The regular season is rapidly approaching. That means it’s time for the now-annual tradition of our Calculated Countdown series examining a particular stat that corresponds to the number of days until tipoff. Today, that figure focuses on Khris Middleton’s post-ups and their fit in Bud’s system.
1 Day to Tipoff
Khris Middleton averaged “1.5” post-ups per game last season
Post-ups are far more marginalized in today’s NBA, so there are significantly less of these opportunities to judge a player upon. Yet, Jason Kidd still felt they might be a viable way to make offense, leading us to a decent clip of their prime 3-point gunner sticking his butt into a defender near the elbow. Khris Middleton averaged 1.5 post-ups per game last year, a figure one hopes drops precipitously this year under Budenholzer.
With 0.8 field goal attempts out of post-ups, that means basically half the time Middleton entered this stout stance, he was gonna launch it up. His 53.8% field goal percentage is actually pretty promising too, even superior to Giannis’ 45.8%, albeit his is on double the attempts per game. With a fairly low assist percentage (just 5.6%), it’s fair to say Kidd wasn’t using these post-ups as a way to leverage feeding other players working around his post-up or draw additional attention to create space around the arc. The most important takeaway is basically that while post-ups comprise a small portion of Middleton’s touches, he could still stand to turn those post-up shots into 3-pointers.
Speaking more broadly about the team’s use of post-ups though is a more useful sample size. Milwaukee ranked 20th last season in terms of frequency of their post-ups, at just 5.5%. They were fairly effective though, their 0.94 points per possession was tied for fifth with the Spurs and Rockets. That 5.5% was also a precipitous drop from prior seasons. In 2016-17, that number was 8.1 (ranked 7th) and the year before that it was 10.1% (ranked 2nd).
Peering at Bud’s time in Atlanta, last year he ranked dead last in the league in terms of post possessions, as they were at a 1.2% frequency. In fact, they had just 104 listed post-ups all year long. That’s by far the lowest of any team over the past three years since NBA.com started keeping that data, Utah was closest at 171 last season with their bevy of handoffs under Quin Snyder.
In 2016-17, Dwight Howard’s dumb-faced expression again mucked with Atlanta’s numbers, thrusting them into 18th in terms of post-up frequency (6.2%) while the Hawks were back at 26th (5.7%) in 2015-16. One would guess the significant dropoff last year came with Atlanta down both Al Horford (who left two years ago of course) and Paul Millsap, each of whom would’ve been the prime candidates for this play type on Atlanta.
The post-up is not a prime offensive play, given the median points per possession topped out at just 0.89 last year. Bud’s reticence to feature the play type seems clear, although it could have a comeback from his complete aversion last year. Giannis is like a supersized and skilled version of his former twin towers, so look for him to be the primary man who may get Bud to integrate it. Middleton, meanwhile, I’m cool with Bud eliminating it from his repertoire for all but the most necessary late shot clock possessions. I’ll admit, that turnaround jumper of his remains a pretty spectacular watch if it’s falling.
Well, at long last that’s it for the calculated countdown series for this year. Since I’m looking for some honest feedback here, does anyone actually care about the “stat that corresponds to days till tipoff” schtick? Otherwise next year I’ll probably just survey and see what sort of stats, specifics and particulars you folks want investigated further and dive in that way.
As always, thanks for the read.