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Archive for December, 2011

Essay: Are The Knicks Acting Orderly?

December 22, 2011 1 comment

Adorned in a one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen lumberjack/superhero ensemble, and armed with a brand new orange head band fastened to a matching flannel cape, last week Baron Davis crashed through the New York Knicks’ glass ceiling, swooped in, and saved what had promise to be the single worst backcourt a would-be-contender has ever placed in uniform.

“Saved” might be too certain a word: Nobody who lacks a defibrillator in the trunk of their car can resuscitate Mike Bibby, and even then you’re dealing in risky business; at last check, Toney Douglas—he of irrational decision making, overrated defensive abilities, and unexplainable self-confidence—is still scheduled for major minutes; Iman Shumpert, 6’6” and with 0 games of professional experience, barely qualified as a sturdy floor general at Georgia Tech last season; and Landry Fields’ transparency to that of a ghost during the latter half of his rookie year managed to erase all good will he’d previously placed on the table. Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Darius Morris Meets Karma

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Hey, Darius. Maybe next time you decide it’s worth your trouble unleashing a neat little crossover on poor Brian Cook during a preseason game, you won’t.

 

 

Essay: Placing A Fantasy Basketball Draft Under The Microscope, Round 2

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Keeping up on an ongoing miniseries, here’s in depth, incredibly important analysis on my fantasy basketball draft, which took place on December 17, 2011. A glorious evening it was. For more info on what’s going down here, go check out the initial entry.

Round 2:

Team L: Deron Williams

Team K:  Kobe Bryant

Team J: Al Jefferson

Team I: Rajon Rondo

Team H: Russell Westbrook

Team G: Carmelo Anthony

Team F: Monta Ellis

Team E: LaMarcus Aldridge

Team D: Al Horford

Team C: Danny Granger

Team B: Paul Pierce

Team A: John Wall

Best Value: Russell Westbrook. As much distaste as I’ve reserved for the way Russell Westbrook chooses to abuse his magical powers on the basketball court, there’s no question he’s worthy of a first round selection. He scores, rebounds, makes his free-throws, and, somehow, manages to scrounge up eight assists a night. There’s no doubt last year could be deemed a “breakout” season, but Westbrook’s in his early 20′s, only getting better.

Worst Value: Kobe Bryant. There are two directions this season can go for Kobe when looking at it through the eyes of a fantasy owner: 1) He recognizes this is Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol’s show (or Dwight Howard’s) and spends the season deferring to the post, cutting down his shot attempts, and greatly lowering his influence on the team’s offense. This could result in more assists, but seeing as it’s Kobe, the difference would be marginal; 2) He throws two middle fingers up a collective Mike Brown/Mitch Kupchak ass, redefines the word “stubborn”, and sabotages the Lakers season with an outpouring of bad shot selection and refusal to accept his body’s growing number of limitations. I’d say he lands somewhere in the middle, making this pick a bit high for my liking.

Overall Reaction: A few first round caliber players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook were happily snatched up as above average supplementary pieces, giving those owners an impressive 1,2 punch. On the other hand, we had a some serious reaches in the name of one-dimensional, high volume scorers. Carmelo Anthony, Monta Ellis, Danny Granger (?!?), and Paul Pierce were taken a round or two too high, as they’re only able to boost a fantasy team’s production in one or two categories. Also, guys like Al Horford and Al Jefferson were reluctantly taken. They aren’t exciting, but then again neither is car insurance.

 

 

Categories: Essays

Shook Ankles: Chris Paul Embarrasses Kobe Bryant

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I suppose Steve Blake should feel super self-conscious after this move, but we’re well familiar with his defensive failings. On the other hand, Kobe’s the all-world defender. Thus, nothing stings like the embarrassment of a *former* teammate.

But who cares about all that right now. Speaking as a basketball fan, how cool is this? Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups, and Caron Butler as a starting five? Who’s better? In a Western Conference that’s up for grabs, why can’t the Clippers get to the finals? Apart from a backup front line highlighted with Brian Cook (ugh) and rookie second round draft choice Trey Thompkins, the team has no significant weakness—and they might be able to take care of that problem later this year by dangling Mo Williams and his expiring contract as trade bait.

So,why can’t they beat the Heat? Say what you want about David Stern and the veto (Rockets and Lakers fans aside), but this deal makes the league SO much more intriguing. Thank goodness for it.

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Commentary: Dreaming Of Jamal Crawford In Sacramento

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Jamal Crawford is officially a member of the Portland Trailblazers, and all I can do is exhale. In the days before making his ultimate decision to head for the Pacific Northwest, Crawford was rumored to have narrowed his destination down to three teams: Portland, New York, and Sacramento. Indiana entered the cookie jar, but after short-changing the former Sixth Man of the Year with a reported two-year, $10 million offer, left empty handed.

In the end, both parties made fitting decisions. With no Brandon Roy—and to a lesser extent, Rudy Fernandez—the Blazers had a hole to fill in their backcourt, preferably with an unafraid scoring two guard who could create for himself with no outside help. That’d be nice. Read more…

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Essay: Placing A Fantasy Basketball Draft Under The Microscope

December 19, 2011 3 comments

On Saturday afternoon, I participated in a fantasy basketball draft with some friends, friends of friends, and a few people I’ve never met who are willing to give me their money. There were 12 of us, ranging from the super knowledgeable, to the guy who INSISTS Brandon Roy is a lock for the All-NBA second team. Read more…

Categories: Essays

Shook Ankles: John Wall’s Breakout Season Is Officially Upon Us

December 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Doug Collins—coach of the fine team that allowed this monster move to happen—called the play “brilliant”, and, well, it kind of is. Wall didn’t have the best stat line in his preseason opener, but this crossover encapsulates everything we’re expecting from the sophomore once games begin to matter.

If this crossover/dunk doesn’t get you excited about John Wall’s future, here are a few interesting tidbits from his past that should.

-Became the first Wizards rookie to record at least 32 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in a game since Earl Monroe posted the same numbers for the Baltimore Bullets on February 24, 1968.

-Became the only rookie in NBA history to record nine or more assists in 10 straight games (1/1–1/21).

-First rookie guard to record 26 double-doubles in a season since Damon Stoudamire, who had 37 double-doubles during the
1995-96 season.

-Became the first Washington rookie to record 26 double-doubles in a season since Tom Gugliotta, who tallied 37 double-doubles
during his rookie campaign (1992-93).

-Became the sixth fastest rookie to record a triple double.

-Is the first player in franchise history to record 500 assists and 100 steals during their rookie season. The last NBA player to
accomplish this was Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets during the 2005-06 season.

- First player in NBA history to have at least 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals in a single game (11/2 vs. PHI)

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Essay: Looking At New Orleans’ Bright Future

December 16, 2011 1 comment

When news first broke that Chris Paul would be traded to the Clippers for Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Minnesota’s unprotected first round pick, I tweeted a prediction that was neither bold nor calculated: The New Orleans Hornets will sweep the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of 2014′s postseason. After a quick loop of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin running thunderous, arena-shaking pick and rolls played in my head, this was the very next thought. The Hornets fleeced a team about as best you can despite parting ways with the greatest player their franchise has ever known. Not bad, Stern. Not bad at all.

