Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kings trade reaction. Landry and Dorsey are players we like.

Trade deadline day in the NBA brought a significant move for the Kings. Kevin Martin is out - along with Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong, and Kenny Thomas. In are Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes, and Dominic McGuire. ...While I do think Martin is a quality player at his position - the same can be said for Landry. The intangibles however show a larger benefit for the Kings. As good as Martin is - he has never been the kind of player to consistently impose his will on a game. He has his moments and he scores efficiently but Landry does too. It is my belief that Landry is a tougher player. By pure efficiency by position - Martin ranks 12th in the NBA at SG. Landry, similarly, is rated 14th at his position, PF. 

Joey Dorsey was our MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League. He blocks shots and rebounds like a demon, and like Ben Wallace, he struggles at the free throw line. If you combine Dorsey’s 500+ minutes of D-League play this season with his limited career NBA numbers, his efficiency rating is .696. That number would rank fourth in the NBA at Center. If he can come anywhere close to that, and if Paul Westphal plays him - Dorsey can be the piece that tips the trade in favor of Sacramento. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who do you trust? Rating NBA prospects often comes down to character.

We’ve been overloading on college hoops and there is good news and bad news when it comes to prospects for the NBA’s future. The good news is that there are some kids that I already have a feeling of trust in. On the other side of the coin - there is no shortage of knuckleheads with talent. Let’s start with a handful of players that I feel comfy with… 

Evan Turner of Ohio State is a versatile guard that is capable of getting a triple-double when he steps on the court. I do think he needs to be a bit more careful with the ball - he is turnover prone - but the positives outweigh the negatives. ...Greg Monroe is a 6’11” passer/scorer that has incredible vision. His versatility as a playmaker combined with his trustworthy demeanor make him a prospect worth a significant investment. ...Jarvis Varnado is a PF/C for Mississippi State that has earned the nickname “Swat” for his defensive prowess. He is 6’9”, 215 lbs. - but his wingspan is 7’4”. Varnado is on pace to become the NCAA’s all-time leading shot blocker. He is currently second and has just passed some incredible names in Alonzo Mourning, Tim Duncan and Adonal Foyle. I am a fan of Jarvis. Al Farouq Aminu is a PF with ball-handling skills that allow him to give opposing BIG's fits. The Wake Forest Sophomore is a former McDonald’s All-America that can finish in transition with the best of the best. 

Finally - I’m sold on these guys as future NBA players: James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Landry Fields (Stanford), and Luke Babbitt (Nevada).  

John Wooden says you have to be able to trust a player. I agree. 

Now there are also some talented future NBA players that I’m not ready to sign-off on for various reasons. ...Dexter Pittman is a big Texas Center that has a pair of hands that you just don’t see every day. This guy is special around the hoop. The problem with Pittman is that he plays in only three minute stints. He lost over 100 lbs. to get to where he is now but he still has wind issues. ...Vanderbilt’s A.J. Ogilvy is efficient but not aggressive. I still like him more than most do but Ogilvy could be so much better. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Notes from midseason NBA efficiency audit. ...Who should be playing in Sacramento

Efficiency matters. The top five NBA Point Guards by efficiency are all on winning teams. The five are: Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chauncey Billups, and Rajon Rondo. At Shooting Guard - eight of the top ten (not counting Gilbert Arenas) are on teams that would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today. Those eight are: Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Brandon Roy, Manu Ginobili, Joe Johnson, Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford, and Vince Carter. The two exceptions are Nor-Cal’s Tyreke Evans (I call him a TWO), and Monta Ellis. Kevin Martin, who has yet to hit his stride since a return from injury, ranks eleventh. I, for one, am hopeful that the Kings do not trade Martin. Efficient Shooting Guards are a valuable commodity in the NBA and although I feel Evans and Martin duplicate each other to some degree - I think you could say the same of Johnson, and Crawford in Atlanta, and that is working out okay last time I checked. If Sacramento does not want to play Evans at Small Forward (where I believe he could play, thus opening up the PG for Sergio Rodriguez, or Beno Udrih) then maybe Martin needs to embrace a sixth man role because it is clear to me that the Kings offense is more cohesive with Rodriguez initiating it. Rodriguez actually gets the Kings into sets - giving a chance for movement by both ball and players. Yes, Rodriguez can be out of control but I think you have to live with that because of his uncanny vision and ability to involve teammates. It is a FACT that the great Steve Nash has more turnovers than any NBA player. It is also a fact that the more involved a player can be on offense - the more likely that player is to be enthused about playing defense. The Kings energy rises with Rodriguez (pictured) at the helm. The most efficient lineup the Kings can have (and this is pure science) is Rodriguez, Martin, Evans, Jason Thompson, and Spencer Hawes. Udrih would spell Rodriguez. Omri Casspi would replace either Martin or Evans, and Jon Brockman would be the first BIG off the bench. When Francisco Garcia returns - his historical efficiency would put him into the mix as the ninth man. The efficiency rating says that Andres Nocioni and Donte Greene would be seldom used as the tenth and eleventh players. Ime Udoka, Sean May, Kenny Thomas and Hilton Armstrong would be the odd men out in this plan. ...Oh yeah - I was breaking down the annual league wide mid-season efficiency rating audit when I digressed into my Kings rant. At Small Forward - four of the top five are on winning teams; Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Gerald Wallace. 70% is the number at Power Forward. Seven of the top-ten are on winning teams. Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph, Josh Smith, and Kevin Garnett are the seven. At Center we find that efficiency may not matter as much. Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nazr Mohammed, and Marc Gasol are the only top-ten Centers on current playoff teams. Meanwhile these five cats in the top-ten are on losing squads: Marcus Camby, Andrew Bogut, Brook Lopez, Samuel Dalembert, and Marresse Speights.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leave the Tournament alone! ...Best hoops TV peeps

The NCAA Tournament is fine the way the way it is. Please leave it alone. Expansion is not necessary. Adding more teams would only water it down and render Championship Week meaningless. The way “THE Tourney” is now - we are wondering if North Carolina and Connecticut will make it in. If we had 96 teams—as some are suggesting - then that drama would be gone. That is just one example of why it should be left alone. Mostly - it should remain static because in all of sport - the NCAA Tournament is one of the handful of events that are just about perfect. 

Dan Shulman (pictured) is a rock solid basketball commentator. Add him to my list of the best in the TV hoops world. The short list: (College play x play) Sean McDonough, Shulman, Tim Brando, Terry Gannon. (NBA) - Joel Meyers, Kevin Calabro.(College analysts) Len Elmore, Marques Johnson, Jay Bilas, Bill Raftery, Clark Kellogg. (NBA analysts) Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Walt Frazier, Eddie Johnson, Kellogg. (Studio) The TNT production staff deserves a nod for their work on wacky video supplements and tricks that leave me giggling along with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. My favorite hosts are Rece Davis, Ernie Johnson, and Brando. 

Also, I hate the meaningless conversations between NBA coaches and sideline reporters during the game. Coaches never reveal anything and mostly we have to sit through Craig Sager being cold-war iced by unwilling talkers like Greg Popovich or Jerry Sloan. The NBA should end that waste of time practice. And while they are at it - the audio drop ins from huddles are so watered down - they might as well dump those too. “Lets dig in and play some defense”.