Evaluating Andris Biedrins' Desire To Play With A Point Guard Like Steve Nash

Andris Biedrins mentioned how he would prefer playing with the Suns and Steve Nash if trade rumors became a reality given what it could do for his game. But, a comparison of stats between Biedrins and Amar'e Stoudemire may suggest otherwise.

When Andris Biedrins, in an interview with Latvian press, mentioned how he would definitely welcome greener pastures, my first thought was "here we go again." I was shocked that a player, who for the most part did his job with little or no complaint, turned into Stephen Jackson, another franchise cornerstone-cum-disgruntled vet in the matter of a few seasons. But what disturbed me the most about the interview, transcribed by Felikss Neimanis of WarriorsWorld.net, was Biedrins desire to play with a point guard like Steve Nash because he hoped for "better teamwork" and that "the game" would be "different." But would Nash necessarily make Biedrins a "better" player if Biedrins played for a "better team" with "better teamwork?" A preliminary look at some stats regarding percentage of assisted field goals made says "maybe not."  By assisted field goals, I'm describing the percentage of shots made by Biedrins that were assisted by another player.

Nash, the Phoenix Sun offensive system, and what it does for a player's value  and stats seems hard to dispute given how Amar'e Stoudemire managed to secure a $99.7 million dollar contract when few teams seemed willing to throw those kinds of dollars at him. But a closer look at Amar'e's percentage of assisted field goal stats in comparison to Andris Biedrins' shows that Biedrins is way more reliant, to the point of almost dependent, on his point guard or others to score.

The point of comparing the two isn't to suggest that Biedrins implied playing with Nash would allow him to put up Amar'e-like points.  No where in the transcribed interview does Biedrins suggest that at all.  But I am comparing the two given that Biedrins, to an extent, was treated as a cornerstone piece to the Warriors franchise (much the way Amar'e is valued now with the Knicks) and, more importantly because him and Amar'e play the same if not similar positions.  I don't think it's wrong to compare to the two given that Biedrins' thinks his offense will improve with Nash.

In the 2009-2010 season, 61% of Amar'e field goals were assisted by teammates. For Biedrins, it was 70%. Okay, 9% may seem pretty measly in the grand scheme of things for "big men" given how David Lee, as reported by the Press-Democrat via 82games.com, had 64% of his field goals coming off assists last season.

But a closer look at the percentage of shots taken on various spots on the floor and the percentage of those field goals that required assisting tells us a different story about skill sets and, possibly how much more effort the point guard or others MAY need to make Biedrins more effective.

Here is a look at Amar'e's stats, courtesy of 82games.com (emphasis on bold)

Shot Att. eFG% Ast'd Blk'd Pts
Jump 51% .452 61% 7% 7.2
Close 30% .560 52% 15% 5.1
Dunk 16% .903 76% 1% 4.6
Tips 3% .438 0% 0% 0.3
Inside 49% .669 61% 9% 10.0

Amar'e took a wide variety of shots, a little more than half of them jump shots which 61% of them were assisted. Of the 49% of this close shots, you can see he got a lot of alleyoops or he had on average 61% of his shots assisted from what I assume to be within the paint. This means, that 39% of his shots both outside and inside were assisted from someone else. But the startling thing here is that Amar'e can shoot jumpshots relatively well, which could mean a variety of things: a) he can be an option of drive and kicks b) he doesn't need a point guard (or someone else) to constantly draw multiple defenders to get him open or c) swinging the ball around the horn (without necessarily the help of Nash), Amar'e can be counted on to make some shots.

Now lets compare this with Andris Biedrins:

Shot Att. eFG% Ast'd Blk'd Pts
Jump 18% .208 60% 13% .3
Close 55% .613 72% 4% 2.8
Dunk 19% 1.000 81% 0% 1.6
Tips 9% .333 0% 0% 0.2
Inside 82% .673 71% 3% 4.6

Granted, Biedrins had an off-season this past season given all the struggles with his injures that limited the amount of minutes and games played. But off the bat, it's clear that Biedrins cannot shoot a jumpshot, which to me means that the person assisting him should and needs to get him the ball in the paint.

Why is this a problem?

Well, in my opinion, this means the point guard, player assisting, or the offensive system then needs to be tailored towards Biedrins' weaknesses. That being, he can only score "inside." Of the 55% of his close shots, Biedrins required 72% of those field goals to be assisted versus Amar'e's 55%. When we look at the dunks, its about the same where Biedrins had 5% more of his dunks assisted than Amar'e. Plus, Biedrins' field goals made which were dunks were 3% more than Amar'e.

With these numbers, you could argue that Biedrins was a player that made offensive sense, efficiency-wise given how he took higher percentage shots. Who wouldn't want a shot as easy as a dunk or within dunking range 82% of the time? I'm sure every coach, player, or fan wants to see dunks as much as possible.

But, to play devil's advocate, Biedrins dependency on assists isn't the problem so much as his reliance on those points coming in the paint. It isn't guaranteed that Steve Nash or any other player is going to be able to always get him the ball within dunking or layup distance. Nor were all of Amar'e's points scored, which were assisted, necessarily from Nash, nor were they necessarily point blank either.

When Baron Davis played with the Warriors, more often than not Davis' ability to get into the paint, drawing in help defenders are what allowed Biedrins to sneak behind opponents for easy layups or dunks. This is all based off my television viewing experiences of course, so there is no stats for this. But there were times where Davis forcibly dribbled into the paint or ran the pick and roll with Biedrins where it became almost predictable (and turnover prone) because Biedrins couldn't (and still struggles to) step out more than 3 feet.  For further study, stats about the number of turnovers these plays created and the number of points off these turnovers would give us a clearer idea of how Biedrins' limitations materialize in the scoreboard for the Warriors and the other team.

This isn't to say Biedrins' isn't a productive player. But, this is to temper any ideas that hooking up with Nash would necessarily make a player like Biedrins any more of an offensive threat given how much more skilled Amar'e is and, more importantly, how less skilled Biedrins is. With that said, Biedrins' failures at the line last season, hopefully, was more of a fluke and a confidence issue than anything. Otherwise, his 16% shooting from the charity stripe will become more reason to blame himself than the players around him for his inabilities to be a good player and his psychological liabilities on the court.

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