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Defend Rodney Stuckey all you want, just don’t say he doesn’t get enough respect from the officials

I was tweeting with Steve Kays (@SteveKaysNBA) tonight about Rodney Stuckey. Steve knows his stuff, but I thought he was short-changing Stuckey with his last two tweets:

It’s not that I don’t think he’s good, but I just can’t see him ever being a good team’s #1 option. Doesn’t finish well … enough around the rim, or from 15+ feet. He’d make for an ok SG, or a great 6th man.

I’ll concede Stuckey’s not a great outside shooter, of course. (Not that I expect it, but the way Stuckey has improved each year, I think it’s possible he can make himself into a solid perimeter shooter).

But I thought it was unfair to criticize Stuckey’s low percentage at the rim (49.3, according to HoopData.com). That ranks 58th of the 66 point guards who played at least 41 games.

But I figured Stuckey’s percentage was unfairly low because he didn’t get enough respect on foul calls. At least, that’s what we’ve been told for months.

I admit, I never really noticed Stuckey not getting foul calls he deserved. But because John Kuester made Stuckey not getting enough respect his campaign of the second half of the season, I figure there was some weight to it. Kuester just doesn’t strike me as someone who would passionately crusade about something like that if he didn’t believe it – unlike someone like this guy.

But when I looked at the data closer, there isn’t evidence Stuckey is disadvantaged. In fact Stuckey sits right on the line of how many free throws you’d expect him to shoot based on the number of shots he takes at the rim.

Shots at rim compared to free throw attempts for point guards during 2009-10 season

image 

Parting thoughts

So, I don’t have an excuse for Stuckey’s low percentage at the rim. Point Steve.

But I still think Stuckey could end up the No. 1 player on a good team (assuming it’s a balanced, not superstar-led, team). I just have to figure out another reason I believe it.

36 Comments

  • May 5, 201011:58 am
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    Wow! This is unbelievable! Stuckey doesn’t get respect from the officials bottom line. That shot chart displayed above doesn’t really tell the whole story. Be fair, alot of people credit Stuckey for being a 3 year veteran, but he missed most of his rookie season due to injury. He provided a spark to us in the playoffs once Billups got hurt but he only has two full seasons under his belt and he improves each year. He is not a great floor general like, Kidd, Rondo, CP3, or Nash but his playmaking has improved throughout the course of this past season.
    He needs to get a reliable 3pt shot, and I think once he starts getting recognition from the officials he will have a significant boost in his scoring effieciency. Everytime he goes to the hole there is contact, some may be created by him but he gets beat up quite a bit and for some reason the refs swallow the whistle. They say that the aggressive player usually gets the favor of the whistle, well it isn’t the case in regards to Rodney. It’s crazy, I know that they have a hard job to officiate a high paced game such as proffessional basketball; but who holds them accountable for making bad calls? It’s happens so often to where it’s starting to be accepted. A player or a coach can be fined $35,000 to $80,000 for making a statement against the officiating of a game. Shouldn’t they be accountable for their actions or lack of, since they have the power to dictate the flow and sometimes the outcome of a game? The NBA and Commissioner are in the business of making and exploiting stars. Lebron, Durant, Kobe, etc. I guess Stuckey doesn’t have that star quality.

    • May 5, 20108:22 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I agree with what you say about Stuckey’s improvement. He’s still young, and though he’s already a good player, he still has plenty of potential to grow.
      But you you say aggressive players should get calls. According to the chart, Stuckey gets as many free throw attempts as would be expected for a point guard who shoots at the rim as often as he does.

  • May 5, 201012:00 pm
    by Odeh

    Reply

    Stuckey should get more calls at the rim but to do so he has to be more aggressive.  YES Stuckey does attack the rim but not often enough.  Him attacking the rim should be our main play more often then not.  To get more calls he has to do that and have the killer instinct we see in guys like Kobe and Lebron and to top it off DUNK in a couple people’s faces.  Stuckey finishes at the rim with soft layups and to get calls he needs to go hard and DUNK.  Once officials see his aggressiveness he will get more calls.

    • May 5, 20108:36 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      That’s a great point, Odeh. I knew Stuckey didn’t dunk much, but I couldn’t believe how rare it was this year. CBS Sports tracks dunks, and Stuckey ties for 241st in the league with five dunks. Here’s how other Pistons rank:

      • 48. Jason Maxiell (54)
      • 54. Ben Wallace (50)
      • 90. Jonas Jerebko (33)
      • 96. Charlie Villanueva (32)
      • 100. Tayshaun Prince (31)
      • 140. Chris Wilcox (21)
      • 165. Kwame Brown (15)
      • 191. Austin Daye (11)
      • 230. DaJuan Summer (6)
      • 241. Rodney Stuckey (5)
      • 268. Will Bynum (3)
      • 286. Ben Gordon (2)
      • 314. Richard Hamilton (1)
      • 349. Chucky Atkins (0)

      That’s really troubling about Stuckey.

       

      • May 6, 201012:41 pm
        by Odeh

        Reply

        Dan, I also would wager that if you compared dunks per shots in the paint he would have one of the lowest numbers in the NBA.

  • May 5, 201012:10 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    I watched like 75% of the Pistons games this year. True that Stuckey doesn’t explode and dunk on people enough for my liking but he does attack the rim more often than not. It can be discouraging when you’re going to the hole, taking all that abuse and you know you get fouled but you don’t get the call. I think there was a stretch wehere he kind of slacked up from attacking ALL the time. But that’s usually his game, “drive to the hole”, until he starts getting his fair share of the whistles he has to start working on other elements of his game, cuz driving to the basket is one of his biggest strengths.

    • May 5, 20109:15 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Stuckey can’t turn into a jump shooter because he’s not getting calls and still be effective. Improving his jumper would do wonders for his game, but he still needs to attack the rim to be effective. If that is the attitude he’s taking, his future is bleak.

  • May 5, 201012:42 pm
    by Jubilee

    Reply

    bottom line: he never finishes strong. ever. not anymore. his ability to penetrate was initially impressive, but it’s no longer a surprise, and teams adjusted to it quickly. if stuckey EVER kicked out after he penetrated, or dropped the ball off to a big man, his attacks at the rim might be effective again. but he’s the most predictable player in the world, and it’s easy to stop him when you know exactly what’s coming. every. single. time. am i the only one who’s figured this out?

    • May 6, 201012:01 am
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I think Stuckey has made progress as far as dumping the balling off or kicking it out. He has a long way to go as a playmaker, but he looked better this year than he did last year.

  • May 5, 201012:56 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    stuckey would get more calls if he didn’t throw up so much junk at the rim and run into a crowded lane. he doesn’t deserve calls if he’s driving into a lane full of defenders, he should be passing it out instead of going against a crowd. he doesn’t dunk. i’ve heard someone come out with a stuckey has small hands argument thats why he doesn’t dunk. whatever the reason that sounds like a problem in its own right.

    • May 6, 201012:03 am
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I haven’t seen anything about Stuckey’s hands. Do you have a link to that?

  • May 5, 201012:56 pm
    by alex

    Reply

    The point that you are missing in this article is that you are simply comparing stuckey to other point guards when you don’t take into account when and how they attack the rim.  I’m assuming the other points in that graph are the other point guards.  What you would need to take into account is that because of our lack of 3 point shooting, teams pack the paint and  stuckey doesn’t get uncontested shots at the rim.  You need to show the number of “contested” shots at the rim vs. foul shot attempts.  Until you do that, you are comparing stuckey to players that only go to the rim when it is wide open.  Stuckey will always have a higher percentage of foul shots compared to those players because he attacks a crowded painted area.  In other words, it is a given he should be above most point guards and sense this graph says he’s only average, it shows stuckey doesn’t get as many calls as he should.  I’m interested to hear what you think Dan.

