TrueHoop: Daily Bullets

Monday Bullets

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
4:01
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • It's 363 pages on my Kindle and chock full of all kinds of hoop goodness: It's the 2013-14 Hardwood Paroxysm Season Preview, in e-book form, for only $1.99. You get fancy charts, team previews, fan fiction and illustrations, including what appears to be the cover of Grand Theft Auto: Rip City Edition.
  • Zach Lowe of Grantland on the Jazz extending big-man-of-the-future Derrick Favors, and the wisdom and limited downside of planning ahead: " If it's right, Utah will have saved itself some valuable cap space by acting early, just as Philadelphia (Jrue Holiday, now gone) and especially Golden State (Stephen Curry) did a year ago by acting in advance of restricted free agency. There are at least eight teams with the potential for max-level cap room next summer, and though a few are already crowded on the front line (Detroit, perhaps Orlando), there are at least a couple that would have loomed as potentially aggressive suitors for Favors."
  • There's a fair amount of debate inside the Wizards' locker room over who's a better poster boy for Kellogg's -- Trevor Booker, who has "at least 12 boxes of cereal" in his pantry right now, or Chris Singleton, who starts his morning with "Dexter and Fruit Loops." Also receiving votes: Ariza, Trevor.
  • There may not be a lot of height in Bhutan, but there are a ton of basketball enthusiasts in the Buddhist kingdom, including Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, who has a regular women's pickup game. According to the New York Times' Garndiner Harris, "The royal set shot is as sweet as honeyed ghee, and the royal dribble as poised as a monk in meditation." (H/T Jacob Greenberg)
  • In the Philippines they hoop in flip-flops. The Trique Indians of Oaxaca don't even bother. A team of boys from the southwestern Mexico state won a youth basketball tournament in Argentina playing barefoot.
  • There are at least two teams in the league that run what they actually call, "a Maggette play," whereby a strong, agile slasher who can drill free throws will curl up from the corner, get the ball on the move and barrel towards the rim. Corey Maggette recently retired and Aaron McGuire used the opportunity at Gothic Ginobili to pay homage to the NBA Journeyman.
  • If the Philadelphia 76ers were a player, they'd be Brian Roberts.
  • And if every Los Angeles Clipper was a Ramones song, it would look like this.
  • Point guard battle in Sacramento: Isaiah Thomas vs. Greivis Vasquez. Who ya got?
  • I love a site that goes to the trouble of inserting the diaeresis above the 'O' in Ömer Asik's name. Forrest Walker of Red94 does Turkish right, and also ponders what kind of production the Rockets need from the 4 spot this season alongside Dwight Howard.

Friday Bullets

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
2:48
PM ET
Strauss By Ethan Sherwood Strauss
ESPN.com
Archive
• Zach Harper of CBS Sports takes you back in time. Why? Shawn Kemp. That’s why.

• Harrison Barnes talks with Jesse Taylor of WarriorsWorld about the latest "Breaking Bad" episode. Apparently, Barnes got to meet comedian Bill Burr, who plays Kuby on the show. “(Bill Burr) went off on how genius the writers are about everything. They really dig into proving the Internet naysayers wrong. Like the laying on the money scene with him and Huell. They went out, researched and measured exactly how big that pile would be for that exact amount of money. They didn’t just throw a pile of money in a storage room and say it was a certain amount. Also, how much time it would take a guy like Walt to dig a hole by himself to bury all that money.”

• Did Kobe Bryant jump into a pool? Maybe, as @netw3rk says, “He fell into it.”

• We know Kevin Garnett will have limited minutes with the Nets, but how limited? And where should we see the effects of extra rest? Brian Faith of Brooklyn’s Finest analyzes the situation: “Using data from NBA.com/stats, Garnett’s offensive and defensive impact can be measured based on how many days rest he had before playing. Somewhat surprisingly his offense didn’t seem to suffer at all. Garnett actually raised his scoring efficiency in games in which he had zero days rest. In the 17 games he played on zero days rest he shot 55.8% from the field, compared to 47.8% from the field in his other 51 games. Small sample sizes surely play a role, but it’s still a large difference in conversion rate. Garnett was most affected on the defensive end and on the glass in these short rest situations. His individual defensive rating rose slightly to 98.0 with zero days rest, but shot up to an eye-popping 108.6 in the February back-to-backs.”

• Marc Gasol is mean to the British.

• Tiago Splitter’s career, reviewed as though it’s an album.

• In an interview with The Sporting News, Warriors GM Bob Myers reveals that he’s banking on Andrew Bogut’s health: “At this point, you treat him like he is 100 percent healthy, that is what he is saying, that is what the medical staff is saying, so, you don’t treat him any other way. Maybe the question is, do you want to play him 35 minutes? But that is a question for any center. It is not due to anything with his injury. We’re approaching it like he is healthy.”

