FanPost

Reasons for Optimism re: Salmons at SG Next Year

I have been making it a habit to absolutely kill John Salmons 'round these parts. I have made it a point to say that he's not Ben Gordon and shouldn't be looked to to replace Ben, because he's simply not good enough. In recent days, though, I've tempered my position on that.

My previous criticism of Salmons was primarily that his defense was overrated and he was a ball-stopper on offense, and he was too slow to play effectively at the two guard, and with Deng returning and Gordon departing that's where we are going to need him. I also relied rather heavily on adjusted plus minus numbers in calling Salmons basically fool's gold. Well, adjusted plus minus is not the be-all-end-all statistic and I've come across some new numbers that should give Bulls fans cause for optimism with respect to Salmons's role in sliding in for Ben Gordon at the SG, while Deng replaces Salmons at the small forward position.

I linked to these numbers earlier in a fanshot, but here they are again.  The pertinent stats for the purpose of this post are the opponent numbers. The opponent numbers are unique and different from 82games's similar numbers because it shows: defensive performance compared to a weighted average of what opponents did on offense elsewhere. And this is from constructed from play by play, not a rough game level match-up by assumed opponent based on starter or sub status. So, now that I've set things up, let's take a look at what the numbers say about John Salmons.  In his minutes as a Bull at the SG v. SF positions, Salmons's opponent production versus expected production, look like this:

Opponent Stats for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
40 mins
Off Rebs/
40 mins
Def Rebs/
40 mins
Assists/
40 mins
Turnovers/
40 mins
Steals/
40 mins
Blocks/
40 mins
WinScore/
Min
PER
SG 10.5 0.0 3.2 0.0 4.0 0.0 0.0 -0.192 -5.64
Expected 15.2 0.8 3.2 3.2 2.0 1.0 0.4 0.111 12.23
Net 4.7 0.8 0 3.2 -2 1 0.4 0.303 17.87
SF 16.1 1.4 4.3 2.8 1.8 1.4 0.9 0.192 15.31
Expected 16.3 1.6 5.3 3.1 2.0 1.4 0.8 0.197 15.42
Net 0.2 0.2 1 0.3 0.2 0 -0.1 0.005 0.11

Opponent Stats and Rates for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
100 Team Poss
FG%TS%FTA/
FGA
Off Reb RateDef Reb RateAssist RateTurnover Rate
SG 13.8 25.0 31.1 0.100 0.0 10.5 0.0 19.3
Expected 19.9 43.3 54.5 0.211 2.2 9.5 13.0 12.8
Net 6.1 18.3 23.4 0.111 2.2 -1 13 6.5
SF 20.9 49.1 57.8 0.208 4.2 12.7 10.5 11.5
Expected 21.3 45.5 54.9 0.346 4.6 15.6 12.7 12.1
Net 0.4 -3.6 -2.9 0.138 0.4 2.9 2.2 0.6

These stats are eye-opening, but then the obvious criticism is that Salmons played very, very few SG minutes during his time in a Bulls uniform during his time here thus far, due to Ben Gordon's presence. It's a fair criticism as Salmons played a shade under 50 minutes at SG so far as a Bull, whereas he played 885 minutes at SF. So, what about his time playing in Sacramento?  Here are the numbers from his time in Sactown (he played 295 minutes at SG in Sacramento, verus 1500 at SF, so still not a great sample size of numbers for his time as a SG, but it helps to have the extra data):

Opponent Stats for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
40 mins
Off Rebs/
40 mins
Def Rebs/
40 mins
Assists/
40 mins
Turnovers/
40 mins
Steals/
40 mins
Blocks/
40 mins
WinScore/
Min
PER
SG 19.1 0.9 4.1 3.5 0.7 1.2 0.3 0.190 17.08
Expected 21.6 1.1 4.0 4.2 2.2 1.3 0.4 0.167 17.45
Net 2.5 0.2 -0.1 0.7 1.5 0.1 0.1 -0.023 0.37
SF 18.4 1.6 4.6 3.1 2.0 1.5 0.8 0.207 16.99
Expected 17.6 1.4 4.8 3.1 2.1 1.3 0.6 0.171 14.95
Net -0.8 -0.2 0.2 0 0.1 -0.2 -0.2 -0.036 -2.04

