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Why Mike D’Antoni Is The Wrong Choice For The Lakers

I was shocked when I read the Lakers had fired Mike Brown 5 games into the season.  Either you believe in your coach enough to give him a chance, or you shouldn’t let him coach your team at all in the first place.  Regardless of whether Mike Brown was the right coach for this Lakers team, firing any coach midseason makes it much harder to gel and compete for a title.  The only way this could possibly make sense is if there’s somebody who is obviously better waiting in the wings.

So when I saw the headline that the Lakers had hired Mike D’Antoni for head coach, I could scarcely believe it.  Not only was Phil Jackson available, but he was the perfect coach for this team.  I thought for sure, after screwing up with Mike Brown, they’d pay whatever was necessary to bring Jackson back.  However, Jackson’s asking price was exorbitant and his heart didn’t appear to be in it.  Still, couldn’t the Lakers have done better than Mike D’Antoni?

D’Antoni’s famous for his 7 seconds or less offense.  This offense relies heavily on quick hitters and fast breaks and requires fast, quick, athletic players and lots of depth.  The Lakers have neither.  Their average on-court age right now is 30.6 years old, and the number will go up as the players age and as Nash, 38, returns from injury.  Only 7 teams have won titles with players over 30, and if they do manage to win the title this year, the Lakers will almost certainly be older than all but one if their roster remains in tact.  All 7 of these teams had been playing together for at least a year prior to their titles, and they all had been in the same offensive system for at least that long.  They also were all well below the league average in pace.  The oldest team to win a title is Jackson’s 1998 Bulls.

The message is clear – old rosters should be handled with care.  Historically, if you want to win with an old team, you need a methodical offense and a familiar system. This effectively minimizes the energy gap and allows the experienced basketball instincts of the older players to show through.  Basically, the antithesis of the 7 seconds or less offense.  Trying to teach a roster this old a new system and then expecting them to be able to outsprint their younger opponents to a title is asking this team to do two things that have never been done before.

Certainly, in terms of spacing the floor and allowing players to run a simple offense based on instinct, attacking, and pick and rolls, seven seconds or less has the potential to make the Lakers offense pretty slick.  But plenty of coaches can teach players to run the pick and roll and space the floor in a simple system, and it’s hard to imagine the Lakers wouldn’t have been excellent on offense anyway, given their overwhelming talent. Despite being wildly inconsistent and at times looking awful, the Lakers were 6th in points per possession at the time of Brown’s firing running the Princeton and have looked fine running a bare bones offense under Bernie Bickerstaff.  With Nash, Kobe, Howard and Gasol, I don’t think you need much coaching on offense.

However, they were only 23rd in terms of team defense, and D’Antoni certainly won’t help that.   Every team D’Antoni has ever coached in the NBA for a full season has been in the lower half of the league in terms of team defense, based on both total points per game and points per possession.  That’s a long track record of futility, and it points to a philosophical problem.  The Nuggets, Suns and Knicks all improved markedly on the defensive end once he left.  Dwight Howard has the potential to be the league’s elite defender but he’s recuperating from back surgery and clearly not 100%.  Kobe and MWP were once great defenders but are now in the twilight of their careers and have clearly lost a step.  Guys like Jamison and Nash, never good defenders even at their peaks, are now huge liabilities.   If Brown couldn’t get this group playing defense, I shudder to think what D’Antoni will do with it.

Beyond this, major in-season changes in coaching philosophy do not lead to titles.  Only three teams have made in-season coaching changes and gone on to win a title, and all of these teams filled their positions with people who already knew and could implement an established system.  The 2006 Heat went from a young coach, Stan Van Gundy, to team GM and recent head coach Pat Riley.  The Lakers dumped Paul Westhead for Riley, then an assistant coach, after the team mutinied during the 1981-82 season.  Westhead had actually taken over the 1980 Lakers and won the title after the head coach almost died in an accident and he was gifted an elite team with system in tact. The Lakers will obviously not run the Princeton, which brings us back to the triangle-the system with which the most Lakers are comfortable and a system that is a proven winner for both the Lakers and older teams in general.

Furthermore, the Lakers are probably the most challenging team in the NBA to manage and put D’Antoni back in a situation in which he has not thrived.  Both Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, for all their talent, are both well established prima donnas and coach killers.  D’Antoni has shown time and again that he cannot deal with that kind of player.  He lost Shawn Marion in Phoenix and failed miserably with both Stephon Marbury and Carmelo Anthony in New York.  Furthermore, he never seemed to reach a comfort level with the pressure-cooker that is New York City.  Now he’s expected to handle Kobe, Dwight, and Los Angeles at the same time?  Established relationships or not, good luck.

Perhaps bringing back Jackson was never really an option.  Still, numerous better options than D’Antoni existed.  The most obvious is Brian Shaw.  He is well-liked by the Lakers brass and players and is, again, a Lakers insider who is intimately familiar with the triangle.  He could have stepped in and brought the team back to the familiar formula that’s won them so many titles in the past rather than having to start from scratch on a team with an already-limited window.  Sure, he’s an unknown commodity as a head coach, but so were Westhead and Riley when they won LA titles in their first seasons.

Even if you strike out on both Jackson and don’t buy into Shaw, why not call the Hall of Fame coaches with coaching styles that might fit this team better?  Jerry Sloan’s methodical offense kept Stockton and Malone relevant into the twilight of their careers and would work beautifully with Nash to Howard/Gasol, particularly with Kobe Bryant a much bigger threat than Hornacek or Jeff Malone ever was on the wing.  And while Larry Brown may be old, mercurial and abrasive, he’s a basketball savant who has proven he can take just about any team to a new level and has tamed some of the most difficult talents in NBA history.  Failing to capture any of them, Nate McMillan has proven he can function in difficult situations, as evidenced by his work with the Jail Blazers, and is also a defensive minded coach.

The Lakers are arguably the most talented team in the league and have the potential to compete for a championship, but it’s certainly not going to be easy.  Firing Mike Brown five games into the season and then replacing him with the wrong coach isn’t going to make things any easier.

Related posts:

  1. Sloppy Seconds: Mike Brown to the Lakers
  2. Mike Bresnahan: Retirement Can’t Come Soon Enough for Phil Jackson (4/7/11)
  3. Big Shoes to Phil: Evaluating the Lakers’ Next Head Coach
  4. What’s Next For The Lakers?
  5. Celtics vs. Lakers: Who Has The Brighter Future?

Discussion

299 Responses to “Why Mike D’Antoni Is The Wrong Choice For The Lakers”

  1. You mentioned in this article that the players were much more familiar with the triangle, but aren’t the only ones that played in it Kobe, Pau, and MWP? That’s only 3 of the 9-10 players in the normal rotation. I agree that D’antoni is the wrong pick, and that Jackson was the best choice, but I don’t see how the triangle brings much familiarity.

    Posted by pointguard40 | November 13, 2012, 10:25 am
    • You forgot the immortal Steve Blake! Anyway, Kobe, Pau and MWP are the top 3 Lakers in terms of minutes played, and if you include Blake, those 4 Lakers have accounted for 56% of the Lakers’ minutes played this season. So this seems to bring a lot more familiarity than anything else out there.

      Posted by lochpster | November 13, 2012, 9:52 pm
  2. Great read … I thought PJ made the most sense, but I also felt that he would be hard-pressed to work his magic with this group anyway … not even sure the triangle was the best aspect of a Phil takeover, but more the gravitas he would have likely had with Dwight, Nash, et. al.

    As for prospects, I fully expect the Kobe hubris to shine through here on out in D’Antoni’s frenetic program … look for many more of those 30+ FGA games we have seen from him in years past … and when that .53 FG %age inevitably regresses to its career mean, well … at least OKC looks shaky, too …

    Posted by Ken | November 13, 2012, 3:28 pm
    • Ken, I agree 100% that the best part of a PJ takeover would have been his gravitas.

      As for Kobe-not sure exactly what to expect, honestly. Nash, Howard and Gasol being on his team should give him the opportunity to pick better spots and, hence, shoot better. But he’s at a point in his career where we’d expect a decline in his stats across the board. If he continues to try to be a one man army, it will not likely turn out well for the Lakers. He certainly does have a lot of hubris, though, so nothing would shock me.

      Posted by lochpster | November 13, 2012, 10:02 pm
  3. At this point, I fail to see the benefit in Magic Johnson so pointedly criticizing the decision to opt for MDA over PJ … I thought last night’s statement was borderline bizarre and certainly unhelpful to the franchise that he is so closely associated with …

    In unrelated matters, can someone please intervene with Dwyane Wade and either make him sit until he’s fully healthy or at least accept a diminished role with the Heat … his fits of being more harm than help are beginning to become far too frequent for my tastes …

    Posted by Ken | November 15, 2012, 10:00 am
    • I thought he was doing his job as a talking head.

      As for D-Wade they are going to sit him for at least the next game, the major issue right now is Miami is coasting on the defensive end and its showing. They can flip the switch when they need it but I wish they would leave it on more often. Speaking of which D-Wade’s commitment to defense this season hasn’t even existed. He is playing defense like its a pick up game that doesn’t matter.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | November 16, 2012, 11:58 am
  4. “I told the team if we’re not averaging 110-115 points a game, we need to talk,” D’Antoni said.

    Uh oh.

    Posted by lochpster | November 15, 2012, 7:18 pm
  5. i have to admit, I didn’t follow d’antoni’s coaching career in PHX or NY very closely, but having watched him interviewed before and after several games this season …

    wow, how is it that this guy is purportedly such a “great interview” when he comes across as a complete half-wit in front of the media? if he is, in fact, a basketball genius (as many have suggested), he certainly buries that genius under a thick veneer of simpleton glaze for the john ireland’s of the world …

    he does not appear to be in any way capable of inspiring greatness is this mere mortal, at least …

    lastly, 7-8 with that roster and that early home-heavy cupcake schedule … for shame!

    Posted by Ken | November 28, 2012, 9:40 am
  6. Great article Lochpster!

