Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

Blazers should become relevant, again … if Przybilla is 100% healthy

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The current standings in the Western Conference look like this, with Portland in the No. 8 position.

However …

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Joel Przybilla signing with Trail Blazers

… chose the Blazers over the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat and will be signed through the remainder of the season. He played with the Blazers from 2004-11 before he was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats midway through last season. He played only five games for the Bobcats before re-injuring his right knee.

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the addition of a highly serviceable 7-1, 260 center with outstanding character – in particular mental, emotional and physical “toughness” – to the pieces the Blazers already have on their roster:

STARTERS

PG/Raymond Felton + OG-SF/Nicolas Batum + SF-PF/Gerald Wallace + PF/LaMarcus Aldridge + C/Marcus Camby

KEY SUBS

PG-OG/Jamal Crawford + OG-SF/Wes Matthews + PF/Kurt Thomas + C/Joel Przybilla

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RESERVES

PG-OG/Elliot Williams and PF/Craig Smith

EXTRAS/OUTS

PG/Nolan Smith, SF-PF/Luke Babbitt, PF/Chris Johnson and C/Greg Oden

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returns their team to a point of relevance which has been missing since:

i. Greg Oden [C] ruptured his kneecap;

and,

ii. Brandon Roy [G-F] announced his premature retirement from basketball;

and should eventually put them right back into the mix for a Top 4 seed in the playoffs this year.

Related:

Przybilla follows heart back to Portland

Man behind the scenes of Knicks’ resurgence …

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

apparently, is none other than:

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Grunwald got Lin to Knicks

On Dec. 24, Jeremy Lin hit Grunwald’s greaseboard after he was cut by the Rockets. D’Antoni and Grunwald discussed Lin’s impressive pre-draft workout in Greenburgh on June 7, 2010, his penetration ability and knack for the pick and roll.

Grunwald had recommended bringing Lin in for training camp last season and earlier in December, but Golden State and Houston had gotten in the way.

“I remember Glen saying after Lin got waived, ‘He can run the pick and roll and be a playmaker better than anybody we had,’ ’’ D’Antoni recalled.

But the Knicks had enough point guards on the roster by then. In the season opener on Christmas Day, rookie Iman Shumpert sprained his knee and went out for at least two weeks.

The decision was made the next day when Grunwald told D’Antoni this was the Knicks’ chance to claim Lin — at least as a stopgap because his $788,000 contract wasn’t guaranteed. After 16 teams passed in waivers, Grunwald sprang.

“Lin and [Steve] Novak, they were both Glen’s calls,’’ said a person familiar with Grunwald’s daily waiver talks with D’Antoni.

Earlier that month, D’Antoni was more impressed by his new boss during the hectic period when the franchise did mathematical cartwheels — a series of maneuvers that began with Chauncey Billups’ amnesty waiver — to open enough salary cap space to sign center Tyson Chandler.

“Trying to get Tyson in those few days, his demeanor to deliver under enormous pressure was terrific,’’ D’Antoni said. “The way he went about it: calm, cool, collected through the whole thing.’’

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a former GM of the Toronto Raptors who, during his tenure with the team, is fondly remembered, by yours truly, as a man of high integrity with a solid degree of basketball acumen.

In fact …

The day Glen Grunwald was relieved of his duties with the Raptors coincides with the team’s current slide into irrelevant mediocrity.

Jeremy Lin, July 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

19 months ago, this is exactly what was written here, concerning the ability of Jeremy Lin:

Trying to make your way in the world

based on:

i. The eye test;
ii. A cursory look at his basic game stats while a student-athlete at Harvard University; and,
iii. His stellar performance in this specific game against UConn and Kemba Walker:

The simple facts are these:

1. The vast majority of so-called basketball experts … which, unfortunately, includes most General Managers, and coaches, and players, and stats gurus, etc., in the NBA … do not have the necessary level of basketball acumen to accurately assess the actual skill-set of a player like Jeremy Lin;

2. The Golden State Warriors’ decision to sign but then use Jeremy Lin only as a 3rd string PG, in arrears of Monte Ellis and Stephon Curry, is akin to the Phoenix Suns’ decision in the 1996-1997 season to use Steve Nash, as an after-thought only, behind initially-perceived-to-be “more dynamic” players like Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd;

3. If Jeremy Lin was diligent enough to work hard to improve his left-hand dribble, he was always more than capable of becoming a legitimate Starting PG in the NBA … if he was also fortunate enough to get the opportunity to play for the right head coach in a best-fit system;

and,

4. Nothing which Jeremy Lin has done so far in the NBA should really come as a surprise to a legitimate basketball expert.

