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A Brief Statistical Appreciation of Walter Ray

 

Ray Allen‘s $19 million expiring deal generated a lot of chatter over whether the C’s should trade him, and it certainly appears they tried. I’m not here to tell you that’s a bad thing. It’s good to have a proactive general manager, and it’s true that Ray Allen is 34 with past ankle problems.

But here’s the thing about trading Ray Allen: It would mean a huge adjustment to the C’s offense, because there are very few players in the league who can shoot three-pointers as often and as accurately as Ray. Defenders have to be constantly vigilant, and that vigilance creates space for the other four players to operate. The current roster has no player like him. Paul Pierce can shoot threes, but his come in transition or in those random moments where he finds himself with a few feet of space in the flow of the offense. Pierce rarely shoots threes by design. Eddie House can shoot ‘em with anybody, but he’s rarely going to play even 20 minutes in a big game.

Ray will play 40. And he’s a very, very unique weapon. How unique?

Only 15 players in the history of the NBA have hit at least 40 percent of their three-pointers in a season in which they attempted at least six threes per game and played enough to qualify for the scoring title–and they’ve combined to do that in just 19 individual seasons, according to Basketball Reference.

Here are the top 11 seasons, ranked in order of best three-point shooting percentage. (Why 11? Because Ray’s 2008-09 season was the 11th-best).

Picture 10

Ray did that last year, and he’s done it three times in his career–more than anyone else in the history of the NBA. Peja Stojakovic and Rashard Lewis have done it twice. No one else has made the cut more the once. Reggie Miller–once. Paul Pierce–once. Dennis Scott–once.

The list of players grows if you loosen the criteria a bit, but that only reinforces Allen’s rarity as a shooter. If you lower the minutes-played requirement to include all players who qualified for the three-point shooting title, you get 46 individual seasons. If you lower the minutes requirement even further by including players who launched six threes per 36 minutes (instead of per game), you get 61 individual seasons–the equivalent of about two guys per season.

(Side note:  If Simmons can be the Picasso of the Trade Machine, can I be the Rembrandt of the Basketball Reference Full Court function? Give me something).

Having a high-volume three-point shooter who can actually shoot has a dramatic effect on a team’s offense. Jon Nichols studied this for point guards recently, and found that a high-percentage, high-volume shooter at the PG spot sends an offense into the historically-elite stratosphere. An offense with that sort of PG significantly out-performs even an offense with an accurate shooter who doesn’t shoot as much, according to Nichols’ preliminary numbers.

The effect for shooting guards probably isn’t as statistically significant, since there are more good three-point shooters among two guards than PGs.

Still, when I thought about trading Ray Allen for Tyreke Evans or trading a Ray-Rondo package for Prince-Hamilton-Stuckey, my first thought was always: How are we going to replace the three-point shooting?

Because the offense would look an awful lot different without it.

  • Pasard

    The Stuckey, Prince, Hamilton, would have brought us bodies. A young starting PG(Stuckey), and lengthy defender with Prince. Hamilton would have somewhat been a replacement for Allen with his mid-range jumper, but I still think Allen has a better mid-range jumper. That trade would have brought us one more body, but it was still a rumor. Allen had off course his best season as a Celtic last year. We all knew that during the course of the season, and he capped it off with an amazing playoff game versus his fellow UCONN alum, Ben Gordon. Ray Allen in my opinion is better than Reggie Miller, and Peja. Ray Allen is money. He's simply the best. His money stroke, and his silky smooth slashing, and finishing skills make him the best period.

  • robert eguchi

    we cant lose ray allen, hes spreads the floor to give rondo open lanes to create. when we go with rondo,allen,pierce,kg and sheed well have so many shooters it will be unfair. ray allen is the best shooter ever not to mention how clutch he is. keep shootin ray

  • KY Celts fan

    I love Ray Allen. He's been my fav of the Big Three since they became The Big Three. And the C's should do everything possible to retain him next season. Even though he just came off one of his best seasons statistically this year, I don't think he'll be able to command as big a contract as he did in the past. And that will free up space to resign Rondo and possibly sign another young shooter to help Jesus out. Then the C's will bring home banner 19 in 2011 (banner 18 coming in 2010)!

  • yordgreat

    mentioning ray allen's name in trade rumors is blasphemous. there is no other player out there who comes near ray's shooting abilities, he is one of those endangered species kind of player. imagine if ray allen was not in the line up of boston's championship team…exactly., forget about banner no. 17. boston is very fortunate to have ray allen on the team and should be thinking of retiring his number as a celtic.

