First-Time All-Stars: Eastern Conference
By Jay Cipoletti
When the 63rd NBA All-Star Game tips off on Sunday night, six players will make their debut in the midseason showcase, three from each conference. We take a look at the numbers to see how these players have earned their trip to New Orleans. We've already looked at the trio from the Western Conference, now it's time to look at the East.
Much like Western Conference first-timer Stephen Curry, DeRozan made his first All Star team by maintaining his level of play as his Usage Rate increased significantly. Playing a career high 37.7 minutes per game, DeRozan has seen his Usage Rate jump from 24.1% last year to 28.3% this season.
How does a shooting guard increase his Usage Rate and play at an All Star level? Spend more time in the high value shot zones.
DeRozan has upped his Free Throw Rate to 0.401 this season, earning frequent trips to the most valuable shooting zone on the floor. He is second in the East in FTAs per game at 7.3, behind only the 7.6 FTAs that LeBron James earns. James Harden leads all perimeter players with 8.8 FTAs per game.
He also finds his way to another high value shot zone. After taking only 44 Left Corner 3s through his first four seasons, DeRozan has already attempted 50 LC3s through 50 games this season, making them at a 42% clip. He is finding success in the Right Corner as well, though not as often, making 9-of-18 RC3 attempts. Overall, his 30 Corner 3s this season tops his career total of 29 entering this season.
Through his first two seasons, Millsap was 0-5 from 3, with all five shots from Above the Break. In this third season, he finally made his first 3, and tried his first Corner 3 attempt. Entering this season, Millsap had career totals of 20-of-81 (24.7%) from Above the Break and 10-of-21 (47.6%) from the Corners. That C3 make rate suggested he might be able to expand his shooting range. In his first season as an All Star and first in Atlanta, Millsap is 38-of-106 (35.8%) on Above the Break 3s and 11-of-28 (39.3%) on Corner 3 tries.
The result is less reliance on low value shots and a career high scoring average, despite seeing his Restricted Area shooting percentage drop from 64.5% last year to 61.4% this year.
It is fitting that Wall's first All Star Game selection coincides with the introduction of the SportVU Player Tracking data on NBA.com. After returning from injury last year he gave an extended sneak preview of what to expect this season. Now with Player Tracking, we can fully capture Wall's impact.
Wall leads the NBA in total assists with 443. His A/TO Ratio of 2.45 is second only to Tony Parker among players whose Usage Rate is at or above 27.0%.
With Player Tracking, we can also see that he leads the East in:
The Wizards made the decision to put the offense in Wall's hands (literally, as that last number highlights). He has responded in ways that SportVU illustrates best.