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Posts Tagged ‘Spurs

Decline watch: Tony Parker and Tyson Chandler are hearing footsteps

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עברית: טוני פארקר, שזכה בפרס בשנת 2007. Hrvats...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tyson Chandler and Tony Parker both had incredible seasons last year. Chandler helped lead an elite Knicks offense by setting the all time individual ORTG mark with 133 and anchoring the team’s defense and rebounding. Tony Parker was the Spurs clear-cut star for the 2nd straight season, leading the team in scoring, assists per game and having his most efficient season. They were two of the league’s true stars.

They’re also 1 and 2 on my “decline watch” list for this season. Why? Consider that they’re from the 2001 draft, thus are entering their 13th season in the league. A 13th season is late as it gets for an NBA player’s primes – only rare cases like 1998 Karl Malone, 2011 Dirk Nowitzki, 2009 Kobe Bryant have neared statistical peak that late. For players who are less than MVP talents, it’s even more rare.

Furthermore, let’s look at other players from the 2001 draft. Here are the top 10 players in career WS from the draft, who aren’t Parker or Chandler: Pau Gasol, Shane Battier, Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Mehmet Okur, Gilbert Arenas, Troy Murphy. The group varies from recently past their prime, to totally washed up, but none were in their prime like Chandler and Parker. Even more jarring, here’s the top 10 in career WS from the 2002 draft: Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming, Tayshaun Prince, Nene, Caron Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Jr., Drew Gooden, Luis Scola, John Salmons. Not only were 2012-2013 Parker and Chandler big enough exceptions to outlast their own draft class, but nobody’s in their prime in the next draft class either, despite a year less of experience.

In Chandler’s case, averaging 28.5 minutes per game and missing the equivalent of multiple seasons to injury, helps explain his longevity. Parker’s is incredibly impressive considering he’s played 173 playoff games in addition to his regular season miles. For both it’s a testament to their basketball IQ and work ethic they maintain this effective. But it’s more likely that their time will finally come this year, rather than be an exception one more year compared to their peers.

And of course the impact of this would be significant for the league. Parker led the team that came within a shot or rebound of the title this year, if a step less effective, they’d need a huge leap forward by Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter to make up for it. The Knicks are unlikely to complete with the Heat, Nets, Pacers and Bulls is Chandler isn’t at his best. The franchise is simply in a dangerous position. Their 2 stars Carmelo Anthony and Chandler are headed into their 11th and 13th seasons, making both threats to pass their prime at any moment. Anthony is a free agent after this offseason. Whether it’s even a good idea to pay him a huge contract after playing 11 seasons is as big a question, as whether he’ll want to stay if he sees Chandler’s time as a star is limited. They owe multiple future 1sts and have little young infrastructure other than Iman Shumpert. Sorry Spike and Woody, but things aren’t looking good.

 

Written by jr.

October 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm

On the Spurs Game 6 collapse (or lack thereof)

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San Antonio Spurs approach bench during a timeout.

San Antonio Spurs approach bench during a timeout. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The finish to Game 6 of the Finals will go down in history, due to the likelihood of the Spurs winning when headed to the FT line up 4 with 28 seconds left. A extra FT or defensive rebound closes the game. The Spurs losing that game will haunt them and those players forever.

However, I wouldn’t call it a historic collapse for this reason. The Heat led by 3 points with 1:27 left in the game and after charging back from the 10 point deficit to storm the 4th, felt as if in control of the game, playing at home, having the momentum and with Lebron James playing perhaps the best quarter of his career to that point. From there Tony Parker hit a crazy 26 foot 3pter, followed by a Chalmers turnover turning into a Parker score, then Lebron turning it over on the next 2 possessions, both ending in Ginobili at the FT line, where he hit 3 of 4. In all, the Spurs scored 8 points in a row in less than a minute, turning a 3 point deficit at 1:27 to a 5 point lead at 0:28. For the Spurs to have this sudden surge took a combination of clutch play by their stars scoring or forcing turnovers, fortune and devastating decisions in succession by Miami. In other words, it’s the inverse of what Miami needed to erase their 5 point deficit in the last 28 seconds. For the crushing misfortune the Spurs suffered in the last 28 seconds, they had just as much good luck in the 1 minute before then to shockingly get to that point, if not more. The Spurs in fact outscore the Heat by 3 in the last 1:27. To me, heading into the last 28 seconds the Spurs were about to steal a game they hadn’t controlled all quarter. That’s why I wouldn’t call it a historic collapse.