  • http://celticssuck.com LAKER FAN

    Ahem ahem,

    I just wanted to drop you a line and say hello. I hope you are all having a good offseason. Now to the shit talking : We just resigned Odom so y'all can shove that up sheeds ass. What does this mean exactly? Kobe 7 rings > Jordans 6. Lakers 18 Championships > Celtics 17. Enjoy that "most storied franchise bullshit while it lasts chumps"

  • German

    uuh the Laker Fan still is angry about loosing against the celtic in the finals 08. haha was kind of embarrissing huh? to loode that awful in the last game. I can still hear it in your comment.

    poor..poor

  • http://www.northstationsports.blogspot.com Nick Gelso

    Trading Ray would've been a big mistake. He not only brings three point shooting, he also brings great work ethic, attitude and mentoring for the young players.

    Ray Ray is everything a Celtic should be…

  • http://www.northstationsports.blogspot.com Nick Gelso

    Also – I love the new look of the site!

  • T

    No Ray is great, but I really hope that we can work out a couple of things in the upcoming seasons

    1.) There is no way we can afford him at the current price tag of 18 mil a year as well as PP at 19 mil and KG at 16 mil (current ESPN trade machine contract numbers). If we can get ray at 12-13 a year and a similar number for Pierce, we'll be in really good shape to turn that money into sizable raises for Rondo and Perk that will be commanded as well as fill the holes that will come in the bench in the upcoming years.

    2.) We gotta lighten these guys load during the regular season. Rays going to be 35 this season, PP 32, and KG 32 (and the thought of his knee giving out again is making my stomach turn). Doc is going to have to trust that second unit and they are going to have to carry more of a load than they did last year.

    Ray and Paul both put in superhuman efforts just to stay on the floor for that marathon series against Chicago, and you could tell by the time Orlando came into town they didn't have enough left in the tank to bring it home. Lets keep these guys fresher during the regular season so we can really bring it in the payoffs.

  • d

    interesting to see Peja's 07-08 season at the top spot. compare the hornet's great run that season to Peja's injury plagued season last year… and perhaps that explains, in part, the hornets major drop in productivity last year

  • T

    What's even more impressive. Take that same criteria you used before for basketball reference and rank them based on overall FG%. What appears on that list as #1. Ray Allen's 2008-2009 season with Boston. He has had 4 of those seasons in the top 20, the only other in the top 20 is Rashard Lewis with 2.

    This is an amazing stat because it shows that not only is he an effective shooter because he has the ability to drain the long shot, he also is an incredibly efficient scorer.

  • Green17

    Yordgreat – you're right. They should consider retiring Ray Ray as a Celtic.

    Nick Gelso – exactly. Ray Allen brings more than 3 point shots and slashing to the table. He is a great teammate, someone that Rondo needs to be around.

    I just don't see that with Prince (weak), Stuckey (inexperienced), or Hamilton. They are good/decent players, but they ain't Rondo or Allen, boyeeeeee!

  • yordgreat

    well well well laker fan..hold that trophy while it lasts bcoz we all know why you only won the championship this year…kg's knee. so you should thank him instead but be ready to be kicked in the butt again if we ever meet you in the finals next year..your new line-up=same result 0 ring in 2010. and btw..kobe isnt even in the same league w the great one so enough with the comparisons please your embarassing yourself.

  • Douglas J. Bender

    They should have tried to trade Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett for Kobe Bryant. Imagine what would have happened if THAT had transpired – it's possible the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers fan bases would have simultaneously exploded from confusion and mixed and blasphemous loyalties.

  • SanLuisJay

    4 of those top 11 were during the 3 years when the 3-point line was at 22' instead of 23' 9"

    The other 7 (including all 4 of Allen's) were after most of the illegal defense rules were scraped. 3-point shooting is key against zone.

    Not taking anything away from Allen. Just thought it was interesting.

  • SanLuisJay

    Actually, none of the 19 are outside of those 2 "eras".

  • http://Aol.com Matthew

    I've been a green blooded Celtic fan from childhood. That said I never ever rooted against rayray. He embodies hardwork, dedication, and all that is right In the NBA….hell basketball! His complete game and expertise shooting the three is irreplaceable.

    Everytime he squares up and snaps off a silky smooth j the opposing crowd cringes knowing it's money! The home crowd cheers immediatly after it leaves his hands knowing it's money!

    I have seen many a great shooter in my life. Ray ranks with the best of them. He was on bad teams for years and was the only thing making those teams relavent. A true professional I pray danny finds a way to keep him arround to retire a Celtic.

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