A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Blake Griffin

The Clippers trade for Chris Paul: The Other Shoe and Unnecessary Risk

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The Chris Paul trade saga is over – with Paul being traded for Eric Gordon, Minnesota’s 2012 1st unprotected, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chris Kaman. In other words, David Stern got everything he wanted from the Clippers.

Including Eric Gordon in this trade was a failure by the Clippers. Not because Paul isn’t worth assets like that. But because the Clippers were largely bidding against themselves. Where did the Hornets have to turn to as leverage? Unlike the Magic, they almost surely couldn’t make Paul play this season – the cord between the player and the franchise had already been all but severed. Paul didn’t appear interested in resigning in either Boston or Golden State. Only the Lakers/Houston deal and their Kevin Martin and Luis Scola package was sitting out there

And it was incredibly obvious that taking the Minnesota draft pick over those players was the direction Stern wanted the Hornets to go. Teams that trade a star in this fashion commonly want to start over and draft young future stars on rookie contracts – which the Hornets are now in a great position to do.

Here’s the problem with this trade now: If Gordon was kept, not a lot would be put on the table by the Clippers. Their future was in fine shape as long as a superstar Griffin and the best under 25 SG and possible superstar Gordon remained on the team, and Deandre Jordan at center nice to have too. The Minnesota pick was a luxury, but not a necessity long term. Trading it for Paul was a relatively low risk, high reward move – the right move.

But with this move the Clippers are legitimately risking that sure bet for long term prosperity – and it certainly is a risk. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

December 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, Spencer Hawes, Andrea Bargnani and “Vertical” vs “Horizontal” rebounding

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Kevin Love, the 5th pick

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Measuring an individual’s impact on team rebounding is a tricky, mystifying subject. In a way, rebounding is analogous to scoring in that it’s not as simple as measuring points per game and assigning impact from that alone. When a player takes a shot, he may be infringing on another player’s effectiveness or drawing enough defensive attention to improve it. Corey Maggette appears to get in the way of teammates by selfishly stopping the ball, Dirk Nowitzki appears to help teammates greatly by drawing defenders out of the paint. Even staticians favored stats like True Shooting %, measuring points per shot, can miss the whole picture.

Rebounding has even less statistics differentiating it. We have rebounds per game, Rebound %, plus/minus stats… and that’s about it. The rest we have to judge ourselves.

There are rebounders who have higher numbers on the boards who draw skepticism. Among those are Kevin Love, David Lee and Marcus Camby. The reason for this is that it looks like that instead of boxing out an opponent to get a rebound, they prefer to chase the ball to where it’s going to go. This is fine, but if they guess wrong, the man they’re not boxing out is open to get it. If they do get it, they may be taking a rebound a teammate was already going to get – thus despite being credited with the rebound, they are giving their team no additional value on the play. Thus the defensive rebound on this play is a misleading stat. On the other hand, if a player like Dirk Nowitzki shuts down his opposing PF’s bid to grab a rebound by boxing out and the ball is going towards him, but at the last moment a horizontally moving teammate grabs it, the player who grabbed it gets the rebounding credit, but it’s likely Dirk who deserved it.

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John Wall: Don’t pencil him in as the next Derrick Rose

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John Wall

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

John Wall has a lot in common with Derrick Rose. Aside from getting picked #1 and being deemed a future superstar, both have a combination of size and incredible explosiveness from the PG position. Now, in his 3rd year Derrick Rose is the frontrunner for MVP averaging 24.9 points and 7.9 assists on the #1 team in the East. Wall is averaging 16 points, 9 assists and 1.7 steals on 40% shooting – a roughly expected rookie season with a few more bricks. The Wizards are on pace to fall below 20 wins.

On the surface it’s easy to think Wall is going to follow Rose’s footsteps and become a superstar. He has the talent to. I’m not convinced. Making the leap from all-star to MVP candidate is about what you have upstairs. For all of Rose’s physical gifts, it’s only half of what makes him a special player. Rose is the consumate leader and team player. He works as hard as anyone in the league as shown by rapid improvements in all areas of the game. He understands winning is the only goal and he should balance his scoring and passing by what will get his team there. When Rose plays, he controls the game. He slows the game down and has mastered pounding teams in the halfcourt pick and roll. Rose can be a champion because of what he has in mind as much as body.

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Written by jr.

March 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Post-February NBA Awards Watch

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My top picks for the various NBA Awards after two months of play.  Expect to see this updated each month with my picks for ROY, DPOY, MIP, 6MOY, COY, and All-NBA teams.

MVP:  See Monday’s post.  This gets updated weekly.

Rookie of the Year

1. Blake Griffin

2. John Wall

3. Landry Fields

Wall moves up to the 2nd spot. I’ve mentioned before that ranking rookies is harding than most people think. Fields is clearly the rookie who has contributed the 2nd most value this season, but that’s because he found a good niche. I’ll give him the ROY nod over guys like Cousins whose (bad) teams still choose to play him less than the Knicks play Fields, but very clearly the Wizards are fully behind Wall, and Wall is doing star-like things most of us wouldn’t assert that Fields could do. He’s now played enough of the season, only Griffin is clearly ahead of him.

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Getting a head start on the draft: Why I have Perry Jones III as the #1 prospect

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Image via Bleacher Report

For half the fans in the league, the upcoming draft is more important than  the upcoming playoffs by this time of year. More than any sport, NBA teams have their fortunes determined by the draft and lottery. The teams that get star players in the draft win, the teams that don’t lose. When your team is bad, it’s the draft that matters.

For the first time since the 2006 draft where Andrea Bargnani went #1 (excuse me while I puke, I’m a Raptors fan) there’s no “surefire star” prospect. Nobody is a cinch prospect like John Wall, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and Greg Oden had he stayed healthy were.

