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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Paul’

Shook Ankles: Shimmy Shimmy Ya, LeBron

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

I would analyze this insane nifty move right now, but Beckley Mason over at HoopSpeak beat me to it yesterday. And a great job he did.

 

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Shook Ankles: Chris Paul Takes Over Christmas

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Throughout last night’s Warriors/Clippers game, transition baskets came in spades. More than one situation saw a Warriors miss come down the other way for a Los Angeles man advantage, ending in an alley-oop or equally easy basket. These sequences are wonderful theatre, and have taken over as the NBA’s number one topic of casual conversation, but when it comes down to winning playoff games and eventually a championship, the Clippers must work well in their half court offense, especially to hold a tight fourth quarter lead. In the clip seen above,  Chris Paul doesn’t wow your pants off with an insane handle we know him to be capable of placing on display, but he does manage to turn Golden State’s defense into a marionette puppet.

The first of the two plays is a simple pick and roll with the role of Paul’s counterpart being played by DeAndre Jordan. Running it with Jordan is a bit predictable, because he’s the least likely player in the league to step out for the pop. In certain spots—if a defense wants to double Paul off the screen for example—the fast moving Jordan can be hit for a lob if the defense doesn’t rotate, but mostly the play is to free up Paul and let him work his magic. It takes him about three seconds to put a quick right to left cross on Steph Curry,  fake an in and out with his left hand on Kwame Brown, then cross back to his right for an open, and easy, foul line jumper. Piece of cake.

In the next play, Monta Ellis gets a little confused as Blake Griffin slips the screen instead of setting a hard pick. Paul crosses him over anyway, and proceeds to take a run at poor Kwame for the second time. Griffin sets another screen on the backtracking Ellis, making sure he can’t recover, and all of a sudden the Clippers have a salivating Chris Paul vs. Kwame Brown matchup to play with. After wiping the drool from his mouth, Paul keeps his dribble alive and takes the ball back to the perimeter, forcing Kwame out from the painted area. Meanwhile, Griffin intuitively cuts to the basket with a helpless Ellis hanging on to his shoelaces. Paul has two main options here: 1) Hit the overpowering Griffin with a quick pass either over or around Kwame’s head, and at the worst end up with two free-throws, or 2) Step back and knock down a wide open shot. If it misses, Griffin will probably be in position to grab the rebound. But, of course, Paul doesn’t miss.

In both plays Chris Paul exposes the Warriors’ poor pick and roll defense by forcing a switch. He did this over and over and over again in last year’s playoff series against the Lakers, and to no avail it has yet to be solved.

 

 

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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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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.

Recommended Reading: The Nefarious David Stern

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Recommended Reading is a daily (occasional) rundown of truly superb NBA related literature, pictures, and videos. Some is brand new, others are timeless. Enjoy!

7th Inning Sketch: Everyone involved in this picture is very talented and very cool (except for David Stern, of course).

HoopSpeak: The death of Brandon Roy’s career is one of the greater tragedies manifested by the sport of basketball. A player like him should never be forgotten.

Grantland: Once again, David Stern is just sucking it up hardcore.

The Classical: One more time…ladies and gentleman, David Stern!

TrueHoop: A breakdown of the one question every basketball fan is asking: Who’s out of shape?!

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Essay: The Superstar Swap, Part II

December 8, 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.

Chris Paul vs. Deron Williams

2010-11 relevant stats:

Paul – 80 starts, 13.9 WS, 23.7 PER, 57.8 TS%, 38.8 3P%, 87.8 FT%, 4.1 RPG, 9.8 APG, 2.4 SPG, 15.9 PPG.

Williams – 65 combined starts in both Utah and New Jersey, 7.3 WS, 21.1 PER, 56.6 TS%, 33.1 3P%, 84.5 FT%, 4 RPG, 10.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 20.1 PPG

Before the emergence of guys like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Russell Westbrook, the best point guard in the league argument came down to these two. Where we stand right now, Paul has a partial leg up on Williams, and after comparing each of their performances last season, would have to be considered the superior player. His Hornets fell to the then defending champion Lakers in the first round, but the way they played—with Chris Paul leading them in what most thought was a hopeless formality, and inspiring guys like Aaron Gray and Marco Bellineli to believe the only way they could win was to go out swinging on every posession—was nothing short of valiant. On the other hand, Williams lugged himself through a depressing regular season campaign that ended with a bum wrist and the look of a homesick camper yearning for his own bed.

This might be the most useless swap on this list in that there’s no clear winner or loser. Both teams are not very good and both point guards are so superior amongst  their supporting cast, that them switching places wouldn’t improve any of either organization’s major deficiencies that have yet to be fixed. Brook Lopez would still fail at rebounding, and the Hornets would still lack a secondary scoring option who other teams have to game plan for.

New Jersey/Brooklyn’s Viewpoint:

Looking at it through the eyes of a front office member in New Jersey, if this trade were offered by New Orleans it’d almost have to be accepted. Acquiring Chris Paul wouldn’t guarantee a playoff berth—same as a full season with Williams—but in all likelihood it would improve the team’s offensive efficiency. Chris Paul is peerless when it comes to making the correct decisions, whether it be in the second quarter or crunch time, and his ability to create open three-pointers for Anthony Morrow, turn Brook Lopez into the second best offensive center in the league, or transform Johan Petro into an All-Star, would be great for Brooklyn basketball. If you think Deron Williams is a better basketball player than Chris Paul that’s fine, I won’t argue. However, what you can’t dispute is the blatant off court popularity advantage Paul holds. New Jersey is on the up and up with Deron Williams, but with Paul, not only could the ceiling be slightly higher, but the world will be watching.

