Friday, September 04, 2009

DGUtube: Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Bruce Bowen made a career out of being a dirty player on a team whose coach intimidated the refs to such a degree that they were afraid to apply the same standard to Bowen that they did to others.  It was an extremely successful combination.

Bowen had no discernible basketball skills but was good at stealthily playing the game outside of its intended rules.  However, unlike somewhat lovable dirty players like Larry Bird, Charles Oakley, or Bill Laimbeer, Bowen was always afraid to commit to real confrontation, running to the officials when the going got tough.  This trait was ugly and obvious and even many Spurs fans were embarrassed to support him.

Although Bowen was dishonorable in the truest sense of the word, this was his greatest asset.  Other athletes let pride or a sense of self-respect get in the way of the kind of uncontrolled willingness to cheat that could get in another player's head and change a game.  Bruce Bowen had absolutely no reservations, and it took a Nixonian leader like Gregg Popovic to recognize this and utilize Bowen as his very own plumber.

After basketball, Bowen will operate the hair salon he owns with his wife.  It is fitting that he will find profit in another job where those who believe in manliness do not venture.

Enjoy below a compilation of some of Bruce Bowen's hijinx.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

DGUtube: Best Summer Camp Ever

Bball Trick Shots Summer Camp Edition - Watch more Funny Videos

Arcane Birthday Biographies: Mighty Mouse

"Mighty Mouse was always saving people, always coming to the rescue.  He was the man.  He could get you out of any jam.  That's what I always wanted to be like."

"Oh, and yeah, he was small."  -Damon Stoudamire

"...when the Toronto pick was announced, Raptor fans at the SkyDome in Toronto, the site of the draft, booed loudly.  They wanted [Isiah] Thomas to choose Ed O'Bannon..." -Sports Illustrated

"This franchise isn't in it to go to the playoffs someday.  We're here to work toward winning a championship, and anything short of that is failure.  That's one of the reasons we wanted Damon.  He comes across as the type of player who won't be satisfied to have a good career and no ring."  -Isiah Thomas

Five foot nine inch Damon Stoudamire's had a good career, but no ring.  Today, we celebrate his birthday and remember his many ups and downs in a career that saw its share of disappointment and enmity.  We also remember that he was one of the most talented point guards of the late 90's.

Damon Stoudamire was a native of Portland, Oregon, and he grew up without a father.  His uncles got him into sports and despite his small stature, Damon was a natural basketball player.  He won two championships in high school before leaving town for Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats.

In Arizona, Stoudamire formed what some called the best backcourt in college basketball with Khalid Reeves, and led the team to the 1994 Final Four (which Arizona lost in the semi finals).  Stoudamire played one more season after the Final Four, averaged 22 and 7 his senior year, and was projected to go in the mid-teens in the draft.  Isiah Thomas, however, intervened and in a risky, highly-criticized move, picking him seventh.  Stoudamire's rookie contract had a provision that mandated that he attend that year's NBA finals (Bulls over Sonics) in order to whet his appetite.

The pick paid off.  Unfortunately, the 1995-96 Raptors may have been the worst team in NBA history.  The five leading scorers after Stoudamire that year were, in order: Sharone Wright, Tracy Murray, Oliver Miller (yes, that Oliver Miller), Willie Anderson, and Tony Massenburg.  The fact that the team won 21 games is a tribute to Stoudamire, and he was the only thing Toronto had going for it.

The next year, the team added Marcus Camby and Walt Williams and won thirty games.  So what did Isiah Thomas, the GM/VP do?  Trade Stoudamire for Kenny Anderson, of course.

The underlying reasons for this trade were actually more nuanced than they now seem (and on its face it's a terrible basketball decision).  Stoudamire indicated that he would want a lot of money and conditions if Toronto intended to resign him, and that he might not resign at all.  As a result, they started shopping him.  The Raptors were literally minutes away from moving Stoudamire in a three-team deal that would have sent Penny Hardaway to the Nets and perhaps changed the course of NBA history, but Stoudamire told the Magic he would not re-sign with them, and the deal was off.  Damon wanted to go home to Portland, where he would be a hero.  He was partially successful.

When Stoudamire arrived in Portland, he was not popular.  He was initially benched for Scottie Pippen, who split time with Bonzi Wells at the point, and it looked like his career was in jeopardy.  However, he made it back to the starting lineup and eventually became a key component in the most balanced team in the NBA.  Before long, the Blazers would establish themselves as one of the best teams not to reach the finals in the last twenty years.

That 1999-2000 Trailblazers are most famous for their tragic combustion against the Lakers in which they blew a 19 point lead in the final minutes of the seventh game of the Western Conference Finals.  Although that memory is surely unpleasant, it's easy to forget just how amazing it is that any team was able to take the Shaq and Kobe juggernaut to a seventh game, let alone have them down almost twenty in the fourth quarter.  That year, the Pacers were the prospective opponents in the NBA finals, and the winners of the West were all but guaranteed a championship.  The Blazers were incredibly balanced and poised to beat the Lakers, but unfortunately fell victim to one of the greatest rallies in the league's history.

From there, the Mighty Mouse began an undignified downhill path to retirement.  His consistency deteriorated and could no longer carry his team.  He was held up as an example of the bad attitudes on the Jail Blazers because of a couple of possession charges (one of which was thrown out when a Judge ruled police had illegally searched Stoudamire's home).  There was still talent there (in 2005, Stoudamire scored his career high of 54 points at age 31 in what can only be described as a massive anomaly) but the rest of his career became a quiet wind-down as he played the part of the NBA veteran point guard who can give you some quality minutes but is essentially disposable.

Stoudamire's career was marred by bad choices (which his agent probably had more to do with than him),  bad publicity, and bad losses, but he was one of the quickest, best point guards of his generation.  Happy birthday, Mighty Mouse.

And now, the reason why Ricky Rubio will not play in the NBA

What follows is, I swear to god, a quote from Ricky Rubio that explains why he will not play in the NBA this year.  From me:  No comment.

"When the season ended, I entered the draft with the intention of going to the NBA," Rubio said Wednesday. "But some things happened that kept me from being ahead of the rest and I ended up No. 5, which I was happy with, but it didn't allow me the chance to go to the NBA. I tried, but in the end it wasn't to be."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Evaluating the first ESPN rankings: Eastern Conference

Yeah, I know it's stupid to always be talking about ESPN, or to talk about their rankings, and I know I'm an idiot for writing this.  I enjoy going through the rankings and they usually get me in the mindset for the season.  Also, it's a pretty good representation of the general consensus because it is based on a vote of 53 people with an interest in the game.  So to the masses out there reading this, I'm sorry.  At least this isn't about Ricky Rubio.

