Thursday, October 4, 2012

Someone has to finish last

Lin and Rockets should be most giving.
As optimistic euphoria reaches into the stratosphere on the fourth day of October, NBA teams will soon face the cruel reality of losing. We've heard lots of chatter about who may be the best in the West but rarely do you read about or hear about who might stink. Truth be told, predicting who might be poop is tougher than you might think.

There are 15 teams in the Western Conference. We feel certain that three teams could sustain significant injuries and still make the playoffs. The Lakers, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City are safe. On the next tier below that trio - we would put the Clippers, and Denver. The ten that follow gets tricky. Two recent mainstays, Memphis and Dallas seem primed to take a step backward at the same time that Golden State, Utah, Sacramento, and Minnesota are getting better.

Two teams have pieces that should allow them to go down fighting. The Phoenix Suns have a roster that could produce a win on any given night in the NBA yet nobody really stands out as a superstar or even potential superstar. I like their solid international trio of Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, and Luis Scola. Maybe Dragic becomes a special point guard in the NBA. But "maybe" teamed with "solid" equals more losses than wins.

It is hard to look at Portland, with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum and say with certainty that their team will stink. The smell emanates from the lack of depth and the fact that the Blazers have five NBA rookies.

Which leaves us with two teams that, even though they don't believe it, must be in-line to battle for last. New Orleans has Anthony Davis so surely they are better. But can the number one pick make the Hornets one of the top 20 teams in the NBA? It seems doubtful, even with the addition of Ryan Anderson and the possibility of Eric Gordon actually playing games (as of this writing, Gordon had missed his third consecutive day of practice with a lingering knee injury).

Houston has an abundance of young talent but the key word is "young". Too young, in my opinion, to win with any consistency in the NBA. The best possible scenario for the Rockets would be if Jeremy Lin is as good as he showed he could be in the "Linsanity" stage of last season. That seems doubtful. As much we like Terrence Jones, he is just a rookie. While each player has their individual merits, a front line of Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, and Omer Asik hardly strikes fear into an NBA opponent.

So there it is. Someone has to be last. And I think it will be the Houston Rockets.


Rocky Mountain high reward?

Rocky should be happy this season!
An examination of the Denver Nuggets 2012-13 roster shows a team that has a ceiling that is nearly unlimited. How so, you ask? Well, if you believe in efficiency - and I do, you might already know that the Nuggets boast a potential starting lineup where each player ranks in the top-eleven in the NBA at their position. 

Ty Lawson ranks eleventh at point guard. It is a educated guess that Andre Iguodala will ultimately play the majority of his minutes at the TWO, and Danilo Gallinari at the THREE, with Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee up front. The newly acquired Iguodala ranked sixth in efficiency at small forward last season, while Gallinari was tenth at the same position. Many teams consider their TWO's and THREE's interchangeable - labeling them simply "wing players". Iguodala can certainly guard opposing shooting guards and his play-making ability is ideally suited for a guard. 

What may shock some folks is that Faried was second in power forward, per-minute efficiency. Only Kevin Love boasted a higher rating. While some who have not seen Faried play enough may see his ranking for his rookie season as an anomaly, we don't think it is. If you watch Faried play - you easily see how his energy is a benefit.  


McGee guards the rim
McGee meanwhile holds his own as the tenth most efficient center in the NBA. The issue with McGee is not efficiency. The issue with McGee is that he must be viewed as a bit of a risk. He simply has not shown the hoops i.q. that is needed to play consistently winning basketball. The 24 year-old center has perhaps unfairly been labeled to the point of caricature for his "brain-fades" which are the laughing stock of Shaquille O'Neal and the TNT crew. It's true. McGee does some silly things. But he also blocks shots and has a high points per minute rate. 

The key with McGee in my eyes is that he HAS improved. And now George Karl will have him for a full training camp and full season. I'm not expecting McGee to challenge the likes of Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, and DeMarcus Cousins for a spot on the All-NBA team at center, but I do think McGee is potentially capable of having a consistent positive impact on a team. There is no reason other than the mental part of the game why McGee shouldn't go from being tenth in center efficiency to battling to be a part of the top-five. 


Will Randolph stick in Denver?
Denver's bench has a "risky" player on it as well. Golden State, New York and now Minnesota have passed on the obviously offensively talented Anthony Randolph. Randolph's per-minute efficiency was good enough last regular season to rank as a "starter" (23rd). It could have been higher if Randolph would simply pass up some outside shots for shots in the paint. I'm betting George Karl improves this 23 year-old kid. 

If Karl can't make Randolph better - maybe backup point guard Andre Miller can. Miller is still getting it done at a high level and if he didn't have Ty Lawson as a teammate - Miller would probably be a starter somewhere. Miller is excellent at feeding players around the hoop, and Randolph is excellent finishing at the rim. They might make a good combination. 