• Michael Pina of Celtics Hub is all for giving a contract extension to Avery Bradley. I mostly agree, but the caveat I’d add is that Bradley’s intense pressure style D could be unsustainable. It’s hard to envision a guy playing defense like that while staying healthy.

• Basketball writer and current Grantland writer Danny Chau is the future of food bloggery. Get on the bandwagon. Do it now.

• How was your summer, Minnesota Timberwolves?

Wednesday Bullets

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
7:07
PM ET
Strauss By Ethan Sherwood Strauss
ESPN.com
Archive
• Mark Cuban is teaming up with Southern Methodist University to research flopping. Can’t wait to see what they uncover, but it’s a bit odd to see Cuban so involved at this point. It’s not like the refs will have any bearing on whether the Mavs win a title. That team is temporarily out of the hunt, and likely so for a few years going.

• J.R. Smith has some words for you people who tweet about going to the gym.

• DeAndre Jordan gets punched in the face.

• The Warriors are running into some trouble with this San Francisco move. Also, though Warriors owner Joe Lacob snuck in front of billionaire Larry Ellison to buy the team, Ellison may get his revenge yet. From Ann Killion in the San Francisco Chronicle: “While Mayor Ed Lee wants a legacy project, the last time the city politicians bought what a billionaire was selling they ended up with an America's Cup that hasn't provided the promised financial windfall. While Lacob isn't quite as rich and powerful as Larry Ellison, the city is - or at least should be - more wary of vanity projects.”

• An unsung, important part of Knicks history.

• Sean Highkin of USA Today is objectively right that the Warriors have the best uniforms in basketball. He also gives a breakdown on the jerseys for every team.

• According to Zach Harper of CBS Sports, the Wizards won’t be as miserable as the included photo might lead one to believe.


• Posted a couple weeks ago, but worth sharing today: A good HawksHoop piece on how the Hawks are smartening up.

• Courtesy of Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver in Sports Illustrated: Smart takes on how far the Pacers and Warriors are from contention. I can assure you that the revived Warriors fanbase is already livid over the mild criticism in this piece.

• Now that the New York Times website is back up, you can read this interesting article on ACL injuries and athletes. Scientists are working towards a healing kind of blood clot.

• Important news alert: James Harden is partying with a “Boy Meets World” cast member. He’s the modern Joe Namath.

• This site retouches classic NBA photos by adding color. Well worth a perusal.

Tuesday Bullets

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
4:20
PM ET
Strauss By Ethan Sherwood Strauss
ESPN.com
Archive
Kobe Bryant stops by the Twitter offices for a game of pop-a-shot. Warning: If you beat Kobe at anything, he won’t take it kindly. Another warning: Cursing happens in this clip.

Charles Barkley goes on Philadelphia radio, lays waste to the Sixers, establishes Philly as an Eagles town and finally, pokes fun at the analytics movement: “The guy, he came from Houston. When did Houston get good? When they went out and paid all that money [to] James Harden and [Omer] Asik, and now they went out and got Dwight Howard. That's got nothing to do with analytics, that’s got to do with paying really good players to come to town.”

• Mourners from all over arrive at the Hardwood Paroxysm roundtable to eulogize T-Mac’s career, including basketball historian Curtis Harris, who compares Tracy McGrady’s career to “The Critic.”

• Speaking of Tracy McGrady, do check out this clip of McGrady dominating the Pistons in Game 1 of their 2003 first-round against the Magic. Hear the opposing crowd murmur with excitement at young T-Mac’s virtuoso performance. Lament what might have been.

• Charlie Widdoes addresses the Knicks' defensive concerns on their website. Will Metta World Peace keep this squad competent on D?

• John Schuhmann of NBA.com notes that the very best teams have done little this offseason. The Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs are in the top four in returning players, adjusted for minutes played. The other? Strangely, the Charlotte Bobcats.

• In an inspired tweet, Yahoo’s Dan Devine calls Shaq “The NBA’s Stifler.”

• Kelly Dwyer looks into whether the emerging Jonas Valanciunas can finally save Raptors fans from a protracted misery.

• Not basketball, but Rob Neyer has some pointed words on how the anti-stats crowd can adopt the arrogance they accuse stat heads of exuding. The themes apply across sports.

Monday Bullets

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
4:10
PM ET
Strauss By Ethan Sherwood Strauss
ESPN.com
Archive
• Not sure how I’m supposed to feel about Dirk Nowitzki hawking season tickets for the team that recently crumbled around him. Sad? Amused? It is a funny takeoff on the Geico ads. The TV spot comes after a season where Dirk aired well-founded pessimism about his Mavs.

• Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated deftly weaves through the confusing thickets of Brooklyn Nets draft pick trades.

• Speaking of the Nets, will new coach Jason Kidd be a small-ball kinda' guy?

• Which stats matter? Which are the best in predicting success? That’s the project Ian Levy at Hickory High is invested in right now.

• If people on your team are passing to you, are you more inclined to pass? There is now academic research on this very topic.

• The Suns were able to get value for Luis Scola and the Rockets weren’t. Why? Phoenix was willing to play Scola and give him the ball. Dave Dulberg at Valley of the Suns makes the case for puffing up veteran trade value: “In July 2012, the Suns claimed veteran Luis Scola off amnesty waivers for the price of a rather reasonable three-year contract for $13.5 million. Why were the Rockets so willingly to amnesty a veteran starter? Was he getting old? Was he a problem in the locker room? A year later the Suns turned that pick-up — one filled with many question marks — into a future first-round pick and a former first-round pick. How did they do it? Simple, they featured him.”

• I’d encourage anyone to check out Dave Zirin’s appearance on the B.S. Report. Zirin notes the building awkwardness over how Jason Collins remains unsigned. An initially happy story certainly hasn’t progressed as expected.

• Fun with Clippers similarity scores.

Monday Bullets

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
5:08
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Premiering Friday in Chicago: "Lockout: The Musical," by Ben Fort and Ballerball's Jason Gallagher.
  • Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager whose bid to bring the Kings to Seattle, contributed $100,000 to a PAC aimed at torpedoing a plan to build a new arena in Sacramento. Hansen says he regrets the decision. James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom: "Once a white knight for Seattle, Hansen now comes across as vindictive, smug and bitter. He is still holding tightly to a 'binding agreement' that was never really binding. By taking the next step and attempting to spoil Sacramento’s arena deal, he comes across as petty and small."
  • The sad mystery of former Pacer and Israeli Basketball Super League legend Kenny Williams, who was deported from Israel to the United States, where he's now confronting a new series of legal problems.
  • Seerat Sohi at Hardwood Paroxysm: "You learn that the whole of life is just a gigantic struggle between deciding when to be selfish and when to be unselfish. When to shoot and when to pass. When to drive the lane with reckless abandon and when to set the offense. You learn that these things are as simple as they are impossible. It takes experience, it takes a cerebral, Chris Paul-esque sense of everything that’s happening around you."
  • Never seen "Space Jam" on the big screen? The E Street Cinema in Washington, just four blocks or so from the Verizon Center, has you covered on Aug. 30.
  • When Jarrett Jack clowns J.R. Smith about spending $450,000 on an armored truck, Smith tweets back with, "Man stop it u spend that on clothes!"
  • Interesting stuff from Ian Levy at Hickory High about the rote perceptions surrounding pot and pro basketball players.
  • Roy Hibbert send thanks to the Spurs for letting him use their facility to work out.
  • Metta World Peace will be playing a twin-bill comedy show on Aug. 31 at the Hollywood Improv.
  • Finally getting around to reading "Nixonland," a fun, narrative, pulpy political history of the mid-60's through mid-70's. When Richard Nixon gets serious about targeting political enemies with instruments of power like the IRS and FBI, one of his early targets is longtime Democratic operative Larry O'Brien, who would later become NBA Commissioner.
  • If the Warriors win big this season, could a healthy Stephen Curry emerge as an MVP threat?
  • If we're in the Wireless Age, then why are we still plugging so many things in? Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is part of a group of investors funding an endeavor by Meredith Perry that wants to solve that problem with piezoelectrical technology.