Who’s #1? Right now PF Perry Jones III and PG Kyrie Irving seem to have the edge for top 2. A brief scouting report on each: Jones is a 6’11 PF who wants to play like a perimeter player, has freakish athleticism, but is raw and skinny. Irving is a complete PG – He’s fast, has decent size, has great ballhandling and shooting skills, and clearly reads the floor well. Irving is a very good prospect, but I believe Jones III is the top prospect in the draft for these reasons:

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Written by jr.

February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Anatomy of the Indefensible Snub

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Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns of the National...

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So, NBA all-star reserves have been announced, and Steve Nash‘s name wasn’t on the list. I said I expected as much when I made my all-star picks, and gave the gist of my thoughts for why this was crazy. I want to go into them more clearly here, and then really examine how such a glaring snub is possible.

Objective Metrics put Nash ahead of Griffin

Blake Griffin got named to the all-star team in the first batch of reserve picks. I don’t actually have a problem with him making the team, but how does he make it over Steve Nash? Consider the following:

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Written by Matt Johnson

February 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Post-January NBA Awards Watch

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My top picks for the various NBA Awards after two months of play.  Expect to see this updated each month with my picks for ROY, DPOY, MIP, 6MOY, COY, and All-NBA teams.

MVP:  See Monday’s post.  This gets updated weekly.

Rookie of the Year

1. Blake Griffin

2. Landry Fields

3. John Wall

Obviously at this point it’s Griffin and everyone else. Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are rising in people’s minds but let’s not get carried away. Wall’s scoring efficiency fallen through the floor, meanwhile Cousins has played even less minutes than Wall despite a lack of major injuries because of all the shenanigans he pulls. I’d re-draft both over Fields of course, but for this year, Fields maintains his #2 spot for now.

Defensive Player of the Year  Read the rest of this entry »

My NBA All-Star Picks (given the fans’ voting)

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The fans’ final choices for the NBA all-star game are in. They are:

Western Conference

Guard: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul

Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant

Center: Yao Ming

Eastern Conference:

Guard: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade

Forward: LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire

Center: Dwight Howard

Immediate reaction: Yao, of course, is completely undeserving but at this point it’s just expected that this will happen, and since he’s injury, it’s hard to be bothered by it. The Anthony choice is more annoying because he will play, and he’s not worthy of even being a reserve. Here’s hoping he gets traded to the East, because competition is so weak there his inclusion won’t seem odd.

Other than that, choices seem fine.

My choices for the reserves:

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What if Dwight goes to the Clippers in 2012?

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With the summer of Lebron and Wade’s free agencies over, on the horizon we can already see a similarly crazy summer of free agency: 2012, when Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard hit the market. It’s only a year and a half away and in NBA terms perhaps much less if there’s a lockout next season. Rumors of Howard wanting out have already kickstarted after he was photographed wearing a Lakers hat earlier this month and Ric Bucher tweeted about his interest in LA.

But are the Lakers a wise choice? Kobe will be an old 34, Gasol 32, Odom 33. Furthermore with Kobe and Gasol’s maximum contracts, the Lakers having capspace for a major FA won’t happen. I’m predicting after Kobe’s fall, the Lakers will hit a down rebuilding period for the first time in well, ever.

Here’s what I really want to see: Dwight going to the other LA team. Yes, the Clippers. Can you imagine a Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard frontcourt with Eric Gordon scoring from the perimeter? Scary. Titles are won by owning the paint and no team in the league would come close to the interior defense, offense, and rebounding power a Griffin and Howard frontcourt would have. A perimeter all-star scorer in Gordon completes the puzzle. Furthermore all 3 players are great team players without egos who don’ t need to dominate the ball. Using the Spurs “3 all-stars + role players” model, it’d be easy to fill the PG and SF spots and bench with defenders and shooters and walk to contention. I truly believe with Gordon, Griffin, and Howard, the Clippers 2010s decade could be every bit as succesful as the 2000s was for the Spurs. And what a great story it’d be for the Clips to finally find success. The reaction of Howard leaving the Magic wouldn’t be negative like it was for Lebron, because the Clippers are an underdog like the Cavaliers. Furthermore I think most of us believe if Howard wants to be the best player on a title team, he’ll likely need other all-star scorers to help him like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce did for Kevin Garnett in 2008. Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin are perfect for him.

The only cause for concern I could see is Donald Sterling not being an ideal owner with a history of cheapness and bad decisions. But with a Gordon, Griffin, Howard team, it’s hard to imagine how he could screw that up.

Of course it’d probably be best for the NBA if Howard, Paul and Deron stay with their present teams. But the free agents moving again is unavoidable, I’d like to see the Clippers finally hit a home run in 2012.

2010-11 NBA Predictions: ROY

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This is a tougher award to judge than I think anyone realizes.  Here’s the thing, if you asked most people how they judge the ROY compared to the MVP, I think they’d probably say they think about them similarly.  The MVP of the rookies if you will.  However, if you actually look at ROY’s from a +/- perspective, you start seeing some major problems.

Now let me elaborate for those of you not as stat-obsessed as I am.  +/- statistics simply measure how well how many points more than your opponent are scored while you’re on the court versus when you aren’t on the court.  It’s something that came from hockey, but in the last decade basketball statisticians have really taken it to the next level.

Analyze +/- data, and what you’ll find that pretty much any guy considered a strong candidate for the MVP does really well in the stat.  However, if you apply the same stat to ROY candidates, you’ll find chaos, and if you think about it, that makes perfect sense.  Rookies typically are not guys who completely turn around their team so much as they are guys considered to have great upside that the team decides to build around.  They’ve earned their primacy based on future value rather than present value.

If you don’t believe me, let’s consider LeBron James as a rookie.  Read the rest of this entry »