This is ESPN's order with my annotations:

1.  Cavs.  The safe pick.  Here's the problem:  Shaq is going to absolutely blow this year.  I think that will hurt their defense and move them down one spot.  But in the East they may still be in first place just by virtue of LeBron. 
2.  Celtics.  You can't really put them anywhere else, but with the high possibility of injuries, it's hard to predict what will happen to the Celtics.  I think they'll have the best regular season record in the east just because they are consistent and because Rondo is becoming really, really good.
3.  Magic.  Lewis on steroids.  Vince Carter coming to town.  Hedo going to Canada.  I don't like it and think they'll be worse than the Hawks this year.  They seem like a team where everything came together at exactly the right time, and I don't think that will continue.  
4.  Hawks.  Solid young team.  Another year of experience.  The addition of Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith.  I say they're the third best team in the East.  I think Marvin Williams may really come into his own this year and with him, Crawford, and Bibby on the wing and Horford and Smith down low, there are no weak points in the starting lineup.   
5.  Heat.  I don't think Wade will make it through this season without getting injured, but he's so good that it's impossible to count out a team he plays on.  If Chalmers and Beasley can step it up, which I am sure will happen at least with Chalmers, this seems like a reasonable prediction.  
6.  Bulls.  They looked great against the Celtics and then let their second best player (who hit huge shots in the playoffs) go.  But at least they pay Brad Miller and Luol Deng more than they refused to pay Gordon.  I hate the move to let Gordon go but recognize that Tyrus Thomas, Rose, Noah, Deng, and Salmons are all good young players.  Unfortunately, they're all in disorder.  Will the Bulls play Kirk Hinrich at shooting guard?  Jannero Pargo?  Will that be Salmons' job?  The Bulls should be ranked 9 due to their screwy mix.  
7.  76ers.  Elton Brand is back.  They sucked with Elton Brand.  They have no point guard.  They have no shooters.  They have no center.  "But Marrese Speights' had a top-10 Hollinger rating!"  They will not make the playoffs, even though I think Eddie Jordan is a great coach.  Put them in at 12.  
8.  Wizards.  Obviously everything hinges on Gilbert Arenas.  Because he's been so unreliable for the last two years, I'm putting this team at 11.  Randy Foye and Mike Miller won't be difference makers.  
9.  Raptors.  The Raptors look legit to me.  Calderon and Jack are good point guards, Belinelli is a decent SG, Turkoglu obviously can mash, Bosh is an all-star, and Bargnani sneaky came into his own last year.  I don't know why for the life of me anyone would think this team is worse than the Sixers.  I think they'll finish at 6.  
10.  Pistons.  They were 39 and 43 last year.  They subtracted Rasheed, who was on his deathbed, and added Ben Gordon, Villaneuva, Chris Wilcox, and Ben Wallace.  Rodney Stuckey is poised for a big year.  How the hell is this team going to miss the playoffs?  I put them at a strong 7 and can't imagine why anyone would put them at 10.  /notices Kwame Brown penciled in as starting center.  
11.  Bobcats.  Great coach and great potential to be a good defensive team, but they lack that one scorer.  If Gerald Henderson turns out to be ROY (i'll eat my hat) they could be a player but for now they need just a little more.  10.  (/Boris Diaw "sacre bleu!")
12.  Pacers.  This is actually a very good team.  TJ Ford is a good point guard, Dahntay Jones is coming into his own as a late-bloomer, Granger is amazing, Troy Murphy put up David Lee stats last year but shoots 40% from 3pt, and Jeff Foster, well, he sucks, but Roy Hibbert might not be bad.  Plus with Tyler Hansbrough, Mike Dunleavy, Earl Watson, and Brandon Rush off the bench, the Pacers can almost go ten deep.  I like them as the 8 seed.  And by the way, if you don't think Tyler Hansbrough is the perfect player for this team, you don't know anything about basketball.  Or Indiana.  Or white people.  
13.  Knicks.  The Knicks are currently locking out the only player that plays hard on their team.  Darko Milicic will probably start at center for them.  Their only young prospects at this point are Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, who play the same position.  Even if they sign Lee and Robinson and/or Sessions, both of those guys are not enough to lift this team out of the basement.  15.  Go Knicks.  
14.  Bucks.  If Redd could play, this team would not be terrible.  However, that's a big if.  I like them starting Amir Johnson and I think Bmah a Moute may actually develop into someone good, but they need more than Ridnour at point and I don't think Charlie Bell or Brandon Jennings can get things going without an A-lister somewhere.  Bogut has shown that he is a talented non-factor.  14 seems appropriate.  
15.  Nets.  Not a good mix of players, not a good overall situation, but this is not the worst team in the east, either.  Devin Harris is probably the best point guard in the eastern conference.  Brook Lopez could be (/shudder) the best center in the eastern conference.  I like Courtney Lee, Jarvis Hayes, and Chris Douglas-Roberts and whomever gets playing time will be at least replacement level.  Bobby Simmons, if he returns healthy, is actually a pretty legit perimeter threat, and Yi Jianlian...well, he sucks, but I think the Nets are a strong 13.  /Chinese government censor enters rectum

So, to recap, here are the DGU official standings predictions:
1.  Celtics.
2.  Cavs.
3.  Hawks.
4.  Magic.
5.  Heat.
6.  Raptors.
7.  Pistons.
8.  Pacers.
9.  Bulls.
10.  Bobcats.
11.  Wizards.
12.  Sixers.
13.  Nets.
14.  Bucks.
15.  Knicks.

Marquis Daniels to Celtics

Danny Ainge is quite the enigma as the Celtics general manager.  On the one hand, he makes boneheaded decisions like trading for Raef LaFrentz, letting James Posey get away after he was key to their championship, and signing a busted Rasheed Wallace.  On the other hand, he does consistently well in the draft and often makes great signings like this one (in which Daniels took a lower amount of $1.99M to play for the Celts).

I used to hate Ainge but obviously let up on him after the Celtics put together their championship team.  I was ready to start again after he busted up their role players and left three older stars to fend for themselves, but in all honesty the team looks pretty strong going into this year.  I love Marquis Daniels and think this makes the Celtics a hell of a lot more interesting.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

20/20 Hindsight: Kevin Garnett

This is neither here nor there, but I was just thinking about the trade of Kevin Garnett to the Celtics, which seemed like quite a one-sided deal at the time.

The players the Celtics gave up were Al Jefferson, who is quickly becoming one of the best big men in the NBA, Ryan Gomes, who actually has put up solid numbers for the last two seasons, Sebastian Telfair (bust), Gerald Green (bust), Theo Ratliff (good contract at the time), and draft picks that became Johnny Flynn and Wayne Ellington.

So the T-Wolves got at that time one money big man, a future starter, two picks that were still somewhat highly regarded, a good contract to move, and good draft picks.  I think Johnny Flynn will be a good point guard so for argument's sake let's say he'll be a player.

Anyway, looking back, that was a very fair trade.  Minnesota had reached the end of the line with Garnett and traded him when he had near-maximum value, and they got one sure-thing, one solid starter, and many, many blue-chip prospects.  Boston got an NBA championship but last season and possibly this season will be a roller coaster of high pay and injury woes.  (That is, if Danny Ainge doesn't just decide to trade Rondo because he doesn't put the seat down.)

This was one of the better trades in recent NBA history.  Just sayin.

DGUtube: Big Game James

The Chief versus Big Game James.  Great competitors.  One accused of throwing his pregnant wife down the stairs, the other of soliciting prostitutes.  One day in 1989, they met, and on that day, James Worthy was the better man.

Fuck You, Ricky Rubio

I'm sick and tired of hearing about Ricky Rubio and after this, I'm not going to waste my time writing about that little Spanish asshole.

WAH WAH WAH I don't want to play in Minnesota daddy!  Fuck you, you Spanish cockstuffer.  Go play in European leagues where everyone sucks and no one gives a shit about you.

WAH WAH WAH We drafted him and can't get him!  Fuck you, David Kahn.  You should have just stuck with Flynn, or gotten someone else, because Rubio sucks anyway and his only skill is passing.

WAH WAH WAH New York Knicks.  Fuck you!  I'm so tired of this team trying to get hyped shitty players. He sucks at everything every good Knicks point guard has ever been good at.  REMEMBER CHRIS CHILDS!

Every single party who is involved in this Rubio debacle drives me nuts.  The media who calls him the next Maravich (except for the fact that he can't shoot).  People who think his performance in the Olympics will translate into NBA suitability (except for the fact that they play with a college three point line and he was being defended by JASON FUCKING KIDD THE WORST FUCKING DEFENSIVE POINT GUARD IN THE NBA).  (Also, look at the box score for the gold medal game here.  Not impressive.)  People that argue that his age belies unlimited potential (see Telfair, Sebastian).

Anyone who thinks this is a good move for Rubio is an idiot.  He'll play with second-rate competition under second-rate coaches and he'll still be a terrible defender who isn't used to shooting NBA three pointers and who doesn't know the game as well as someone with an NCAA pedigree (like, say Johnny Flynn).

This is the end of Ricky Rubio's publicity here for the near future.  Fuck you, Ricky Rubio.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coach, I'd like to talk to you about my recent PR issues

Stephen:  Hey, coach, how's it going?  You're looking pretty good after the recent off-season.  Say, have you lost weight?

Stephen:  Yeah, well, it definitely looks like you have.   Listen, I just want to clear the air here.  I know you saw my interview in Dime magazine and I know you probably heard my twitter about wanting to be on another team.  But I just wanted to make clear to you that I was talking about what's going to happen next year and I am certainly happy to play for you this year under the terms of my contract.

Stephen:  I mean, if anything, you're the best coach I've ever played for, and I love the fans here, and our win in the Dallas series two years ago was one of the best moments of my basketball life.  I'm totally committed to the team.  But at the same time, I'm not getting any younger, and I'm starting to think more about how I'll be remembered and less about the long-term plan of the team I play with.

Stephen:  And I think it's important for you and the rest of management here to know that if this team isn't serious about winning, then I won't hesitate to consider other teams when the time comes for me to be a free agent.  But that's all in the future and I'm ready to play basketball for the Golden State Warriors this season.

Okay, Coach?



Don:  Well, Stephen, that's a real fucking shame.

Stephen:  No, coach, what I'm telling you is that I'm ready to play.  I'm ready to go.

Don:  Stephen, do you speak English?

Stephen:  What?  I mean, yeah, sure I do.

Don:  That's good.


Don:  Stephen, I think I'm going to try you out at center for a the first couple of games.  Give Biedrins some time on the wing where he can help us with his shooting.

Stephen:  Excuse me, coach?  But Biedrins can't shoot, like, at all.

Don:  In addition I'm going to substitute you out every seven minutes and then return you whenever my nephew signals me from the stands with the U.S. Navy's flag language.

Stephen:  Flag language?  What?

Don:  Stephen, if I've asked you once, I've asked you a million times.  Are you a complete fucking pussy?

Stephen:  Coach, I'm ready to play.

Don:  /sips Bud Light.

Stephen:  So...we cool?

Don:  These fucking Dutchmen have ruined this beer.  Get the fuck out of my office.  And tell Dell Curry to give me a call.  I'm thinking he's ripe for a comeback now that we've got Stevie.

Arcane Birthday Biographies: Rubber Band Man

(This is the best and only picture I could find.  Sorry)

T.I. is not the original rubber band man.  That honor, as far as my in-depth research can determine, lies with Mickey Johnson, a steady power forward who played in the NBA for 11 workmanlike seasons in which he averaged about 15 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Johnson's career might be fairly unremarkable had he not played a part in one of the most important games in NBA history.

Let's go back to 1976.  That was a watershed year for the NBA for a number of reasons.  Most importantly, the ABA merger had just been completed and a number of new teams and players were joining the NBA and returning it to its rightful place as the best basketball league in the world.  1976 also produced one of the most memorable championship teams in history, the Portland Trailblazers team coached by the great Jack Ramsey and led by Bill Walton.  Those Blazers were the subject of what some regard as the best sports book of all time, Breaks of the Game by David Halberstram.

Perhaps because of Bill Walton's continuing fame or the aforementioned book, those Blazers hold a special place in the NBA fanship's collective memory.  Mickey Johnson was a victim of those Blazers, but he was part of the team that presented them with their greatest challenge that year, the 1976-77 Chicago Bulls.

Those Bulls were coming off their worst season ever.  They had just lost one of their better guards, Jerry Sloan, to a major knee injury, and seen the resignation of their borderline hall of fame coach, Dick Motta.  The Motta estrangement was a blessing in disguise, however, because the Bulls were led by Norm Van Lier, a five star general from the school of Fuck It, Let's Fight 'Em All, who was constantly at odds with Motta.  (Van Lier had a famously hot temper and led the NBA in technical fouls in almost every season he played.)  In addition to Van Lier and Mickey Johnson, some long-term planning on the part of Chicago's general office brought them a future hall of famer for their 1976-77 season.

Artis Gilmore was drafted by Chicago in the 7th round of the 1971 NBA draft despite clear indications that he would sign with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA.  When the merger happened in 1976, Chicago retained the NBA rights to Gilmore and was able to sign him for a cool $1 million, a huge contract at the time.

The mix of players in Chicago was an odd one.  There was almost no shooting ability at the guard positions (neither Van Lear nor his revolving door of backcourt mates averaged more than 12 points per game) and defenses collapsed on Gilmore and Johnson.  Johnson was called Rubber Band Man because he was lanky, and his game lacked the power to overcome the increased pressure.  Chicago went 2-1 to start their season, and then lost their next thirteen games.

Coach Norm Badger, who had taken over for Motta, always intended to make the Bulls a running team, and that helped mitigate their shooting struggles.  But the team's real turnaround came when Jerry Sloan found out that he couldn't return from knee surgery.  Despite his physical predicament, he just couldn't bear to leave the game, so he hung around as an "informal assistant".  His main focus, unsurprisingly, was defense, and he soon earned the nickname "Gestapo" in practice for his demeanor.

