A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Archive for August 2012

The alternate timeline Lakers: If Bynum had been dealt for Iguodala

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Andre Iguodala on November 23, 2010

Andre Iguodala on November 23, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I listed my reasons for believing the Lakers’ immediate improvement after the Dwight Howard trade is overstated, here

What’s fascinating to me is that Andre Iguodala, of course a key component of the Howard trade being shipped to Denver, would have been an absolute perfect fit for the Lakers’ needs. If you haven’t read the previous article, my biggest problem with the Lakers roster is that their perimeter speed on defense is flawed and that they may not be able to rotate on help D sharply enough to guard either the Thunder’s athletes or Spurs’ ball movement and shooters. Iguodala of course is an elixir to that, as arguably one of the two best perimeter defenders in the league alongside Lebron James.

Was there a way for the Lakers to both get Howard and Iguodala, by say, shipping Pau Gasol to Denver? Possibly, but Gasol’s contract and age may give him less value than Iguodala to a young team like Denver. What is certain however is that a one to one deal with Philadelphia with Bynum and Iguodala, would have been on the table for the Lakers – since obviously, the Sixers DID trade Iguodala for Bynum.

Let’s say the Sixers would have agreed to a trade of Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and young Moe Harkless to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum, which by my math works under the salary cap. The Lakers would then be looking at approximately this lineup: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

August 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

33 pt method – Evaluating the “Bs”, from Balkman to Bynum

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For an explanation of the 33 pt method, read this.

A list of my scores for players with the last name:


Here is my scores for players with the last name B. My explanations for my scores are somewhat dry. For many players it seems more straight forward to rank them than explain well.

Remember that this is an attempted evaluation of talent, NOT production. A player’s talent level doesn’t necessarily match his production. Age also is irrelevant in these rankings for this reason, all players are evaluated on what they can/will be capable of at their peak. My scores for players are meant to be a subjective process that can be scored differently than others, I only aim to create a system that consistently evaluates a player’s talent, regardless of differing opinion on said player’s talent.


Renaldo Balkman

Physical: 5 – Brought some energy for a wing, but not that athletically imposing

Skill: 1 – Extremely lacking in skills for a wing player

Feel for the Game: 6 – A decent understanding of the game and the court

Total score: 12

Marcus Banks

Physical: 8 – A very impressive mix of speed and size for a point

Skill: 1 – Very lacking in shooting or passing skills

Feel for the Game: 3 – Unspectacular vision or decision making

Total score: 12

Leandro Barbosa

Physical: 4 – Very decent speed for a SG, but undersized and overall a perimeter orientated/jumpshot orientated guard

Skill: 7 – A good shooter and ballhandler

Feel for the Game: 4 – Always played as if in a rush, a sign of weak feel

Total score: 15

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

August 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Why the post Dwight Howard trade Los Angeles Lakers are a flawed basketball team

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I believe the Los Angeles Lakers trading Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard was the correct move. Where I love the trade for the Lakers is what it does to their future. In the first few seasons after Kobe and Gasol’s massive contracts expire the nextseries of star unrestricted free agents will have their time come: Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Lamarcus Aldridge, Al Horford, and Carmelo Anthony again. The Lakers are likely going to be sitting on max free agent capspace, enough to lure a Rondo or Love to come play with Dwight Howard, or bully their teams into trading them to the Lakers beforehand. Howard despite his back surgery is a more reliable long term player health wise than Bynum and is a player who’s proven a contender can be built around. It was the right choice.

However, I’m much more lukewarm about how it improves the Lakers next season. Let’s put it this way: Despite not being an ideal fit, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were to me, the very best starting frontcourt in the entire league. The talent and size was incomparable. The reason the Lakers have lost recently is other massive flaws on their team. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

August 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

33pt Method – Evaluating the “As”, from Afflalo to Ayon

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Here are my “33 point method” scores for players with the last name A ranking their physical talent, skill talent and feel for the game. My explanation for the method and guide to grades in each of the categories is contained here. This is an evaluation of talent, not production, thus a player being before or after his prime at this moment is irrelevant to their scores.

The numbers are not meant to be exact or indisputable, many are “quick judgments” without an in depth look at the scores. This is merely to showcase the system over a wide array of players.

