Ball Don't Lie - NBA

The other day, Gilbert Arenas came up with over 4,200 words for my man Dave McMenamin to type up, touching on subjects ranging from the Shaquille O'Neal trade (it still feels odd to say that ... Shaq got traded!), the Pau Gasol trade (less odd), and his own inimitable brand of general hygiene (oddest). 

The most quoted part of the missive, however, was this rant: 

"On the East side, I don't know if there were any big snubs. I mean, some people wanted Jose Calderon. Jose Calderon? Who? Come on man, this is All-Star, people. When I've seen some of the names that are being thrown around on the ticker as snubs, it's killing me. I understand Calderon has the best assist-turnover ratio in the league, but you know what's funny? All back-up point guards have the best assist-turnover ratios. Screw it, Kevin Ollie should be an All-Star then! For like five or six years, Ollie was No. 1 in assist-turnover ratio!"

And you know what? I completely agree with him.

I completely agree with some of the things in the quoted section, just the bits I agree with. 

Otherwise, I think he's full of stodge, but there are some parts I completely agree with. 

He's a nutter, but he makes one good point. And that one good point, I completely agree with. How's that?

Listen, Calderon's had an All-Star season. Just because he was a bit of an unknown until a breakout 2006-07 campaign, or because Sam Mitchell needlessly limited his minutes for the first month of this season, it doesn't mean Richard Hamilton or Jason Kidd have played better basketball than JC so far this year. 

And, with Kidd rocking off to Dallas, there’s an even better chance for Calderon to make the Eastern All-Stars. That said, the man should have made it ahead of Kidd or Hamilton from the outset.

We've gone over this before, his numbers have only improved since then (15 points and ten assists on a ridiculous 55 percent from the floor in January; 16 points and nine assists on a word-that-goes-beyond-ridiculous 70 percent from the floor in just 33 minutes per game in February), so we're not going to bash Arenas' "I don't have a throwback jersey of his, so therefore he can't be an All-Star"-case. Because he has no case.

You hear me, Gilbert? YOU HAVE NO CASE! CASE-LESS!

(OK, he might have a little case. But let's get nerdy, first.)

What's left to do is shoot this assist-to-turnover ratio thing all to hell, for the final time. 

Gil's right. Assist-to-turnover ratio is a pretty pointless way of judging a point guard, or any player, really. It rewards low risk players who don't make many dangerous passes while rarely making mistakes, guys like Kevin Ollie, Reggie Miller, and Vinny Del Negro; and doesn't really say much about passing acumen (some of the league's best passing centers still finish with a 1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) or the ability to run a team. 

Which is why, centuries ago in a basement far, far away, John Hollinger created Assist Ratio. This statistic measures the percentage of assists a player accrues per the possessions (a shot miss or make, a turnover, a trip to the free throw line, an assist) a player uses up.

It tells you who is creating the most assists in comparison with a player's time on the floor (so you have an easier way of determining that Calderon's 8.8 assists in less than 32 minutes a game are way the heck better than Allen Iverson's 7.2 assists in 42.4 minutes per game), while account for turnovers but taking into consideration the sheer amount of dimes certain players (Calderon) pass out, in comparison to others (Kevin Ollie). 

And, big shocker, Calderon is leading the league in assist ratio this season. I know you totally didn't see that coming, so catch your breath, and I'll meet you in the next paragraph.

Now, there are some less-than-incendiary talents at the top of the assist ratio list every year, but when you mix in Calderon's scoring talents (a point and a half more per game than J-Kidd, in six less minutes), those insane shooting marks (53 from the field, 92 from the line, 46 percent from long range), Toronto's record, and those neatly trimmed sideburns ... how could you say no to this guy?

I usually say no to no man, but I am saying "no" to Gilbert Arenas. Ball's in your court, GA. Holla.

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