    • May 6, 20102:23 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      First of all, yes, those are other point guards. In my haste Tuesday, I forgot to mention that, but it’s there now. Thanks for the head’s up.

      I think you make a great point, Alex. Stuckey’s shots at the rim are probably contested more often than other point guards. And I think that helps explain his low shooting percentage. (I might post another chart on that.)

      But I don’t think it necessarily shows he deserves more free throw attempts. Here’s another argument:

      Fouls often come when a defender is out of position. If he has to watch the perimeter, he’s more likely to be out of position and foul a player inside. If he knows his opponent isn’t a serious 3-point threat (as was the case for Detroit), he can stay in the lane and be in a better position to defend without fouling.

      Now, am I saying that argument holds more weight than your’s? Absolutely not. I have no idea which is more accurate. And disappointingly, I don’t have an idea how to find out. But I wouldn’t use this data paired with the fact the Pistons don’t shoot 3-pointers well to show Stuckey doesn’t get enough free throws.

      • May 7, 201012:01 am
        by Alex

        Reply

        I totally agree.  Drawing fouls is an art and a skill as much as it is shooting at the right time in the right situation.  I do believe that our lack of offensive weapons, not just lack of three point shooting, makes stuckey such a focal point of the defense that they can contest more of his shots.  I would love to dig deeper into this if the stats were available.  I really don’t know if showing contested shots at the rim to free throw attempts would show anything different in stuckeys case, but I’m leaning that way.  The other thing that I’m curious about is if the this graph is including all shots at the rim.  Technically, if a player shoots a shot at the rim and misses it but gets fouled there was no shot attempt.  Does your graph include those attempts?  Because if it doesn’t we’re missing an even bigger part of this.  You can even go further and narrow down fta to attempts that were only given out for shots at the rim rather than perimeter shots included.  I majored in statistics and do a lot of work in numbers and the one thing I know is that you have to really understand the data before coming to conclusions.  I’ve wanted to look at a lot of stats from the nba out of curiousity but dont know where to find the data.  Any idea where it is easily available?  Thanks Dan.

        • May 11, 20107:52 pm
          by Dan Feldman

          Reply

          Unfortunately, I don’t know anywhere that tracks contested shots at the rim.
          You are correct about the flaw in this data. When a player is fouled while shooting at the rim, the shot attempt doesn’t count. Again, I don’t know where data is available to reconcile that.
          It’s reasons like that I don’t consider graphs like these as presenting conclusions. Instead, I look at them as clues.
          Here are a few sites that I primarily rely on for data (each offer different things):

          Basketball-Reference.com
          HoopData.com
          BasketballValue.com

          If you want to e-mail me (danfeld11@gmail.com) about what you want to analyze, I could try to give you more specifics about where to find the appropriate data.

  • May 5, 20101:13 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    anyways who the heck is that outlier way at the top? who is represented in this graph? is this all nba players? over a career or season? so stuckey takes 400 shots at the rim and shoots 350 free throws? is that what I’m seeing or is this some arbitrary scale?

    • May 6, 20102:47 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Berg is correct below. That’s Chauncey Billups. It seems like every time he goes inside, he draws a foul.

      Sorry for not posting this clearer before:

      The graph is all NBA point guards in the 2009-10 season. It uses each player’s totals, so you are correct. Stuckey took 408 shots at the rim and 359 free throw attempts.

      • May 6, 20103:37 pm
        by nuetes

        Reply

        i think billups gets more fouls outside of the lane than inside it though. his shots at the rim are fairly low. he’s one of the biggest actors in the nba. anytime a big shows on a pick and roll billups will run into him and flail about. or he’ll always put his body into the guy guarding him while he’s dribbling and pull a good act job. not to mention his late game freebies. of course none of that is a knock on him because he gets to the line, and thats all that matters.

