December 1, 2009

Me No Likey Mikki

Mikki Moore may be a great guy. He may be a guy you can go to a shooting range with, a guy you can go inner-tubing with. It's possible that Clinton Renard "Mikki" (pronounced "MY-key") Moore is the single greatest person in the world. But we're here to talk about basketball. Through that narrow lens, he is goddamned HORRIBLE. And MY-key to the Warriors improving is sitting this guy down as much as the gods and Nelsonian flights of fancy allow.

Mikki Moore will hit the occasional jumper, and he can sometimes nail the type of layup you're taught in drills at a really white middle school. Where it starts to suck is, Mikki Moore is not a good rebounder, AT ALL. Or a good post defender. Or a good help defender. Or good at altering shots. Or good at "catching the ball", which is an NBA skill you may have never considered before, because most players can kind of just do it. Mikki Moore is not good at raising his arms on basic defensive sequences... it's like Dennis Hopper told him that a bus would explode if any of his fingers ever got as high as his nipples. Mikki Moore is not even good at not fouling players in super-dumb situations. He is basically the cautionary-tale guy in a "How NOT To Play NBA Basketball" corporate video. Yes, he's unselfish. I lent Season Two of "The Wire" to a dude, and I can't even remember which dude, and I'm not making a big stink about it... that doesn't qualify me to be a starting NBA center. When it comes to basketball, this guy sucks. records two types of plus-minus data: a team's production with a dude on the court as opposed to off, and a dude's production on the court versus the production of his positional "opponent" while he's on the court. (It sounds complicated, but it's not... don't be a dick.) Plus-minus numbers are noisy, flawed things, particularly early in a season, and 82games's positional data is hinky. Still and all, if a guy rates horribly by BOTH metrics -- if his team is at least 10 points per 48 minutes better when he's off the court, and the guy he covers outplays him by at least 10 points per 48 minutes when he's *on* the court -- it seems safe to say he's a shitty player, right? If a dude is consistently losing his battle, and you're consistently losing the war when he's out there, it shouldn't take you all that long to smell a rat.

Indeed, the players that "earned" more than 10% of their team's minutes in '08-'09 despite rating -10 or worse by both metrics: Darnell Jackson of the Cavs (11%), DeSagana Diop of the Mavs (11%), and former Dub Josh Powell of the Lakers (18%). Just three guys, all of whom mainly played in garbage time for good teams. In other words, no team put a -10/-10 guy in competitive situations last year. This year, the overall crappiness-sifting is not yet complete... as of four days ago (82games falls behind now and again), thirteen players still rated at -10/-10 or worse in 10% or more of their teams' minutes:

Quinton Ross, Dallas (26%), Anthony Carter, Denver (22%), Joe Smith, Atlanta (19%), Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles (17%), Sean May, Sacramento (13%), Dorell Wright, Miami (12%), Ronnie Price, Utah (12%), James Singleton, Dallas (11%), Juwan Howard, Portland (11%), Sonny Weems, Toronto (11%), Chris Wilcox, Detroit (10%), Jerryd Bayless, Portland (10%)

Initial reactions:
2) Oh, Machine. Oh, you silly, silly Machine.
3) Juwan Howard? Yeah, right. That guy died at least thirty years ago.
4) There's no way "Sonny Weems" is a real person. Quit messing with me.
5) These guys mainly sit deep on the benches of good teams. They're garbage-timers.
6) They're also some pretty horrible players... just about everyone's a has-been or a never-was.
7) What is Dallas thinking, giving 26% of their minutes to a guy that's killing them?
8) ...wait, that's only twelve names. I thought you said there were thirteen?

Indeed. Lucky number 13: Mikki Moore, Golden State (35%). Mikki has played, by far, the most minutes of any terrible player in basketball. Competitive minutes, generally starter's minutes, for a team with no margin for error. "But Mr. Long-Winded Debuting Blogger, our front court is all banged up. So what if it's not ideal... we need Mikki out there." You know what? Shut up. Do you realize that every single game has featured at least one healthy, foul-trouble-free big who sat while Mikki played? Do you realize that, despite all these injuries, we're actually outscoring our opponents whenever Mikki's on the bench? "I, um..." EXACTLY. No response, Mr. Imaginary Quoted Guy.

Injuries have decimated our frontcourt, but idiocy decimated it long before that. We should have turned CJ into a big in the summer (Orlando, for one, was willing to oblige). Once Wright went down, we should have turned Devean George's roster spot into another big, by hook or by crook. And we should have signed a better big than Mikki in the first place. He is not "a solid reserve" or "a good third-stringer" or "a glue guy"... he just straight-up sucks. (There's a reason the Celtics lost interest in him once they actually saw him play.) The very fact that Mikki's on our roster is evidence of incompetence. But Mikki's having played over a third of our minutes, and having started 13 of our 16 games... that's not incompetence. That's some kind of surreally strange gonzo beauty. We are continually going to war with one of the very worst players in basketball. This is fucking Bocockian at this point.

Anthony Randolph > Mikki. Chris Hunter > Mikki. Over-the-hill on-another-team Adonal Foyle > Mikki. For God's sake, Warriors, pass this simplest of tests. Bench Mikki Moore.

1 comment:

onlxn said...

I wasn't sufficiently clear about the positional plus-minus variant 82games uses. When I say opponents outplay Mikki by over 10 points, that means that there's at least a ten-point discrepancy *in their PERs* while they cover each other. "Points" doesn't refer to actual points scored in a game, but to increments in a measurement of performance quality.

The practical distinction is not all that important; if your opponent's PER is ten points better than yours, he is indeed outplaying you by a lot. But it's worth noting, and is part of the reason it's hard to regard those numbers, on their own, with any confidence. PER is a somewhat warty metric, and 82games necessarily makes some assumptions about who's covering who.