A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Manu Ginóbili

33pt Thursday: Was “Feel for the Game” the secret to the Red Auerbach era Celtics and Greg Popovich era San Antonio Spurs legendary drafting?

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Tony Parker and Greg Popovich

Tony Parker and Greg Popovich (Photo credit: Tiago Hammil)

I believe feel for the game is ultimately under-represented in NBA personnel decisions, particularly in the draft. However that does not mean nobody has ever considered the subject. When I look at two incredibly eras for franchises, feel for the game stands out consistently in draft picks/decisions – and that’s Red Auerbach’s Celtics and Greg Popovich’s Spurs.

Now, this could be simply a matter of the Celtics and Spurs being fantastic at finding great players and it just so happening that most great players excel in feel for the game, therefore their successful acquisition correlating with feel for the game friendly players rather than being a cause of it. But for fun, let’s look at the histories of some of their picks:

Auerbach joined the Celtics in 1950. Bob Cousy was actually passed on by the Celtics, but ended up with them anyways after his team the Chicago Stags folded. Cousy was the Celtics’ first player with supreme feel for the game, the first truly great offensive mind in the game at the guard position. Bill Sharman, a draft pick soon after was another with a strong feel for the game offensively.

In 1956 the Celtics made arguably the biggest history changing NBA trade ever, trading for the rights to Bill Russell for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. Bill Russell of course is in the conversation for greatest feel for the game of all time. His awareness of the court makes him the greatest defensive genius in NBA history, while his elite passing game for a big proved his awareness offensively. Read the rest of this entry »

2011 POY Watch – End 1st Round

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The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.

Player (last rank)

1. Dwight Howard (1)

What’s that you say? The Magic lost in the first round to the lightly regarded Hawks, shouldn’t he drop? Well, dude played great though. I’m not going to drop him just because his team disappoints. I’ll admit though that this does leave him out of sight and out of mind while others have a chance to up their rep. Excellent chance he ends up slipping a bit by the end of June.

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Written by Matt Johnson

May 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

Bogansing the Vote

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Keith Bogans

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

ESPN did us the solid of sharing their expert picks, and lo &  behold the  picks by Dr. Jack Ramsey blew some minds. Manu Ginobili for MVP is the kind of off-the-wall pick that someone of Ramsey’s stature  might make people reconsider their opinions on. There’s nothing to be done though when he picks Keith Bogans as Defensive Player of the Year. Suffice to say, that there is no conceivable way that a guy who plays less than 20 MPG should be getting consideration for really any on court accolade. Even 6th Man of the Year is well out of his league, so DPOY is many orders of magnitude out there.

How do we reconcile that with the fact that Ramsey is a Hall of Fame coach who clearly knows the game on a level matched only by a few handfuls of people on this planet?

Well, by recognizing that Ramsey just isn’t putting that much effort into his picks.

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm

2011 POY Watch – End Regular Season

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The playoffs have begun, and now we will start to get into why I so stubbornly called this the “POY Watch” instead of the “MVP Watch”. By far the most meaningful award we could have for a player is one that factors in regular and post-season. That award doesn’t exist, so I say we make one up.

For those interested, during last off-season I ran a project over on RealGM I called the Retro POY project where we determined the player having the best season for all seasons back to ’54-55, the first year of the shot clock era. My post on this blog introducing the project and summarizing key findings is here.

During the playoffs, I’m going to jettison the weekly format of the regular season and instead do a round-by-round format. At the conclusion of all series for a given round, I will make an updated POY Watch. So that means there will be four more POY Watches after this one.

Without further ado, here are my rankings based on the whole regular season and nothing but the regular season.

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 20, 2011 at 1:21 am

2011 NBA POY Watch 4/11

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My weekly MVP rankings for the duration of the regular season. However, I’ll continue updating this as we go through the playoffs.

Player (last week’s rank)

1A. Derrick Rose (1)

1B. Dwight Howard (2)

A cop out? Maybe. I typically hate it when people make ranked lists and then insist they can’t choose. Dude, if you don’t know what your opinion is, why am I here? So I get it. If you insist on a 1 & a 2, then go by the letter suffix I put on there which keeps the same order as last week.

Bottom line though is that this week I have to make up my mind and commit to who my MVP pick is – but I haven’t yet made up my mind. Keep going back & forth. Very clearly, there are people on both extremes I find silly. No, Rose is not willing his team on pluck alone to best in the league status. No, Rose statistics aren’t bad – they are quite good, and the idea that just because there is no one stat that puts Rose on top, he can’t be #1 is bizarre (Out of the billions of people on earth, we have stats putting Rose easily in the top 10 that don’t factor in the intangibles of leading a team with great chemistry, and this is definitive proof against him?).

