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Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Shane Battier

The best starting 5 of all time – my picks

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Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan 1997

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Since it’s a long summer, I thought I’d use an entry on my current choice for the best starting lineup I can possibly come up with out of all players in history. If you like visiting basketball message boards, this type of exercise is typically our 2nd favorite thing to do after ranking the “All Time List” numerically.

Now, my choices might surprise you. You may have seen a lot of all time starting lineups with simply the best player of all time at each position – A common list has Magic Johnson at PG, Michael Jordan at SG, Larry Bird at SF, Tim Duncan at PF and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at C. Since there is no way to actually test this, I’m not one to definitively say they’re wrong. But I believe they are. Most players used to having the ball the most on their team offensively, will find themselves far less effective when they have it the 4th or 5th most, roles typically reserved for either spot up shooters or putback scores. The 2011 Heat and their surprisingly stoppable offense were a great example of star redundancy at work. Teams were able to help off whomever of Lebron and Wade didn’t have the ball, bringing those defenders into the paint to guard against the ballhander’s penetration. Ultimately what makes the most effective offenses isn’t just having the most talented on ball players. It’s creating the most efficient shots – Which is a synergy of on ball creation and off ball oppurtunism. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

September 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

How to make the good times last, Memphis Grizzlies

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Left: Jim Calhoun, head basketball coach, Univ...

Fitting Rudy Gay in will be essential to the Grizzlies next season (Image via Wikipedia)

The Memphis Grizzlies’ memorable 2011 playoff run reminds me a lot of the LA Clippers in 2006. Like the Clippers, this is the Grizzlies first real playoff run after eons of terrible years. Both were built with strong frontcourts anchored by a 20 and 10 PF having his first real success in Zach Randolph and Elton Brand. Both ended with 7 game 2nd round losses.

The Clippers couldn’t keep it up and fell back to their usual ways the next year. The Grizzlies need to make the right moves to make sure they don’t follow suit.

So why did the Clippers fall back to earth? Sam Cassell’s decline played its part, as did Elton Brand and Chris Kaman both having lesser seasons – and Corey Maggette’s presence the whole year hurt the team’s ball movement. I’d also point the finger at Mike Dunleavy for not being a strong enough coach to keep the team’s defense and ball movement together for more than one year.

Here’s what the Grizzlies should do to get back to this spot next year:

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Written by jr.

May 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm

How they got here: The Memphis Grizzlies’ defensive culture change

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Memphis Grizzlies logo

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So, the Memphis Grizzlies are now a good basketball team. There’s a handful of reasons why. They have great frontcourt talent with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and good perimeter players in Mike Conley, Jr., O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Tony Allen and Shane Battier. But their success is really built on elite defense and making the unselfish play offensively. The Grizzlies team culture is in the right place. They play the right way.

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The difference between Mike Conley, Jr. and Russell Westbrook

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Mies-ian: Less is more... more or less

The Memphis Grizzlies just toasted Oklahoma City in Game 1 of their first round series and I believe one of the big differences was the play of Mike Conley, Jr. compared to Russell Westbrook

Now I’m in no way saying Conley is as good a player as Westbrook. Westbrook is a perenniel all-star talent and a true impact player.

However in this case I believe less is more. Conley’s job for the Grizzlies slightly resembles Rajon Rondo‘s on the champion 2008 Celtics – Running the offense without being the offense. He’s done an admirable job getting the ball to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and found the wing players OJ Mayo, Shane Battier and Tony Allen when open. On this team they don’t need Conley to do more than put up 12-15 points and 6-7 assist performance while making good decisions.

Russell Westbrook‘s role is much bigger. He has the ball the  most on the team and has been leading the team in shots more and more frequently. His usage rate in the playoffs has been much higher than teammate Kevin Durant‘s. The result is the Thunder are not playing a 5 man game offensively. It’s more of a Westbrook, Durant and then a bunch of other guys offense. James Harden in particular has been completley invisible, perhaps because of Westbrook’s ball dominance. The dominance of Westbrook and Durant in the offense has led to easy to guard predictability. Despite Westbrook being a superior player to Mike Conley, Jr., Conley’s picking spots offense led to a much more balanced, unpredictable and effective offense in the first game. Conley’s scaled back approach led to a much more cohesive team. The key to offensive success is ball movement and in game 1 it was the Grizzlies who wielded this and not the Thunder. Less ball domination by Conley meant better shots for the other players.