New Orleans’ Viewpoint:

Chris Paul has meant so much to the Hornets’ organization. Last year he had a ridiculous 45.8 assist percentage and was New Orleans’ strategy. Replacing him is a near impossibility, but if you had to pick someone it wouldn’t be Eric Gordon, Steph Curry, or Rajon Rondo. No. None of those guys can fill Paul’s shoes. If you’re talking about a point guard who’s proven he can lead a team into the playoffs consistently, score at will, and provide instant stability, Deron Williams is the closest thing to it.

Happier Fanbase:

It’s tough to find a hypothetical superstar swap that’s more subjective than this one. Whoever you like more, that’s who wins. Apart from personal loyalties that would eventually be forgotten, both fan bases would be happy with what they receive. With that being said, I like Paul more, so New Jersey/Brooklyn’s base takes the cake.

Categories: Essays Tags: ,

Essay: The Superstar Swap

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago, at this time, everyone was crying about BRI splits and mid-level exception particulars. Once that ended, and an agreement was made, floodgates were opened, allowing unexpected rumors involving high profile players switching cities to smack us all in the face. The most prominent and reputable rumor so far has Rajon Rondo headed to New Orleans in exchange for Chris Paul. The deal would create ripples throughout the league for obvious reasons, but before it was even made a reality, an obscene number of questions were spawned: Who is the better point guard? Who is the better player? Whose fan base would be happier if it happened? Which team would be more improved? Which GM would come to regret it more? Who would win the deal?

This all appears for naught now, as Paul appears to have his sites set on New York, and would reportedly (I’m beginning to hate this word) refuse to resign in Boston after this season.

What happens if Chris Paul goes to the Celtics? For starters, the way defenses have long challenged a sometimes stagnant Boston offense would no longer work. The basic strategy employed by teams with the proper personnel was to sag off of Rondo, pack the paint, and force him to shoot. Chris Paul’s shot isn’t like Rondo’s in that once the ball is released, people expect it to go in.

It got me thinking about what would happen if some of the league’s great players happened to trade places. Would there be a clear winner or clear loser in each instance? Superstars like these are usually acquired in one of two ways: the draft and free agency. For several key reasons, superstars are rarely, if ever, traded for one another.The primary one being no GM wants to be known as the person who traded Future Hall of Fame member X, no matter what they’re getting in return. (In the case of Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks chose to place all their eggs in one man’s basket, and throw half their roster on a plane to Denver. It’s a prayer that could either end in a championship or a disheveled front office, axed head coach, and all-time fed up fan base.) Superstars are so rare in this league that once a GM has one, he’s probably already begun building around that player’s strengths. A great example here is the Orlando Magic. They acquired three-point shooters, a couple guys who could beat their man off the dribble, and didn’t worry about defense (knowing good ol’ Dwight would act as their very own Beware of Dog sign hanging from the rim). That was their model to win basketball games, and if they dealt him for an elite shooting guard, the kingdom would crumble.

Here are six very intriguing, straight up trades that will probably never happen, but would stop beating hearts if they did. In these hypothetical situations, we’re strictly talking about a one year swap. Pretend these deals were made in a lockout free offseason, obliging the players with plenty of time to blend beside their new teammates with a full, intensive training camp. To halt any confusion regarding what would happen after that one season we’re also looking at this under the assumption that after this year, an ACTUAL nuclear winter captures the NBA and there are no professional basketball games for the next five seasons.

Read more…

Shook Ankles: A Chris Paul Montage Of Excellence

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Since the lockout ended, nobody’s name has been mentioned in useless trade rumor related headlines more than Chris Paul. Almost all of them backtrack on earlier reports. First the Celtics are close to acquiring him, dangling their most important player in the process, then Paul won’t resign there after this season so none of that matters. Then he demands a trade to New York. Something so absurd and unrealistic that it’s borderline insulting to Paul’s intelligence such a report could be fabricated.

At the moment, it’s culminated with my personal favorite non-story headline: “Source: Paul knows Knicks lack trade assets”. That’s where we stand. Hey, sports journalism! Thanks for coming out.

Before things get REALLY out of control, here’s a little crossover compilation to remind us what all the fuss was over in the first place. Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Chris Paul Teaches Eric Bledsoe How To Stand Still

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Eric Bledsoe is fast. An uber-athletic specimen who some thought coming out of Kentucky was the favorable sportsman to teammate John Wall. He flies up the court in a blur, sticks to assigned ball-handlers with discipline and out-of-this-world-reflexes, and rarely seems outmatched in the physicality department by anyone at his position. (Outwitted is another story.) This is one of those crossovers where the defender, in this case Bledsoe, is so badly undressed, he looks like a folding chair. Chris Paul makes Bledsoe’s athletic strength seem transient as he defiles the rookie with one of the more impressive blow by floaters you’ll ever see. Hopefully Bledsoe gets his chance at redemption in the next calendar year. That’d be nice.

 

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Essay: Looking At The NBA’s Salary Scale From A Different Angle

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In the grand scheme of what’s altruistically important in life, I believe it’s fair to suggest all teachers, doctors, surgeons, and members of the armed forces should be given financial compensation of equal or greater value to that of which is awarded professional athletes. Their actual impact on human life is indisputably greater, more important, and further reaching. Of course, they don’t (and never will) because the businesses they’re in don’t create the billions upon billions of dollars in gross revenue that the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL produce on an annual basis. They also have an uncountable number of members in their labor force, making each worker’s slice of pie much smaller than that of the athlete. Call it sad. Call it unfair. Call it horribly disproportionate. Call it the real world. Read more…

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