TeamSPACE: 180 degrees South(east)

Welcome back to our 2013-2014 NBA season in review, via TeamSPACE. Today is the start of the Eastern Conference. For all of the talk, writing, complaining, bickering, and even some occasional analysis about the competitiveness between conferences, it will be interesting to compare East vs. West by lineup spacing and shot selection. As usual, the key indicators in each map’s Hunting Grounds are the amount of space occupied overall, and the uniqueness of area used per player.

For more on this methodology, click here.

For Part 1 (Southwest division), click here.

For Part 2 (Northwest division), click here.

For Part 3 (Pacific division), click here.

Today we begin by taking our talents to South Beach:

Miami Heat

Record: 54-28

2013-2014 Miami Heat
2013-2014 Miami Heat

If it wasn’t for some of the earlier work on the Spurs’ lineups, I would think this is the ideal spacing for a lineup. In general, the Heat appear to be maximizing locations on the court with different players. Said another way: there is consistent overlap in the same places by different players, including:

  • Corner 3-pointers (Battier, Bosh, Chalmers)
  • Wing 3-pointers (Battier, Chalmers, James)
  • Top of the arc 3-pointers (Bosh, Battier)
  • Midrange elbows and baseline (Bosh, Wade)

In general, that’s a lot from the Big 3: Wade, Bosh, and… Battier?!?! The interplay between Battier, a 3-point dominant wing, and Wade, a midrange monster, is pretty impressive. However, Chris Bosh overlaps both of them in non-trivial ways, with lots of color blending on the elbows and the 3-point line wings. The color that does not stand out much is green, for Lebron:

2013-2014 Lebron James
2013-2014 Lebron James

Amazingly, James is like a surgeon from behind the arc. The precision of those Hunting Grounds, given his continued success over the course of his career from behind the arc, is outstanding. Aside from holding the “Best Player in the World” belt, his chart is the poster-child for analytics: at the rim and precision from corner and wings. Beautiful.

It was fun while it lasted.

Washington Wizards

Record: 44-38

2013-2014 Washington Wizards
2013-2014 Washington Wizards

That’s a lot of Bradley Beal. It is borderline Melo/KD levels of occupied space. This lineup, in general, in interesting though for several reasons. First, John Wall’s elbow midrange game is serious; with Beal occupying so much other space, he may need to concede that area to Wall going forward. Second, will Paul Pierce do his best Kawhi Leonard impersonation to replace the departed Trevor Ariza? It seems hard to believe Pierce will be inactive in the midrange, which could crowd things for Beal. Third, Booker is gone to Utah; quite honestly, injuries limited Nene from being part of the most used lineup anyway. However, Booker brings a modest (repeat: modest) outside-the-paint shot – will Nene replicate? Regardless, these are pieces at this point – the Wall/Beal/Gortat core is solid and established; aside from the elbow those three maintain unique, distinct space.

Charlotte “Bobcats”

Record: 43-29

2013-2014 Charlotte Bobcats
2013-2014 Charlotte Bobcats

This team has questions. It starts with the name – Bobcats? Hornets? – and extends to positions 2-4. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson are solidified and relatively consistent. Big Al controls the paint, and a little bit of baseline/elbow game, while Kemba is dominant in straight-away 3s and foul line-extended activity. However, filling in the gaps seems tricky. Josh McRoberts was fairly lethal last season, but also fairly redundant – he’s everywhere Kemba and Al were. Gerald Henderson was a little too much midrange for not quite enough corner 3-point (too much poor man’s D-Wade and too little poor man’s Kawhi). Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to be somewhere between promising and a project; the elbow seems promising, but it would be really nice to see him develop a stronger (read: ANY) 3-point presence.

Hate to say it, but the addition of the Gordon Hayward would have really be nice. More corner 3-pointers will be a nice addition for Charlotte, however they can get it.

Atlanta Hawks

Record: 38-44

2013-2014 Atlanta Hawks
2013-2014 Atlanta Hawks

This map proves what we already knew: Kyle Korver is an absolute assassin from long range. This lineup has all the makings of an East Coast hybrid of the Rockets and Spurs – relative balance and very little midrange action. Paul Millsap does his Chris Bosh impersonation arguably better than Chris Bosh does; his Hunting Grounds are quite precise and diverse. It’s essentially Christmas in Atlanta – lots of Korver and Millsap, very little activity from Teague, Horford and especially Carroll. This is to be mostly expected, however. The overlap between Korver and Millsap appears to be systematic, and intentional. A full season of a healthy Horford may change some of the baseline activity, but expect more of the same next season in the A-T-L, unless Korver suddenly becomes guardable.

Orlando Magic

Record: 23-59

2013-2014 Orlando Magic
2013-2014 Orlando Magic

And then there’s this. So this is what 23 wins looks like. Not surprisingly, only two of these players – Oladipo and Harris – remain for next season. This is a good thing, for multiple reason. First, this lineup was a bit confusing – 3 guards and 2 forwards, really. Second, and related, there is not a dominant post presence; Big Baby Davis is active from the top of the key as he is at the rim. Tobias Harris is hiding behind a sea of grey, red, and yellow. Third, and unrelated going forward, Arron Afflalo will be a great addition in Denver, replacing Randy Foye’s role. Fourth, Jameer Nelson: nuff said. This chart resembles the Utah Jazz, in terms of imprecision and clutter – it comes as no surprise that they finished with similar records. A more organized system and another year of development for Victor and Tobias should yield different results next season.

Up next will be the Central Division: can TeamSPACE inform on any aspects of the second-half swoon in Indiana?

Data and photo support provided courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball-Reference.com, and Austin Clemens.

Matt D'Anna