As was proven evident by the rash chaos thrown at a wall these last few weeks—by agents, general managers, players, owners, and a commissioner’s office—predicting tomorrow in the NBA might be more futile than deciphering who the government mole is on Homeland (Carrie’s unseasonable speaking confidant/stalker who lives in a sketchy white van is my guess). Transactions that have purpose and seem rational at first, end up twisting and turning through ESPN owned Blackberries and beat reporter tweets, ad infinitum, until there’s nothing left but ink on paper. It’s a convoluted process, and from beginning to end, through the dozens upon dozens of intricate levels, no one person can possibly predict what a team will do. Subtract an owner and the process gets even worse. So while I say the Hornets will defeat the Clippers three years from now, it’s under a complete understanding that a thousand different scenarios exist: Chris Paul could become a free agent and sign with the Knicks, Lakers, or Heat two years from now, Eric Gordon could plateau his aggressiveness and fade out by the time he’s 25, or Minnesota could win the NBA championship this season and leave New Orleans with a crappy draft pick. I don’t care anymore; I’m expecting anything.

What we know:

  • Carl Landry signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Hornets today. With the expected loss of David West to Indiana official, this was both a smart basketball (filling their role at power forward) and financial move.
  • The Hornets are $2 million under the salary cap, allowing them to place a bid on amnestied players. As of right now, none are too realistic or worthy, but with Jarrett Jack as the team’s starting point guard, bringing Baron Davis in would be interesting. Or not, whatever.
  • Eric Gordon is really good, and should be signed to an extension as soon as possible.

Here’s what the Hornets should do if they played in an alternate universe where expectations were met, ceilings were reached, and the NBA was a predictable entity. Oh yea, they’d also have an owner.

Once the 2011-12 season ends:

  1. Under the expectation that Emeka Okafor has another 10 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 bpg season, either flip him for 75 cents on the dollar to a team in delusional belief that they’re one rim protecting presence away from winning a championship, or amnesty him
  2. Be patient with Chris Kaman’s expiring contract, then let him walk in the offseason. Now you have $24.7 million of salary coming off the books if you also happened to amnesty Okafor.
  3. Take Minnesota’s unprotected draft pick that’s almost surely going to be a top 7 choice, and pair it with your own. In the last lottery, the Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with the first overall selection then took Tristan Thompson with the fourth. Now, in a much deeper draft, there’s a good chance New Orleans will be this year’s Cleveland.
  4. Get lucky in the lottery, replace Okafor/Kaman with Anthony Davis and John Henson. Or Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis. Or John Henson and Andre Drummond.
  5. Throw a max contract at a player who deserves a max contract. Like, say, Kevin Love.
  6. Um, Eric Gordon’s resigned, right? What, he’s not?? Pay the man! Okay, now we’re cool.
Look! New Orleans now has the league’s premier front line of the future, one of the scariest go-to shooting guards locked up through his prime, and cap flexibility to surround these two cornerstones with smart, savvy veterans or a big name splash. Maybe Aminu fills out into a quality rotation starter, and you’re able to squeeze every last drop of athleticism and heady play from a newly motivated Trevor Ariza. That’s a pretty cool, pretty competitive basketball team right there.
If you took a poll of every GM across the league, how many of them wouldn’t want their roster to be described that way? Anyway, that’s how I’d play my cards.

Shook Ankles: Has Tony Allen Always Been This Unselfish?

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Okay, so the move is just alright—Westbrook’s fall has more to do with him playing like a coked out hedgehog than TA’s behind the back dribble. Then why was it worth a post? Well, to be frank,  Tony’s decision making process with the ball in his hands, which is more or less regarded as one of the worst in professional basketball history, is shockingly rational here, and what’s better than a basketball player going outside of what we expect from him?

Most, Tony included, would react to Westbrook’s embarrassment by taking it a step further and knocking down a jumper, but after roughly missing 82% of attempted jump shots in his career to that point, he thinks better of this and instead decides to hit a leaping Sam Young for the high percentage alley-oop. If someone told me Tony Allen made Russell Westbrook fall over I wouldn’t accuse you of outright lying to my face, but I’d have to check up on it. If you supplemented the story by saying Allen then displayed tolerance, remained calm, and patiently delivered a nice assist, your word would forever be devalued. Thank God for Youtube.

 

Essay: The Superstar Swap, Part IV

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s superstar swap time! Here, a hypothetical straight up player for player deal is offered involving two of the league’s best and brightest. Both viewpoints are then processed, and the fake trade’s winner is decided by way of which fan base would ultimately be happier. In this fictional situation, the players are only swapped for a single season of action, with everything else—rosters, coaches, owners—staying exactly the same.

Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Love

2010-11 relevant stats:

Griffin – 82 starts, 9.8 WS, 21.9 PER, 54.9 TS%, 10.2 ORB%, 8.5 FTA, 64.2 FT%, 12.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 22.5 PPG.

Love – 73 starts, 11.4 WS, 24.3 PER, 59.3 TS%, 13.7 ORB%, 6.9 FTA, 85 FT%, 15.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 20.2 PPG.

 

L.A. Clippers’ Viewpoint:

Right now, Kevin Love is more reliable than any basketball player in the world. His production can not have an off night, unless he wants it to, and as he meanders his body around the court, the one thing he excels in can not be stopped by any opponent. Pound for pound, and maybe just outright, Love is the best rebounder the league’s seen in the past 20 years. He plays angles, is eternally aggressive, and knows the tendencies of every jump shooting teammate he has. When the ball is in the air, Love tends to know where it’s going based on where it was released. (For example: If Michael Beasley is spotted up on the left elbow and shoots a turnaround jumper, Love knows, through studying him in practice, that 8 times out of 10 that shot will clang back rim and land near the foul line.)

On the Clippers Love will be paired with two guards he played beside during the 2010 FIBA World Championships—Chauncey Billups and Eric Gordon—so should already have a bit of familiarity with positioning himself for advantageous offensive rebounds. On top of that, this will be the first time in his short career the undersized Love will be paired alongside a lengthy, defensive savant like DeAndre Jordan. Not only will this make his job much easier on defense, it could also allow Love (a 42% three-point shooter last season) to step outside a little more. And if we push the hypothetical envelope even further, matching Love’s insane ability to throw an outlet pass up with Chris Paul’s ability to catch the ball in enemy territory before an opponent can ready itself, would create some of the most comedic cases of defensive befuddlement in league history. It’s difficult to find a team that wouldn’t be able to utilize Kevin Love’s abilities, but the Clippers seem like an especially snug fit.

Minnesota’s Viewpoint:

How many times do you get to have a superstar AND his poor man’s model? That’s what the Timberwolves would get if they paired Derrick Williams with Blake Griffin. The athleticism would freak everyone out, and if we’re getting hyperbolic, could account for the most insurmountable momentum shifts in the history of a professional sports season. Having Griffin and Williams in his starting lineup would also do wonders for Ricky Rubio, who wouldn’t have to worry about lowering his self-worth with a jump shot, and instead could just close his eyes and throw passes near the backboard. It goes without saying that if this transaction were to happen, a Timberwolf would assume position as NBA League Pass’s official mascot. Nobody who likes basketball would not want to watch this team play, and people who don’t know what basketball is would line up to see what everyone’s talking about. That, in a nutshell, is the economic power of Blake Griffin. An evolving monster on the court, but a fully formed Godzilla to paying customers, Griffin’s potential value extends beyond 94 feet like no other player in the world—besides LeBron James. For all his dunking and jumping and twirling and athletically hypnotic movement, Griffin has the body type and expectations to eventually show off some seriously solid fundamentals. He’s big enough to prevent low post bullying on the block and has vision and unselfishness to someday avoid double teaming mosquitoes by hitting cutting teammates for easy layups. Griffin will soon make his teammates better just by existing on the floor.

Happier Fanbase:

While Kevin Love is a great player, his ceiling seems to be more one dimensional; Clippers fans have already had their fair share of those, and in LA, there’s only so many ways a man can grab a rebound that’ll get people excited. On the other hand, Griffin is the definition of a franchise player and would be the most exciting thing Minneapolis has seen since Steve Buscemi shot Harve Presnell on the roof of that parking garage. Edge goes to Minnesota.

 

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