    Historically D’Antoni’s system, despite
    entertaining/leading the league in points scored year on year, doesn’t have any rings to its name. D’Antoni and Nash dominated regular season with the Suns back in the day, but the system is a double-edged sword leaking as many points as it scores. As such its pretty difficult to sustain and win consistently over back to back to back 7-game series that the playoffs call for.

    D’Antoni systems have hence never even competed for a NBA championship- stumbling twice at the conference final stage with the Suns.

    Sure, the Laker’s roster is far superior to any D’Antoni has coached previously, but until proven otherwise I’ll let history temper my expectations on the Lakers this season

    Posted by Yakka the Sporting Yak | December 26, 2012, 8:32 am
  7. I am shocked that Bryant is leading the league in minutes played.

    Bryant also leads the league in FGA (and by a big margin!) and turnovers.

    It seems that Bryant has been a big beneficiary of this Lakers roster and system.

    I am interested to see how this pace will affect both Bryant and the Lakers come April and May.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 28, 2012, 10:16 am
    • Amazingly, Kobe’s 20th in true shooting percentage while leading the league in scoring. Pretty impressive for anyone, let alone someone with as much tread as Kobe.

      Historically, this would bode poorly for the playoffs. But there’s no historical precedent for any player of which I’m aware playing the best ball of his career in his 17th season or at age 34. I’m not sure how to use history to judge Kobe at this point in his career.

      Posted by lochpster | December 29, 2012, 7:59 am
  8. this MDA character has proven that he doesn’t have the stones to rein in his “i eat first” cancer, er, star …

    in fact, the only thing this one-dimensional scoring proves is that Kobe is the looking more and more like the Pete Rose of basketball … sure all those hits or points look great, but they ultimately fail to qualify as proof of all-time greatness …

    Posted by Ken | January 2, 2013, 1:02 pm
    • uhh. . .The Pete Rose analogy is a poor one.

      True greatness is not in the total of the numbers, as you have alluded, yet Pete was a dynamic offensive player, that oh, by the way, played 5 different defensive positions all for winning teams!!

      A switch hitter, albeit with little home run power, he nonetheless led the NL in runs scored ( a very under appreciated stat) 4 times and doubles 5 times, twice in On Base Percentage and also led in hits 7 times.

      Pete Rose is about the 35th-40th best player in a game with double the history of basketball.

      A better comp to Kobe Bryant in terms of the BS hype is Derek Jeter.

      Jeter is a great player and a true leader (I don’t believe Bryant to be a leader at all, rather a very divisive force), but Jeter’s defense is vastly overrated and his offense, while great for a shortstop, has far far less black ink than does Rose.

      Both Bryant and Jeter are victims/benefactors of the ESPN?Disney hype machine that needs to sell mouth breathers a reason to worship them.

      This is how BS terms like “winners” and crap like “you can’t use numbers” is born and perpetuated.

      It’s nauseating how far ESPN will eventually twist the reality of certain athletes. . . Bo Jackson probably being the most misunderstood and over hyped.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 2, 2013, 3:19 pm
      • points well taken … although i think Alex Rodriguez (with less luck in landing on loaded rosters throughou his career) is more like Kobe in my view …

        Posted by Ken | January 2, 2013, 4:06 pm
        • I hate the hype machine as much as the next guy, but let’s not swing too far the other way. Kobe’s for sure a difficult teammate, but so are some of the other All-time greats-Jordan and Wilt immediately come to mind. I’d still love to have him play for my favorite franchise (at least, in terms of talent, although I’d struggle to cheer for him for non-basketball reasons).

          This year, Kobe has been what is right with the Lakers. Offensively, he’s more efficient than he’s ever been and is probably together the best season of his career, which is shocking given his age. If his ball hogging has taken his teammates out of their rhythm, well, who cares? The Lakers are 6th in offensive efficiency-no small feat for a team on its second new offense of the season.

          The Lakers are middle of the road defensively but still have the point differential of a 50-win team despite massive injury, depth and coaching issues. They’ve been very unlucky to boot, hence their sub-.500 record, but Kobe has just been exceptional.

          Posted by lochpster | January 2, 2013, 7:27 pm
          • I have frankly been very impressed with Bryant’s play this year, especially given his age.

            I am a little concerned about the turnovers, and I am sometimes puzzled as to why the high FGA given the presence of both Howard and Gasol, but you cannot deny his efficiency warrants he get more opportunity.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 2, 2013, 7:42 pm
          • I hear what you and Paulie are saying, but I disagree … FG%age regressing to the mean, high turnovers, piss-poor assist/turnover ratio …

            He may be much more efficient that he has been in past years, but starters like LeBron and sixth men like Jamal Crawford call b.s. on characterizing his play as efficient …

            Posted by Ken | January 3, 2013, 2:42 pm
          • sorry … james harden, not jamal crawford … plus, he’s a starter, too, now, so, you know … anyway, not my finest post.

            Nevertheless, I still disagree …

            Posted by Ken | January 3, 2013, 2:51 pm
          • I’m disappointed no one has brought up Bryant’s pathetic defense he’s played this year. Some of the worst I’ve seen from a star player.

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 3, 2013, 3:27 pm
          • PG40, I agree that Kobe’s defense has generally been pretty awful this year (a few unsustained efforts, but pretty pathetic in large patches … he certainly doesn’t grind like the youngsters) …

            I also think his defensive reputation has been wildly overrated for many years now … I’m not sure he was ever as good as his lengthy all-defense team rep. (see the performances of Reggie Miller and AI in Finals matchups) … but it has become even worse this year (e.g., see how he fails to hustle back on defense pretty regularly) …

            Posted by Ken | January 3, 2013, 4:27 pm
          • 2000 FINALS
            Reggie Miller: 25+ PPG
            (and Rose: 23 PPG)

            2001 FINALS
            Allen Iverson: 35+ PPG

            2002 FINALS
            really … Kerry Kittles and Lucious Harris?

            2008 FINALS
            Ray Allen: 20+ PPG

            2009 FINALS
            really … Courtney Lee and Michael Pietrus?

            2010 FINALS
            Ray Allen: 17 PPG

            All better than their respective season averages …

            Posted by Ken | January 3, 2013, 4:49 pm
          • No doubt Kobe’s D has been overrated for years-last year Synergy ranked him the league’s 166th best defender (based on points per possession allowed), yet he made the 2nd all defense team. What a joke these awards, and Kobe’s defensive reputation in general, are!

            This year, though he’s up to 43rd. Not elite, obviously, but pretty darn good. Perimeter players in their 17th seasons shouldn’t be elite defensive players anyway. It’s almost a physical impossibility.

            Obviously PPP isn’t the end-all for individual defensive stats. It doesn’t take into consideration help defense or turnovers forced, for example. But it’s hard to imagine someone giving up a low number of points per possession being a bad defender.

            As for his offense, yes, guys like James, Harden and Durant are the gold standard and Kobe’s not quite there. But he’s not far behind, and he’s doing it with a higher usage percentage than anyone else in the league. His true shooting percentage is still hovering around 20th in the league, due to a vastly improved shot selection (clearly he’s studied during the offseason). And his turnovers are about 1 per game more than Harden and 0.5 beyond James-noticeable, sure, but not different orders of magnitude. Shocking considering where he has been for most of his career.

            Who ever thought I’d turn into a Kobe apologist! LOL! But seriously, after ripping him to shreds year after year, he’s doing many of the things we’ve vilified him for.

            Posted by lochpster | January 3, 2013, 5:27 pm
          • I am placing Bryant’s performance in the context with his age. There are 16 players with more minutes than Kobe right now; 9 of them were front court players, 4 are point guards and then there is Reggie Miller, Doc J and Hondo.

            I have long thought that Hondo and Doc were the closest comps to Bryant (despite what ESPN?Disney/Stern wanted us to believe) and when you compare what those guys were doing at 43000 minutes:

            Erving: 18.1/5.0/3.4 in 33.4 MPG
            Hondo: 17.7/4.8/5.1 in 36.9 MPG
            Miller: 12.6/2.5/2.4 in 30.2 MPG
            Bryant: 30.3/5.4/4.7 in 38.8 MPG

            Bryant’s scoring is well ahead. IN part this is due to a lot more shot attempts, but he is still shooting at a career best. I don’t think it is sustainable, nor do I think that it contributes to creating more wins for his team.

            Show me another guy with that amount of minutes under his belt that is performing at that volume. (note that I said volume)

            I have never, ever thought that Bryant was a two way simultaneous player.

            I believed that Bryant COULD defend very well, but his offense would suffer for it. Conversely, when Kobe is in full out “hero ball” mode, I doubt his defense was even 2nd team all NBA.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 3, 2013, 9:26 pm
          • Just chipping in my two cents.

            Even though Kobe plays the most efficient ball of his entire career (btw kudos to him for that), out of the Top5 scorers this year he is still the least efficient (in terms of TS%).

            I think this does say a lot about his career scoring efficiency.

            And he plays terrible defense too.

            Maybe I’m wrong, but his numbers must be misleading. There is no way you look that great on paper, you have an enormous talent around you and yet 31 games into the season you are 11th team in the Western Conference.

            Something is seriously wrong here.

            Posted by doosiolek | January 4, 2013, 1:11 am
          • Doos,

            I think this season has shown that the crap about Bryant being “a winner” or “inspiring otherwise mediocrity” can’t hold up.

            The Lakers have talent.

            Bryant is scoring at the best rate of his career.

            Yet. . . the Lakers are not winning.

            How can Kobe, then, be this force that should be in with the Jordans, Russells, Magics, Birds and Duncans? How can one even maintain that rhetoric about Bryant to James?

            When was the last time James’ teams failed to make the playoffs or were lower than the 3rd seed?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2013, 11:13 am
          • Interesting critique Doos. I remember reading an article on Adrian Dantley showing that despite his prolific offensive numbers, his teams actually were no better offensively when he was on the floor. Presumably this was due to his ball-stopping offensive game which limited his teammates’ involvement in the offense. I’ve heard a similar accusation thrust in Wilt’s direction. Is that what you guys think is going on here? Dantley, like Bryant, was a notoriously difficult teammate who had a reputation for being a black hole, and I imagine many of us have thought this over the years about Bryant.

