A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Dirk Nowitzki

Predictions, Predictions, Predictions everywhere: 2011-2012 NBA Awards Picks

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Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose's position as the lone superstar on a league best team gives him an MVP race advantage (Image via Wikipedia)

Who’s winning the major awards in this shortened NBA season?

Here’s my picks:

Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden. Not an original pick at all but it’s the obvious choice. The Thunder will likely have one of the best records which together with making a jump as a player, will give Harden the profile and narrative to win the awards. Harden could even make the all-star team this year. When a team jumps out to the best record in their conference, Harden getting in like Jameer Nelson did the year the Magic were the league’s best story is reasonable.

Coach of the Year: George Karl. The Coach of the Year award has morphed into the “Coach of the most surprising team” award lately, so if the Nuggets jump out to a top 4 record in the Western Conference Karl will fit that metric. He’s also a true veteran coach and has coached succesful teams for quite some time – but has never won coach of the year. This is another reason for them to finally give him one.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving. I could see Irving, Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight and Ricky Rubio all have similarly impressive rookie seasons statistically. The difference in Irving’s case is I expect the Cavaliers to be a better than than all of those other players’. Which may be a result of having a good frontcourt and good 3pt shooting, but Irving’s presence will get a lot of credit for it if they surprise. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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Kevin Love, the 5th pick

Image via Wikipedia

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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2011 Player of the Year – Final

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The Player of the Year Watch has gone on all season long. Here we have the Final ranking.

Player (last rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1A)

This is an easy choice for me. When it comes to literally lifting a team, Dirk has been the personification of this all year long. With the way LeBron came on against Chicago, I thought he was going to make me toss that aside but it didn’t happen.

I’ll admit that I actually thought that Wade was the MVP of the Finals over Dirk, but over the course of the entire season, nobody contributed value like Dirk.

2. Dwight Howard (3)

My regular season MVP got knocked off his perch down to the 3rd spot after the Conference Finals. However he floats back up a spot after LeBron’s weak Finals play. I’m always hesitant to let someone who has already been eliminated rise in my rankings, particularly when they were eliminated in an upset in the first round, however I can’t find real fault in Howard’s playoff performance, and what happened in the Finals did sway my opinion on LeBron’s season.

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Silly superstars, Treys are for Kicks!

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Image via nba.com

As the Dallas Mavericks progressed through the playoffs it was noted how well their offense was faring, and how strong the team’s 3-point attack was. The team shot 39.4% from 3-point land in the playoffs while shooting more than 20 3’s per game. This is devastating and obviously deserving of attention. Of course with Dirk Nowitzki, one of the great shooters of all time leading the way, would you expect anything less?

Yes, actually you would if you’ve been paying attention.

First off, Dirk has never shot 3-pointers like a mad man. While Ray Allen and, ahem, Antoine Walker shot in excess of 600 3-pointers a season Dirk peaked in the high 300s. Still though, when you’re shooting about 5 3-pointers per game, that’s a serious focus of your game.

It’s fascinating then to see how unimportant 3-pointers have become to Dirk’s current game as they’ve become more important to the Mav team as a whole. Dude’s been averaging about 2 3-pointers per game the past few years. How low is that? Well obviously it’s a heck of a lower than the amount that guys like Kobe, Durant, and Rose shoot, despite the fact none of them is the level of shooter than Dirk is (though admittedly Durant is getting close). Even superstars criticized for their lack of outside shooting like LeBron and Wade shoot 3s more than Dirk.

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Written by Matt Johnson

June 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm

A victory for nuance, not unselfishness

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Image via ontfin.com

The NBA Finals are over and I can’t quite believe it. As I realized the Dallas Mavericks had taken control of Game 6 like they had done in no other games in the series, and that this was probably going to be the last NBA basketball played until the labor dispute is resolved, my mood turned bittersweet. It was a great season, and I’m sad to see it end.

Now where to begin with the analysis? Well let’s start with clarifying the story line.

I’ll admit that I was cheering for the Dallas Mavericks and am thrilled they won. However I chafe at the narrative that this was a morality play of the blue collar defeating Hollywood glamour.

