Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Wrap

Some cool things happened this weekend:

Friday

Heads up play from Kidd
(Photo from Yahoo)
  • The first four games of the night went to overtime. NYK beat WAS 118-116, CLE beat TOR 126-118, DAL beat ATL 111-103, and CHI beat POR 115-111. Dallas had one of those points that got them to overtime from a technical foul on Hawks' coach Mike Woodson for being on the floor. Jason Kidd saw this, and dribbled right to him, bumped into him, and was like "WTF?! REF!!!" Refs replayed it on their video screens, called the technical, Dirk made the FT, and on the next trip, Jason Kidd hit an open 3 pointer. Here's the video:


Oh he also had a monster triple double: 19/16/17, so close to one of my coveted stat lines of 20/20/20. (My all time covet is the 5x5).
  • In my mini watch of Baron Davis vs. Steve Blake on the Clippers- Phoenix trounced the Clippers 125-112. I did not watch this game.
Blake: 0 points on 0-2 shooting, 9 assists, 25 minutes, +/- of -4.
Davis: 13 points on 5-13 shooting, 8 assists, 37 minutes, +/- of -18.
But again, I did not watch this game. Plus Kaman got thrown out of the game at the start of the 2nd half and Robin Lopez of all people scored 30 on 13-16 shooting.
Saturday

Are people serious when they say Kendrick Perkins could be DPOY?
(Photo from Yahoo)
  • First things first, the Nets beat the Celtics. Celtics didn't have Paul Pierce but the Celtics were taking some long shots while the Nets kept pounding it in. "These games aren't played on paper, ya hear!?" KG has 2 more years on his contract after this season, by the way. $16.4 mil this season, $18.8 next, $21.2 after that.
  • Without Dwyane Wade, the Heat suck. They lost to Milwaukee 94-71 including a 12 point 3rd quarter and a 14 point 4th. The team had 9 assists. Wade averages 6.
  • Another loss for the Darko experiment brings Minnesota to 1-4 when he plays. But they're not that good anyway. Darko had 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks... but 6 fouls awww.
  • 5 games into the T-Mac era for the Knicks and the knee problems arise. T-Mac (nicknamed Knee-Mac) had to pull himself out after playing 15 minutes due to a sore left knee. Look, I want to cheer for T-Mac, I honestly do. I want him to play well and get out of the first round of the playoffs, but the knees man. After all this time after surgery... Fun fact, he's the highest paid player in the league this year ($23.2 million), more than 2nd ranked Kobe ($23 million).
Sunday

Kobe wants to high 5 while Artest wants to pound fists, hehe
(Photo from Yahoo)
  • Lakers finally won a game against Denver this season, butttt that 6th foul on Carmelo was kind of questionable. It was an offensive foul where some of Melo's elbow clipped Artest in the face, but he was getting away with some fouls before that. Artest played great. Fisher didn't play that much due to foul trouble and Farmar and Brown did just an enough to let Billups have an average day (17/5/4). See my post about PGs going off on the Lakers and how it translates to wins. Today, average day for Billups, Lakers win. Lamar for 6th man?
  • The Nets came back down to earth, losing to the Wizards after beating the Celts. And Al Thornton is balling for the Wizards averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds. I like when players see a new team as a new opportunity to play well. Thornton's doing it. I bet his defense is still suspect though.
  • Darren Collison's numbers double when he starts. But the Hornets still lost to the Mavs even after 35 points from Collison. Al Thornton's cousin, Marcus Thornton is also balling this season averaging 12/3 for the Hornets an scored 21 tonight. A good day for the Thorntons, indeed!
  • Again, in my mini watch of Steve Blake vs Baron Davis as PG for the Clippers: Last week, Steve Blake started against the Kings and the Clippers won. Tonight in Sacramento, he played 13 minutes and the Clippers lost. I did not watch the game. So there that is.
  • Shaq will be out for the rest of the season and is reported to be back by the time playoffs start. Does this mean he WILL be back by the time playoffs start? Of course not, we've seen plenty of time tables be way off. So they just need to hope he's back if they end up playing the Orlando Magic, which they probably will, in the eastern conference finals after Orlando beats Atlanta and Cleveland beats Boston (or whoever beats Boston).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Remember when people freaked about Josh Childress going to Europe?

(Photo from GreekSoccer)
Josh Childress and one of the league's most perfect afros left the NBA to play for Olympiacos Piraeus on July 23, 2008 for three years and $20 million dollars with an opt out clause after every one of those three years. That's a deal, that's a steal, that's the sale of the effing century, and while the Hawks were offering 33 million over 5 years, hey, you can't really blame a young dude trying to get his, just like any other NBA player. But people freaked. And it lead to other "top" names playing abroad.

Before Childress, Juan Carlos Navarro signed with Spain's FC Barcelona on June 18th.

Jorge Garbajosa signed with Russia's Khimki Region on July 25th.

Nenad Krstic signed with Russia's Triumph Lyubertsy on July 29th.

Carlos Arroyo signed with Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv on August 4th.

Earl Boykins signed with Italy's Virtus Balogna on August 6th.

Jannero Pargo signed with Russia's Dynamo Moscow on August 15th joining

Bostjan Nachbar who had already signed on July 21st (and gave a warning: "'The NBA had better be careful,' Nachbar said. 'European teams are offering a lot of money. It's much more, considering there are no taxes, than what I could make signing for the midlevel exception'").

Gordan Giricek signed with Turkey's Fenerbahce on August 21st.


I mean my goodness! Nachbar sure knew what he was talking about! But hey, everyone believed the same thing (to an extent). Perhaps it made for better sports stories to have the NBA possibly ransacked of all of its players due to more money available in Europe and Russia. The summer of 2008 was the year of the Summer Olympics and the NBA's redeem team where Kobe made international headlines saying he'd possibly leave the Lakers if a team in Italy offered him $50 million in one year. Keep in mind that when Boykins signed his ONE YEAR DEAL for $3.5 MILLION, he became Italy's highest paid player, a far reach from $50 million.


So where are these players now? Some came back to the NBA, some for less money than they were making abroad:

Boykins is on the Wizards making $1.2 million for this season. FA this summer.
Krstic is on the Thunder making $5.4 million and has a player option this summer for $5.8 million.
Jannero Pargo is on the Bulls making $2 million for this season. FA this summer.
Carlos Arroyo is on the Heat making $1.1 million for this season. FA this summer.
(Source HoopsHypeSalaries)

Gordan Giricek, Bostjan Nachbar, Josh Childress, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Jorge Garbajosa are all still on their contracts they signed two summers ago and are playing in Europe and Russia according to their wikipedia pages.

So hindsight is truly 20/20. Josh Childress wasn't the first to sign abroad, but he was a mid-level exception guy who signed for more in Europe. Everyone freaked and I'll admit, even I was wondering if a big name guy would soon go but if you remember, this past summer, no one went abroad and no one even mentioned the possibility.

Instead, Everyone was talking about Lamar Odom and if he would re-sign with the Lakers or go back to Miami. Everyone was hyping up Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in Detroit (for some reason). Everyone was talking about Shaq teaming with LeBron. Brandon Jennings who was already PLAYING in Europe came to the NBA. Europe became an afterthought and we will see THIS summer if any of the five guys listed above come back and use that crazy clause that allows them to opt out of their contract after every year (I can't get over how sweet of a deal that is).

But hey, Kobe hasn't signed an extension yet. If the NBA and the players don't reach an agreement in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there's a lockout... watch out Europe!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laker PG defense is suspect, as if you didn't know already

(Photo from YahooSports)
Well this sure is interesting. The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers have the second best record in the entire NBA. But after tonight's loss against the Mavericks, you have to second guess or at least take with a grain of salt, your pre season pick to repeat as champions or make the finals. Let's go through their significant losses and pick them apart a little bit:

The Losses

10/30/09 - loss to Dallas 94-80
Can you read into it? 2nd game with Ron Artest and no Pau Gasol, I'd give the Lakers a pass on this one but Marion did play good defense on Kobe that game.

11/13/09 - loss to Denver 105-79
Can you read into it? 2nd game of a back-to-back @ Denver, after handling the Suns at home. Still no Pau Gasol. But an 8 point 3rd quarter... unforgivable.

12/12/09 - loss to Utah 102-94
Can you read into it? 2nd game of a back-to-back @ Utah, after a 104-92 win over Minnesota at home. Full strength roster-wise. Just got out played. But they did beat them at home before the Minnesota game. Utah was better.

12/25/09 - loss to Cleveland 87-102
Can you read into it? Plenty of rest. Big stage. Cleveland was simply the better team.

12/28/09 - loss to Phoenix 103-118
Can you read into it? Ron Artest was out with a concussion. They were able to score but they weren't able to stop Phoenix from scoring.

1/12/10 - loss to San Antonio 85-105
Can you read into it? No Pau Gasol. No Kobe for the 4th quarter due to back spasms. That was pretty significant for this game.

1/21/10 loss to Cleveland 87-93
Can you read into it? Another game with plenty of rest. Full strength roster-wise. Tough call near the end of the game that could have been a 4-point swing when Artest was called for a foul that led to Varejao free throws when it could have gone the other way around. Still, Cleveland played great. LeBron played great. No Mo Williams.

2/5/10 loss to Denver 113-126
Can you read into it? Billups goes off with 9 3-pointers and 39 points. Lakers at full strength. Denver was the better team.

2/18/10 loss to Boston 87-86
Can you read into it? They kept it close and had a last second shot to win it, all with no Kobe. But they needed a last second shot from Kobe to win it in Boston a few weeks earlier.

2/24/10 loss to Dallas 96-101
Can you read into it? Full strength. Couldn't stop fouling a good free throw shooting team. Kept it close but took a bad 3 pointer with 25 seconds or so left. Dallas was without Caron Butler.

Records against these teams
Losing to:
Cleveland: 0-2
Denver: 0-2 (2 games remaining)
Tied with:
Dallas: 2-2
Boston: 1-1
San Antonio: 1-1 (2 games remaining)
Beating:
Utah: 2-1 (1 game remaining)
Phoenix: 2-1 (1 game remaining)

What do all of these teams have in common? All of them have PGs that torture the Lakers.
Let's take a look:

The Point Guards

Who they're currently losing to:
Denver's Chauncey Billups: 20/3/6 this season VS. 22.5/3/8 vs Lakers (39/4/8 and 6/2/8)
Cleveland's Mo Williams: 16/3/5 this season VS. 28/6/7 vs Lakers (1 game- 12/25/09)

Who they're currently tied with:
Boston's Rajon Rondo: 14/4/10 this season VS. 17.5/5/11.5 vs Lakers (14/5/11 in win, 21/5/12 in loss - both games could have gone either way)
San Antonio's Tony Parker: 17/2/6 this season VS. 21/2/7 vs Lakers (22/2/6 in win, 20/2/8 in loss)
Dallas' Jason Kidd: 10/5/9 this season VS. 4/5/9 vs Lakers (2/4/11 and 14/7/13 in wins, 0/4/5 and 11/7/11 in losses)

Who they're currently beating:
Utah's Deron Williams: 18/4/10 this season VS. 16/5/10 vs Lakers (21/4/11 in the win against LA, 11/9/10 and 17/2/8 in the losses)

Phoenix's Steve Nash: 17/3/11 this season VS. 14/1/9
(16/3/13 in the win against LA, 12/0/10 and 13/0/5 in the losses)

My conclusion: PG defense is important and a weakness for the Lakers (no I'm not going to act like I discovered Plutonium, everyone should know that PG defense is important). Everyone's ears are probably bleeding about bloggers and sports writers writing about how the Lakes were trying to trade for Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls to get a PG on ball defender to slow down the league's top PGs. Everyone knows Derek Fisher is turning 35 going on 36 in August and can't keep up with the league's top PGs. In fact, Derek Fisher is on the lower end of starting PGs when it comes to defense.

So why does he start? Because the Lakers run a triangle offense that doesn't require a drive and kick type PG and the Lakers have 7 footers to help on defense for guards that beat the Laker guards to the basket. Only these guards are All Star guards who know to pass the ball to whoever those 7 footers leave for a dunk or an open shot (as pictured above!). But are the Lakers back up PGs that much of an upgrade? Farmar who's good at driving to the basket and can make some nice passes and can create his own shot, but his defense needs work. Shannon Brown takes some bad shots on offense but his defense is better than Fisher's and Farmar's, but not by much.

Then again, that's pretty much the only hole the Lakers have (well, that and their hit or miss bench play). It's hard to say that a team with Kobe and Gasol with Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and past defensive player of the year and all star Ron Artest as your role players, will not make the finals. But Houston with Aaron Brooks and Denver with Chauncey Billups gave the Lakers trouble last year in the playoffs. Could Denver take the next step and dethrone them this year? We'll have to see how the next 2 games vs. Denver play out but you can almost guarantee that Billups is going to have an above average game when he plays the Lakers, as well as any other PG in the league.

(stats from Basketball Reference)

Monday, February 22, 2010

After Monday's game against the Bobcats, Steve Blake still runs a better offense than Davis


(Photo from Yahoo)
First off, I'm not going to write about Steve Blake and Baron Davis after every single Clipper game. This is just a follow up to yesterday's post where I argued that Steve Blake runs a better offense than Baron Davis (note: running a better offense DOES NOT EQUAL better player).

I just came back from the Clipper game where they beat the Charlotte Bobcats for their 2nd win in a row. And to my surprise, Baron Davis suited up! Equipped with my little notebook and a pen, I took notes throughout the game on pretty much every possession where Baron Davis and/or Steve Blake touched the ball. My conclusion after the game stands firm: Steve Blake runs a better offense than Baron Davis.

Baron Davis started the game. He ended with 10 points, 10 assists, shot 3-8 from the field in 36 minutes. Per quarter:

First quarter: 5 assists, 2 points, 10 minutes
Second quarter: 0 assists, 2 points, 6 minutes
Third quarter: 3 assists, 2 points, 12 minutes
Fourth quarter: 2 assists, 4 points, 8 and a half minutes

Steve Blake subbed for him. He ended with 3 points, 7 assists, shot 1-2 from the field in 16 minutes. Per quarter:

First quarter: 1 assist, 0 points, 2 minutes
Second quarter: 3 assists, 0 points, 6 minutes
Third quarter: 0 minutes
Fourth quarter: 3 assists, 3 points, 7 and a half minutes

That's for the stat heads. 10 assists in 36 minutes and 7 assists in 16 minutes. But of course that doesn't tell the whole story. Let me bring you into my world of notes.

Steve Blake is a pure PG: Last post, I claimed that Steve Blake never tried to go one on five and take a bad shot and implied that Baron did. I have examples. At the 3:23 mark in the first quarter, Baron goes one on one with Stephen Jackson and gets a bucket about a step in from the free throw line. Hey, if you can take your man and get a shot that close, I say go for it. I'm not faulting Baron here. But at the 2:32 mark, he tried it again, only this time Stephen Jackson blocked him and the Bobcats get the ball.

At the 3:50 mark in the 2nd quarter, he got an open layup, good possession. But at the 2:26 mark, on a fast break, Davis pulls up from a step inside the free throw line extended- right side (I hope I'm describing this well enough) with no other Clipper under the basket for a rebound and being defended with 3 other Bobcats under the basket in case he drove- Bad possession.

At the 11:42 mark of the third, Baron goes on one one with Stephen Jackson and takes a fadeaway jumper from the right baseline. It goes in, it's an OK possession. Again, if you can take your man, go for it. But a fadeaway from the baseline? Eh...

At the 7:14 mark in the third, Baron steals the ball and takes a wide open 3 pointer that misses. I don't mind this possession. Free look at a 3 pointer, sometimes if you're feeling it, you gotta take it.

BUT HEY. Let's look at the shots he didn't take - Baron drives and kicks, he passed up shots to find Rasual and Eric Gordon for threes. He lobbed to DeAndre. He found Gooden on cuts. Hey, this guy IS a good basketball player!

But I still stand by my points from last post:

Steve Blake is a good teammate: Baron sulks. He sulks when he's losing and is cheerful when he's winning. Again, I have specific examples. Clippers are up 24-17 in the first and Craig Smith gets an offensive rebound, gets it to Davis who passes to Gordon who airballs a 3 pointer. It goes out of bounds and Charlotte calls a time out. Davis laughs it off and teases EG about it and high fives him.

Fast Forward to 5:45 mark in the 4th: Clippers are down 83-79 in the midst of a collapse. Tyrus Thomas blocks Craig Smith's layup and Travis Outlaw commits a foul. LAC calls a time out and Baron does that eye roll with a whole head roll like he's saying "ugghh!!!" I've seen this before and I'll see it again and I have yet to see Blake do it.

Steve Blake doesn't take plays off: 8:59 mark in first quarter, Kaman and Rasual Butler are fumbling the ball out of their hands and almost out of bounds while Baron is on the opposite wing, standing. 9:43 mark in the fourth, Craig Smith is chasing down an offensive rebound going out of bounds, Blake is right there behind him, giving Smith a target to save the ball to. Steve Blake is always... just, ON. He always seems to know what to do.

The Bobcats must've done their scouting report because when Steve Blake was in, they full court pressed him to stop his fast pace push the ball up the court style. DJ Augustin tried to prevent the ball from being inbounded to him and stayed with him tight to slow him down so that when Blake finally crossed the half court line, the shot clock was at 19ish rather than 22ish like the Kings let him do. Last play of the first quarter, Augustin is playing tight D on Blake and but when the ball is finally inbounded, Blake finds an opening and turns the inbounds play into a fast break where he finds Outlaw for an open 3 but he's right next to Clipper coach Kim Hughes who tells him to get the last shot, so he pulls it back out. Steve Blake, always working hard. I love this guy.

He moves without the ball. I counted three times when Baron Davis made the first pass in the half court set, and then drift along the 3 point line. When Blake makes that first pass, he sets a down screen, which on one possession, (first play of the 2nd quarter, 11:43 mark), he set the screen for Travis Outlaw who popped up to the freethrow line for a WIDE OPEN jumper which he swished. When he moves without the basketball, OTHER players move without the basketball and it sets up open lanes to drive and cut. It's simple basketball and Steve Blake gets it.

What it all comes down to: Blake and Davis are two different players. Neither is better or worse. You need a player who can drive to the basket, draw fouls, or kick the ball out to open shooters or cutters. That's Baron Davis. But when that happens, there is no movement. Four Clippers stand and watch Baron go one on one and wait for their man to help on defense and then they get the pass from Baron.

Steve Blake gets involved with the offense. He can't break his defender down but he can use screens well and if the screener rolls, he'll get the ball right in his hands for an easy layup. Blake makes crisp passes that comes with a two handed pass while Baron's passes (sometimes no looks, sometimes catches the fellow Clipper off guard) aren't quite where the player wants it but they're open enough to recover and set up their shot.

I like the screen aways for open shots and pushing the ball on offense. I stand by by conclusion that Steve Blake runs a better offense, but a team needs a player like Baron who can break a defender down one on one. I just wish he wouldn't take some of his shots trying to do too much.

Again, this blog isn't going to turn into a Steve Blake love fest, but I had to explain my thoughts after another game and lucky for me, I got to compare Davis and Blake in the same game.

(Official time marks from nba.com)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Steve Blake runs a better offense than Baron Davis

(Photo from yahoo)
I went to last night's Clipper game, a win against the Kings, one of the few teams with a worse record than the Clippers. With Baron Davis out with a "sore back," which I'm hypothesizing is, "We, the Clippers, are in official tank mode for a higher draft pick," Steve Blake is starting at PG. Based on watching most Clipper games live this season, I'm going out on a limb and saying it: Steve Blake runs a better offense than Baron Davis. I'll explain right... NOW: (Disclaimer: yes, this is against the Kings, not a team like the Hawks who they lost to the previous game. Disclaimer2: Steve Blake is in a contract year).

Steve Blake is a pure PG. He's always looking to set up other shooters, lobbing for dunks, and pushing the ball on fast breaks. He never went one-on-five looking to be bailed out by a foul or take an off balanced jump shot. Case in point: he had 2 points in the first quarter, 0 points in the 2nd, 7 in the third, and 2 in the 4th. Those 7 in the third - 2 free throws, a 3 pointer when Eric Gordon was trapped on the baseline and passes along the baseline to the opposite corner for a wide open Blake 3, and a jump shot at the free throw line extended off a nice screen where I believe it was Casspi who went under the screen, leaving Blake with a wide open jumpshot.

Assists by quarter - 2 in the first, 6 in the 2nd, 1 in the 3rd, 3 in the 4th - 12 total (stats per quarter source: nba.com). Again, he was lobbing to Deandre and Gordon, setting up Rasual Butler and Gordon for 3 pointers, and doing some nice pick-and-pops with Chris Kaman. And by the way, he would have had 15 assists if DeAndre Jordan hand't gotten a case of the Kwame and had the ball slip out of his hands on 3 wide open slam dunk opportunities, which leads me to my next point about Blake...

Steve Blake is a good teammate - When the Kings were making a run, cutting the Clippers' 11 point lead down to about 5, there was a possession when Blake was double teamed and made a solid bounce pass to DeAndre right underneath the basket where all he had to do was rise up and slam it on NOBODY because he was left open, the ball some how slipped out of his hands and went out of bounds, to which the crowd reacted with "AAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" As the Clippers ran down the court to play defense while the Kings were inbounding, and DeAndre sulking with his head down, embarrassed, Steve Blake went up to him, smacked his ass and said something along the lines of, "Don't worry about it, get it back on defense," "Get it next time," "Keep your head up," etc.
From DeAndre's Twitter: I couldn't catch a cold butt naked in Alaska last night. Will be better tomorrow, promise!!
I've seen Baron Davis set up DeAndre before where he's missed scoring opportunities, where it's lead to Baron rolling his eyes, rolling his whole head, joining the crowd in a not so loud - "arrrghh!" Blake is a good teammate and knows that getting mad at a young teammate just for the sake of being mad at him is not going to help. OF COURSE, there's a time when a player must yell at his teammate, but there's a time and a place, and it's not in the midst of a lead almost lost when the team just needs to settle down.

Steve Blake doesn't take plays off - Defensive or offensive. I've seen Baron, on an offensive possession, stay in the backcourt to complain to a ref or to sulk about a blown defensive sequence. Case in point:

Defensive possessions: on a turnover that led to a fast break wide open layup, Steve Blake was sprinting his ASS off to try and swat the ball. He didn't, but that didn't stop him from getting the ball inbounded and running the offense to try to answer with a Clipper bucket. In half court defensive sequences, he's rotating to open guys, directing Chris Kaman to rotate to an open spot, it's mind boggling how high his basketball IQ is. Another example, on a turnover caused by Blake when he passed from the top of the key to the right wing, it was stolen and the Kings were off to a fast break. All of the Clippers hadn't gotten down the court yet (Steve is always pushing), so when it was stolen, it wasn't a clear path. Knowing this, Blake wrapped up the Kings player which led to an inbounds play rather than a layup, or free throws for a clear path foul. So smart.

Offensive possessions - Steve Blake is always running and pushing. Even on made baskets. He doesn't seem to lose any energy, he's pushing the ball up like it's a fast break. In half court sets, he's NOT one of those PGs that stays at the top of the key after the first pass is made. He's cutting to the basket, setting screens (however useless they might be - he's really skinny), and always looking to make the right pass. It's fun, it's exciting, and it produces results.

Steve Blake knows his role: At the end of the game, the ball was in Eric Gordon's hands. Blake wasn't trying to win it all. He knew who his scorers were and who had the hot hand and boy did Eric Gordon have the hot hand last night. He was driving to the basket, kicking the ball out, hitting the 3 pointer; he saved the Clippers last night when they almost gave up their 11 point lead, but it was Blake who got them that lead in the first 3 and a half quarters.

So what does this all mean? The Clippers got a really good PG, who I believe runs a better offense and plays better defense than one of the Clippers' so called "saviors," Baron Davis. Back to my disclaimer, these are the KINGS we're talking about, but are the Clippers that much better? Well, yeah I guess they are. The Kings had Tyreke and solid role players in Casspi and newcomer Landry. But it was a team the Clippers were supposed to beat, and they beat them (like they should have beat the Nets after beating the Lakers and Celtics earlier in the year).

So if and/or when Baron comes back, he'll start again. He'll run the offense for the Clippers. They've invested way too much money in him to bench him for Steve Blake who's gonna be a FA this summer anyway. But I stand by my point that Steve Blake runs a better offense and plays better defense than Baron Davis, at least for one game. I'm going to the Charlotte game on Monday, so we'll see how he does against a better team.

But the REAL question of the night? Where can I buy Blake Griffin's sports jacket. Stylish.
(Photo from yahoo)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Knicks' Darko for Wolves' Cardinal - So many trades to look at!

(Photo from TonySports)
One of the reasons I started this blog was to explain to the less than average NBA fan why teams do what they do. Unfortunately teams don't act GM-wise until the offseason or right before the trade deadline so I'm going to do my best to try and write about all the trades and give some kind of NEW insight that hasn't been beat to death so far - So let's take a look at a trade that may have gone unnoticed -

New York Knicks trade Darko Milicic to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Brian Cardinal.
Darko's contract - One year (this year) for $7.5 million, free agent this summer.
Cardinal's contract - One year (this year for $6.7 million, free agent this summer.
This is kind of a head scratcher at first glance, for the Wolves at least. Everyone and their mom knows that New York is saving every penny they can for this summer's free agents and here, they saved about $1 million. But let's look at some recent news to see what the Wolves are up to:

Darko hasn't played in the past few months and in December, getting fed up with riding the bench in New York, he said
"Whatever happens, I'm going back next year," ... "It's 100-percent certain. I have to be real and not lie. I'm not going to get it done in the NBA. I'm not going to get another opportunity and there's nothing wrong with going back to Europe. I don't want to create a bad atmosphere here, but it's not working in the NBA." (Source: NY Post)
Now he said 100%, but that may have been frustration talking and maybe on the Wolves' he'll get some decent playing time. According to the AP, he will have "a 27 game audition at center," provided he shows up! He hasn't seen decent gaming action since about... March of last year-ish?
Hopefully he's been staying in shape and working out (I bet he has if he planned to play in Europe next season but we'll see).

The Wolves have a center by the way- Ryan Hollins who's been putting up Darko-like numbers - 6 points, 3 rebounds in 17 minutes a night. At the end of Minnesota games, Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are the one's who play as Minnesota's bigs anyways.

For Darko's sake, this could be his last 20-something games we'll ever see of him in the NBA. Sucks he could never get anything going. First he didn't play for a championship Piston squad. Then he got some decent minutes for Orlando averaging 8 pts, 5 rebounds in 22 minutes for one and a half seasons. Signed a nice $7 million for 3 years with Memphis (BasketballReference) - he started and then was benched his second year for terrible Memphis teams that didn't win more than 25 games. Then traded for Quentin Richardson (one of Q's many trades last summer), where he played in 8 games and then was benched. Just couldn't quite get it going. Minnesota looks like the last chance for his days in the NBA, otherwise we'll see him in the Olympics every 4 years, where he hopefully won't be on the bench for most of the game.

(Photo from nba.com)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cavs Clips Wiz Trade Analysis - Sorry LA and WAS fans :(

Can't say this year's trade deadline is a bore. The Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers were all involved in the trade that brings Antawn Jamison and Sebastian Telfiar to the Cavs, Drew Gooden to the Clips and Al Thornton, Brian Skinner and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Wizards.

What are teams trying to do?

Cavaliers - Win a championship, keep LeBron in Cleveland.

Clippers - Save money, shed contracts, sign a big name this summer.

Wizards - Save money, shed contracts, rebuild this team.

CAVALIERS!!!!
(Photo from isportsweb)
The Cavaliers get Jamison, a SF/PF who can score from the post and hit a 3 pointer. He does OK on defense. He won the 6th man award for the Mavericks. He's averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds on 45% shooting this year (just about on point for his career averages) for a losing Wizards team. What makes this league crazyis that he left the Wizards arena before their game tonight after not wanting to deal with all the questions and press. Honestly though, this guy was JUST ABOUT TO PLAY A GAME and then he gets traded! Players still on the trading block must be on pins and needles.

For the Cavs, it's definitely an upgrade, especially if the Wizards buy out Ilgauskas's contract and he resigns with the Cavs. Until then though, the lineup should feature Jamison at PF, with Shaq at C, Lebron at SF, and Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson at the guard spots until Mo Williams return from injury. JJ Hickson will probably go to the bench with Varejao, Delonte, and Jamario Moon, possibly Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and newbie Sebastian Telfair as a little Mo Williams insurance? This team has a lot of guards so it might be hard for him to crack the rotation. Don't forget this team also has Leon Powe who should be coming back soon from injury that's kept him out all year.

*siiiiiiigh
(Photo from socalsportshub)
The Clippers lose Al Thornton, the 14th pick in the 2007 draft who slipped that far due to his age (aged 24 when drafted). He was solid averaging 13 points his rookie year, and 17 points last year. Except these were bad teams with losing records. This year he started the first couple months, then was sent to the bench due to his lack of defense and great production from Rasual Butler. He wasn't a first or second option when he was in the game because the team went to Kaman all the time and Baron and Eric Gordon were scoring from the outside and driving. They weren't going to resign him and didn't want to pay him $2.8 million next year. Brian Skinner sucks and doesn't play so they got rid of him to match the contracts with Drew Gooden who's making $4.5 million this year and will probably be bought out soon. Clippers save 2.8 million dollars next year clearing space for some FAs (Contract info from HoopsHype).

Teammates!
(Photo from espn)
The Wizards lose Antawn Jamison and his $13.3 millon next year and $15 million the year after that. This team has cleared SO MUCH MONEY from next year's payroll, they're looking like the Knicks. You question though why they took on Al Thornton who's due $2.8 million next year, but that's still a net saving of $10.5 million. They're still stuck with Gilbert Arenas but they'll only be responsible for about $30 million in payroll next year, which is a lot of money available to sign some FAs.

So who do we feel sorry for? Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were saved from basketball hell to play for title contenders. The Wizards and Clippers are saving millions of dollars to sign some potential big names this summer. Lebron is getting all the help he can plus the best record in the NBA so far. I'll tell you who we feel sorry for. The Clippers and Wizards fans. Both teams' fan bases had high hopes for this year and 50 games in and both are throwing in the towel. Blake Griffin's injury and Gilbert Arenas' gun incident seemed to derail their respective teams and now the Clippers have lost fan favorite Marcus Camby and are literally selling out their players for money. The Wizards are getting rid of their fan favorites when it was Gilbert Arenas and his fat contract they'd most like to get rid of but simply can't.

The Clippers at least have a core and cap space to build on. The Wizards have a lone star PG in Arenas, Andray Blatch, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young plus around $40 million to spend. Compare that to the Clippers' Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Baron Davis plus around $33 million to spend. Neither are probably going to get Lebron, Wade, Bosh or Amare but Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Manu, Mike Miller, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal would undoubtedly find the Clippers more appealing than the Wizards (all other things equal like contracts, and if they are in it to win).

I'd also feel bad for the Cleveland Cavaliers' GM Danny Ferry who will lose sleep after after any loss this season and in the playoffs (if he didn't make so much more money than I do). This is his all-in. Win a championship or lose LeBron James.

So to the Wizards and Clippers fan base, ebay is a great place to sell this season's unwanted tickets and hopefully you sign the right players this summer. And to Fantasy Ballers, hope you held onto Mike Miller because he looks to be the best player on the Wizards right now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Make way for the other players! (Camby for Steve Blake trade)

Kaboommmm!!!
(Photo from YouGotDunkedOn)
Marcus Camby's expiring contract was traded for Steve Blake's expiring contract, Travis Outlaw's expiring contract and $3 million dollars cash. Not a lot to read between the baselines here: The Clippers aren't making the playoffs and cashed in on $3 million bucks due to the expiring contracts canceling each other out. The Blazers needed a big man for a playoff push with Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla out with injuries and Juwan Howard as their only big man besides Lamarcus Aldridge.

So Portland filled a hole in their lineup and the Clippers got $3 million and two back up players and all three players are free agents in the summer.