Wednesday Bullets

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
12:16
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Manu Ginobili tweets that he has a deal to remain a Spur for two more years. The Spurs are the kings of efficient deals, but aging stars are a new test of a system that has basically been three big deals and everyone else cheap and replaceable. There's a big cost to hanging on to one of the big deals too long. It's not a long gamble, though: The team is lining up to have huge cap space in the summer of 2015.
  • Danny Ainge is not a Buddhist, but that religion can help get in the mindset of a tanker. Saying it again: My fixation with tanking is NOT about whether or not teams should or shouldn't do it. Have no dog in that fight, and would never begrudge anyone doing what they believe is best for their franchise. My question is: Is that really what the league wants to reward? Rewarding the worst-run teams has long kept the free market from lighting a fire under owners to identify and develop the best-possible front office talent. No reason 30 teams couldn't have awesome GMs. And there's little reason to believe this system really helps bad teams become good more than any other would.
  • Amin Elhassan (Insider): "The Clippers added two of the best shooters in the league and didn't break the bank to do it. This is the clubhouse leader for 'best transaction of the summer.'" At the same link: No love for Tyreke Evans as a Pelican.
  • Not trying to tank, but getting that kind of roster anyway: The Bucks.
  • The way the CBA is now a lot of guys don't have that much to gain from a good agent. Rookies and max players have deals that are more or less fixed. On the other hand ... every now and again you can get a fat check for not even playing. Happy financial tales from Quentin Richardson, Joe Kleine, Gary Grant, Steven Hunter, Aaron McKie and Keith Van Horn.
  • Here's how you'll injure yourself with fireworks.
  • The view of Dwight Howard from Houston: Exhaustively detailed and constantly updated on Red94. And a small note: The talk that Howard can earn $30 million more from the Lakers than another team is not an apples-to-apples comparision. The difference in salaries over the next four years is less than $4 million. The Lakers edge is they can sign him for a fifth year right now -- add that on, and we get around $30 million difference between one team's four-year offer and L.A.'s five-year offer. But the only scenario where Howard would earn nothing five years from now is one where he's retired in four years. Otherwise, he'll be making up a big chunk of that $30 million with whatever his salary is five years from now.
  • The Knicks are in win-now mode, but can they really expect to win an East featuring the Heat, Pacers, Nets and the like?
  • On Grantland, Charles Pierce is evidently seeking hate mail from Chris Paul fans: "Then there's Chris Paul, who has condescended to return to Los Angeles now that the Clippers gave him 107 million good reasons to be coached by Doc Rivers. This is another guy with a costume-jewelry résumé whom the league nonetheless slobbers over. You have your analytics and I have mine, but if you're a big-money point guard, the basic metric is whether you can get your team to win anything and, right now, Paul's got one division title with L.A. He, however, has fewer rings than Rajon Rondo or Mario Chalmers."
  • The thing about big men is that everyone needs them and there aren't very many of them. In a market like that, your choices are normally to draft them, or overpay them. (Going without is not an option, nor, likely, is finding a good one in the D-League.) So, with that in mind: Would you pay Nikola Pekovic $60 million?
  • You know what I'd like to read? A nice, plain-English explanation of the market effect of the qualifying offer. It's an important and tricky devise, which keeps a player simultaneously from testing the market or being truly employed. I'm curious why CBA negotiators rejected all other plans to go with this mess of legalese all those years ago. My guess is that the complicated rules, like fine print everywhere, create confusion that benefits those who had the best lawyers on the day the deal was written. Would be cool to understand the thinking.

Tuesday Bullets

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
2:39
PM ET

Tuesday Bullets

April, 9, 2013
4/09/13
1:31
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
  • On Land O' Lakers, Brian Kamenetzky learns interesting stuff about Pau Gasol's mindset: "'I’m reading books about the Zen philosophy and mindset. Zen’s Mind, Beginner’s Mind,' Gasol said. After Sunday’s loss, I asked Pau what motivated him to start exploring Zen in more depth (keeping in mind he used to have a coach into that sort of thing). 'Well, just by reading other books about leadership and self-organization and to have a happy and fulfilled life,' he said. 'All of them pretty much mentioned meditation, self-awareness, live in the present, keeping your mind calm, and emptying your mind.' The last couple years have been tough for him, I noted. 'True,' he replied. And the study, he believes, has been beneficial. 'It’s helped me,' Gasol said. 'It’s helped me, reading these books I think has helped me deal with a lot of stuff that I’ve been through.'" (Pau's Zen mind could come in handy while reading this, in which he is lampooned for failing to play adequate defense against Bill Murray.)
  • The flashiest game in the NBA is from the suburbs. Is that a problem?
  • There is no such thing as a game-winning shot. There is no such thing as crunch time. There is also no Santa Claus. All three are totally true and totally untrue, and I'm okay with that.
  • Larry Sanders' blocks, the website.
  • Cole Patty of Hickory High breaks down video of Bradley Beal. Conclusion: "The way Beal moves should be considered one of the finest illusions in the entire NBA."
  • Jovan Buha of ClipperBlog on the Clippers sweeping the Lakers: "Make no mistake: this is no moral victory. It’s a real victory, in every sense. The Clippers won the division on their own; nothing was handed to them. They kicked the Lakers’ butts four times spread throughout the season. They deserve all the credit, respect and praise that should be coming their way. For the first time Sunday afternoon, it felt as if there were almost as many Clipper fans as Laker fans at Staples Center. Laker fans have traditionally dominated the crowd in the match-ups, even at Clipper home games, but that’s changing. You could hear Clipper fans booing and fighting back whenever Laker fans would cheer, and there a was a level of off-the-court animosity unbeknownst to the rivalry. L.A. may never be a Clipper town, or even open to the idea, but if the Clippers keep winning, enough fans will flop sides. It happened at the inception of Lob City, and it can happen again. No one loves a winner quite like Los Angeles. The key, of course, is to win."
  • Clipper worry: Team was much better before New Year's. (Although, against a tough recent schedule, not bad.)
  • Be honest: How'd your NCAA bracket turn out?
  • The Warriors' tough new opponent: The idea they're the weak link in the tough West playoff picture. Also, they're good when Carl Landry plays.
  • George Karl, Erik Spoelstra, Gregg Popovich, Mike Woodson ... let's talk about coach of the year.
  • What's wrong with Gerald Wallace?
  • In New York this Thursday, a reading from We'll Always Have Linsanity: Strange Takes on the Strangest Season in Knicks History, which I'm super-excited to read.
  • At times a bit PG-13, but thoroughly entertaining. Larry Bird cartoons by an American professional basketball player working Down Under.
  • On Hardwood Paroxysm, Alex Wong imagines a different DeMarcus Cousins: "On slower days, he’ll take a larger binder out of the bottom drawer of his desk, and comb through them in detail. He uses a yellow post-it to mark where he last finished. They are the fine print of the company’s travel policy. He wants to suggest changes at the next annual summit meeting with the executives."
  • The Rudy Gay trade did good things for Jerryd Bayless.
  • Happy Birthday, 48 Minutes of Hell.
  • With the season almost over, Blazer scrub Will Barton busted out career highs in almost everything. Danny Nowell of Portland Roundball Society: "It’s a funny idea, that NBA players should shock us by being effective. It’s as if fans imagine a practice wherein the starters win every scrimmage they play 80-0. Fans, I think, and certainly I myself fall into a trap: we think of 'quality' as either a duality or a simple sliding scale. A player is 'good' or 'bad;' a starter is an '8' while his backup is a '4'. Even where we introduce some subjectivity into the idea of player comparison—the numerical scale—we tend to treat player quality as a fixed role rather than a set of attributes unique to individual players. Really, games like the one Will just had are windows into the players’ experience, a night where we see what they do every day. In practice, Barton doesn’t sit on the bench and think about defensive responsibility, he cuts to the rim for lobs from Eric Maynor. How odd it must be, to be a player with such a dynamic style that you work on most days behind closed doors while fans on the other side talk about your ability in the future tense. Let me make an analogy a little closer to my own experience: being Will Barton would be like writing every day, and storing my writing away where no one would see it. My improvements, my present qualities, none of them would get seen. Every NBA scrub, then, is a basketball Kafka."
  • The Magic are bad. But Jacque Vaughn has some coaching moves.

Thursday Bullets

April, 4, 2013
4/04/13
6:02
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive

Thursday Bullets

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
4:09
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
  • The Thunder's schedule is about to take a turn for the easy, and all this will be forgotten. But they did just lose to the Nuggets and Grizzlies, which counts as worrisome for a team that's used to nothing but sunny news. Meanwhile, there has been some eye-opening ball-hoggery from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Against the Nuggets, the star duo combined for 44 field goal attempts and just 11 assists. Against the Grizzlies, it was 53 shots to a piddly six assists. Remember, their offense has long been at its best when the other players on the roster shoot more. Dean Oliver and Alok Pattani know this. I know this. I assume Scott Brooks know this. But until Durant and Westbrook know that victories are on the fingertips of open Serge Ibakas and Kevin Martins ... that offense won't be all it can be.
  • Chris Paul becomes the NBA's first real-deal superstar to be called for a flop, after a whole mess of people on Twitter, and Beckley Mason on TrueHoop, insist on it.
  • Thinking about LeBron James, Michael Jordan, minutes and exhaustion. A key difference I'd point out: The NBA has changed such that guys who play very long minutes don't win titles like they did in Jordan's day. Rest appears to be more valuable now than it once was, likely because defenses have become more active.
  • Kate Fagan making wonderful points: "So, to recap: Women's basketball is maligned for not being as athletic as the men's game, but as women become more athletic, these players are often labeled unfeminine, and therefore unwatchable. Feel free to pause here and scratch your head."
  • The West's top teams keep losing to the Nuggets.
  • Is Portland locked into mediocrity?
  • Mark Cuban sure does make the NBA more fun and interesting. There's no arguing that.
  • Travis Wimberly of The Two Man Game talking Mavericks: "Here, I’m lodging a grievance with one thing in particular: the ability to consistently get the ball to the Mavs’ best scorers. As noted above, Dirk Nowitzki finished the week on an incredible shooting tear, yet had very few opportunities to actually put up shots. ... A large part of OJ Mayo’s struggles this year have stemmed from the Mavs’ need for him to handle the ball excessively, which again draws back to the same underlying problem. If the Mavs had point guards with credible fundamentals, they could get Mayo the ball at the appropriate times (as with Dirk) and allow him to focus exclusively on scoring. And you could probably say the same of several other Mavs scorers. Anybody miss Jason Kidd? Just kidding — I already know you do."
  • CBS News asked economist David Berri about paying college athletes. His response includes this: "Every student that we hire to do things on campus we pay. I have a grader. She grades my exams for me. We pay her. We pay her enough so that she will not go work at Arby’s. That is what you do. In a market economy when people do things for you and they generate revenue for you, you pay them. Everybody does this. Everybody who is arguing the players should not be paid, have a job where they are being paid by somebody else. And if you told those people ‘We have a rule that says cannot get paid. Those are the rules.’, they would sue. That is not a rule that would stand up in court."

