Marcus Banks: A quick look

Kurt —  June 19, 2006

As the summer wears on, we’ll try to take a closer look at some of the potential future Lakers, both through free agency or a trade. Generally, I think mid-June is a little too soon for this because we are in the midst of the silly season of draft-day trade rumors. However, the rumors of Laker interest in Marcus Banks seem to have some weight, going back a couple of years and coming from reliable sources. So Banks bats leadoff in this occasional series of quick looks.

Banks is an interesting example of how playing in different cities and different systems can change impressions and the stats of a player. Last season in Boston, Banks was coming off the bench, averaging less thank 15 minutes and 5.5 points per game. Then, after the trade to Minnesota, he averaged 30 minutes and 12 points, was more efficient and caught people’s eye.

The first question about any potential point guard for the Lakers is: Can he play defense? Banks can, but he didn’t last year. In Boston last year he allowed opponents to shoot 48.1% and gave up a PER of 19 (for comparison, Smush allowed opposing point guards shot 52.4% on the season with a PER of 18.7, so Banks and Smush fairly equal). In Minnesota things got a little better for Banks, opposing points still shot 48.1% but the PER fell to 17.9, but those numbers still aren’t what the Lakers need.

However, two seasons ago for the Celtics, Banks held opposing points to 40.2% shooting and a PER of 11.5 — amazing numbers. In his rookie year it was 48,1% shooting and a PER 16.3 for those he covered. Banks has shown he can bet a good defender, he just hasn’t done it consistently. He would have to understand that in LA it would be job #1.

Offensively, Banks in Boston and Banks in Minnesota were two different players — the question is will what he likes to do fit with the triangle?

In Boston this year, Banks shot just 45% (eFG%) and 31.6% from three point range, although he did get to the free throw line a fair amount so his true shooting percentage was 53.5%. In Boston, most of his offense came as the ball handler on pick and rolls (22%), as a spot up shooter (21%) and in transition (18%). Frankly, those are pretty similar to what he will be asked to do in Los Angeles, where Kobe and Odom are the ball handlers and offensive options one and two.

Banks thrived more in Minnesota — he hit 36.4% of his three pointers, shot 50% overall and had a true shooting percentage of 54.5%. All good numbers. But how he got the numbers was different — isolation accounted for 24% of his attempts the pick and roll was 22%, transition 21% and spot up was fourth.

The biggest change was that he found his jump shot in Minnesota — he shot just 34.9% on jumpers in Boston but hit a very good 48.2% in the land of 1,000 lakes. (I wanted to tell you why, but the Synergy video system kept crashing my browser when I tried to watch video, so I couldn’t watch the different kind of looks he was getting.)

As a spot up guy, something he would do more of in LA, he was solid last year — overall he shot 41.2%. In Boston, he shot 53.5% (eFG%) on unguarded catch and shoots (considered good by NBA standards), while in Minnesota that fell to an unimpressive 46.6%. What is odd is that those numbers reverse when you talk about catch and shoots where he is covered — he was bad in Boston (16.7%, in just a few chances) but was very good in Minnesota (51.4%).

What he does well everywhere is drive the lane — when he gets to the basket he shot 57.9% inside and got to the line fairly often. He is good driving right or left, the kind of versatility that makes someone hard to cover.

Bottom line, Banks would be a solid offensive fit in the triangle, a slightly better version of Smush Parker. The question is his defense — was last year a fluke or was the 2004 season the fluke. I tend to think that it is somewhere in between, that Banks would be a good but not great defender. Which, frankly, would be a big improvement and well worth the MLE.

to Marcus Banks: A quick look

  1. I think Banks is a good fit, he doesnt have to be a star or anything, just play good defense and be adaquate on offense. Pushing Smush to the bench will help too.

    I wonder if the TWolves would be willing to do a sign and trade with the Lakers, Mihm for Banks and have the Wolves draft Roy at #6. Assuming theyre going to loose Banks anyway, would the Mihm be worth the a #6 pick? The would assume of course, that Roy would still be available. The Lakers would have to throw Aaron McKie in to make the salaries work, which is also a good thing as he’s fairly useless and overpaid. Also, the Lakers woudnt have to use the MLE to get Banks.

    Even if you can get Minnisota to draft Roy, I guess you could still trade Odom to the Bulls for the #2 and Ben Gordon. Would a Odom+Bynum to the Bulls for this year’s #2+Ben Gordon+NY’s pick next year be reasonalbe? Im not sure.

    In that scenario, I would use the MLE for Chris Wilcox from Seattle in a sign and trade for Walton and Vujacic, if possible. The lineup would look like:

    C Brown/WIlcox
    PF Aldridge/Powe ?
    SF Roy/Cook
    SG Kobe/Smush
    PG Gordon/Banks

    Thats a pretty radical overhaul, which Im not necessarily in favor of, but that a lot of talent and a decent amount of payroll flexibility. There would be a lot of 3 guard lineups with Smush, Banks, Gordon AND Roy around. Phil probably wouldnt approve, thought, but Im just throwing out ideas. In 2007 the payroll would probably be under cap, if a premier free agent is there for the taking Kwame could be moved to make room with Wilcox and Aldridge around. And of course, we could root for the Knicks to loose a whole lot …


  2. Great breakdown, Kurt. Thanks. I’d been starved for info & analysis.


  3. I’d be surprised if Roy were around at 6. Chad Ford (please use salt here) says the Bobcats are taking him at 3. That makes sense in that a Felton/Roy backcourt could be good for years.

    Maybe he’ll fall, he’s the most polished player in the draft and GM’s tend to fall in love with “upside” and pass the sure thing for some reason. But I have to think someone takes him.


  4. I think they would be extremely reluctant to give up the knick’s 2007 pick as it is probably about %10 greg oden.


  5. And I think Seattle is enamored with Wilcox and want to keep him. And nobody is trading picks for next year because it’s a deep draft. And I don’t like trading Odom for less than a sure thing star. And……


  6. Ive watched Banks since he was a rookie with the Cs and loved watching every second of it!! Defense will not be an issue with marcus, he brings it every time he steps on the floor…. I cant even count the number of times i have watched him pick the opposing PGs pocket around midcourt and take it in for a dunk on the other end. Hes gott all the tools to be a quality starting point guard and improved 3 point shot sincce hes been in boston, faster that possibly any player in the NBA (seriously…its ridiculous), nice handle, good passer…. only thing that ever concerned me about him is that he isnt the smartest player, sometimes he tries to rely on his physical gifts a little too much, but hes young and i always thought that would improve when he is given a chance to play some meaningful and consistant mins. which he never got in boston, mainly because Doc Rivers had some personal grudge with him….. Doc Rivers is an idiot, he should be coaching Church League ball somewhere, so you laker fans will enjoy havin this guy on your team…. I wish he was still in boston


  7. mihm for six isn’t going to happen. don’t worry about the defense he made his name in Boston as a defender. Offensively he’ll be alright but may occasionally try to push the pace at times when he probaly shouldn’t.


  8. did marcus banks start in boston in his first year? from his MPGs there i doubt it. did he start with the t-wolves? i don’t remember, but i would bet that he eventually did considering that marko jaric wasn’t all that.

    couldn’t that explain his defensive PERs?

    i haven’t been enamoured or all that interested in him, but i don’t know much about him. i have a feeling he won’t be the answer defensively.

    although a guy who has a solid jumper might be nice. and killer.


  9. I like your breakdown – however I would add that I am not sure at all that looking at your opponents PER is a great way to evaluate defense.

    In the NBA team defense plays a big role as well as general schemes. Does a team always switch on a pick and roll? If they do then the measures the success of Banks man in such a situation isn’t that meaningful. Does a team have Ben Wallace and Rasheed playing interior D? Then a guys PER off opposing guards may go way down..

    I think defense is tricky to evaluate and I don’t think you can say for certain whether or not a guy is good defender just by look at PERs.



  10. Good analysis.

    I recommend checking out his rate stats and compare his AsR and ToR. His rookie season and this season, Boston half, are virtually identical, sample size or not. Coming off the bench in 2004 and the Wolves’ half of this season are, again, pretty much identical.

    My point is easily reinforcable by accessing his Advanced numbers on his basketball-reference page.

    I consider his play in Minnesota essentially a continuation of his 2005 season. Yes, his shooting stats were higher but he was also not as restricted offensively and could dictate the shots he wanted to take. When he did that in Boston, the offense ground to a standstill more often than not.

    Personally, I dont really see him as a good fit in the triangle. Despite his numbers in MInnesota, I fear that his ability to play off the ball is severely limited. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective.

    Don’t get me wrong, he is certainly useful. I just dont see how he would be that much of an upgrade over Smush if the ball is primarily going to be in Odom and Kobe’s hands.


  11. Pete, I agree that opponent PER is not a great measure for defense. The problem is I’m not sure there is one, I find defensive rating (from Dean Oliver basically and available on B-R) not to match up with what I see quite often. Really, the best way to evaluate defense continues to be observation, but that is hard for me in a case like this because I saw just a handful of Bank’s games in the past couple years and I wasn’t just focused on him. So, I go with PER, but it’s not the answer.

    That’s why I was happy to hear from BA and would love to hear from others from Boston (or Minn) who saw him play more.

    Bottom line is I guess I don’t think Banks is the perfect fit for the triangle, but if his defense is good he’ll be a solid fit. If this is a three-year deal (as rumored) then it’s not too big a pill.


  12. How about Dan Rosenbaum’s defensive numbers?

    They rate Banks as the second-best defender at the point in the league (2002-03 through 2004-05).


  13. I’ve watched Marcus since college at UNLV. Defensively he has the ability to make any guard in the team look silly trying to bring the ball up court. I agree with the sad Celtic fan above. Marcus is awesome on defense. Yes, sometimes it seems as though he tries to do too much offensively just on his physical ability but this usually happens when his team is trailing late and something needs to happen and no one else is making it happen. And when it clicks for him he can literally take over a ball game late in the fourth quarter and turn it around. He is an unbelievable talent. With the Lakers youth and quickness they will get so many more easy points in transition with Marcus pushing the ball instead of Odom walking the ball up court!!


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