Related:

Jeremy Lin: Knicks’ star is Warriors’ loss

Legitmate Contenders to win the 2012 NBA Championship: Part I

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Where is your favourite team in the race to win this year’s League Championship?

Ranking the Legitimate Contenders 

to Win the NBA Championship

[as of Mon-Feb-06-2012]

Team PDR PAR RDR QR QIR WCR ECR
Bulls 2 3 1 6 1 1
Lakers 12 5 2 19 2 1
Pacers 10 4 9 23 T-3 T-2
Heat 3 16 4 23 T-3 T-2
76ers 1 1 23 25 5 4
Blazers 4 10 12 26 T-6 T-2
Thunder 5 17 4 26 T-6 T-2
Hawks 7 7 15 29 8 5
Spurs 8 12 15 35 T-9 4
Celtics 9 2 24 35 T-9 6
Mavericks 11 6 19 36 T-11 5
Magic 16 8 12 36 T-11 7
Timberwolves 15 18 6 39 13 6
Rockets 14 20 6 40 14 7
Nuggets 6 25 10 41 T-15 T-8
Hornets 24 11 6 41 T-15 T-8
Grizzlies 17 9 17 43 17 10
Cavaliers 22 22 3 47 18 8
Clippers 12 24 12 48 19 11
Knicks 18 14 19 51 20 9
Jazz 18 23 11 52 21 12
Raptors 25 13 18 56 22 10
Bucks 20 15 27 62 23 11
Pistons 28 19 21 68 24 12
Suns 23 20 26 69 25 13
Nets 26 26 22 74 26 13
Warriors 21 28 30 79 27 14
Kings 27 30 25 82 28 15
Wizards 29 27 29 85 29 14
Bobcats 30 29 28 87 30 15
LEGEND: PDR – Points Differential Rankng; PAR – Points Allowed Ranking; RDR – Rebounding Differential Ranking; QR – Quality Rating [i.e. PDR + PAR + RDR = QR; QIR – Quality Index Rating [i.e. QR ranking from 1-30]; WC – Western Conference Ranking; Eastern Conference Ranking.

Related:

What it takes to win the NBA Championship

Benchmark game for Toronto Raptors

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

What is really at stake in tonight’s Raptors vs Wizards match-up?

This is what the current standings look like in the NBA.

12. Toronto Raptors, 7-16, .304
13. Washington Wizards, 4-18, .182

Given that these 2 teams have already played each other one time this season:

Game 1, Tue Jan 10, in Washington, [Toronto, L]

and that they will be playing 2 more times after this evening:

Game 2, Fri Feb 03, in Toronto
Game 3, Mon Feb 06, in Washington
Game 4, Sun Apr 01, in Toronto

… there is actually more than a good chance that the loser of tonight’s game will eventually finish this season as one of the 5 worst teams in the league and, therefore, secure a relatively high selection in the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery.

To wit …

If you happen to be a die-hard Raptors fan who:

i. Is happy that Toronto had the good fortune to acquire Jonas Valanciunas [C] with the No. 5 [overall] Selection in the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery;

and,

ii. Actually wants to see your favourite team be able to eventually develop into a legitimate contender to win a League Championship, sometime in the not-too-distant future;

then, you best be cheering hard this evening for a victory … by the visiting Wizards … so Toronto actually improves its chances of adding Harrison Barnes [G/F] to its roster next season, as well.

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PS. As difficult as it may seem, sometimes in life it really is most important that one goes “backwards”, temporarily, so that one can eventually go “forwards”, again, in a way which authentically significant.

