Saturday Nite ShotCaller


Live from Minnesota, it’s… a Saturday night Wolves-Blazers game! The grind continues, and with that I’ve got a new prediction for Damian Lillard’s shot activity. It’s the weekend, so I’m not going to mince words too much – here it is:

(click to enlarge)

And here’s the details:

  • Only 13 shots? Yes, despite what all those averages indicate to the right of the map, they are just that averages. Realistically, Dame’s shot activity in this match-up projects either on the high end (20+ shots) or the low end (about 13). Thus, the averages are splitting that difference.
  • But why 13 shots? Multiple reasons, of course. First, there is a negative, increasingly moderate relationship between the strength of opponent and the shots per game (I wrote about this last time). Sorry Wolves fans, but at the 2nd-lowest win total in the league (silver lining: I’m a Knicks fan), Lillard tends to shoot less. Second, there’s a negative relationship (increasingly so!) between the point differential in the previous game and Dame’s shot count in the next game. So…since the Blazers beat the Mavs by 19 on Thursday, expect a below average shot count on Saturday for Lillard. Third, there’s an increasingly positive relationship between the previous game’s shot count and the next game’s shot count (a bit of autocorrelation, one might say). With a 10-shot game on Thursday, a similar-but-higher-but-not-too-much-higher game is expected Saturday. And speaking of those 10 shots from Thursday…
  • Why should we believe this? Fair question. Here’s the 140-character take on my last prediction:

And in general, the predictions I’ve been making (this will be the sixth for Lillard, and there were four for Melo) follow a consistent result: usually the count is within a couple of shots, and the majority of locations are dead-on. In the most recent, I was off by six – I strive for much better. Dame took 0 shots in the 1st quarter; AKA the 4th time in his career that’s ever happened. A normal quarter (about 4 shots), and some normal At The Rim activity (about 4 shots), and it’s even closer. So, I’d argue this current prediction is believable (but would love to hear the thoughts of the people!) and quite possibly useful.

And with that, I leave you with this:

Data and photo support provided courtesy of,, and data extraordinaire Darryl Blackport.