Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chris Kaman's No Good Very Bad Day

4-18 from the field (22%). 8 points. It was not a good evening for Chris Kaman. 

Marcus Camby and Fabulous Fabricio Oberto didn't exactly have his number, either. He had all the open looks a 7-footer loves. Deep post position led to poorly challenged hook shots. 1 foot layups. Open shots from 15-feet out. They didn't fall, people. The Clippers need those to fall if they want to win games.

I don't know why Chris Kaman has these games. He has them, from time to time, though. Maybe the whole day is off, rather than just the basketball-night. Perhaps he wakes up to find that his home has water damage in the basement. Maybe his toaster malfunctions and burns his bread. Traffic slowed him on the way to the game. Shoot-around didn't go that well. He was feeling a bit under the weather. The ball didn't drop, that's the point.

The problem is that Chris Kaman is only useful when he can make up for all that only-okay defense and weak-side shot blocking. Or for his middle-of-the-pack rebounding rate. Or for the years and years he spent with that dreadful haircut. 

The Clippers, outside of some really cool (and nearly non-existent in the days of Dunleavy) transition action and Blake Griffin's glorious smangin' dunks, need offensive help. Eric Gordon is not a go-to scorer in this league. He's a really good second option (what up, 5 turnovers?). Randy Foye is not going to turn most open looks into points. Baron Davis is going to do whatever it is that Baron Davis thinks is a good thing to do on a basketball court. Chris Kaman has to be effective and healthy. DeAndre Jordan and Jarron Collins are his back-ups. 'Nuff said on their end.

But it's okay. Everything will be fine, Clippers fans. As long as you get a lot more 18.5 and 9.3 per game, rather than 12 and 8. Or more injuries. Or he brings that haircut back.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Surprise Contributions!

What's better than getting an awesome gift when you never asked for it? Lots of things, probably, as I have no idea what that feels like (email me if you want to give money).

Anyway, we're not here to talk about gifts. We're here to talk about chill camouflage-wearing centers and guys you thought could only dunk well (but not during a dunk contest).

Brad Miller

The Line - 1-4 from the field, 0-1 from deep, 7-8 from the line (!!!), 2 offensive rebounds, 9 total rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls. 

That line doesn't look great, right (except for the trips to the line, because that's awesome for anyone, especially Brad Miller)? Well,  those rebounds represent a 18.6% TRR. That's way good, if you didn't know (for centers playing 20+ minutes in 40+ games last season, that would have put Brad in the top 5 in the league). As far as the 2 assists go, they don't do Brad justice. His ability to distribute was utilized at every opportunity along with the speed of the Rockets' Brooks-Martin-Budinger lineup. When things were getting ugly on offense (Kevin Martin's 1-2 assist to turnover ratio, the Lakers locking in on the Brooks-Scola pick and roll ), Miller's post passing was the most effective option the Rockets had. I might be hyperbolizing (not a real word), but come on. Just look at this guy's ankle tape -

Keep it up, Brad Miller, because the Rockets are counting on you. Also, try not letting your defensive assignment dunk so much. Seriously, Pau torched you. "Hello everyone" indeed.

Shannon Brown

I know. I'm just as shocked as you. 

The Line - 16 points on 6-9 shooting (4-5 from deep), 1 assist, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, all in 21 minutes. And some of those minutes were during clutch time, friends. Steve Blake might have hit the eventual game winner, but Shannon Brown's shooting set the tone of the Lakers comeback, getting the crowd back into the game (as much as a Staples Center crowd can get into a game).

Shannon Brown averaged 8 points on 32.8% 3-point shooting  and 1 steal per game all of last season. That was the best season of his career. So, that means that this whole game was probably just a wild outlier, but if Shannon can play with anything resembling this effectiveness for the season then the Lakers are going to be even better than we thought. And that's really good, considering everyone is picking the Lakers to go to the Finals, in case you hadn't heard.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Off-Season Promises and Predictions

Update - Here we go again. Kevin Love, "Mark my words: we're going over 30 wins this year."

Now is the time when NBA writers and players start saying things. Some things are important. Some things are not. Some things you already knew (Eddy Curry is injured, out of shape, being payed millions of dollars to do less work than you do, that jerk). And some things are predictions. Or promises.

