Saturday, June 30, 2012

NBA Draft Thoughts

  • I may be alone on this, but I don't love Austin Rivers to the Hornets. I fear that they will try to make him a point guard, which he is not. If they decide to use him as a James Harden/Jamal Crawford type off of the bench for instant scoring, that can also close the game out with Eric Gordon, I like this much more. But Austin Rivers is not a point guard. Still, I get the pick. In the NBA, you can acquire talent and figure out a way to get it on the court at the same time. Rivers is talented for sure. A point guard he is not.
  • Bittersweet moment at #2. Loved seeing MKG go that high, but hate him going to Charlotte. I do think he will play a big part of changing that culture. Charlotte doesn't necessarily have a bad culture of knuckleheads, like Washington had, they just don't have talent. Yet. I've also heard a lot of MKG comparisons to Gerald Wallace, with a negative connotation about them. When healthy, Gerald Wallace was very good. Keep in mind that, Wallace has been an All Star team and an All Defensive First team, all while rotting on the bench his first three years in Sacramento. In 2010, Wallace averaged 18 ppg (on 48% FG), 10 rpg and earned his All Defensive team selection. Pretty damn good. I'm hopeful that Charlotte can bring in a "Jordan" that will allow MKG to thrive as "Pippen".
  • Brad Beal never stood out to me at Florida. I hope he works out with John Wall in Washington, but in three games against UK and a handful of other Florida games I caught, he never jumped out to me as the "3rd pick in a draft" type of talent.
  • I can't get too upset at Orlando's pick because I will trust Rob Hennigan until he gives me a reason not to, and I'm sure Andrew Nicholson will be a solid player...but I feel like we can afford to gamble here with the situation Orlando is currently in. I wouldn't have minded Sullinger, but why not take a shot on Perry Jones III potential? Whatever. In Hennigan I trust.
  • The Heat should have taken Perry Jones. Considering only his talent, he is probably a top 5 pick. The knock on him is that he doesn't have the desire to dominate, and he's in between positions (he thinks he's a 3, teams think he's a 4). Miami wipes out both of those concerns. He doesn't have to be a star on Miami and with the positional versatility that James/Wade/Bosh provide, you can play him wherever and not worry about classifying him as a 3/4. A Bosh/Jones III/James/Wade/Battier lineup is terrifying defensively, and not to shabby offensively. A contract at the 28th slot is pretty much 4 years/5 million. Why not take a flyer on him?
  • The Thunder picked up the pieces and jumped all over Jones. Like Miami, because they have Durant/Westbrook/Harden, PJ3 won't have to worry about being a star. Like Miami, because of the OKC's big three can all play multiple positions, you don't have to worry about selling Jones on a position. Just let him play. I'm certain that I'm reaching here, but I think the plan is to have Perry Jones replace Serge Ibaka. If OKC really thinks they won't have the loot to re-sign Harden/Ibaka, they could trade Ibaka for pieces, re-sign Harden and eventually put Jones in at the 4. Ibaka is a 4, but doesn't do much banging/back to the basket work. It's far fetched and very risky, but they could be looking at losing Ibaka for nothing, if another team wildly overpays for him (probable). Jones doesn't give you the defense that Ibaka does, but he's a better offensive threat and could thrive in a role as a fourth wheel. Just reckless conjecture on my part, though.
  • Very happy that all six of the Cats landed in solid spots. Anthony Davis and MKG each figure to see big minutes during their first season. Terrence Jones is a bit of a logjam in Houston, as they have Luis Scola, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson and Royce White at PF, but Houston is too smart of a team to have that many undersized power forwards. A move is coming soon. Love Marquis Teague in Chicago. He looks to see a lot of playing time with Rose out, and Thibodeau should work wonders for him. Really hoped that Doron Lamb and Darius Miller got in the first round, but not the case. Still, Lamb figures to have a decent shot at making the team in Milwaukee. Darius Miller landed in New Orleans, where they currently have seven players under contract (one of which being Rashard Lewis, who is days away from being bought out). He should be able to make that team and contribute from day one. For those scoring at home, that's 15 players John Calipari has put into the NBA in his three years at Kentucky. Two #1 overall picks, seven lottery picks and 10 first rounders.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finals Talk and Dwight to the Rockets?

Amazing, amazing new track by Frank Ocean.



Congratulations to the Heat for winning the NBA championship. Far from a Miami fan, but I did want to see LeBron get people off of his back. And boy did he. His performance throughout the playoffs on both ends of the court was a thing of beauty. On consecutive possessions in the Finals, he guarded Kendrick Perkins in the post, Serge Ibaka out by the free throw line and Kevin Durant on the perimeter. This wasn't a case where a pick and roll left LeBron in a mismatch. These were by design. That type of defensive versatility is invaluable. LeBron averaged a 30-10-5 with outstanding defense for the postseason. If you have a guy that can give you 30 points, or 10 rebounds, or 5 assists or outstanding defense every night in the playoffs, you're in pretty good shape. LeBron does all four. He's phenomenal. I hope the unjust hate for him doesn't blind people from realizing that we are watching one of the all time greats about to enter the prime years of his career.

Of course, then he goes out and celebrates his championship by wearing a t-shirt with a picture of himself as a lion on it. No, really.

Whatever. He's earned the right to celebrate. Let him cook.

The Dwight Howard trade talks are really heating up, and I'm finally stoked. Orlando hired Rob Hennigan, who spent four years a piece with the Spurs and Thunder learning how to build a team. Early reports say he has fired eight people in 24 hours. That's a man about his business. He has no ties to Dwight Howard, so will have no issue shipping him off when Dwight makes it clear that he has no intention of re-signing with Orlando. The Houston Rockets have dominated the Dwight rumors, as they have made it clear they are willing to trade for him even if it is a one year rental. They are reportedly trying to gather as many first round picks as they can to offer to Orlando. I am guessing this is Hennigan's doing, as he saw what good drafting did for Oklahoma City and was a big part of drafting Westbrook/Ibaka/Harden. Get this man as many picks as we can!

The Rockets currently have the 14th, 16th and 18th picks in the draft. Orlando has the 19th. From what I read, Houston is trying hard to use the the 14th/16th pick and whatever assets they have to acquire the 5th and 8th pick in the draft. The Kings (5th) and Raptors (8th) have apparently made it known that their picks can be had. Houston would then send the 5th, 8th, 18th pick, Kevin Martin and Samuel Dalembert (both expiring contracts) to Orlando for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. I'd drive Dwight/Hedo to Houston myself for that deal. This would give Orlando four of the top 19 picks in the draft, rid them of the final 2 years/23 million on Turkoglu's contract and give them an additional $19 million coming off the books after next season with Martin/Dalembert. Yes, please. I've already began fantasizing about getting MKG at #5, Andre Drummond at #8, Kendall Marshall at #18 and Terrence Jones at #19. Or some combination of those guys. Or whoever Hennigan sees fit, because I trust his drafting decisions. Talk about rebuilding on the fly. It's clear we aren't going to be able to swap Dwight for Blake Griffin or Wade/Bosh, so let's start from scratch and build it back up. I have no issue with taking a step back, if there is a plan in place to make a leap forward.

If Houston pulls this off, they will have Dwight Howard, Luis Scola and an abundance of cap space...perhaps enough to offer Deron Williams to come back to his home state of Texas?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Shaq Chronicles III

We're back at it. Are you prepared to be disappointed by my reckless conjecture disguised as a hypothesis? I know I am! Let's hop to it.

