where he was knocking down about 39% from three), and while his three point shooting is down (around 35%), the larger wash out has come from 2, where he’s shooting 42%, and taking fewer shots than ever. Tim used to have a decent floater-range game (43%+), but he’s under 30% from there this year, and his attempts at the rim sits at 9% of his shots, while his prior career low was 13%…ie, he’s not been able to get the easiest shots in the game at the same rate, and he’s not quite as effective at the other ones.
Injuries to the Heat got Duncan Robinson into 3 of the 4 games since our last update - he shot a passable 35% from 3 (he took 3 2’s in the stretch), but given the state of the rest of his game (he doesn’t really do anything else), he’s still a deep bench option.
Moe Wagner with a hard foul that started a little skirmish with Killian Hayes. Gotta think Hayes will get suspended, forearm to the back of Wagner’s head and looked like he gave him a concussion.
JP with 40. 2:37 to go in the 4th. NBATV. Now.
We sit around 1/2 way through the NBA calendar at the moment, so in addition to updating the past two weeks, I’m going to try to spare a few words on each guy’s season to date.
Moussa Diabate has not played a (NBA) game since our last update, and has been inactive. Moussa has spent the majority of this season in the G League, getting into 8 games thus far when the comically injured/resting Clippers need to dip far into their reserves to use him. Overall, I think what he’s done is roughly what you’d expect - he averages 2.5 offensive rebounds in 11 mpg, a guady 24.6% offensive rebounding percentage. Obviously, rebounding like an entire (very good offensive rebounding) team on his own isn’t sustainable, but it does appear to be a bankable skill. He’s shown some good lateral movement on D, but doesn’t really know what he’s doing, and most of his offense has been predicated on putbacks off those offensive boards.
Another rookie pushed into an injury stand-in, Caleb Houstan has played in 29 of the Magic’s 41 games. In the last two weeks, he appeard in all of the team’s 6 games, and his shooting is really the thing he does - he shot 37.5% from 3 (6/16, he was 3/5 from 2). Houstan’s time has come mostly at shooting guard on a team with some pretty warped positional assignments (Bol Bol, at 7’3", is often their shooting guard? So is 6’11" Franz?). This roster has rarely had more than 2 real guards available, and Caleb’s time is a sympton of that phenomenon. Caleb is truly JAS - over 2/3 of his attempts are three-point attempts, he doesn’t really rebound or faciliate, or defend, and is shooting is…ok. He’s making nearly 37% of his threes (as a weirdo who has watched too much Magic basketball, I can tell you he is a spot-up shooter, not running off screens mostly), but his true shooting still sits below league average mostly because he’s a poor 2-point shooter (most of his 2 point attempts occur at the rim, but only makes 38% of them), and has taken 11 FT’s all year.
Isaiah Livers has still not played since 6 minutes on 12/1, when he injured his shoulder. The shape of his game is not dissimilar to Caleb’s, with some additional defensive juice. He’s shooting aroung 36% from 3, which is the majority of his offensive contribution, and like Caleb, is a spot-up shooter. He has been deployed against all variety of forward defensively, and has at least, to my eye, established that he’s not going to embarass himself defensively. He’s still a rather limited offensive piece (I think fully formed the hope is that he’s, like, Reggie Bullock?). I do wonder about his future in the team’s rotation - the Pistons have been starting Isaiah Stewart at Livers’ 4-spot, not only at the expense of Livers, but also Saddiq Bey. Add in Bagley, when he’s around who is kind of a 4 (the Pistons have lots of kind of 4’s, a situation us Michigan fans are familiar with) - I’m not sure how many minutes are there for him especially if the Duren/Stewart frontcourt is something they prioritize over “having anyone who can shoot other than Bogie” (we will keep discussion of Stewart, three-point shooter, to the Pistons thread). There’s a chance Livers is squeezed when he returns, is what I’m saying.
