TrueHoop: Andris Biedrins
- Ben Swanson of Rufus on Fire writes that, given all we know about Michael Jordan's competitiveness, it's not surprising he'd be leading a charge of hard-line owners to secure as much revenue as possible.
- Kate Fagan covers the Sixers for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She also played basketball at the University of Colorado while the school was confronting a recruiting scandal and understands the complicated culture of big-time college sports: "Big-time athletic programs are not entirely unlike nation-states. Everyone wears the colors, says the pledge, and sings the school anthem. Everyone worships the logo, recites the fight song, and reports up the chain of command. Everyone's committed to defeating a common enemy: Ohio State or Nebraska or Michigan. This is what makes college athletics galvanizing and wonderful. And also, for anyone who has been inside it, it's what can make college athletics frightening. When you're inside, you're often a rah-rah believer. Blind acceptance exists that coaches and administrators, those who have established the institution's culture, possess absolute authority."
- On Friday night, the University of North Carolina will play Michigan State on the USS Carl Vinson, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that hauled the body of Osama bin Laden to his burial at sea. Tarheel alma mater Danny Nowell is excited for the game. At HoopSpeak U, Nowell explores many of the same contradictions and mixed feelings Fagan has about the fervor of college sports in places like Chapel Hill and State College.
- A French parody of MTV Cribs featuring a muppet Tony Parker, which concludes with some curious plant life.
- I've received a number of emails from Canadians who maintain the NBA lockout is illegal under Ontario law, even though the NBA has a labor exemption under antitrust law in the United States (which allows it to impose things like a salary cap which would be illegal in other commercial sectors). Law professor David Doorey of York University looks at Ontario's Labor Relations Act and asks some interesting questions.
- Noam Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm has a memo for new Warriors head coach Mark Jackson: "According to BasketballValue.com, Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee, and Andris Biedrins played almost 687 minutes together last season. in that time, they were outscored 1553 to 1484, for a net efficiency rating of -4.60."
- ClipperBlog's Jovan Buha writes that Los Angeles native Tayshaun Prince could be an interesting fit for a Clippers team that's been looking for a solution at the small forward spot since the Taft Administration.
- Tom Haberstroh has a conversation about the lockout with the hilarious, insightful, sometimes goofy and always thought-provoking behavioral economist Dan Ariely.
- Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire occupy Sesame Street.
- Several weeks ago, Knickerblogger's Robert Silverman observed Chris Bosh's charity fashion event at Saks Fifth Avenue: "All I could think about while staring at the huddled masses was the original (and awesome) 1978 Dawn of the Dead -- where zombies have overtaken a mall and are riding the escalators, numbly staring at stuff they couldn’t afford in some half-remembered haze, doomed for all eternity to repeat the pointless, boring, soul-deadening rituals of their former so-called life." Silverman goes on to explain, in further detail, how sports are like zombie movies.
- Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro speaks about the influence the late Jim Valvano, who was fond of reciting poems to his players at N.C. State.
- Seattleites take note: Metta World Peace feels for you. Among the other things he misses: "I miss the refs running down the court like they have hot tomales in their pants. I miss Charles Barkley commentating."
- On his Twitter feed, Larry Sanders offers relationship/break-up advice: "When a good thing goes bad it's not the end of the world, it's the end of a world that you had with one girl."
Beating the buzzer is nothing new for Fisher. Since 2002-03, including the postseason, Fisher has hit three buzzer-beaters in games in which his team was trailing. The only player who has hit more in that span is Fisher's teammate Kobe Bryant who has hit six.
Elsewhere around the NBA:
• Amar'e Stoudemire continued his strong play with 34 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the Raptors. Stoudemire has now scored 30 or more in six straight games. That is the second longest streak in Knicks history behind the seven-game streak set by Willie Naulls in the 1961-62 season.
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: Stoudemire is the first player with 30 points in six straight games, all wins, since LeBron James (seven straight in 2005-06).
• The Knicks have now won six straight for the first time since January 2-13, 2006. Speaking of six straight, the Heat have also won six in a row - all by double-digits.
• After a slow start to the season, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have found their rhythm on the court together. Over the last six games, the Heat have outscored their opponents by 22.3 points per game when all three are on the floor. During the first 17 games of the season, the Heat outscored the opposition by just 8.2 points per game when all three were on the court together as Miami went 9-8.
• The Timberwolves lost 111-103 to the Thunder, but Kevin Love had another big game with 22 points and 21 rebounds. It is the fifth time this season that Love has gone 20-20. The rest of the NBA has combined for five such games.
- ESPN's panel of prognosticators picked the Celtics to finish with 51 wins and the No. 3 seed, following a season in which they finished 50-32 and entered the postseason with the No. 4 seed. Given the Celtics' flourish in the 2010 playoffs, that prediction has some Celtics fans riled. Zach Lowe of Celtics Hub (who was on the panel) tells his brethren in green to simmer down: "[I]t is perfectly reasonable to predict the C’s will again proceed through the regular season prioritizing health and rest over win total. Why wouldn’t they? They did it last year and got to the Finals, and all they’ve done since is make an old team even older while the Eastern Conference has improved at the top and in the middle."
- Don't like ESPN's predictions? Check out economist Ian Ayres' prediction tools that allow you to forecast everything from the price of Bordeaux to how long your marriage will last.
- Kevin Love tells NBA.com's John Schumann that he feels more appreciated by Team USA than the Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Drew Cannon's new positional system, which he unveiled at Basketball Prospectus last week, continues to generate interesting conversation. Cannon seeks to address the problem of designating specific positions to players who, increasingly, defy that kind of classification (think Stephen Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu or point guards whose defensive assignments are the 2-guard or even the small forward). Both Tom Ziller of Fanhouse, and Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game delve deeper into the discussion and expose some of the problems with developing a new model and throwing out the old designations like "point guard" and "center." Spend some time looking at Mahoney's revised model.
- For a league that's reportedly struggling financially, we're seeing a host of suitors line up every time a franchise goes on the block. The Pistons are no exception.
- Speaking in his native Lettish, Andris Biedrins tells Warriors World's Rasheed Malek that Don Nelson's comments about the young center's free-throw shooting bothered him: "When he said I should practice underhanded, I felt very disrespected. At one point I spoke to a psychiatrist who reminded me of some things, but it’s not so bad that they send you and try to brainwash you. It’s mostly about believing in yourself, because, before this season it was more or less OK."
- Here's an impressive video compilation of Scottie Pippen's defense. When we talk about a player's versatility, we're usually referring to his offensive repertoire. We all know that Pippen displayed an uncommon range of skills on the offensive end of the floor, but this reel captures how incredibly talented Pippen was on the other side of the ball. He was both a pest to point guards, but capable of pushing guys like Charles Barkley off the block. With Pippen in close proximity, there was no such thing as an easy entry pass.
- Steve Perrin of Clips Nation has a comprehensive and smart breakdown of the current 15-man Team USA roster.
- Remember Ali Farokhmanesh, who hit the ballsiest shot of the 2010 NCAA Championships when Northern Iowa upset Kansas? He's headed to Switzerland to play for Massagno in the Swiss league (LNA).
- Daily Thunder has your Serge Ibaka "Air Congo" t-shirt modeled by ... Serge Ibaka.
- Slide over, Lamar Odom. Michael Beasley confesses that, among his other nicknames, "Skittles" took hold at a fairly young age: "You know growing up I ate a lot of candy, if you were at my dinners you would know that, you know but I eat a lot of candy so from eight to probably like 15, you wouldn't see me without a pack of Skittles." On the tart vs. chocolate debate, Beasley is very decisive: "I'm not a chocolate man. I'm skittles, anything made by Wonka, you know I like candy not chocolate."
- Jefferson Boswell of Salt City Hoops recounts a nice story about his grandma and Karl Malone during a physical therapy session. What did Malone mutter when he stepped up to the free throw line? Only Grandma Alene knew.
- DeJuan Blair: Menace under the glass; menace with CAP LOCKS!
A new NBA season is like a big wrapped present.
And now this NBA season is partially unwrapped.
Between all of us reading this right now, I suspect we have watched every single game of the season so far.
Not many people can say that.
So what I'd like to know is: Who's playing well?
I'm not talking about the LeBron James/Kobe Bryant crowd. I'm talking about a player on your team who has been a mixed bag in the past, perhaps, but seems to have turned over a new leaf this season. Someone who is just starting -- because of off-season time in the gym, a trade, some new coaching philosophy, or something -- to enter studhood.
Who, in your mind, is starting to make a name for themselves right now?
I'll throw out a name: Golden State's Andris Biedrins.
When I tuned in to the Bay Area-based broadcast the other night, they set up the Blazers vs. Warriors as a clash between two up-and-coming stars. First they showed us some razzle dazzle video about Brandon Roy. And as I watched that, I couldn't help but wonder: Who is the up-and-coming star on the Warriors, when Monta Ellis is out? Are they about to tell me this is seven-year veteran Corey Maggette's time to shine?
Then they showed us Biedrins, and my immediate reaction was: Andris Biedrins? The guy who helped to kill my fantasy league team last year? It's slim picking for stars in Golden State, huh?
But check out what this guy has been doing. He leads the league in rebounding at 14+ a night, and has been scoring nearly 17 a game. Now, granted, both numbers are inflated by Golden State's ridiculous pace, but they're great numbers anyway, especially when you consider 54% of the shots he has taken this season have gone in. Last season he had his best PER ever at just over 19. (An average NBA player is 15.) At the moment, Biedrins is at 22.54, fifth among all NBA centers.
So, there's one name I'll throw out there. But who else has been impressive in the early going? Who should we all be watching?
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)