Correct way to deal with trade demands from up-coming free agents in the NBA

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

There are many good reasons this little corner of the net has long held that Jerry West deserves to be placed in an exalted category among NBA General Managers:

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Last season it was Carmelo Anthony. This season it’s Dwight Howard. Players who hold the threat of walking as a free agent over a team to force a trade to a destination they prefer.

Jerry West wants none of it. He says teams should call the player’s bluff — make him leave the money on the table to walk away.

The legendary player and long-time league GM of the Lakers and Grizzlies (and current Golden State minority owner and team consultant) was asked in interviews on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles how he would handle such a situation if it were his team.

“I honestly think I’d call their bluff,” West said in an interview on 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland show Thursday, not mentioning Howard specifically. “I really would, because I don’t think any agent or player is going to leave $30 million on the table. I just don’t believe that’s going to happen….”

“If I were an executive on a team where a player says he’s going to leave, let him leave,” West said on 710 ESPN’s Max and Marcellus show earlier Thursday. “It would be better than saddling yourself with a bunch of players that are not going to fit in to what you’re trying to do — high-salaried players, in many cases overpaid players by today’s standards, that would burden you going forward.

“I’d almost rather start over again myself. You’re not going to replace that player, but there’s an enormous penalty there and it looks like to me like the inmates are running the asylum if you let that happen.”

Jerry West just became very popular in Orlando.

West has always been a risk taker and his strategy comes with one big risk — that the player isn’t bluffing and would leave. Meaning the franchise gets nothing. Maybe West would rather just start over, but if you hold out like Denver did (and find an owner like James Dolan who caves to work with) you can get a fair amount of talent back.

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The most important of which involves a specific perspective on the game of life that transforms negatives into positives, at all costs.

i.e. When a free agent leaves your team it is simply not the case that, “The franchise gets nothing [in return].” The simple facts are that: i) The franchise actually gets the Salary Cap space formerly associated with the departing player to use as it sees fit going forward; and, ii) The departing free agent gets to sign an employment contract with a new team worth $30.0 M less than he could have received from his former team.

If someone says that they no longer wish to work with you, or your team, then, once their present contract expires, you should simply wish them well and allow them to leave, so that you are in position to continue moving forward without them.

It really isn’t about the playing bluffing games at all.

What it’s really about is the important difference between: a) Being a Winner; and, b) Being a Loser.

The correct answer to the key question about the 76ers …

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

is that:

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Justin Kubatko, of Basketball-Reference, doesn’t mess around with numbers. He doesn’t get all excited about things that don’t matter. And the other day in The New York Times he wrote:

There have been 38 teams in N.B.A. history with a point differential of at least plus-10.0 points a game through their first 18 games. The median winning percentage of those teams was .753, which translates to 49.7 wins over a 66-game season. Additionally, 24 of those teams advanced to the N.B.A. finals, with 19 claiming the championship.

In short, mediocre teams do not go on extended runs in which they routinely outscored opponents by double-digit margins. If history serves as a guide, Philadelphia is a contender.

In other words, there are interesting numbers to suggest the Sixers are even money to win the title this year. Which is one nutty thing to suggest.

On the other hand, half the teams that have started this hot in NBA history did not win the title. And there is good reason to suspect these Sixers may fall into that category. They have played just about the easiest schedule in the NBA. When they have played the power teams on the road they have generally lost — at Portland, at Utah, at New York, and badly at Miami. They have also lost at home to the Nuggets and (gulp) Nets.

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Unfortunately, Philadelphia is not yet a legitimate contender to win the NBA Championship this season … since there are 5 teams in the Eastern Conference with more overall talent on their roster.

Although Philadelphia is a much better team than many so-called “NBA experts” may have erroneously projected in the off and/or pre season, in reality, this team is also not nearly as good as the number-crunchers might try to tell you it is, at this point in the season, based on their marginal of victory to-date … and, until the 76ers actually have Top 4 talent on their roster, they should not ever be considered as one of the few legitimate contending teams in the hunt for the NBA Championship in a given season, at least, by an authentic NBA expert.

Addition of Przybilla would secure NBA Championship for Miami Heat

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

As of today, the odds to win this year’s NBA Championship look like this.

However …

If there is one player who is currently on the open market that Pat Riley SHOULD try to add to his existing squad, in order to ensure that his team has the best opportunity possible to win this year’s NBA Championship, it is none other than …

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Miami Heat extend contract offers to Kenyon Martin, Joel Przybilla

The Heat have offered contracts to both Joel Przybilla and Kenyon Martin, their agents told ESPN.com. Przybilla is expected to make a choice between the Chicago Bulls and Heat, according to agent Bill Duffy. Martin is interested in several teams, with the Heat in the mix, according to agent Andy Miller.

The Sporting News reported Wednesday that Przybilla is planning to make a choice by the end of the week.

Heat president Pat Riley has been recruiting both players as the Heat look to add depth to their frontcourt. According to multiple league executives, the belief is that the 7-foot-1 Przybilla is healthy and believes he can contribute to a contender in a limited role off the bench.

Przybilla played in 36 games for the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats last season, averaging 1.8 points and 4.0 rebounds.

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Joel Przybilla [C, 7-1, 259].

It says here and now that … if Mr. Przybilla is indeed 100% healthy, once again, and in position to play regular minutes, as a highly effective role player, either, as a “starter” or a “key sub” coming off the bench, then … the Miami Heat will win the NBA Championship this season, and the mere possibility of still getting them at odds of 5-2 is, in fact, a huge value investment.

ROI: The most important coaching concept you will learn about today, or tomorrow, or beyond

Monday, January 30th, 2012

David Thorpe speaks on the core concept of “Royal Jelly”

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PS. Those stats gurus who believe that “players are who they are,” simply do not understand the FUNDAMENTAL concepts of outstanding elite level coaching.

Thus far, Flip Saunders’ teams have demonstrated that he is not an authentic elite level basketball coach

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

According to certain basketball-related web sites and so-called “stats gurus” who operate them, the work of Flip Saunders has not been the main source of the different problems experienced by the Washington Wizards during his tenure with the team:

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Flip Gets the Blame … Again

The Wizards are really, really bad this year. Because of the team’s lack of success, it made a desperation move and fired its coach, Flip Saunders. But Saunders wasn’t the problem. The problem is that the team is riddled with bad players. And the team’s management has failed to remedy this problem by holding on to the bad players. Thus, Washington will continue to be bad in the absence of Saunders unless its management starts making good decisions. Unfortunately firing Flip doesn’t signal that the management understands this. Flip has been fired several times thanks to unrealistic expectations. While good moves can make a franchise good, unrealistic expectations seem to lead to bad franchises and fired coaches.

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This is simple hogwash.

A more accurate interpretation of what has actually happened to the different teams coached by Flip Saunders, to this point in his career as a coach in the NBA, runs along the following lines:

i. Saunders’ Minnesota Timberwolves did not go further in the Western Conference Playoffs than the collective talent level of the players on their roster allowed;

ii. Saunders’ Detroit Pistons did not go further in the Eastern Conference Playoffs than the collective talent level of the players on their roster allowed; and,

iii. Saunders’ Washington Wizards have not finished higher in the Eastern Conference than the collective talent of the players on their roster has allowed;

primarily because he was, and is, not an authentic elite level basketball coach … with the ability to extract MORE wins from his team than just their collective talent level will produce, relative to their peers … in spite of being a very knowledgeable basketball coach, in terms of X’s and O’s.

Although the overall talent level of the players on the Wizards’ roster this year is not where it needs to be in order to compete effectively for a Top 4 position in the Eastern Conference,

Initial Assessment of Team Rosters in the NBA’s Eastern Conference

there is actually more than enough NBA-level talent on their roster at-present to allow this team to compete effectively for a lower tier playoff position … if it is coached by an authentic elite level practicioner, e.g. Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, Stan Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, etc., who has the vision, acumen and ability to inculcate discipline to the individual players on his roster within the framework of the team.

Unfortunately for Wizards’ fans moving forward – at least, in the short term future – it is also the case that the team’s new interim head coach, Randy Wittman, does not fit properly into this important category [i.e. an authentic elite level basketball coach], as well … and Ernie Grunfeld [GM] will most likely need to be held accountable for repeatedly making poor managerial decisions like this one.