Posts tagged ‘Basketball’

March 2, 2011

Chris Paul Version 2.0

by Jeeves

In my mind, going into the 2009-2010 season, Chris Paul was with out a doubt the best point guard in the NBA. He was unbelievable to watch. He had a quick first step, he could shoot, he could dribble, he could command an offense, he could do everything. Unfortunately for NBA fans everywhere, he tore his meniscus part way through that year.

The injury didn’t mark the end of Chris Paul, phenomenal basketball player. It has, it seems, affected the way he plays and has damaged his stake to the claim of best PG in all the land. Before we jump into things, let me establish a baseline for Chris Paul. The following table is a listing of some key stats from the 2008-2009 season, which I consider the peak of his basketball powers:

Year FGA FG% FTA Reb Ast Pts USG% TOV%
08-09 16.1 50.4 6.7 5.5 11.0 22.8 27.5 13.5

We’ll consider that the baseline of awesomeness.

Sadly, CP3’s numbers have all taken a tumble. The big box score numbers (pts/reb/ast) have fallen to 16.0/3.9/9.6. If those were the only numbers that had slipped from the baseline of awesomeness, well, I’d just chalk it up to Paul finding his game again after surgery and assume that by next year he’d be back to normal. Digging deeper, though, it looks like Chris Paul has fundamentally changed his game. It looks like he’s lost a great deal of his assertiveness.  Compare these two tables:

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February 8, 2011

Have the Magic Fallen from the NBA’s Elite?

by Jeeves

Over the weekend the Orlando Magic lost at Boston which marked their 7th straight loss against a team with a winning record. The loss also brought their record down to 32-20 and has inspired fervent discussion whether it’s time to demote the Magic from the East’s top tier to its second tied. It’s certainly a frustrating time in Orlando; their recent stretch of play has them at 3-5 in their last 8 and 7-8 since their 9-game winning streak. Their poor form has dropped them below the Atlanta Hawks in the standings and has seemingly (operative word is seemingly) locked the Magic into either the 4th or 5th seed.

The question at hand is whether or not the Magic, in their current iteration, remain a legitimate title contender. Since the trades that brought over Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark, and Gilbert Arenas, the Magic have compiled a 16-10 record which is good for a .615 winning percentage. The Magic, coincidentally began the season 16-10 as well. This clip clearly pales in comparison to the 59-23 (.720 WL%) record the Magic compiled in each of the last two seasons. Clearly, the Magic aren’t playing up to their past standard, you don’t need me to tell you that. Now that we have established that fact, lets take a deeper look into the numbers to see why they are struggling and what we can expect in the future.

The first thing to note (and which greatly simplifies our comparisons) is that Orlando has maintained the same pace (qualitatively, speaking) over the last three years. This year, they average 92.1 possessions a game which nearly matches the 92.0 and 92.3 mark they put up in 09-10 (referred to as 2010 from here on out) and 08-09 (referred to as 2009 from here on out) respectively.  The table below sums up their offensive and defensive outputs over the last three years:

PPG Lg Avg Diff Opp. PPG Lg Avg Diff Score Margin
2011 100.1 99.3 0.8 94.7 99.3 4.6 5.4
2010 102.8 100.4 2.4 95.3 100.4 5.1 7.5
2009 101.0 100 1.0 94.4 100 5.6 5.6
2011 Post Trades 103.54 99.3 4.24 96.55 99.3 2.75 6.99
2011 Pre Trades 96.57 99.3 -2.73 92.85 99.3 6.45 3.72

(Note: I did not recalculate the league average values for before and after Orlando’s trades. I assumed it to be the same, which should only have a marginal effect on the analysis; this isn’t baseball after all)

If you take 2011, 2010, and 2009 all at face value, you would be absolutely lost as to why Orlando is struggling  so mightily this year. In all three instances, Orlando appears to be an elite defensive team with a decent offense. Taking 2011 as a whole, however, masks the two halves that have made up the Magic’s season, so far. Before the trades, the Magic were a defensive juggernaut ranking near the top of the league coupled with a very poor offense. After the trades those two profiles reversed; the Magic would now rate as a top-7 offensive team but only a top 10 defense. That isn’t to say that the Magic aren’t still a good defensive team, they are, but they no longer are elite. That eliteness on defense is what carried them in the past to their gaudy regular season records.

Even with the stark split of the stats between the pre-trade Magic and the post-trade Magic, the results, as mentioned before, are the exact same: 26-10. Removing random chance as a legitimate factor, I believe relative strength of schedule can explain this anomaly. Before the trade, the Magic played 11 teams with (current) winning records and 15 teams with (current) losing records. After their trades, that split is 13 and 13. 2 games doesn’t mark a huge difference, but it does contribute. If you designate the Celtics, Bulls, Heat, Hawks, Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Mavs, and Hornets (all teams with a winning percent greater than .600) as “elite teams” an analysis of the strength of schedule becomes slightly more significant. In the Magic’s first 26 games, they played one of the “elite teams” 6 times, constituting 23% of their games. In their most recent 26 game stretch, the Magic have played an elite team 10 times (39% of their games). If you do the reverse analysis and look at the number of games played against the bottom of the league (say the worst 10 teams: Nets, Raptors, Cavs, Wizards, T-Wolves, Kings, Pistons, Clippers, and Bucks), you find that the Magic played more poor teams (11) before the trade than after (8). I believe this imbalance in their schedule, when it comes to elite and abysmal teams, is the main factor in why the post-trade Magic have the same record as the pre-trade Magic.