Predictions are pretty tough, obviously. Since I'm really mean, I'm going to record some predictions about the upcoming season that great NBA basketball writers are making about overall team records, playoff finishes, etc. It's pretty ridiculous to pull such a move, since no one can tell how well a team is going to be doing at the end of the regular season when the season hasn't even begun (began?). Too bad.

First off, we have Kelly Dwyer and his pre-pre-season predictions for every single team in the NBA. Yes, he has Miami winning 70. I call that 'boldness.'

(Original Link -
Western Conference Predictions -

1. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)
2. San Antonio Spurs (55-27)
3. Dallas Mavericks (52-30)
4. Phoenix Suns (52-30)
5. Utah Jazz (52-30)
6. Denver Nuggets (50-32)
7. Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35)
9. Houston Rockets (46-36)
10. New Orleans Hornets (44-38)
11. Memphis Grizzlies (40-42)
12. Los Angeles Clippers (38-44)
13. Sacramento Kings (26-56)
14. Golden State Warriors (21-61)
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-69)

Eastern Conference Predictions -

1. Miami Heat (70-12)
2. Orlando Magic (60-22)
3. Boston Celtics (50-32)
4. Chicago Bulls (49-33)
5. Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
6. Milwaukee Bucks (48-34)
7. New York Knicks (41-41)
8. Charlotte Bobcats (38-44)
9. Philadelphia 76ers (35-47)
10. Toronto Raptors (31-51)
11. Washington Wizards (31-51)
12. Indiana Pacers (28-54)
13. New Jersey Nets (27-55)
14. Detroit Pistons (19-63)
15. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-70)

Other fun entries - Jason Thompson, via Jimmy Spencer's twitter feed (@JimmypSpencer)

"Being a young team won't be an excuse anymore."

This one doesn't sound major, but just wait until a player or coach busts out that old time-buying standard "We're still a young team, trying to find ourselves.

Here's one from Noam Schiller (@NoamSchiller on twitter):

"[Evan Turner will be] Brandon Roy 2.0."

Morris Peterson, at Thunder Media Day (via Royce Young):

“I think we have a real shot at a championship.”

Almost too easy, Mo, as only one team can win the championship. This one will only be awkward if OKC misses the playoffs, which is a possibility in the Western Conference, obviously.

Kendrick Perkins doesn't want to give up his starting spot, via CelticsHub:

"When I come back I will be in my spot, everyone else will just have to adjust. "

Okay, Perk, we get it. Just chill out, alright?

And one more from Noam Schiller, on Tyrus Thomas - "I think Tyrus will be great this year...I think he eventually starts." There were other words about improved numbers and limited fouls and turnovers, but I blacked out.

The rest of these are links to prediction posts/predicted records from team blogs. I couldn't get all of them, because I'm lazy.

Zach Harper's prediction for the Kings from (link -

Predicted Record: 37-45

Yeah, these aren't very much fun when people aren't saying ridiculous things. Oh well.

Lakers predictions, via (link -

Predicted Record: 62-20

Suns Predictions via Michael Schwartz of (link -

Predicted Record: 48-34ish (He's a bit of a waffler [delicious]) 

Celtics Predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: 55-27

Knicks Predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: None given, though the consensus appears to be an approximately .500 record, because Knicks bloggers really like Anthony Randolph.

Nets Predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: None given, consensus appears to be something along the lines of "not nearly as bad as last year, but still not close to .500."

Bucks Predictions via (Link -

Predictied Record: 50-32.

Bulls Predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: 48-34

Cavaliers Predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: So terrible. Just hopelessly awful...unless you're these guys - 
Mavs broadcaster Bob Ortegel on the Cavaliers, "I think they're gonna be better than people expect. I think they can make a run at the playoffs."

Jon Barry - "There is still a basketball team in Cleveland, and they will meet the Heat in the 1st round of the NBA playoffs as an 8th seed."

Pacers Predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: 34-36

Pistons Prediction via (Link -

Predicted Record: 35-47

Utah prediction via (Link -

Predicted Record: 53-29

Nuggets predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: 40-42

Thunder predictions via (Link -

Predicted Record: 53-29

Timberwolves predictions via Zach Harper (for

Predicted Record: 21-61

Trailblazers predictions via (link -

Predicted Record: None given.

Bobcats predictions via (link -

Predicted Record: None given.

Hawks predictions via (link -

Predicted Records (I guess they couldn't agree on one): 50-32 or 52-30

Orlando Predictions via Orlando Magic Daily (link -

Predicted record: 60-22

Heat predictions via (link -

Predicted Record: 67-15

Wizards predictions via (link -

Predicted Record: Everything from a near-playoff team to the worst team in the league. 

I'll definitely continue tracking ridiculous things said throughout the season, so we can mock people for fun. We're so much better than them, you and I.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Suns Bigs In For A Long Year, Maybe

     The Suns have flat out struggled in pre-season action, going 1-5 in a lot of not-very-close-games. Good news, though, Suns fans - these games don't count. Bad news is also available, however, and in above average amounts!

Amazingly, I'm not going to be lamenting Hedo Turkoglu's hilariously awful contract (it's so bad)/ even more awful shooting (don't even ask). Instead, we're going to take a brief and probably not-all-that-worthwhile look at the Suns' centers' performances against the Raptors. Why? Because, even in pre-season, the Suns should be giving some effort on the inside.


The Raptors boasted a front line featuring Reggie Evans (6'8, but a good rebounder), Andrea Bargnani (7'0, an awful rebounder) and Amir Johnson (6'9 foul machine, though a capable rebounder).

Johnson and Evans are both above average rebounders, as far as grabbing available boards (aka rebounding rate) at the PF position (both were technically centers for most of this game, as Bargs plays outside, but the Suns only played Lopez for 12 minutes, meaning that neither was matching up on a true big for most of the game). Guess who isn't very good at grabbing available rebounds at their positions? If you said "The Suns' starting and back-up centers, duh" then you are right, and also kind of a jerk, probably. Back-up center Channing Frye is near the bottom of the league in rebounding rate, flat out, and Robin Lopez is below average, as well. Gani Lawal is a rookie, so I can't go to HoopData and knock his numbers (yet). Actually, we'll find that the rookie (at least in this game), may have been the stronger of the Suns' bigs.

Lopez played 12 minutes and had 0 rebounds. Frye played 17 minutes and had 2 rebounds. Gani Lawal had 1 rebound in 12 minutes. Marcus Banks had 2 rebounds in 5 minutes for the Raptors. He's 6'2.

Needless to say, the Suns did not fare well in the rebounding battle. To be specific, they were -19 for the game. They shot 19 fewer attempts from the field than the Raptors (both teams has 17 turnovers). That's not good.

With the Suns' offense missing a key component from years past in Amar'e Stoudemire and replacing him with Hakim Warrick and Hedo Turkoglu, the offense isn't going to be able to sustain a squad that gets out-rebounded by double digits every night. That means that the Suns bigs are going to have to start reeling in more boards, people, and I'm not sure if that's a possibility.

I watched the player at the center position for the Suns for the entirety of the 2nd half. I never took my eyes off of Channing Frye or Gani Lawal (depending on who was in). What I saw was not good. We're talking 'surrendered 23 total rebounds to Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson while collecting only 3 themselves' bad.

Frye's problem is simple: He isn't physical. In man to man defense again Johnson/Evans, he used his hands (which led to his team-high 5 personal fouls) and body to deny position and stop any easy baskets off the pick and roll with Jarrett Jack. Unfortunately, he also got shoved around under the boards, and I mean that literally (in a few cases, at least). Reggie Evans especially moved Frye around. He pushed, pulled, and slid in for 3 offensive rebounds, with Frye seemingly unwilling mentally or physically of doing much more than what he did. Enjoy these specific examples I noted during the game -

- On one occasion, Channing simply made the mistake of needlessly going out to help on a baseline jumper from Bargs, allowing Evans an easy OR and put-back.

-Frye's 4th foul came when he didn't recover fast enough while helping and committed a loose ball foul against Evans when he was unable to recover and box out.

-Shoved by Evans underneath basket while attempting to box out on Raptors FT attempt, FT was made, however.

-Fails to box Evans out when semi-helping on a drive by Jack.

Next up, Gani Lawal. I felt that Lawal did a much better job on the glass than Frye going purely off the eye test. Shockingly, he had only 1 rebound in his 12 minutes. I did note, however, that he was responsible for 2 or 3 offensive rebounds (tipped balls, kept them alive, you get the idea). As well, he often got into good offensive rebounding position when not getting the ball in pick and roll opportunities, something Frye doesn't do as often. He also seemed to battle for position on defense with plenty of passion (analysis!), which is good news.


Since we're talking about the Suns, it's hard to go off numbers to quantify defense. As far as the eye test, I again gave the advantage to Lawal. He battled hard and didn't surrender position,  (while not using his hands and fouling, unlike Frye), and only had one real break down in pick and roll defense. He also drew a charge against Sonny Weems in transition, which impressed me (he knew exactly when to hold his ground). 

Frye seems to have a good idea of his positioning on defense, but doesn't have the same urgency or physicality that Lawal has when coming from the help-side, playing the pick and roll, etc. 

Either way, it's tough for a big to look good with perimeter defense as poor as the Suns' was/ is/ always will be. I could count several occasions where Frye was absolutely left out to dry in transition, or when a blow-by occurred in the half-court. 


Despite unimpressive numbers, both Lawal and Frye knew their roles on offense. Frye was only 1-4 from the floor, but every shot was open and within the flow of the offense. He found the open space whenever possible, rolled hard to the basket and did a good job drawing the defense when diving into the lane. 

Lawal doesn't have the same offensive set as Frye, but did a fantastic job when rolling into the lane in the pick and roll. He shot 1-4 from the floor but was able to make it to the line 6 times, making 5, all by being aggressive when receiving the ball on the move. He also popped out a few times when the lane was crowded, but didn't hit either of his two jumpers (though he looked fairly confident, shockingly).  


Channing Frye is essentially a known quantity, at this point. We know that he's going to be worth all the below average rebounding when his shooting is on, and not all that useful when his shot is off. That's why I'm excited about Gani Lawal. He's only 21 (he'll turn 22 in early November), he's aggressive, and he's aggressive on the move. When you're pick and roll and transition oriented like the Suns are, you need a big, athletic guy like Gani. If he continues to develop his shot, especially from the foul line, then the Suns will be seeing good things from him. 

I pretty much wrote Robin Lopez out of my in-game notes, as I missed the majority of his playing time, but he seems to need to work on his feet. Specifically, moving them to box out and play defense. Robin Lopez has shown flashes of a 10-10 guy, and a solid defender, but he can't stay in foul trouble. Missing box outs and helping late on defense is not the way to stay on the floor, obviously. The more Robin plays, the more consistent he's going to become, the more his mediocre rebounding rate will improve (hopefully). 

The fact is that Suns are going to need more from their centers without Amar'e collecting 9 rebounds per game at the PF spot and threatening the occasional weak-side shot block, not to mention his nearly unstoppable explosiveness on offense. These young guys are going to need to do some fast growing up this season if the Suns want to do more than get knocked out in the 1st round, if that. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Product Advisory: Michael Beasley

In my last post, I did some talking about Michael Beasley. I was positive, but admitted that numbers in the pre-season should be tempered with common sense, etc. etc. I also said that Beas showed mixed results while going into 'aggressive go-to scorer' mode for the Timberwolves.

In my quest for positivity regarding this poor, lost, young soul, I assumed that his aggressive attitude would continue to lead to easier/better looks and that his turnovers would eventually taper off and become not-awful.

On the other hand, maybe all of that was just dumb. Dumb, dumb thoughts from me. A smart person would have mentioned that Beas is not a very good shooter, normally. He isn't going to shoot 80% from the field in most games (as he did in the T-Wolves first pre-season game). Unfortunately, and this is still a way early judgment, he may turn the ball over a lot. Forever.  I'm saying that maybe Michael Beasley has confused 'energy guy' with 'takes-a-lot-of-shots-and-tries-to-do-too-much guy.'

You may ask, 'What leads you to that conclusion?' The answer lies in these numbers -

26 minutes (that indicates not very much, so don't panic yet).

4-12 from the field (okay, we're getting close. That's not very good shooting, guys).

0-0 on 3-point attempts (okay, so at least he wasn't just jacking shots from deep).

5-7 from the line (Hey, you drew fouls! Good job, Beas! Motivation! Energy!)

7 rebounds (More energy! Win!)

1 assist (Alright, not exactly creating but we don't expect that from you, really).

1 steal, 0 blocks (Okay, whatever. Defense isn't your thing).

6 turnovers (WHOA WHOA WHOA SLOW DOWN. That's not energy. That's awful. Sit down on the bench, please)!1!!

Michael Beasley had 13 points 7 rebounds and 6 turnovers. That's not very good news if you don't want Beas to just steal wins from your team. You guys don't even have that many wins to steal, okay?

Math Equation that will explain everything -

Michael Beasley + Offensive touches = Meaningless points because of so many turnover. So, so many.

Urgent Message Directed At Kurt Rambis -

You are not in need of a high usage SF. Turns out that Michael Beasley turns the ball over too much to be effective. Probably, you should limit his touches. Nothing good can come from Michael Beasley Getting Offensive Possessions.

End Urgent Message

Beware the one you call 'Beastly,' Timberwolves Fans, because he hates offensive efficiency and he does not know the definition of 'energy guy.' Bad news, because he is on your team and he is using the pre-season as practice for destroying your team from the inside out. Maybe. Maybe things will be fine. Maybe you can give him a basketball-textbook definition of 'energy guy' and he'll do things that won't kill your team. Maybe not. The most important advice I can give you on Beas? Stop calling him 'Beastly.' He is not a beast in the way that you are referring to him. Jeez, what an inaccurate moniker.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Great (Pre-Season) Expectations

We're game number 3 into the NBA pre-season, but today saw the first match-up between two actual NBA teams (despite what you may think about Minnesota this year).

The Lakers and Timberwolves met in London in front of famous soccer players and other people I don't care that much about as a jingoist American, and shockingly the T-Wolves won. Sure, this isn't a real game, per se, as Pau Gasol and his not-ready-for-the-regular-season defense showed us. Kobe made sure to let us know what time of the year it is by kicking it on the bench for approximately all but 6 minutes of the game, which he usually won't do (probably). Don't worry, I won't go deep into a breakdown of how the Timberwolves rode Martell Webster's hot shooting, or how both teams turned the ball over a million billion times (a rough estimate).

However, I will regale you with a tale of Michael Beasley actually trying hard to do the right thing on the basketball court.

8 of 10 from the field, 1-1 from deep. 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 6 turnovers, 21 points. That's a lot of box score things to have in 18 minutes, you guys. It's also a mixed bag, because 6 turnovers is kind of a lot, even when you shoot really efficiently. 3 times as many turnovers as anyone else on his team had, to show you exactly how much "kind of a lot" is. But Beas is young, and this is the pre-season, so all of the numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt or three.

But what doesn't need to be taken with a grain of salt is the fact that Michael Beasley actually went out on a basketball court and played ball. He didn't hang around the perimeter taking bad shots, generally. He forced things, as 0 assists to 6 turnovers would indicate, but I'll call it passion. Passion is something The Beas hasn't shown on the court in some time, you guys. If he comes out with a mindset like he showed in this game, tempered with some Coach Rambis "try not getting the ball ripped from you so often" advice, then we might be looking at an actual new leaf turned. As in all that talk from David Kahn regarding Beas's head being right now that he's "not smoking marijuana anymore" could be, somehow, legitimate.

I wouldn't be writing about this good yet flawed showing from a player like Michael Beasley if the whole thing wasn't semi-shocking. He scored an And-1 over Pau Gasol, for God's sake. Pre-season or no, going up over Pau Gasol and finishing with soft touch is worthy of note when a player has had as much trouble as Michael Beasley has had, probably.

I could be stretching things, but I at least wanted to give you an idea of how wild and thrilling it can be to see Beas actually care about the game he gets payed to play.

Also, he mentioned bringing energy in an interview after the game. That's pretty common being-a-good-teammate-now stuff, right? But while doing so, he mentioned that he'd "go out and get a million blocks" if that's what energy means. He also actually said that he "was raised to be an assassin."

Hey, T-Wolves fans, you might have a motivated assassin on your hands this season. That's gotta be an NBA first, right? Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.