            Still, it seems like the numbers don’t back up that assertion. I think it’s worth reiterating that the Lakers are 6th in the league in points per offensive possession and have a differential that would suggest they’re a .600 team, which would put them at roughly 19-12. They’re four games off that pace in a small sample size, which I think is most easily explained by variance, not a massive issue in team structure.

            Posted by lochpster | January 4, 2013, 5:11 pm
          • Loch,

            I agree with that assessment.

            Dantley was not a great teammate, and absolutely was a “ball stops here” player, BUT, he was extremely effective post scorer and I’m sure he sent a lot of players to the bench with foul troubles.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2013, 9:26 pm
          • Loch,

            The big thing to look at with the Lakers, then, given the scoring ratio is the turnovers.

            The Lakers are 12th in the NBA in TO (Spurs are #1 and the Knicks are dead last in TO.

            This doesn’t explain everything, but with only 30-40 games, bad luck and inopportune TO can easily turn 4=5 games.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2013, 9:37 pm
          • The Lakers are also 27th in the NBA in creating TO.

            The Spurs are 2nd and the Knicks are 5th.

            Turnovers=possesions=FGA=points.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2013, 9:39 pm
          • Not sure what exactly is the reason behind LA’s struggle despite brilliant scoring from Kobe Bryant. There are too many variables, but we know for certain that the Lakers are 6-14 when Kobe attempted at least 20 shots. They are 9-3 in the other games.

            However I think that Kobe is attempting more shots usually when his team is trailing in a game. As we all know he tries to be the hero.
            When the Lakers are having a good game Kobe would normally shot less hence that’s probably why the two records above are so much different.

            Bryant’s incredible scoring this year may be partially attributed to the fact that other teams want him to do just that. They prefer for Kobe to score 30+ as this most likely will get them a win, since his teammates are out of sync.

            I think opposing coaches started realizing this last year.

            The Lakers biggest issue is their defense no doubt and Paulie is right by saying that, at this age, Kobe can no longer be effective both on the offensive and the defensive end.

            Even though Los Angeles have great defensive players, i.e. Artest and Howard, they also have Nash, Gasol (playing on one leg) and Bryant. Combine these three guys with D’Antoni’s coaching style and you really have a serious problem.

            I believe that under D’Antoni Kobe’s offensive game will shine, but the Lakers will keep losing.

            As a side note I’m wondering if Dwight Howard is really better than Andrew Bynum. Perhaps it’s just Kobe who actually seems to be unable to play along with a dominant big man. If you compare Dwight’s number this year with Andrew’s stats from 2011-12 then Andrew was better.

            To sum this all up, in my opinion, as long as Kobe is in LA they may be a good team, but they will never win another championship. He needs to have specific teammates around him in order to be successful, guys who are useful even when they usage rate is low. Gasol and Odom were just like that. Nash and Howard are not.

            Posted by doosiolek | January 5, 2013, 1:54 am
          • Turnovers count as possessions when calculating offensive efficiency. It doesn’t matter if a possession starts with an inbounds pass after a make, a rebound or a turnover; nor does it matter if a possession ends with a defensive rebound or a turnover. It’s purely points per possession.

            Ultimately, teams will have a nearly identical number of possessions over the course of a game regardless of their turnover rate, because teams alternate possessions. In other words, It doesn’t matter how many turnovers a team has-if they have a better offensive efficiency, they’re a more efficient offensive team. Hence, while turnovers can obviously swing the results of a game, they can’t explain the anomaly in this particular statistical argument.

            Posted by lochpster | January 5, 2013, 2:05 am
          • Loch,

            I was a little unclear.

            When using points per possession for just the Lakers, then the TO don’t matter as it is accounted for.

            I was referring to the difference in the points scored ratio and the correlating ratio of Lakers turnovers to opponents turnovers.

            Presently, the Lakers scoring ratio should put them at about 42 wins.

            Given their scoring, should they have a turnover ratio more in their favor, they would then increase the scoring differential and thus (theoretically) increase their win total.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 5, 2013, 6:43 am
          • Sorry,

            I meant the Lakers have the point differential of a 48 win team, not 42.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 5, 2013, 6:49 am
          • Fair enough-it’ll be interesting to see what happens the rest of the season. I suspect they’ll regress to the mean, meaning they’ll wind up at least a few games above .500 by the end of the season.

            And it’s looking more and more like it’s going to be a struggle to make the playoffs even if they play well. I am on record for saying they are too talented to fail, and I may turn out to be wrong.

            Posted by lochpster | January 5, 2013, 9:39 am
          • Well, the Clippers are playuing really well, and this with Del Negro!!!

            I think once Billups comes bakc and give offer good back-up minutes at PG< the Clips are going to be really tough to beat.

            The Warriors are not as good as the Lakers and will likely falter.

            I would rank the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, ahead of the Lakers and Houston as about even.

            Should that play out, the Lakers will have a very difficult 1st round match-up with a presumably much younger team.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 5, 2013, 10:04 am
          • I believe in Golden State is overachieving somewhat but is clearly the 5th best team in the conference, behind OKC, LAC, and San Antonio with Memphis a distant 4th. Houston has the clear inside track at the 6 seed in terms of record and is the best team remaining. I don’t see any of these teams faltering, barring injury, and they all have a big enough lead on LA that it will be tough to make it up.

            That leaves six teams-Portland, Denver, Minnesota, Utah, the Lakers and Dallas-scrapping for two spots. If the Lakers get in, they’ll likely get steamrolled by either OKC or LAC in the first round.

            Posted by lochpster | January 5, 2013, 2:57 pm
          • Don’t have much time to write, but I’ll say this much – I’m actually going to have to argue against most of you here, amazingly, in your support of Kobe’s “efficient” offense, because you are still using largely individual box score metrics to judge players.

            Whereas the box used to underrate Kobe’s influence, the individual box score is now OVERRATING his offensive performance. Because of the new system, and because he’s not drawing the strong double teams he used to garner, and because he’s not the player he used to be, Kobe’s effect on the team is not what it used to be. And you can see it in games, and in the team’s outcomes.

            I find it preposterous that anyone would think Kobe of 2012-13 is playing better offensively than Kobe at any point from 2006-2010.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 7, 2013, 4:41 pm
          • has anyone written “better” or have they written that Bryant is more efficient?

            I seriously doubt than anyone other than Boyer would contend that 34 year old and 43,000 minute Kobe is better than 25 year old Kobe.

            I also believe that most of those same posters comnpletely understand the contextual difference of the role and impact Bryant has with this present roster.

            When this level of efficiency appears after such a large body of evidence, it is called an anomaly.

            An example is Magglio Ordonez. In 2007, at age 33, Mags hit .363/.434/.595.

            Was that the real Mags, or was it the Mags in 1999 at age 25 when he hit .301/.349/.510?

            His career marks of .309/.369/.502 tell us which one is the true Mags and which one was enjoying some good fortune at age 33.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 7, 2013, 8:17 pm
          • Paulie – what is the meaning of said “efficiency” if it doesn’t mean that he is helping his team more in terms of wins? That’s the evaluation I’m looking for – who helps their the most in wins? The closest I can come to a clean metric is 5 man unit +/- with a large enough sample of minutes played together. Even that is tainted by who the units are playing with (second units vs other second units).

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 7, 2013, 10:12 pm
          • What is meant by Bryant’s effectiveness is that a higher rate of his shots are going in than is reflected as his career norm.

            Nowhere have I, or anyone else claimed that Bryant’s play has lead to more wins.

            What we have commented on is that is individual results are very impressive given his age and the volume of minutes he has played both this year and for his career.

            Is that so difficult to understand?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 7, 2013, 10:20 pm
          • No, that’s not hard to understand. It’s never has been. What’s hard to understand is why the individual box score results are significant or meaningful in relation to helping a team win.

            The way he is playing (which includes his age and skill) is not as effective as it once was. Same for Howard – he recently pulled down 26 rebounds, but again, Howard isn’t even 100%, so that statistic does not capture the underlying decrease in his effectiveness.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 8, 2013, 9:29 am
          • And once again, once you can offer some tangible measurable data that can tell us otherwise, all we have is what we have.

            I think we all tire of your conjecture.

            Either offer something up as evidence or remain silent.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 8, 2013, 9:33 am
          • The difficulty in your credibility, Gil, is that you maintain and allude to some keen insight that Bryant would have brought some greater heights to the Cavs were he juxtaposed with James and further claim that Bryant was THE central force behind ALL the Lakers championships.

            Yet, now, when albeit with a relatively small sample, Bryants result data is at it’s highest, you claim the contrary.

            While this is reflected in the Lakers W/L this year, again it is a very small sample size.

            If you wanted to be credible, wouldn’t the better psoiton have been”

            “At this time, we do not have sufficient enough measuring tools to determine a single players value on his team contribution and success, thus we must be mindful that all conclusions we reach in the interim are very subject to error and potential re-evaluation.”

            Yet, that is NOT your position; yours, it seemed to me (and I doubt I am alone), was one of ABSOLUTE certainly that YOU and YOU alone had the correct answer.

            Oddly, though, you never could offer any support for that contention.

            I may be wrong in this, but then again, I have. . .how was it you said it? “mediocre intelligence?”

            Though you did offer me good luck with my limitations.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 8, 2013, 1:06 pm
          • “At this time, we do not have sufficient enough measuring tools to determine a single players value on his team contribution and success, thus we must be mindful that all conclusions we reach in the interim are very subject to error and potential re-evaluation.”

            Have we reached agreement? Because I agree with this! I don’t think I said that my answer was THE right one, only that it wasn’t any worse than purported statistical methods based on individual box score.

            And if I really did use that “mediocre intelligence” line, I apologize, for if I had superior intelligence, I would have been able to communicate my position more clearly.