Tuesday Bullets

March, 19, 2013
3/19/13
3:38
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • How the Toronto Raptors translate findings from SportVU into practice, and some of the thorny issues that arise in the process.
  • Jeremy Gordon of Brooklyn's Finest on the Nets' enigmatic combo of Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks: "There’s something that gets me really giddy about Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks playing together, just a couple of guys trying to take and make the most ridiculous shots possible. Do you think the playful experimentation extends to their personal lives? Like they just sit there, trading implausible feats—eating 100 McNuggets without anything to drink, playing a season of Madden with one’s feet, reading War & Peace without stopping—to see who will be the first one to back down."
  • A few years ago, we witnessed Jason Kidd draw a foul on then-Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Now check out this sequence from France of a coach trying to strip the ball away from an opposing player in a tie game and fewer than three seconds remaining. The best part? The shameless "who me?" plea from the coach when he gets whistled for the technical foul.
  • Kate Fagan with a smart piece on Baylor's 6-foot-7 star Brittney Griner, and how players of a certain size and skill set often breed resentment among fans and opponents.
  • In an interview with CNN's Rachel Nichols, LeBron James has some cheeky, good-natured fun at the expense of Pat Riley, who was on the 1971-72 Lakers team that won 33 games in a row.
  • Couldn't help but think about Kenneth Faried when I read this piece in Scientific American. The gist: "Individual stories will have a far greater sway on our attitudes, intentions, and behavior than any long list of numbers, statistics, and facts." Would a baller from Newark who went to college in rural Kentucky be the most vocal advocate on gay equality if he didn't grow up in a same-sex household?
  • Andres Alvarez of Wages of Wins delineates between big data and useful data and the challenge of eating the elephant: "The problem I see is that there is not enough emphasis on seeing what value the data has, and seeing how to use it. There is a huge emphasis on collecting more data though. We’re in love with this! Teams got the boxscore in the 1970s because they needed better stats ... Then the 2000s saw us get easier access to play by play. And we’re now getting access to visual tracking data of every movement on the court! And yet, through all of the 'revolutions,' I’m not seeing teams slow down to see if the data is useful or how to use it. No, I’m seeing that the trend is to grab more data! As soon as we get more data, the argument goes, we’ll finally understand the NBA. Except, very few people understand the data we have now!"
  • Raleigh-born, Chapel Hill-educated Danny Nowell kindly requests that you stop bashing college basketball during this holiest of months.
  • Yesterday, National Public Radio's Tom Moon referred to Justin Timberlake's new album, "The 20/20 Experience" as the bland product of a musician who is "too big to fail." On Twitter, the Hornets' Ryan Anderson solicits your opinion on 20/20. Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones has your Top 10 Timberlake basketball moments.
  • Actual video evidence that Adrian Dantley is serving as a crossing guard for a middle school in suburban Washington, DC.
  • John Sabine of BallerBall catches up with the Sonics' former mascot, Squatch. Well, sort of.
  • Derrick Williams is a large man and requires more carbohydrates than your average lunchtime customer.

