A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘George Karl

The Denver Nuggets: An impressive team, but one not made for the playoffs

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Nenê of the Denver Nuggets

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One of the most impressive teams of the young 2011-2012 NBA season is the Denver Nuggets. They’re the ultimate team over star story, playing as well without Carmelo Anthony as they ever did with him. They presently have a 12-5 record after 4 straight impressive road wins, and have the 4th highest the adjusted point differential (SRS) in the league. Their secret? A combination of phenomenal ball movement between highly efficient outside shooters and inside finishers, always finding the best shot on the floor – to go along with the highest defensive turnover % in the league and the league’s fastest pace, a devastating combination. It’s the ultimate George Karl team, a coach who’s always favored teams with a high amount of turnovers defensively and fastbreak counter-punch points, forced due to an ultra aggresive help defense scheme on the perimeter.

But there’s a difference between the Nuggets proving an Anthony type centerpiece is unneeded for success in the regular season and doing so in the playoffs. The first is a nice story, but if you don’t have the second, it means nothing at the end of the day. And I don’t believe the Nuggets are built to carry this success to the postseason, a place where many of Karl’s fastest and most aggressive teams have played below their regular season results.

The main problem is an overwhelmingly perimeter based offense. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by jr.

January 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

The NBA’s 50 Most Interesting People of ’10-11 (Part I)

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A countdown of the 50 most interesting people in the NBA this year based on what they have and have not

Image via nba.com

done. This post will count down from 50 to 31.

50. Joel Anthony

Who’d have thunk that the 4th most important player after Miami’s Big 3 would be an undrafted guy who spent more time on the bench than on the floor in college? Dude’s become a living symbol of team balance. The Heat have so much focus on scoring with their 3 stars that not only can they afford to have a 2 PPG guy as stater – they STILL are putting too much emphasis on scorers even with a guy like Anthony.

49. LaMarcus Aldridge

With Roy falling on hard time, Aldridge has emerged as the Blazers’ star, as they continue to both disappoint and overachieve. Aldridge has yet to really capture our attention with star-like intrigue, but his new prominence is noteworthy.

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Everyone needs to pay attention to the Nuggets right now

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Nene Hilario

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

As an analyst, I love it when players change teams. I know, it goes against the very core of what fans do, and I feel that typical pull as well, but when a player changes teams we get to see what he really meant to his old team, as well as what he can do in a new situation. This is why I’ve been looking forward to Carmelo Anthony being traded ever since the rumors of his discontent surface. He in particular has always had a reputation among the general populace as a superstar that there was never any statistical basis for.

He is a very skilled scorer, but has never utilized it do produce great efficiency. The rest of his game has never had the breadth of impact the top tier of stars have. And then this season, a weird conversation began happening based around the idea that he makes his teammates shooting skyrocket. I commented on this and on him generally in my Carmelo Conundrum piece. The most amazing fact was that if you actually looked at his effect on teammates shooting efficiency, it was negative. While true superstars tend to indeed help their teammates get easier looks, Melo didn’t.

So now, Anthony is traded to New York, and we’ve seen the new look Denver Nuggets for 10 games. You probably already know that the Nuggets are doing well and find it interesting even before you get to the entertainment aspect of things (Denver just plays some pretty, pretty ball now), but I don’t think it’s obvious to people how glaring the success has been.

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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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7 Thoughts on the Melo Maneuver

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Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets

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Thank God, it *finally* happened. I say that both with the emotional inflection you think I’m using, and whatever the opposite is. Any big trade brings with it some fantastic new information to analyze which I love. At the same time Carmelo Anthony being traded means I don’t have to hear any more about the rumors and drama in Denver. Good times ahead. My initial thoughts on the trade:

1. Never been a huge Melo fan (as was clear in my Carmelo Conundrum piece). I remain steadfast in my opinion that however many tools are in his arsenal, he never came close to a consistent run at superstar levels. Now possibly that’s George Karl‘s fault. I doubt it, but I never say never. We’ll learn a lot more in the near future.

2. My thought for the Knicks about whether acquiring Melo was a good idea was always a mild yes, depending on the specific terms. I am however more positive about it with inclusion of Chauncey Billups. Seems to me what Mike D’Antoni really needs to make his scheme pop is a great point guard, and despite the fact that we keep seeing hype indicating that’s he’s turned another scrub point guard into a star, he’s actually been discarding point guards left and right in New York. Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Chris Duhon, and now Ray Felton, all gone. Clearly they didn’t have everything he wanted. Now we get to see how Billups does. This will be the closest thing D’Antoni’s had to Nash, so we’ll have to see if that finally does the trick. Read the rest of this entry »

The Carmelo Conundrum, how good is he?

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Carmelo Anthony during an NBA preseason game i...

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Carmelo Anthony has been a lightning rod for debate for a long time, but with his recent decision that he doesn’t want to play for the perpetual playoff team Denver Nuggets any more, we’ve reached a local peak in activity.

A few days back political statistical superstar Nate Silver wrote an article about Melo.  I’m a big fan of Nate’s – but it really was a terrible article.  First off the title was “Why Carmelo Anthony is the Ultimate Team Player”.  Aside from the fact that “ultimate team player” isn’t something that can be measured by statistics completely, it’s not like Silver actually went about comparing him to other players and showing Melo’s superiority.  I really hope that the title choice was done by someone other than the statistician.

I focused though on Silver’s specific analysis.  He’s saying that teammates do better at shooting efficiently with Melo.  Taken at broad strokes, this is essentially a +/- argument using shooting efficiency instead of the scoreboard.  While such an analysis can be useful because it is specific enough to suggest a particular means of impact, if we’re talking about a player’s overall impact it’s inherently weaker than what we call +/- statistics because it factors in only one part of the game, and so I said as much:  Whatever Melo’s factor on his teammates shooting, his total impact based on the +/- stat of greater scope and at least as much credibility is not anything like the true superstars of the world like draftmates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Today Henry Abbott over at TrueHoop has an article about the debate about how good Melo is, and it’s pretty good.  It mentions things from both sides.  Among other things it mentions a more clean take down of Silver’s analysis:  Silver analyzed this by measuring efficiency of players when they were on Melo’s team compared to on other teams, but if you actually look at his on/off numbers on 82games.com, you see that for both this year and last year, his team shoots better when he’s on the bench.

I want to respond to some specific points from Henry’s article:

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 18, 2011 at 11:01 am