Give me a few more days…then I’ll give you my MVP and emphasize once against how wrong it is that the most prestigious individual award in the game doesn’t factor in the playoffs.

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

2011 NBA POY Watch 4/4

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My weekly MVP rankings for the duration of the regular season. However, I’ll continue updating this as we go through the playoffs.

Player (last week’s rank)


1. Derrick Rose (1)

I’m in the middle of a mental war with myself here for who I give the top spot to. Rose appears to hold on this week, but in reality I’ve changed my mind several times since breakfast.

Also, don’t ask me to justify Rose’s first Player of the Month coming in March. I really don’t know how that can be retconned with the NBA’s previous choices.

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Written by Matt Johnson

April 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

If Lamar Odom doesn’t win 6th Man of the Year…

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Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers

Image via Wikipedia

I swear to god voters, if Lamar Odom doesn’t win 6th Man of the Year, I don’t think we can be friends any more. Oh, we had some good times, but y’all just make everything so difficult.

Odom is now clearly eligible for the award, and people are talking about his candidacy…but they are talking about it as a tight race influenced partly by the idea that Odom’s not a “real 6th man” because of how much of the season he started (which was due to Andrew Bynum‘s injury).

Look folks, there’s a general tendency in both the 6th Man award, and the Most Improved Player award, to eliminate players because they are too good, and it’s silly. It’s silly in the MIP award where I now have to see Aaron Brooks name cemented for eternity for a year where he improved about 1/100th as much as Kevin Durant did, but at least there there’s an argument for giving an award to someone who will appreciate it. Give a kid at an arcade a quarter, this adds joy to his life. Give Bill Gates a quarter, and you’ve just made his pants a tiny bit heavier. Durant’s legacy is not going to be helped one bit by the MIP, so it’s no great loss.

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Written by Matt Johnson

March 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm

2011 NBA POY Watch 3/28

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My weekly MVP rankings

Player (last week’s rank)
1. Derrick Rose (1)
Rose’s Bulls continue to be on an absolute tear. Very clearly at this point, they’ve been the most impressive team of the regular season, and that’s before you even factor in the injuries to the 2nd & 3rd best players on the team. Many said we’d never again give an award to an Iverson type guy, but this is a perfect storm. Oh also, just because I’m a told-you-so kind a guy, with the recent articles talking about the similarities between Rose & Iversons’s MVP year, if you have read my Derrick Rose, the MVP race, and the Isiah-Iverson Team Model piece from February, well, there it is.

2. Dwight Howard (3)

Howard and his Magic now appear to be doing exactly what I said they needed to do for him to make a game of the MVP race. I want you to consider for a second: When the end of the month comes around in a few days, Howard probably wins Player of the Month again, right? That would make it two months in a row, and 3 months total for the year. If he and his team keep it up and he wins a 4th POM, could you really defend selecting Rose as MVP ahead of Howard? Howard’s got better stats by any metric I know of, no one I know thinks Rose is a better player, no one I know would draft Rose ahead of Howard. If he truly get 4 POMs to Rose’s zero, and Rose wins the MVP, doesn’t it seem like a certainty that a lot of the people who vote for Rose will deny it later?

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Written by Matt Johnson

March 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm

2011 NBA POY Watch 3/21

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My weekly MVP rankings.

Player (last week’s rank)

1. Derrick Rose (1)

Rose remains in the top spot. All the good narratives point in his direction, and I’m not seeing a reason to de-value his role on the Bulls. Short of a player/team falloff, I’d imagine the only danger for him in my head is if I get more fixated on Howard.

2. Dirk Nowitzki (2)

Stays at the 2nd spot for now, but if this current snag continues for the Mavericks he’ll fall further. I’m still shaking my head. The Mavs go 18-1, I finally decide Dirk’s candidacy can no longer be denied, and then they go 3-5.

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Written by Matt Johnson

March 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Letting the Lamppost Illuminate

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Image by motiqua via Flickr

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts…

For support rather than illumination

Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

I’ve been rather crucified lately for having Kobe Bryant so low on my MVP list, and I completely understand why. He’s the player many consider to be the best in the game, his team has an elite record, and as we approach the final stretch of the regular season, both he and his team appear to be entering back into their familiar, championship-winning groove. How can he be not anywhere near the top 5 in the MVP race?

And I answer, knowing that my response hurts my credibility among quite a few not simply because they disagree with me, but because a significant influence on where I place Kobe is his poor performance in adjusted +/- statistics (APM).

Remaining Sober

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Written by Matt Johnson

March 19, 2011 at 9:52 am