            I still have hope that we will have true tools and metrics to measure individual player value quantitatively someday, but that source data will go far beyond box score information – it won’t me some new model still using the same chunky data.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 8, 2013, 1:43 pm
          • As a matter of record

            http://www.82games.com/1213/ROLRTG8.HTM

            Even though Kobe is ranked #1 by this metric, I place very little value on this. As I’ve said, these stats are highly influenced by system and teammates. In this case, I think it’s apparent that Kobe is not playing offense better than Lebron, Durant, or Chris Paul, among others.

            So it’s not about casting Kobe in the most positive light for me. I don’t you think can argue that. You can argue my other views (and you have) but you can see that the tables have turned, but I’m not turning. I think these ratings don’t reflect his true performance and value this season, which has greatly diminished from his Finals MVP seasons.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 10, 2013, 9:30 pm
          • I have never argued Kobe’s greatness or that he was not very valuable to the Lakers championships.

            What I have argued is Bryant’s value within a hierarchy.

            I also really push back against the overwhelming and gross overstatements and misrepresentations of Bryant’s play.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 10, 2013, 10:05 pm
  9. though, it appears that his best years are well behind him (and that he may have been aided), ARod was a total beast of a player.

    ARod has led the league in Runs Scored 5x, 2b, Homeruns 5x, RBI 2x, BA, SLG 4x and Total Bases 4x.

    ARod also has THREE MVP awards.

    A new Baseball Reference combination stat (JAWS) has A Rod ranked #2 at shortstop all time.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 2, 2013, 4:14 pm
    • remember, AROD was the reigning Gold Glove winning and MVP shortstop that CHANGED HIS position when he went to the Yankees.

      Kind of a “dick” move, right?

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 2, 2013, 4:18 pm
      • i don’t have a strong sense that AROD was as toxic to the clubhouse as Kobe has been to the locker room … my comparison is more about two guys who produced a lot in the way of individual accolades, but didn’t exactly deliver at ir near those levels in the World Series or Finals …

        Posted by Ken | January 2, 2013, 4:22 pm
  10. Well, it is far more common for a superior baseball player to not realize his true value in the post season.

    A lot of different variables in that equation, largely the fact that he will ONLY face the best pitchers from the best teams and likely not get squat to hit.

    Far more difficult to deny a basketball player his touches, though it is normal to see a decline in the rate data as the competition grows harder.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 2, 2013, 4:55 pm
  11. 15 – 21 exceeds my expectations … really … who saw that coming?

    Posted by Ken | January 12, 2013, 10:28 am
  12. I’m calling it right now – LeBron James is going to cover Kobe Bryant tonight and demonstrate what shutting down an opponent in two straight games looks like. Kobe, steel thyself to feel a lot like Klay Thompson tonight …

    Posted by Skyhook | January 17, 2013, 9:16 am
    • It probably will be the case, but it doesn’t have to be, after all Kobe is not Klay Thompson.

      But LeBron-Kobe duel aside, this is a must-win game for the Lakers. If they lose they’ll fall to 17-22 before playing the next 10 of 14 games on the road. They’ll lose any momentum they gained after their two recent victories.

      And I indeed think they are going to lose. The Heat may be underachieving a bit, but it’s because they have the luxury of playing in the East. No matter how bad they play, they’ll end up as the top seed anyway.

      In a much-anticipated game like this, they’ll definitely switch the gear up. The Lakers did not beat an elite team this year yet and it’s no coincidence.

      Posted by doosiolek | January 17, 2013, 9:31 am
      • The Lakers did beat the Knicks on Christas day, but IIRC Raymond Felton played through his undisclosed injury at that time and looked nothing like the guy who had lit up the Heat when they matched up a week or so earlier.

        At the time, the Knicks were considered Top 2 or 3 in the East. Now, not so much.

        But as for tonight’s game between the Heat and Lakers, I fully expect to see what I always see – Kobe spending every spare moment on the floor awkwardky standing next to the officials to lobby for (or demand) calls. It’s insane how he unabashedly does that EVERY SINGLE GAME – it’s no wonder that he’s the greatest recipient of B.S. calls in NBA history. Going into timeouts, coming out of timeouts, during free throws of other players, the guy just never stops; and beseeching these zebras for calls is nonstop with Kobe.

        Which is what makes his dizzying array of failures (the focus is always on kissing his ass) over the year seem like so much karma.

        Posted by Skyhook | January 17, 2013, 9:49 am
        • I was surprised to see very little of this complaining from Kobe during the TNT telecast … I also thought MWP was really subdued in last night’s game, too … I also found that pretty unexpected …

          Nevertheless, 17 – 22 … and barely .500 with all hands on deck … it’s completely perplexing to me how these Lakers manage to do so little with so much …

          Posted by Ken | January 18, 2013, 8:32 am
    • FG: 8/25
      Assists: 1
      Turnovers: 6

      And he “got jobbed” by Dwyane Wade, his cover …

      Klay Thompson? Maybe … I also would have accepted Clay Aiken …

      LBJ didn’t cover Kobe the entire game (as you appeared to predict), just most of the last five or so minutes of the game … but when he did, I consider his effort “very good” … other than the double screened triple near the end, Kobe was pretty worthless for the first 36 minutes and the last five minutes …

      Posted by Ken | January 18, 2013, 8:27 am
  13. “his dizzying array of failures”

    And the successes? Are those karma, too?

    Posted by Gil Meriken | January 17, 2013, 10:56 am
    • As far as I’m concerned, the successes are the result of the convergence of Top 20 – 25 talent, Top 5 – 10 work ethic, and Top 3 luck (talent surrounding him, very favorable calls often stemming from NBA machinery, ESPN generational affect, and garden variety “luck”, among other things having nothing to do really with Kobe’s actual greatness).

      Great player? Sure. Overrated? Most definitely.

      Posted by Skyhook | January 17, 2013, 11:04 am
    • To be clear, I consider his failures to have been substantial only in the context of hiss hat has been his “potential”.

      He has obviously had a better career than 99% of all NBA players in history. That is a statement comparing him to everyone. However, when you start to actually compare him to only the top 20 or so, the frequency of really damning data begins to suggest that he’s had a lot of disappointing bullet points in his career.

      Just my two cents.

      Posted by Skyhook | January 17, 2013, 11:11 am
    • Of course I can beat a dead horse with the best of ‘em … and I would certainly bring to bear a massive arsenal of damning, unambiguous and irrefutable data points in a “let’s REALLY debate Kobe Bryant’s proper station as an all time great” jamboree …

      But what I cannot fathom is this: how would it be possible for Michael Jordan in 1997 to team up with Alonzo Mourning (DH12 proxy) Detlef Schrempf (Pau Gasol proxy), John Stockton (Steve Nash proxy), and Scottie Pippen (MWP proxy) and “lead” his that squad to anything resembling what we see before us today in Los Angeles?

      If you are one to find yourself still believing that the delta between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant is less than the delta between Kobe Bryant and someone like Montana Ellis, you’re just a delusional liar …

      Posted by Ken | January 18, 2013, 10:23 am
      • Monta …

        Posted by Ken | January 18, 2013, 10:24 am
      • This is not a good comparison.

        Zo was better than Howard.
        Pip was better than MWP.
        Stockton was better than Nash.

        Maybe something like this would be more accurate:

        At center I would see Mutombo (great defensively, limited offensively)
        Doug Christie or Kendall Gill in place of MWP
        And for Stockton? Maybe Mark Jackson?

        Posted by doosiolek | January 18, 2013, 2:37 pm
        • I actually think that Stockton and Nash are a really good comp, especially at this point of their careers.

          I do agree that a healthy Mourning and Howard are really good comps

          Pippen is worlds better than MWP. I like the direction of the thought with Doug Christie.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 18, 2013, 3:26 pm
          • Lord, way too many moving parts to make sense of this. (MWP=Pippen? Do Gasol and Schrempf even have similar games? Are we comparing post injury Dwight to pre-transplant Zo?)

            I don’t even know how to compare where Kobe is to any point in MJ’s career. Kobe at 34 is in his 17th season-MJ at 39 was in his 15th.

            Suffice to say, if MJ, at 34, with 17 NBA seasons, were on this particular Laker squad, it would still be a poorly built squad of aging superstar talent with the wrong coach, no depth, and their top 2 players at each others’ necks. I don’t think it would be successful.

            Posted by lochpster | January 18, 2013, 8:50 pm
          • @Paulie & Loch

            In my post I made the assumption that we are completing a team right before 1997/1998 season. This means Jordan would be turning 35 on 17-Feb-98.

            Stockton is 36 and that version of Stockton is better than 39yo version of Nash.

            Mourning in 1998 was overall a better player than Howard is today plus he was not such a liability at the free throw line.

            I completely agree that Gasol and Schrempf have different games, but I did not question this comparison, because I thought the other matchups were more inaccurate.

            But if we would to compare these guys then I have to give the nod to ’98 incarnation of Schrempf as Gasol is really struggling this year.

            I guess most reasonable guy I can offer as a counterpart to Gasol would be Donyell Marshall, not careerwise, but in terms of production (see his numbers in 97/98).

            In either case I think a lineup featuring Mutombo, Marshall, Christie, Jordan and Jackson would have at least made the playoffs, especially if we moved them through time to 2013 (I sound like a broken record, but even a 35yo pastprime Jordan would benefit from today’s rules).

            Posted by doosiolek | January 19, 2013, 1:22 am
  14. Wow! A lot of Kobe haterade being drunk lately.

    I can understand why Kobe Nation feels the need to be so overprotective.

    Though, it is that same over adulation that tips the glass of haterade.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 17, 2013, 11:59 am
    • Dante Alighieri’s Inferno needs a 10th level of hell … stuck on a small spit of sand in the middle of the ocean with Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o, and Kobe Bryant …

      Lance won’t STFU about how he’s gonna destroy you for telling Manti and Kobe that he hit up the PEDs when they weren’t looking; Manti won’t STFU about his imaginary “love of his life” (by the way, why wasn’t that mere quote red flag #1? What 22 year old guy refers to his girlfriend as “the love of his life”?); and Kobe won’t STFU about how he’s the GOAT, the greatest one-on-one player ever, “the clutchiest”, and he ends every banal interaction on this postage stamp of an island with “Mamba out” …

      My three frauds of the week …

      Posted by Skyhook | January 18, 2013, 11:58 am
  15. Sheesh! This Paulie Walnuts guy jumps to some pretty hater-ific conclusions when someone points out pretty clear facts (e.g., Kobe lobbies refs every single game, never letting up; Kobe is the recipient of many foul calls (often every game) that instant replay show to be no contact at all; Kobe is a Top 25 talent, with Top 10 work ethic and Top 3 luck; and Kobe has many serious negative marks on his record that most other Top 20 players don’t have on theirs) …

    See, I can blithely assert “hating”, too!

    Posted by Gil Meriken | January 17, 2013, 12:57 pm
  16. You may not have understood that I meant that there has been some unfair and extra “hating” heaped upon Bryant lately.

    Though, as a wise and talented man once wrote “some rise by sin and others, by virtue fall”

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 17, 2013, 9:36 pm
  17. So I heard on the radio and I agree that Lebron at the top of his game, which he is right now is better then Kobe was at the top of his game. The ONLY thing in Kobe’s favor is the ring count, and that is only because of who he played with. Do Kobe fans know that he has not won a playoff series without Shaq or Pau? Lebron won series with scrubs, he took horrible Cleveland teams to 60 win seasons and playoff series wins. He got a team to the finals that had no right to be there.

    What has Kobe done without Shaq or Pau? Nothing.

    Lebron is in his third season with real team mates and hes been to two NBA finals and won one of them. If Miami is healthy this year chances are very good that they will make their third trip in the row to the finals. No one in the East can stop Miami when it brings its A game. I have my doubts if anyone in the West can either, especially if Lebron raises his game for the playoffs.

    Oh btw…Lebron is averaging a triple double in clutch time this season, if you add all of the clutch minutes together, if that stat stands it will be an NBA first. Hes also the youngest player to 20,000 points and 5,000 assists.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | January 18, 2013, 12:43 pm
    • I agree with the above …

      Also, the averaging of a Triple Double in Clutch Time this season is scaled to 36 minutes per game, BTW …

      He’s outrageous … shooting 55% and 1/2 of his attempts are from 10+ feet … as I’ve argued since I began posting here, this LBJ guy isn’t on another level when compared to Kobe; he’s on another planet …

      Posted by Ken | January 18, 2013, 12:59 pm
      • I think he will go down as the second best player ever, second only to MJ. Hes already top 20 and rapidly climbing and hes in his prime right now.

        And I know its scaled to 36 minutes per game, but that is ok because that is the standard used for everyone’s clutch time.

        And he took over late vs the Lakers, as he has done so many times recently. He took Kobe out of the game on defense as well.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | January 19, 2013, 12:12 pm
  18. I cant see LBJ passing Bird, Magic, Kareem, Wilt or Russell.

    I would have him ascending to the #7 spot.

    That is hardly an insult and it really is then based upon the minutia and a lot of the immeasurables.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 19, 2013, 11:41 pm
    • The path past the centers is murky, but the path past Bird and Magic seems fairly obvious.

      Lebron is a more complete player than either and has outproduced both of them so far over the course of his career. His apex is higher, and his career will probably be longer and more productive, as he should pass both in total career games played by the time he hits 30. Where do Bird and Magic have Lebron? Rings and mythology. Lebron has a lot of time to close the gap, there, and he very likely will make up some ground on both at the very least.

      Given the option to start a team with Magic, Bird, or Lebron, not knowing how the rest of Lebron’s career will go but knowing that he would stick with my team, I’d take LBJ in a heartbeat.

      Posted by lochpster | January 20, 2013, 2:07 pm
      • That said, he still has to do the actual work to get there. Predicting greatness is a fickle business, at best, but I could very easily see him somewhere in the top 5 when all is said and done.

        Posted by lochpster | January 20, 2013, 2:08 pm
      • To build my team around out of that group I would take Lebron for sure. Depending on what options you gave me for players, the only player I would take over Lebron is MJ, especially if we use today’s rules and not the rules that MJ played in. He could average 40 points a game if he got the shots because of all the extra trips he would take to the FT line under today’s rules.

        I think Lebron will win another ring(this year) and maybe another one the following year(depending on Wade’s health and ability to raise his game in the playoffs), so that would give him 3 rings.

        At that point I think Wade slips to a second level player instead of a top flight one, and much will depend on the players that the Heat put around Lebron and how much can Bosh grow as a player.

        I think that as Lebron ages he will make a natural shift to PF and that will extend his playing time. He is unstoppable inside of 10 feet, and that shouldn’t go away even as he gets older. He will spend more and more time in the post with each passing season.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | January 20, 2013, 3:13 pm
  19. Despite my belief that Jordan had the best NBA career, were I to start a team, I would begin with Wilt and then Kareem.

    I don’t disagree with Loch’s contention about James to magic and Bird, but I will strongfly disagree witht the mythology.

    As to Magic, I was there for the HS and college days; it was. . . well, magic what he did.

    No doubt that Everett HS and MSU had talent, but Magic was that force that combined skill, drive, and enthusiasm along with a tempered and focused ego to galvanize all that together. He followed it up with the Lakers.

    James will play longer and accrue more of the counting stats, yet are his peaks really that much higher than Bird’s or Magic’s?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 20, 2013, 7:06 pm
    • I agree with you there-Wilt and Kareem would be my top 2 picks as well, in that order, regardless of era.

      Mythology is in the eye of the beholder (as indeed, is greatness).

      As to the question of peaks, Lebron’s productivity with most advanced metrics is higher than that of either Bird or Magic both over the course of their careers and at their absolute peaks. Even if offensive production were a wash, though, which it is not, Lebron’s defense would him from Bird and Magic by leaps and bounds. Magic and Bird had their moments, sure, but they were far from elite defenders on a game to game basis. Lebron is.

      I would be interested to see the defense of Magic or Bird’s productivity. I suspect it largely rests in the category of intangibles which are, by their very nature, nearly impossible to measure.

      Posted by lochpster | January 20, 2013, 9:46 pm
      • I agree that only using the box score data, LeBron is better.

        Yet shockingly, this is where I do agree with Gil, that better metrics would likely support the mythology of Bird and Magic.

        True that Bird was not the man on man defender that James is, but Bird was certainly no liability on defense. Magic was neither a good man up defender, but did use his size to great advantage in defensive transition.

        The evidence that I would use for them is that winning teams emerged wherever they went. I doubt it was circumstance or coincidence.

        James has also had a similar impact on winning; perhaps greater, perhaps not.

        That is dependent largely upon speculation and whatever lens you choose to view it.

        For now, I will take Bird and Magic and acknowledge that I may have a bias that without better evidence, I cannot get beyond. But, I am willing to entertain the possibility.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 20, 2013, 9:59 pm
      • Check Bird’s numbers from 84-85 to 86-87. I don’t know if James’ peak quite matches that stretch.

        Posted by pointguard40 | January 20, 2013, 10:09 pm
      • PG40-Bird’s numbers fall well short of Lebron’s peak numbers with the metrics I use most. I would say a player with a higher usage %, WS, PER, and TS% is virtually always a better offensive player. And I feel Lebron is a markedly superior defender to both at their peaks as well. But we are all entitled to our own opinions.

        @Paulie-
        I don’t understand the points you are trying to make.

        Bird and Magic were great players whose teams won whenever they were on them. So is Lebron. And as you point out, we can’t say which one impacted winning most. How is this evidence for Bird or Magic over Lebron?

        As for defense, I never said Bird and Magic weren’t reasonable defenders. My point was that they weren’t elite defenders, which Lebron is. Do you disagree with this?

        I’m all for better measurement and an open mind, but appealing to as of yet nonexistent metrics is no different than appealing to the eyeball test or “killer instinct” or “will to win” or what have you-a way to explain what you think you see without the data to support it. We don’t know what these metrics will be, or what they will tell us, until they actually exist.

        Nonetheless, you are entitled to your opinion.

        And since I can’t predict with a high enough degree of certainty how the rest of James’ career will go, I will leave it there.

        Posted by lochpster | January 20, 2013, 11:21 pm
        • Loch,

          I am not certian how to interpret the user%.

          Does it mean that Bird and Magic required the ball less and were thus MORE effective at generating not only their own offense but also that of their teammates and that James requires to have the ball to generate his teams offense.

          OR

          does it mean that James was REQUIRED to have the ball more because his teammates were inferior.

          Without having anything substantial, I would say that the truth is probably a little of both.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 20, 2013, 11:27 pm
          • And as to Bird and winning, the Celtics with a healthy Bird were perennial battling for a title in what was a VERY VERY tough Eastern Conference.

            James accomplished great things with the Cavs, but did fall short twice against what, IN MY OPINION, was lesser competition that what Bird faced in the 1980′s.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 20, 2013, 11:30 pm
          • Didn’t Bird also lead the league in DWS 4 times?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 20, 2013, 11:49 pm
          • Usage rate’s merely a measure of how many of a team’s possessions a player “uses” with a shot, an assist or a turnover. It is usually inversely related to shooting percentages, which is why a higher TS% with a higher usage percentage is a relatively strong indicator of a higher relative efficiency. You cannot use a lower usage rate as evidence that a player is effective at generating offense for his teammates unless you want to penalize assists.

            You know as well as I do that you can’t blithely use team results to compare 2 players. At no point during the 80s did the Celtics have fewer than four future Hall of Famers on the roster-Bird, McHale, Parish, Dennis Johnson or Nate Archibald, and sometimes more. When Lebron went to the finals with the Cavs, their top 4 players, in order of playing time, were Lebron, Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden.

            As for the defense issue, your statement is true. However, I’m still waiting for you to answer my question-are you saying Bird is an elite defender?

            Posted by lochpster | January 21, 2013, 2:19 am
          • I don’t think that asking questions is stating anything.

            Do you?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 5:28 am
          • What I was pointing out with the team comparison is that while the Celtics did have superior manpower, they also had greater challenges.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 5:30 am
          • Let me answer your question this way:

            You have written that you give much more weight to the “advanced” metrics.

            Well, these metrics list Bird as leading the NBA 4 times in Defensive Winn Shares; James has yet to lead the NBA in DWS.

            Bird had 7 straight seasons of DWS 5.2 or higher (5.6, 6.1, 5.7, 5.6, 5.6, 5.2, 6.2); James’ 7 best seasons have only four that are 5.2 or higher (4.6, 5.7, 4.6, 6.5, 5.2, 5.3, 4.5).

            If these metrics are more reliable than others, than how can we conclude that James is an “elite” defender and Bird was not?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 8:36 am
          • Bird played a lot of minutes on a great defensive team, playing in a conference which credo was defense (or at least more than the West) and got hie fair number of steals, defensive rebounds and some blocks. Given the way defensive win shares are computed, the results you have listed are very obvious.
            Having seen a lot of both Bird and LeBron, the notion that Bird was a better defender than LeBron is just ridiculous. While Bird was very intelligent about player tendencies and used body positioning especially well to blow up drives and transition attacks, there is really no defensive component were he outshines LeBron.
            Everything you say thus seems either uninformed or as a result of naive heroism linked to the “glory days” of the nba.

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 9:41 am
          • First, let me state vbery clearly:

            I am not saying anything; I am asking the question: based upon Defensive Win Shares, how can we say that James is an Elite defender and Bird is not?

            I have never stated that I think Bird is better than James nor did I state that Bird was an elite defender.

            I asked a question using “advanced” metrics.

            Bird got more than his “share” of steals, he led the Celtics in steals evrey full season he played. While this does not mean that he could defend the paint against Ewing, it certainly indicates that he understood how he could maximize his contribution.

            Logic would tell me that physical stature alone enables James greater defensive ability, yet does that in turn get defensive results that are greater than what Bird had?

            Chris writes that the Celtics were a great defensive team and that the Eastern Confernce was a “defensive” one; what evidence can be offered to support this?

            Again, to be clear, I am NOT saying anyone is wrong in the conclusions we have thus far. . . What I am ASKING is what tools and/or data do we have that can PROVE the popular conclusions one way or the other?

            What seems problematic is that people tend to choose either the accrued counting stats OR the advanced metrics and NOBODY seems to want to combine them to arrive at a greater truth.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 10:12 am
          • So, then what Chris is saying, in effect, is:

            His eyewitness accounts are such that he is willing to dismiss the metircs used.

            If DWS are so easily dismissed, then waht other metrics can we also easily disregard that we do not believe are aligned with what we have seen?

            I am not attacking Chris by any means, but I am again ASKING: do we believe the data or not? If we do then, WHY? If we do not, then WHY NOT?

            Why is one data point more fallible than another?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 10:18 am
          • Bird made all-defense second (!) team 3 times in his career and all of them before his peak as a player. Everybody who watched 80s ball can also assure you, that his defense slipped in his late 20s, where he had his best offensive output.
            To your overall point: I do not see your problem. I already said that defensive win shares are a flawed metric. I mean, hell, Carlos Boozer is an elite defender according to it. Josh Smith was apparently the best defender last year, go figure.
            It is not useless, do not get me wrong, because it does a good job of giving value to defensive players, but the resulting margins are inconclusive.
            All you are doing, by the way, is using a statistic you do not seem to understand to help your case that Bird was somehow better than LeBron without having provided anything to this point that would actually prove it.
            Personally I am willing not to use any accolades, analytics, stats and myths to debate this; are you also willing to do so?
            And another question: Have you ever wondered why Bird and Magic are never (NEVER) mentioned when the topic is good perimeter defenders?

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 11:20 am
          • I can tell you that Magic was never regarded as a good defender, but that is likely due to the size difference he had when matched against smaller and quicker guards. However, there can be no argument that Magic held a huge advantage in rebounding and also his size enabled his offense.

            And, again,, you have completely misunderstood what I am asking. I am not attempting to make a case for either player.

            what I am doing is ASKING the question: Why is one metric so easily dismissed and others are accepted?

            Is it possible to be an elite defender without having a high DWS and vice versa? If so, are there other illusions or juxtapositions that exist?

            I have not used any means to elevate any player over another. What I have done is simply recite what Birds seven best DWS season were against James.

            I would take big issue with the statement that the 1980′s were worse defensively. It was a different style and pace of play, but does that make it, by definition, worse?

            The league also had fewer teams, thus teams had deeper rosters.

            I would also say to your contention of the “romanticism” of the 1980′s: just because one can watch something does not mean that one understands anything.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 12:07 pm
          • “What seems problematic is that people tend to choose either the accrued counting stats OR the advanced metrics and NOBODY seems to want to combine them to arrive at a greater truth.”

            This is not problematic. Stats are stats. They measure what they measure, no more and no less. Years ago, things like FG% would probably have been considered advanced, but now it’s mainstream. There’s no line of demarcation between advanced or basic stats because they are the same thing.

            Extrapolating beyond the meaning of the statistic is what gets you in trouble. No more does a high DWS mean a player is a great defender than a high PPG mean a player is an offensive wunderkind.

            DWS is a somewhat confusing measure of the value of a player in a defensive unit. A high defensive win share rating means effectively that a team defense created a significant differential with a player on the floor combined with a player’s production, leading to wins. Carlos Boozer annually has a high DWS, and people use this to knock the metric. However, all this tells us is that he plays on effective defensive units. Nothing more, nothing less. It should not be used to tell us that he’s a great individual defender, because that is not what DWS measures.

            Ultimately we have to do the best with what we have. Stats have plenty of warts, as do any form of analysis.

            Posted by lochpster | January 21, 2013, 12:44 pm
          • Loch,

            I am not intending that one extrapolate anything, rather that we butt measurements in conjunction.

            We use FGA and FG% and FTA and FT% to determine:

            1) how often a player shoots
            2) what the results of the attempts are
            3) a vague, yet insightful direction as to WHERE his attempts come from.

            Using only ppg per game without understanding, for example, what the team scores, what the league scores, or what the margins of his teams games are only tells us what that player scores, it does not tell us HOW that player accrues his scoring.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 1:01 pm
          • @LOCHPSTER: I completely agree.

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 1:19 pm
        • Essentially, since we were talking about peaks, I went with the basic metrics from Bird’s and Lebron’s best seasons (I selected which season’s I thought were best). The basic metrics came out like this: (Stats from basketball-reference.com)

          Bird 1984-85:
          28.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 6.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.2 bpg, 52.2% fg, 42.7% 3fg
          James 2009-10:
          29.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 bpg, 50.3% fg, 33.3% 3fg

          To me, you can stop right there. I think Bird has him by a few steps, not by a ton, but enough where I don’t need any advanced metrics to determine who had the better overall season, especially because I hate most defensive metrics. I will say I do believe Lebron is a better defender, though. I also believe the 80′s were a much more competitive and difficult-to-play-in era for the NBA.

          Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 9:49 am
          • LeBron’s best season is this one, because he is a better player now than he was back then. But if you are comparing best season from a pure analytical standpoint, than it was 08/09.
            And 1984/1985 does not even compare to it. In a league with overall horrible defenses and a 102 possesions pace (compared to 91 during LeBron’s prime) Bird does not even outproduce LeBron!
            LeBron’s TS% is also minimally higher, thus negating your archaic point of fg% and 3fg%.
            People should by the way stop thinking that the 80s were so tough to play in. While fouls were more aggressive back then, there were overall more free throws, much worse team defense and a gigantic drop off between the best and the worst teams just like nowadays.
            Reading these romantic mystifications I get the feeling that you guys either do not watch modern basketball or actually have never seen 80s basketball.

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 11:06 am
          • I do not give any relevance to true shooting percentage because it also accounts for FT percentage, which, ironically in this case BIRD’S WAS ALSO HIGHER. Yet, Lebron has a higher “true” shooting percentage because he shot more FT per game than Bird. How does a man with a lower overall fg%, lower 3fg%, and lower ft% accumulate a high “true” shooting percentage? It literally makes no sense, “archaic” or not.
            As far as pace, well you got me there.
            But as to your comment about “horrible” defenses back in the 80s, please stop me if I’m romantically mystifying this:
            Offensive ratings (pts per 100 possessions) for this season: 105.3
            1984-85: 107.9
            A whopping 2.6 point difference between “horrible” and today! Not to mention league average for team assists were 26.3 in 1984-85 and are 21.8 today. Even with the NBA relaxing it’s rules on what qualifies as an “assist”, teams today do not pass as well as teams back then. I look at these numbers and conclude there were better team offenses in the 80s, not worse defenses.
            Anyways, sidetracking aside, the argument we are having is over the individuals (in this case Bird and James’) level of play. You have to consider the rules changes that make it easier for a perimeter player to attain higher statistics since the 1980s, i.e. Disallowance of hand checking, defensive 3 seconds, stricter rules about flagrant fouls, etc. The game back then was built for big men, not typically for perimeter players like todays rules.
            Sidenote: In the seasons I brought up both James (18.5) and Bird (15.7) led the league in WS.

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 12:43 pm
          • Don’t knock a stat just because you don’t understand it. The difference in TS% between Bird and Lebron is accounted for by the fact that Lebron gets to the free throw line much more than Bird. Because of this, Lebron is a more efficient scorer on a per shot basis than Bird, despite the fact that Bird was a better pure shooter.

            Posted by lochpster | January 21, 2013, 12:59 pm
          • I understand the stat, I just find it useless in determining who is a better “true” shooter. Lebron’s 3 more FT attempts per game (at a lower percentage) should not entice people to think that he is better shooter than Larry Bird, especially in a league where hand checking on the perimeter has been taken away. To me, that stat (TS%) is meaningless. Others like it, I loathe it.