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Written by Matt Johnson

June 14, 2011 at 12:36 am

Defending Chris Bosh’s emotion after Game 6

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Chris Bosh and LeBron James

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

I know there’s a lot of other subjects people will discuss after these Finals. But I want to touch on a smaller moment and point of discussion: Chris Bosh breaking down into apparant tears in the hallway after the game, and at one point falling down on his knees. This drew ridicule from many fans. Bosh has had a reputation as a “soft” player for a while, attracting much of the hate directed at the Heat. This was one more reason for the vultures to swirl around Bosh’s lack of physicality in the game. I felt the opposite. I liked Bosh’s emotion and pain after this crushing Finals loss.

I want my players to react to a loss the way Bosh did. No, they don’t have to break down into visible tears – it’s not about what’s on the surface. But I want them to be as invested in winning the title that losing hurts this much. I want this to be the worst day of their lives. I want the game to mean that much to them. Because if it does, they’re surely giving it all on the court. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

June 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Lebron’s Game 5: To play well, but not the right kind of well

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LeBron James in New York City to discuss the f...

Image via Wikipedia

The vultures are swirling around LeBron James after Game 5, yet another quiet performance for the self appointed King. Not all the hate is deserved. Lebron by most standards had an effective game as shown by his 17 point, 10 rebound and 10 assist statline. He aggresively went after rebounds, looked to score inside, and shredded the Mavericks defense with passes – particularly in the first half of the 4th.

Yes, Lebron played effectively. But it wasn’t the right kind of effective.

The truth is, taking a Finals game on the road is not just about playing well. It’s about gaining a mental edge over the home team. It’s about controlling the game. And this is Lebron’s great failure in these playoffs so far. Read the rest of this entry »

The Heatle Redundancy

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Multi-Headed Snake = not as scary as you thought it would be

Well, obviously the big story of the moment is LeBron Jameslack of production in the NBA Finals. I want to hold off discussing that though and talk about what I consider the broader phenomenon. That being the fact that the Miami Heat have a redundant collection of talent.

When people fantasize about super-teams such as the Heatles, the primary scenario on their mind is an offensive one. They imagine that the amount of effort that will be required to stop James will leave Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh wide open thus leading to an unstoppable offense.

We’d be stupid NOT to do this!

Game 5 shows a snapshot of this not happening. After a series in which LeBron has been crucified for his passivity, the streaking Wade went down with an injury and went out for a long stretch. What happened? The Heat didn’t fall apart, rather they actually outscored the Mavs, and LeBron scored at a much better rate and efficiency than he done with Wade on the court.

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Written by Matt Johnson

June 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Aftermath of a Miami-Dallas Game 3 classic: When a 1st quarter matters more than a 4th

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Dwyane Wade playing with the Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade has been the true King in these FInals (Image via Wikipedia)

I loved Game 3 of the Dallas vs Miami NBA Finals. It’s an ESPN classic game in my books. In fact I’m going to be really hyperbolic and call that one of my favorite NBA games of all time. I’ve never had more to say about a game at the least.

So where did Miami trump Dallas in this game? True, they were a little better in the last few minutes and won by a basket. But that’s not really where Miami won and Dallas lost this game. That came in in the 1st quarter.

Dallas started Game 3 playing unbelievably bad defense. It’s one thing for a good offense to find open shots, it’s another for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (more on them later) to get wide open, uncontested scores/dunks in the paint. My hunch says it all came down to Brendan Haywood’s injury leaving Tyson Chandler worried about fouling early. With intensity and strong close-outs inside the Mavericks title caliber defense momentarily collapsed.

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6 Finals thoughts and a prediction

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Alright, I’m running way behind schedule, so this will be right quick.

Loved reading Julien’s piece analyzing the Mavericks and the Heat. He made some points I’d have made had he not beat me to it, and some other great points I wouldn’t have made.

Here are some other finals previews I enjoyed reading.

On my mind:

1. Miami certainly appears to have played the tougher playoff schedule by a good amount, and they’ve looked more in control as they’ve done it. Not to take anything away from the Mavs who are 12-3 in the post-season just like the Heat, but they were a few bounces away from being down 2-1 in the Laker series instead of up 3-0, and maybe a single bounce away from losing 2 of 3 at home against Oklahoma City. Add in that the Heat clearly have more talent and have home court advantage:

If Dallas wins this series, it will be a pretty staggering achievement and a substantial upset.

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Written by Matt Johnson

May 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm