Not counting his strong performance in Tuesday nights tilt against the Wiz (is any nickname in the NBA more appropriate?), Gerald Wallace’s Blazers career is 12 games strong, so I figured it was time to check in and see how’s he’s doing.
The day job has been busy lately, reducing researching/writing time, but the benefit is I’ve basically been living in a cave. In other words, I’m not privy to the current media take on Wallace’s young Portland tenure. I’ve been watching the games (Mike and Mike certainly love him) and my impression on him is as follows: his defensive presence has been strong and immediate, his offensive fit is still a work in progress, but improving all the time. Impressions aside, what do the numbers say?
I’ll start with a quick look at some per 36 minute numbers for this season, as well as the four previous. Positive differences are highlighted in green, negatives in red (click image for larger view):
The first thing to note is that versus his time in Charlotte, Wallace is playing fewer minutes. However, his part in the offense remains about the same (he’s getting the same number of shots per 36 and his usage is nearly identical). There are some good upward trends in these numbers, including a better field goal percentage and double the number of steals per 36. Wallace’s rebounding has actually improved from his time in Charlotte (the advanced stats support this also, showing increases in all rebounding rates).
Other excellent numbers, not shown on the chart above, are an increased PER (+1.7), and improved defensive rating (-4 pts. per 100 possession). The negative trends are fewer points per 36, fewer free throw attempts, and a slight increase in his turnover rate. Fewer trips to the line is likely the difference in his scoring, and I believe the explanation for that is still simply him finding his place in the offense. Note that Wallace’s three’s are up as well, providing more evidence for that explanation.
On the topic of shot locations, next we have a look at where his offense is coming from, by range as a percentage of his total shots (note these stats are only through his first 9 games). Again, positive changes are in green:
Wallace’s attempts are up both at the rim (+4%) and from deep (+12%), while his attempts are down from 16-23 feet (-17%). Recall one of the questions when he arrived was if he’d lost his will/ability to take it to the rack, and would subsequently rely more on long jumpers. The numbers say no. He’s taking more three’s, but as mentioned above, I think that’s a function of the Blazers offense and Wallace still finding his place within it.
Considering that integration process is still a work in progress, it seems possible Wallace’s shot attempts inside could continue towards his 2007-10 run of seasons when about 58% of his shots came at the bucket. Expecting them to get all the way there is probably not realistic, nor necessary, given that he’s now on a team with more offensive options.
As you can see, his impact mostly positive, particularly the line ups he’s played the most minutes with. Wallace’s net effect when on the court is positive. And a couple of those line ups are killing it (Nate, play the last one more!). One interesting note here however, when Wallace is on the court Portland’s defensive rating goes down (-2 points per 100 possessions) and their offensive rating goes up (+7 points per 100 possessions). Perhaps the opposite of what we’d expect…
Early indications profess the Wallace trade was a good one for the Blazers. Fears that he’s lost some athleticism are not supported by the numbers. His toughness and energy are spot on and his production is increasing as he finds his fit with the team. Impressions aside, there are a couple of stats to keep an eye on (FTA), but for the most part the numbers support his addition. I for one am impressed. You guys, how do you feel about Gerald Wallace, the Blazer?