Monday, May 13, 2013

Jarrett Jack Crunches the Numbers

Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes carried the Warriors when they needed it most

Analyzing a team is a combination of art and science.  Despite my love of statistical analysis, I use them to support my thesis.  Metrics should mostly be used to research an existing idea that is ascertained from watching the game, not as the genesis for an idea for what ails a team.  No one embodies that idea more than Jarrett Jack.

The Warriors evened the series yesterday at 2 apiece as the Warriors vs Spurs series went into overtime for the second time on Sunday.  With Steph Curry ailing on a weak ankle and Klay Thompson struggling, the Warriors needed more perimeter offensive help early.  Along with Harrison Barnes’ contribution, Jack kept the Warriors in the game in the first half.  Despite being down by 10 points at the half, without his contribution the Warriors may have given the Spurs a lead that was insurmountable heading into the back stretch of the game.

While Curry had a patented Curry 3rd quarter (10 points on ¾ shooting) the Spurs still clung to a 62 to 60 lead heading into the 4th.  Late in the game the Spurs were up 10 with roughly five minutes remaining, and then Jack happened.  Six straight points on two nearly identical high pick and rolls and a pick and roll that Jack dragged through the lane, all leading to a barrage of midrange jumpers from the backup point guard.  They were points when the Warriors had to have buckets.  It helped spark the 25-7 run that the Warriors closed the show with on Mother’s Day.

It was Mother's Day, and Steph Curry was playing. Reason enough.

Jack has been vilified for his poor court vision and propensity to shoot early in the shot clock, or not facilitate ball movement in a classic point guard fashion.  I must admit, there are possessions that make me wonder why he overdrives into a clogged lane when moving the ball seems like the obvious decision, or why he may choose to take an early shot despite a teammate having a hot hand. Moreover, his +/- point differential per 100 possessions (a statistic used to measure the team’s point production in relation to its opponent) is a mediocre +1.2.

Jack’s contribution can’t be boiled down to statistical analysis.  Jack provides an invaluable service for the team, allowing Curry to move off the ball while simultaneously being a legitimate scoring threat from the point guard position.  And in the late afternoon of a contested Game 4, he showed his mettle (and value) to the Golden State team.  He’s their spark, a mixture of toughness and bullheadedness.  He has largely been the overlooked contributor on most teams, even dating back to his college days at Georgia Tech.  He has vacillated between point guard and shooting guard, almost as often as he has changed from reserve to starter on the five teams for which he has played.

His vast experience is an anomaly on a team where several of the star contributors are under the age of 25 with a dearth of big-time NBA minutes.  According to reports, he will opt out of his contract at the end of the year; a contract that is due to pay him 5.4 million.  With a relatively weak draft class, and several teams with ample cap room, the likelihood of inflated contract offers to free agents is virtually a certainty. I’m hoping the Warriors find a way to re-sign him, but with a player option of over 11 million dollars due to Richard Jefferson it could be extremely costly to do so.  So make hay while the sun shines Golden State, because the numbers look like they won’t be in Jack’s favor once again.

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