Posts Tagged ‘The Wages of Wins Journal’

Of chefs, grocers, unhappy campers and completely missed boats

Friday, December 24th, 2010

It is truly amazing how otherwise extremely intelligent people can become wholly mis-directed when they watch and attempt to decipher correctly what has actually happened on a basketball court, concerning the success or failure of a specific team in a particular season.

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The Person Buying the Groceries Might Be the Problem in Charlotte

Let’s summarize where I think the problem lies in Charlotte. 

- Larry Brown was one of the few coaches we found to have a statistically significant impact on player performance (Brown’s impact was only significant at the 10% level).  Yes, Wallace has declined. But I am not sure that is about Brown (I am not sure why that has happened, but I don’t think it is about Brown).

- Even if Wallace had not declined, though, the Bobcats were not likely to be as good as they were last year.  This is because MJ hasn’t been able to find very many productive players.

And now we hear Jordan really wanted Brook Lopez and he might want Baron Davis. If these stories are true, that again doesn’t speak well of the talent evaluation skills of Jordan.   Remember, Jordan once drafted Kwame Brown with the first pick in the draft (a player who is once again with Jordan in Charlotte) and Adam Morrison with the 3rd pick (a player who Jordan could easily have again).  So the track record is not encouraging.  And it is this track record that leads me to think the problem in Charlotte wasn’t the person making the dinner, it was the person buying the groceries.

Let me close by saying I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and/or a Happy Holidays!!  And although Phil Jackson doesn’t want to work on Christmas, I think most NBA fans are happy he is. Jackson should also remember if he coached the Bobcats, he probably wouldn’t be working on Christmas (yes, Jackson is good, but even the Zen Master couldn’t save this collection of players).  But then — like Larry Brown (and now Paul Silas) — Jackson would have other issues to worry about.

- DJ

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Larry Brown has been a very successful basketball coach over the course of his Hall Of Fame career.

Last season, Larry Brown did a terrific job coaching the Charlotte Bobcats to their first ever playoff appearance, by putting his players in the best possible position to accentuate their individual – and, therefore, collective – strengths while, simultaneously, minimizing their respective weaknesses.

This season, however, Larry Brown stopped doing that … primarily because the cast of players at his disposal was no longer to his liking … and by Game 28 on the Bobcats’ schedule had, instead, become a major factor behind the poor performance of the players on this team, many of whom were no longer listening to what he had to say as their head coach.

Responsibility for what has happened with the Charlotte Bobcats, so far, this season, lies with the following individuals, in this specific order:

1. Michael Jordan, i.e. the person who pays for the groceries;

2. Rod Higgins, i.e. the person who buys the groceries;

3. Larry Brown [and his coaching staff], i.e. the cook who makes the meals;

4. The Leaders amongst their collection of 14 players, i.e. the primary consumers of the meals;

5. The Followers amongst their collection of 14 players, i.e. the secondary consumers of the meals.

The operation of a successful NBA franchise is based upon a “top down” leadership model with 5 specific levels.

Hopefully, Michael Jordan’s recent decision to replace Larry Brown – i.e. the embodiment of an ‘unhappy camper‘ – with Paul Silas – i.e. the embodiment of a ‘happy camper‘ – will mean that the Bobcats have now found a head coach who is more in tune with the specific strengths and weaknesses of the individual players on THIS TEAM, for THIS SEASON and beyond.

Each year in the NBA is different from those which have preceded it.

Unless a team has the right coach … who is actually the ‘right fit’ for its specific collection of players … it has zero chance of reaching its ‘maximum capacity’. 

More Joy in … Raptorville?

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The NBA’s trade deadline is now just a little more than 1 month away.

On-line talk is beginning to purcolate concerning the eventual long term destinations for the marquee players of the Free Agent Class of 2010, e.g. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Tracy McGrady, etc.

The Bosh Trade Buzz 

Raptors approach fork in the road 

One of the best NBA-related blogs is The Wages of Wins Journal, authored by David Berri. This is his perspective on Chris Bosh’s situation with the Toronto Raptors: 

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Mixed messages on Chris Bosh

Examining the numbers for the individual players reveals that the change we observe with respect to Bosh’s production explains virtually all of the team’s improvement.  In other words, if Bosh maintained what he was doing last year, the Raptors – after all the changes made this summer — should have expected to win about 13 of their first 39 games.  And that mark would rank Toronto among the Pacers, Wizards, Pistons, and Sixers.  So if Bosh doesn’t improve, the Raptors are looking at the NBA lottery.