1999-2000

Shaq's best season and one of the best of all time. He won his only regular season MVP trophy, made an All-Defensive team for the first time in his career and this was the first season of the Laker's three peat. Shaq played 79 of 82 games this year, averaged 29.7 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 3.8 apg (!!!) and 3 bpg. Over a 23 game stretch in the playoffs, Shaq added 30.7 ppg, 15..4 rpg and a little over 2 bpg. In a 6 game victory over the Pacers in the Finals, Shaq averaged 38 ppg, 13.7 rpg and 2.7 bpg. Can't argue with a thing here, but seasons like this are even why I started the research. Why does Shaq only have one regular season MVP? Why did it take him eight seasons to make an All-Defensive team? It was second team selection at that (He never made first team in his career). Again, clearly nitpicking but that's why I'm here. 1999-2000 stats stand as is: 29.7 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 3.8 apg and 3 bpg.

2000-2001 


Nothing to see here, folks. 74 out of 82 games played, with seven games missed for injuries suffered during the season and one missed for his college graduation. Another first team All-NBA selection, another All-Defensive team, another championship ring and Finals MVP trophy.

Regular season: 28.7 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.8 bpg
Playoffs, 16 games: 30.4 ppg, 15.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.1 bpg
Finals, 4 games against Dikembe Mutombo: 33.8 ppg, 15.8 rpg, 3.4 bpg

Another season with no adjustments.

2000-01 stats stand as is: 28.7 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 2.8 bpg.
Regrets by me for starting these chronicles: Many.

2001-02

The last season of the Laker's three-peat saw Shaq play in 67 out of 82 games (12 games for injuries during the season, 3 games suspended). More of the same: Another first team All NBA selection, no All-Defensive team but another ring/Finals MVP. I will point out that Shaq was on a run of phenomenal assist numbers for a big man. Also with big men, there are so many hockey assists they make that they never get credit for. Shaq was averaging 3-4 assists per game, but was probably responsible for passes that lead to another 3-4 assists.

Regular season: 27.2 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3 apg, 2 bpg
Playoffs, 19 games: 28.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.5 bpg
Finals, 4 games: 36.3 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 3.8 apg

2001-02 stats stand as is: 27.2 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3 apg, 2 bpg

2002-03

Aha! We've finally got some action. Again, Shaq played in 67 of 82 regular season games but this time he missed the start of the season due to foot surgery. Shaq admitted to delaying the surgery so he could heal on "company time". He only missed 12 games due to the surgery (another 3 games later on for a different injury), but I'll take what I can get at this point. We'll multiply Shaq's regular season stats for those 12 games to find out how much we should add to his career totals.

2002-03 Regular season: 67 games, 27.5 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.4 bpg
2002-03 Projections: 79 games, +330 points to Shaq's career totals, 133 rebounds, 37 assists, 28 blocks.

Seeing as that is the first successful season we've had thus far, I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. Until next time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Finals

It's halftime of the first game of the NBA Finals.  I'm over the moon about it.  First of all, these playoffs have been dynamite.  At the beginning of the postseason, I hoped for this match-up.  I figured we would see a fast-paced, high-scoring series.  And, while there's something to be said about a defensive battle, there's also something so beautiful as two extremely offensively gifted teams going toe-to-toe.  So far, the first half has not disappointed.  I think it's going to be a great series.

I'm calling for the Thunder in 6.  Maybe I'm just looking at the Heat/Celtics series a bit too closely.  The Thunder aren't nearly as good a defensive squad as the Celtics, and they have a healthy Bosh back.  Still, I saw the Heat go stagnant on offense one too many times against a Celtics team they should have destroyed.  Right now, the Thunder look like the better team right now.  Either way, I'm just hoping for a good series.  It looks like we're getting that.

I wondered about Rondo/Garnett leaving early, too.  People killed LeBron for that.  But I didn't hear anything about the Celtics.  I'm guessing someone at ESPNBoston talked about how they had too much heart, or couldn't bear to lose, or something like that.  But, since I refuse to look at that site, I'm left assuming.

I'm also watching the Tigers/Cubs game right now.  The Tigers just tied the game 3-3 in the 7th, and they're trying to tack on some more.  After taking two out of three from the Reds (sorry), I think this is where they start to turn their season around.  String together some wins, and start chipping away at the division leading White Sox.  I can feel the tide turning.  Go get 'em, Tigers.

My softball team has a playoff game this Thursday.  We won our game last week by a score of 21-17 (coming back from 10-0, then 17-10), and we continue our march to the Championship on Thursday.  We play at 7.  Then, if we win, we'll play for the title at 9.  I have a good feeling about this.

I didn't watch Paquiao/Bradley, but I've read a lot about it.  I feel like Pacquiao got the benefit of the decision in his last fight, so this one really didn't bother me.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pacquiao-Bradley and NBA Finals Thoughts

I watched that Pacquiao-Bradley fight because I really had nothing better to do, and I'm glad I did. Pacquiao destroyed Bradley for 12 rounds, yet Bradley came up with the victory via split decision. It was a joke. This story will likely die down until the next "big" fight because nobody cares about boxing, but it was one of the more incredible sports events I've seen. If I hadn't watched the fight, I'm not sure if I'd believe it. Pacquiao had Bradley staggering around round 3 or 4. I didn't think it would go longer than 6, but Bradley weathered the storm and closed with a couple of solid rounds. The conspiracy theorists are out and about with this one, and with good cause. The first shady thing to me is that Pacquiao didn't knock Bradley out. KO's are his style, and he had multiple opportunities to end this thing, but didn't. Second, as they were reading the scorecards after the fight, Bradley seemed a little too confident for someone that just got whooped for 8 or 9 out of the 12 rounds. I know Pacquiao is a mild mannered man (outside of the cheating on his wife, alleged PED use and citing Bible verses that condemn homosexuals to death), but he seemed a little too calm for a man that just got shafted. Third, and most damning in my opinion, Bradley tweeted a picture of the fight poster for the rematch...before the first fight had taken place. Outside of a controversial ending, there was no way Bradley was getting a rematch unless he won. Which he did, technically.

Mayweather probably had a nice laugh at this...until a guard jabbed him in the rib with a night stick and told him, "Lights out!". Perhaps this Pacquiao-Bradley debacle sets the table for Pacquaio-Mayweather, as Pacquiao now knows for certain that he won't receive a 50/50 split with Mayweather. Even then, when would the fight be? Presumably, Pacquiao wins the rematch in November, but there is probably a third fight sometime in the middle of next year. Maybe we see Pacquaio-Mayweather in winter 2013? Maybe we never see it at all.

Ding dong, the C's are dead! Nobody is happier to see a OKC-Mia NBA Finals than this guy. First, because it means those wackass Celtics are toast. Second, it means we get Durant vs. LeBron! Rejoice! I can't recall a time where arguably the leagues top two players in the league, playing the same position, faced off in the Finals. (Sidebar: I still think Dwight is the 2nd best player in the league. I feel like all else equal, neither side would trade Durant for Dwight, but if I had a choice of who to build around, I think I'd go Dwight.) I can't wait for Game 1 on Tuesday night.

I picked Miami before the season to win it all so I will stick with it, but really I don't care. I just want good basketball, and for 7 games preferably. I think it'd be dope for Durant to score 45/game for seven straight games and try to take LeBron's title as best player in the league. I think it'd be dope for LeBron to say, "They think THIS guy is better than me?" and put up seven straight games of 32-14-11. I do think I want LeBron to win a ring, just to see what his critics will say now. The hate for him is getting more ridiculous by the day, so if he finally gets a ring, what will they say? I have been hearing a lot of, "OKC did it the right way. Miami did it the wrong way." Taking less money to play with other good players is the wrong way? That's ridiculous. You just don't like LeBron. And that's fine. Just don't mask it with ridiculous reasons.

I haven't heard much Rondo/KG leaving the court before the game was over so they wouldn't have to shake hands with the Heat. I remember LeBron was sacrificed for this. There was also footage of the Heat dancing in the locker room after their Game 7 victory. I don't mind this because they are a young team that hasn't been on this stage before. Oh, that's right. They're a veteran team that was in this very same spot last year. Go figure. Also, this is the fourth time that Doc Rivers has lost a series after being up 3-2. He also left Brandon Bass in one-on-one situations with LeBron James repeatedly during the fourth quarter last night. By all means, keep hailing him as one of the best coaches in the league.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Shaq Chronicles II

Here we go. I was originally going to break down parts by Shaq's points, rebounds,assists, etc. but ultimately decided it would be easier to go by season. As mentioned in Part I, Shaq dominated his first three seasons and played in nearly every game so we'll skip right to his 4th, where his health began to go south.

1995-96

Shaq missed the first 22 games of the season with a broken thumb. He went on to play 56 of 82 regular season games. Let's jump right in:

Actually, it looked as if O'Neal might have sampled the Subway menu a bit too often while he was recovering from the Oct. 26 surgery that reattached a ligament and repaired a fracture to his right thumb. His 332-pound body, partly bulked up through off-season weightlifting and 22 pounds heavier than it was at the end of last season, seemed a trifle thicker around the middle than it had been during the exhibition season. That probably resulted from his routine while on the injured list, which he jokingly described as "eating steak, going to movies, waking up and not doing anything." http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1007587/index.htm
Bingo. Right off the bat, we've got action. The article tells us Shaq had surgery for his thumb in October, the first month of the NBA season. A wasted summer and delayed thumb surgery so Shaq could heal on "company time" (as he admitted after a 2002-03 toe surgery), perhaps? Nope. Just a karate chop from Matt Geiger in an exhibition game. Shaq missed an additional six games that season, but that sounds about right. 1995-96 stats stand as is: 26 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 bpg.

1996-97

Shaq's first season in Los Angeles. He play in 51 of 82 regular season games. Much to my chagrin, I find another legit injury. Shaq hyperextended his left knee against Minnesota in February 1997, which caused him to miss 28 games. Shaq missed an additional 3 games, but nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea... 1996-97 stats stand as is: 26 ppg, 12 rpg, 3 bpg.

1997-98

Shaq plays 60 of a possible 82 games. Surely there's an injury here that Shaq let linger a little too long, right?  Wrong again. Abdominal strain caused him to miss 22 games (season opener, and less than two weeks later a reaggravation causes him to sit the remaining 21 games). Ok, this was a bad idea. 1997-98 stats stand as is: 28 ppg, 11 rpg, 2.5 bpg.

1998-99

Shaq plays in 49 of 50 regular season games in the lockout season. Nothing to see here...though is there something to be said about Shaq missing one game when he knew he only had to play 50, instead of 82? Am I reaching? Probably. 1998-99 stats stand as is: 26 ppg, 11 rpg, 1.7 bpg.

That does it for Part II. By now, I'm fully convinced that every injury Shaquille O'Neal ever had came during the course of the season. Hopefully part III won't disappoint the way this one did.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Two Quick Thoughts

1. I love your Shaq idea.  Love it.  Really looking forward to reading about it.

2. If the Celtics win this series, I'm going to punch them in the balls.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Shaq Chronicles Part I

A conversation at work today reminded me of something I have been wanting to do for some time. Conversation about the NBA playoffs lead to conversation about Barkley/Kenny/Ernie/Shaq on TNT. This lead a conversation about Shaq, which lead to a conversation about Young Shaq and lead me to proclaim that a motivated Shaq would have been the best player ever. Ever. I've said this for many moons, but never taken the time to look into the numbers and see if my reckless conjecture holds true. Until now. I'm going to do my best to recreate Shaq's career starting after his third season, if he had proven to be a man with moderate motivation to stay healthy. I'm starting after his third season, because Shaq had kept himself in remarkable shape through his first three seasons (playing in 241/246 regular season games) before injuries hit (165/246 regular season games the next three years). I'm going to do my best to find old stories about injuries in an attempt to separate legitimate injuries for a man of his size, versus the ones he let linger in the offseason before getting surgery right before the regular season and causing himself to miss games. I have no idea how fruitful this will prove to be, how many entries this will take or if my inability to prove my original point will lead me to give up and act like this ever happened, but I am looking forward to it. Stay tuned.