For the Spurs, I would consider it as big a criticism that a lead that was 13 late in the 3rd and 10 heading into the 3rd, was lost midway through the 4th. The lack of Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan in the last half minute of the 3rd and the first 2-3 minutes of the 4th, may have allowed the Heat to get a grasp on the game. In particular I’m shocked Leonard came off for those 2-3 minutes considering his athleticism and endurance at his age, with Duncan off they really needed Kawhi’s help defense and activity.

Interestingly, in 2011 even though in retrospect it felt like Dallas’ Game 6 win was inevitable, Dallas led by 9 heading into the 4th and, but Miami scored 5 straight points to start the quarter to cut it to 4. This was followed by 8 straight points by Jason Terry and JJ Barea with Miami not scoring for 3 minutes, to push the lead back to 12. In the Spurs Game 6, it was the Spurs who didn’t score from 3 straight minutes as their 82-77 lead went to a 82-85 deficit. In many ways, this game was Lebron’s reprieve for Game 6 of 2011. In that game he couldn’t provide the energy to turn the game to Miami’s, while in this one he not only did he dominate the 4th, but he shut down Tony Parker and the Spurs offense at the same time.

Although it was relatively successful for the Spurs, I still think taking the Tim Duncan-Tiago Splitter pairing out of the series, was a fascinating decision by the Spurs. Splitter is a blue chip center and the combination of him, Leonard and Duncan together was a devastating combination of defensive size. The Spurs took away a potential advantage in the post and on the glass by eliminating their big lineup. It’s unclear whether this was a good thing or not. Although there’s reason to be concerned about bigs guarding Miami’s small lineup, Indiana proved they could compete with a traditional David West-Roy Hibbert lineup. Playing big puts their bigs in defensive problems, but it also throws Miami’s gameplan off. Although San Antonio almost won the series, on paper it seems a smallball series is the way Miami wanted to play. It’s hard to beat a team like Miami at their game.

When looking at Miami’s 2 titles, I really have to credit them for winning big games on the road. There have been a remarkable amount of series for the Heat the last two series where the opponent team ‘had’ homecourt advantage at some point during it. Meaning against the 2013 Spurs, 2013 Pacers, 2013 Bulls, 2012 Thunder, 2012 Celtics, 2012 Pacers, the other team were at a point where they just had to win all their remaining home games to close out the Heat. But in Game 4 against the Spurs, Game 3 against the 2013 Pacers, Game 3 against the Bulls, Game 2 against the Thunder and Game 3 against the 2012 Pacers, (with the exception of the lay-up Bulls series) the Heat avoided either elimination or a very perilous state by going into the other team’s building and beating them, usually in dominant fashion.

As for the Spurs this year will still be an important and memorable part of their history despite the loss. But they aren’t done either even if Tim Duncan dips sharply from here and Ginobili retires or makes Spurs fans wish he had. With a few more Tony Parker prime seasons expected to come and the Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter, along with potentially more draft additions by that scouting staff, they have the horses to contend next year, if not ones after that. Leonard may be following the progression of Rajon Rondo, who started off as the 4th wheel for the Celtics in 2008, before in a short period of time surpassing them all to be the star and face of the team by 2010. Leonard could be the guy on the Spurs as early as next year. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if San Antonio is the 2014 champions, following in the footsteps of the late 80s Pistons, probably the best comparable for an agonizing loss of the title in Game 6 and 7 in 1988 followed by winning in 1989 and 1990.

This series was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was exceptional both on a game by game entertainment level with massive historical consequences. This was a Finals, Game 6/7 and playoff series that will stand out in the annuls of history and the NBA will be missed for the summer.

Written by jr.

June 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm