TrueHoop: Mike James

Saturday Bullets

January, 23, 2010
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
We're deep into the first round series -- let the advanced game of adjustments begin. Carmelo has finally arrived, while the Hawks bounced back from oblivion. And what do the Washington Wizards and Thora Birch have in common?

Carmelo AnthonyJeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company: "If this is the new and improved playoff model of Carmelo Anthony, may the postseason never end ... If I could wrap up the difference in Melo over the previous three games it is that he is not only getting himself easy shots, but he is using his talent to consistently get his teammates easy shots. Melo has totaled 21 assists in the last three games and he has tied or surpassed his previous playoff career high of five assists for three straight games. Melo has also raised his defensive game to the highest level I have seen on a consistent basis at any point in his career. Melo clearly is taking his assignment of covering Peja Stojakovic seriously. He finished the game with only six rebounds, but most of them were ones he earned going up very strong in traffic. Carmelo is a dangerous weapon right now for a dangerous team and I cannot wait to see what he will do next."

Antawn JamisonWizznutzz: "It was the 2008-09 Wizards that had daddy issues. and im not talking about Pamela McGee buying Bud Ice at tenley mini mart for nick young. LIke we said before this years team was a RUMP STATE - its a very real thing google it. They had no authorities in charge and it was left to them to raise themselves like Dickens orphans. they were a party of five, a pack of wolves, a tribo-juvelist cooperative (I made up those words). Yes they had a Dad but their dad was like Dirk Benedict (i did not make up those words) in the movie ALASKA who crashed the family plane into the mountains and the young kids were faced with a harrowing adventure to race against time and nature to save him. They had to think fast and grow up and come up with a plan and work together to cross the wild and while they were doing all that Mike James slipped back into the plane wreckage and stole dad's wallet."

Joe JohnsonBret LaGree of Hoopinion: "Through four games, the Hawks have won the fastest and slowest paced games. They've also won the two least efficient offensive games which have both been characterized by poor field goal shooting and lots of turnovers. As much talk as there's been since Game 1 about Miami keeping the Hawks out of transition, both teams are so comfortable taking their time to set up their primary offensive option that if that option is taken away there's little time to find a quality second option within a possession barring an offensive rebound. Factor in the deference to Dwyane Wade and, to a lesser extent, Joe Johnson demonstrated by their teammates and the sharp contrast between good and bad offense we've seen through four games becomes more understandable..." 

Celtics Hub: The age old question --  when are moral victories enough?
Forum Blue & Gold: Sizing up the Lakers' potential second round opponents.
Philadunkia: The chess game inside the Orlando-Philly series. 

(Photos by Rocky Widner, Ned Dishman, Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Shootaround

February, 25, 2009

Would Stephon Marbury fit into Boston's backcourt?  Does Nate Robinson fit into Mike D'Antoni's vision?  Wizznutzz doesn't worry about fitting in, period.

Stephon MarburyZach Lowe of Celtics Hub: "The idea behind signing Marbury, I assume, is to have more offensive firepower on the bench. But where, exactly, does Marbury fit in with the second unit? If Doc sticks to the way he's been constructing line-ups so far this season, what you're really asking in the second question is this: Do you think Marbury is a better player than Eddie House? I say that because Doc essentially never plays a three-guard lineup or even a line-up with two small guards; Rondo and House, for instance, have been on the floor together for just 145 minutes this season.

So I don't think you can say, 'This is great, playing Stephon with the second unit frees up House to play shooting guard.' Because Doc has shown no indication he's willing to play two guys 6′2” or under at the same time, and I'm not sure he's willing to play a House-Marbury-Pierce/Ray combo during meaningful minutes.

It hurts the defense too much, especially against Cleveland, which rarely plays a small line-up. You can't just slide Marbury in for Tony Allen (who is 6′4” and a solid defender).

I just don't see how Marbury fits into the team - given the coaching staff's apparent preference for bigger guards - without severely cutting into House's minutes. Maybe Doc is willing to experiment with smaller line-ups or even play Marbury for Rondo alongside the other four starters in short stints. I ask you: Are you ready for that? Because I honestly don't know if I am."

Nate RobinsonRob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm: "For a long time, Nate Robinson has been a welcome diversion.  Unfortunately, that's all.  His success was always side by side with the prerequisite grain of salt as I looked for subtle ways to invalidate his glory.  No more.  I'm ready for the Nate Robinson revolution, and - friends, Romans, countrymen - I hope you'll join me for the ride.

The stigma of the short point guard is a painful one.  No player faces a steeper hill, nay, mountain to climb to NBA competence.  On top of that, there is no Myth of the Next Jordan/Kobe, or the next Maravich, or the next Garnett.  There is the Mythology of the Little Man.  If you can dunk, you are Spud Webb.  If you can't, you are Earl Boykins.  The confines of Nate Rob's world are bench sparkplug at best and sideshow at the most demeaning.  If given the proper opportunity, he's ready to make that abnormally low glass ceiling obsolete...

If Steve Nash taught us anything in SSoL v1.0, it's that a stellar point guard's offensive skill can overcome defensive inferiority.  When your defensive philosophy is predicated on making opponents take poorly planned shots after being lulled into a false sense of security and superiority and then run the ball down their throats, you're given such a luxury.  I think that once 2010 comes around, Robinson should be that point guard.  Last night, Nate put up 41 points on 18 shots…off the bench.  He turned the ball over once in 36 minutes.  He sealed the game with a nice, contested lay-up after a steal.  His ability to put the ball in the damn hoop certainly trumps his limitations, and his weaknesses (FG%, turnovers) have dwindled with NBA experience.

He's not of the Nash mold.  Not even close.  There are games where he looks exclusively to shoot, and that's precisely why I want him in there kicking ass and taking names.  The easier comparison is probably to Leandro Barbosa, but I think Nate's play is infinitely less trite.  If Walsh and D'Antoni put together the type of team we know that they are capable of given their market and clout, Nate Robinson doesn't have to be Nash…or Barbosa.  He's somewhere in between.  Part of the beauty of SSoL is that it can turn rotation players and sixth men into juggernauts if they have the right skill set.  Nate's got it.  He doesn't have Nash's court vision or Barbosa's unbridled speed, but he can make plays for his teammates and he makes people look foolish with his quicks.  If you put a playmaker beside him on the wing, that offense goes from 'fun' to 'deadly.'  LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, even Joe Johnson.  They would demand a subtle modification of D'Antoni's system, but the benefits could be enormous.

Why must a scoring point guard's works be invalidated by his height? ...It's hard out there for a point…so can't we remove the complications by letting a player play and dropping our notions of what a point guard should be and what he should look like."

Larry Hughes

Wizznutzz: "Everyone was anticipating the mega-trades, player moves that would realign the balance of power but lets face it this is what the NBA trade deadline turned into: a game called 'Osbournes' played by NBA GMs where they pretend Larry Hughes is a giant ham and they try and throw him over their neighbors fence when he's not looking. Whats astonishing about Larry Hughes (aka 'L-Boogie' aka 'Cold Mountain' aka 'His Majestys Secret Service' aka 'The Coy Mister') is not his game but the size of his dowry!

Larry's career has answered the question many league scouts had when he was first drafted and that question was: 'I wonder what would happen in we gave Victor Page 100 million dollars?'

There was even a crazy rumor that Cold Mountain would be coming back to the Verizon Center (home of the 'Unlimited Minutes' rookie plan!) But the Wizards and Ernie Grunfeld stayed put, hey if it aint broke why fix it! Even though they made no moves, The Big G said he got lots of calls all week from keen GMs. But it turned out they were mostly prank calls from John Nash posing as keen GMs begging for the contracts of Etan Thomas and Mike James."

Hornets247: Will the offseason be a horror flick for the Hornets?
Piston Powered: Is it time to sit Rodney Stuckey? 
48 Minutes of Hell: Michael Finley -- fearless elder.

(Photos by Kent Horner, Chris McGrath, David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Talking to Mike James

May, 1, 2008

Heat. Rockets. Celtics. Pistons. Bucks. Rockets. Raptors. Wolves. Rockets. Hornets.

Since joining the league as an undrafted free agent in 2001, guard Mike James hasn't just been around. He has been around.

He went to Duquesne, and was the first undrafted player in the NBA to average 20 points per game (in Toronto) and was an integral part of the last underdog team to win a title (Detroit, where he teamed with Lindsey Hunter to make a fearsome bench guard tandem -- the "pit bulls"). He has said he has bounced around the league not because of any particular flaw in his game, but because he doesn't have a blueblood basketball pedigree. He didn't play for Dean Smith, and he wasn't a lottery pick.

Through it all, he has been seen as one of the most colorful and straightforward -- if at times a little off the wall -- talkers in sports.

And now he's buried deep on the Hornets bench, not playing for the first time in his seven years in the NBA.

It's one of the toughest jobs in sports. If you're the 400th best player in the world, you're probably making good money putting up good numbers overseas. But if you're somewhere between the 100th and 400th best, there's a good chance you're in the NBA, and not playing much basketball at all.

Imagine ... being one of the best in the world at doing something, and simply not getting to do it.

After a mid-season trade for Bonzi Wells, that's what Mike James is doing for the New Orleans Hornets ... not playing basketball.

He took my questions yesterday afternoon, and had an interesting tale about an on-court exchange between Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, and what it's like to play for Pat Riley.

Let's get right into it. Tell me, you guys just won a series last night. Are you feeling good today, or is it a little weird to not be playing after you've played in these kinds of big games before?
I mean, of course it feels weird not to be playing, but I'm excited for myMike James teammates. We're winning. You can't ever rock the boat when things are happening with that that are positive for the team. I think that I still can play this game at a high level, and it's just a matter of me getting myself ready and focused, and whatever the team wants right now.

This is the first year of my career I played cheerleader. If that's what I've got to do, that's what I've got to do. But then when my number is called, be ready. But other than that, if one way don't work, I'll think about another way and another game plan so I can get myself better so this won't happen ever again in my career.

Have you had any conversations with the team about what your role might be as the playoffs unfold?
It's hard because I can't rock the boat. The team is already winning, so it's not like I've been there from the beginning of training camp. It's almost like now I've got to get in where I fit in. Right now I don't fit in but I'm still part of the team. I'm not in the rotation but I'm still part of the team.

I don't know if you heard, in the last half hour or so, but it was reported that Avery Johnson is leaving the Mavericks. I'm not sure if he was fired or quit.
Avery Johnson is one of the better coaches in the NBA. I've never heard nothing bad said about him from any of the players or from the relationship I've had with him personally over the years. He's been nothing but a stand up guy. You know, Dallas lost a good one, and somebody is going to gain a great one.

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