The combination of the Chinese fire drill and Sloan's ability to improve the defense made Chicago one of the best teams in the NBA and although they were six games out of making the playoffs after the all-star game, they finished the season 20-4 in what was called The Mircale on Madison Street.  Mickey Johnson and Artis Gilmore were the team's two best players and Van Lier was their leader.  The City of Chicago's interest in basketball became fervent for the first time and Chicago Stadium became notorious for its burgeoning, boisterous crowd.  me  and drew a first round matchup with the Blazers.

Back in 1977, the first round of the NBA playoffs was a best-of-three series, and Chicago and Portland split the first two games.  In the second game, there was a altercation between two players that was quickly escalated by Mo Lucas (perhaps the closest thing the NBA has ever had to an enforcer) which ended with Chicago's assistant coach attempting to strangle Portland's Herm Gilliam before releasing his grip in conjunction with a Mo Lucas right hook.

Mickey Johnson's outstanding play down the stretch and in the playoffs was key to Chicago's success and it was the best time of his life.  He was a son of Chicago, and he gave his best for his hometown crowd.

The decisive third game also went down to the wire.  Portland, the home team, opened an early lead, but Chicago made a furious rally.  The teams were tied when with less than thirty seconds, Lionel Hollins of Portland hit a contested jumper at the top of the key.  The Bulls eventually got in an inbounds situation with fifteen seconds leftt.  John Mengelt, the Bulls' starting shooting guard, tried to throw Artis Gilmore an alley-oop, but the ball ended up going in the basket.  The violation gave Portland the ball, the series, and eventually the championship.

Portland's Coach Ramsey forever remembered that Chicago was Portland's toughest series on its road to the finals, and Mickey Johnson was as big a contributor to the team as everyone.  Happy birthday, Rubber Band Man, as we at DGU remember that the defeated make history, too.

Stephen Jackson Demands Trade

Stephen Jackson wants to leave the Golden State Warriors to play for Cleveland, where he can contend for a championship, or a team in Texas, or the New York Knicks.

"I want to be in a situation where I can get a ring," Jackson told Dime (diet Slam) magazine.  No word on how New York plays into that unless he is anticipating LeBron signing there.

This is, of course, the same Stephen Jackson who left the Spurs after being an integral part of their 2003 championship team to sign with the Atlanta Hawks, a team coming off a 35 win season.  And the same Stephen Jackson who jointed the sixty-win Pacers in a sign and trade and joined in a melee in his seventh game of the season in the famous bloodbath at Auburn Hills.

Call me skeptical, but I have a feeling I know what's really going on, and that's a little thorn in Stephen's side.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chris Bosh is Weird Interlude

You only need to watch like thirty seconds of this.  Unless you want to watch the whole thing, I guess.

Guess That NBA Tattoo!

If you can't make this out due to the annoying faux film outline, this is a tattoo that shows the upper half of the statue of liberty draped in a banner reading "Victory" which has the colors of the stars and stripes filling the letters.

The player in question states that "it's from a World War I propaganda poster.  I've always been into patriotic art."

I suppose the tattoo is a little less irritating considering the player in question didn't think it up.  Actually, check that, it would be less irritating if the player wasn't.....
Cherokee Parks!

DGUtube: Ronnie Fields

Ronnie Fields was Kevin Garnett's teammate and was arguably as impressive a prospect as Garnett himself.  His senior year he averaged 34 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 4 blocks per game, and he was a listed 6'2" with a reported (bullshit) vertical leap of 50 inches.  He is the third best scorer in Chicago PS history, an All-American first teamer, and the first sophomore to play in the "best of the best" game at Nike All American Camp in a game that featured Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Ron Mercer.

Sadly, Fields broke his neck in 1996 and was ruled academically ineligible to play at DePaul, where he could have eventually teamed with Quentin Richardson.  He ended up drafted by the CBA in the seventh round, leading it in scoring for a couple of years, but he never even came close to living up to his promise.

Today, let's remember that man, could that guy dunk.

Arcane Birthday Biographies: The Ballad of Uncle John Long

Some people don't know (or can't believe) that Dick Vitale was once the coach of the Detroit Pistons.  His stay with Detroit was short and unsatisfactory, ending only twelve games into his sophomore campaign, and even before he started coaching, he was derided for taking two players from the college team he had coached the season before in the first and second round.

When a guy like Rick Pitino did a similar maneuver as coach of the Celtics, it went fairly unnoticed, but this illustrates one of the many differences between Rick Pitino and Dick Vitale.  Rick coached Kentucky.  Dick?   University of Detroit.

Needless to say, it was highly unusual for a professional team to pick two players from the University of Detroit in the first two rounds and the second round pick, John Long, was not expected to amount to much.  However, in his rookie campaign, he proved himself a reliable scorer, and was second among all rookies that year with 16.1 points per game.

While Vitale didn't stick around, Long did, and for eight years, he helped build the foundation of the Bad Boys Pistons and averaged as much as 21.9 points per game playing as Isiah Thomas's wingman (a partnership that lasted five years).  In 1984-85, Long and Thomas made a valiant run to six games in the conference semi-finals against one of the great Celtics teams of the 80s, and laid the foundation for one of the best rivalries in the history of the NBA.

Alas, in 1985-86, a young man from McNeese State named Joe Dumars was drafted by the Pistons, and that meant that John Long's time with the Pistons was through.  He was traded to the Indiana Pacers and played well, averaging over 15 per game, but the very next year, they drafted a skinny kid from UCLA named Reggie Miller, and again Long was gone.

Everyone who played with John Long admired his skill, character, and toughness, and Isiah Thomas was a driving force towards getting Long back on the Pistons just in time for them to win their first championship, even though at that point, he was barely a rotation player.  He soon retired in 1991 to barnstorm and play in Argentina, where he averaged a cool 40 points per game.

It wasn't all over, though, for John Long.  In 1995-96, at the age of forty, Long received a call from his old backcourt mate Isiah, then a first-year GM of the fledgling Toronto Raptors.  Despite a four year layoff, Long came back to play for the expansion Raptors, earning a spot at the bottom of the rotation and even hitting a game-winner against the Bullets at a time when wins didn't come too easily for the Raptors.  One night, he scored more points (12) than his two NBA nephews, Terry Mills (5) and Grant Long (9).

A great player from a family of great players that never quite made the impact to be remembered by the masses, today DGU wishes John Long a happy birthday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A journey deep into the mind of Chris Wallace

Chris Wallace:  Boy, oh boy, do I love being an executive in the NBA.  But I'll tell ya, sometimes its a little bit tough, what with the entire sports media constantly calling my moves idiotic and with that nasty Gregg Popovic suggesting that a trade board be created to decline my mindless and power-altering trades.

Itellya, a guy can feel pretty unappreciated.  You think they consider that I drafted Paul Pierce?  Chauncey Billups?  Joe Johnson?  If they had only kept that core together Boston would have been just fine.  And can I just remindya it was Pitino's idea to trade Billups, not mine.  That guy sure can be pushy.

