TrueHoop: Gary Payton

Lillard is valuable asset for Blazers

December, 1, 2012
By Kenton Wong
ESPN Stats & Information
Russ Isabella/US PresswireDamian Lillard is one of the early favorites for Rookie of the Year.
Damian Lillard came out of a school not known for basketball greatness in Weber State. Prior to Lillard, no player out of Weber had ever averaged over 6.5 PPG or 1.7 APG in their NBA career. Lillard, through 16 games, is averaging 18.4 PPG and 5.9 APG for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Although Lillard will almost assuredly be the best player ever to come out of Weber State, he should be setting his career goals to the heights of other great point guards to come out of his hometown: Oakland, California.

Oakland's finest

Lillard starred at Oakland High School a couple of decades after two Bay Area legends patrolled high-school courts: Jason Kidd at Saint Joseph of Notre Dame HS in Alameda and Gary Payton at Skyline HS in Oakland. Lillard actually started high school at Kidd’s alma mater before transferring.

So far in his career, Lillard has proven to be a better scorer than either Payton or Kidd were as rookies – averaging nearly 10 more points per game 16 games into his career.

Pure shooter

A big reason for Lillard’s success has been his outside shot. He’s shooting 51 percent from 15-24 feet and 37 percent from outside of 25 feet – both above the league average this season.

Last season for Weber State, Lillard did a lot of his damage on 3-pointers, making nearly three per game while shooting 41 percent from that range. The adjustment to the NBA 3-point line hasn’t hurt his production from deep much. He’s making two-and-a-half 3-pointers per game and connecting on 40 percent of them.

Good value

The Trail Blazers average 102 points per 100 possessions with Lillard on the court as opposed to 97 per 100 possessions without him.

Lillard has already established himself as one of the most valuable point guards in the league this season. In terms of the ‘Value Added’ metric, Lillard is one of the top 10 most valuable point guards in the league this season.

Value Added is the estimated number of points a player adds to a team’s season total above what a 'replacement player' (for instance, the 12th man on the roster) would produce.

If Lillard continues this pace as an impressive scoring point guard, he’ll quickly join the conversation as one of the top young floor generals in the league. Mike Conley is the only point guard averaging at least 15 points and five assists per game with a higher 3-point percentage this season than Lillard.

It’s been a while since Portland has had a point guard like Lillard. The last time a Trail Blazer averaged 15 points and five assists while shooting 40 percent from 3-point land? Terry Porter in 1992-93.

ESPN Stats & Information

Wednesday Bullets

November, 30, 2011
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz

Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics has been the voice of fans of Seattle basketball.

Over the weekend, Robinson posted this on his blog at

I want to thank Gary and Monique Payton for so graciously allowing us into their home today. It is one thing to meet somebody to talk. It is another to be in their house and be treated as kindly and graciously as we were today. GP spared nothing. ...

Oh, and he is really confident a team will be coming. We're setting a few meetings up. ...

GP talked about how we went to the finals together and when I asked about the team he told me about how the team couldn't do it with the fans and that we were all like his brothers and sisters. It was really touching.

Dwyane Wade broke the Bulls' hearts. Trevor Ariza almost broke Rudy Fernandez's frame.  And the NBA isn't nearly as broken as the Wall Street Journal believes. Break the seal on the TrueHoop Network.

Dwyane WadeMatt McHale of By the Horns: "Remember, it was only a few weeks ago that [Dwyane Wade] scored a career-high 50 points in a 23-point loss to the Orlando Magic. Against the Bulls, he did more than score and dish and steal and block. He nailed an ultra-clutch three to tie the game with 11.5 seconds in regulation, thus forcing the first overtime session. Then, at the end of the second overtime, with the game tied at 127, the Bulls had possession of the ball with an opportunity to run down the clock and take the final shot. Only Wade stole the ball and drilled a running lightning bolt from beyond the arc as the buzzer sounded...

Amazing, huh? I can think of only a handful of ways Wade's game could have been more epic: If it had come against the Cavaliers, Celtics or Lakers; if it had happened in the playoffs (preferably a seventh game); if he had simultaneously saved all the children and a puppy from a burning orphanage; or if it had caused the fall of the Dark Lord Sauron's tower of Barad-dûr. Sadly -- for Chicago fans, anyway -- Wade's heroic, virtuoso performance ruined what would have been an incredible and hope-lifting victory...

It was a brave and gutsy effort, but Chicago simply couldn't trump the superstar factor. I suppose you could call this a feel-good loss. The Bulls can take comfort in that fact that not many living men could have done what Wade did last night. LeBron, probably. Kobe, maybe (although I can't remember many occasions in which he scored 40+ and dished 10+ assists…if any). But that's about it. Honestly, I'm not sure what else the Bulls could have done."

Trevor Ariza

Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm: "I'd noticed Ariza before. Ariza is a true Hustle Junkie. Nothing but foot on the pedal. The kind of guy you love if he's on your side. Heck, with all the dunks and breakaway steals, most people in the general NBA loved his resurgence too. But I kept noticing that he'd dive for balls through players. He'd go for fouls with arms fully extended, often making a lot of contact. I mean, it was fun to watch. Seriously. But I kept thinking, 'wow, that's dangerous.' Again. And again.

