Making statistical projections on a basketball player—using numbers from both the past and present in an attempt to calculate future performance—isn’t just an inexact science, it’s hopeless. People love figuring things out, and can’t seem to accept an unsolvable situation, even as its obviousness kicks them in the teeth. Not to become one with an inner Grady Fuson, but there’s so much more intuitive evaluation that goes into a basketball player than a simple equation can encompass. The 1,000 jump shots a day that could or could not boost a player’s FG% up 40 percent, or continuous up and down the court ball handling drills to the point where a guy’s sneakers need to be replaced every three days are just two of the million variables that weigh on an unpredictable future.
What if Carmelo Anthony spent his entire offseason traveling around Australia, posing for pictures with cuddly Koala Bears? Besides smelling really bad, chances are his game wouldn’t improve in any area, and all the calculations regarding how he’d likely perform in the upcoming season would be rendered useless.
Then there’s the chemical factor. Baseball isn’t like basketball. There’s no one on one match-up that repeats itself over and over again until the game is over. Watching the game of basketball is like dipping your finger in a running river in that you’ll never get the same experience twice. Basketball players feed off one another and a lot of them need to be placed in the correct environment in order to reach their full potential, as opposed to baseball, where a murderer’s row lineup will always hit better than an average one because each piece isn’t entirely dependent on another. (Sure there’s protection, but managers who willingly place men on base are letting the very statistical insurgence this article is all about pass them by—they don’t last too long.)
I do believe advanced statistics are the smartest way to evaluate a player’s current value—there’s no debating it—but something about people trying to predict what’s going to happen down to the decimal point rubs me the wrong way.
Instead, I’ve decided to try my best looking down the road the old fashion way: through subjective gut feelings, supposed basketball knowledge, and, what the hell, a few numbers here and there. This post will look at players who should make immeasurable improvements next season, and players who will fall back to earth, into their limitations. Two players for each position will be selected, one good and one bad.
The list kind of resembles two overrated/underrated starting fives, while also resembling a stock market of sorts—if today you bought a team of random players, whose value would skyrocket and whose would take a generous dip into regression. The players who find themselves on the devalued list are still very talented and important to their respective teams, but I’m predicting this upcoming season won’t be as impressive as their last. Not only will there be a statistical drop off, but the player’s overall impact should slide a bit as well. Read more…
For fear of getting beat up the next time I find myself wandering through the Milwaukee area, no words are needed to describe this move.Follow @ShakyAnkles
In response to Grantland’s Amnesty 2.0 article, here’s a complete overview of my own detailed thoughts on which players should be bought out by each team. These were published in six different posts throughout the past four months, but for easier reading here they are in one easy click. Read more…
In the 2011 playoffs, James Harden had one of the quietest breakout performances you’ll ever see. Hidden behind Kevin Durant’s brilliance and the temperamental Russell Westbrook was Oklahoma City’s bearded Manu Ginobili, an aesthetically pleasing warlock. His ability to score was well documented as the reason he was selected No. 3 overall in the 2009 draft. But this wasn’t the reason Sam Presti refused to exchange him for Kendrick Perkins. Harden gets to the line and he shoots the three, but what we saw in the postseason was a playmaking magician. Someone able to open the floor and enable his teammates off the dribble. James Harden is a matchup nightmare, a player who acts like a point forward in a two guard’s body. To think about where he’s headed is to create prolonged anxiety for 29 fan-bases.
How Kobe Bryant does this season, coming off offseason knee surgery—that, like Peyton Manning, would be receiving much more attention if it weren’t for a threatening labor stoppage—is one of the more interesting subplots heading into next year. It’s a powerful variable that could help determine a whole bunch of important stuff. If the Lakers are able to bounce back with Mike Brown as their head coach and Kobe is able to remain relatively healthy heading into the spring (not to use an excuse here, but the Kobe Bryant we saw in last year’s playoffs wasn’t exactly robust) then Los Angeles’ search for three titles in four years could thwart the likes of Miami and Oklahoma City—they’ll be flying under the radar even more so than last season and should (one would think) be as motivated as anyone after their perplexing playoff performance. By any and all means, I’m not a fan of Kobe Bryant, but I do recognize his greatness, and as he begins the inevitable fade towards representing a shadow of his former self, it’d be better for us all, as basketball fans, if we could catch one last season of relevant, transformational basketball from a player with unmatched drive and unparalleled credentials.
Recommended Reading is a daily (occasional) rundown of truly superb NBA related literature, pictures, and videos. Some is brand new, others are timeless. Enjoy!
The title of this post really has nothing to do with anything; it’s just a statement I wanted to make.
Slam: It’s impossible to say which is more phenomenal: The pictures accompanying this fabulous Xavier McDaniel interview, or the ridiculous things X-Man has to say. For example:
If the game was big that night—you know I was coming to play. The Clippers coming to town, I’m probably having a so-so game. Lakers coming, you best believe I’m dropping 30. Charles Barkley coming? Getting my 30. Trail Blazers with Jerome Kersey and Clyde Drexler coming, I’m going to be ready. That was a Northwest rivalry and I knew that gym’s going to be packed and loud and rowdy so… I’ma show up big.
Fox Sports: Kyrie Irving’s foot still hasn’t healed?
NBA.com: Shaun Powell makes a few interesting suggestions for how the NBA can improve itself when it comes back. Such as the “bunny hop”, taking charges, and the first round being a best of seven series.
HoopsWorld: If Eddy Curry did in fact drop 100 pounds, is it possible his greatest “strength” (being a large person) went away as well?
Buckets Over Broadway: Tooting my own horn a bit, but we’re about midway through our immaculate list detailing the Top 35 Knicks of all-time. You should check it out.
NBA Playbook: For whatever reason, I find Alec Burks to be an incredibly intriguing player.
Of all the mercurial things that happened with LeBron James during last year’s Finals, this singular moment has to crack the top three. A simple up fake and James, arguably the most versatile defender in the world, buckles? What? How does this make sense at all? Joel Anthony FLYING by Dirk’s move is understandable, because he plays the game like an 8-year-old who’s just funneled two gallons of espresso, but LeBron? Will we ever find an explanation for that whole week? There probably isn’t one, but that doesn’t make it any more coherent.
He’s the big guy, running up and down the court with undeserved grace (given his 6’11″-7’1″ frame), jumping so high to block shots he’s catching them between his wrist and elbow, defying natural odds by influencing the game in only one dimension. This is DeAndre Jordan. A coveted free agent whose wings were clipped by a transaction suffocating lockout. A southpaw who spent last season making Blake Griffin look good on defense while getting overshadowed on the glory side of the ball despite his own brand of trapeze-esque highlight reel worthy dunks. He’s a 23-year-old, three-year veteran who before last season was floating his way through the league with no noticeable attribute apart from being gigantic. Read more…
If you don’t feel sorry for Byron Russell, chances are your soul is imaginary. The guy is forever etched as a casualty in the league’s most picturesque, historic moment. Most men, thin skin and all, when put through something like that—in front of the world’s eye—would live an insufferable existence. And by all account Russell may be a thin skinned man. This double crossover courtesy of Michael Jordan is the exact opposite of something that might make him feel better.
Both of these clips contrast between an effective crossover and absolutely God awful defense. In each one, Nelson waits for a large teammate to come set a screen, patiently waiting for his defender to realize help is coming, and then reacting to the defender’s reaction, quickly crossing over away from the pick and towards the basket. Nelson’s crossover is very pretty, but the nonexistent help defense we witness from New York and Dallas is shameful enough to overshadow the two point effort. Almost shameful enough.