Anyway, I don't mind saying I've had a pretty good offseason up here in Memphis.  Why, I turned Quentin Richardson into Zach Randolph, filled a need at power forward, and I have one of the better young backcourts in the NBA.  Heck, just the other day, a blog noted that our team has a shot at forty wins.  Forty!  That ain't bad when I think about where we were just a year ago.

Yep, I'm feeling pretty good about myself and our team.  I'lltellya, though, I can't help thinking that our team just needs one more more thing to take us to the playoffs.

Bad Chris Wallace:  YO CHRIS!  Wheda fuck you at?  This team ain't nothing but a bunch of pussies and my boy Mayo.  You need a playa, playa!

Chris:  Oh, hello, Mr. Wallace.  I know you're not really there, and now I'm going to just relax and go back to the business at hand.

Bad Chris:  OH I BE HERE.

Chris:  No, you're not.

Bad Chris:  I BE.

Chris:  No, you're not.

Bad Chris:  I BE THAT, BABY.

Chris:  Godamnit they said this would work.  Alright listen, what will  it take to make you leave me alone?

Bad Chris:  I want my boy on this team.  I want him now.

Chris:  Are you referring to the puff daddy?

Bad Chris:  Man, fuck that dude.  I'm talking about my boy Iverson.

Chris:  But Mr. Wallace, that makes no sense.  I would just be stifling the young backcourt I've worked so hard to put together.  Also, I've heard that his practice habits are less than ideal.

Bad Chris:  You gon sign him.

Chris:  Sir, I politely decline.  I'm still hearing about the Gasol trade you forced.

Bad Chris:  HAHA!  Man you see the look on that mothafuckin frenchman's face when we told him we were sending him to LA!  OH SHIT that was good.

Chris:  But Mr. Wallace, he's doing very well.  He won a championship.  I'm the laughing stock of the league.

Bad Chris:  Whatever, he's a fuckin bitch, and now he's where all the other bitches belong, L. fuckin A.

Chris:  Listen, I'm not signing Iverson.

Bad Chris:  YOU BE.

Chris:  I'm not.

Bad Chris:  FUCK. YOU.  Then I'm stayin.

Chris:  Damnit....well...I mean, I suppose he is one of the greatest scorers in history.


Chris:  Well, at least this'll look good in the press.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chris Bosh is really weird.

Here's something you don't see every day.  Chris Bosh.  Working out with a little girl.  Who is directing him with what appears to be a karate bow.  Made of silver.  Chew on that.

The real question is will Bosh be able to follow the silver bow at the next level, when there are NBA players manipulating it?

Guess That NBA Tattoo!

The above tattoo, to those whitebread folks who make up the majority of my readership, signifies Warner Brothers, a once-great film company that watered itself down to become associated most with "The WB", the network on which white person favorites like Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls filled the airwaves.

Now, clearly, the skin of the player with the above "WB" tattoo is not white.  Or Asian.  While one could try to make the argument that it could have been the Jamie Foxx show that drove this player to love the network, they would be wrong.

In fact, as the internet tells me, WB stands for a couple of things, one of which will aid you, my reader, in guessing the player.  The first is "Warn a brotha" as in "Warnabrotha" as in "Warner Brothers".  Or, translated into the New England parlance: "Do not cooperate with the law enforcement authorities in the investigation of your fellow neighboorhood chums."

The other meaning of the tattoo, supposedly, is "West Baltimore", which is the home of the above player.  This could be all the hinting any heads out there need.  And with that, the answer is.....


Carmelo Anthony!

Early Season Optimism

Here's a little food for thought.

The Memphis Grizzlies will have a pretty solid lineup this year.  Mike Conley was really starting to play well at the end of last season, OJ Mayo had a great rookie year and is underrated as a person, Rudy Gay is one of the best small forwards in the NBA, Zach Randolph is a 20-10 guy, and Thabeet/Marc Gasol form a pretty good defense/offense tandem at the pivot.

Who is their coach?  I don't know.  He's somehow been their coach three times but has less than 70 total games under his belt.  Is it a questionable mix of personalities?  Probably.   However, Mayo gets a bad rap for the famous highlight of him throwing the ball into the stands in his last high school game and for taking dolla bills to play for USC.  I don't think he's actually that selfish or a team cancer.  Randolph's history is indefensible, but aside from him, there are no character problems with the other guys (unless you count inability to shoot as a character problem).

Memphis plays in the best division in the NBA and the road to the playoffs for them will be extremely difficult.  However, I believe that this team is capable of 40 wins this season, a marked improvement for one of the worst franchises of the last couple of years.  You heard it here.

Arcane Birthday Biographies: Morris Peterson

Morris Peterson's life in basketball revolved around Mateen Cleaves from the time they were children.  Born less than a month a part, the boys lived blocks from each other in Flint, Michigan.

In high school, they played on rival teams and knew each other well from Flint's pickup scene.  Cleaves was the man back then, and Mo Pete was known as nothing more than a gunner.  When both accepted scholarships to Michigan State, Cleaves was taking a school that was close to home over all the other big names, and Peterson was lucky just to have a scholarship from an established program.

As the players progressed through their careers (which would both culminate in a national championship in 2000 with the help of Jason Richardson), Mateen was the most important player.  He was Michigan State's only three-time All-American and named MOP of the 2000 Final Four.

Obviously, today, Mateen Cleaves is in street clothes and Mo Pete is in the NBA.  What happened?

It all turned on the right hand of Peterson.  In 1997, Peterson broke his non-shooting hand on a dunk attempt,  and although he was still serviceable with a cast, he couldn't really get his offensive game going.  He had been a horrific defender before the injury but with his cast, the only way he could get on the court was by playing defense.

Ever since, Peterson has been known as more of a sweet-shooting forward with defense than a gunner, and he was a key player in the 2000 championship, a first round pick, and started in the NBA until last season.

Happy Birthday, Mo.

NBA Could Grind To Halt With Ref Holdout

News comes today that the NBA and the referees' union (umpire and referee unions always seem to be the most powerful in the world...why the hell is that?) are far apart on a deal in which the NBA is asking the refs to cut their budget across the board by 10%.

Apparently things are serious enough that established referees may not be allowed to take part in preseason games.  The referees have responded as follows:

The referees have argued against the sort of budget cuts widely imposed on team and league office staff members by insisting the late hours they work and difficult travel conditions they endure in addition to the injury risks they're subjected to make them unlike any other group of NBA employees.

Well, that's a pretty sensible and I can really see where they're BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Who in god's name do these assholes think they are?  They can't police their own, they've been caught in one of the worst scandals in the past decade, they have one of the sweetest jobs in sports, they somehow manage to be worse than referees of basketball at a lower level, and now they're refusing to take the same pay cut everyone else in the league (like...uh...the players) will have to endure?  Incredible!

Stern must be licking his chops like a modern-day Reagan.  These buffoons just gave him an excuse to get them out of the door and hire a bunch of cheaper, less crotchety referees who in all honesty can't be any worse than the officials the NBA has used for the past ten years.

Please god let these referees stand strong like Joey Crawford against a Tim Duncan smile.

