Thursday, November 10, 2005


The Sonics have a Flip problem. This roster is built in a fashion where Flip Murray has to be a part of the team. For this team to win he has to play an active scoring and distributing role in the back-court.

The problem is that the Sonics have been awful when Flip is on the floor. +/- is a stat that has become very popular in the NBA. It is no different then the hockey stat. If is how your team does when you are on the floor. If your team goes on an 8-0 run you get a +8 if you team is outscored 8-0 you get a –8.

Thus far this season is the 62 minutes that Flip Murray has been on the floor the Sonics have been outscored by 56 points. That is correct in 62 minutes Flip Murray is a –56. In other words over 48 minutes with Flip on the floor the Sonics would be outscored by 43 points. Offensively and defensively the Sonics have the worst ratings when Flip is on the floor. Both offensively and defensively.

Now this could be a one year issue and an early season issue if the same thing hadn’t happened both of the last two years. Last season the Sonics were –128 when Flip was on the floor the worst on the team. In fairness last year was tough with the injury and never having a set role.

However, in 2003-04 the year which every sites as Flip’s great year the Sonics were –141 when Flip was on the floor second worst on the team.

The concern is that this year is not an anomaly. Over the past three years when Flip Murray has been on the floor the Sonics have been outscored by 325 points. 325 points.

Do you want more. There is a stat called the Roland Rating. It measures how your team performs when you are on the floor compared to when you are on the bench.
In 2003-04, Flip was second to last on the team in Roland Rating, in 2004-05, Flip was last on the team in Roland Rating and this year Flip Murray is last on the team in Roland Rating.

35 comments: said...

Great post David. I've been a pretty big proponent of Flips but I'm rapidly leaning the other way. The thing is I think he could be a pretty special player in the right situation, used the right way. He needs to be the instant offense guy that comes off the bench when the offensive sets are not working anyway. He can score 1 on 1 and keep the team competative until they figure things out. Asking him to be the guy who figures things out, or runs offensive sets clearly is not panning out.

NateRob1 said...

As long as he is on a team with Ray allen he will never realize his full potential. He would fit in nicely on a team like the Sacramento Kings who could use his explosiveness now that Bobby Jackson, Doug Christie are gone.

mak1024 said...

David, just outta NBA teams rely heavily on such +/- differences.
If they do, then I am sure they know that such huge differences when Flip is on the court vs. off the court is not an early season issue. It's been going on for a couple of years now as you pointed out.
Flip would be a good player if he just understands his limitations. But, about 50% of the time he plays OUTSIDE his limitations and that causes problems for the team.

Anonymous said...

For fuller disclosure of the point guard situation:

Who was the lowest ranked on/off in 2003-04? Luke Ridour at -8.2. Who was third lowest in 2004-05 ? Luke at -6.6 . Who is 5th lowest this year? Luke at -6.6. Better than Flip, but still not positive and pretty modest +/- improvement over 2 years.

If Ridnour gets more time should Flip? I dont think the Sonics have much of an option this year but to try and see. Then judge. Both of them.

Anonymous said...

correction: Luke is -2.8 on/off this year.(I repeated a stat by mistake.)
But -14.4 on.

Anonymous said...

I prefer +/- on the court only to on/off because that is affected by your substitute. Luke was actually a neutral O last year compared to this year's slow start. I hope he can get back to that soon. And then grow positive thru the year.

Sonic EJ said...

Flip should just be done for this team. Don't play him...throw him in on a trade...whatever, just don't let him see the court.

I usally don't put much stock in the +/- stat but this is too much to look past. Clearly Flip is not good for this team. Lets just be done with him.

JohnS said...

Good point about these ratings. Since Allen is far and away our best player so far this season and has singlehandedly kept us in games, Flip's numbers are going to look awful as he has been Allen's primary backup.

I guarantee that primary backups for Shaq, Kobe, T-Mac, D-wade and Iverson will show similarly bad +/- stats.

That being said, anyone can see with their own eyes that the offense falls apart with Murray in the game...

JohnS said...

