TrueHoop: International Basketball
- More Coach Wooden, on his 99th birthday, as relayed by Esquire: "Coming off the floor after the NCAA semifinal win over Louisville in 1975, it just hit me: Time to go. It was an emotional thing. I can't explain it. I went to the dressing room, congratulated my players. I said, 'I don't know how we'll do against Kentucky, but regardless of the outcome, I never had a team give me more pleasure. It's been a great year, and I'm proud of you. This will be the last team I'll ever coach.'"
- Baron Davis' tactical advantage, in video.
- The Magic shoot the lights out.
- Joakim Noah made three hook shots in one game. He was also a monster getting blocks and rebounds.
- The suggestion Paul Pierce would re-work his contract to help the Celtics get more talent in the long run. (First discussed here.)
- Optimism, from a plus/minus expert, about Kevin Durant's future. Also, Wayne Winston's plus/minus case for Russell Westbrook. And, a smart look at how other Thunder players performed with and without Durant.
- Pistons fans are in love with Will Bynum.
- It's in the realm of possibility that Jerry Sloan could end his career with more wins than any other NBA coach.
- Phil Jackson is a big believer that geography can play a big role in helping a team win.
Some jerk beat Chris Bosh to registering the domain www.chrisbosh.com. So Bosh went after the cybersquatter. All sorts of legal wrangling later, Bosh has won damages, his domain ... and a zillion other domains the same guy had been squatting.
There are nearly 800 names in the list, and Bosh and his internet consultant, Hadi Teherany of Max Deal, say they'll return them all to their rightful owners for free.
Which means a good chunk of the basketball world will be owing Bosh a favor. The list is thick with basketball players in the NBA, overseas, college and high school. There are also some football players, political sites, Britney Spears' child, singers, a site or two that sound raunchy, and the Mexican wrestler "El Octagon."
Just a few of the many NBA names on the list:
(Also on the list is AaronAfflalo.com, even though that Denver player spells his first name "Arron.") The vast list of names also includes instructions for athletes and celebrities to get their names back from Bosh, if they wish. Paging El Octagon ...
- Bret LaGree of Hoopinion on Larry Brown's ejection via replacement referee: "Larry got his 2nd T from Kevin Scott, who never got within 35 feet of Brown before, during, or after the call. Brown tried to engage any of the refs on the occasion of his ejection but none would speak with or possibly even look at him. Rather than deal with the issue directly, Scott walked to the opposite end of the court and appeared to attempt to enlist a befuddled police officer in asking/making Brown leave the court."
- The Knicks and Nets have both claimed to have the most cap space of any team in 2010. Who's right?
- The Bulls like each other.
- Dean Oliver, the Denver Nuggets' statistical consultant, and the case for drafting Ty Lawson. Also, I think Oliver is in a very small club of team stats experts: He gets to inform the front office on personnel decisions, and the coaching staff on game strategy. Also, Lawson was part of a Nugget lineup that played very well in Beijing.
- Hope in Philadelphia, where a 3-0 preseason has people feeling good. Elton Brand tells Philadunkia: "All the major injuries are totally behind me and I feel great. Plus Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala have gotten better over the summer as well as I so we're going to have a good formidable team."
- The Blazers -- one of those teams that has had a messed up cable deal that makes it hard for some fans to watch games -- say that by January they hope to have video of every game streaming live on their website, which would be an NBA first.
- Jermaine Taylor and Chase Budinger didn't get a lot of attention on draft day, but they're looking pretty good in preseason.
- Rasual Butler makes the Clippers better.
- Gregg Popovich has inspired winemakers, and now vegetable growers.
- Kevin Durant's one-game plus/minus in last night's OT victory over the Suns: plus-24. That's what I'm talking about!
- An old video clip of Delonte West and Paul Pierce, pre-Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett trades, talking about how good the Celtics are going to be.
- In my review of SonicsGate yesterday, I listed four goals of the movie. Producer Adam Brown adds two more: To preserve the history of the Seattle SuperSonics. Since that history is now officially owned by Clay Bennett, we needed to document some of the good times as well as the team's demise. OKC didn't celebrate in June 1979, and they didn't cry in May 1994. We did, and we deserve this document to remind us of that. Also, to get the issue back in people's mouths here in Washington with the primary goal of getting an NBA team back. Ultimately we have to convince our politicians that a 50% privately funded arena deal will create jobs and boost the economy while allowing us to regain this cultural asset."
- Malcolm Gladwell on the ethics of a gladiator mentality.
- Shocking bit of news: Wayne Winston, the Indiana University professor I have quoted extensively in the last couple of weeks, and has been Mark Cuban's statistical consultant for the last nine years, just told me that his contract with the Mavericks has not been renewed. He assures me it's not related to his spilling the beans to TrueHoop. Winston has a professor job, and a book that just came out, and says he has not yet put much thought into whether or not he'll pursue work with other teams.
- It's probably time to stop thinking as players from the EuroLeague as raw projects, compared to, say, NCAA players. Consider the resume of young King Omri Casspi: He scored nine points in 18 minutes a game in the Euroleague, shooting 52% from the floor. Do those numbers mean anything? It's easy to make a case that his competition -- all grown men -- was better than an NCAA title team. In his final game of the season he shared the court with Carlos Arroyo, Dee Brown, Daniel Santiago, Juan Carlos Navarro, (current Buck) Ersan Ilyasova, Fran Vasquez, and (current Rocket) David Andersen among others.
- 20 points, 11 rebounds, eight blocks ... meet the new Roy Hibbert! (He's a Pacer, in case you didn't know.) His college coach is not surprised.
- Since Bill Davidson's death, the ownership picture of the Pistons has been a little unclear. The insight: Per Davidson's will, the team is being run by a committee featuring his widow, the president of Palace Sports and Entertainment, and some other unknown people. So, is that clear?
- If you're mad that you can't watch your team on TV this preseason, talk to Dwight Jaynes: "I cannot believe the sense of entitlement among today's sports fans. Sorry, kiddos, but right here you're going to have to hear an old guy give you one of those 'back in my day' talks. You see, when I was growing up, you got one Game of the Week in baseball (and it was usually the Yankees). One (if you were lucky) pro basketball game of the week, maybe a Notre Dame football game on Saturday -- you've probably heard all about it. And for most of the life of the Portland Trail Blazers the philosophy was that you didn't give your games away on television. At most, there were 20 televised games a season. That was it. But this season every single regular-season Trail Blazer game will be on television. Now some people without Comcast won't get all those games, but the fact is, a majority of the people in this market will be able to see every game. To a guy like me, that's pretty incredible. And I guess it makes people moaning about no telecasts of exhibition games seem kind of petty. I mean, really? Really? When every single REAL game is available to you? Sorry, but I just can't muster up much of a sense of injustice over this one. Be patient. You're going to see plenty of games."
Marc Stein writes:
A couple notes of clarification on the prospect of Golden State dealing Stephen Jackson to Cleveland in a swap featuring Zydrunas Ilgauskas, as introduced earlier Friday in this piece from the Contra Costa Times and brought to our attention, as always, by the boys at HoopsHype:
- Multiple plugged-in sources insist that these are not active discussions. It's no secret that the Warriors did make several calls before the season to gauge Captain Jack's value after Jackson's bombshell about wanting to be dealt to the Cavs, Knicks or one of the three Texas teams. But Golden State's talks with Cleveland were "nothing substantive," according to one source.
- As our man Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer succinctly explained today via his Twitter feed, Cleveland's willingness to take on even more salary in trades than it already has does not mean that the Cavs are prepared to surrender a big man in the exchange unless they get a certifiable "star" back. Reason being: Cleveland knows it needs extra size if it wants to get past Orlando and Boston in the East and the Lakers in a theoretical Finals matchup.
- A theoretical Cavs-Warriors deal headlined by Jackson and Ilgauskas -- who's in the final year of his contract at $11.5 million -- would only provide Golden State with payroll relief. That's a big deal, but the Warriors would ideally like to bring back at least one player for the future (with a reasonable contract) if they're going to part with someone as important as Jackson, whereas I get the feeling that Cleveland is likely only willing to part with the likes of Daniel Gibson or Delonte West in addition to Ilgauskas.
- The reality remains that moving Jackson is going to be very difficult for the Warriors even if they decide they want to ship him out because his three-year, $27.8 million extension doesn't even kick in until next season. But the sense I get is that they're not pushing hard for a deal right now. It's simply too early in the season. In a month or three, maybe Cleveland or some other contender might be desperate (or at least looking) to add a difference-maker like Jackson. No team, in this economic climate, is going to absorb that sort of salary commitment before we even get to mid-October.
All signs strongly point to Captain Jack starting the season with the Dubs.
- A prediction this year's champion will come from the East, where David Berri's numbers say Orlando, Boston and Cleveland are far ahead of the rest of the conference.