I picked the Thunder as my title pick pre playoffs, but I’m beginning to suspect it’s too early for them. The Thunder right now are not a 5 man team playing as one. They are not in the mindset in sacrificing shots for the fluidity of the offense – and I did not like their lack of defensive intensity in the first game. When you aren’t playing together offensively, it’s hard to expect to defensively. If the Thunder want to beat the Grizzlies, Westbrook will need to take a page out of Conley’s Game 1 performance scale back his usage for the betterment of team balance.

Jazz Improvisation and the Association in Chaos

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Image by StuSeeger via Flickr

10 thoughts after a whirlwind of a trade deadline:

1. I really wish I had more to say on the Deron Williams trade. I had a whole slew of points immediately on the tips of my fingers when Carmelo Anthony was traded barely more than a day before, and I consider Williams the superior players. Ideally I’d have more to say about it – heck, ideally *everyone* would have more to say about, but they may be suffering from a bit of the same thing I am. It’s just clear that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of the decision making in Salt Lake City. I’m generally one not to bothered by the prospect of venturing forth with theories in the wake of incomplete knowledge because complete knowledge is never assured, but here there’s just too much uncertainty.

2. That said, odds still seem pretty dang good that the Jazz don’t trade Williams unless they think he’s not going to be happy there in the long term. So yes, anyone not willing to include this happening amongst the trend of stars leaving well run small market teams, is being unreasonably cautious.

3. Good trade for the Jazz? They lost Deron Freaking Williams, and traded him for players you certainly can’t expect to be his equal. The most you can say is that given the macro trends of stars in the NBA right now, it’s hasty to call Jazz management incompetent for what when down.

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2010-11 NBA Predictions: 6th Man of the Year

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I used the phrase “borderline irrationality” before, but there’s nothing borderline about this award.  Case in point:  Manu Ginobili finished a distant 4th in the voting last year.  He qualified as 6th man based on the NBA definition, and he’s was far superior than anyone else who qualified, so why wasn’t he a lock to win this award?  With the Most Improved Player award you can at least point to the Kevin Durants of the world missing out because they’re already getting plenty of accolade love elsewhere, and the award was design to give a shout out to someone who wouldn’t ordinarily get one.

6th man of the year?  Look, there is no 5th man or 7th man of the year award.  The award exists specifically to reward players who are good enough to be a starter, but who are sacrificing to help their team.  You want to honor that sacrifice, then you certainly don’t ignore players who are “too good” here.  You can’t even use the argument that Ginobili’s getting other awards instead because he didn’t get ANY awards last year.  No All-NBA, or All-Star spot for this guy, specifically because of his sacrifice, and he can’t even get this lousy award?  Now to paint a more full picture:

1)      Ginobili has won the award before, and that’s probably factoring in here – but that just begs the question of why voters don’t want to vote for him a second time.

2)      Ginobili is in that role, partly because his style of play makes him suite to play less minutes that a real superstar would play, so calling it a “sacrifice” is debatable in his case in particular – but it would make zero sense for a voter to use that fact to not vote for Ginobili.

Ending the rant – where does that leave us?  Well, if Ginobili were slated to be a 6th man against this year, I’d get stubborn and make him my pick while at the same time saying I didn’t expect him to get the award.  At this point though, the evidence I see has him starting, so I’ll try for an honest to god prediction.

The guy I see right now, who is on a great team, is getting good minutes, and is riding a wave of Shane Battier-esque role player buzz is…

JJ Redick

He’s gone through quite the transition from hated Dukie to the guy people praise while find new ways to hate Vince Carter.  Redick’s solid play during Orlando’s deep playoff run helped make him a prized free agent this off-season.  The Magic though didn’t want to let Redick go, and so he stays in the same role that suited him so well previously.    He’ll never become a star in this role, but he just might get an increasing amount of positive attention.