With Bosh improving, though, the Raptors have a good chance of making the playoffs.  And if that happens, Bosh has a good chance of experiencing a first round exit for the third time in his career.

Yes, Bosh had yet to experience much team success with the Raptors. Hence one suspects he might depart Toronto this summer.  And consequently, the Raptors have an incentive to trade him now.

A Super Dynasty with Bosh?

One possible destination is the LA Lakers.  It has been suggested that the Lakers send Andrew Bynum to the Raptors for Bosh (other players would have to be added to make the trade work, but Bynum and Bosh are the key players in the trade).  Such a proposal has apparently caused Andrew from Waiting for Next Year – a blog about Cleveland sports – a great deal of consternation.   Andrew explores how the Bynum-Bosh trade could happen and then concludes: “This deal would seemingly turn the Lakers into a super dynasty and give the Cavaliers little chance of being able to overcome the Lakers’ supremacy.”

I read this sentence before I looked at what Bosh had done this season. Since I knew that Bosh and Bynum produced at similar levels prior to this season, when I first read Andrew’s take on this proposal I had a hard time believing that such a trade would shift the balance of power in the NBA significantly.

But seeing what Bosh is doing this year, I guess there’s some reason for the other contenders in the NBA to be a bit nervous about a Bynum for Bosh trade.  For example, if Bynum was playing at Bosh’s level this year, the Lakers would be on pace to win about 64 games, or about six more projected wins than we currently see (and if Gasol was healthy, this projection is even higher).  And a Lakers team on pace to win 64 games would currently be the best team in the NBA. 

There are two issues, though, to consider. First of all, Bosh has never produced at this level in the past.  And if Bosh reverts to what we saw before this year – as I just noted — than the Lakers would not really be getting much more than what they are getting from Bynum. 

Furthermore, even if Bosh does maintain what he is doing this year, a 64 win team is hardly an insurmountable dynasty. The Cavaliers are currently on pace to win 59 games this year, and the difference between 64 and 59 wins isn’t really that great.  Yes, the Cavs would have to do a bit more to close to the gap.  But the gap could be closed (and even if it isn’t closed, it’s more than possible for a slightly worse team to win an NBA playoff series).

So although I think a Bynum-Bosh trade could make the Lakers the favorite to win in 2010, I don’t think the Lakers would be over-whelming favorites or a super dynasty.

Let me close with more thought on the Lakers.  If it’s true the Lakers are considering this move, it does tell us something about how the Lakers currently evaluate their own team.  There are pundits who believe the Lakers are already “the dominant team” in the NBA.  The fact that the Lakers are pursuing Bosh (that is, if they are) suggests the Lakers may not believe they are currently dominating the NBA (or maybe — since this is about mixed messages — this doesn’t mean that).

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… and, this, right here:

IMO, 25 is still a touch below the peak performance years of an elite level NBA player.

In all likelihood, Chris Bosh will continue to mature and, in the process, improve “his game” physically, mentally, emotionally and skill-wise. When he reaches 27-28 he will be at his zenith and, if teammed with the right cast of characters [i.e. owner, GM, coaches and players], be in position … relative to his peers … to seriously challenge for a NBA title, as a Core Player on a squad with Quality Depth throughout its line-up.

There’s a fine piece of Canadian Literature, by Morley Callaghan, titled, “More Joy In Heaven.”

It deals with The Cycle of Life and those who fail to recognize the following truisms:

i. The young and naive depend on others to survive.
ii. As maturity sets in, the young and naive begin to learn what life gives up and, therefore, by necessity, begin to develop their own sense of intelligence. When this happens, they actually become “smarter” than they were before.
iii. For some, when they think that they’ve reached the stage of full maturity, they’ve actuallyt become so smart that they realize what the world is really all about is dealing with harshness and the need for self-preservation/self-interest, at all costs. Hypocrisy abounds and what something looks like on the surface is rarely, if ever, what it actually is … when examined in-depth, “up close & personal”, in an objective way. Once they reach THIS stage, they elect to go no further.
iv. For others, however, there is a different path which still lies ahead, beyond the concrete [and, therefore, limited] reality of the three-dimensional world. At this stage, they are fully aware of the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy which exists in everyday life, the need for “smartness” in decision-making, and the perceived need for an actual lack of naivete, if the goal is to Survive & Conquer. What these individuals choose to do next is very curious and involves a form of “wilful regression”, so-to-speak … which harkens back to their early days of life when they had no choice but to “trust in the inherent goodness of others”, as without that, in the first place,

[i] What does one really have? and,
[ii] How valuable is IT really?

in the grand scheme of things.

The key difference this time around, though, is that these “smarter-and-yet-still-naive” psychologically mature individuals know full well what life really gives up and that there is little true value to be gained by growing rich, in any sense, on the back of moral bankruptcy, while losing one’s soul, in the process.

It’s a wonderful short story which speaks to the nature of human intelligence, ruthless objectivity, and what actually is … in the world in which we live.

================================

IMO, the Lakers’ ownership is committed to Andrew Bynum and has no intention of trading him this season.

If they do acquire Chris Bosh, however, and insert him in a Five-Man Unit that looks like this:

Kobe/PG + Artest/OG + Odom/SF + Gasol/PF + Bosh/C

[supported by the likes of Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Josh Powell]

it would instantly become the very best one in the entire NBA.

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is just some of what yours truly thinks about the matter.

Enjoy, one and all!

Related:

Chris Bosh’s strength … as a player and a person

De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh

Yao Ming or Andrew Bynum: Part III [The Playoff Series]

When three birds of a different feather flock together, it’s a poor omen for the Raptors

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

An accurate understanding of what exactly is going on these days in Raptorville is not arrived at easily for many of the team’s rabid fans who are active participants in the on-line hoops community. Amidst the general euphoria that has taken hold in the aftermath of last week’s seemingly stunning 4-team trade extravaganza with Dallas, Orlando and Memphis … which netted the Raptors:

* Hedo Turkoglu [F, Orlando, UFA]
* Antoine Wright [G-F, Dallas, expiring contract this coming season]
* Devean George [G-F, Dallas, expiring contract this coming season], and
* Preserved their right to use the Mid Level Exception [MLE], the Low Level Exception [LLE], and exercise their [Larry] Bird Rights towards resigning their own Unrestricted Free Agents [UFA]

at the expense of:

* Shawn Marion [Sign & Trade with Orlando, UFA]
* Kris Humphries [trade with Dallas; injured much of last season]
* Nathan Jawai [trade with Dallas; disabled much of last season]
* 2nd Round Draft Pick/2016 [trade with Dallas]
* Cash Considerations [trade with Dallas] 

The stark reality of this team’s current situation is perhaps best reflected in the bright lights of the following 5 observations:

PART ONE
The post-trade outlook for the Raptors which was first put together by “Dave” [nbaroundtable, Thu July 9], extolling the possible virtues:

Where do the Raptors go from here?

PART TWO
The specific comment which “Dave” then left in a different thread on his blog, later that same afternoon, indicating his actual thoughts on their chances to succeed with their current roster configuration:

———-

Four team trade: Shawn Marion to Dallas
2011/12

This is the Raptors fail safe option. When they fail, and they will fail, they need to have this option open to them and then use this option.

This means no extra contracts that last beyond two years. I will dislike pretty much any contract that goes beyond two seasons. As long as the contract is than two seasons, spending that money doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Dead End

The Raptors are going nowhere, and they need a miracle to happen for this plan to have any chance of working out. The Raptors are going to run into [sic] dead end.

Now, it’s time just to sit back and let things play out. Things will not improve until Colangelo figures out Bargnani isn’t a cornerstone of this franchise … until that happens, there’s nothing else that can be done to put the Raptors on the right road.

The Raptors can’t get out of the corner that they’ve boxed themselves into, until Bargnani is moved on. Any aspirations for a title are on hold until this happens.

———-  

PART THREE
The specific comment which was made on this blog [July 11, 11:35 AM], by yours truly, that addressed the supposed “Qualitative Improvement” of the Raptors current roster pieces in comparison with last season’s end-of-year squad, pertaining to the question of:

———-

Which team made out best from 4-team trade?
IMO, the Raptors have made upgrades in certain areas thus far but it would be a mistake in judgment to assess this improvement as being “a lot better“, just yet:

No BEFORE ADV AFTER

1 Calderon = Calderon
2 Parker <– Wright … AP is significantly better
3 Marion = Turkoglu … Turkoglu is NOT significantly better
4 Bosh = Bosh
5 Bargnani = Bargnani
—————————-
6 Ukic = Ukic
7 Kapono –> DeRozan * … cyclical due to draft
8 Graham = George … Devean is NOT significantly better
9 Humphries = Evans … Reggie is NOT significantly better
10 O’Bryant –> Nesterovic … Rasho is much better!
—————————-
11 Douby = Delfino … is different but NOT much better
12 Mensah-Bonsu = Mensah-Bonsu
—————————-
13 Banks = Banks
14 Jawai ? Barnes … jury still out on Nathan
15 Voskuhl = O’Bryant

Those who are looking at these changes in an excessively positive light are the ones looking through rose-coloured spectacles.

———-

PART FOUR
The Shifting Player Personnel Chart that was constructed by yours truly yesterday:

 

TORONTO RAPTORS ROSTERS

2007-2008 vs 2008-2009 vs 2009-2010

 

 

No

 

2007-2008

END

2008-2009

 

2009-2010

START

Mitchell

Triano

1

Triano

2

1

2

3

4

5

Ford

Parker

Delfino

Moon

Bosh

Calderon

Parker

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal T

Calderon

Parker

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

Calderon

Parker U

Marion T, U

Bosh

Bargnani

Calderon

Wright T, E

Turkoglu T

Bosh

Bargnani

6

7

8

9

10

Calderon

Kapono

Graham

Humphries

Bargnani

Solomon U

Kapono

Graham

Humphries
Bargnani

Solomon

Kapono

Graham

Humphries
Bargnani

Ukic

Kapono

Graham U

Humphries X

O’Bryant T

Jack R *

DeRozan Y1

George T, E

Evans T

Nesterovic U *

11

12

Dixon

Nesterovic

Ukic Y1

Adams U

Ukic

Adams

Douby T, U

Voskuhl U

Delfino R *
O’Bryant

13

14

15

Martin

Brezec

Baston

Jawai Y1

Jawai

Banks T

M-Bonsu U

Jawai

Banks

M-Bonsu R *
Ukic

16

Garbajosa @

 

 

Delfino R @

Douby

W/L

41-41/.500

8-9/.471

13-25/.342

12-15/.444

?/?

Legend:

X – Injured; Y1 – Rookie; R – Restricted Free Agent; U – Unrestricted Free Agent; @ – Not on active roster; W/L – Won-Lost record; Mitchell – Up to Dec 3, 2008; Triano1 – Before Shawn Marion trade; Triano2 – After Shawn Marion trade; T – Acquired via trade; E – Expiring contract this coming season; * – Expected to sign soon as Free Agent

 

which shows the drastic player changes that have happened with the Raptors for each of the past two seasons. 

PART FIVE
The glaring RED ALERT that was issued on Sunday by David Berri [i.e. noted economist, NBA "sage & soothsayer", author of The Wages of Wins Journal]:

Dashing Hope in Toronto
Not a Pretty Picture in Toronto

When we put the whole picture together, it appears the Raptors will employ the following starting line-up in 2009-10: Calderon (PG), Wright and/or DeRozan (SG), Turkoglu (SF), Bosh (PF), Bargnani [C].  Last season the NBA veterans in this line-up combined to produce fewer than 30 wins. So unless these players improve dramatically, or the team finds very productive players off the bench, it’s hard to see how this team improves dramatically.  And that’s true even if Delfino returns to Toronto (although if Evans returns to what we saw in the past there might be some hope this team can get past 40 wins).

All of this means that

  1. Turkoglu will be seeing much more money in 2009-10, but probably far fewer wins.
  2. Bargnani will also see much more money, but it seems unlikely he is ever going to produce many wins.
  3. Bosh will see even more money after this next season, but if the Raptors don’t approach 45 or 50 wins (which seems likely) then it seems unlikely that the money Bosh is paid in the future is going to be paid by the Raptors.
  4. So it looks likely the Raptors record performance in 2007-08 will stand for awhile.  In other words, if Bosh departs this team in 2010, then rebuilding will probably continue beyond 2009-10.
  5. And this means — assuming the Raptors don’t make any major change to this team — the fans of the Raptors will keep paying money to see a team that’s not contending for a title.

———-

Experience says that when disparate individuals like:

1. “Dave” [nbaroundtable] … who combines statistics with Basketball Acumen;

2. khandor [that's me :-) ] … who relies primarily on Basketball Acumen;

and,

3. David Berri … who relies heavily on a statistical approach to the analysis of on-court production for players in the NBA;

actually arrive at a similar conclusion … which is essentially opposed to the GENERAL CONSENSUS that exists in Raptorville today … it portends of difficult times ahead for this team in the coming season.

In the best interests of the franchise, let’s hope that all three of these “stray birds” are eventually proven to be wrong in their assessment of the team. 

 

What observations like these SHOULD tell you about the quality of your player roster

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The following has got to be one of the most humourous headlines, in the 14-yr history of Raptorville, courtesy of Frank Zicarelli [long-time scribe for the Toronto Sun]:

Raptors defence looks terrific … in practice
Every defensive breakdown was broken down, regardless of who was getting exposed.

Whether it was off the dribble, in transition or off the ball, no player and no scenario was overlooked when the Raptors gathered yesterday in the wake of Wednesday’s capitulation in Philadelphia.

It seems as if every day the Raptors are being asked why defensive assignments aren’t getting executed and why players aren’t communicating.

It has become a daily ritual, a season-long deficiency that was punctuated in Toronto’s 115-106 loss to the host Sixers, a team that entered the evening with its own issues, but still managed to shoot 56% from the field, a number that hovered around 60% until it emptied its bench.

No one associated with the Raptors has any answers.

The unspoken words are that this group is simply too soft mentally and too thin on basketball IQ to defend any opponent for a 48-minute game.

It has never been corrected and, with time running out, it likely will linger into an off-season that promises to be one of profound change.

“I can deliver a positive message every day, but until we see we’re doing it, it’s an entirely different story,” said Chris Bosh ahead of tonight’s tip against the Detroit Pistons at the Air Canada Centre.

Interim head coach Jay Triano has made it a point to refrain from addressing the team following a loss. In his mind, he wants all emotions detached from the moment. And besides, the eye in the sky doesn’t lie.

But Triano and his staff broke down every defensive possession from Wednesday and shared the horrifying video evidence with their players yesterday.

Bosh, however, sees his teammates defend hard in practice and watches as each shot is contested.

“Sometimes you can’t even get your shot off,” Bosh said. “I just don’t [know] why it doesn’t transfer into games. We’re always talking about it. We can talk all we want, but it’s all about action.”

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What it also is, however, is a concise delineation of one of the MAJOR on-court problems with this year’s Raptors team; namely, the overall lack of Quality Depth on their roster, which was identified specifically, in advance, in this space,

Talking the talk, already … in Raptorville [Sep 29 2008],

during the pre-season.

When your team plays “well” in practices and competes “hard”, by all accounts … especially on the defensive end of the floor … but, then,  CONSISTENTLY SHOWS ITS DEFICIENCIES IN THIS SAME ASPECT OF THE GAME WHEN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS COME ONE … what it means is that:

The individuals who your players are competing against in those practices are, in fact, INFERIOR to those who they MUST compete against in their real-life games … by a wide margin.

Whether you’re team is prepared to acknowledge this, or not, is irrelevant.

When Sam Mitchell [former Head Coach] made observations like these:

Fore-warned is fore-armed [Wed Oct 29 2008]

during the pre-season,

… and, then, 5 months [and 42 losses!] later, your interim [former assistant] head coach makes the following observations:

Jay Triano’s post-practice interview [Thu Mar 12, 2009]:

it should tell you everything that you need to know about the quality of the player roster assembled by the Raptors this season, and that very little has actually changed with this team since the pre-season, re: the ability of its players to compete effectively on the defensive end of the floor, on a nightly basis in this league, relative to the best players in the world … who have both NBA Calibre Athleticism and NBA Calibre Hoop Smarts, in abundance.

You can slice an apple any way you’d like … but, in the end, it simply does NOT change what you’ll find at its Core.

When a team’s Won-Lost Record stands at 23-42/.354, in a season which began with the President/GM making a public statement that:

“This is the best team we’ve had, on paper.”

and, includes the dismissal of its head coach, only 17 games into the campaign, with an 8-9 mark …

the COLD, HARSH REALITY is that the MAIN on-court problem with this team, this season, is the Lack of Quality Depth on the roster, from Player #1-15 … which consistently plays itself out each day in practice, and in EVERY game, with the way they compete against One Another but, then, fall short against their Real-life Opponents.

———————————–

17 games left to go.

The Raptors’ President/GM was WRONG.

The 2009 NBA Draft Lottery awaits.

It’s a d*mn shame, too … considering what could have been heading into this season, i.e. Understanding Bryan Colangelo’s Method of Operation, re: Option 1 or Option 2.