Finally, we have noticed improvement in Kosta Koufos' game. He is only 23 years old and if he continues to improve at the rate he is going, he will be a regular starter in the NBA one day. Koufos' regular season per minute efficiency in 2011-12 was better than the rating of Roy Hibbert, Nene, Tyson Chandler, and Marc Gasol. 

The summary for Denver is that they have some cats that today's kids might call "sketchy". But if the old master George Karl imparts his wisdom and McGee, and Randolph soak it up and mature even a little, they will propel Lawson, Iguodala, Faried, Miller and Gallinari into a Western power not to be slept on. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Time for me to overreact

JT and T-Rob are not small forwards
Yesterday I blogged about the tendency for media to overreact at this time of the NBA calendar. There are no scores to report, or real games to cover - so every nuance is accentuated and exaggerated. That written, it is time for me to overreact to a small bit of Twitter information I read today from Jason Jones who covers the Sacramento Kings for the Sacramento Bee. Jones tweeted, "At  practice. Lineups are interesting. One had JT, Robinson and Cuz up front. Smart plans to experiment with matchups in preseason". 

This sounds like an experiemnt that will not work. There is no way that Jason Thompson can effectively play small forward in the NBA. So why experiment with it? Robinson, the Kings draft pick from Kansas, can guard opposing "threes" but offensively - Robinson is not a good enough deep shooter, ball-handler, or play-maker. Robinson did make 7 of his 14 three point attempts last season at Kansas - so I do not want to write him off as a potential perimeter threat. But Robinson historically has more turnovers than assists, and his 68% free throw shooting - to me is a better indication of his true shooting touch. In short, I don't think Robinson is small forward.  

Jason Thompson has no small forward in his game at all. Zero. His feet are too heavy to guard opposing SF's and offensively - Thompson lacks all skills needed in a SF. 

If you were really reaching you could say - Cousins, given his three-point shooting ability, could act as a periemeter player in certain offesnive sets - moving J.T. to center, and keeping Robinson at power forward. But if you did that - you are taking your best rebounder and moving him 20-plus feet from the hoop. 

So I do not get it. Why waste valuable repetitions in practice with a lineup that will always prevent you from presenting your best spacing? Why waste time with a lineup that will allow teams to simply "pack the paint" against you - given Thompson and Robinson's lack of periemeter shooting? Is it becuase you are just not familair enough with Robinson's game? Is it a "someone said I couldn't play this lineup" - pride kind of thing? 





Monday, October 1, 2012

October means NBA

Bynum: Does he care? 
Let's do this! The NBA season begins in 29 days and this excites us to no end. At this time of the year, optimism and overreaction reign supreme. In our 28th year of intently observing and analyzing the NBA we have learned that (at this time of the year) teams are too optimistic, and the media, and public are prone to overreaction. 

The Bynum addition to Philly is potentially HUGE. Bynum's efficiency rating was actually a fraction of a point better than Dwight Howard's in last season's shortened schedule. Despite losing mainstays Andre Iguodala, and Elton Brand, the Sixers starters became better "by the numbers" by adding Bynum and advancing Evan Turner into a more prominent role. 

On the common sense side of the Bynum equation, it is more than fair to wonder why he didn't take care of his knee situation sooner. Reports say Bynum had his knee treated as late as September. 

For what it is worth, a plugged-in source in Los Angeles says this of Bynum, " (A) dude I know works at a car shop where Bynum would buy his BMW's. They would ask him Lakers questions and he would say, 'That's not my life'. " ...The Source adds, "Literally, that's how Andrew Bynum feels about basketball. It's 'not his life' -  just a check."


It's a tip-off not a kick-off
I say this every season seemingly. We "tip-off" an NBA season; as opposed to the way The Sports Network puts it: "The Sixers, ... kick off their 2012-13 regular season by hosting Denver on Oct. 31." ...The preseason national television schedule for NBA hoops will tip-off domestically on Sunday. Orlando will face New Orleans on NBA-TV at 2:30 pm eastern. 


Nuggets channel Marquette
The Nuggets have new alternate uniforms that remind us of Marquette.  Denver joins San Antonio, New York, Portland, Brooklyn, and Charlotte as teams that have tweaked their look for 2012-13. 

The Bobcats have the dubious distinction of being ranked as our 30th best team in the NBA headed into this new campaign. They are a team without one player that ranks in the top-20 at their respective position. Their highest ranked player by last regular season's efficiency is Ramon Sessions - who rated 21st in the league at point guard. Hyper-active draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may prove to be a top-tier shooting guard in time but Charlotte's likely front court rotation of Byron Mullins, Bismack Biyombo, Brendan Haywood, and Tyrus Thomas is simply over-matched too often to think Charlotte can make any noise. 

Quote of the day comes from the Twitter feed of Jeff McDonald... "Tim Duncan on Tony Parker's link to summertime bar fight: "That's what we were going for this summer. To up our street cred."



Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/01/4870989/sixers-c-bynum-sidelined-with.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Las Vegas Summer League 2012 Awards


"It's just summer league.", said Geoff Petrie - Sacramento's Kings President of Basketball Operations. This was a couple years back in a brief conversation. His words should never be under-valued. NBA Summer League - while light years better in 2012 than it was in, say, 1988, is still largely made up of players who will NOT sniff an NBA roster. Nevertheless our love for basketball and curiosity for how players we've followed will fare in this organized setting is compelling enough for us to invest a significant amount of time in scouting the games. 


Each year of the Las Vegas Summer League - we do a "stat audit" after the dust has settled to see if what we thought we were seeing with the naked eye - matches what the numbers say. I justify the time and effort by simply wanting to be as informed as possible about all prospects. I continue to be a strong believer in being "data informed". When you can combine, serious observation (with note-taking), data, and a dash of common-sense - you become an educated scout. And sometimes the educated scout disagrees with the "herd". The "herd" in this instance is whatever was said, and repeated on "mass-media" websites such as NBA-TV, NBA.com, ESPN.com, etc..., ...All you really need to know about what you are about to read is that we are not paid by any team, agent, or media outlet. We watched and took notes on games, and then followed up each day with a report on the most efficient players at each position. The final step of this evaluation was to review notes, and manually punch in the numbers for the 246 players that played at least 40 minutes. ...Our final thoughts - with all things considered are listed below. 

We thought Terrence Jones was terrific. 
Our MVP: Terrence Jones – Houston. …Jones averaged 18 points and eight rebounds on 50% FG, 76% FT, and 33% 3-pt. The Rockets were 4-1.  Jones’ efficiency was a ridiculously good .778 in five games. He started just two of the games.  He had more assists than turnovers, and finished third in points per minute, and fifth in rebounds per minute. 

Our First Team All Las Vegas Summer League:

PG: Josh Selby – Memphis. …Selby posted the highest efficiency rating (for those who played over 78 minutes) of the LVSL. He was officially named co-MVP (with Damian Lillard). Selby averaged 24 points per game on 55% FG, 89% FT. He made 27 threes on 64% 3-pt fg. I have a rule (for summer league or ANY league) that I can not choose a league most valuable player from a team with a losing record. Memphis went 2-3. 

SG: Damian Lillard – Portland. …Lillard averaged 26.5 points per game! He also had 5.3 assists, and four rebounds each contest. He showed the ability to play with a "pro's pace". He hit difficult shots with both hands while showing he understands how to run a team, and manage the clock. 

SF:  Adam Morrison – Clippers. …Morrison scored 20 points per game while snaring five rebounds each contest. He shot well: 55% FG, 61% 3-pt., 78% FT.  
       
PF: Malcolm Thomas – Bulls. …Thomas was a rebounding machine in Vegas. He averaged 12.4 boards to go with 11.4 points per game.  He shot 53% FG, and 78% FT.

C:  Donatas Motiejunas – Houston.  …Motiejunas scored 16 points and grabbed 7.8 rebounds per game. He shot 62% FG. The Rockets were 4-1.

Our Second Team All Las Vegas Summer League

PG: Dionte Christmas – Boston. …Christmas averaged 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio was better than 3-to-1.  

Harris played smartly
SG: Terrel Harris – Miami. …Harris played ball at a high level in Las Vegas. He scored 15.5 ppg, and he was a thief – with 3.5 steals per game.  His assist-to-turnover ratio was over 4-to-1. He hit 17-19 free throws (89%). 

SF: Jordan Hamilton – Denver.  …Hamilton averaged 19.2 points, and 6.4 rebounds. He displayed playmaking skills with a 1.5-to-1 ast-to-turnover ratio.

PF: Markieff Morris – Phoenix. …Morris was a shade under “20 & 10”. He averaged 19.8 ppg, and 9.8 rpg in five games. He was 26 of 29 from the FT line (89.7%).  

C:  Bernard James – Dallas. James was as advertised defensively. He blocked 2.6 shots per game, and grabbed nine rebounds per game. He scored ten ppg – on 60% FG.  



Top five players per position by efficiency. …78 minutes played minimum.      

Point Guards
Shooting Guards
Small Forwards
Power Forwards
Centers
Josh Selby .982
Terrel Harris .686
Terrence Jones .778
Malcolm Thomas .734
Donatas Motiejunas .740
Dionte Christmas .629
Coby Karl .655
Adam Morrison .607
Markieff Morris .712
Bernard James .702
Damian Lillard .626
Jordan Hamilton .579
Jimmy Butler .563
Samardo Samuels .692
Keith Benson .661
Dominique Jones .556
Jeremy Lamb .534
Tobias Harris .557
Ed Davis .650
Tyler Zeller .655
Aaron Miles .554
Kent Bazemore .524
Drew Viney .539
Denzel Bowles .630
John Henson .592

They did well with the minutes they were given. This is a list of the top seven efficiency ratings of those who played between 40-77 minutes.

Akognon: scoring machine!
Josh Akognon – SAC .982 (Akognon was a scoring machine in his 55 minutes. He scored 58 points and averaged 19 a game off the bench.)
Nolan Smith – POR .780
Luke Harangody – CLE .778
Klay Thompson – GSW .763
Talor Battle – LAC .671
Jarrid Famous – MIL .646
Dexter Pittman – MIA .645

They didn’t play wellThis is a list of the five lowest efficiency ratings of guys that played at least 78 minutes…

Marquis Teague – CHI .095
Ramone Moore – CHI .103
Antoine Wright – LAC .148
Darius Johnson-Odom – LAL .152
Chris Smith – NYK .165

Scorers …This a list of the top-eight in points per minute (78 minutes minimum).

Josh Selby – MEM .883 ppm
Damian Lillard – POR .809 ppm
Terrence Jones – HOU .722 ppm
Jeremy Lamb – HOU .685 ppm
Wes Johnson – MIN .683 ppm
Adam Morrison – LAC .667 ppm
Donatas Motiejunas – HOU .663 ppm
Markieff Morris – PHX .647 ppm

Rebounders …This is a list of the top-eight in rebounds per minute (78 minutes minimum).

Malcolm Thomas – CHI .446 rpm
Denzel Bowles – NO .407 rpm
Bernard James – DAL .344 rpm
Ed Davis – TOR .343 rpm
Terrence Jones – HOU .341 rpm
Eric Dawson – SA .333 rpm
Thomas Robinson – SAC .331 rpm
Samardo Samuels – CLE .327 rpm 

Karl was virtually mistake free.
Ball-Handlers / Decision Makers  …This is a list of the top-eight assist-to-turnover ratios (78 minutes minimum)

Coby Karl – MIN 7.5 to 1
Marcus Hubbard – LAC 7 to 1
Kemba Walker – CHA 5.8 to 1
Zoran Dragic – HOU 5 to 1
Terrel Harris – MIA 4.5 to 1
Aaron Miles – MIL 4 to 1
Jordan Taylor – ATL 3.5 to 1
Dionte Christmas – BOS 3.33 to 1


They get to the line! …This is a list of the top-eight in free throw attempts per minute (78 minutes minimum)

Derrick Williams - MIN .389
Ed Davis – TOR .292
Jimmer Fredette – SAC .278
Jimmy Butler – CHI .275
Thomas Robinson – SAC .264
Samardo Samuels – CLE .250
Norris Cole – MIA .242
Bradley Beal – WA .235

Rim Protectors / Defenders …This is a list of the top-eight in blocked shots per minute (78 minutes minimum)

Bernard James – DAL .10
Festus Ezeli – GSW .10
Keith Benson – ATL .09
Henry Sims – CHI .09
Hilton Armstrong – LAC .09
Bismack Biyombo – CHA .09
Kent Bazemore – GSW .09
Mitchell Watt – MEM .08



Monday, July 23, 2012

Day ten - Las Vegas Summer League

Mike Harris should be in the NBA
The most efficient player (that played 20 minutes or more) in the final day of the 2012 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, was Matt Janning. The 6'4" guard had 16 points, with three made three-point shots, and six rebounds in 22 minutes. ...The most efficient player on a winning team was Mike Harris who scored 22 points, grabbed 12 boards, and dished three assists. Readers of this space know that we have long been a believer that Harris should be a rotation player on a NBA roster. He is always efficient. Now 29 years-old, the 2009-10 NBA D-League MVP has no deal heading into 2012-13 NBA training camps. Here is a link to a recent story about Harris.  Harris finished his NCAA career as the all-time leader in scoring and rebounding at Rice University. 


Our All NBA Summer League team for day ten in Vegas: PG: Talor Battle .913, Kammron Taylor .772. SG: Matt Janning, Doron Lamb .636, Antoine Wright .629. SF: Adam Morrison .931, Tobias Harris .857. PF: Mike Harris .965, Stephen Lasme .714, Deon Thompson .666. C: John Henson .666, Hilton Armstrong .600. 







Day nine - Las Vegas Summer League

Thomas' Saturday was beyond impressive. 
Malcolm Thomas had one of the best individual performances of the 2012 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, Saturday. The former San Diego State standout had 21 points (9-11 FG), 16 rebounds, and four assists  - all the while demonstrating his ability to get off the floor more quickly than his opponents. Thomas' efficiency rating for his 31 minutes of playing time was a truly incredible 1.25! His summer Bulls were winners over the Clippers 77-74. 


Our All-NBA Las Vegas Summer League Team for day nine: PG: Mardy Collins .740, Dionte Christmas .727, SG: Josh Selby .933, LaMarcus Reed III .826. SF: Wes Johnson .823, Jimmy Butler .764, Craig Brackins .750. PF: Malcolm Thomas 1.25, Deon Thompson .913, Markieff Morris .805. C: Bernard James .760, John Henson .675. 



Day eight Las Vegas Summer League

Harris was every bit as good as Selby Friday.
Part of the reason we do this analysis of each day of the 2012 NBA Las Vegas Summer League is to give exposure to players that played well but maybe were not highlighted by the mass media outlets. A prime example occurred Friday July 20th when the Miami Heat win was not among those televised by NBA-TV. By pure science (numbers), Terrel Harris' stellar game Friday was actually better than Josh Selby's. Both were incredible but only Selby was hyped - with his game among the four (of seven) that were televised. Harris scored 25 points on 8-10 FG, and a perfect 7-7 FT. He added five rebounds, and three steals for good measure in 30 minutes of playing time. That stat-line narrowly edged Selby's 32 point game (7-11 FG),  for the most efficient of the day. ...Also having an efficiently "perfect" day was Chris Daniels from the D-League Select team. In their win over Phoenix, Daniels poured in 20 points, with eight boards, and three blocked shots. He did so - off the bench in just 25 minutes. 


Our All Las Vegas Summer League team for day eight: PG: Cedric Jackson .863, Mardy Collins .807., SG: Terrel Harris 1.100, Josh Selby 1.030., Andre Emmett .960, Will Barton .870. SF: Luke Babbitt .760, Quincy Miller .608. PF: Deon Thompson .875, Malcolm Thomas .821. C: Chris Daniels 1.000, Bernard James .739. 





Day seven - Las Vegas Summer League

Karl: most efficient in day seven.
Coby Karl was the lone player to post an efficiency rating over 1.000 in day seven of the 2012 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Karl went crazy from beyond the arc - hitting six of his seven three-point shots on the way to 18 points, four rebounds, two assists in 22 minutes. Not coincindentally - his team (Minnesota) won 78-65 over the summer Cavaliers. 


Our day-seven All-Las Vegas Summer League Team: PG: Damian Lillard .843, Kemba Walker .735. SG: Coby Karl 1.045, Elijah Millsap .652. SF: Jordan Hamilton .694, Adam Morrison .593. PF: Othello Hunter .800, Chris Wright .785, Samardo Samuels .700. C: Meyers Leonard .846, Bismack Biyombo .826, Tristan Thompson .700.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day six - Las Vegas Summer League

Brown was golden Wednesday.
Bobby Brown was the king of the stage in the play from Wednesday July 18th at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. The 27 year-old combo-guard nailed 17 points with five rebounds, and six assists in just 20 minutes of playing time in Toronto's victory over the Sacramento Kings summer entry. Brown was the lone player in seven Wednesday games that had an efficiency rating of 1.000 (considered perfect). 


Our All-NBA Vegas Summer League Team for day six: PG: Bobby Brown 1.000, Ben Uzoh .700. SG: Jerome Dyson .904, John Jenkins .733. SF: Adam Morrison .741, Marcus Hubbard .739, Jimmy Butler .684, Tobias Harris .666. PF: Eric Dawson  .633, Mike Scott .615. C: Bernard James .769., Keith Benson .650. 

Day five - Las Vegas Summer League

Shavlik Randolph starred on day five.
He is 28 years-old, one of the oldest summer league players, but Shavlik Randolph proved that his "advanced age" was not a deterrent in the summer Wizards win Tuesday July 17th at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Randolph scored 16 points (7-11 FG), and grabbed 15 rebounds in just 21 minutes. The seven foot, power forward / center, was one of two players to post a Tuesday efficiency rating of 1.00 (perfect) or better. Joining Randolph as a star on day five was Memphis' second-year guard Josh Selby. In a losing effort, Selby exploded for 35 points in 32 minutes. 


Our All Las Vegas Summer League Team for day five: PG: Nolan Smith .815, Darius Morris .807. SG: Josh Selby 1.00, Jeremy Lamb .647. SF: Chris Copeland .826, Kawhi Leonard .727. PF: Markieff Morris .969, Terrence Jones .933, Othello Hunter .800. C: Shavlik Randolph 1.14, Donatas Motiejunas .962, Paulo Prestes .869. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day four - Las Vegas Summer League

Day four star, Tyler Zeller.
Cleveland center, Tyler Zeller was the star of stars in action from Monday July 16th at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. The seven footer from North Carolina scored 19 points, while grabbing sven rebounds, complemented by two steals and two blocked shots. Zeller's efficiency rating was a "perfect" 1.000 for his 25 minutes of playing time. 


Also noteworthy was the complete dereliction of the Los Angeles Lakers summer team. They lost by 50 points to Miami. 


Our day four Las Vegas NBA All-Summer League Team: PG: Norris Cole .920, Bobby Brown .720. SG: Jerry Smith .846, Jimmer Fredette .821. SF: Drew Viney .913, Royce White .814. Tobias Harris .720. PF: Samardo Samuels .857, Terrence Jones .727, Jarrid Famous .727. C: Tyler Zeller 1.000, Donatas Motiejunas .800. 

Day three - Las Vegas Summer League

Markieff was the best in day
three.
Markieff Morris was the most efficient player (that played at least 20 minutes) in the, Sunday July 15th, Las Vegas NBA Summer league action. The Suns big-man posted a .785 efficiency rating, scoring 21 points while grabbing nine rebounds and blocking two shots in just 28 minutes. The Phoenix summer squad smushed the Knicks by 25 points. Andre Emmett also deserves a shout for his play in the D-League Select team's victory over the summer Wizards. Emmett, a star for the Reno Bighorns in 2011-12, scored 17 points while dishing four assists.

Our All-Summer league Team for day three: PG: Diante Garrett .769, Cory Joseph .677. SG: Andre Emmett .739, Dominique Jones .676, Jordan Hamilton .629. SF: Marcus Landry .650, Luke Babbitt .643. PF: Markieff Morris .785, Eric Dawson .766, Ed Davis .629. C: Keith Benson .666, Bernard James .633.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day two. Las Vegas Summer League

Tony Wroten wrecked shop in day two.
Tony Wroten and Josh Akognon were the standout performers in Day two of the 2012 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Both posted efficiency ratings above 1.000 for the day. Wroten scored 19 points, with eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals in the Summer Grizzlies win over the Knicks. Meanwhile, Akognon came off the Sacramento bench to score 25 points on 10-16 FG. 


Our day two,All Vegas Summer League Team: PG: Tony Wroten 1.04, Charles Jenkins .709. SG: Josh Akognon 1.04, Josh Selby .680, Jeremy Lamb .558, Matt Janning .533. SF: Tony Mitchell .600, Draymond Green .500. PF: Terrence Jones .809, Jan Vesely .619. C: Festus Ezeli .695, Robert Sacre .484.

Day one - Las Vegas Summer League

Racing duties delayed us one week from tracking the daily efficiency of players in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. We will attempt to catch up by looking back.  


Klay was the best on
Friday the 13th. 
The 2012 LVSL started last Friday, July 13th. Three players played games with efficiency "better than perfect" - which is any rating over 1.000. Topping the charts was Golden State guard Klay Thompson who went nutso with 24 points (9-13 FG, six threes), six rebounds, and four assists in just 23 minutes. The Summer Warriors throttled the Lakers entry 90-50. ...In the Rockets win - Donatas Motiejunas scored 25 points (11-13 FG), and grabbed nine boards in his 25 minutes. ...Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft showed his multidimensional game in Charlotte's victory over Sacramento. "MKG" had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals in 22 minutes. 


Our All-Summer League Team for Day One (efficiency rating for the day follows each name): PG: Kemba Walker .772, Brad Wanamaker .652. SG: Klay Thompson 1.34, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 1.09, John Jenkins .840, Jeremy Lamb .653. SF: Harrison Barnes .760, Chandler Parsons .692. PF: Terrence Jones .800, Chris Singleton .709. C: Donatas Motiejunas 1.28, Ed Davis .875. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rebooting the 2007 NBA Draft

Durant should have gone first. 
It continues to amaze me that the major media outlets insist their NBA writers give grades to teams the day - or week after the NBA Draft. It is just ridiculous. In the name of what is right - please stop it. 


What we have done each year instead is to review the draft that happened five years ago. By now you can give grades (if you want to. I don't.) and come up with a data-driven, common sense, idea of what the order should have actually been. But even five years later - it is not easy. 


Players are STILL evolving. If you judged Brandan Wright, even after his first four seasons in the NBA at Golden State, and in New Jersey - you would not rate him where you might rate him today after an efficient, healthy, productive season in Dallas. Clearly, Wright is ascending. The same can be said for Tiago Splitter, who by efficiency (per minute) ranked eighth at Center in 2011-12. 


The 2007 NBA Draft has produced three All-Stars to date. Without question - if we re-drafted today, the number one pick would be Kevin Durant (2) * we will put in parenthesis the number where the player was actually selected in 2007. There was a healthy debate at the time about whether or not Greg Oden or Durant should go first. It seems doubtful that Nostradamus could have foreseen all of Oden's injury problems. Five years later - Oden is a free agent trying to come back from multiple surgeries. In hindsight, the second pick should have probably been Al Horford (3). Although Marc Gasol has been an All-Star, we will give the third choice nod to Joakim Noah (9). Pau's "little" brother Marc goes fourth in this re-do. In hindsight - the Marc Gasol pick, 48th overall, in the second round - was the "steal of the draft". 


The order is certainly debatable. I had a hard time deciphering the differences in potential vs. accomplishment for selections five through 13. Keeping in mind that this draft reboot is as if we are drafting today - with the unknown future still ahead, I would gamble a bit on Splitter (28) as my fifth pick. With the same rationale, that I'm sure has many of you readers thinking I am nuts, I would reach for Wright (8) sixth.  


Spencer Hawes (10) would be the seventh pick, followed by Jared Dudley (22), Aaron Afflalo (27), Mike Conley (4), Rodney Stuckey (15), Wilson Chandler (23) and Ramon Sessions (56). The last pick of the lottery in the 2007 re-do is Thaddeus Young (12). 


Depending on who is drafting - the order would likely find Nick Young higher than 15th - but that is where he falls in this re-draft. Carl Landry (31) goes next. Corey Brewer appears to be improving still after a slow start to his NBA career. He was the seventh selection in 2007 on the heels of winning back-to-back NCAA titles. Looking in the rear-view mirror, he should have probably fallen ten spots further to 17th. 


Jason Smith (20), Rudy Fernandez (24), and Aaron Brooks (26) complete the top-20 in our re-draft. This is the time where even with all his injuries, Greg Oden would come off the board. He is the 21st pick in this re-draft on the slim hopes that he can one day return to the NBA and contribute. 


We are into thin-ice and marginal guys now. Coaches love Dominic McGuire (47) so we will swing for him 22nd, followed by Marco Belinelli (18), Josh McRoberts (37), "Big Baby" Glen Davis (35), Daequan Cook (21), and Yi Jianlian (6). 


Jeff Green (5) who sat out last season with heart issues will go 28th in this re-do. Aaron Gray (49) is the next to-last first round pick, and we close it out with Al Thornton 30th. Thornton is till trying to find his way in the league. He is proof that even the most hyper-athletic players, on the wing, can and will struggle if they do not have a reliable jump-shot. 


Sean Williams, and Julian Wright are both still battling to find a stable home in the NBA. They would be the first two-picks of the second round, and after that - there is a wasteland. The highest drafted player in 2007 that was not picked in our re-do was Acie Law. He was picked eleventh. Four other guys in the 2007 first round that were not chosen in the re-draft are: Javaris Crittenton, Morris Almond, Alondo Tucker, and Petteri Koponen. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lillard in lottery?

Lillard had trouble scoring on Jorge Gutierrez. 
Damian Lillard is a sweet-shooting guard that had scouts cramming Big Sky gyms to catch a glimpse of his talents. What they saw was a skilled, athletic scorer with a measured vertical leap of 39.5 inches! He shot a very impressive 86.7% FT for his career (600 attempts). Last season he raised his three point shooting accuracy to 40.9%. …Lillard is also strong in the upper-body.

The big-question is how much stock can you put into his numbers playing against Big Sky competition? The Big Sky was the 27th (of 33) rated conference in NCAA D-1 hoops (according to Jeff Sagarin's ratings). Lillard competed against just two power-six conference teams last season. When Weber St. faced Cal, Lillard laid an egg. He was 4-17 FG with 14 points in 36 minutes. Likewise - against an always tough Utah St. squad - he was 4-16 FG. To be fair - Lillard had a monster 36 point game against Saint Mary's. But the Gaels guards are far from scary defensively. (See Lillard's game log)

The NBA is a league FULL of good point guards right now. Since you always consider the landscape - I don't see Lillard being a guy who automatically fits into the top-shelf of NBA PG's. By efficiency - guys like Mike Conley, George Hill and Jeff Teague are struggling to crack the top-25 among PG's. Is it realistic to think Lillard can become that good? I'm not sure. Lillard is being discussed as a late-lottery selection. I see that projection as slightly overrated right now. Don't get me wrong - I like Lillard's game. But I do not see him as a lottery pick.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kings Monday workout. Quick thoughts on players

The Sacramento Kings will host six players Monday for workouts at their practice facility. Here are my quick thoughts on each player...


Henson is LONG!
John Henson - North Carolina - PF/C ...Henson is a super long shot blocker and offensive rebounding force that is improving as a face-up shooter. He was the 2011-12 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. ...Henson owns a standing reach of  9'3.5"! He blocks and alters a huge number of the opponents shots, making him very valuable. Henson averaged 13.8 ppg, and 10.1 rpg this season. ...He is rail thin (at just 216 lbs.), raising concerns about long-term prospects from a health standpoint. Then again - Tayshaun Prince, one of the thinnest players in the NBA has rarely missed any time. ...Henson is a poor free throw shooter at 48% (career). ...I like him but I think there will be better choices at pick number five. 


Drew Gordon - New Mexico - PF ...Gordon really improved during his two seasons at New Mexico after a failed two years at UCLA. …His scoring, rebounding, and free throw percentages went up every year of his college career. He finished with career shooting percentages of 53% FG, 69% FT. ...He is a terrific rebounder (very high in rebounds per minute). ...He competes. ...I see him as that kind of kid you might want to draft in the second round due to his skill, strong body, desire, and because he continues to improve. 


Ricardo Ratliffe - Missouri - PF - Ratliffe is a hard-nosed player that shot an incredible 63% FG during his two year stay at Missouri. …He isn't flashy and he isn't the best at "showing and recovering". His straight-line speed is much better than his side-to-side. ...He certainly benefited from playing with virtually all guards at Missouri, just as he  benefited from being the one BIG guy on the interior. …He turns it over more than he assists it. His career free-throw percentage is 67%. ...Ratliffe is a year-older than most in his class - already 23 years old. ...He probably is either a late-second round guy or a player that will not be drafted. He certainly is not better than Euro pros Kyle Hines, or Richard Hendrix (who have yet to make an NBA roster). 


Yancy Gates - Cincinnati - C ...Gates is a huge kid that can be a load on the low post. He is very hard to move. He also uses both hands well around the basket. He is a natural righty but can go left with skill. Only a 59% free throw shooter. …More turnovers than assists. …He never dominated the way I thought he was capable of. After watching him for four years at Cincy - I would pass on him despite his obvious offensive skills. He is the guy that famously sucker-punched Xavier's Kenny Frease. ...There is also concerns about his weight. He was 287 lbs. at Portsmouth in April. 


Charlie Westbrook - South Dakota - SG ...Westbrook is a scoring guard that posted solid shooting numbers (46% FG, 76% FT, 38% 3-pt.) for his position in the Summit League. …He is looking to score. ...Right-handed. He had more turnovers than assists in his two seasons at South Dakota and while he may improve as a spot-ball handler - in my opinion he will never be a point guard offensively. He can guard point guards, and he gives a good effort on defense. …He helps a little bit as a rebounder from the guard position. ...Overall - his efficiency is solid but you have to consider the Summit League he played in - which was rated as just the 18th best conference in NCAA division one basketball in 2011-12. 


Oscar Bellfield - UNLV - PG ...Bellfield impresses me as a true point guard. He thinks pass first. That said, he is simply not efficient at all. He doesn't help as a rebounder, and he he doesn't score enough to warrant minutes. ...Good handles. …Right handed but uses his left as well. …Good hesitation dribble. …Will hit a big shot in crunch time. From Los Angeles. Gets to the hoop. ...He should not be drafted. 



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is Carmelo Anthony REALLY the best scorer in the NBA?

Kobe doesn't know what Barkley is saying
Charles Barkley says many things with confidence. And since TNT television is THE mouthpiece for the NBA - many fans repeat what Charles says whether his opinion is based in fact or not. Repeatedly - Barkley has maintained that Carmelo Anthony is the "best scorer in the NBA". 


I wondered if that could be proven statistically. The easy way? Look up the NBA, scoring per-minute totals for the 2011-12 season. 


According to HoopStats.com - the best scorer in the NBA is Kobe Bryant, who would average 34.9 points per game if he played all 48 minutes. Bryant is followed by LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love (wow! really?), Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, and - then finally - in seventh, we find Carmelo Anthony.









Friday, May 4, 2012

You make the call! Blind resume on two NBA players

Earlier this morning I was thinking about how I was surprised at a certain player's final efficiency rating for the 2011-12 NBA regular season. While the number was nothing special, it did show a slight improvement for the third season in a row. And - ...and this is the important part - the efficiency rating number that surprised me a bit, signifies that the player would be a top tier backup - given the current "landscape" at his position. 


Before I reveal the player - let's do a blind resume comparison with another player. What makes this blind comparison interesting is that both guys are from the high school Class of 2007, but one played one year of college and just finished his fourth NBA season. The other went to college for four years, and just finished his first NBA season with a positive buzz. Both players are probably best suited to play small forward. 


Player A: 23 years old. 6'9" 227. Overall efficiency rating .398 (ranked tied for 31st at SF). Player A has more assists than turnovers but he shoots just 55% from the line. He shot 45% FG, and 33% from three-point range. Player A would be considered an average to below-average athlete relative to the NBA. Player A scores .33 points per minute. He gets .16 rebounds per minute. Player A gets one assist for every 13 minutes of playing time. Player A is not known for his defense. 


Player B: 24 years old. 6'11" 226. Overall efficiency rating .381 (ranked tied for 35th at SF). Player B also had more assists than turnovers (barely), but is a better free throw shooter at 80%. He shot only 40% FG, and 23.8% from beyond the arc. Player B has above average athleticism. Player B scores .36 points per minute. Player B rebounds at .171 boards per minute. Player B gets one assist every 22 minutes of playing time. Player B is recognized as a good defender that can defend SG's, SF's, and PF's. 


Player A is seen as someone who surprised many in the NBA by playing significant minutes as a rookie. In general - if you said Player A's name - most in the NBA would think this "kid" had a nice future. Player B, on the other hand, is only eight-months older but he is generally seen as a disappointment in the league. He has "under-achieved". 


But if you REALLY look at the statistical comparison between the two - there is not much difference. Player A - the rookie, has a nice feel for the game. He shoots better from distance and sets up his teammates better than Player B. Player B is very slowly learning. But Player B is the more gifted athlete, the better scorer, the better defender, the better at rebounding, and by far Player B is the better finisher in transition.  


Click here to see who Player A is
Click here to see who Player B is.


The point of all this is to show that sometimes we are too quick to dismiss a player simply because they have not met OUR expectations.