Welcome the Grand Marquis; the TA Experiment Has Failed
Posted by Zach Lowe on Jul 17, 2009
Both the Globe and Yahoo! (Spears, actually) are reporting that Marquis Daniels has agreed to sign with Boston, but how exactly the deal is going to work remains unclear. He’s either going to accept the C’s bi-annual exception ($1.9 million) or the teams will have to work out a sign-and-trade, likely involving Brian Scalabrine‘s $3.4 million expiring deal.
How the deal happens makes a big difference.
If it’s a straight up free agency signing:
a) the C’s will save a bit of money, since the point of doing a sign-and-trade would be to appease Daniels’ desire for a salary higher than the bi-annual;
b) the C’s will lose the right to use their bi-annual exception after next season;
c) the roster will be absolutely jammed. Adding Daniels without subtracting another player would give the C’s 12 players on guaranteed deals for 2010, leaving only three spots on the in-season roster. Right now, those spots seem slated to go to Lester Hudson, Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis.
Are you ready to entrust back-up point guard duties to Pruitt, Hudson, Eddie House and (possibly) Daniels?
In any case, who is Marquis Daniels? And if he shoots jumpers as poorly as Tony Allen (and he does), what is the point in signing him?
Let’s give the first word to Indy Cornrows’ season review of Daniels:
Marquis Daniels has a game that is often overlooked yet should be savored for his ability to contribute in many ways. He does the little things that aren’t quantified for the masses but force a little half-smile to burst from the corner of Jim O’Brien’s mouth. Things like deflecting the ball on defense (a stat the coaching staff does track and value). Things like knifing into the lane pulling up where no anticipates he should, and dropping in a bucket. The ball appears to hit the rim like a medicine ball and drop.
Sounds good, right? Other good things: Daniels is 6’6” and has alternated between playing the two and the three on short notice in his career. So we’ve got our much-needed back-up to the Captain.
In 2008, Daniels played almost all of his minutes at shooting guard and none at small forward, according to 82games. Last season, he played the majority of minutes at small forward, and he averaged a career-best 13.6 points per game while posting the highest rebounding rate of his career and the lowest turnover rate since his rookie season in Dallas, according to Basketball Reference.
That turnover rate hints at the main difference between Marquis Daniels and Tony Allen, two players who appear very similar when you glance at shooting percentages, accuracy on jump shots and PER. Dig a little deeper (and watch a lot of games), and you find that one is simply a more polished player than the other. If you looked purely at shooting stats and PER, you might think Tony Allen is a better player than Marquis Daniels. Neither can shoot three-pointers; Daniels attempted only 90 all of last season, and made just 18–and that was the second-most prolific three-point shooting season of his career.
In fact, here are effective FG%’s on jump shots for both players over the last four seasons, arranged starting with 2009 and working backward, per 82games:
The Grand Marquis: 36%, 36%, 38%, 42%
Tony: 28%, 42%, 36%, 33%
A slight edge to Daniels, until you consider that the Marquis apparently likes shooting jumpers a lot more than TA, who, like him or not, appears to know his weaknesses. About 65 percent of Daniels’s shot attempts each season are jumpers, compared to about 45 percent for TA. So Daniels can’t shoot but takes a lot of jumpers. Bad combo, right? (Daniels, in fact, is one of the worst high-volume two-point jump-shooters in the entire league, according to 82games).
Add in their nearly identical career PERs (14.2 for Daniels, 13.4 for Allen) and the fact that TA gets to the line a lot more, and you could easily conclude the two are equally valuable players–especially considering both have solid defensive reputations.
And you’d be wrong. Daniels is a much more polished player than Tony Allen. Allen, at his timid and confused worst, is not worthy of a defense’s attention and turnover-prone when the defense does deign to guard him. Allen turned the ball over about 19 percent of the time he tried to do something with it last season. Daniels turned the ball over about 11 percent of the time he tried to do something with it.
Over the course of their careers, TA has turned the ball over once every 13 minutes. Daniels coughs it up about once every 17 minutes. The gap is even bigger than it seems, since Daniels is a more aggressive and active offensive threat than TA; Daniels attempts about 13 shots per 36 minutes, compared to about 10.8 attempts from TA.
It seems like ages ago now, but Don Nelson played Daniels at point guard during Daniels’s rookie year, and it wasn’t a disaster. He was a good enough ball-handler to carry the burden in short stints. Can you imagine what would happen to the Celtics offense if Tony Allen played point guard?
Allen also fouls a lot more than Daniels. TA commits 4.3 hacks per 36, compared with 2.7 for the Grand Marquis.
Look, I like Tony Allen, off-the-court BS aside. I like him because he’s a fatally flawed player, and he’s painfully aware of his fatal flaws. He knew the Bulls were ignoring him down the stretch of Game 6, and he knew why. You could see the wheels turning in head when he’d get the ball and no one would be within five feet of him. “Should I shoot? What if I miss? But if I don’t shoot, they won’t guard me. Do I drive? But if I screw up, the other guys will be mad.” He just lacks the confidence to do the job, and I feel for players like that, especially if they’ve worked hard to rehab from fluky injuries.
The Celtics need someone with the confidence to slash to the hoop decisively in that spot, and Daniels can be that guy. They need him to create a small chunk of offense every night and to be a steady defender of both shooting guards and small forwards.
He can do that. Tony Allen, as much as we wish it were otherwise, has not been able to do that. Especially not in the playoffs.
Daniels isn’t a great player. He’s not even much better than average. He can’t really shoot. But he can do the limited things we need him to do.
Which is why I enjoyed this section of the Indy Cornrows season review of Daniels (whom they apparently call Quisy, a nickname that, with all due respect, I will not adopt on C-Hub).
Quisy’s value is felt when he’s doing the little things in a supporting role. Yes, he had some big scoring games this year but the Pacers were 3-9 in games when Quisy scored more than 20 points and 0-6 in games when he scored more than 25.
The role of defender and facilitator is tough to fill in the NBA and even tougher for a player to accept, but that’s how Quisy makes the most valuable impact for the Pacers.
Welcome to Boston, Marquis. Make the most of those 15 minutes or so you’re going to get. We need you. And Paul Pierce’s legs really need you.