  • May 5, 20102:49 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    Sounds like a few of ya’ll have been drinking the kool-aide, or the Stuckey hatorade. LOL. He was our best player this season, and perhaps if we had a low post threat, or perhaps if we had someone who would hit the outside jumper consistently then maybe he would kick it out on the drives through the lane. But we have neither of those options, and he was asked to do alot more due to all of the injuries. He doesn’t convert at the rim as much as preferred, but he get’s clobbered almost all the time he goes to the rim and is rarely compensated. He has to drive into a crowded lane cuz like I said before we haven’t a had a consistent perimeter threat this season to draw the defense out. I’m confident that he will only get better, we just have to be patient.

    • May 6, 20102:49 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I think you raise a good point. A lot of Stuckey bashers aren’t patient enough. Yes, if he was better, he’d erase some of those problems himself. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t any good.

  • May 5, 20104:31 pm
    by Odeh

    Reply

    Dont get me wrong Stuckey is my favorite player and the best on our team.  But to exploit his skills as one of the best drivers in the league and get more calls we need to move him off the ball and pair a 3pt shooting point guard with him.

    • May 6, 20102:50 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Don’t you think, with his size and speed, he’d have more success driving against smaller point guards with a 3-point shooting guard next to him?

      • May 7, 201011:35 am
        by Odeh

        Reply

        We do have a 3 point shooting guard in Ben Gordon.  Last I checked he has shot consistently around 40% from the 3-point arc for most of his career except for last season being the exception.  Now I have to ask myself why was it the exception?  And my answer is because his 3 point shots are far more contested and out of rhythm than in his prior seasons because Stuckey could not get him the ball in the right spot because he is not a point guard.  We only had a small sample of Stuckey and Gordon playing together but Gordon is a player that can come off screens and pick and pop and Stuckey cant deliver it to him.  Gordon is better off the bench because of his explosiveness to score in bunches so I still contend that we should move Stuckey to the 2, bring in a pass first, 3-point shooting point guard, trade RIP and bring Gordon off the bench.  However, I do agree that a big man is our first priority, and if a good deal is not available for a point guard then Stuckey is adequate but not the long term solution at the point.

  • May 5, 20107:05 pm
    by berg

    Reply

    Believe it or not the outlier is our old boy Chauncey, found it on the espn stats website, leads point guards with 512 FT.  Probably gets a lot of those late in games, and as we know he drives to get fouled.

    • May 6, 20102:51 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I think a big reason Billups is in that position is because he’s so crafty. He almost only goes inside when matched up with a smaller player he knows won’t be able to defend him without fouling.

  • May 5, 20107:58 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    Yep, I agree with you Odeh. That would be real nice. I would love it if we could swoop up Darren Collison in a trade of some sort. I know that’s wishful thinking but Tayshaun should bring us back something nice.

    • May 6, 20102:53 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I’d love to get Collison, too. I could see his play suffering playing behind Paul again next year. That might be the peak time to grab him on the semi-cheap.

  • May 5, 20108:36 pm
    by Odeh

    Reply

    Yea that would be a good move but we have to wait and see how we land in the lottery! I’m praying for a top 3 pick (fingers crossed) that could land us John Wall and move Stuckey to the 2 or Demarcus Cousins or Derrick Favors.   If we get a big in the draft I’d like to say us move Tay or Rip for a PG and PF. If we dont get a big I would like to see us make a play for 2 big men via trade and our MLE.

    • May 6, 20102:54 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Honestly, I wouldn’t be disappointed with adding a big man in the draft, trade and free agency. It’s such a key position that it would only increase Detroit’s odds of finding one that works.

  • May 6, 20109:46 am
    by Daniel

    Reply

    Stuckey is a below-average player.  Dumars absolutely screwed the pooch choosing him over Billups.  Get over it.
     