/honks horn

DGUtube: Remember Steve Franchise

It wasn't Steve Francis's fault that his career somehow led him to be one of the final pieces in Isiah Thomas's reign of tyranny with the Knicks, but that's the way it played out.  It's sad to think of the days when Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobely were on the verge of making the playoffs all by themselves when one considers just how suddenly and unfortunately the careers of each man ended.  (Cuttino had to retire last year when he discovered he had a congenital heart problem and Francis's career ended in the wake of severe tendinitis and migraine problems.)

Few remember that it was Francis who took the Rockets to a 45 win season in just his second year (starting lineup:  Francis, Mobely, Shandon Anderson, Maurice Taylor, Hakeem at age 39 when he averaged 10 points per game) and that when he succumbed to the rare, migraine-inducing Meniere's diseease, the Rockets took such a tumble that they were able to get the first pick in the draft that eventually became Yo Yao Ming.  

Today let's celebrate the man who was frankly the most exciting point guard of his time, bar none.  If you don't agree, you probably don't remember, so please, cue the video.

Hawks add final piece to their dynasty

He was drafted ahead of Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Damon Stoudamire, and Michael Finley.  He signed a backdoor deal that ruined the Minnesota Timberwolves' chances of winning a title with Kevin Garnett.  He is currently working on an album under his alter ego, "Joe Beast", with singles forthcoming including "Murda Kapital" and "I Does This" (what is this, 1998?).  He is the final piece as Rick Sund puts the finishing touches on the Atlanta Hawks.  He is....the most uninteresting basketball player in the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guess That NBA Tattoo!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of DGU's new feature, Guess That NBA Tattoo.  For the auspicious first tattoo, I chose probably the most interesting tattoo in the NBA.
This might be easy for some people as that tattoo has received some publicity.  If you can't make it out, it is two hands in prayer, holding a pistol, in front of a gravestone, and the gravestone seems to have a crosshairs on top of it.  
My interpretation is that this is actually a represntation of one of this player's boys rising from the grave, gun still in his hands, ready to go to purgatorial war which will probably end in a result similar to what got him in the grave, if all the stuff I hear about jesus's marksmanship is true.  
Can you name the player who possesses this fine piece of urban art?  
And the answer is......
(I don't know how to add space other than this....sorry.)

Unnoticed Transaction News

Right now, Mark Madsen is not in the NBA.  At all.

While it is always fun to see a big, awkward white guy enjoy winning a championship he has almost nothing to do with, I, for one, won't miss Madsen.  He was so out of control he almost ended TJ Ford's career, I despised his boy-next-door attitude, and his victory dance after the Lakers championship made me feel about the same way I would if I had taken a shot with a lead pipe to the testicles.

Excuse me? I'm sorry?

Chris Bosh will be releasing a CD, DVD and iPhone application this fall.

Bosh's DVD will include all of the "original comic" characters he has created in videos uploaded to YouTube, as well as an inside look at Bosh's life in Dallas and how he made it to the NBA.
The CD will feature music by some of Bosh's favourite artists, as well as recordings from new artists. Bosh is soliciting songs from unsigned artists, giving them a chance to submit songs for consideration for the album.
Bosh's iPhone application will allow fans to keep track of the NBA superstar with automatic updates from his Twitter feed, when he posts a video on YouTube and to keep track of his game statistics during the NBA season. Bosh is the first athlete to have his own iPhone application.
I think I speak for every single fan in the NBA when I say "What?"

Let me share with you my new strategy

Hello folks.  Thank you for coming to my press conference.  I'd like to address this year's free agent class and the Knicks' recent activity.

You may have recently heard about the many developments other teams are making in the free agent market. Detroit, for instance, has picked up Ben Gordon, Charlie Villenueva, and Chris Wilcox.  Many Knicks fans out there have been asking me, "Donnie, what are we going to do in the free agent market?"

/James Dolan muffled screaming in background.

We have many options to consider as we prepare not only for this summer, but also for the next.  One of the major problems with this organization in the past has been a refusal to think long-term, and I think our success depends on a recognizition of the need for serious change in the goals of the New York Knicks.

/James Dolan's head sticks out from stage right, is pulled back by hair.

As part of this philosophy, we must look at our current free agent class as one in which spending presents us with opportunities for our upcoming season but saving provides us opportunities for the free agent market of 2010.

/James Dolan runs onto the stage


Walsh:  For the last time, Jim, I'm not Italian.


Walsh:  Coach D'Antoni is at home in West Virginia.  I already left you a note that he called to advise us to sign Ramon Sessions.


/Beautiful woman appears at the side of the stage


/Dolan exits stage right, is grabbed as he reaches the curtain.

Walsh:  As I was saying, our new strategy must be to spend with great care.  It is for this reason that we made Ramon Sessions an offer one month ago and subsequently stopped talking to him entirely.

/Muffled screaming in the background.  "iverson!  i want iverson!"

Walsh:  We believe this strategy is the best option for the future of the New York Knicks.  Thank you.

Arcane Birthday Biographies: Tony Dumas

Perhaps somewhere, on a computer made out of championship rings, Robert Horry is cruising the internet, wondering if any intrepid blogger or sportswriter has noticed that it is Big Shot Bob's 39th birthday.

I could only imagine the look on his face if he came upon today's celebration of the onetime great Tony Dumas.

Say what you will about Dumas's lack of success in the NBA.  He was only a starter for one year, and in that one year shot poorly and couldn't crack twelve points a game.  He was a dunker of some note, but lost in the 1995 dunk contest in particularly embarrassing fashion, missing every dunk he attempted.  He was the first man ever to do so, and the last dunk, a simple one-handed tomahawk, was particularly embarrassing.  Gary Payton could be seen on the sidelines, his mouth moving quickly, teeth bared, undoubtedly saturating the air above the court with funny, vile insults.

Today, however, on Tony's birthday, let's remember his successes.  He was one of the greatest scorers in NCAA history (almost 2,500 points), and he played for one of the worst teams in Division I:  The Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos.

Happy birthday, Tony Dumas.  You were the greatest Kangaroo.

DGUtube: Lost Video Collection

This is a new segment here where I find a good old youtube and show it to you.  Cool, no?

My first video goes out to two great guards whose in-game highlights are overshadowed today by our collective memory of Jordan, Dominique, Magic, Larry, and Isiah.  

UPDATE:  Embedding has been disabled.  I call bullshit.  Link here.

Hi. I'm a professional motivational speaker.

I'd just like to throw my two cents in about John Lucas's involvement in the Beasley issue and his supposed expertise and success with rehabbing players.

Full disclosure and not so brief aside:  I am a huge fan of Jerry Tarkanian and have always held a grudge about John Lucas replacing him as the Spurs' head coach in 1992 after only 20 games (Tark was 9-11!.  One of the driving forces behind Tarkanian's firing was Dale Ellis's public expression of discontent.  Dale Ellis!  Though One of my favorite factoids about the Tark firing is as follows:  "Tarkanian may have actually brought about his own dismissal with a letter he sent to McCombs on Monday urging the acquisition of a point guard and arguing that the team could simply not win without one. "All I wanted was a point guard," he said."  (Source:  New York Times.))

