A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘National Basketball Association

Introducing some consistency to A Substitute For War: Daily themes (+ This week’s preview)

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I decided this NBA Season I’m going to try and write at a more consistent level. To do this I’m introducing daily themes for each day, which are:

Monday: MVP Monday/Power Rankings – Bringing back a weekly article when Matt Johnson was a regular contributor, I’ll discuss the top 5 in the MVP race and other players who had a particularly big week. I’ll also contribute a team power rankings.

Tuesday: Stats Tuesday – My attempt to say something insightful statistically once a week

Wednesday: Video blog Wednesday – I’ll try to consistency make more youtube videos on general thoughts on the NBA

Thursday: 33 point Thursday – I’ll post an article related to my 33 point method for evaluating talent that I introduced a few weeks ago

Friday: Prospect Friday – Posts on NBA Draft prospects and the NCAA if I have anything to say about it

Here is my plan for this week:

Monday: MVP Race predictions

Tuesday: Demar Derozan, OJ Mayo, Michael Beasley and the possessions game catching up to young players

Wednesday: Why I’m down on the 2012-2013 Minnesota Timberwolves’ season (video blog)

Thursday: Team record predictions using the 33pt method

Friday: An early look at Shabazz Muhammed (video scouting report)

It’ll be work, but let’s see if A Substitute for War can get taken to the next level

By Julien Rodger

Twitter: @ASFW_jrodger

Email: julienrodger@gmail (Throw me a question, I’ll get around to a weekly/monthly mailbag if I get enough)

Written by jr.

September 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Searching for Bill Russell ~ Starring Anthony Davis (2012)

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That didn't really happen did it?

The more I learn about basketball’s history, the more impressed with Bill Russell I am. Like many, I at one point found it hard to believe that Russell could truly be a more valuable player than Wilt Chamberlain. Now, the primary reason for that was that I couldn’t imagine Russell’s more one way game matching the two way dominance of Chamberlain, and if you know me, you know that since then I’ve written fairly extensively on just how flawed Chamberlain’s offense was. There was also the matter though of me just having a false ceiling in my head for just how dominant a team can get on one side of the ball.

If you go by the estimates of offensive and defensive team efficiency given by basketball-reference.com, the curve of extremely good results seems very well behaved. Here are the best sides that side lists based on percentage edge over median:

 

You can see the teams here are all in the same ballpark. You might also notice that Steve Nash is on 3 of the top 5 offenses, which is quite remarkable. Most importantly though, you might notice how modern all these teams are. Nothing from earlier than 1993. Remarkable, no? Well, it is remarkable, but there is a catch: basketball-reference only provides estimates from 1974 on. What happened before that?

Bill Russell did 6 impossible things before breakfast

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How the NBA lockout is like the movie Heat

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Cover of "Heat"

Cover of Heat

So if you’re an NBA fan, you probably know lockout has started. So much for the summer of analytical trade reaction articles on A Substitute for War.

You may not believe this, but the best visual representation for the NBA lockout is the movie Heat. Released in 1995, it was the first Robert De Niro-Al Pacino pairing in a movie.

Here’s why the NBA Lockout is like Heat (spoiler alert by the way):

–  The first 2 hours of Heat has LAPD super cop Vincent Hanna (Pacino) chasing armed robber extraordinare Neil MacCauley (De Niro). At first, the LAPD is distant, still searching for the robbery crew’s identities. MacCauley’s group notices this and feels the “heat”, but continues to evade them. Likewise, the new CBA negotiations have been distant for months, one side chasing another. The heat will grow more and more on both sides in this case, but it will take a while before the action is a threat to start – as it does in Heat, which is a legitimate 3 hours long with a good 2 hours until the cops and robbers start shooting at each other

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Written by jr.

July 11, 2011 at 9:04 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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Of Intangibles vs Talent: Jonas Valanciunas vs Donatas Motiejunas in the 2011 NBA Draft

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Physical map of Lithuania. Click on the image ...