Tuesday Bullets

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
11:11
AM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Brian Robb of CelticsHub: "The C’s are taking better care of the ball than ever which leads us to an important question … was Rondo the C’s biggest turnover problem? The short answer is yes, yes he was. Outside of Pablo Prigoni and Earl Watson, Rondo had the highest turnover rate for any rotation point guard in the NBA this year, giving the ball away to the opposition a whooping 22.6 times per 100 possessions. For some perspective, other elite point guards generally have turnover rates in the low teens or even single digits. They value the ball extremely well…while Rondo hasn’t shown the ability or inclination to do the same. There were plenty of reasons why the C’s offense has struggled over the past couple years, but Rondo’s tendency to lose the ball is at the top of the list of factors."
  • Key observations from video analysis of Daryl Morey's pingpong victory over Jeremy Lin (for instance, Morey has a ritual before serving, and a discreet fist pump action after scoring) from Jason Gallagher at Ballerball. I'd add a seventh observation: He dressed to win. Lin's in a button-down; Morey's all high-performance wicking fabrics.
  • Corey Brewer floats a lovely alley-oop pass to Andre Iguodala.
  • Ben Alamar was once the Thunder's stat guy, has now written a book, and tells Grantland's Zach Lowe about the decision to draft Russell Westbrook. Brook Lopez was the other major candidate.
  • Tim Duncan, returning to form?
  • Utah's in a dog fight for a playoff spot, and missed two great looks at the end of regulation, then lost in overtime to the Bucks. Ouch.
  • Isiah Thomas writes for CNN.com about how basketball can inspire peace on the streets of Chicago: "We need to teach our young people that respect is given and never taken, that reputation comes from doing honest work and not hard time. They need to know the only group worth being a part of requires giving back through teamwork. ... It can be the crucial difference for thousands of young people, whose only knowledge of a structured organization comes from gangs. Over the years, sports and play have broken down racial and cultural barriers. We believe that once kids who might be at risk get to know each other and play sports together, the murder rate will drop."
  • One of the NBA's best plays.
  • Watch the Hawks do a nice job of getting the Laker defense very stressed out about Kyle Korver. Once the defense is sweating Korver, a flood of opportunities arise for big men to get lightly contested layups, dunks and short jumpers. It's a textbook example of attacking where the defense is weak. But for a slight Laker adjustment and Josh Smith bobbling a catch, it almost won the game for the Hawks.
  • A sky-is-falling moment for the Raptors, complete with Michael Beasley comparisons for Rudy Gay (who hasn't shot above 50 percent since his first game as a Raptor). And a GIF Andrea Bargnani doesn't want you to watch.
  • Oh I love this topic. So when the ball leaves your hands, do you watch the rim or the ball? Most coaches want your eyes locked on the rim, but there are resistors, like Magic Johnson. Assessing several current NBA players.
  • Sounds like Robert Swift story has taken a serious turn for the sad.
  • Stan Van Gundy talks to WarriorsWorld about research at MIT Sloan showing David Lee is a poor interior defender: "He didn’t get a great review on that panel. Look, that has never been David Lee’s strength. If you’re going to evaluate David Lee strictly as a defender, yeah, he’s not very good. But it’s like every player, everybody has strengths and weaknesses. You’d like to see David Lee be better there but he’s a tremendously skilled offensive player, he rebounds the basketball, he’s an unselfish guy, he’s a guy of high character, so you’ve gotta take the bad with the good. And I think in putting together a basketball team you have to decide what’s important to you and what you can get on the market and everything else. And I think what the Warriors looked at is, 'Well, we’re gonna have Andrew Bogut.' So, Andrew Bogut is going to be protecting the basket and that’s not really what David Lee is built to do. Now what they’ve had to do is play David Lee significant minutes as the center because of the injuries. A lot of times they go small when they’re playing Harrison Barnes at the four, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack. David is going to have problems, that’s just not what he does well. The study is right, and if that’s all you were looking at on David Lee you can disparage him, but that’s just not at all who he is. He does a lot of other very good things."
  • Andrew Han of ClipperBlog on the Clippers' salary cap situation: "Just the logistics of Los Angeles’ payroll would suggest that a trade might be the most viable option this offseason. And their three viable trade assets would be Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler as an expiring contract. But, for reasons asserted above, essentially any trade would have to return either multiple value assets/players (i.e. rookie contracts or undervalued players) or a player on a large contract of exceeding value (max contract type players). Any player swap that results in the same number of players at a comparable aggregate price for the Clippers really does not change the outlook of roster under the new CBA."
  • Does a good screen deserve a box score stat?