Arron Afflalo

Physical: 3 – Decent size but is mostly a jumpshooter offensively, does not have much ability to attack the basket or power there, therefore he gets a weak physical score

Skill: 7 – A strong combination of elite shooting and improved ballhandling. Is still not elite creating a high volume of shots.

Feel for the Game: 8 – Excellent basketball IQ and smoothness on both ends.

Total score: 18

Lamarcus Aldridge

Physical: 5 – Not much shotblocking presence or rebounding. Has improved his score from bad to middling in recent years with a commitment to get on the block.

Skill: 9 – Highly skilled for a big man, in the post and taking jumpshots outside

Feel for the Game: 8.5 (Off. – 10, Def. – 7) – Aldridge has a fairly tremendous feel and smoothness to his offensive game. He is a smart defender to make up for his lack of defensive presence physically.

Total score: 22.5

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

August 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Basketball

Introducing my “33 pt method” for NBA talent evaluation

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Some time ago I started looking at basketball players as if their talent level was split up into one third physical talent, one third skill talent and one third feel for the game/basketball IQ. I did this because I consider the 3 categories as the separating grounds for talent level. If a player doesn’t stand out above his peers in any of the 3 areas, what does he have going for them? I have also felt for a long time that many NBA Draft mistakes are made by overvaluing athletic tools in evaluating raw talent and underrating skill and understanding of the court. My hypothesis is that when media outlets and teams talk about talent, physical tools take a 70% weight. My system weights physical tools as 33%.

What I was led to, is giving players a score out of 11 in each category, making a max of 33. I used these numbers because it leads to a scale similar to PER, which generally rates a score of 30 as MVP caliber, 25 as superstar caliber, 20 as all-star caliber, 15 as an average player, and 10 as a player barely getting minutes. The benchmarks for a player’s value according to my system are nearly identical. I found using 11 as the maximum instead of 10 fit this scale a bit more. For example Lebron James is a player who deserves a perfect score in physical and feel for the game, but is a notch below perfection at his position for skill (Larry Bird, for example, would have a perfect score in skill for a SF). Thus with a max of 11 he ends up with a score of 31 or 32 out of 33 on my metric, while with maxes of 10 he’d end up with 28 or 29, unable to hit 30 without a perfect score in skill.

What really convinced me about this method is how well it tested for every player. Every score seemed to “fit”. I intend to show this by listing all the players alphabetically and my scores for them, which I will start in the next post. I will hope that those who read this will see how consistently well these scores add up to a range where the player should be. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

August 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Looking back at Dwight Howard’s Magic tenure: Was he the inverse Allen Iverson?

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Dwight Howard has been dealt from the Orlando Magic to the LA Lakers for Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington’s contract, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts and 3 draft picks. I’ll have my thoughts on the trade itself later, if you’re looking for instant analysis of it, there’s a big lush pool of it to swim in about the trade on the internet today.

The Magic fans will remember the Howard era for a handful of contending seasons and most of all, making the NBA Finals, most notably going through a Lebron James Cavaliers title favorite to do it. There are not many players who’ve achieved success as high as back to back 59 W seasons and a Final trip without “an all-star teammate”. Historically Howard may be given credit for carrying the Magic’s role players and mediocre talent level to contention, much in the same way James did for the Cavaliers.

Personally, I think there’s always been a reason to be skeptical about Dwight Howard’s scoring numbers, which on paper are not far behind the other dominant 2 way bigs of this generation, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Howard’s offensive polish has always been in question. It’s never been about slick looking post moves or shots as much as being so immensely powerful that he couldn’t be stopped scoring on the pick and roll and on clean up baskets.

At the same time, he played in the perfect system for his offensive numbers to look good. Most of the time the Magic played 3pt shooters at every other position – including power forward with Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson spotting up. This gave Howard a ton of space in the paint inside, where his physical tools could take over. The spacing made it so help defense on Howard became very difficult, as the rotations would be far away, and the Magic could easily burn teams who helped by finding open shooters.

Nevertheless, at the same time, Howard was the team’s only defender and rebounder at all times and had a team with very little athleticism and quickness to help him out on that end on the perimeter. He certainly had a massive impact on the Magic.

What I feel though, is that the Magic didn’t beat teams with what Howard’s strengths were – athleticism and power on both ends. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

August 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Basketball