- They asked all the Blazers which NBA players they respect the most. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan tie for first with three votes each.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts has the messiest locker of all Nets, and he doesn't like getting taped up for games, because the tape hurts the skin on the bottom of his feet. Also, word that Douglas-Roberts and Courtney Lee are locked into a "nasty" battle for playing time.
- The Madrid team's whole starting front line is injured for their exhibition against the Jazz this afternoon. Madrid's new coach, Ettore Messina, blogs about the slow work of integrating many new players. On Sports.ru, he also writes about a player who won't be playing for Madrid: "As we agreed terms with [Pablo] Prigioni, a possibility to talk to Ricky Rubio came up. So, good offers were made both to Joventut Badalona and the player himself. After a week of thinking, Ricky decided that he wanted to spend the following two years (before leaving for the NBA) in Barcelona, close to his family and friends. At that point there was no way persuading him to come to Madrid. Though, obviously, we still wish him good luck." Worth noting that Messina has the impression Rubio will come to the NBA in two years -- even though it would make financial sense to wait for three.
- Antawn Jamison doing yoga.
- Sergio Rodriguez, for a moment, forgot which team he was on.
- I have a pet theory that long players who can hit open jumpers, pass and play D all over the court are super valuable to any team. Suns rookie Earl Clark could be one of those guys.
- Weird thing: Dennis Rodman is one of the best players in NBA history, thanks to the fact that nobody has really ever rebounded like he did. That's what makes him great. Yet it's clearly not what people most loved about him. Here's how I know that: I just spent 20 minutes trying to find a really good highlight reel of his rebounding prowess. I thought it would be something we could all learn from, especially about recognizing and pursuing rebounds out of your area. And there are a zillion highlight reels of the guy. But as far as I can tell just about all of them are mostly dunks, fights, blocks, 3-pointers and clowning. It feels a little like we love those elements of basketball so much that even when we're celebrating a great rebounder, we won't actually do so with, you know, rebounds.
- It's getting to be just about time for Julian Wright to show what he can do. How did the young Hornet fare in a preseason game against the Hawks? Bret LaGree of Hoopinion was there: "Julian Wright has a great (I fear it may be an innate) ability to overcomplicate a situation, to try to squeeze three moves into a play where only one is necessary but that wasn't in evidence tonight. At the start of the game, he and Morris Peterson would spot up outside the arc, leaving the paint (extended) to Paul and West, maybe Sean Marks if he set a ball-screen for Paul. Wright would cut to the basket if his man helped defensively. The three he missed was in rhythm and as good a look from that range as he's likely to have. The 16' jumper he made on the baseline in third quarter looked very instinctual. He was far superior to the Hawks 2nd/3rd string in the fourth quarter."
- The assertion that if roles were reversed -- Will Bynum has been a first-round pick, and Rodney Stuckey had been undrafted -- Bynum would be the Pistons' starter.
- "More Than a Game" -- the LeBron James documentary -- is said to rank up there in the sports documentary world with the Muhammad Ali story "When We Were Kings." High praise, indeed.
- "We Believe" proved to be a bad tagline for the Clippers.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The officiating by the replacements was so atrocious that fill-in official Robbie Robinson could become the first referee to ever be fired twice by the NBA."
- Clark Matthews, writing for Daily Thunder, on the cheap seats in Oklahoma City: "Do we have to keep calling the third tier 'Loud City?' I know the Hornet marketing team, which did an excellent job selling the sport to this market, came up with the idea, and a lot of people have embraced this, but I've sat up there a lot. It isn't loud and it's not a city."
- Pacer rookie A.J. Price wore the wrong gear to practice and couldn't be in the team photo. Travis Diener, writing on the Indianapolis Star's website: "Those darn rookies. You've got to hold their hands through everything."
From the archives, a nice little tribute to Vlade Divac.
They ask Del Harris if he taught Vlade Divac how to flop. He cracks up. "Did I teach Vlade Divac how to flop? Are you kidding me? He came over here and taught the whole NBA how to flop."
Earlier today I filled out a survey that asked me to name the best international player not in the NBA.
Tough one, right?
Just to jog my memory as to some candidates, I looked up at the players who won individual awards last year in the Euroleague. One of them was Panathinaikos big man Nikola Pekovic, whom the Wolves drafted 31st in 2008. I fired up some YouTube of him, and after less than a minute in to the first one, I was convinced he was not the best player in Europe.
Here's what I learned from that minute: When you lay the this is amazing video treatment -- the dramatic music, the slow-motion replays from multiple angles -- you are sending (surprise surprise) the message that this is your idea of amazing.
Watch. Sure, there's plenty to like there. He's big. He makes buckets different ways.
But it was not amazing. He shuffles his feet in the post, he avoids the use of his left hand, he camps in the lane, he looks generally earthbound ... this is your highlight reel?
I realize they're all plays from one key game in which he had a killer stat line. My point: Tone it down! Build some credibility! In being so eager to convince us YouTube viewers that Pekovic was not just good but amazing, they actually made me doubt their judgment entirely. In reality, he has won a ton and there's lots of reason to believe he can contribute to an elite team. But if I had to judge based on just this one short video, I'd be worried that this might be the best video there was of him. The producers want to convince us he's majestic, and I'm getting the opposite message.
- After all the Michael Beasley turmoil this off-season, and talking to so many people he's close to ... I have to say that I am 500% rooting for that guy to have a great year. He's mega-talented, and could be an MVP-type NBA player. It's a good thing for people to achieve their potential, and Chris Sheridan's (Insider) report from Heat training camp says that Beasley has been an absolute beast so far. For instance, on their tough sprint testing, he beat last year's time by ten seconds. I hope it's a sign of good things to come.
- The L.A. Times has sources who say the Lakers and Kobe Bryant are homing in on a contract extension.
- Kobe Bryant vs. Derrick Rose, in video game trash talk. Rose "can't even get to the second round."
- Congratulations to Rob Neyer, Jamie Greenthal et al for launching the SweetSpot Network, which is sort of like the TrueHoop Network, but for baseball.
- The Timberwolves' expanding international audience.
- Remember Wayne Winston said that every lineup with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol was really really good? Consider that Andrew Bynum wants to be on the floor to close games. Phil Jackson is unconvinced. And, thanks to loose ligaments, Bynum's knees have been called "ticking time bombs," which doesn't seem like a nice thing to say to somebody. UPDATE: Also worth noting, John Hollinger's projection system projects Bynum to contribute more than Kobe Bryant or any other Laker this season.
- According to PER, Boris Diaw played better in Charlotte than he did earlier in Phoenix. Was that an aberration, or did the new situation make a permanent improvement? Should we expect the "typical" Diaw this season, or the new one?
- A proudly geeky tool to help you compare lineups per possession instead of per minute. (Via The Two Man Game)
- Bret Lagree of Hoopinion with observations from Hawks' training camp: "Josh Smith would play hard every minute of every game if he got to play against Mike Woodson. ... Jason Collins can dunk in an empty gym. I would have lost that bet."
- Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon has sold off more assets.
- New insight into whatever it is that's bothering Monta Ellis.
- Arash Markazi of Sports Illustrated: "For an interview with SI.com the other day, Artest hired Natalin Avci, a 23-year-old Turkish model he had met recently in a hotel lobby, and a camera crew for a photo shoot for the heck of it. 'The only purpose is to have fun,' Artest said."
- The Suns are thrilled with that they've been seeing from Channing Frye.
- Richmond, Virginia is a complicated town for Allen Iverson.
Perhaps you remember, not all that long ago, Coleman Collins -- professional basketball player and TrueHoop contributor -- wrote about visiting Germany where he played in 2007-2008. Well, guess what! He's living and playing there again. This time in Ulm. He writes:
When you move a lot you pack a lot. You don't save much. You pick up and you leave and you pack your life into little rectangular things, or if the back of your trunk is big enough you toss your memories into the back. That's if you're driving away. If you're flying, and you probably are, most of your life has got to be left behind, because they're going to charge you for your extra bags, and then they'll charge you for them being overweight. So you end up throwing things away, giving things away, buying everything twice.
Coleman Collins, starring in posters in Germany.
(Courtesy of Coleman Collins)
It's hard though. Sometimes I feel like I split myself in pieces when I move somewhere, and when I move away I always leave him behind. So there's a New York me and an Atlanta me. An Indiana me and an Stuttgart me, infinite mes with mirrors in front and behind them, incubating in places I haven't been yet and buried in places I'll never return to. That's what it's like, really. You die little deaths when you leave a place that you've lived in, really Lived in, where they recognize you at your favorite places and address you by name.
Choosing what to bring is always a tough time. Throwing away bits of your life. Or bits of you.
But it's funny what you find. A note from a child, thanking me for an appearance at a homeless shelter. I don't know if I have the heart to let her know that the Indiana me is gone.
