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Archive for February, 2012

Essay: Paul Pierce’s Game Has Never Been More Appropriate

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

In the week before Rajon Rondo re-entered Boston’s lineup, Paul Pierce averaged 22.5 points (on 48% shooting), 6.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in just under 37 minutes per game. These numbers weren’t only impressive in their completeness, they were a glorious reflection to the type of fantastic play that saved his team’s season and made him an All-Star.

As Rondo let his delicate wrist heal, Doc Rivers adjusted the Celtics’ offense as any right-minded coach would. He kept it simple, designed a few plays to use in crunch time, and instead of over thinking the situation and panicking (Hello, Mike D’Antoni!) he placed the ball in the hands of his 34-year-old captain. In turn, Pierce has responded with MVP performances, and the type of methodic surgery very few—if any—small forwards are able to create on a consistent basis. Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Jeff Teague Is More Than A Slingshot

February 11, 2012 Leave a comment

 

How the Atlanta Hawks have managed to stay afloat this season is a bit of an understated miracle. Before getting hit with several key injuries and after losing one of their best players to free agency, the Hawks already stood as one of the league’s oldest teams, fighting a valiant, uphill battle with a slingshot to the rest of the playoff worthy team’s machine gun artillery. But when Jeff Teague happens to be the rock you’ve placed in the elastic, well, you might just have a puncher’s chance.

As a change of pace speedster, Teague has started 27 games this season. He’s shooting 45% from deep (good for second highest in the league among starting point guards. Also: not a misprint) and trails only Nash, Curry, Rose, and Paul in TS%. But, when it’s all said and done, efficiency means very little when placed beside actual production on a grading scale. Right now Teague averages fewer points per game than Jarrett Jack, D.J. Augustin, and Brandon Knight. He’s attempting, and making, as many shots at the rim as Tony Parker, but the middle of the floor is really where he’s struggled to consistently manufacture offense. If Teague wants to take his game to a higher level, he’ll establish himself as one to respect out in no man’s land. He’ll have confidence in his jump shot. Once he does that, the Hawks may have something a bit more dangerous than a sling shot on their hands as they head into nightly battle.

 

 

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Jason Thompson vs. Oklahoma City

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Last night was the fifth game in a row (seventh time total) this season that the Kings began a contest with Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, DeMarcus Cousins, and Jason Thompson on the court. Their overall record so far with this starting lineup is 6-1. Deducing from the fact that the first four guys mentioned are regular starters, Jason Thompson—an overlooked (going by Synergy’s defensive PPP numbers, Thompson is one of the 50 best defenders in basketball), 6’11″ workaholic—would appear to be the team’s greatest variable; the x-factor who quietly grabs big rebounds, take shots when they’re warranted, and has found a way to fit in on the league’s most overlapped roster.

Here’s how he contributed in last night’s game against the Thunder—his team’s biggest win of the season.

Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Jeremy Lin Is Such A Legend

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

 

The crossover isn’t all that Lin-credible, but the dunk is so absolutely Lin-sane.

(P.S. I’m so over this.)

 

 

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Power Ranking: Sorting The All-Star Reserves

February 8, 2012 1 comment

This week I’ll be ranking who I believe deserves to be a reserve in the 2012 All-Star game. All 14 players, from both conferences, will be lumped together and placed in order—from “totally obvious” (1) to “I guess he could maybe be an All-Star?” (14). Read more…

Essay: Why Is Serge Ibaka Regressing?

February 7, 2012 1 comment

When discussing the development of a freak basketball prodigy, five years can stretch wider than a full lifetime of data. The views on a player bounce from buzz, to hype, to budding results, to what-have-you-done-for-me-lately at an unnatural rate. In other words, a prospect’s death immediately follows his birth, with no substantial life worth analyses existing in between.