Back to the subject at hand.  This week it has become clear that the entire NBA world sees John Lucas as some kind of rehabilitation specialist.  He helped TJ Ford recover from his back injury.  He counseled Sean Williams while at BC.  He rehabilitated Daryl Strawberry in the early 90's.

HEYWAITAMINUTE!  Strawberry was back on coke and ho's approximately twelve times after Lucas's intervention.  Sean Williams never made anything of himself.  And TJ Ford, well, he didn't exactly have a drug problem and I'm not sure making a player work hard qualifies someone as anything more than a drill sergeant.

John Lucas, when he was with the Spurs, was a successful coach.  He threw it all away by taking an offer  behind his team president's back to become the Sixers' General Manager, Vice President, and Coach.  That didn't work out so well for him and he spent the next two seasons going 24-58 and then 18-64. (He was noted for trying to take Derrick Coleman on as a reclamation project.  It did not go well.)

Lucas then went on to coach the Cavs, where he was fired in his second year after having the worst record in the league.  (One could, however, argue that Lucas's poor record led Cleveland to the acquisition of LeBron James, in which case I may be underestimating his genius.)

My point here is not that Lucas was a terrible coach (though I think he was) or that he can't rehabilitate players.  But he currently makes his living as a consultant for players to hire and the Beasley situation is getting him more publicity than I've ever heard him get before.

I can't help but think that Lucas is charging a pretty penny (pursuant to the NBA's rules, the team must pay for treatment in its substance abuse program) for his services and it's a little questionable that it's been publicly announced that he is working with Beasley to overcome an issue that should be privately addressed.  I think Lucas's history of player oversight (Lloyd Daniels, Derrick Coleman, Vernon Maxwell, Darius Miles, DaJuan Wagner, and Ricky Davis played under him, to name a few) is questionable.  And I think that in Michael Beasley, Lucas may have found the best possible PR boon his company will ever receive.

More conspiracy theories soon!

As always, e-mail me at 

When I party, I party hardy

Sly and the family did some partying in their time and it's now apparent that Michael Beasley does as well.

While this could be serious (heroin addiction, alcoholism, depression, etc.) the facts appear to me to suggest that Beasley may have found a loophole to help him avoid being fined for the incident.

It's a well-known fact that NBA players smoke pot.  It's a well-known fact that smoking pot is neither a health risk nor addictive.  It's a well-known fact that twenty-year old men with millions of dollars like to party.  However, encouraging drug use is obviously not something the NBA wants to be involved in, so it has a well-publicized and somewhat successful drug treatment program.  

The story linked to above contains an interesting paragraph:

Sources said the Heat encouraged Beasley to check into the facility to address possible substance and psychological issues. He is expected to spend time with former NBA player and coach John Lucas(notes), who is renowned for his success in working with troubled players. As part of the NBA’s treatment program, Beasley is expected to stay in the facility for a minimum of 30 days with little outside contact, one source close to him said.

When I had first heard the Beasley story it appeared that he was in rehabilitation on his own accord but the above suggests that the NBA is mandating and controlling his treatment program.  This would only occur if Beasley had voluntarily submitted to the NBA's treatment program.

The NBA's treatment program provides athletes with a way to avoid fines and discipline and specifically provides in its rules that "In order to encourage players with problems to seek help, this treatment is provided at the expense of the team, the player continues to be paid, and penalties are generally not imposed as long as the player complies with the terms of his prescribed treatment."  

The previous involvement with marijuana in Beasley's rookie training camp cost him a cool $50,000.00, and one could reasonably assume that a second fine would be greater.  I don't want to downplay the seriousness of Beasley's condition, which at this point cannot be determined, but isn't it a possibility that this is a money-making maneuver?  

As always, comment or e-mail me at

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sofamore Statistics are Stoopid

Today I'd like you to join me in a brief discussion of the Rookie/Sophomore roster selection for the 2009 All-Star Saturday festivities.  The rosters for the game are as follows:

Player (Team)PositionHeightWeightSchool/Country
Michael Beasley (Heat)F6-9245Kansas State
Rudy Fernandez (Trail Blazers)G-F6-6185Spain
Marc Gasol (Grizzlies)C7-1265Spain
Eric Gordon (Clippers)G6-3222Indiana
Brook Lopez (Nets)C7-0260Stanford
O.J. Mayo (Grizzlies)G6-4210USC
Greg Oden (Trail Blazers)C7-0285Ohio State
Derrick Rose (Bulls)G6-3190Memphis
Russell Westbrook (Thunder)G6-3187UCLA
Head Coach -- TBD
Assistant Coach -- Dwyane Wade
Player (Team)PositionHeightWeightSchool/Country
Aaron Brooks (Rockets)G6-0161Oregon
Wilson Chandler (Knicks)F6-8220DePaul
Kevin Durant (Thunder)G-F6-9215Texas
Jeff Green (Thunder)F6-9235Georgetown
Al Horford (Hawks)F-C6-10245Florida
Luis Scola (Rockets)F-C6-9245Argentina
Al Thornton (Clippers)F6-8220Florida State
Rodney Stuckey (Pistons)G6-5205Eastern Washington
Thaddeus Young (Sixers)F6-8220Georgia Tech
Head Coach -- TBD
Assistant Coach -- Dwight Howard

Today, John Hollinger of ESPN, who specializes in the study of "accurate measurement" statistics (think football's DVOA) and who coined the PER ("player efficiency rating" - a rating which Hollinger believes can accurately rank any player at any position) took the rosters of this year's rookie/soph game to task because he believed they ignored the truly good young players (that is, those with high PERs or other statistics he deems accurate assessors of talent).  To put it plainly, John was upset that the NBA had not been using his statistical methods to assess the play of young basketball players. 

The rosters for the R/S game are chosen by a group of assistant coaches (I'm not sure if it's all of them or a committee) who watch the young players during the season and presumably review their statistics when they make a selection.  If a rookie is in a coach's conference, they will have seen them play twice before the All-Star game; if not, once.  The coaches are the beneficiaries of reports on the prospective rooks/sophs from their scouting staffs during the regular season (particularly important with rookies) and they have, of course, considerable experience and expertise in basketball.  

Mr. Hollinger, on the other hand, has a background entirely based in online sports journalism.  He is without graduate degrees, scouting experience, and as far as I know never played above high school (if he even played there).  ESPN has somehow managed to prevent lechrous NBA teams from hiring Hollinger to give them an edge over their competition with his impressive statistical analysis - he has no professional experience other than his ESPN work.   

Although it may seem strange in light of the foregoing, Mr. Hollinger, who got his start with the web site humbly described as "the basketball page for thinking fans", believes that he knows more about who should and who should not be on the rookie team than the NBA's assistant coaches.  I believe that he is incorrect and seek to discredit him.  His original article, from which I am about to refer, is available here.  

