Last week, when asked about his the recent decline of his offensive production, Chris Douglas-Roberts cryptically talked about how he was playing within "the system." What system is CDR talking about? One theory is the "system" in question is the one designed by coach Kiki Vandeweghe that seemingly favors Yi Jianlian anchoring the offense.
This is fact. Of the six primary rotational players used by the Nets - Yi, Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, CDR and Keyon Dooling - Yi Jianlian is leading the team in field goal attempts with 14.09 per game since he returned from injury in December. So clearly, these field goal attempts are coming at the expense of somebody else's shots. Earlier this month, we looked at Yi's affect on Brook Lopez, but with CDR's recent talk of the "system," we thought it was better to look at all six players to determine who's shot total has been hindered the most by a Yi-centric offense.
For this analysis, we've broken the season into two parts, from 11/21/09 to 12/19/09 - the period where Devin Harris returned after missing three weeks with a groin injury, and then 12/23/09 to present, when Yi returned from his knee injury. Looking at shot selection before 11/21 would be futile, because the Nets were so decimated by injuries, so many players who otherwise would be buried on the end of the bench were getting playing time, skewing the overall numbers.
Also consider during these periods, CDR missed a few games with assorted injuries, and Courtney Lee was buried on Lawrence Frank's bench until he was fired and replaced with Kiki.
Here's the tally:
The dropoff for Douglas-Roberts is astounding. He went from being the team's leading shot taker pre-Yi, to the lowest in the starting lineup and has, by far, the highest differential of these six players. To put that in better perspective, Dooling, in just 18 minutes of playing time per game is only getting two fewer field goal attempts per game than CDR, who averages about 35 minutes of PT per game.
So what's the solution? CDR is a scorer who's currently not getting the chance to score. Also consider that Douglas-Roberts has been playing out of position at SF since the start of the season. Before the season began, Sebastian provided a great analysis looking at CDR and Lee to determine who should be the starting SG for the Nets. Quoth Sebastian:
This is a question that doesn’t get asked a lot, but it is an important one. I honestly think that CDR is the better 6th man out of the group, mainly because of his ability to score in bunches. Plus when he is the 6th man playing with the second unit, he is going to be the go-to scorer (think about it – Alston/T-Will/CDR/Battie/Boone) and because of that we avoid one of the issues we talked about earlier (CDR thinking too much) and that makes CDR a better player. I can honestly say that if CDR starts the season as the 6th man, he is a top 5 candidate for 6th man of the year.
Given the current state of the Nets roster, the fact that they're 3-36, and the fact that he's simply not getting opportunities to score in the starting lineup, I think it's now time for Kiki to name CDR his 6th man. Bring CDR and Dooling off the bench with Kris Humphries and you have guys who can score in bunches three different ways. Use Trenton Hassell in the starting lineup and you at least have a defensive-minded guy who has the body and the bulk to match-up better at the position. It will also give the starting rotation more focus on the offensive end, instead of having five guys who are constantly looking for "their shots."
When NAS the beat writers first pegged CDR for the bench before the season started, he used Twitter to carp about people "not believing in him." This isn't a question of belief in a player. This is about putting a specific player with a unique skillet in a position to succeed. It's also about helping the team overall. And at 3-36, the Nets need all the help they can get.