One other thing. I think that due to Weiss's tendency to put all of our backup players in together, guys like Murray and Wilkins have awful +/- numbers because the two all-stars are sitting. They're playing with a short lineup with a bunch of guys who can't score. Collison and Radmanovic also have negative numbers as they're all part of that Murray, Wilkins, Radmanovic, Collison, Fortson lineup that just kills us in games.

Sean O'Connor said...

I've been concerned with flip ever since everyone was raving about him in 03/04. I call him flip the chucker. Can we trade him for Earl Watson, already?

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Sonic EJ said...


Regarding the Statistical Revolution that you have talked about on Locked On Sports for years and is now getting national recognition:

I have listened to so much +/- talk in last few days I want to go crazy. What is the deal with this stat? It seems to me like the single most overrated way of evaluating a players production. In fact I think it is a way to cop out of actually watching and understanding basketball.

Here is my big complaint with the +/- stat. It in no way takes into account what the other team is doing. For example, if Flip Murray is shutting down his man and moving the ball on offense…just generally playing well…His +/- can still be horrible if at the same time Tim Duncan is dominating Reggie Evans and the game. If you were to only look at Flips +/- then you would think he had a horrible game when maybe he played pretty well. This is all totally hypothetical. Flip has played really bad so far this year and maybe the +/- is good to show, in extreme cases, how bad someone is really playing. I think the average +/- for the team should be brought up more often so we can use it as a reference.

What is the +/- for the whole team so far this year?

What is the average +/- of the players on the team through the first 4 games?

If a team loses by 40 but a players pro-rated 48 minutes +/- is -10 isn’t that a great +/-?

Krizzer said...

We should have traded Flip when the hype was good. He is not a team player, and he is a one-trick pony. It hasn't taken other teams long to figure him out and be able to stop him. Sonics need to make a move.

Myk said...

Everyone FYI:

Ryan (Syracuse, NY): How is it that Vlad Radmanovic can be traded this year? I thought that players who take the one-year tender from their current team aren't able to be traded like what happened with Stromile Swift last year in Memphis. What makes Vlad's situation any different?

Chris Sheridan: (12:02 PM ET ) Ryan, Vlad has veto rights over any trade, and he'd give up his Bird rights if he accepted a trade. After turning down $2 million over the summer so tht he could become an unrestricted free agent, I'd imagine he'll stick things out with the Sonics all season _ even if he isn't happy with Coach Weiss' rotations _ and then play the market.

Myk said...


- I agree that the +/- stat is a little strange. My biggest problem is that it isn't a stat you can really track during the game.

Anonymous said...

Looking at +/- on and +/- on/off is worthwile but not conclusive at face value like ej said. +/- on is 80% determined by your 4 teammates and the 4 opponents you arent guarding regularly. +/- takes this dilute representation of your play and dilutes it further with your substitute and who he played with that and against while you were off. Too much dilution to be a primary measure of individual quality to me even though I look at it and sometimes give it too much weight.

Even though counterpart production figures at 82games are well short of perfect they may have more information about a players direct impacts on offense and defense. I actually like looking at net counterpart production minus +/- on because it can help you see a little better who was responible for the + or the - and the size of the shares.

Last year Ridnour was a neutral 0 for +/- on but was -3.4 in net counterpart production of points (i.e. he was on average outscored by his opponent). So it seems like his other 4 teammates were +3.4 while Luke was -3.4 to get to that neutral 0 that is a hint that Luke was in fact a mild negative for his direct personal play on team boxscore and his +/- on looked better because of the positives of his teammates play against their opponents. But is true that Luke could have had positive influences on them. It just isnt possible to easily say for sure how much total credit Ridnour deserves for their positive performance other than look at assists 1% better on court than off and team FG% -0.8% while he was on court compared to off. But that mainly says he wasnt as good as Daniels at getting the team good shots since he was +0.6% team FG% on/off and it appears he did that with fewer assists -4% on/off by making more hard drives and kicking or making more shots himself or getting the ball to the right guy early and letting him create himself or whatever.

Last year Murray was -7.0 for +/- on but was +2.0 against his opponent. So it appears Murray played with weaker teammates and/or he did less to help them than Luke. I believe both are true but it is not possible with just this information to say how much is each explanation. But he "won" his matchup while Luke "lost" his. That isnt the whole story either but it helps balance the story being told by +/- on. Looking at Net counterpart production and +/- on together and the team share / not directly Murray would seem to be -9. That is much tougher to play with than +3.4 from your teammates that Luke had.