I took her Christmas shopping as part of a program with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. As we walked around the store and looked at the various items on sale, I realized she didn't understand percentages. So as we walked around the store, for every sale sign we saw, I'd stop and ask her how much the actual price was. That's what we did.
"These shoes are 50% off, and they normally cost 25 dollars. How much do they cost now?" This was the first one we'd come to, and she told me they'd cost 12 dollars, remainder 1. "Remainder? You think the cashier is gonna take remainder for an answer when we check out? No. She's gonna look at you crazy and ask where her other 50 cents is. Be serious and try again."
Maybe a bit harsh, but she got the point, and by the time we checked out she had moved on to the 25% discounts, too. We shopped and talked and learned and here was her letter, thanking me for it. Thank you for helping me with math. I'm getting a lot better. I hope you'll come back and visit us at the shelter. I couldn't make that visit, or didn't, anyway; I hope she doesn't hate me for it. I hope that meeting me, knowing me, even for a little bit of time was a positive experience for her. That's all I ever hope for with anyone, really.
So that's the bad part, the dying part. The good part is that every new place is a rebirth. And like every birth, it's a tragedy, because you know that whatever was born is going to die someday. That skin is going to sag; that hair is going to gray and fall out. Your contract runs its course, you want more money, they want to pay you less, whatever. But it's a beautiful tragedy. You meet people and make friendships, and sometimes they last. That's the amazing part; the possibility. Every baby could grow to be president. Every team could be a champion. Wandering eyes become wives, handshakes last lives. It's idealistic, sure, but I think I'm still young enough to pretend I don't know any better.
So I'm in a new place, a good place, and a new season is starting. I can't help but be happy about that.
- Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles has a brilliant way around the NBA's ban on criticizing replacement referees: "A huge percentage of our fouls," he says, "were legitimate."
- Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog, toying with the notion of The Return of Baron Davis: "Baron is an unquestionably better conditioned man this October. He seems genuinely mortified by his status as an accessory to last year's debacle. Although he's not surrounded by perfect complements to his game, he knows he can trust Eric Gordon, experiment with Blake Griffin, and have Rasual Butler as a viable option in the corner for a kickout 3. Contrast that to what he was offered at the outset of last season. Davis' ego is bruised -- and that's a good thing. Whatever pleasure he derives from his extracurriculars, he understands that without some corresponding gratification in the league, those accouterments aren't worth much. The documentaries, cross-cultural endeavors and clubs are all nice -- but Baron Davis can't be Baron Davis unless he's part of the league's constellation of stars and playing basketball well into May."
- John Hollinger's player ratings are posted, and Kevin Durant is the story (Insider). He's poised, says Hollinger, to lead the league in points per minute. There are a ton of reasons to be very excited about what's next from him. But there are still things he's really not good at: "There's no question about Durant's scoring; it's all the other elements of his game that raise eyebrows. He's a very poor passer and makes far too many turnovers for a jump shooter, weaknesses encapsulated by a -3.10 Pure Point Rating that was the fifth-worst among small forwards. Durant also gave a poor accounting at the defensive end, with the Thunder surrendering 8.2 points more per 40 minutes with him on the court than off it. His adjusted plus-minus was a horrid -8.62 points per 100 possessions, a stat that's even more alarming because the Thunder had a bad bench. His rating from his rookie year wasn't much better."
- Some guy says he got punched in the face. That's the what. The why? Story is it has something to do with NFL player Braylon Edwards having a real dislike for LeBron James.
- There have been some suggestions lately that Lamar Odom -- impending reality TV presence, celebrity husband -- may be craving the spotlight more than in the past. Exhibit Q, for questionable: About 85:15 into this video, he's wearing a wireless microphone in training camp. He sure appears to be headed to the bathroom. Before going, though, he looks off-camera, presumably at the tech in charge of his mic, taps the mic, and says "I'm good." As in, no need to unclip me for this.
- Byron Scott in the Shreveport Times, with potentially bad news for Chauncey Billups, who likes to post up small guards, and plays for a Hornets' rival: "A lot of times guys are trying to post [Chris Paul] up, but our guys that are six, seven inches taller than him are having a hard time in the post because he's so strong now. A lot of it comes with maturity and age. You get a little bit stronger and a little bit bigger. But the biggest thing is that he hasn't lost any of his flexibility or quickness." (Via Hornets247)
- One pre-season game in, Taj Gibson seems comfortable in the NBA.
- Hey look, it's Jamal Mashburn, Jason Kidd and that other guy who used to be famous.
- "Mad Men" fans, that's not Don Draper on the Nuggets' preseason roster. That's Donte Draper, and he made a highlight reel.
- Danny Ainge, Rick Carlisle, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Ferry, Daryl Morey, Sam Presti, Ed Stefanski ... meet your new team in charge of modernizing how the NBA uses instant replay. Change is upon us.
- Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell watching DeJuan Blair: "Will any rookie outperform DeJuan Blair on a per minute basis? I doubt it. He looks sensational. He's the exact same rebounder we saw at Pitt, plus he has soft hands, can finish around the basket, is an efficient passer and, surprise, surprise, has a little bit of a spot up game. Clippers fans, don't kill me. DeJuan Blair is Blake Griffin's biggest obstacle on his path toward the ROY. Don't get me wrong. The total minutes thing will remove Blair from the conversation, but per minute ..." Whether it happens like that or not, the fact that a sober-minded observer like Varner says it could is reason enough to praise the Spurs for making good use of the draft's 37th pick. Also, Varner says Manu Ginobili looks tremendous.
- Michael Redd is playing like a healthy man.
- If the Nets had a lot of rubles to spend on players, what would the roster look like?
- Shaquille O'Neal once saw LeBron James pass the ball, and still thinks it's amazing.
- Nicolas Batum is called the best player in a Blazer scrimmage. Martell Webster, the guy who had Batum's starting small forward spot before his injury, says he hopes Batum is the starter.
- The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler in London, where it is said the NBA would one like to have a permanent NBA team: "It should be noted that The O2 [arena], built by the same people as Staples Center, would be the most impressive NBA arena today if it housed a team."
Here's an example of a guy I think is really underrated, and if he's healthy can help the Mavericks immensely: Tim Thomas.
Last year, every good lineup the Knicks had included Tim Thomas. They traded him. I don't know why.
Winston says Danilo Gallinari was the key to the Knicks' good play for a stretch last season. "The guy just can shoot with his eyes closed. And he's not a bad defender."
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Knicks had a streak last year where they were pretty good, right? The way they were pretty good was they put [Danilo] Gallinari, Thomas and [Al] Harrington on the floor. They spread the floor and they were unguardable.
Gallinari ... his effective field goal percentage was like the best in the league. The guy just can shoot with his eyes closed. And he's not a bad defender. They were really making a playoff run and than he got hurt and that was it.
And they got rid of Thomas and they didn't have that lineup anymore.
Some coach told me that "there's ice cream among the s---." That's what you're looking for with the lineups. If the players are bad, there's probably a couple of combinations that work.
The amazing thing is, teams play lineups that don't work.
Like the Bulls. The five lineups they played the most last year were all bad. I mean, how dumb can you be? 82games.com has some of this data. How you can not look at how your lineups perform is beyond me. It really is.
But the lineup stuff, I really think we're good at that.
I really think I can look at a playoff series, and look at that data, and I can basically mine that stuff. I think the Mavericks are one of two teams to win 50 games nine straight years and that's how long we've worked for them. I think that's part of it. A very small part obviously. But I think they have better information than most people, with what we do.
What's the process? You're in Indiana ... How do you inform the Mavericks what's going on?
Oh e-mail. There's a website that Mark [Cuban] gets, and it has all the player ratings and the lineup ratings, and a scouting report for each game. I send a lineup calculator that breaks down how each combination of players does in and out of the game.
I haven't talked to Mark on the phone. Ever. I have met him in person a couple of times, but it's all e-mail. That's how Mark is. I don't have his cell phone, I don't know his number. If he decides to call me, that's great.
The only game I went to, it was horrible, I went to that Game 6 double overtime when they got eliminated by Phoenix. They had a 13-point lead in the third quarter, and as soon as they put Alan Henderson in I knew it was over because he was terrible that year.
Then it came down to this big debate. Do you foul when you're up three? They let Steve Nash hit a 3 to tie that game. Almost no coach will foul until there's five seconds left in the game. I think that's something we don't know the answer to. But that's something we could study.
You should definitely go for 3 at the end of the game if you're down two. I think there's no question of that. Most coaches don't. The only team that did that, that I know, was Reggie Miller and the Pacers. They always did that. They always let Reggie take that shot. They would want the buzzer to go off with the ball in the air and it worked a lot of times.
I feel like I've seen Kobe do that.
Yeah, I mean Kobe's probably done it too. But the math is solid there. If I've got the ball and I can take the shot with the horn going off, you should go for 3. You only win the overtime half the time. Suppose you have a 50% chance of hitting the two. So you make a shot half the time, and then you win in overtime half the time, you win the game just 25% of the time.
