Monday, July 26, 2010
By Henry Abbott
- A smart look at how elite scorers fare against the best defenses. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Brandon Roy and Chris Paul top the list.
- Andrew Sharp at SBNation on superteams: "It's not a sign of weakness or laziness, and it's not LeBron poisoning the NBA punch bowl. It's competition. It's players using their leverage on the free market. It's evolution. And it could be the best answer yet to the NBA glory years of the 1980s."
- PG-13, but fascinating, discussion of fights in pickup games. Did you ever wish that some horribly egregious foul in your pickup game was on video? This time it was, and the fouler earned a lifetime ban from the health club.
- Ben Polk of a Wolf Among Wolves on GM David Kahn's recent fine for suggesting that one of his players had, in the past, smoked too much marijuana: "If your employer ever talked about your drug use on the radio (which drug use was admitted to in a presumably private conversation), wouldn’t you kind of freak out? One has to wonder, not necessarily at the accuracy, but at the wisdom of, say, questioning the fitness of a prospective first-round draft pick. Or musing aloud upon the schmuckiness of a recently retired, heavily respected NBA legend. Or making it known that the extremely personal contents of private conversations with your players are not, after all, so private. I mean, is this someone you would want to work for?"
- It makes sense to be disappointed with Chris Paul, if you're a Hornets fan. Things would be simpler, and better for the Hornets, if he would simply continue to be what he has been for the last half-decade -- one of the very best players in the NBA who never complains. If Chris Paul forced his way out of New Orleans, it might even kill basketball in a city that could really use good news. How cruel! My take is not to blame Paul, however, for taking control of his career. I can't see lecturing that guy on loyalty. He plays for a team he didn't choose. He has done so for five years, in a field where players have about one precious decade of their entire lives to really do what they were born to do. He has played the first half of that at a fraction of his free market salary (his earnings were constrained by a CBA he had no ability to influence -- first he was constrained by a rookie scale, and then mandated maximum salaries). Meanwhile, consider the team! Who in this organization joins Paul in performing above average compared to his peers around the NBA? The owner himself sullied the team's image in Charlotte, flirted hard with Oklahoma City, and now would have both foot completely out the door but for some complications with the sale. The GM and coach are both promising, but in their first weeks on the job. The roster beyond Paul has always been so-so. The stadium, the fanbase, the corporate presence ... there's nothing about the franchise that is truly standout except Paul who has been nothing but a good soldier until now. Of all the people to point fingers at, he'd be low on my list. This is not unlike the LeBron James debate that rages on, but my general thought is that humans expressing preferences and taking control of their own careers is seen as a good thing in all walks of life, and I can't see why it should be different in sports. The legacy of an old system, where that's just not what players do is not a good enough reason. And I don't think a guy who just spent five years -- a huge chunk of his career -- being a good soldier needs a lecture about being a good soldier.
- A video scouting report on Nikola Pekovic, the big man who will be joining the Timberwolves this season.
- A question for LeBron James: does he have a plan, beyond winning titles, to connect with the parts of his public that feels wholly alienated by the last month? Ahh, look, in my inbox here's a press release about James from a P.R. agency. Turns out the firm represents not James, but some Miami nightclubs. Not sure this is the kind of thing that's going to help. It's about a night of clubbing, drinking and corporate schmoozing. (It also included mention of something called a "Kobe Meatball" which is kind of funny.): "Friday night LeBron James, who recently signed with the Miami Heat, celebrated at LAVO. King James was joined by Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, San Diego Charger Shaun Phillips, Atlanta Hawk Josh Smith, Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtic Rajon Rondo and Larry Hughes of the Charlotte Bobcats. Fans of all ages waited outside the hot spot for the arrival of King James, who sat down to dinner at the Italian eatery after walking the red carpet. Favorites including Calamari, Chicken Parmagiano and the Kobe Meatball were served along with Crown and Ginger cocktails and Lemon Drop shots. After dinner LeBron and friends took over VIP tables on the dance floor in the nightclub where they danced and partied fueled by Perrier Jouet Rose Champagne, Patron Tequila and vodka. LeBron was presented with a cake from Gimme Some Sugar, a replica of his new Miami Heat number six jersey. Miami Heat teammate Dwayne [sic] Wade joined the party after hitting TAO earlier in the night and Denver Nugget Chauncy [sic] Billups was spotted enjoying the night with his fellow NBA stars."
- A trick shot video with a new kind of trick shot: Chipping a basketball into a hoop with a golf club. The arc is so low, relative to the hoop. I bet it took a zillion takes to capture this.
- This video does a nice job of showing the beauty of having a real team system, with real roles. Alonzo Gee had pretty nice summer league statistics. He scored pretty efficiently, and did a lot of other stuff too. So, will he make the Spurs? At 48 Minutes of Hell, they are clear that the way to do so would be for him to be an outstanding perimeter defender who can hit the corner 3. And for all of his athleticism and dunking ability, the role for a player like him on a team like is to play D and punish opponents for doubling the superstars. And at those tasks, the video rveals Gee had a less impressive summer than his overall stats would suggest. There a few examples of a lack of focus on defense, and he only hit one corner 3 all week. The bet is that the Spurs will pass on Gee, which helps them focus that roster spot and those minutes on players they know to be more ready to help Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan do their best work.
- The story has long been that Joe Dumars is one of the best GMs in sports, especially after he built a title-winning team. But then he hit a fairly extended rough patch, and essentially oversaw the opposite of a title-winning team, by taking a good team and changing it into a bad one. So, where does Dumars rank among GMs now? Which part of that was the anomaly?
- A Bulls blogger noting Tracy McGrady poor career shooting stats, and having a hard time getting excited about seeing him in a Bulls uniform. A Celtics blogger rejoices that McGrady won't be wearing green.
- Wayne Winston's forecast calls for 66 wins in Miami.
- Anthony Randolph is a good rebounder and shot-blocker. His weakness is scoring efficiency, but that's something that tends to get better with age.
- Vintage footage of Paul Allen rocking out.
- More on the way in terms of whether or not Miami is a hoops town, but here's an interesting take: Miami is an event town. Does that work? To me that's a little like telling your jealous girlfriend: "Look how many girlfriends I've had! I'm clearly way into girls ... How could you doubt our relationship?" In other words, will Miami be there for the Heat? If the Heat are fantastic, yes. If not ... we'll see.
- David Berri, author of "Stumbling on Wins," in an interview with Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns, talking about a Suns team famous for its good chemistry: "Chemistry is a term often used in discussing sports. But it’s not often defined. What I tend to see is that a team exceeds expectations. Consequently people argue the team has 'good chemistry.' Or a team -- like the Knicks under Isiah Thomas -- fails to meet expectations. Then the team is described as having 'bad chemistry.' In 'Stumbling on Wins,' though, we present evidence that the Knicks under Isiah didn’t have 'bad chemistry.' They just had a collection of players who were not quite that good."
- Is Javale McGee what ails Team USA?