For a blogger who loves his stats, my posts the last few weeks have seen more posts about philosophy and coaches than the cold, hard facts. So, today letâ€™s talk stats and letâ€™s talk Chris Mihm, a guy who has been good enough for Laker fans to see him as the starting center for years â€” and with enough problems to make you question if can really grow into that role.
At the top of the problem list is the foul trouble. Mihm gets a lot (he did that in Boston too) and when he racks up a few his defense becomes tentative.
I had been among the group that thought Mihmâ€™s seeming continual foul trouble came from picking up extra fouls sliding over to pick up the guard who blew past Chucky Atkins or Tierre Brown into the lane. It sure seemed that way. I even posted that hypothesis as part of a longer thread at the APBR discussion board recently.
Ed from Stats Pimp went me one better and did the research on this â€” and it appears, cough, cough, that I am wrong. Props to the Pimp and what follows is a direct quote from the man himself in that thread:
Here’s how Mihm’s fouls break down, games from Nov 3 – Jan 21:
Loose Ball 19
Illegal D 2
Of the fouls which resulted in FTAs (there were 70), here’s how the victims broke down:
I have no context to put those numbers in (neither did Ed), but at first glance that having 25% of your shooting fouls and 13.6% of your total fouls coming from the guards seems like a reasonable amount. Most of Mihm’s fouls are covering the fours and fives in the league (68.5%)
Chalk it up to another case of things appearing one way but actually being another. Mea Culpa.
In some ways itâ€™s been tough to accurately assess Mihm because of the minutes he plays â€”heâ€™s averaging 25.58 minutes per game and 3.27 fouls per game.
A better way to get a picture of players is not to look at things per game but to look at things per minute played. Do that and you can easily see what a players numbers would be if he played 40 minutes a game, like top starters (the Sonics people prefer 36-minute averages, but the idea is the same). Convert all of a teamâ€™s players to 40-minute stats and they are on a level playing field for assesment.
Take Mihmâ€™s numbers to that standard 40 minutes per game and he averages 5.1 fouls, to go with 16.6 points, 5.5 free throw attempts, 11 rebounds (4.3 of which are on the offensive glass) and 2.5 blocks. Compare those to Brian Cook, who gets the key fourth-quarter minutes at center for some reason. Per 40 minutes, Cook gives you 16.9 points and 5.0 fouls (both basically the same as Mihm) but 1.4 free throw attempts, 1.0 blocks and 8.2 rebounds, of which 2.3 would be on the offensive glass (all of which are lower than Mihm).
Mihmâ€™s far from perfect, but heâ€™s a better option at center, particularly late in games, than Cook. That decision by coaches is the most perplexing of their rotation decisions.
While weâ€™re talking Laker numbers at 40 minutes averagesâ€¦
Kobe still leads the team in scoring, averring 26.1 per 40. He is followed by Odom (17.2, a number that has gone up with Kobe out), Brian Cook at 16.7, Mihm at 16.6, Butler at 16.4 and Atkins at 14.8. (As a side note, Slava actually averages 20 points per 40 minutes, although his numbers project out less accurately because heâ€™s only playing 6.0 minutes per game.)
Kobe takes the most shots on the team per 40 minutes (19.7), followed by Cook (15.2), Brown at 13.7, and Odom and Butler (both 13.5). Kobe also leads the per-40 free throw attempts with 10.4, followed by Odom (5.6) and Mihm (5.4).
As for the Lakers turnover issue, Kobe leads the team there with 4.2 per 40, followed by Tierre Brown (3.1), Odom (3.0), Luke Walton (2.7) and Mihm (2.5)