The first selection Hollinger takes issue with is the selection of Eric Gordon over Kevin Love.  He states that Gordon was picked because of his gaudy per-game statistics (13.8, 2.5, and 2.5) and, to quote him:  "Don't get me wrong; Gordon is going to have a fine career, it seems, and in almost any other year he'd be a shoo-in for the team. But he made this squad mainly because the forlorn Clippers have no choice but to play him extensive minutes."

Despite good play by the T-Wolves in January, I don't think Hollinger would describe either Love's or Gordon's teams as "good".  It's true that Gordon gets to start because Cuttino Mobley went down and that Love has the shadow of Al Jefferson to deal with, but there is one plain fact that Hollinger is missing.  Kevin Love is not getting time on a bad team because of the bad team's decision not to play him.  Kevin McHale, no less than one of the top five post players in history, is starting Craig Smith over Mr. Love.  

Hollinger explains what McHale and the NBA assistant coaches are missing:  Love leads the league in offensive rebound rate, as I mentioned the other day, but his prodigious work on the boards has gone largely unnoticed because he plays only 23.2 minutes a game, far less than Gordon's 32.2.  (Note:  Hollinger is incorrect about Love's rebound rate - he only leads rookies - he is third in the NBA.)

Do you see how this works?  Although Kevin Love's own coach, who watches him practice, spends from 8-10 hours a day with him, and knows more than we could ever hope to about his personality, temperment, and ability, does not play him more than Craig Smith, and he is wrong not to, because Kevin Love has amazing ORP48 (Offensive Rebounds Per 48 Minutes) statistics.  But, just for the sake of argument, let's take a look at how the ORP48 statistics relate to player skill.  Below is a chart of the Top 15 ORP48ers*:


*Note that the list display starts at five and includes eighteen entries because the top five all played five games or less and there were three people on the list who should not be applicable due to too few games played who I couldn't figure out how to remove.

That chart is a who's who of marginal big men in the NBA.  Are some of them (Dwight Howard, Marcus Camby) excellent rebounders?  Absolutely.  Are some of them horrendous guys who can hustle their asses off with no regard for fouling because they don't have to play that many minutes?  Yes!  (See:  Joel Pryzbilla, whose stats are almost identical to Love, Aaron Gray, Reggie Evans, Marcin Gortat).  In my mind, Love can fall into the latter category as easily as he can the first, and Hollinger gives no other statistic to support the assertion that Love is more deserving than Gordon.  Even if he is correct that Love is the third-best offensive rebounder in the league, does this fact prove he has more skill than someone who is, say, an excellent scorer?  Or passer?  

The story with these players' rookies season thusfar illustrates their skill level and, in my mind, shows how they should be rated respective to each other.  Love has been playing consistently all year, and has shown some improvement.  In November, he averaged 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.  In December, he averaged 6.6 ppg and 9.1 rpg.  In January, he averaged 12.5 ppg and 10.1 rpg.  These numbers are, obviously, mediocre.  

Gordon's numbers tell a similar story.  It's just a better one.  In November, he averaged 7.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg, and 1.7 apg.  In December, it was 13.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 1.8 apg.  This January, he has averaged 21.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, and 4.3 apg.  

If anyone wants to argue that a player who is their team's top scorer every night should be cut from a team because a guy who is good at offensive rebounding in limited minutes and who is warming the pine behind Craig Smith is statistically better than the scorer, I think it's safe to say that person is not qualified to question the assistant coaches.  

Let's continue with Hollinger's "snubs".  Hollinger notes:  Because of that [coaches looking at only simple statistics and ignoring minutes played], we'll have the Human Goaltend Violation, Al Thornton of the Clippers, playing in the game instead of Houston's Carl Landry, and we'll have New York's Wilson Chandler instead of Toronto's Jamario Moon.

(What is a human goaltend violation?  Does Al Thornton goaltend often?  I tried to find statistics reflecting the same and I don't think the NBA keeps them.)  

Some of my readers may recall that I am a big Carl Landry fan and certainly have no axe to grind.  I also like Jamario Moon, one of the best dunkers in the NBA.  

However, in this analysis, Hollinger is simply ignoring the reality of Landry and Moon's situations.  Carl Landry, love him though I do, is judged by Rick Adelman, one of the better coaches in the NBA, to be worse than Luis Scola (12.3/7.9).  I have nothing against Luis Scola, but he's not that good.  There's a simple commutative rule in sports: if you're getting benched behind a guy who's not that're not that good either.  Coaches with thirty years of experience rating players don't usually make mistakes on their own teams (though it's not unheard of) and I don't think anyone would argue that Rick Adelman benching Landry is an exception to that rule.  

So why does Landry deserve to make the team, you ask?  Landry, in particular, is a stunning exclusion. I've written many times already about his impressive per-minute numbers the past two seasons, but suffice to say that he ranks right between Josh Smith and David West in PER, and that his numbers are actually down from what he did as a rookie.

See...he's right in between Josh Smith and David West.  If only Rick Adelman knew. 

I went on ESPN and looked at the season PER ratings.  David West is rated 49th in the NBA (20 spots behind Marreese Speights...who was not even chosen for the rookie team!), and I can't find Carl Landry.  ESPN would have me pay a fee to view beyond fifty, and he's presumably there, ahead of Al Thornton.  But in my mind, Thonrton (who averages about 17 and 5) being behind Landry (who has scored twenty points twice this season (20 and 21)) in PER is more of a condemnation of PER than an accurate assessment of skill.

The Chandler/Moon comparison is also quite damning.  Jamario moon is a 28 year old sophomore whose statistics dropped from last season (8.5 ppg) to this one (7.5 ppg).  He is athletic, a good defender...and he scores 7.5 points per game despite starting all but seven Raptors games this year.  That makes him, as far as I know, the second least-effective starter in the NBA (after Ben Wallace).  Fine me a worse one and I'll give you credit.  

Wilson Chandler, on the other hand, is 22 years old, and went from scoring 7.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, and .5 apg last year to 13.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, and also throws in a block and a steal per game.  

I know there are factors (D'Antoni) that might skew Chandler's statistics but I don't see how one can argue that someone who actually got worse since last year, is old, and is the second-worst starter in the NBA should replace a young, up-and-coming player who happens to shoot for a low percentage.  

Hollinger's last point is that Aaron Brooks should be replaced by Ramon Sessions.  I have no problem with that, but would like to take this opportunity to cite Hollinger's draft analysis of 2007 which stated, based on the same statistical analysis that now vindicates Sessions, that: 

Nevada guard Ramon Sessions, and Florida guard Taurean Green are fringe first-rounders who are best to be avoided.

Hollinger for his draft analysis had rated Sessions behind Josh McRoberts ("he has the assist to turnover ratio of a point guard"),  Mike Conley ("in the last six drafts, only Chris Paul ranked higher than Mike Conley"), Nick Fazekas ("in a dead heat for No. 4...he's like Nick Collison with a jump shot"), and many others. 

The point I'm trying to make here is this:  John Hollinger and his ignorant yet arrogant analyses are full of shit.

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