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Monday Bullets

  • It's so basic, I'm sure it exists. I'd love to know: What percentage of a team's shots are contested jumpers? They're the worst shots in basketball. And many stat geeks would generally point to contested jumpers as mistakes. But I suspect there's some number of contested jumpers that are inevitable. That's what you get when the defense doesn't give you anything. Then you'd have to look at players like Kobe Bryant or Ben Gordon ... players who take a lot of contested jumpers. When they do so, are they taking possessions that could have been open jumpers or layups and making them lower percentage, or are they taking possessions that would have been contested jumpers by less skilled players? Gets tricky. Also would be interesting to see if there are players you can stick on the floor who bring down your percentage of contested jumpers. Presumably you want those guys.

  • Who's to blame for players doing insane things to gain competitive advantages? Fans, largely. That's the conclusion of a new book by Stefan Szymanski called "Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports." It was reviewed by Harry Hurt III in The New York Times: "We live in the age of tarnished sports superheroes, as steroid scandals vividly illustrate. But Mr. Szymanski lays the blame for most of the problems afflicting sports on fans rather than on self-centered players or avaricious team owners. 'We want to see excess, we want to see the contest to be taken to the ultimate limit and we are willing to pay handsomely for it,' he writes. 'Our demand for winning is what drives much of the excess in the sports world of today.'"

  • A really amazing tale of the front office maneuverings that got Chauncey Billups to Denver. (Via Piston Powered) One key factor: The Nuggets noticed that Allen Iverson had lost a step, and had trouble guarding Mateen Cleaves in training camp. (If Iverson comes back fast as ever next year, get ready to credit hard work. Because at this age, nothing comes easy.) If you're really into Billups, it's also well worth going back to read Tom Friend's amazing profile.

  • John Hollinger suspects the Nuggets will beat the Lakers, but it's a classic case of what's more important? Playing well now? Or playing well all season?

  • A fascinating and honest explanation (and a tad PG-13 for language) of why those Where Will Amazing Happen commercials don't please everyone. NBA take note: The writer is a real basketball fan, but can't place most of those plays. That's probably not as intended. My thought is this: There will be something in promos for the NBA. Really beautiful cinematography of the best players doing what their best at, when the game is on the line ... I'll take that. This is letting the product sell the product. Show me what's great! So much better than telling me.

  • Chad Ford on Earl Clark: "After a workout, Clark sought out an NBA executive who was watching the workout with me that day. Clark introduced himself and then asked the executive, 'What did you think of my workout?' The executive gave the standard 'You looked good' answer and then Clark asked his follow-up. 'No, what I want to know is, what do I need to work on? How do I improve? I'm just trying to get better.' The executive said he couldn't remember, in all his years of scouting, a prospect coming up and asking that question."

  • What happened when the Cavaliers played the Magic in the regular season -- a detailed breakdown.

  • Zach Lowe of CelticsHub: "The Marbury and Moore signings were failures. Could the Celtics have signed Joe Smith? Or Drew Gooden? We don't know the answers to those questions. But as I argued at the time, signing Moore and expecting him to contribute was unrealistic. The Celtics bench had 12 points in Game 7, and just eight before garbage time."

  • Ready to come back to the NBA: Bostjan Nachbar.

  • Would anyone ever hire a coach just because he knows a lot of trick plays? Of course not. But wouldn't you tune in just to watch a Paul Westphal team fake punts (or whatever trick basketball coaches have) and that kind of stuff?

  • Sonic fans, not surprisingly, aren't really feeling the NBA Cares campaign. SuperSonicSoul: "Is it me or does the league have a serious case of self-congratulationitis? I'll grant you that the NFL and its similar United Way spots are a bit gratuitous, but those are 1) humorous and 2) paid ads, unlike the NBA Care spots which are 1) boring and 2) apparently gratis, as they show up as segues into live action. Further, I can see the logic behind the NFL's spots, in that they promote a charity – the United Way -- which everyone can agree provides a service. But what is the logic to promoting NBA Cares, other than to show how wonderful the league is? As far as I can tell from my limited viewing this spring, the majority of the spots show individual players painting graffitoed walls, reading books to second-graders, and making chit-chat with people in soup-kitchen lines. There is no specific action the ads -- and, let's face it, that's what these are -- command the viewer to take; no charity name, no organization, no website. Hey, NBA, we get it. You care about 'the community,' whatever that ambiguous phrase means. Good for you."

  • UPDATE: Wow. Brian Grant has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Ric Bucher: "Then the Blazers invited him to a Nov. 6 game against the Rockets to honor Kevin Duckworth, the Blazers center who had died of a heart attack at age 44 in late August. Grant wasn't going to miss it, even if he was filled with dread about being in front of a Rose Garden packed with fans and former teammates who had watched his every move for three seasons -- and knew a constantly jiggling left hand hadn't been one of them. 'I hadn't been in front of a crowd that big since I retired,' he said. 'I kept trying to think about how I could disguise my hand. And I knew the players were going to see it and wonder what was up. That's what bothered me the most. I did not want to be perceived by the players as weak.' He wore jeans, a white T-shirt, a button-down shirt over it and a dark blazer. It was a cold December day, but he sweated through all of it. Clutching his left hand with his right to keep it still only prompted other parts of his body to start twitching -- his head, his shoulders, his legs. He played it off as nervousness, admitting only to former teammate Jerome Kersey that it was a tremor and that
    he didn't know the cause. He finally decided, though, to find out."