From what we’ve seen, I feel confident in saying that the Magic, before their trade, were a mediocre team compared to their 2010 and 2009 versions. They defended well, and pumped up their record courtesy of an easier schedule. The post-trade Magic are much improved, yet, have been held back by a tougher schedule to date. All this leads me to believe that the Magic are, in fact, no longer an elite team. They are still a good team, and are better than they were earlier this year. It is possible that they improve over the home stretch, but if the playoffs were to start today, I wouldn’t put any money on them advancing to the Conference Finals. At this point, it would be questionable whether they are even able to beat an Atlanta team whom they absolutely massacred in last year’s playoffs. It isn’t time to abandon ship in Orlando, but unless their defense picks things up a bit, it certainly is time to start tempering expectations.

January 28, 2011

Lebron James, Hindu Guru

by Jeeves

Perhaps we were a bit too harsh on Lebron.  Maybe, just maybe, we jumped the gun on condemning him. For those of you with short memories, the entirety of the Interwebs got all up in arms over this infamous tweet:

Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!

At the time it was assumed that the tweet was a direct response to the thrashing the Cavaliers had received earlier in the night, which I think was, indeed, a fair assumption. Seeing how things have played out in the days since, I think that Lebron may have had an ulterior motive. I think, deep down, he wanted to show us all just how strongly he believed in the tenet of karma. As they say, let’s take a look at the tape.

This is the timeline of James and the Heat since shooting off that tweet on January 11th:

January 12th – Lebron James sprains his ankle in a 105-111 loss to the Clippers

January 13th – Lebron James sits out with his bum ankle as the Heat fall again as they get pummeled by the Nuggets 102-130.

January 15th – Lebron James is on the bench again as the Heat lose a close one to the Bulls 96-99. Chris Bosh is also felled by a sprained ankle.

January 18th – Lebron James returns to action, just in time to lose in overtime to the Hawks 89-93.

January 22nd – Lebron James and the Heat thrash the Raptors 120-103, though Dwyane Wade is felled by a migraine

January 27th – Lebron James and the Heat lose 88-93 in New York

Do you see what has happened here? Since raising the issue of karma, Lebron and the Heat have suffered through 5 losses in 6 games and 2 sprained ankles and 1 massive migraine. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but it is clear to this writer that James whipped up that tweet, not  to spite the Cavaliers, but rather to seize the opportunity to prove the existence of karma. And to that, Lebron. I say, (for perhaps the first and last time) well done!

January 21, 2011

Friday Photo: High Kicks from Turkey

by Jeeves

Every Friday we will now bring you a funny/odd/offbeat photo from the week before.

Today’s picture has Omer Asik’s homage to the Rockettes.

January 21, 2011

Kobe Recalls Being Booed at Home Once, Feels Melo’s Pain

by npiller88

Melo thinking Pirates??

As I sifted through the fallout from the recent failed trade of Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey, one tidbit caught my eye. When Kobe comments on something, it tends to be pretty be vanilla. But Kobe knows what its like to demand a trade (see the Kobe to Chicago and Kobe to wherever rumors circa 2007-2008). After Melo got booed by the home fans at Denver’s Pepsi Center following a paltry 35 point performance in a five point win over Oklahoma City, Kobe took umbrage at the fans’ reaction. To Kobe, who claims to have only been booed ONCE at home in his entire career (from where I sit in LA, the endless parade of #24 jerseys all over town makes this claim seem quite accurate), the Denver fans better be careful, lest they drive their superstar out of town. Let’s take a closer look at what Kobe had to say, shall we?

It has nothing to do with a bigger market.

Hmm… something is wrong with this statement. Melo’s links to the New York market are well documented, the big one being his wife Lala, a former MTV veejay. She wants New York, and Melo says “ok.” None of the teams mentioned in trade talks have been small market teams, and the two most heavily discussed have been from New York. Another team that has been discussed as a possible destination for Melo is the tiny hamlet of Chicago. A point for Kobe’s line of reasoning? I don’t think so.

It’s about winning.

Kobe might be on to something here. If Melo did indeed nix the Nets trade, then perhaps winning was a consideration for him. I just have my doubts that its his ONLY consideration. If it was, we would be hearing about Melo to the… Nuggets? After all, they are two years removed from a trip to the Western Conference Finals, a series in which they looked pretty close to being elite. With Melo, I peg the Nuggets as about one or two strong complimentary players away from being a championship contender. And this is the guy who, according to Kobe, would surely stay if the situation was right.

If Denver will make the right decisions, bring in the right personnel, then he’ll stick around.

Right about here, I’m guessing Melo wishes Kobe had kept his mouth shut. Let’s recall that 2007-2008 season when Kobe was hinting not too subtly that he wanted a trade. Kobe is trying to compare his situation of a few years ago with the one Melo’s in right now. But Kobe is LA. Try to imagine him elsewhere. It doesn’t work too well. Is Melo Denver? Not really. The point is, it’s much easier to say you’ll stick around if you live in a huge market like LA. Plus, Melo hasn’t really given any indication that he wants to stay in Denver, personnel be damned. Whatever Lala wants, Lala gets.

It’s not rocket science.

Can’t argue with that.

Again, like Lebron before him, the superstar is the victim. Poor Melo, getting booed by the home crowd. Kobe warns the Denver fans that their jeers could make up Melo’s mind for him, so they better keep quiet. That’s kind of like advising a spurned boyfriend to get on his knees and plead with his ex to stay, even after she told him to go fuck himself.

Kobe, please. He wants out. Prove me wrong Melo.