Opponent Stats and Rates for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
100 Team Poss
FG%TS%FTA/
FGA
Off Reb RateDef Reb RateAssist RateTurnover Rate
SG 25.1 42.7 54.3 0.248 2.7 12.0 14.2 3.7
Expected 27.9 44.8 54.9 0.264 3.1 11.6 17.6 10.4
Net 2.8 2.1 0.6 0.016 0.4 -0.4 3.4 6.7
SF 23.3 49.0 57.9 0.329 4.8 13.8 11.4 11.1
Expected 22.8 45.0 54.5 0.286 4.0 14.0 12.9 11.9
Net -0.5 -4 -3.4 -0.043 -0.8 0.2 1.5 0.8

Again, the same trend holds up, although slightly less stark, that Salmons seeming plays better on defense at the SG slot than at the SF. This is very good news. It appears that part of the reason Salmons looks bad on D is that he plays too often at the SF, where he is actually undersized, rather than playing at the SG, where he has a size advantage and, in limited minutes, plays much better defense.  Okay, so those are the defensive numbers. What about the offensive numbers? First, his numbers on offense from his time as a Bull, by position:

Position Stats for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
40 mins
Off Rebs/
40 mins
Def Rebs/
40 mins
Assists/
40 mins
Turnovers/
40 mins
Steals/
40 mins
Blocks/
40 mins
WinScore/
Min
PER
SG 18.6 0.8 4.9 0.8 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.213 15.46
SF 19.1 0.6 3.8 2.3 1.8 1.1 0.7 0.162 15.69

Position Stats and Rates for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
100 Team Poss
FG%TS%FTA/
FGA
Off Reb RateDef Reb RateAssist RateTurnover Rate
SG 24.7 52.9 64.3 0.118 2.6 11.8 3.4 5.3
SF 24.7 46.5 58.7 0.320 1.9 10.8 9.3 9.8

It appears that it's a bit of a mixed bag. He scores more efficiently at SG, but doesn't pass at all. He turns it over less, though. He also rebounds better at the SG, which makes intuitive sense given his size advantage at the two spot that is lost when he's playing SF. Again, though, there's the problem of small sample size with his Bulls minutes at SG, so let's again look to his time in Sacramento for a slightly richer picture.

Position Stats for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
40 mins
Off Rebs/
40 mins
Def Rebs/
40 mins
Assists/
40 mins
Turnovers/
40 mins
Steals/
40 mins
Blocks/
40 mins
WinScore/
Min
PER
SG 21.9 0.4 3.8 3.4 2.6 1.4 0.1 0.168 17.19
SF 19.3 0.8 3.4 4.0 2.5 1.1 0.2 0.147 15.56

Position Stats and Rates for John Salmons
PositionPoints/
100 Team Poss
FG%TS%FTA/
FGA
Off Reb RateDef Reb RateAssist RateTurnover Rate
SG 28.4 52.0 59.2 0.216 1.2 10.7 14.1 12.2
SF 24.5 46.5 56.8 0.322 2.5 10.4 17.3 12.7

Most of the same trends hold up in his time in Sacramento as we saw in his Bulls numbers. He's a better, more efficient scorer at the off guard versus the small forward slot, he gets to the line less and his assist and turnover rates dip (though less drastically than in a Bulls uniform). The rebounding advantage disappears in the Sactown numbers, though (too bad, we could use some extra boards).

All in all, these numbers lead me to believe that Salmons should be more effective next year than he was this year, as he will be playing the two guard where he is, apparently, better suited and that I may have been overly harsh and too quick to close the book on Salmons. Or I could just be reaching. Let me know what you think in the comments.

FanPosts are user-created posts from the BlogABull community, and are to be treated as the opinions and views of that particular user, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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