Should D’Antoni Get Credit for Lin’s Success?

I ran into a post on Marginal Revolution about Jeremy Lin, titled “Is Jeremy Lin a Fluke?”:

Nate Silver says no.  I say that in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive schemes a lot of point guards reap more than the statistics they would pick up on other teams and from other offenses, and since the D’Antoni scheme is not very generalizable, or capable of winning a championship, the “other team” metrics are more or less the correct ones.

Here at the Wages of Wins we have our own thoughts about Lin (more on that in tomorrow’s post), but for now I am much more interested in Tyler Cowen’s thoughts on Mike D’Antoni above.

First, I might ask, If it’s all about D’Antoni’s schemes, why is Steve Nash still one of the best point guards in the league? D’Antoni has been gone for several years, and to my knowledge his successors have changed the system a lot (and, in any case, isn’t Cowen making the argument that they couldn’t? I’m not sure what “hard to generalize” really means). Why didn’t Nash’s performance drop off with D’Antoni’s departure?

Careers per-48 Stats
SEA Min WP48 Wins PTS DRB ORB REB AST TO BLK STL PF
06-07 PHO 2682 .307 17.1 25.3 4.3 0.5 4.8 15.8 5.1 0.1 1.0 2.1
07-08 PHO 2780 .251 14.6 23.7 4.4 0.5 4.9 15.5 5.1 0.1 0.9 2.0
08-09 PHO 2484 .194 10.0 22.4 3.9 0.4 4.3 13.9 4.8 0.2 1.1 2.1
09-10 PHO 2660 .250 13.8 24.1 4.2 0.6 4.8 16.1 5.3 0.2 0.8 1.9
10-11 PHO 2497 .244 12.7 21.3 4.2 0.8 5.0 16.4 5.1 0.1 0.9 1.7
11-12 PHO 567 .231 2.7 21.8 3.0 0.5 3.6 15.2 5.3 0.0 0.8 0.8
Career Avg 2465 .241 12.4 23.4 3.9 0.8 4.7 13.9 4.6 0.1 1.1 2.3
Average PG 1624 .099 3.3 18.8 3.9 0.9 4.8 8.3 3.2 0.3 1.8 3.6

 

Career Shooting Efficiency
FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% eFG% TS% FGA 3FGA PPS FTA
Nash 05-06 51.2% 54.8% 43.9% 92.1% 58.3% 63.2% 18.1 5.9 1.41 4.8
Nash 06-07 53.2% 57.5% 45.5% 89.9% 61.3% 65.4% 17.4 6.1 1.45 4.4
Nash 07-08 50.4% 52.7% 47.0% 90.6% 59.7% 64.1% 16.6 6.6 1.43 4.2
Nash 08-09 50.3% 52.9% 43.9% 93.3% 56.6% 61.5% 16.4 4.8 1.36 4.1
Nash 09-10 50.7% 54.0% 42.6% 93.8% 57.0% 61.5% 17.8 5.3 1.35 4.1
Nash 10-11 49.2% 52.5% 39.5% 91.2% 54.2% 60.1% 15.6 3.9 1.36 4.8
Nash 11-12 52.8% 57.7% 39.2% 85.0% 58.0% 61.3% 16.3 4.3 1.34 3.4
Nash (career) 49.7% 52.4% 43.3% 90.8% 56.2% 61.2% 17.1 5.1 1.37 4.7
Average PG 43.0% 45.7% 35.6% 80.5% 47.8% 52.5% 16.0 4.3 1.18 4.4

Although D’Antoni left the Suns after the 07-08 season, there hasn’t been an appreciable drop off in Nash’s performance. In fact, Nash is a bit of medical curiosity, since a player his age should be declining rabidly.

Furthermore, if D’Antoni’s system is so generous to point guards, why have Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, and Mike Bibby all been so terrible?

Raw Stats
Min WP48 Wins PTS DRB ORB REB AST TO BLK STL PF
Shumpert 751 .010 0.2 16.4 4.5 0.9 5.4 5.3 4.0 0.4 3.3 5.0
Bibby 272 -.003 -0.0 10.4 4.2 0.5 4.8 4.9 2.1 0.2 1.6 4.1
Douglas 533 -.141 -1.6 17.7 4.0 0.5 4.5 5.2 4.1 0.1 2.1 4.1
Average SG 570 .099 1.2 20.1 4.3 1.0 5.4 4.2 2.8 0.4 1.6 3.3
Average PG 617 .099 1.3 19.6 3.9 0.9 4.9 8.2 3.6 0.4 1.9 3.3

 

Shooting Efficiency
FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% eFG% TS% FGA 3FGA PPS FTA
Shumpert 38.5% 41.7% 28.8% 84.6% 42.1% 45.4% 16.9 4.2 0.97 2.5
Bibby 28.6% 31.6% 27.5% 83.3% 38.6% 40.6% 12.4 9.0 0.84 1.1
Douglas 32.1% 38.1% 23.8% 85.7% 37.1% 39.3% 21.6 9.1 0.82 1.9
Average SG 42.5% 45.8% 35.7% 80.3% 48.3% 52.6% 17.2 5.6 1.17 4.3
Average PG 42.9% 46.1% 34.7% 80.9% 47.8% 52.4% 16.8 4.7 1.17 4.4

Regarding the second part of Cowen’s analysis, I am curious as to how exactly he determined that “the D’Antoni scheme is not very generalizable, or capable of winning a championship”? What huge sample of championship runs is Tyler using for his observations here? Even if we made the rather generous assumption that every Suns roster he coached was championship-caliber (as an aside, I hope he isn’t going to argue that the Knicks rosters of the past few years were), we’re talking about a sample of a few seasons, correct?

I’m fairly certain if a student presented a paper that came to economic conclusions based on evidence like this in one of Tyler Cowen’s classes, the grade would not be favorable.

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