But if you shoot the 3, you've got at least a 30% chance. That's all you need to know.
[Houston GM] Daryl Morey, I guess, never talks about what he does. That article about Shane Battier, though, you know the one I'm talking about? A lot of that was adjusted +/-. They have their own adjusted +/-, I guess.
The dataset we use is every minute of every game -- who's on the court? That's really, to my mind, where the game should be.
When Greg Oden played in Joel Przybilla's place with Portland's starting lineup, Winston says the team was far less effective.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
I hate fantasy football, for instance, because it totally wrecks the whole point of the game, which is to win. When the quarterback throws the pass, and you have the running back, you get mad. Well if it's your team, you shouldn't get mad. Oh it's horrible. It's not why you like basketball or football. I mean, Adrian Peterson is the best player in fantasy football and he didn't even help the team, hardly, last year.
If you had unlimited minutes, adjusted plus/minus would be a perfect metric. We don't, so sometimes it'll mess up. When it does, there are little adjustments that we make, that I don't want to talk about, but I think that's why we do a better job than some of the other people.
There are some problems with the data analysis that can make it difficult to analyze a player. Most people who are running plus/minus are using canned stats packages like SPSS or SAS. And I think if you do that you can't make the adjustments very easily for the players whose numbers will be screwed up by the normal process.
But that's like our secret so we don't talk about that much. The lineup stuff ... after a bunch of games you can really see the three-man combinations that work. You can see that others don't work. Things pop out.
Are there teams that have great lineups that they just don't know about?
Oh yes. You see all kinds of things. For instance, in the Bulls/Celtics playoff series last year, everyone talks about Kevin Garnett being out. But if Luol Deng had been healthy, the Bulls would have won. I'm pretty sure.
The average team plays something like 4-500 lineups a year. Amazing.
In Portland, the lineup they played the most was pretty good. LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Steve Blake, Joel Przybilla and Brandon Roy was 14 points better than average. Put in Greg Oden for Przybilla ... it's one point worse than average.
For the Blazers, there are some great lineups I see to close games. Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez, Joel Przybilla and Steve Blake. They played 167 minutes and were 32 points better than average.
That's the starting lineup with Rudy in place of Batum.
Right, so it's 17 points better with that one substitution.
There are a lot of minutes here, so that's a lot of data.
The key to the Lakers -- it doesn't take a genius to figure it out, is you close with Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant. If you do that, you can't really go wrong.
You take out Bryant and leave Odom in, they were good. You take out Odom and leave Bryant in they weren't good. That's why I say Odom was better than Bryant.
OK, this is what they closed with: Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. That's 18 points better than average. And isn't that the one that closed every game? That's a good lineup, and they played that one the most.
Artest will be interesting.
Another good lineup is if you take that same thing, but put in Luke Walton for Fisher. Or Walton for Ariza. That's just as good. Doesn't make any difference.
This lineup is off the charts, and didn't play much: Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Luke Walton and Shannon Brown.
That lineup won by 55 points a game. They played 50 minutes together.
There's things like this on every team. Let's look at Houston. They should know everything. I had dinner with Daryl Morey once when he still worked for Boston and I showed him what we do. So he knows what we do. I don't know what he does, but I know he does a lot more.
I'm happy for him. He's a really nice guy, he's been very supportive of my book and he's good for the math people. He's the "Moneyball" of the NBA.
The Rockets six lineups that played the most, five of them are ten points or more better than average.
The only bad one was Rafer Alston, Shane Battier, Tracy McGrady, Luis Scola and Yao Ming, and they won't be playing that one this season.
More to come from Wayne Winston on Monday.
Once, when I was a teenager, some older guy pulled me aside, stared me in the face, pointed at me and said: "Promise me one thing. Never get married until you have been to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro."
I did not take his advice, and married without making the trip.
But for that and a zillion other reasons I have often wondered what Rio was really like.
Of course, cities and places change, and just last night I read a really amazing article in the New Yorker about how large chunks of Rio are wholly beyond government control. Fed up with the drug gangs, police, military police and firefighters have banded together to exact some extra-judicial revenge. Now those groups have become almost indistinguishable, in many cases, from the drug gangs.
Some of the facts and figures from an abstract of Jon Lee Anderson's article.
At least a hundred thousand people work for the drug gangs of Rio in a hierarchical structure that mimics the corporate world. The state is almost completely absent in the favelas. The drug gangs impose their own system of justice, law and order, and taxation-all by force of arms. Rio is the top-ranked city in the world for "violent international deaths," with just under five thousand murders last year, at least half of which were drug-gang related.
Although most people anywhere you go are tremendous and nice, this article sure made it sound like you'd be OK crossing Rio off your list of "must visit" places.
And then, today we learn that Rio de Janeiro and Madrid have bumped off Chicago and Tokyo as finalists to host the 2016 Olympics. So, I guess, Rio is very close to being back on the list for a lot of sports fans.
As for the beach? I wouldn't know.
UPDATE: Rio de Janeiro won the final round of voting, and will host the 2016 Olympics.
A Spurs video from the archives. It says the video is from 2007, but I suspect it's actually from 2006, when the team held training camp in France (check out the court -- it has temporary NBA court markings laid over the FIBA lines) and went on to win a championship.
Goofy though he may be, Popovich is not just messing around. He's not only showing an endearing willingness to make himself look foolish, but he's also clearly neutering anyone's ability to ask for superstar treatment.
I especially like it when he asks what he should do if he's cramping up already, and the response is to suffer:
- You think the Lakers will retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey? With bridges burned in Orlando and Miami, not much to show for his time in Phoenix, and twilight years in Cleveland ... O'Neal has the chance to become the greatest NBA player ever to not have his jersey retired.
- So, if Gilbert Arenas won't entertain us with off-court wit ... who will?
- The Spurs drafted, in DeJuan Blair, a player who grabbed a greater percentage of offensive rebounds than some teams. Blair, by himself, was a better offensive rebounder than Colorado was all together. The thing is, the Spurs are the worst offensive rebounding team in large part because they don't stick around to grab them, preferring instead to get back on defense. So ... how will Popovich play Blair? Something to watch.
- Little Amare Stoudemire.
- NCAA, if you're looking for an example of somebody who came to college for the basketball, but stayed for the academics ... here's your guy.
- Portland owner Paul Allen -- who knew? -- has just survived a profound health scare.
- Mike Dunleavy says he homebrewed what we now call effective field goal percentage in contract negotiations during his playing days.
- Video of Hakeem Olajuwon working out with Hasheem Thabeet and just a little time with Kobe Bryant. What a contrast in students for Olajuwon, huh? Maybe the most gifted and fluid offensive wing force in the modern NBA, compared to a big man whose offense, some scouts say, doesn't even belong in the NBA.
- The NBA offered some referees $575,000 to retire.
- First significant injury of the season: Bull Aaron Gray. Tyreke Evans has been sitting, too, although no word that it's serious.
- Shooting 3s from the corner: A good idea.
- NBA TV's Real Training Camp focused on the Denver Nuggets, and Roundball Mining Company's Jeremy has insight: "J.R. Smith is traditionally a slow starter, and in past Real Training Camps he has not had good shooting performances. Today he was on fire. In fact, I do not remember seeing him miss a shot. J.R. will be out the first seven games of the season, but hopefully when he comes back for game eight he will be shooting like he did today."
- Assessing the Thunder's depth chart, which is confusing thanks to multiple players who play multiple positions.
- The Bucks had a crisis last season: No one could hit a 3. Jeremy of Bucksketball: "But the Bucks have taken steps to rectify the situation, right? Supposedly. Don't get me wrong, the Bucks have done a thing or two this off season designed to rectify the three point shooting problem, I'm just not certain I'm buying all the moves. They've brought on Carlos Delfino, an alleged shooter; Ersan Ilyasova, a possible shooter; and will be bringing back a healthy Michael Redd, a slightly overrated shooter. In the process of adding (and re-adding in Redd's case) these three the Bucks managed to lose one of their best shooters from last year in Charlie Villanueva ..."
- RapsFan of RaptorsRepublic on Bryan Colangelo: "We all read between the lines, that BC swung for the fences this summer and put together what he thought was a solid team that improved over last season (and to a degree I do share this sentiment), but when he actually came out said the goal is 50 wins, wow. You would have hoped he learned his lesson from last season's claim that this was the most talented team he has assembled in Toronto, and managed expectations. He went the other direction, and what that has done is fuse most fans, and the media to a degree, with a new sense of optimism."
- Brandon Roy tells Benjamin Golliver of BlazersEdge about the sneaky defense the Blazers are working on: "It's a man defense but it's that we're so tight and we're helping so much it appears that it's a zone just to throw the opponent off."
- Charles Barkley says Twitter is for losers.
- Ron Artest, comic book character.