Five years ago nobody knew who Serge Ibaka was. Four years ago he was a first round draft pick. Three years ago he was a minor cog—albeit an extremely athletic one—getting decent minutes on a young, exciting tour de force. Last year he was allowed space to surf on the league’s wave of promised greatness; competing in the dunk contest, blocking over 50 (!) shots in the playoffs, and looking like a prized jewel nestled inside basketball’s brightest treasure chest. This year, Ibaka starts at power forward for a team that’s undoubtedly capable of winning a championship. Everything looks to be flowing naturally, as if Ibaka’s career has been predetermined to align itself with the league’s next line of two-way power forwards capable of changing a basketball game’s trajectory on both ends. There’s one hitch in the plan, though. One question that has no answers. Why is Serge Ibaka regressing? Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Chris Paul Strikes Again. Rudy Fernandez Isn’t Happy About It

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

 

The dazzling performances Chris Paul puts on have almost gotten to a point where there’s nothing left to write, nothing left to analyze, nothing left to explain. Paul is one of the universe’s best shooters. He orchestrates one of the most organized and efficient 4th quarter offenses in league history. And his crossover remains a nightly masterpiece of slippery theatre.

In order for this Clippers team to win the season’s final game, it comes down to Chris Paul doing the type of extraordinary things that only a talent like him could make a regularity. It’s plays like the one above, when a defense desperately throws yet another man at him (in this case, Rudy Fernandez, which is like using a snow ball to stop a plow), where Paul is at his most commanding, cooly adding two more points to his team’s total. Astonishing work. Hopefully in L.A., he’s able to perform on the type of early summer stage that could take moments like this and put them under the biggest spotlight he’s ever seen. It’d be most deserving.

 

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Analyzing The Anomalous: Paul George vs. Dallas

February 4, 2012 1 comment

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like PG gave us from both ends of the floor.”

This is what Frank Vogel had to say about Paul George: the number one reason he enjoys waking up every morning to coach the Indiana Pacers. With George Hill out indefinitely, George’s development process might have been placed on the entrails of a jet engine. His outside/inside ability is unique, as is his ability to defend multiple positions and seemingly thrive in nearly every aspect of the game. Following the peaks of his career could be one of the nicer things we have to look forward to as NBA fans these next 5-7 years.

Something about last night’s game (apart from the 30 points with 7 threes) makes it feel like we were witness to the baptism of a truly significant basketball player. While people pick holes in Indiana’s brilliantly patient roster building strategy and speculate as to what high profile superstar they’ll either trade for or sign with all their cap space, Paul George is right beneath their noses. After last night’s game, it feels like we’re waiting for the inevitable as opposed to a possibility. Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Amar’e Stoudemire Is Defended By A Floating Beard

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment

 

In my last post I was a bit harsh on several parties—Von Wafer and the Washington Wizards organization in particular—but it pales in comparison to the embarrassing act of false machismo Carlos Boozer put on display last night in New York City. Defensive statistics can’t possibly capture a sequence as atrocious as this, where a man is in terrible position, choosing neither to foul nor move his feet, presiding as the lone reason his team surrenders two points.

Looking at Carlos Boozer’s numbers and coming to the conclusion that he’s made strides on the defensive end would be like saying Amil could flow because Jay signed her to Roc-A-Fella. Surrounded by tremendous defenders both on the wings and in the front court, Boozer is able to hide within Thibodeau’s system; masquerading as a legitimate presence. It’s fraudulent activity at its finest.

Boozer’s a power forward, so to be fair he isn’t necessarily paid to take on ball handlers from the perimeter in one on one situations. But when you play both sides of the fence, this particular ball handler is taller than him and has been known to log minutes at the center position during his career. In summation, boo to you Boozer. Boo to you.

 

Shook Ankles: Von Wafer Proves Washington Wizards Are Employing A Folding Chair

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Von Wafer isn’t Kobe Bryant, nor is he MarShon Brooks. He makes about one shot at the rim every game, usually by way of a back cut in garbage time or a transition layup.

When Charles Barkley recently said he was embarrassed for the NBA’s product, this is what he was talking about. The Washington Wizards are capable of some seriously pathetic basketball when they put their minds to it.

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