Thursday Bullets

January, 24, 2008
  • Manu Ginobili had eight steals as the Spurs beat the Lakers. You have to hate seeing a guy pick your pocket eight times, especially when he follows it up by passing through your legs.
  • Steve Kerr gives a mid-season report on his Suns team: "In a strange way, though, Grant's absence may have helped us grow stronger as a team. We were forced to go deeper into our rotation, with Brian Skinner, DJ Strawberry and Boris Diaw all given more responsibility and playing time. Boris has played better than he has all season during that span, and Brian's shot blocking continues to give us a boost defensively. DJ has seen significant minutes the last two games, and his defensive intensity and energy have been important. He did a great job on Vince Carter in the New Jersey game, giving us the kind of size and toughness Raja Bell provides." 
  • Kent Katich, yoga instructor, works with a lot of NBA players -- and even took several of them to Bora Bora to get limber up. He tells the Los Angeles Times about yoga for NBA players: "Generally speaking, basketball players are the least limber, and that's only because they've invested the least amount of time in the process. Every team does what I call token stretching, usually with banter between the players. Yet, basketball players seem to make the most progress when they apply themselves. Their bodies are usually long and lean and suited for yoga. Sprained ankles are a major part of a basketball player's life. After a few sprains, the tissue, ligaments and muscles around the ankle harden, so it's really important to get these guys on the mat doing warriors, crescents, trees and half-moons to keep the feet and ankles flexible. Their feet also take a beating, and that can cause the whole skeletal structure to get out of alignment. I make them promise to sit in the hero pose (sitting on their heels) while watching ESPN."
  • The Hornets are atop the Western Conference, and Ron Hitley of Hornets247 just got himself some season tickets for the first time: "I bit the bullet and committed to a package yesterday. Aunt Sally might have to wait a while longer for her operation, but at least Section 305 just got a whole lot funkier."
  • Branson Wright of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "The beard-growing contest between Drew Gooden and Washington's DeShawn Stevenson is still going on. Over the summer, the two players made a bet. The first man to shave off his beard loses. Stevenson is in it to win it. 'I have to win this,' Stevenson said. 'Everyone says Drew always does crazy things and that I'm not going to last, so I have to do it. There has to be a winner. Even if no one cuts their beard at the end of the season, we'll have to carry this over. This could go on for years.'"
  • Rookies who have been playing all season are seeing their field goal percentages fall. 
  • Portland's Director of NBA Scouting, Mike Born, explains the team's scouting approach to Dave from BlazersEdge: "Kevin Pritchard brought in a saying, I assume it was from San Antonio: 'Eyes, ears, and numbers.' 'Eyes' means what you see. Does a player have a feel for the game? What's his basketball IQ? Does he play winning basketball? What are his skills: shooter, ball handler, athleticism, size, length? You gather visual impressions of what you like and don't. 'Ears' has to do with culture, which is obviously a huge factor for our team. How does a guy fit? We do research on players so we know coming in whether they'll mesh easily or not. This entails talking in person with coaches, calling assistants and strength coaches, building the book on your man. Are they hard workers? Are they dependable? What are they like in the locker room? Do their teammates like them? Do they show leadership skills? And that's just the on-court stuff. We also want to know if they will be good in the community ... what they do in their off time and that kind of thing. 'Numbers' are simply stats. For college we look at things like scoring, field goals, rebounds per minute, assist-to-turnover ratio. We also do quality of opponent analysis. We want to know if a guy has been playing against the best competition and how he fared. We try to look at back-to-back game and one-day-rest patterns to gauge how a guy will hold up physically. For the NBA we have a simulation guy who uses his own stats analysis. You weigh stats and strengths, digging deeper than the normal boxscore. For instance, which is better: a 90% free throw shooter who goes to the line 3 times a game or a 70% guy who goes 8 times? The boxscore highlights the 90% guy, but is he really more valuable? Our simulation guy doesn't watch many games. He just goes by the numbers. It gives us a different perspective. It lets you watch players differently."
  • Rudy Gay wants you to upload video of your best dunk. Whichever ones he likes best, he'll replicate in the dunk contest. Cool way to get people involved -- especially in a contest that will be decided by fan votes.
  • Basketbawful, detecting Gregg Popovich's disdain for the media: "He may be a great coach, but he gives a lousy interview. Right before the start of the fourth quarter, the ESPN sideline reporter asked Popovich why Manu Ginobili was able to give the Spurs a third-quarter spark. Without altering his expression in any way or moving even a single facial muscle, Pop said: 'Because he's Manu Ginobili.' Then he shambled off like a zombie looking for fresh brains."
  • Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog sees some gamesmanship in Donald Sterling's use of the media to poke at his coach a little. It's not a war, he says, it's an owner communicating to fans that he is on the case and wants the team to perform better.
  • Rod Strickland is supervising Memphis team managers, and working towards his undergraduate degree. Good for him. Baby steps in building that post-playing career, you know? Something to think about young players: if you get the degree during your playing days, like Vince Carter, for instance, then you can be a candidate for fancier, better paying jobs in basketball and elsewhere after the NBA. (Via Wizznutzz, which is all over the processed meats angle of this story.)
  • Having lost arguably the best freshman in the history of NCAA basketball (Kevin Durant) the Texas Longhorns are ... just as good this year as they were last year. David Berri's numbers credit a lesser-known player with making up most of the difference.
  • Busted by the NBA's drug policy, David H
    arrison suggests the policy is not great
    . This line of reasoning would be a lot more convincing if it had not come just after an infraction. Anyone with a clean record want to take it up?
  • Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Lenny Wilkens is here and is being honored at halftime. Before the game he had a photo op with Mike Brown and Danny Ferry. Ferry and Brown were smiling, Lenny wasn't. When working the book The Franchise with Terry Pluto (ahem, available at all local book retailers and online at, we interviewed Lenny, former Cavs GM Wayne Embry and former owner Gordon Gund. Even 20 years later, the emotions involving the Ferry-Ron Harper trade are very raw. All three men got pretty heated when talking about it and all three have their own version of events. It was such a hot spot and murky, Terry and I didn't really address it all that much in the book because it would've just been these guys yelling about each other. Here's the point, Lenny's is still mad about it today and even though he probably doesn't have anything against Danny, it's probably not good for his blood pressure to be posing for pictures with him." 
  • Shawn Marion only took three shots last night. 
  • Buy Wilt Chamberlain's love palace house.
  • A really nice pass. Another nice pass. And my favorite of the three.



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