27 April 2008

Derek Fisher and the Jazz

As a Jazz fan, I continue to be puzzled by the number of columnists who insist Derek Fisher was an integral part of the Jazz's success last season.

Outside of 20 total minutes against Golden State in the playoffs, I submit Fisher was a horrible fit for Utah.

In 27 mpg, here were his stats for the 2006-2007 regular season:

38 percent on field goals.
30 percent from behind the arc.
85 percent from the free-throw line.
1.8 rpg
3.3 assists per game
1.5 turnovers per game
1 steal
3 fouls
10 ppg

Horrible shooting, low assist-to-turnover ratio... forgive me for not being impressed

And in 27 mpg, his numbers only slightly improved for the playoffs, mainly due to the heroics showed against Golden State.

Outside of the stats, Fisher was just bad. He couldn't defend anyone to save his life. Any attempt at driving to the hoop had a 75% chance of getting blocked or him just flat-out missing. His passing was not impressive.

Maybe his "locker-room leadership" or "veteran presence" gave the Jazz some magical boosts I couldn't see, but outside of that, I can't understand the love heaped on him by the national media.

I much prefer Ronnie Price in the backup point guard role this season.


Filbert Karo said...

I know. Ronnie's awesome

Matty Gibb said...

Wrong again about Fish, B. He was the bulldog on the court who got in guards' faces and refused to lose. Everybody talked in postgame interviews and such about how he just had this attitude that no matter what happens, we will do what it takes to win this game. It comes from being on teams that would do that. That attitude is missing on the team this year, and it is the reason why the Jazz didn't sweep the Rockets. You yourself admitted that the Jazz gave up in Game 5. And lacking that attitude is why the Jazz-Lakers series will be ugly for the Jazz. I still don't understand why you don't point this angst at Giricek.

Brandon said...

Fish "got in guard's faces" by allowing players like Kobe and Ray Allen to go off for 50 on him last season. He was a horrible defender.

And if the Jazz need attitude, why don't they hire Adam Keefe to cheerlead from the bench? That way they don't waste a roster spot on someone who has no value on the floor.

The reason I don't write about Giricek is because no one is lamenting about how his departure hurt the Jazz this season. That said, Giri is more talented than Fish. His attitude ticked Sloan off, so he got little playing time and eventually was shipped off.

Filbert Karo said...

Giricek has never been very good. An early LA Fisher was a much, much better player. Fisher was younger then with the Lakers, and he had much more talent. But he has gotten older, so he got a little bit worse.

Matty Gibb said...

Point being, if you think Fish has no value on the floor you are just irrational. You have some irrational aversion to him much like I have to Gordan. Why do teams suddenly get much better when he joins them? The Jazz got better last year with Fish, and are now worse without him. Last year's team never would have struggled into a sixth game with a Yao-less Houston team. Meanwhile he joins the Lakers and they get much better, even before Pau.

What shred of talent has ever been manifested by Giricek that would make you say he has more talent than Fisher? That's like saying Jameer Nelson is more talented than Jason Kidd.

Brandon said...


1. There is very compelling evidence that this Rockets team is better without Yao.

This season with Yao: 36-20 (64% win percentage)

This season without Yao: 18-7 (72% win percentage)

And one of those 18 wins was a solid 104-92 victory over your Lakers.

Houston is a good defensive team. Maybe not a great offensive team, but a great defensive one. They're dangerous, and most experts saw the Jazz winning the series in six, not four. For the Jazz to struggle against the Rockets is no sign that Utah is struggling without Fisher.

2. The Jazz were 51-31 in 2006-07. This year? 54-28. Better with Fisher? Find me some numbers.

Even disregarding the overall record, the Jazz are better off without a guard who couldn't make any kind of shot or play defense.

Yes, he's doing great for the Lakers, and I can't explain that. I'd be slow to give him all the credit for L.A.'s good start, however. Bynum coming into his own is a much larger factor, in my opinion.

3. Giri shot 50% from the field, 38% on 3-pointers and 94% from the FT line for Phoenix this season. I'd say that shows a shred of talent.

The almighty Fisher? 43% from the field, 40% from 3, 88% from the FT line.

Fish gets a couple more assists than Giri and three more points per game.

Fish also played eight more minutes per game during the regular season.

In my opinion, it's a statistical wash. If anything, Giri has a slight edge. Plus, he's younger.

Sorry, I know you love the Fish for some clutch shots he hit for your championship teams back in the day, but the numbers don't back you up on this.

Matty Gibb said...

Your compelling evidence that Houston is better without Yao is comparing win-loss totals for a few games? "Some numbers" do not a winning argument make. Dallas won 67 last year and lost in round 1. They would have lost to Utah or San Antonio had they played them. But according to your analysis, they were the best team in the league--make that the best team for several years. A simple regular season win-loss count has nothing to do with ability to win a playoff series. Simply adding numbers to an argument doesn't make it right, they have to be backed up with correct logic.

You always talk about Fisher playing bad defense, and I completely disagree with you. Just because the Jazz had 2-guards score big on them last year (as they did this year) doesn't mean you blame it on one guy. You might as well blame Brewer or Harpring or Kirilenko (who was even worse last year than he is this year) or any of the five guys that Sloan always tried to slow down Kobe, Redd, and T-Mac. Fisher stays in front, goes hard after the ball, and plays physical. I don't know who you want to point to as a guard who plays better D than him. I grant that he's short, and I know you won't forgive him for that.

All you have to do is watch basketball to understand that Fisher is an asset. The Jazz are weaker this year because they completely folded in game 5 of their first-round series. You admitted that yourself. "Some numbers" don't say that, the looks on their faces and their attitude during the game said that. Just watch basketball and you can see if players are valuable to their teams. They should have crushed Houston. Fisher was a leader for the young Jazz, and regardless of a poor field goal percentage, I would take him any time. I like Brewer, I like Price, no comment on Jason Hart, but I think the Jazz are all right at guard. It's still a loss to be missing Fisher.

Brandon said...

I'm sort of surprised you dismiss all of the statistical arguments I've made so easily. If stats don't matter, we're left with an argument of who looks better, and that's incredibly subjective. For example, other than you, I've yet to speak to a Jazz fan that misses Fisher this year other than you, and your status as a "Lakers first" Jazz fan makes your testimony questionable.

Matty Gibb said...

The thing is, you didn't really make a statistical argument. If you simply present a few means, you aren't doing a statistical analysis. Giricek's numbers came in garbage time. Put Fisher in the game when Giri was playing, and he probably would have shot a higher percentage. Why didn't you include that in your argument? The Jazz won 3 more total games this year, but were much worse on the road, where a veteran's leadership really counts. I doubt that with a veteran winner like Fisher they would have been so bad on the road. There is a model of an argument for you. You don't just say, "This guy is a more valuable player because he makes 2% more of his shots." You make a logical argument and give the numbers in context.

The Rockets lost Yao during the middle of a really hot streak, then finished the season 9-6 (60% win percentage) and went 2-4 in the playoffs (33%), whereas last year they were 3-4 (43%). It's simplistic to say that because for the season they had a higher winning percentage without Yao (in only 25 games, a pretty small sample size), there is compelling evidence that they are better without him. Do you think they would sustain a 72% winning percentage for 82 games (a 59-win season)? Neither do I.

If simple per-game averages and win percentages were really that capable of explaining teams' ability to win a given game, then the Giants wouldn't have even been in the Super Bowl and the Hawks would have been on summer vacation for days. There is a lot that goes into winning that is statistically unobservable, and Fisher brings some of that to the table.

And, slight correction, I'm a Jazz-first Lakers fan.