    And for those of you thinking that the Pistons had a balanced, no superstar team the won the title, it’s just not true.  Ben Wallace was a top-5 NBA PLAYER without taking shots.  He was an absolute SUPERSTAR.  Billups was also a top-5 point guard for a short stretches.
     
    Notice the Pistons got 11 games worse and the Bulls got 8 games better when he switched teams.  He was injured in ’07-’08, but after the trade in his first full season replacing Drew Gooden, the Cavs improved 21 games (some of which can be attributed to West, Williams, Lebron).  Wallace was by far the best Pistons player this season, but it’s too little, too late as he’s 35 and can only play half the game.

    • May 6, 20103:13 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      In hindsight, trading Billups was a mistake. But that doesn’t mean Stuckey is below average. He’s far from that.

      And I’m the first (or second behind you, in this case) to say Ben Wallace was a superstar. He was a top-3-or-so player in the league for a stretch.

      But I still think that title team was balanced in that the top player (Wallace) was closer to the fifth-best player (Tayshaun Prince) than the typical championship team. For comparison, look at last year’s champion. The difference between Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher was bigger than between Wallace and Prince.

      Also, I don’t think the Pistons let Ben Wallace go because they thought he was washed up. I think they let him go because he was no longer worth $15 million per year. And they were probably right.

  • May 6, 201010:50 am
    by brgulker

    Reply

    I don’t know what it’s going to take in Piston land to convince fans or the organization that Rodney isn’t (and IMO never will be) “the guy.” I don’t see him ever becoming the type of player who can carry the offense for a winning team. At best, he’s an explosive bench player on a good team. At worst, he keeps doing what he’s done so far, which is take and miss far too many shots for his team to be successful.
    I hope we trade him, honestly, because he’s one of our best trade assets. Unfortunately, every word from Dumars and Langlois suggests that the Pistons are committed to him, which in my mind, means several more mediocre years to come (at least if he’s considered to be a significant piece of the puzzle).

    • May 6, 20103:36 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I think Stuckey can be the best player on a title contender. I don’t think he will be.

      But he’s the best shot Detroit has. No other player on the roster is more likely to fill that role. No potential free agent is more likely to fill that role. And unless the Pistons move up in the lottery, no draft pick is more likely to fill that role.

      So, what should the Pistons do? If they can trade Stuckey and get good value, I’m cool with that. But if it’s so obvious Stuckey isn’t that good, that won’t happen.

      Basically, I’m not saying it will work out well, but I think Detroit’s best chance is to ride it out with Stuckey.

  • May 6, 20104:46 pm
    by The Boourns

    Reply

    So not knowing who some of the guards are that represent the other dots on that scatter plot above it’s hard to make assumptions based on playstyle.  But by normalizing for playstyle (eg – removing the difference between a PG who shies away from contact vs. one who aims to draw contact), you miss out on the fact that Stuckey plays a very physical PG position compared to a lot of PGs in the league.

    He should be watching nothing but Deron Williams gameplay footage to get a better sense for how to maximize his free throw attempts by drawing contact in the right way vs. putting his shoulder down and going straight into guys followed by yelling “HEY!” in the hopes of a ref blowing his whistle. 

    I think Stuckey definitely draws a lot more contact that goes uncalled vs. smaller, quicker PGs who depend on speed to get past a defender vs. strength to get through a defender but the way that Stuckey initiates that contact is what he needs to work on, not gaining the respect of the officials.  Because lets be honest, in the NBA, selling the call is just as important as actually initiating the contact that the call is made on.

    • May 6, 20107:47 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      The point guards who don’t play as physically don’t take as many shots near the rim, though. So the chart accounts for them not them. How many shots you take at the rim isn’t a perfect indicator of how physically someone plays, but I think it’s a good indicator.

      And I agree, Williams would be a good model for Stuckey. And I think Billups would, too. I always thought Stuckey had the skill set to develop a similar post-up game.

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