A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Nash

2011 NBA POY Watch 3/14

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My weekly MVP rankings.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Derrick Rose (2)

Well now this awkward. I write my piece on why Dirk is the MVP, and then drop him down to #2. What gives? Dirk’s case is clear in my mind, but it faces major issues when the Mavericks drop in the standings. That may seem arbitrary to you, but I’d suggest it’s about the least arbitrary watershed you could have. So for now, Rose is back at #1.

2. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

As written, The Case for Dirk.

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The Case for Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki has been my choice for MVP for more than a month now. However, we’ve only got about a month to go in the regular season, and Dirk’s not on most people’s short list. He isn’t in the top 3 at either ESPN’s or nba.com’s Award Watches for example. The closest I’ve seen anyone argue for Dirk, was a good SB Nation article saying he deserves more attention than he’s getting, and a Mavs’ blogger saying he’s as deserving as the other candidates. Not all that bold. So I guess I’ll take the leap:

As of now, Dirk Nowitzki is the player most deserving of winning the 2010-11 NBA MVP.

Let’s start out with the basics: The Dirk Nowitzki is the clear superstar on a team with no other all-stars, and he has led the team to the 3rd best record in the league in a year where there are no serious candidates on on the top 2 teams. Right there, Dirk should be on everybody’s mind as a top candidate.

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2011 NBA POY Watch 2/28

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My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

Well here we are, it’s about to be March, and I still have a guy at #1 that is not one of the two big guys being discussed and isn’t even in nba.com’s top 5. Sounds like I need to write a piece on that. In the meantime check out basketball-reference’s “Where Would They Be Without Him?” article.

2. Derrick Rose (3)

Jumps up. For detailed thought on Rose, take a look at my article from last week: Derrick Rose, the MVP race, and the Isiah-Iverson Team Model.

3. LeBron James (2)

A disappointing week and the king slips back behind Rose.

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Written by Matt Johnson

February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Not so fast: Major discrepancy in quoted “clutch” performance.

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This is a quick post in response to some more of the details in Henry Abbott’s last post on TrueHoop about Chris Paul‘s clutch performance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

February 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

2011 NBA POY Watch 2/21

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My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Note: With the short week, I’ve decided to give this week’s ranking early. With the limited play, this is a week of reflection.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

It increasingly feels like LeBron‘s going to take this, but up through now there’s not really a strong debate in my mind as to who my #1 is. Dirk’s impact says MVP to me.

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Jerry Sloan and His Point Guards

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Jerry and Phil

Image by kris247 via Flickr

The news of Jerry Sloan resigning mid-season, essentially immediately after a game, is something so surprising I can’t even think of the last time something in sports surprised me more. Almost a quarter century of tenure and a relationship with ownership perceived to be the most stable in the league – gone over night. And of course, as an analyst, I feel mostly just excitement about seeing something new.

Of course part of that is because of how I view Sloan. I respect the hell out of the man’s ability to consistently achieve success, but the man is also clearly stubborn as hell. John Amaechi said Sloan was “a cruel man” and made clear he thought the man was a homophobe – and it just rings too true for me to dismiss as being entirely without merit. When someone like that quits all of a sudden, he’s doing it because he’s tired of compromise, not because he’s a victim of some great unjustice.

Although with that said, remember that the Jazz drafted Deron over Chris Paul, when pretty much everyone considered Paul the clearly superior prospect, and that undoubtedly had everything to do with Sloan believing in Deron. Rough to put yourself on the line for someone, and then for that person to drive you out.

Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams

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Written by Matt Johnson

February 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Anatomy of the Indefensible Snub

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Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns of the National...

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So, NBA all-star reserves have been announced, and Steve Nash‘s name wasn’t on the list. I said I expected as much when I made my all-star picks, and gave the gist of my thoughts for why this was crazy. I want to go into them more clearly here, and then really examine how such a glaring snub is possible.

Objective Metrics put Nash ahead of Griffin

Blake Griffin got named to the all-star team in the first batch of reserve picks. I don’t actually have a problem with him making the team, but how does he make it over Steve Nash? Consider the following:

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Written by Matt Johnson

February 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Looking at Nash’s Crazy +/- Numbers

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With Phoenix Suns making a huge trade I wanted to take a moment to talk a bit about Steve Nash in terms of +/- statistics.  The Suns made the trade because of dissatisfaction with the way the team is playing, and with a sub-.500 record that’s understandable.  While I’ve yet to hear many people talking about the Suns’ struggles as a reflection on Nash, neither am I hearing Nash getting much attention in the MVP-sense.  I understand that to some degree as I currently don’t have him in my POY top 10, but it should be a hard decision for people.

According to basketballvalue.com, Nash is currently #1 in the league in Adjusted +/- for the year (and for the last two years combined actually).  His rating is +29.14, there are only 5 guys total in the league with a rating north of +20, and the other guys (Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol) are all on much more successful teams.  Most people reading this blog probably have the general understanding that adjusted +/- means roughly how much better the team does with you compared to without you after making some statistical adjustments to reduce noise.  But what does it mean when a guy on a mediocre team does well by this metric?  How do you compare him to guys on great teams?

There’s no clear cut answer to this, but I think it’s helpful to look at some raw +/- to get a more concrete feel for things.  nba.com has raw +/- numbers, i.e. how much in total your team has outscored opponents with you on the court over the season, and here’s how the Phoenix Suns look right now:

1. So Nash is at over 100, and 8 of the 9 other rotation players have a negative.  Stunning these are the guys Nash is out there with, and when he’s with them the team is still doing great, but virtually to a man, things are going terribly when Nash is out.

2. The only other positive rotation player is Frye, and he’s just barely above zero.  Nash’s lead over his nearest teammate is 95 points, which is the biggest gap between a team leader and his teammates of anyone in the league (Dirk is 2nd with an 81 point lead).

3. In case you’re wonder how a +109 net stands up, well to some degree it’s modest.  Dirk’s at +255 for example.  But check out some elite point guards on more successful teams:

Deron Williams, +51

Derrick Rose, +106

Russell Westbrook, +21

Chris Paul, +117

It becomes pretty easy to make the case that Nash is only ranked below these other point guards in MVP races because of how bad his teammates are.

Now, with all this said, I don’t have Nash in my top 10 right now.  The truth is I’m not entirely convinced by the metrics I’m showing here myself, with one major reason being that Nash has missed some time, and that doesn’t come into the above line of reasoning at all (and clearly it needs to fit in somewhere).  What I am adamant about is simply that when you look at these results, it should make your jaw drop.  You should be dang impressed with Nash, and you should consider that truly, the only thing keeping Nash from leading a contender is a decent supporting cast.  I don’t know whether the Carter & Gortat trade will do the trick, but I think it’s worth a shot.

Written by Matt Johnson

December 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm

2011 NBA POY Watch 12/6

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My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

To me Dirk’s lead right now is pretty glaring.  It’s strange to me that he isn’t being talked about like the favorite.  He didn’t even win Player of the Month.  Dirk’s Mavs have almost the best record in the league, and they are totally dependent upon him bringing it every night.

2. Deron Williams (7)

There are a couple big shifts in my ranking this week.  I don’t like it because it forces me to face up to how much an inexact science this is.  However, the other guys who were in front of him have really been slipping.  Deron is the front and center superstar for a very strong Jazz team, he earns this place largely by having less caveats than the other candidates.

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2011 POY Watch 11/22

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My version of the MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Chris Paul (1)

Still the obvious choice. I’m hearing some people get confused because of Paul’s modest stats. Make no mistake, he’s dominating like an MVP – the Hornets have just been good enough to not need maximum doses of him.

2. Pau Gasol (2)

Caps the week with a ridiculously dominant performance against Golden State. It’s amazing how against how many teams in this league he is literally unstoppable. Also worth noting for all the talk about why exactly Gasol has so much more respect now than he did against Memphis – that the gap between his current performance and what he did in LA initially is pretty clearly bigger than between the first couple years in LA and Memphis.

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