So what else can we read into besides the obvious? This trade opens the door for some other players. Let's start with the Clippers:

The Clippers had a lot of big men. Kaman and Camby, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan (and Brian Skinner). Moving Camby out now means that DeAndre Jordan can get some solid minutes. Although he's a raw talent mainly getting his points off of putbacks and lobs, he does play good help defense (like Camby did) and can rebound well. Tonight's game in Portland (a loss) DeAndre put up 14/11 on 7-8 shooting, 6 offensive boards, and 3 blocks in 27 minutes. Take it with a grain of salt: as mentioned, the Blazers have a 6'9'' PF playing as a Center and the Blazers crushed the Clippers. We'll have to wait and see how DeAndre responds to more playing time but the in game experience will only benefit him.

And for the Blazers:

Spin move!
(Photo from Zimbio)
With Brandon Roy out due to injuries, Steve Blake and Andre Miller were starting together. If you remember to the beginning of the season, Andre Miller was coming off the bench in favor of Blake. Miller was getting 25-28 minutes a game and the Blazers started 2-3. Nate McMillan wised up and put him in the starting lineup which resulted in the Blazers going on a six game win streak. He was getting 30-35 minutes a game (this after a season in Philadelphia where he was averaging 36 minutes a game). When Roy went out with injury, Miller and Blake were getting big minutes as being the only playmaking point guards. But with Roy coming back from injury, Steve Blake would again take minutes away from Miller from the bench. Now that he's gone, Miller will get those 36-40 minutes a game where he can really run the offense efficiently.

The Blazers did lose a good 3 pt shooter and a good play maker in Blake but the lack of size in the middle was too overbearing and they would be exposed quite easily in the playoffs (if they had made it). If they do make it, Camby fills that void with some solid help defense, rebounding and outlet passing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dallas trades Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton, and Quinton Ross for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson

Nice first step, Caron!
(Photo from Nice Kicks)
Do you remember the preseason? When the Wizards were thought to be a playoff contender with a healthy big 3 of Arenas, Butler and Jamison, the additions of Mike Miller and Randy Foye, with Brendan Haywood in the middle? This team could only go up from their 2008-2009 19-win season, right?

Well Jamison started the year off hurt with a bum shoulder, and the team started 2-7. Then Mike Miller got hurt and missed 28 games plus a 7 minute outing at the beginning of those 24. The team went 8-13 in a 21 game stretch he missed. And in the beginning of January, Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton brought their guns out and have been suspended for the rest of the season. Caron Butler is the only iron man of the big names the 17-win Wizards have, but the Wizards said forget this season, let's make a deal.

So Dallas comes along. After a preseason of trading for Shawn Marion and signing Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross and Tim Thomas, the Mavericks were up there in possible teams to dethrone the Lakers. And wouldn't you know it, the second game of the season they beat the Lakers (sans Pau). But lately it seems like they've been struggling, going 4-6 in their last 10 games, including losses to teams they should beat: Philadelphia, Minnesota, and the Portland (sans Oden and Roy - the Andre Miller 52 point game). Dallas is now 32-20 and 4th in the West with San Antonio, Oklahoma and Phoenix 1.5 games behind and Portland 2.5 games behind, meaning there's a not so far fetched possibility of Dallas falling to 8th place or lower in the West!

Contractually Speaking

Josh Howard - $10.8 million due this season, team option next season for $11.8 million
Drew Gooden - $4.5 million due this season, free agent next season
Quinton Ross - $1 million due this season, team option next season for $1.1 million
James Singleton - $1 million due this season, free agent next season

Caron Butler - $9.7 million due this season, $10.5 million due next season
Brendan Haywood - $6 million due this season, free agent next season
DeShawn Stevenson - $3.8 million due this season, $4.1 million due next season
(Source Hoops Hype)
Dallas Point Of View

With the struggling Mavericks comes the struggling Josh Howard. He's played in 32 games this season, starting in 9 and is well below his past couple of years' averages. This season he's putting up 12.5/3.6/1.4 on 40% shooting in 26 minutes compared to last years' 18/5.1/1.6 on 45.1% shooting in 32 minutes (starting, but only in 52 games due to injury).

The Drew Gooden signing didn't seem to work out either. He put up decent numbers (averaging 9 pts, 7 reb) as a bench player but said Cuban: "Damp [Erick Dampier] is having problems with his knees and requires rest every now and then, and we were in a spot without having a shot-blocker behind him. Drew did a great job. He laid it out there every game for us to try to fill in. Going into the season we thought that would work, and it just didn't play out as planned." (Dallas News) (Photo from Zimbio).

Replacing them will be Brendan Haywood and 2x all star Caron Butler. Plain and simple, the Mavericks win in this trade. Caron Butler is averaging 17/6/2 and is one of those freak athletes that can put up youtube worthy highlights with his fast breaks. Putting him with Jason Kidd will have positive results.



Brendan Haywood, averaging 10/10 with 2 blocks is another version of Erick Dampier. When Damp is out, the same kind of shot blocking center replaces him. He's a better scorer than Dampier as well (Photo from SI Vault).

And DeShawn Stevenson - Mike Miller took almost all of his minutes in Washington but he is a good defender and athlete. Although he's not a star and is more well known for his little "rivalry" with LeBron, he's more than just a throw in for the Mavs.


How is the starting lineup and depth chart going to look for Dallas? Probably something like

C- Erick Dampier - Brendan Haywood
PF - Dirk Nowitzki - Shawn Marion
SF - Caron Butler - Shawn Marion
SG - Jason Terry - DeShawn Stevenson
PG - Jason Kidd - Jose Barea

Caron Butler can also play SG and Shawn Marion could start at SF putting Jason Terry back in his 6th man role off the bench.


This is a nice looking squad. It's a definite upgrade from the underwhelming play of Josh Howard and a solid back up center for Erick Dampier. More bigs to bang with the Lakers' Bynum and Gasol, the Nuggets' Nene and Martin, and San Antonio's Duncan and Blair. Put that with the scoring abilities of Dirk, Caron, Marion and Terry run by Jason Kidd at point and this offense should have no problem putting points on the board as well as improving their defensive end with Caron and Stevenson guarding some of the top wing players in the league.

Washington Point of View

As mentioned, this team probably won't make the playoffs (8 games behind for the 8th seed, currently 14th in the East only better than the Nets). The team needs to start fresh. They've tried voiding Arenas' contract after the gun incident and with only two years left on Caron's contract, could they put something positive together for two years and re sign him? Also, there's only one year left on Mike Miller's contract and would he want to resign with a bad team? Too much uncertainty. Shed money and maybe sign a big name in the 2010 free agent class.

(Photo from beloblog)
Let's do some math: With this trade, the Wizards shed $14.6 million from next year's payroll. In total, with Mike Miller, Mike James, Oberto and Crittenton coming off the books, the Wizards will go from $77 million to $40 million like THAT. $30 million dollars give or take to sign an all star, a high draft pick, and some solid role/bench players to go along, (HOPEFULLY) with a healthy, law abiding Arenas and Antawn Jamison, although I wouldn't be surprised if either both or just Antawn Jamison was somehow moved before next season.

This season? Well... let the tanking begin? Drew Gooden will be starting at Center for sure and you gotta replace Caron with Howard for a lineup and rotation that should look something like:

C: Drew Gooden - JaVale McGee
PF: Antawn Jamison - Andray Blatch
SF: Josh Howard - Nick Young
SG: Mike Miller - Quinton Ross
PG: Randy Foye - Earl Boykins

I honestly feel sorry for the Washington Wizards. Gilbert Arenas really screwed them over. This was the year he'd stay healthy and take a step in the right direction to make the playoffs and lure a middle tier big name from the 2010 free agent class to take them to the next step. Instead, they'll miss the playoffs again, Mike Miller would leave and Caron if he wasn't traded would leave in the next few seasons. The Wizards did what they had to do and are on the way to starting fresh.

For Dallas, this might be THE team. And they'll have the same team next year with an expiring Dampier contract worth $13 million that could be used to pull off ANOTHER big trade. Time will tell for Dallas on how this team will work, but for the Wizards, close the book on this season.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How underwhelming has the 2009 draft class been?

(Photo from EveryJoe.com)

Now that we're more than halfway in the season, let's compare how the draft class was expected to be, and how they actually are now.

1. Blake Griffin - LAC
Last year of college stats: 22.7 pts, 14.4 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.1 stl, 1.2 blk, 65.4% FG
Current rookie year in the NBA: N/A
What he was expected to be: Starting Forward, savior of a terrible team
What he has been: Injured, will not play this year, rookie next year ala Greg Oden

2. Hasheem Thabeet - MEM
Last year of college stats: 13.6 pts, 10.8 reb, .5 ast, .6 stl, 4.2 blk, 64% FG
Current rookie year in the NBA: 2.7 pts, 3 reb, 1.2 blk, 59.5% FG in 10:41 min a game. 0 games started.
What he was expected to be: A (and back then the probably ONLY) defensive presence who needed to work on his offensive game for a Memphis team that didn't know what to expect from Zach Randolph.
What he has been: A bench warmer averaging 10:54 minutes, hasn't started a game. Taking a back seat to an all star season by Randolph and great play by Marc Gasol.

3. James Harden - OKL
Last year of college stats: 20.1 pts on 48.9% FG, 5.6 reb, 4.2 ast, 3.4 TO, 1.7 stl. 1.7 3PTM on 35.6%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 9.7 pts on 38.6%, 3.2 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.3 TO, 1.0 stl, 1.2 3PTM on 37.8%, hasn't started a game.
What he was expected to be: The starting SG in the up and coming/add a new starter every year from great draft picks Oklahoma City Thunder.
What he has been: 6th man for the Oklahoma Thunder who are playoff bound. Streaky shooter having off nights (11 zero or one FGM games so far) and on nights (24, 25, and 26 pt games in Nov and Dec). Averaging 3FGM on almost 8 attempts this season, so far.

4. Tyreke Evans - SAC
Last year of college stats: 17.1 pts on 45.5% FG, 5.4 reb, 3.9 ast, 2.1 stl, 3.6 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 20.3 pts on 46% FG, 4.8 reb, 5.1 ast, 1.6 stl, 2.9 TO, starter in every game he's played.
What he was expected to be: A FAILURE. Everyone hated this pick, asking why they didn't draft a big man rebounder or Ricky Rubio. The Kings wanted a new PG to replace Beno Udrih and roll SG Kevin Martin.
What he has been: The savior of the Kings and ROY so far.

5. Ricky Rubio - MIN
Last year of ACB stats (22 games for DKV Joventut): 10 pts, 2.6 reb, 6.1 ast, 2.2 stl, 3.0 TO, 1.0 3ptm, 39.1% FG, 42.3% 3pt
Current rookie year in the NBA: N/A
What he was expected to be: Minnesota had their bigs (Al Jefferson, K. Love) and an underwhelming Corey Brewer so they went for the hyped Spanish Superstar in Ricky Rubio to make this team relevant again.
What he has been: Doing about the same in Spain: 6.8 pts, 2.3 reb, 4.9 ast, 2.5 stl, 1.7 TO, 1.0 3ptm, 45.7% FG, 43.5% 3pt

6. Jonny Flynn - MIN
Last year of college stats: 17.4 pts on 46.0% FG, 2.7 reb, 6.7 ast, 3.4 TO, 1.4 stl, 1.2 3ptm, 31.7% 3pt
Current rookie year in the NBA: 13.9 pts on 41.8% FG, 2.5 reb, 4.3 ast, 2.8 TO, 1.1 stl, .9 3ptm on 34.5% 3pt, starter in all games.
What he was expected to be: Ricky Rubio insurance. Rubio wanted to go to a big city. Minnesota knew Minnesota isn't a big name city and got Flynn in case Rubio pulled an Eli Manning on the San Diego Chargers.
What he has been: Really good insurance but the Wolves aren't winning. They still need a couple more good players (like Rubio!) and some defense. There's trade rumors re: Jefferson, Kurt Rambis is implementing the Triangle offense and it looks like it will take some getting used to.

7. Stephen Curry - GSW
Last year of college stats: 28.6 pts on 45.4% FG, 4.4 reb, 5.6 ast, 3.7 TO, 2.5 stl, 3.8 3ptm on 38.7% 3pt Current rookie year in the NBA: 14.4 pts on 45.5% FG, 3.7 reb, 4.7 ast, 2.6 TO, 1.8 stl, 1.6 3ptm on 42.3% 3pt, starter in 47 of 50 games, will be asked to do more with Monta out.
What he was expected to be: Another running and shooting guard for the running and shooting Warriors.
What he has been: Just that. Only the Warriors haven't been winning. Maybe it's not the players...

8. Jordan Hill - NYK
Last year of college stats: 18.3 pts on 53.7% FG, 11 reb, 1.5 ast, 2.9 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 4.1 pts on 47.1% FG, 2.5 reb, .3 ast, .5 TO, 10 minutes a game in 22 games-none started
What he was expected to be: A consolation prize for not getting Stephen Curry.
What he has been: Bench warmer averaging 10 minutes in 21 games. Tall forward who can't get past Wilson Chandler, David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington.

9. DeMar DeRozan - TOR
Last year of college stats: 13.9 pts on 52.3% FG, 5.7 reb, 1.5 ast, 2.1 TO,
Current rookie year in the NBA: 8.3 pts on 47.1% FG, 3.0 reb, .7 ast, .9 TO, starter in all games played.
What he was expected to be: Athletic forward who had potential (all the "sure things" had come off the board already).
What he has been: Starting guard/forward for the 28-23 Raptors and plays solid defense.

10. Brandon Jennings - MIL
Last year of Euro League stats on Roma: 7.6 pts on 38.7% FG, 1.6 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.2 stl, 1.2 TO, .7 3ptm, 26.8% 3pt
Current rookie year in the NBA: 17.1 pts on 37.6% FG, 3.5 reb, 6.3 ast,1.2 stl, 2.5 TO, 1.8 3ptm on 38.2% 3pt, starter in all games.
What he was expected to be: The best PG on the board with the most upside so let's roll the dice. Plus, Ramon Sessions might not sign with us again and Luke Ridnour isn't starting and we need a guard to roll with Michael Redd and Bogut.
What he has been: Well he's led the Bucks to 9th place in the east so far at 23-26 without Michael Redd. He's doing great statistically, he's flashy, and despite his twitter problems, the team is close to .500. He's keeping the Bucks afloat and might make the playoffs and could be ROY.

11. Terrence Williams - NJN
Last year of college stats: 12.5 pts on 43.1% FG, 8.6 reb, 5.0 ast, 2.3 stl, 2.3 TO, 1.5 3ptm on 38.5%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 6.3 pts on 36.6% FG, 3.7 reb, 2.0 ast, .6 stl, 1.5 TO, .3 3ptm on 28.1% 3pt, 20 minutes a game in 47 games
What he was expected to be: Drafting best possible talent and we don't need a center or a point guard. Let's see how he does.
What he has been: Bench player for a bad team. Showed flashes of goodness with 11 double digit scoring games but has leveled off.

12. Gerald Henderson - CHA
Last year of college stats: 16.5 pts on 45% FG, 4.9 reb, 2.5 ast, 1.2 stl, 2.2 TO, 1.1 3ptm on 33.6%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 2.5 pts on 34.4% FG, 1.1 reb, 8 minutes a game in 28 games-none started
What he was expected to be: A shooting guard when the Bobcats had Raja Bell. Bench player?
What he has been: He didn't get steady minutes in the beginning, then the team traded Raja for Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray backs him up. Can't crack a steady rotation slot for the Bobcats who are 7th in the Eastern Conference.

13. Tyler Hansbrough - IND
Last year of college stats: 20.7 pts on 51.4% FG, 8.1 reb, 1.0 ast, 1.2 stl, .4 blk, 1.9 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 8.5 pts on 36.0% FG, 4.8 reb, 1.0 ast, .7 TO, .6 stl, .3 blk in 17:36 minutes a game - 29 games
What he was expected to be: Solid bench player because although he was a star at UNC, it was widely assumed his game wouldn't transfer to the NBA. After 4 years in college, not much upside so he is what he is. Plus the team had Troy Murphy and Roy Hibbert starting already.
What he has been: A solid bench player but he hasn't been playing recently because of an inner ear infection and dizziness. He had a nice December though where he got a lot of playing time and scoring 19+ three times.

14. Earl Clark - PHO
Last year of college stats: 14.2 pts on 45.7% FG, 8.7 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.0 stl, 1.4 blk, 3.2 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 2.8 pts on 37.1% FG, 1.1 reb in 8:24 minutes a game for 36 games-none started
What he was expected to be: Insurance in case they traded Amare Stoudemire. 6'10 forward who could have some upside.
What he has been: A bench player struggling to find time behind Amare who hasn't been traded (yet?), Channing Frye (who was signed shortly after the draft), Robin Lopez (who has filled in nicely for an injured Channing Frye at center) and Louis Amundson.

15. Austin Daye - DET
Last year of college stats: 12.7 pts on 47.7% FG, 6.8 reb, 1.1 ast, 2.1 blk, 2.1 TO, 1.1 3ptm on 42.9%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 4.7 pts on 45.6% FG, 2.5 reb in 13 minutes a game in 43 games-2 started
What he was expected to be: Long lanky 6'10" forward with upside. They didn't need guards but with Rasheed Wallace gone, they needed a forward. By now, teams are picking best possible talent.
What he has been: A bench player playing limited minutes in limited games. After the draft they signed Chris Wilcox, Ben Wallace and Charlie Villanueva so time at the forward position has been scarce with Tayshaun Prince starting and Jerebko playing really well (2nd rounder!)

16. James Johnson - CHI
Last year of college stats: 15 pts on 54.2%, 8.5 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.4 stl, 1.5 blk, 2.4 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 2.9 pts, 1.6 reb in 9:30 minutes in 39 games-none started.
What he was expected to be: Bench player with upside.
What he has been: Bench player averaging 9 minutes. Lot of forwards on this team: Deng, Tyrus Thomas, John Salmons, plus fellow rookie Taj Gibson (24th pick) has been playing really well and starting.

17. Jrue Holiday - PHI
Last year of college stats: 8.5 pts on 45%, 3.8 reb, 3.7 ast, 1.6 stl, .8 3ptm on 30.7%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 5.4 pts on 38.2% FG, 2.0 reb, 2.7 ast, .8 stl, 1.4 TO
What he was expected to be: Andre Miller's replacement in the starting lineup? Jrue was supposed to be top 12ish and slipped down to 17 so Philly snatched him right up. He played out of position at UCLA so his stats didn't indicate what he was really worth.
What he has been: Bench player. Louis Williams started at PG and Iguodala started at SG to start the season. Later on in the season, Iverson came back. He's back in the starting lineup for now while Iverson deals with family issues and is away from the team and they're on a 5 game win streak so far...

18. Ty Lawson - MIN (traded to DEN)
Last year of college stats: 16.6 pts on 53.2%, 3.0 reb, 6.6 ast, 2.1 stl, 1.9 TO, 1.5 3ptm on 47.2%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 9.6 pts on 51.2% FG, 2.2 reb, 3.4 ast, 1.3 TO, .8 stl, .6 3pt on 43.5% 3pt. 22:30 minutes in 48 games - 8 started
What he was expected to be: Another guard for Minnesota in case Rubio didn't work out? Nah... he was traded on draft day to Denver to be Chauncey Billups' backup. At 5'11" he was considered too short to be a starting point guard for lottery teams even though he was a big part of UNC's championship run.
What he has been: A solid back up for Chauncey Billups and when Billups doesn't play, he starts and his stats double to 17 points and 6 ast (but a 3-8 record as a starter). Good steal at the 18th pick for Denver and it only cost them a future first round pick (originally the Charlotte Bobcats').

19. Jeff Teague - ATL
Last year of college stats: 18.8 pts on 48.5%, 3.3 reb, 3.5 ast, 1.9 stl, 3.4 TO, 1.5 3ptm on 44.1%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 2.9 pts, .9 reb, 1.7 ast in 9:41 minutes per game, 45 games-none started.
What he was expected to be: Bench player for now with upside. A scoring PG.
What he has been: Bench player. Joe Johnson, Bibby and Crawford take up a lot of time at the guard spots. Hopefully this doesn't turn out to be another Acie Law story.

20. Eric Maynor - UTH (traded to OKC 26 games in)
Last year of college stats: 22.4 pts on 46.3%, 3.6 reb, 6.2 ast, 1.7 stl, 3.0 TO, 1.9 3ptm on 36.1%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 4.8 pts on 40.8% FG, 1.6 reb, 2.8 ast, 1.1 TO, 14:30 minutes in 50 games - 2 started
What he was expected to be: Best possible talent with upside, coming off the bench for Deron Williams.
What he has been: Bench player who went from backing up entrenched PG Williams to entrenched PG Russell Westbrook on Oklahoma.

21. Darren Collison - NOH
Last year of college stats: 14.4 pts on 50.9% FG, 2.4 reb, 4.7 ast, 2.5 TO, 1.6 stl, 1.2 3pt on 39.4%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 8.5 pts on 43.7% FG, 2.0 reb, 3.9 ast, 2.0 TO, .8 stl, .4 3ptm on 34.0% 3pt
What he was expected to be: Back up point guard for Chris Paul. Best possible talent available.
What he has been: An OK sub for Paul (only 13 minutes as a reserve) but when Paul is out as he has been and will be for a couple months, Collison lights it up and averages 16.4 pts and 7.8 ast. In 15 games as a starter, the Hornets have gone 7-8.

22. Victor Claver - POR
Last year of Eurocup league (9 games) stats: 9.1 pts on 43.8% FG, 5.3 reb, 2.1 ast, .7 stl, 2.1 TO, 1.2 3ptm on 39.3% 3pt
Current rookie year in the NBA: N/A
What he was expected to be: In Spain, gaining experience due to the Blazers' already set roster.
What he has been: In Spain, gaining experience.

23. Omri Casspi - SAC
Last year of Euro league stats: 8.8 pts on 50.5% FG, 3.1 reb, .4 ast, .8 stl, 1.1 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 12.1 pts on 47.0% FG, 5.0 reb, 1.4 ast, 1.4 TO, .7 stl, 1.2 3ptm on 37.7% 3pt
What he was expected to be: A solid role player. This team had a lot of holes and Casspi was solid in the euro league. According to scouts, he was a tall SF with good face up skills.
What he has been: A welcomed surprise. Starting forward who provides solid scoring and rebounding.

24. BJ Mullens - OKC
Last year of college stats: 8.8 pts on 63.8% FG, 4.7 reb, 03 ast, .5 stl, 1.1 blk, 1.5 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 1.1 pts, .9 reb in 4 minutes and 9 games
What he was expected to be: A Center project. They were set with their other positions and have Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison.
What he has been: In the D-League! And recently barely getting off the bench.

25. Rodrigue Beaubois - DAL
Last year of French league stats: 10.0 pts on 47.3% FG, 2.5 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.1 stl, .4 blk, 1.9 TO, 1.3 3ptm on 31.7% 3pt
Current rookie year in the NBA: 5.1 pts on 49.3% FG, 1.1 reb in 10 minutes and 34 games - 13 games started
What he was expected to be: French player with upside?
What he has been: Bench player but filled in OK for Shawn Marion in November.

26. Taj Gibson - CHI
Last year of college stats: 14.3 pts on 60.1% FG, 9.0 reb, 1.3 ast, 1.0 stl, 2.9 blk, 2.1 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 8.1 pts on 48% FG, 6.5 reb, .7 ast, .6 stl, 1.1 blk, 1.3 TO
What he was expected to be: A solid bench player? No one expected him to be successful and everyone thought Tyrus Thomas was going to start. Plus he was drafted at 24 years old... so many things going against this guy yet...
What he has been: A starting forward providing solid play for a struggling Bulls team. He's started 39 games out of 50 and has been starting for the past two months. Plays hard.

27. DeMarre Carroll - MEM
Last year of college stats: 16.6 pts on 55.8% FG, 7.2 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.6 stl, 1.5 TO
Current rookie year in the NBA: 3.4 pts, 2.2 reb in 12 minutes and 48 games
What he was expected to be: Drafting best possible talent, trying to fill out their bench.
What he has been: Bench player who got some decent minutes in November but has since fell off.

28. Wayne Ellington - MIN
Last year of college stats: 15.8 pts on 48.3% FG, 4.9 reb, 2.7 ast, 1.6 TO, 2.2 3ptm on 41.7%
Current rookie year in the NBA: 6.3 pts on 42.8% FG, 2.2 reb, 1.0 ast, .9 TO, .7 3ptm on 35.5% 3pt
What he was expected to be: Shooting guard to go with the PGs they already picked. They weren't expecting Corey Brewer to be anything special so they were looking ahead.
What he has been: Well Corey Brewer showed up so he's been a bench player coming in for Brewer.

29. Toney Douglas - NYK
Last year of college stats: 21.5 pts on 44.6% FG, 3.9 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.8 stl, 2.5 TO, 2.4 3ptm on 38.5% 3pt
Current rookie year in the NBA: 6.3 pts on 48.4% FG, 1.1 TO in 12 minutes and 29 games
What he was expected to be: Originally drafted by the Lakers but sold to the Knicks for cash. Knicks needed some talent to get through this season and he was young, had upside and is cheap.
What he has been: Bench player and hasn't been playing lately.

30. Christian Eyenga - CLE
Last year of eurocup stats (9 games): 3.3 pts, 1.4 reb in 10.3 min
Current rookie year in the NBA: N/A
What he was expected to be: Project to stay overseas.
What he has been: Overseas

Notable 2nd rounders: DeJuan Blair starting at Center for the Spurs, Jonas Jerebko starting at forward for the Pistons.

So in an already known weak draft, not even the highly touted #1 pick or the young Spanish PG have played a single game. This draft is weak and weaker with 9 of the 14 lottery teams drafting players who don't start due to injury, playing abroad, or lack of talent. The Clippers REALLY won the lottery and drafting the only SURE SURE thing and yet he gets injured. Rookie class fail.

In conclusion, the rookies are about to get stomped on Friday night by Russell Westbrook (triple double threat every night), Brook Lopez (only good thing about the Nets), Kevin Love (double double machine), Eric Gordon (scoring machine), Michael Beasley (also a scoring machine), OJ Mayo (also a scoring machine) and Marc Gasol (another daily double double machine). And too bad Derrick Rose is an all star so he won't be playing so they replaced him with 3pt specialist (yet not in the 3pt contest) Anthony Morrow.

All stats from DraftExpress.com

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mike Dunleavy - Bad Luck, Mate

(Photo from SportsReport)

News - Mike Dunleavy resigns as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, assistant coach Kim Hughes takes over

Coaches don’t win basketball games. Players win basketball games. It’s up to the coach to command respect and get all those players who win the basketball games on the same page. On a losing team, such as the Clippers, there are only so many times a coach can say “we need to get more rebounds” or “we need to play harder defense” or “we need to pass to Chris Kaman more.” At a certain point, a team just stops responding to a coach and the team forms a habit of losing. A habit of losing is a dangerous habit because then a team doesn’t have anything to live up to, is expected to lose, and players just can’t wait to leave the loser team to play somewhere else (Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Andre Miller, Bobby Simmons, Vladamir Radmanovic all signed elsewhere - respectively Miami, Philadelphia, Golden State, Denver, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers ALL AFTER LOSING SEASONS).


And so Dunleavy had heard the “Fire Dunleavy” chants at home games and has been berated all over the internet. But at the same time, he hasn’t had all his pieces and he has said in the past, “let me lose with my whole team.” That’s the least Donald Sterling could do, right? Well, that’s what he did. Last year, Eric Gordon, Camby and Kaman were often injured. This year, Blake Griffin hasn’t played a single game and Eric Gordon started off hurt as well. They’ve already surpassed their win total from last season, but there’s still something missing. A new coach is the best move for the Clippers.


The Clippers need a fresh mindset or new schemes and someone who doesn’t hold the weight of all those Clipper losses on his shoulders. They need someone who will command respect and can really shape these young players into a team that can contend for the playoffs (at least). Sterling can’t let the young raw talents of Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin and the prime years of Chris Kaman and Baron Davis go to waste due to this habit of losing (barring any trades that may happen).

The Clippers this seasons has the most upside in recent memory (2006 playoff team was lead by an aged Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley and an almost aged Elton Brand).


But if this 2009-2010 team gets complacent with losing and then are expected to lose, the Clippers core (Kaman, Davis, Griffin, Gordon) will wait until their contract expires and sign somewhere else and the vicious cycle will continue: Clippers will win 15-25 games, get a lottery pick, not build a winning team and a winning ATTITUDE around him, and they won’t make the playoffs. Five years later, said lottery pick will leave and the Clippers will win 15-25 games, get a lottery pick…


It looks as if there won’t be a new coach hiring this season and the team will roll with Kim Hughes, one of Dunleavy’s assistants, for the rest of the season and start fresh next season with a hopefully, fully recovered Blake Griffin, and a healthy Eric Gordon, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, solid role players like Al Thornton and Deandre Jordan, a possible top 10 draft pick in the 2010 draft, and a WHOLE LOT OF MONEY when free agents Marcus Camby ($7.6 million), Rasual Butler ($3.9 million), Mark Madsen ($2.8 million), Craig Smith and Ricky Davis ($2.5 million each), and Brian Skinner ($1.3 million) come off the books that can make the Clippers big players in next year's 2010 free agent class.


With this hopefully healthy team, the Clippers will hire a new head coach and the consensus seems to be that it will be one of Byron Scott, Avery Johnson, or Jeff Van Gundy. Take note that there is bad blood between Byron Scott and Baron Davis from their years together on the Hornets.

All three instill winning attitudes and command respect from their players and get everyone on the same page. They have the resumes of making the finals and consistently making the playoffs. Young players will benefit from being coached by them, veterans will respect and respond to them.


Based on my observations this season: Baron Davis takes plays off and takes bad shots, Marcus Camby hardly ever cuts to the basket without the ball for an easy layup and takes those long baseline jumpers or from two feet further than the free throw line. When the ball goes into the post with Chris Kaman, four other players stand around and no one cuts to the basket (See video, however, Rasual Butler has started cutting to the freethrow line to get an open jumper from Kaman).



Note these aren’t knocks on the players abilities, Baron Davis is a good player and a good shooter, Camby can knock down the long jumper, Kaman can score in the post. But the team could get off much easier shots if people moved without the basketball (something I KNOW Blake Griffin will do).If a coach can come in and get these guys motivated and expect wins, this team will win. You hear it every damn year, but next year is the year for the Clippers. They've got the pieces, they just need to get a coach who will put those pieces to play together on the court.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sometimes I Hate Sportswriters and Love Bloggers (LAL v BOS)

(Photo from Lakers Nation)
We all saw the game (and thank GOD the NFL season is almost over so we get more Jeff Van Gundy commentating ABC games on Sundays). We all saw Kobe take a perfectly defended shot and swish it in with 7.4 seconds left and we all saw Ray Allen's 3 pointer as time expired barely miss to win the game for Boston.

Sooooo this makes Boston too old to contend for a championship? This makes KG lose his fiery intensity? I hate playing the what if game, but you have to think what if Kobe had missed that shot or Ray Allen had hit the 3 pointer at the end?

The sportswriters would be writing about the other half of the game that all the bloggers noticed and wrote about. They'd be writing about how Kobe was taking terrible shots and how he airballed a shot defended by Rasheed Wallace at the exact same spot. How the Lakers didn't take the ball to the rim enough and how the Celtic defense shut them down after that 30 point first quarter to 17, 19 and (what would be) 22 point quarters. How KG was not old and was able to hold Pau Gasol to a 4-9 shooting night and had some nice fakes to get Andrew Bynum out of position, and finally, how the Celtics are still up there in favorites to win the championship.

The Truth?

This game was a toss up. Both teams didn't play to their potential. Ray Allen's shot was off, KG's defense really is not up to his par (including the play where Bynum dunked on him while KG was talking shit to him in his ear). Yes, the Celtics look to have lost a step and will be relying on Rajon Rondo to take them as far as he can go. The Lakers took way too many jumpshots and should have gone to Bynum and Gasol way more often than they did. Kobe took terrible shots. Both teams gave up double digit leads and in the end, it came down to two shots that could have gone either way.

Yes, it was Kobe's 4th or 5th game winner of the season, but that shot was perfectly defended. Ray Allen was open and has made tougher shots than the one he took with Lamar closing out a little late. It truly is a game of inches and if you didn't watch the game and read the sports section of your newspaper, you would not get the true essence of what both teams were about on Sunday.

Thank you internet for bloggers.