Who will be the 2011 NBA Draft's best C from Lithuania? (Image via Wikipedia)

In the 2011 draft there is really only one complete prospect: PG Kyrie Irving. The rest of the prospects split into two general groups: Talented offensive players with positional, defense, or effort level question marks, and more limited offensive players who are A grade in effort and defensive willingness.

Two Lithuanian Cs in the top 20 draw my eye in particular representing these two groups – and the talent vs intangibles debate in the draft in general: Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas.

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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

19 days until the NBA draft: My top 20 prospects/big board

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The NBA Draft is on June 23rd. Here is my ranking of the top 20 players available:

1. Kyrie Irving – Will deservingly go #1. Is perfectly built for the post handcheck NBA with speed/ability to change direction and shiftiness, shooting, and passing ability. What his biggest weakness would be 15 years ago is a lack of physicality but the new rules make that a non issue. He should make all-star teams.

2. Enes Kanter – Impact big men and having legitimate size in the middle matters. I care more about skill level in bigs than raw athleticism and Kanter has that in the post and with shooting range. He has all-star potential as well.

3. Alec Burks – In the NBA you want guards who are athletic and wizards dribbling the ball fluidly. That’s Burks. I believe he’s the biggest sure bet in the draft to score over 16 points a game and is a rookie of the year frontrunner. He has the skillset and NBA athleticism and body to drop 20 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in his prime. Read the rest of this entry »

A Parable of Noah and Solomon

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Joakim Noah

Image via Wikipedia

And so it came to be that not long after the foul word used by the man they call Kobe, Noah himself did use the same word. From on high, the Association gave the decree to punish Noah as had been done before to Kobe. But from the crowd came an cry after it became known that the penalty for Noah would be only one half that of what Kobe was made to suffer. In response, the man in the high castle known only as Stu spoketh to his people:

He was provoked, and he used a statement to a fan that passed by him. So it’s different circumstances. We’ll continue to evaluate each one of these incidents separately and make a determination. But we felt in this case a higher fine wasn’t warranted.

Wise Stu

(Okay I’ll drop the bad Biblical language now) The comeback to this statement by the league that struck me came from Jeff Van Gundy on ESPN’s telecast of Game 4 between the Mavericks and Thunder: “They should have explained that in the initial fine of Kobe Bryant.

Obviously, if the league had laid out precisely how much every kind of fine was to start with, and then followed those rules, they’d have a bit more credibility when faced with criticisms of bias.

Personally?  Let me give my Huzzah to Stu Jackson and the NBA on this one as it shows them performing with a wisdom they didn’t show previously.

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Flop and Punishment; Adapt or Suffer

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Image by baldeaglebluff via Flickr

During the game Saturday night, James Harden executed a flop to perfection against Tyson Chandler. He bumped into Chandler, and then when Chandler reacted by putting his arms up, Harden flopped at a point where Chandler’s elbows protruded maximally. Worked like a charm, Chandler got whistled for a technical.

Among the television announcers, Jeff Van Gundy talked about how they need to fine players for such flops, while Mark Jackson said you can’t fine a guy for trying to help his team.

I can’t think of a finer scenario for a meditation on flopping and rule making.

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Imagine there’s no choking (and no hot hand too)

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John Lennon rehearses Give Peace A Chance by R...

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Today is the one year anniversary of that day that will forever live in infamy…in Cleveland. Today is the day when LeBron James supposedly quit on his team and his city. What’s indisputable is that he played terribly, his Cavaliers lost, and it became clear to us all that the Boston Celtics had an extra gear that the Cavs did not.

Seems an appropriate day to ask y’all to participate in a little thought experiment channeling John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no choking.

Just for a minute. Don’t argue with me, just…imagine.

Think about every case of choking you’ve seen in basketball, and think about how you would explain it if you couldn’t blame it on choking.

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Written by Matt Johnson

May 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm