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Liberty Ballers Mailbag: what if Fultz balls out, Jimmy & Joel’s fit and more

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Answering the people’s questions.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

From Liberty Ballers Community member terd ferguson’s hat:

If you don’t have access to Synergy information, what are the best sources for NBA related stats?

Can we put links to the best ones in the banner of the blog or in a post referenced from the main menu?

Great questions.

I’ll answer the second question first. Yes, I can set up a sort of index for the stats and resources that the writing staff uses frequently.

As for the first question, I’ve had Synergy myself, and I was pretty disappointed with it. But full disclaimer: I did not have access to the video capabilities. The video access paired with the stats is probably a gold mine. I asked Synergy on more than one occasion to be set up an account with video access so to provide you all better insight, but to no avail. I ended up cancelling my subscription, because I felt having only the stats subscription was not worth it.

Now, on to which resources I use.

  • The BBall Index, a site that debuted this season and boasts a writing staff of some very talented people, has some really useful statistics pages. They have the lasts two seasons of PIMP and POE, and player grades that the site founders designed and developed themselves. The Bball Index requires a subscription for their betting model services, but many of their NBA statistics can be viewed for free.
  • Building on the last one a bit, give Jacob Goldstein a follow on Twitter (@JacobEGoldstein). Jacob is the CAO at The BBall Index, and created PIPM. He used to house much of his work on open-to-the-public Google Sheets/Docs. I’m not sure if that’s still the case these days with the rolling out of The BBall Index, but he’s still a great follow, as he provides a lot of context for advanced stats and how they should be interpreted.
  • Cleaning The Glass is a phenomenal resource for statistics. A subscription is required to view all of the stats on Ben Falk’s masterpiece, but for those not willing to pay, it still has a good offering. It’s definitely worth the price for any hoops junkie. For those who are unaware of what CTG offers: Ben Falk has formerly served as the VP of Basketball Strategy for... the Philadelphia 76ers under Sam Hinkie! His site is a bit of a peek at how front office executives might put stats into context. I’m probably not doing the whole operation justice with this description, so I’d suggest just doing the trial and seeing how you like it.
  • Basketball Reference is an obvious one. I use Basketball Reference to browse through traditional stats.
  • NBAwowy is wonderful for on/off statistics. The site allows you frame the context of their stats according to which players are on and off the floor. For example, you could find out how many points per play the Sixers allow when Wilson Chandler, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler are on the floor, while Landry Shamet and Mike Muscala are off the floor. You have to register to use NBAwowy nowadays, but it’s free to do so.
  • Stat Muse is a nice when you want a quick answer. Powered by AI, Stat Muse can give you the answer to a question like “Who has the highest three point percentage this season?” You can literally type in any question you want, and as long as it is coherent and having to do with NBA stats, you’ll likely get a directly answer with some graphics attached in a matter of seconds.
  • NBA.com’s stats and tracking data can be incredibly useful when you really figure out how to best utilize them. I’m talking filters, navigation, etc. Maybe someday in the near future I’ll write up a post to serve as a little tutorial on how to maximize NBA.com’s stats interface.
  • Inpredictable is one I’ve recently discovered after Kevin O’Connor mentioned it on the Ringer NBA show. I’m still figuring it out, and it seems to be geared more towards handicappers. But there’s some interesting stuff on there. The blog looks a bit dated, but the stats are up-to-date.

There’s certainly more, but the above are some of my most frequently used resources. I’ll keep a running list somewhere on the site when I get the opportunity.

From Liberty Ballers community member ftaok:

Any thoughts on a potential Jabari Parker buyout?

What about Jabari Parker if the Bulls buy him out? Any interest in him if he comes cheap? As long as there’s no commitment for next season, I think the Sixers could use help at the 4 spot.

There was a time not too long ago when I’d say absolutely yes to a flier on Jabari Parker. But that time has passed. If Parker can’t get tick on the Bulls, he certainly won’t be useful for the Sixers. Particularly of note: Parker is one of the worst defenders in the NBA and has openly stated that his belief that NBA players don’t get paid to play defense (hey, he’s efficient at something: destroying his own reputation) — he just won’t even give effort. Whichever four the Sixers bring in, if indeed they do make a move for a power forward, maybe needs to defend even more so than contribute offense. The Sixers’ lack of power forward depth has really compromised team defense.

I do like where your head is at though. The Sixers are now at a point where they have to work the margins. Taking chances on young, underachieving talent is one way to do that. I’m just not sure Parker has much talent left, nor the desire to be better. It’s a shame, before his injuries he looked like he could have turned into a useful offensive weapon.

From Liberty Ballers community member fulfilled:

Why does everyone get their career high in points against the Sixers, a perennially good defensive team? Seems any scoring guard with a pulse goes off on us. Defensive system? All the switching? Am I making this up and it only seems like that is happening?

It certainly seems like this is a thing. I think you probably guessed the correct answer as to why: all the switching. Scoring guards in particular seem to kill the Sixers’ heavy switching scheme. That’s because opponents are able to pretty much able to chose who they want to attack by calling for a screen and hoping Landry Shamet or JJ Redick ends up with the on-ball assignment. If not, opponents will just set another screen and another and another. Besides the switching, we’ve all seen the Sixers’ pick-and-roll defense and how bad it has been at times this year. Finally, the Sixers have, what, one truly plus perimeter defender? The scheme isn’t great for defending pick-and-roll maestros, and no players on the roster can even offer a sort of “okay, time to lock down” five minute stretch outside of Butler.

I think a switch heavy scheme can be effective if you have the personnel to pull it off — wing depth, rangey guards and a competent backup center. The Sixers are far from meeting those qualifiers with their current construction, but even just a guard who can defend the POA would help a ton.

From Liberty Ballers community member persianninja:

If Fultz comes back in 6 weeks (late January/early February) and balls-out as backup PG (deserving a move up to the starting line-up), but its clear he can only be effective as a PG, what do the Sixers do? Let’s say all this occurs past the trade deadline as that’s a real tight window (think i read the trade deadline is Feb 8th).

The trade deadline is February 7th, so yep, it’s close.

If Fultz comes back and balls out, the Sixers should do whatever it takes to incorporate him into their long-term plans. Washington Markelle Fultz might be the most valuable player on this roster — I truly mean that. He really could be the key to putting this team over. When you’re talking about a three level scoring guard with defensive upside and a #1 overall pick pedigree, you’re talking about an MVP candidate in today’s NBA.

Is there fit questions in such a scenario? No doubt. All of a sudden, Ben Simmons is struggling to make an impact offensively. But I’ll say it until proven otherwise: talent wins out in the NBA. Shoot first, ask questions later. In the meantime, Brett Brown re-engages his previous plan: get each of Simmons and Fultz as much time at the point as possible by staggering them.

From Liberty Ballers community member Phanatic88:

Can Jimmy Butler coexist with a dominant big man? There’s an article by Zach Lowe that talks about KAT’s transformation to dominant post-up machine and a guy who actually tries on defense since the trade; and clearly, Embiid has had some issues the last few games with Butler, and went off on the night that Butler was out due to injury. Can these two successfully coexist moving forward?

I don’t have stats or film or articles to cite here, but I’ll simply say that I don’t see any reason at all the two can’t coexist. They’re both so talented that they should be able to adapt their games in order to maximize effectiveness when on the court together. Butler has played 16 games for the Sixers; while it’s not his first week on the team, he (and the rest of the team) is still adjusting. It’s really Brett Brown’s job to figure things out. #TeamChill

Related: I don’t think it’s too big of a deal, but I was really disappointed with the way Joel handled venting his frustrations about his usage lately.

I wouldn’t put much stock into KAT becoming more effective after Butler left, when it comes to whether or not Butler fits with Joel. KAT and Jimmy didn’t like each other. I’d probably be more productive at work if the co-worker I least appreciated, who made it known to everyone that (s)he thought I was overpaid, was suddenly gone. KAT’s always been capable of this, it’s more an engagement thing with him. The team sided with him over Butler — that fuels motivation.

From Liberty Ballers community member dtbrooklyn:

How do we rank the following perimeter defenders on the Sixers: Redick, Shamet, Korkmaz?

Yeesh.

“I rank them as equivalent to wet paper bags.” - Belgard

I want to penalize Redick here, as someone who has been in this league for over a decade, and place him last. The guy’s steals per-36 are an utterly futile 0.2, and he’s regularly targeted and offers zero resistance. And yet, I have to place Shamet last, which tells you all you need to know about just how bad Landry has been defensively. People get really upset about Shamet slander, but it’s not slander. I’ve detailed it a bit here, but in short, he’s been awful. Landry Shamet dealing with screens is like watching an insect trying to escape from a spider web. And before you jump down my throat: that’s okay! He’s a rookie trying to defend point guards. Shamet will improve over the next few seasons, and I think he can actually get close to being of neutral value on D. But he’s far, far away right now.

That leaves Korkmaz at #1 by default. However, he’s actually not been too bad in my opinion, maybe even an ever-so-slightly plus defender lately! Zilents44 has led the Furkan hype train, and I’m hopping aboard.

DaGold also requested a Zhaire update, so I’ll tackle it here.

One of the most recent updates on Zhaire was that he had lost 20 pounds, via John Gonzalez of The Ringer.

I don’t know where Zhaire is at in his recovery, but I think losing 20 pounds and the fact that we haven’t gotten much in the way of timetable for return should indicate just how serious of an allergic reaction he had. We’re talking life threatening.

The hope is that Zhaire will indeed be back this season; the Front Office is cautiously optimistic about that — my understanding is that they’re not as nearly doom-and-gloom as Gonzalez’s report was. But look, this isn’t a broken bone or a torn ligament. It’s really tough to gauge the length of recovery, because his whole body in general took a hit. He needs to put on muscle and weight, and if his lungs have suffered as a result of the reaction, conditioning might be a tough task right now. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he doesn’t play this year.

If he does return at 100%, I think he’ll be integrated pretty easily given that he can play on the wing. I would expect him to be a low usage player on offense, but be pretty active setting screens and running the floor in transition. Defensively, he’ll be an instant upgrade so long as he’s around the capabilities he had when he was drafted.

Sell high on TJ, not even a second thought about it. I’m giving Markelle another opportunity, just too much potential to sell low and receive a marginal player in return (imagine getting a Trevor Booker-esque player for MF). TJ is a free agent this offseason, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see, ehh, the Suns or the Bulls overpay him.


That’ll do it for this edition of the mailbag. If you commented a question in our forum and it wasn’t answered, it’s more than likely because I didn’t believe I could provide a great answer. I apologize and hope to answer your question next time.

Also of note: I know there were questions asked directly to our tweet announcing the upcoming mailbag. But for some reason, I could not find the original tweet. So I’m sorry to those folks as well. I highly encourage you to submit your questions on Twitter with #LBMailbag. It makes your question much easier to find.