Franz Wagner’s reclamation of his three-point percentage continues! Since our last update, Franz made 37.5% of his three pointers (and 54% of his overall shots), putting up nearly 22 ppg in the stretch. Franz’s three point shooting, after some early struggles, is now up to 35.2%, essentially flat to last year on an additional attempt per game (part of this is more minutes, but his attempt rate is also up a bit). Franz has definitely built upon a very strong rookie year - he has moved from roughly league average efficiency (56% TS) to above average (59% ytd), while moving his usage up from 21% to nearly 25%, a good combination. His shooting is pretty similar - his FT% and 3PT% are nearly identical to last year, and his aforementioned excellence at the rim is driving some improvement in 2pt%, but the improvement in scoring efficiency is really driven by the 3 point attempt rate we referenced, an close to an 80 point bump in free throw rate. He’s at 20 ppg on the season…at his age I assume some further efficiencies can be found offensively, but the big opportunity is in the rest of his game. He’s not nearly hte NBA defender he was in college, and his contributions on ball (3 assists) and on the glass (3 boards) are a bit low for the team’s best player, especially one of his physical stature. This is isn’t a criticism - he’s a good player - but there are opportunities.
Jordan Poole…extremely mercurial. To the good: he put up 41 on 23 shots in a 6 point win on 12/30. Since our last update, he’s scoring 28 ppg, attempting to pick up for Steph Curry’s absence, and handing out close to 5 assists. The not so good - he’s shoot 40% from the floor and 26.5% from 3 to get to those 28 ppg, taking 23 shots a game. He’s also at 5.2 turnovers per game - exceeding his assist total. Clearly, Poole is stretched in this role - that’s not his fault, I don’t think anyone here think’s he’s Steph Curry, and if you did, this should be proof he’s not. The more concerning things is that if we zoom out to his overall season, these basic trends hold, even when Steph was healthy (just lower gross numbers) and he’s, thus far, taken a step back in essentially every category. He’s taking 2.5 more shots per game to score 2 more points per game, with FG% dropping 22 points. He’s at 30.4% form three (down from 36%+ last year) on pretty similar volume, his assist rate and tally are pretty flat while he is turning the ball over an additional time per game…the only thing mititgating these items are an improved three throw rate. To put it bluntly - if he’s going to shoot below league average levels and turn the ball over as much (or more) than he drops a dime at over 30% usage (he’s at 30.8%), that’s a damaging offensive player, and we haven’t touched the defense, which tops out at “bad”. Now part of the usage and flagging efficiency is the Steph injury (27% usage pre injury, about 35% post), and he’s not a 35% usage player (is anybody?). But he hasn’t shot threes well in any month this year, his turnovers have significantly out-paced assists since 11/1 (in october he had 20 more assists than TOs, and the only thing keeping his scoring at pace is 90 FT attempts in the month of December (he made 87). There are some reasons to think this is temporary, but I do think some larger structural problems are at play as well. At his current usage, he’ll have some 40+ point games now and then because that’s what happens when you take 25 shots every game.
Mo Wagner missed three of the Magic’s game with an injury, but put up an 8/5 in the other three in about 16 mpg. The minutes were hampered for two reasons - an injury in his first game in this stretch held him to 12, and the return of Wendell Carter in the final two forced him to the bench (where, I assume, he’ll remain). Overall, Mo has solidified his NBA career this season, after having a struggle the two years prior. His counting stats (12 points/6 boards) are pretty good, he’s a very efficient scorer (over 61% true shooting) despite never really making 3’s at a consistent clip in the NBA - he’s at an absurd 40% free throw rate, and making 72% of his shots at the rim. His fouling - still prodigious (4.5 per 36) has actually been comparatively modest compared to his 6 fouls per 36 outside of Orlando. He’s also, season to date, been an above average offensive rebounder. Overall, this is a strong showing.
Injuries to Darius Garland pushed Caris Levert into the Cavs starting lineup again, and he responded with 18 ppg in his last 6, with 3 20+ point games and one at 19. He’s shot rather well too - 48% from the floor, 43% from 3). He’s also handing out 4 assists a gamer as the team’s secondary creator - one of his better stretches. The season to date has been weird for Caris - he started shooting 3’s really well but 2’s horribly, then that flipped. His solid playmaking has sometimes been under-utilized on a team built around 2 guards (remember, he’s mostly playing out of position at the 3), and he was eventually replaced in the starting lineup by Dean Wade, who provides both a bit more 3 and a bunch more D. I think this makes sense - Caris has always made the most sense as the guy running a second unit than as a team’s 5th best starter. His 36% 3 point shooting YTD would be a career high, but his shooting is still inefficient at 52% TS (as it has been his entire career). Caris’ career is best summed up as “an ok player being asked to do way too much”, but I think that on this Cavs team, he’s found his ideal role - a higher minute reserve on a quality team. Now we just need injuries to the rest of the roster to subside enough to let him be that.
Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to start in lieu of Reggie Bullock (mostly, Finney-Smith has been hurt too) and his shooting has recovered after an early slump - he shot 20/46 from 3 in the Mavs last 6 games (43.5%)…unfortunately he’s shot about as well from 2 in the stretch as well. After shooting 29% from 3 in November, Tim shot 39% in December, and 46% through 4 January games (he’s also 40% as a starter, 29% as a reserve). His season mark is up above 36%, and if this can continue, it’s entirely possible he can match the 39% from 3 he shot in his two pre-injury seasons with Luka that made him so valuable a complementary piece to the league’s most heliocentric player. Beyond a career low, season to date, in two point efficiency, everything else Tim does is minimal as a it has been his entire career. The Mavs are 14-8 since he moved into the lineup (8-2 in their last 10) and a game under .500 when he comes off the bench - he’s definitely one of their two best wings at this point and should continue to start unless things change.
Duncan Robinson had surgery on his finger, which apparently was to correct a torn ligament he sustained in mid-November. I can’t see if this was his shooting hand or not, but hopefully this is somewhat responsible for his shooting this season, and the surgery resolves the issue. He’s made under 34% from three this year, and without going into terribly much detail, we all know that’s not good enough for him to have an NBA career. His salary is at a point where he’s going to remain in the league, and someone (likely not the Heat?) is going to take him on along with some draft assets and see if he can restore of his value. The hope, clearly, is that he can remain an NBA player, and not morph into the “Duncan Robinson’s Contract” phase of his career.
I know others have expressed their appreciation for these posts in the past, but I just want to reiterate that. I generally try to keep up with the former players in the NBA, but the depth of your research is much more comprehensive than mine. Thanks for these posts!
I barely follow the NBA. I care how our guys are doing, but I don’t care enough to figure it out for myself. These updates are perfect.
Thank you both!
Two tiny updates, one relatively light and funny, one informative.
After I wrote this, I was listening to the Dunc’d on Pod, and they agreed Mo was “arguably the dirtiest player in the NBA” - said with a servicing of admiration.
Second - Robinson’s finger injury IS his shooting hand.
Thanks as always! Does anyone know if other alums are in the GL this year? I know a few decided to go overseas now that we are a little past the pandemic and I think Teske retired. Wasn’t sure if X or others were still there or if they had any shot at being called up for a cameo.
X, Eli, Chaundee, DJ Wilson, and technically Trey Burke as well are all in the G League
Quick scan here:
X: 17 points/11 assists/3 turnovers for the Lakers affiliate. 47% from the floor, 41% from 3 on 4 attempts (!). He leads the G League in assists per game
Eli Brooks: 24 mins a game, 4.5 points, 3.5 boards, 3 assists. Shooting 34.5% from the floor, 20% from 3
Chaundee: 31 mins, 14 points, 5 boards. 43%/31.6%
DJ: 19/9/4, 1.5 blocks, 52% from the floor, 32% from 3 (he takes 6 3’s a game)
X is an elite 3 point shooter now
this would be a nasty Baylor-style lineup in college
Yeah well not too many shooters could make precisely 1.64 3s. So many would just overdo it by making 2.
Livers should get a lot of minutes tonight with so many Pistons injured.
Or 0 minutes apparently
I saw Eli play last Thursday night in Grand Rapids. He started Eli plays for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He started the game, but didn’t play well that night. Shits weren’t going down for him. Justin Anderson (UVA) and Isaiah Jackson (UK) are on Eli’s team, and they won big.
Side note - Jon Teske was in the crowd last Thursday in Grand Rapids cheering on Eli. Apparently he has a sales job in GR, and is no longer playing professional basketball. Always crazy to see a seven footer wandering around the spectators instead of on the floor.
I hate when my shits don’t go down