To be clear, +/- on/off isnt neutral and safe to conclude from either because the other 4 guys and their opponents and their impacts arent necessarily exactly or maybe even close to even between players.

Murray is clearly not the same level of point guard as Luke but he was more of a scorer (more of a shooter too, in fact 40% more shots per minutes at a lower FG% but he got 20% more points per minute than Luke that way) and he was a better defender too, only allowing 40% eFG% allowed to PGs (though much worse to SGs- 53%) to Luke's 47%.

This year Ridnour is -14.4 +/- on and -14.4 in net counterpart production. So it looks like his teammates he played with were holding neutral while he was directly reponsible for apparently all of his bad +/- on. I guess he was still getting his assists and that is worth something.

But Murray +/- is an astounding
-43.3 but his net counterpart production number was only -10, lower than Luke's. It would seem that 3/4ths of Murray's bad +/- rating was a mix of really bad playing teammates and bad Murray affect on them. I accept that it was both but cant sort out how much was each.

The only person I know that can better sort this out is Dan Rosenbaum. He has adjusted +/- data analysis where the strength or teammates played with and opponents faced are accounted for in the analysis to make a much more level playing field. If you or his friend Kevin Pelton got him to share Ridnour and Murray data we could answer this question better. He is rumored to be on the way to becoming a team consultant and he may or may not want to give away his data analysis for free anymore. But you could try if you wanted to push this story deeper and make the stats more powerful and accurate.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like stat talk, what I posted boils down to Flip is more of a one on one baller and Ridnour is the preferred team leader. Almost everyone knows that without the stats. But if you are going to look at +/-, keep digging beneath into it and underneath it and use other stats too to compare messages; there is more there than the surface "Luke better than Flip".

xteve said...

The one thing that concerns me is that the Sonic organization has had Flip around for years and they should have known what many fans have seen all along. Flip isn't a point guard, doesn't have a PG's game and never will. Despite all his talk about running the point earlier in his career, he's not a natural playmaker and he can't stop the ball on defense.

The Sonics should have known all this. Instead it seems that they vastly overestimated Flip's ability to handle AD's role.

Anonymous said...

As I hinted, the Sonics keep trying Flip at PG in apart because he is according to the stats a much better point guard defender giving up only 10.5 points per 48 minutes there last year compared to 24 points per 48 minutes at shooting guard.

This year he was been an equally terrible defender at both positions but he has been able to score quite well at PG 28.6 per 48 minutes but not well at SG, only 12.3.

So if you play Flip at all, it remains better by comparison at PG instead of SG.

Anonymous said...

I should add, looking only at Murray's individual stats. Looking at win percentage this year he is losing every time on the court as are most sonics. last year he won 41% of his time on the court as a PG and only 31% in his time at a SG. Neither good but PG slightly better, probably because it would mean he might be with Allen instead of replacing him and so maybe Flip doesnt get that extra credit at point guard after all.

I agree he is not the answer to anything longterm. And he will be gone for sure.

Anonymous said...

Another angle on this. If Flip plays more SG it makes it harder to find all the time the coaches and many fans seem to want for Wilkins and you have to play Cleaves more. Playing him at PG is better on Flip stats as discussed above and maybe better at the other guard position too(i.e. more Wikins / less Cleaves than if you had Flip more at SG). But the counterweight is what Flip at PG does to the team as a whole. Not playing him except in emergencies is likely to be the long term answer if and when Ridnour and Wilkins get on track.

Anonymous said...

This team has a Luke Rinour problem more than anything else. Flips on the floor, what, 5 minutes a game? When Lukes on the floor it's like playing 4 on 5. Teams are free to leave him wide open on the offensive side of the ball to double Ray and Rahard because they know he can't shoot. He can't run a half court offense anyway most of the time he'll pass the ball off and then go stand in the corner beyond the 3 pt line hopeing the ball doesn't come back to him, he has no dribble drive what-so-ever, if he manages to get into the lane he either throws up a prayer that goes in one out of five times, and is not strong enough to draw a foul. Do even need to comment on how badly he is abused on the defensive side of the floor?

Luke's on the floor 30 minutes or more, Flips on the floor 5 or less, yet somehow it's all flips fault RIGHT

Biggie said...

Don't trip anon, Locke doesn't like black people. That's why he tries to throw flip under the bus and swings on Ridnour's you know what's.

Anonymous said...

Murray has gotten 15.5 minutes a game. On some teams he could go 22-28 (but probably not that successfully based on what we've seen since his first big burst on the scene).

Ridnour has always seemed like a 24-28 minute player who got stretched to 31 minutes last year and now 33 this year so far and they seemed to want him to be 36-38 minutes. Too much in my opinion.

Maybe Murray could play a few more minutes as a third guard on the court and that way he wouldnt have to run the offense or create outside shots but just try to slip into seams.

The Sonics should find a point guard with one of their picks in the draft next summer or get a better quality / more expensive one in the free agent market to return to more of a true point guard tandem like with Daniels or bring Morlende over from France.

Anonymous said...

It isnt a huge change in minutes from now but under a 2 1/2 guard, two forward, 1/2 center system you could divide minutes this way:

Ridnour 28
Murray 18
Allen 38
Wilkins 18
Cleaves 6

Lewis 36
Radmanovic 24
Evans 20
Collison 18

Fortson 12
Potapenko /Petro 5

17 minutes left to add to players based on matchups and who is hot

The difference might be mainly in the thinking about it, the roles for Murray and Wilkins, and maybe trying to run some.

Myk said...

The Sonics may also have a Luke Ridnour problem but they also have a Reggie Evans problem. Everything that was stated about leaving Luke wide open is done 10xs more to Reggie. Also, since Reggie is a PF that means there is a PF guarding him who can camp in the lane and block any of the drives.

Maybe the other stats guys can see but I bet Luke plays much better when Reggie isn't on the court. Since Luke can't finish strong (i.e. dunk) he needs a near open lane to score and with Reggie on the floor (and Petro..and Fortson..) the PF designated to guard him just camps near the hoop and provides resistance. It is a sad fact that in may instances the Sonics are playing as little as 2 on 5 when they have the is no wonder they are having problems scoring.

Anonymous said...

You are on to something mjk, using the data available on the top 20 sonic lineups last year Ridnour won 57% with non-Reggie lineups but only 50% with Reggie. Not a huge difference last year but perhaps heightened this year as teams dont have to stay with a James now either. There are probably a dozen ways this team has slipped from last year and what you mentioned is one of them and they all build on each other.

Anonymous said...

Overall for all minutes played together Ridnour /Evans is a neutral 0 but some nights it must be hurting -or at least not helping- as the lower win percentage on only some of the minutes played I cited suggests.

Myk said...

I mean it is pretty simple...last year the scoring load went: Allen, Rashard, Vlade, Antonio and then Luke, Danny/Nick and then NOTHING

Now it goes: Allen, Rashard and Luke and then NOTHING

I know Luke hasn't been playing well this year but any fan has to admit that it really wasn't fair to assume that he could be a third scorer. This is especially the case when he plays most of his minutes with Petro/Reggie and Vitaly who are not just nonscorers but really are just not capable of scoring...

That is what is amusing about the Sonics wanting to be uptempo this can you be uptempo when two of your starting five can't score???

Sonic EJ said...

What is amusing is how much you seem to love Luke. It goes Ray, hopefully Rashard, and then nothing.

Myk said...

In what sense did that post say I loved Luke?? My whole point was that he is being asked to do somehing he is absolutely not capable of doing...and that is why he is failing. He isn't necessarily a bad player he is just put in a position that prevents him any chance for success.

Sonic EJ said...

It is just that every time Luke's name comes up you jump to defend him. It is not just me, you have been doing this for months and I thought I would call you on it. Sorry.

Luke had a great game and we still lost by 41. Obviously he does not make a impact on the game so can we trade him for someone who can????

This is when I get to say we now need change just for change sake.

Mike Barer said...

There is obviously something wrong in Sonic land. If they are really as good as last year suggests, they would have sustain the coaching change. I guess time will tell on how this will play out.