Game 1 of the 2020 – 2021 NBA Finals did not disappoint. Chris Paul continued to play brilliant basketball and Giannis Antetokounmpo who was listed as doubtful earlier in the day was able to suit up. Both teams shot the ball well from the field and in fact, Phoenix missed their only free throw late in the game. Turnovers were low and the game featured a nice blend of pace, offense, and defense.
So what happens tonight? The Bucks are not a team that backs down easily. Keep in mind they were down 0-2 to Brooklyn including a pulverizing loss in Game 2 of that series. They also lost Game 1 to the Hawks and lost Giannis for the entire series after losing Game 4. Yet the Bucks struck back against Brooklyn by taking 4 out of the last 5 games against and also won Games 5 and 6 against Atlanta without Giannis. The Suns are a well-rounded team poised to win their first NBA title in franchise history but expect the Bucks to fight hard this evening and it all starts with the Greek Freak.
Low-Multiplier Building Block
Giannis Antetokounmpo (1x // 1.5x) –
Consistency, consistency, consistency. That is what you get with Giannis. Consider the mean and standard deviation for SuperDraft points for Milwaukee’s big three (Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday) and the big three for Phoenix (Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton). Now that we are in the NBA Finals, we have a decent sample size of playoff games to consider for both teams (18 for Milwaukee and 17 for Phoenix).
If we throw out Game 2 against Brooklyn (a 39 point loss for Milwaukee) and Game 4 against Atlanta (when Giannis exited midway through the 3rd quarter with a knee injury), Giannis has averaged 58.9 SuperDraft points during this NBA postseason with a standard deviation of 7.3. For those who forgot their stats from high school/college, if we assume a normal distribution with Giannis’ SuperDraft points (a fair assumption now that the sample size is not too small) that means that Giannis has a 68% chance of scoring within 1 z-score of his average or between 51.6 and 66.2 SuperDraft points.
For comparison purposes, Middleton has averaged 46 SuperDraft points with a standard deviation of 13.1 during this postseason. Holiday is at 41.9/11.2. We have seen great games from both players but also some duds. As for the Suns, Paul is at 43.1/14.6, Booker 41.8/12.7, and Ayton 38.6/11.1. If we want a solid foundation for our lineups tonight, you should have 100% exposure to Giannis since it’s highly unlikely he has less than 50 SuperDraft points. In fact, it’s just an 11.1% chance of that happening if our normal distribution assumption holds true.
Cameron Johnson (2.3x // 3.45x) –
I have to admit that it was refreshing to see both the Bucks and Suns actually give decent minutes to their bench players. Prior to the NBA Finals, most teams were going with a 6-man rotation with the starters averaging 40 minutes per game. Two nights ago, Game 1 featured an 8-man rotation for both teams with one bench player on each side getting at least 20 minutes of playing time and two more players on each side earning somewhere between 12 – 17 minutes.
Johnson was the main player off the bench for the Suns and made his presence felt by nailing two three-pointers, cracking double digits with points, and picking up a couple of boards, assists, and steals. It doesn’t sound like much but when you add it all up, you get a SuperDraft score of close to 25 points with a 2.3x multiplier.
Jrue Holiday (1.2x // 1.8x) –
Let me introduce you to Game Score. It is a metric created by renowned basketball analyst John Hollinger. Game Score is a formula with the following inputs for a particular player: points, field goals, free throws, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, turnovers, and personal fouls. The formula also assigns a weight to each of those stats. It is a fairly good measure of a player’s productivity for a single game.
A Game Score above 30 is considered very good. For example, Paul was impressive when he closed out the Nuggets in Round 2 and the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals. His Game Score for Game 4 against the Nuggets was 34.3 while it was 39.6 for Game 6 against the Clippers. During the regular season, Holiday had three Game Scores above 30. Giannis was inactive for two of those games.
For the NBA postseason, Holiday’s best Game Score was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Giannis played in that game but Holiday’s next two highest Game Scores were Games 5 and 6 of that series, two games Giannis missed. Now that Giannis is back to take over the reins for the Bucks, Holiday will take a back seat for the Bucks offense making him worthy of a fade.
Stats don’t lie. Giannis is an incredibly consistent player who is highly unlikely to sink your lineups. Holiday thrives when Giannis is out but Giannis is back at full strength. Johnson is a dynamic player who will provide some nice differentiation for your entries. Trust the data.
This article expresses the personal views of the writer and does not reflect the view(s) of SuperDraft in any way.