... Maybe it was just an isolated incident. A freak play. By no means was it dirty. Ariza wasn't trying to club him in the head. The problem is not that Ariza meant to hurt him. It's that he didn't care if he did. It wasn't dirty. It was reckless.

I'm not saying that players need to not touch each other on defense. I'm not saying there's no place for hard fouls. I'm not saying that if a guy puts an elbow in your back, you don't remind him next time he goes up. But there's got to be some semblance of respect for the guys that share the floor with you. They're trying to make a living, just the same as you. I'm in competition with another company, I don't want to do something that results in their house getting torn down. You can want to win without abandoning regard for the safety of the other 6-foot to 7-foot full speed players you're battling against."

Yao MingBrody Rollins of Rockets Buzz: "I'm still not comfortable with Lowry running the point. Brooks got into foul trouble tonight and played just 25 minutes. With Lowry in the game Artest was left with the offense in his hands, which all too often led to one-on-one situations against Melo and a total of 20 shots. The Rockets play better when the ball is distributed first to Yao, then around the perimeter, and definitely doesn't work when it stays in the hands of one player. What does Lowry do differently to improve those around him? I'd start with trying to post him up against other guards. Gary Payton was the best at this and both players have the same type of build, tenacity, and feel for creating shots on the inside."

The Painted Area: Haubs delivers a tremendous rebuttal to the WSJ ... and a nice round-up of great buzzer-beaters, to boot.
Queen City Hoops: Posing the age-old question -- would you rather have the #8 seed, or a lottery pick?
Valley of the Suns: Speaking of the lottery, the Suns have left a lot of money on the table in recent years.  

(Photos by Victor Baldizon, Sam Forencich, Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Something curious happened as we made the rounds in Phoenix, asking current and former players about the guy they'd least like to see defending them in a life-or-death possession.   Three different retired NBA guards responded with the same answer: Alvin Robertson. 

In his time, Robertson was regarded as the peskiest on-ball defender in the league.  He led the league in steals three times, and averaged 3.7 steals/game in his second season -- 2.7 over his ten-year career.  Stats aside, Robertson was known as a defensive hound who took it as a personal affront if you beat him off the dribble.  A troika of former guards explains:

Gary Payton
Alvin Robertson would make your life miserable. He was a hawkish defensive player. He's who I modeled my defense after. I was looking at the NBA through him. He's one of those guys who'll stay with you for 94 feet.  If he was in front of me and it was my last day on earth, I wouldn't want him there.  How do I beat him? I would just do what I did in the later part of my career.  I started turning my back to him and go down, so he wouldn't get a beat on me or take the ball from me.  I'd back him down real slow.

Alvin RobertsonBrian Shaw
When I was a rookie and hand-checking was part of the game, I was 180 pounds.  He was strong enough to hold me by my waist. I could be dribbling the ball and trying to make progress to the basket, and he could just control me with one hand.  That's the kind of strength he had. You have to hope that one of your big guys comes over and sets a screen on him so you can get away from him.

Ron Harper
Alvin and I are both from Ohio.  I used to play with him in the summertime.  He's a defensive player that slaps, grabs, and holds.  He's intense all the time.  He was a great defensive player.  Not a good defensive player, but a great defensive player.   He was a great athlete.  You have to use your teammates to run screens.  That was the only way to beat him. 

(Alvin Robertson photo by Jon SooHoo/Getty Images)

The Gary Payton of Poultry

December, 17, 2008

Gary Payton's basketball career is in the history books now, it seems.

But no book can contain the emotion this man brought to the game. His character is just too hot for the printed page. To fully grasp Gary Payton, to me, you want to watch and listen.

Gary Payton didn't win every game he played in, but if you have seen him compete, then you understand the the man never lost anything for lack of fire.

The video evidence:

Researchers are studying athlete charities, and finding that there are not as many of them as you might think. Greg Bishop reports in the Seattle Times (forgive me, it's a few days old -- I'm still catching up) reports on the ongoing research of Michigan Professor Kathy Babiak doctoral candidate Scott Tainsky.

... they studied athlete charities in the NBA, using the most recent 990 tax forms. Of 91 players who claimed to have charities, only 43 had tax records and 41 had data.

Those players ranged in age from 22 to 40, in salary from $771,123 to $19.1 million, and in pro experience from three to 16 years. The players who started charities were older than the league average and made significantly more money than the league average during the 2005-06 season.

Their charities held average assets of $495,017, a number skewed by Dikembe Mutombo's charity ($12.8 million in 2005). The median was $17,625. The same held for the amount spent on program services, with an average of $102,653, but a median of $28,582. The researchers also found that NBA players spent almost as much on average on fundraising and administration ($49,323) as they gave away in grants ($59,628).

Two former Sonics superstars provided a stark contrast in terms of the share of expenses that went toward program services. Sixty-five percent is considered solid. Ray Allen came in at 75.5 percent; Gary Payton at 15 percent.

UPDATE: And check out a fascinating article about Ray Allen's history of giving.

UPDATE: A TrueHoop reader pores over the ratings of some sports-related charities and finds several are not very efficient. Dikembe Mutombo gives a lot but his foundation is not highly rated. Magic Johnson's foundation is not strong from a financial standpoint. Ditto the Naismith Memorial Foundation. The foundation built in honor of Jim Valvano gets high marks, however.