Monday Bullets

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
5:59
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • When is it cool or not cool to boo your own player on his home court? The jeers for Andrea Bargnani have grown increasingly loud at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic writes that as bad as Bargnani has been this season, the former No. 1 overall draft pick hasn't crossed the Vince Carter threshold in Toronto and shouldn't be subject to the home boo. Eric Koreen of The National Post says that while Bargnani is a reasonable target, the booing borders on the absurd when fans start killing a guy because he got caught with a hand grenade at the shot clock buzzer and fired up a desperation heave: "When fans boo him without cause, the valid points get lost. The booing is not helping, as Bargnani is shooting just 30% at home this year compared to 47% on the road."
  • There was an active Twitter argument today about weather as a factor in free agency. To that effect, here's what "relaxing after practice" in February looks like in Los Angeles. And here's what coming home from a long February road trip looks like in Miami.
  • Steve McPherson of Hardwood Paroxysm on dunks in the digital age: "[G]reat dunks are not strictly physical acts carried out in three-dimensional space before disappearing into an unrediscoverable past. They are not simply performed, but witnessed, recorded, replayed, ingrained in our memories. They are spontaneously generated, but not out of the void, not from nothingness. They instead occur where the ley lines of practice, talent, chance, the known and the unknown converge to create something larger than life. In this way, they are less part of a game and more akin to musical improvisation."
  • Let's say you and your teammates make a pact to not shave until the team gets to .500. What happens if you get traded? Dahntay Jones, who went from Dallas to Atlanta at the deadline, is sticking with the pledge even though he's no longer a Maverick [Hat Tip: Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward].
  • At Friday's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Kirk Goldsberry and Eric Weiss will be presenting a paper that takes a hard look at how to evaluate interior defense. The Bucks' Larry Sanders plays prominently in the study.
  • Big guys tend to get passed over in final-possession situations at the end of games. Down one in that situation on Saturday night, the Hawks inbounded the ball to Al Horford. The play calls for a hand-off to Devin Harris, but as Peachtree Hoops shows us in pictures, Horford opted to keep the ball and back down Larry Sanders one-on-one. Horford was aggressive on the drive and found an easy bank shot from the right side to win the game for Atlanta.
  • After an 0-for-8 start from the field in his season debut on Saturday, Danny Granger drains his ninth attempt and the Pacers' bench goes berserk.
  • Michael Pina, writing for The Classical, on Kenneth Faried: "Pull any possession from Faried’s career and in some order he will soar, crash, overheat, and explode. Catch him at the right (or wrong?) moment, and all these things will seem as if they're happening at once. He seems to be enjoying himself, and he is already very effective, but he also plays with all dials squarely in the red. But to look at Faried and wonder what will happen when he "learns how to play" doesn’t quite work, either. Faried will get better—in areas like boxing out, setting screens, learning a post-move or two, and gaining overall insight on the defensive end—if not likely to the point of reinvention. He will never be Tim Duncan. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and those responsibilities will never intersect. His job, to stick with the tautological statement thing, will be to be himself, and he will always do it better than anyone else could."
  • Jarrett Jack God Mode is a thing in Oakland.
  • Stephen Jackson: Less impressed with In-and-Out Burger than your average Spur or Californian.
  • The Basketball Jones took a Twitter meme on the road to Houston, asking NBA players (and Russell Westbrook himself) whether Westbrook is a cat or a dog. Watching the video, you get the sense there are some macho implication at work here, as some of the responses suggest that portraying a fellow player as feline is emasculating.

 

Monday Mini-Bullets

February, 18, 2013
2/18/13
5:20
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
Archive
  • A nice roundup of stories written about the late Jerry Buss.
  • Which teams should be buyers at the trade deadline? History, and Kevin Pelton, tell us it's those teams just outside the playoffs (Insider): "Where trades have really made a difference is among buyers on pace for 35-45 wins. Six of the eight teams in this group played better after making a deadline deal, and on average they improved their winning percentage by 7.6 percent the rest of the way -- an average jump of slightly more than two wins over the final 30 or so games. One of these teams, the 2009-10 "Fear the Deer" Milwaukee Bucks, made the biggest post-trade jump of any team in the past five years, going from winning 47.1 percent of their games before adding John Salmons at the deadline to 71.0 percent thereafter -- a run that nearly culminated in a playoff upset against the Atlanta Hawks."
  • Derrick Rose is participating in 5-on-5 drills.
  • Video highlights of the top 10 plays from the first half of the NBA season.
  • John Wall is producing more than he did as a rookie, but is that enough without a bump in efficiency?
  • Former 11th overall pick Terrence Williams is back in the NBA, with the Celtics.
  • Good luck finding understated footwear at the All-Star Game.
  • A Pistons starter wants to play as fast as Detroit's bench.
  • The leader of the Suns' famed training staff, Aaron Nelson, shares a story of player generosity in this fun interview with AZ Central's Paul Coro: "(Charles) Barkley, (Danny) Manning, (Joe) Kleine. Those guys would always give out their per diem to the staff. When it was a few hundred dollars (players got $35 per day when Nelson started in 1993), they would give it out. Players in the past used to do it a lot more. (Jason) Kidd and Rex (Chapman), too. When you’re young and an assistant not making barely anything, sometimes when they gave me per diem, it was more than my salary then, so it was nice."
  • How Matt Bonner got to be in the 3-Point Shootout, as told by Dr. Seuss.
  • Did anyone have as much fun as Joakim Noah in the All-Star Game?

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