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 1:16 pm
          • 1. LeBron’s efg% is only marginally lower than Bird’s, which makes sense considering that almost nobody – including Bird – shot a relevant number of 3s back then.
            2. The number of free throws is more important than the shooting percentage as long as the percentage is respectable – e.g. not Shaq, Wilt, Howard level.
            3. The discrepance between the offensive ratings would be higher if the 3-point shot had been incorporated in offenses. It was much easier back then to get free throws and get open shots.
            4. Assists do not correlate with good offense and even if they would, you are again ignoring the pace by using raw per game numbers.
            5. The handling of flagrant fouls has almost no impact at all.
            6. The incorporation of strong side zones and hybrid post zones has actually made it harder to score for perimeter players – and players that work in the post – than in any era but between 97-04.
            7. The handchecking rules were strongly apllied from 2005-2007 but ever since the advent of the strong side zone referees have become more and lenient in applying them. It is a development that greatly surprises me, becuase you would expect the league to advocate scoring, but that is not what is happening.
            8. You are talking about the 90s, not the 80s. The 80s had lots of 6’4-6’7 guys that scored between 25 and 30 points with great percentages. Guys like Thompson, Dantley, King, Vanderweghe and Wilkins probably would have really suffered in the 90s.
            9. Your sidenote actually undermines your point that Bird was better, so why do you even bring it up?

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 1:17 pm
          • 5 more FT attempts/game*

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 1:24 pm
          • I bring up flagrant fouls because what used to be a “hard foul” that happened as a normal occurrence for some teams is now an act that is highly discouraged and often leads to suspension. Again, taking hard fouls out of the game makes things exponentially easier for perimeter players.
            The side note was simply a “fun fact” type of thing. In a sense, I’m not here, and for that matter no one should be here, to argue or be “proven right”. We should be searching for the truth, not to be “right” or win. I won’t shy away from Bird being less of a defender than Lebron to try to appear like I’m smarter than you or am right. I included a stat like that to show people who are reading how great Lebron was that season. We are having this discussion to see if Lebron is as great or greater than Bird and Magic, right? I’m trying to bring another side to the discussion I thought need to be heard than instead of the original post from Loch: “I would be interested to see the defense of Magic or Bird’s productivity. I suspect it largely rests in the category of intangibles which are, by their very nature, nearly impossible to measure.” and followed by Paulie: “I agree that only using the box score data, LeBron is better.” That is all.

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 1:39 pm
          • “To me, you can stop right there. I think Bird has him by a few steps, not by a ton, but enough where I don’t need any advanced metrics to determine who had the better overall season, especially because I hate most defensive metrics.”

            That is your opening statement comparing the “peak” of Bird and LeBron. You habe been refuted and you are not willing, not ready or not able to bring counterfactuals.

            Now you come up with:
            “I’m trying to bring another side to the discussion I thought need to be heard than instead of the original post from Loch”

            Which “side” would that be? Superficial raw stats? Myths? Being wrong about rule changes and their supposed impact?

            “In a sense, I’m not here, and for that matter no one should be here, to argue or be “proven right”. We should be searching for the truth, not to be “right” or win.”

            For somebody “searching for the truth”, you sure as hell do not seem to be trying all that hard.

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 1:57 pm
          • Chris,

            Couldn’t it be argued that since Bird had much better teammates that his numbers were reduced because the Celtics had many more options than the Cavs?

            I think it is a truer statement that James and Bird were virtually equals during Bird’s peak years offensively.

            James, barring injury, will undoubtedly have a longer duration of that production.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 2:37 pm
          • Using advanced stats (PER, Win shares, WS/48) Bird never had a season as good as LeBron had in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat, whose talent level, respective to the league median, is very similar to those Celtics teams.
            Additionally, comparing them on those loaded teams it becomes even more obvious that LeBron is actually a more efficient scorer than Bird ever was, especially compared to league average.
            Using just the eye-test, it is always hard to separate players on that elevated plain of dominance. I would argue that LeBron’s deficiencies in shooting – compared to Bird – are not enough to outweigh his advantages in defense, versatility, endurance and consistency.
            While LeBron has received a lot of criticism for his play in the playoffs over the years, he has been nontheless more consistent on a higher level than Bird, who had numerous great individual failures in his playoff career, something nobody ever talks about (besides the Tragic Johnson thing, you often get the image that all players in the 80s were clutch and delivered everytime -.-).
            In the end I want to make clear, that I greatly value Bird, a top 10 player alltime, and that it is up to LeBron to keep up his level. Without those cronic back issues Bird had to face, this debate would probably be different after all.

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 3:44 pm
          • Chris, here are the counter arguments and concessions I have made:
            “You have to consider the rules changes that make it easier for a perimeter player to attain higher statistics since the 1980s, i.e. Disallowance of hand checking, defensive 3 seconds, stricter rules about flagrant fouls, etc. The game back then was built for big men, not typically for perimeter players like todays rules.”
            or:
            “taking hard fouls out of the game makes things exponentially easier for perimeter players.”
            How do you figure I’m not searching for the truth? I like how you chose to omit this part of my post:
            “I will say I do believe Lebron is a better defender, though.” or “I won’t shy away from Bird being less of a defender than Lebron to try to appear like I’m smarter than you or am right.”
            Now to you:

            “Which “side” would that be? Superficial raw stats?”

            Oh. So now things like ppg, rpg, apg, spg, bpg, fg% and so on are “superficial” raw stats? Why? Let me guess, the pace of the game helped Larry Bird shoot a higher percentage from the field overall, from 3, and from the free throw line… sure.

            Myths? Being wrong about rule changes and their supposed impact?”

            So in your opinion, these are “myths” and no matter what I say, I’m wrong because you believe they are myths and you believe rule changes have had no impact on the league. That is silly. If these rule changes have no impact, why have we seen the de-evolution of back to the basket big man play, and the sudden rise in extremely athletic point guards who are unafraid to go down the lane? The NBA has stripped themselves of the Moses Malone’s, Abdul-Jabbar’s, Olajuwon’s, and Parish’s defensively in the lane.

            I’m going to couple these next two together:

            “People should by the way stop thinking that the 80s were so tough to play in. While fouls were more aggressive back then, there were overall more free throws, much worse team defense and a gigantic drop off between the best and the worst teams just like nowadays.”

            “The discrepance between the offensive ratings would be higher if the 3-point shot had been incorporated in offenses. It was much easier back then to get free throws and get open shots.”

            Based on the amount of teams there are today, I’m led to believe the league is more watered down today than it was back then. So no, I don’t think defenses were “much worse” in the 80s. Wait, I’ll put this more like you would understand it: What, you buy into the MYTH that today’s defenses are better than those of the 80s??? The statement “fouls were more aggressive back then” is a HUGE indicator that things are not what they used to be. It’s human nature to avoid brutal hits like those that used to be dealt out in the lane. It used to be called a “hard foul” and was a deterrent to point guards and shooting guards wanting to drive, and it was seen as part of the game. Now it is a suspension and fine, things that are costly to the individual and the team and is frowned upon by the league. Also you stated here that there were “overall more free throws”. You disregarded your own favorite argument here.
            “It was much easier back then to get free throws and get open shots.”
            Based on what? Was it easier to get free throws or did teams focus on higher percentage shots and attack the basket more? Oh, wait, maybe YOU have forgotten that the pace of the game was higher, and maybe that is what led to the higher number of free throws attempted in the 80s. The 3 point shot wasn’t as widely used in the 80s- that can’t be argued- but what leads you to believe the difference would be higher? In my opinion, the Ortg would be lower because of the low percentage that was shot from 3 in the NBA that season, and then wouldn’t that make the 80′s defenses look better? And how exactly was it easier to get open shots? When I play ball, I find it much more difficult to score on someone who is hand checking me, or someone who is trying to wrap me up away from the ball. (Another thing the league has turned into a foul)

            “Reading these romantic mystifications I get the feeling that you guys either do not watch modern basketball or actually have never seen 80s basketball.”

            Ok, let me see you prove I never saw 80′s basketball and do not watch modern basketball because of what you believe are “myths” and what I do not.

            “The handchecking rules were strongly apllied from 2005-2007 but ever since the advent of the strong side zone referees have become more and lenient in applying them.”

            This actually makes ME feel like YOU don’t watch modern basketball. For all intents and purposes, players like James receive tons of benefit on the offensive end from these rules. But, in turn, handcuff him on the other end with the amount of touch fouls on drives and on jump shooters. Regardless of which you think carries more weight, I think you’d be insane to claim that this had no change on the game and the way it’s played.

            And I’m curious as to watch you think about Paulie’s post as well: “Couldn’t it be argued that since Bird had much better teammates that his numbers were reduced because the Celtics had many more options than the Cavs?”

            Again, I am trying to find the truth in the matter. I have yet to find many things I recognize as “truth” in any of your posts. More like “opinions about what is/is not a myth”. Like I said in my original post after giving the basic box score data:
            “To me, you can stop right there. I think Bird has him by a few steps, not by a ton, but enough where I don’t need any advanced metrics to determine who had the better overall season.” In my opinion, none of the advance metrics produced any other salient differences that would change how I felt about this comparison, based on rule changes and the level of respect I have for that era of basketball.

            Lol, it’s crazy how much time I just spent to type all this.

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 3:52 pm
          • “I would argue that LeBron’s deficiencies in shooting – compared to Bird – are not enough to outweigh his advantages in defense, versatility, endurance and consistency.”
            This answers my questions at the end of my post, and the type of answer I was looking for. It shows we simply have a difference of opinion on the matter, and I guess that will never change.

            Posted by pointguard40 | January 21, 2013, 3:57 pm
          • Chris,

            I would then again ask you, why is it so easy to accept PER, WS, and WS/48 and simultaneously easily uto dismiss what DWS tells us?

            Doesn’t seem like cherry picking when we summarily dismiss a unit of measurement because it does not support our position while using the others that do support our conclusions?

            Just as a side note: Indiana State had records of 25-3, 26-9 and 33-1 when bird was there. They were 16-11 after his departure and 13-12 before his arrival. I don’t think ISU has even approached that 3 year win total before or since.

            I don’t recall any other player of NBA significance on that roster.

            Bird in his only NCAA tournament:

            27.2/13.4/5.2

            52/95 FG/FGA
            32/40 FT/FTA

            To make a really fair comparison, we have to take into account Bird’s collegiate days as James was in an era when it was much more advantageous (and easier) for a HS player to simply bypass college, let alone stay for 4 years.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 4:22 pm
          • @PAULIE WALNUTS:

            I do not accept PER etc. They are deficient. While I would argue that Offensive win shares have more credibility than their defensive pendant, you won’t find me basing my entire argument on them. But considering that you don’t seem to have any argument and that you are happy to play devil’s advocat, I won’t indulge further into this matter.
            And I have no idea what you are trying to tell me/us with your NCAA stats and facts. Bird made teams much better. Who would have thought that?

            Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 4:47 pm
          • Chris,
            I am not playing Devil’s advocate, yet am trying to understand others view points and the how’s and why’s they arrived at them. Asking questions is the best way, I think.

            Your statement: Bird made teams much better. Who would have thought that?

            Was exactly what I was saying in reference to Bird’s college days.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 5:04 pm
          • PG40 had the best point of all-We should be here to seek truth, not to prove our position and be right.

            @PG-First off, I apologize if I insulted you-I took “it literally makes no sense” to mean a lack of understanding. I would ask, though, why I should care who the better “true” shooter is if he isn’t getting better results? Bird would no doubt crush Lebron in a game of horse, but if Lebron is able to score more points by driving to the hoop and getting to the line than Bird is by nailing those sweet jumpers in a similar number of possessions, isn’t that what we should care about? I agree with some of your points about differences in era, but I’m puzzled by your disdain for TS%.

            I agree with Paulie’s point that you can’t pick and choose stats based on what supports your argument. However, not all stats are created equal. PER, for instance, is a terrible stand-alone stat. It’s absurd complexity actually harms its predictive value and it rewards inefficient chuckers at the expense of shot selection and defense. However, if you have a player with a high TS% as well as a high PER, and you’re likely to have at the bare minimum very strong offensive player. Add in Win Shares, which give extra credit to players on winning teams but don’t penalize low volume, high efficiency players, and usage percentage, which is a more pure measure of how much time a guy has with a ball in his hands irrespective of his effectiveness, and I think you can paint a pretty clear picture of who was effective or not. Obviously there is no perfect system, statistical or otherwise.

            I don’t think that you build such a case for defensive players with the data we have available-hence, we’re always stuck with awards and eyeball tests for defense. DWS is not worthless-if you look at a list of the league’s leaders, most of them will seem reasonable, but there are always some weird outliers (Karl Malone and Carlos Boozer come to mind). That’s because the stat strongly overrates players who play a lot of minutes on very good defensive teams that win a lot of games. If you made a defensive All-Star team from 1965-1970 based solely on DWS, the starters would all be Celtics. Unfortunately, there’s just a lot of subjectivity on how good a defender is.

            Last point-If you’re going to include Bird’s college accomplishments, you should include what Lebron was doing at the same age. At 22, Bird led his team to the NCAA finals and lost to a superior team. At 22, Lebron led his team to the NBA finals and lost to a superior team. At that stage in his career, James was a 3 time All-Star and was on the first All-NBA team.

            Posted by lochpster | January 21, 2013, 5:18 pm
          • Loch,

            Good points all; and a veryu good summary.

            What I stated, what now seems looong ago, was that James may very well surpass Bird and Magic, yet I personally may ahve difficulty doing so as the Bird/Magic were prominent at a key time in my life.

            Your inclusion of what James did at similar age to Bird is, of course, very relevant.

            I have an emotional reaction when I hear Bird being downgraded by the new generation of fans that seem to only want to categorize him as a Ray Allen type of deep shooter; he was so much more than that. Yet, Bird never was nor ever will be the physical specimen that James is.

            James has Magic skills with Karl Malone’s body. James statistical line is comparable to only Oscar Robertson, yet James is a better overall player and force within his team than Big O.

            I am just glad that we can now get past all the ridiculous talk about how James is a “choker” and a “quitter” and enjoy a player that will likely end up as NO WORSE than the 7th best of all time.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 21, 2013, 5:45 pm
        • Also even if we use “will to win” Lebron has it. He proved it last year when he raised his game when his team needed him the most.

          First off vs the pacers in game 4 when Miami needed that win he (and D-Wade) carried the team. Lebron had 40 points, 18 rebounds, 9 ast, 2 steals, 2 blocks. He then played amazing the rest of the series.

          Then vs Boston in game 6 he had 45 points(30 in the first half) 15 rebounds and 5 asts. He beat Boston by himself he hit shot after shot in the first half. Then he came back and played a great game 7.

          And he was great the entire finals, including a triple double in the closeout game.

          3 moments from that series stand out

          1.He was 12 for 12 from the FT line in game 2 including the icing FT’s.

          2. He hit a huge 3 point shot in game 4 while suffering from massive cramps.

          3. In game 5 with the game all but over he finished it by grabbing a rebound, shooting, missing, grabbing another rebound, shooting, missing and grabbing another rebound before putting it back in.

          So I think he showed plenty of “will to win”.

          People who hate on him should take a step back and enjoy his greatness.

          Posted by nightbladehunter | January 22, 2013, 9:52 am
  20. and a brutal loss by the Lakers to the Raptors. Kobe with 3-12 form behind the arc.

    Don’t be shy!!

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 20, 2013, 7:06 pm
  21. @POINTGUARD40:

    1. Fg% and per game statistics are almost useless, especially when we are comparing star players among each other.
    2. Bird had a marginally better efg% than LeBron and if you compare their shooting on loaded teams (Bird’s reality for his entire career; LeBron’S for the last 3 years) LeBron has a higher fg% and a much higher efg%. And as I said, LeBron has a higher TS%, which is most important. A high FT% is utterly useless as a skill if you do not get to the line often. High volume at an average rate is better than average volume on a high efficiency.
    3. I never sai rule changes did not happen or had no impact. I said that you are only using changes that fit your argument.
    4. I already said that the post up game has been handicapped, but that is also true for wing players in case you haven’t realized.
    5. Their have been highly athletic point guards before, which had similar impacts on the game. Players like steve nash or stephen curry have benefitted much more from the rule changes. Guys like Westbrook and Rose are anomalies, who would have success in any generation.
    6. Moses and Kareem were good shot blockers but not good defenders. Players would feast on them today, because they would have no chance whatsoever to defend a high pick n roll. Being a center in the 80s didn’t require a lot of athleticism, which is one of the reasons why the Lakers could win championships in the late 80s with a center that had stopped defending and rebounding.
    7. The league was watered down from the late 90s to the early marks of the century. But there has been a massive talent infusion since 2003 and the league level is similar to the early 90s.
    8. If you really belive that defenses in the 80s were better than you have no idea of nba basketball. The team defense concepts back then were not only simplistic but in many instances nonexistant. Please read some books about defense before the bad boy pistons and how it has evolved since then, because we cannot debate otherwise.
    9. I reiterate: hard fouls don’t have the impact you imply. I haven’t seen a good penetrator who stopped doing exactly that because he feared repurcusions on a consistent basis. And by the way: Watch the “Sleepy Floyd game” and tell me of these hard fouls that occured in the 80s.
    10. We are at an alltime low in free throws and free throws attempted per shot attempt this season, a trend that has bee going on for years. Now you are coming up with the argument that they attacked the basket more back then? Didn’t you say players were afraid of those hard fouls? Can’t have it both ways you know?
    11. Players have been able to make 3s decades before it was popularized. It just took a long time for coaches to realize the advantages in terms of spacing and points per possession. Even a maestro like Phil Jackson hasn’t understood the value of the corner 3 to this day. There is no reason to believe that players would have been able to make 3s at a good rate in the 80s, considering players in the ABA did exactly that in the 70s.
    12. No handchecking is a huge advantage for today’s wing players. Strong side zones are a huge disadvantage. If it makes you feel better, I call it a wash.
    13. If you haven’t seen the change in the approach to handchecking, than I can’t help you. Refs are more lenient than they were 5 years ago, that is indisputable. If you want more info on this tweet Haralabos Voulgaris and talk to him about it.
    14. I don’t like box score metrics, at least without the additional context of ridge-regressed +/-, but the basis of your argument is even more flimsy than the one solely based on advanced bos score metrics.

    Posted by Chris | January 21, 2013, 4:42 pm
    • @Chris
      1. How do you figure?
      2. I was only comparing them for the years I had selected above. I only looked to what I thought Lebron’s best individual season was.
      3. “Being wrong about rule changes and their supposed impact?”
      4. Not really much to argue there.
      5. I agree on Rose and Westbrook, although I don’t think they would see nearly the success they do.
      6. Had they been asked to defend more on the perimeter like a lot of bigs are in today’s game (see: Joakim Noah), they could have developed better skills out there, but it’s all speculation, because they did what they were asked at that point in time.
      7. I agree. I don’t think I ever argued that. Just that I don’t think today is as deep as the 80′s. I think the 80′s had more talented basketball players/teams, but today there are a lot of extreme combine-style athletes people hope blossom into good talent.
      8. I will.
      9. If you want to cherry-pick single games, I can do the same. Everything I’ve read from this game indicates people’s frustration with Kareem for not hitting Floyd.
      10. I said teams attacked the basket more, i.e. In the post, basket cuts, there weren’t as many individuals sizing up and trying to drive.
      11. I said the 3 wasn’t as widely used, and the low percentages lead me to believe it would have hurt the Ortg at that point in the 80′s, not that players couldn’t shoot it at a higher clip had they been asked to shoot it more often. The increased use of the 3 has been a part of the evolution of the NBA over the past 10-15 years.
      12. I would like to see the metrics on how often these strong side zones are used compared to simple man to man. Also, it severly hurts a zone to not be able to have the center clogging the middle now that there is defensive 3 seconds.
      13. Prove it. My eyes tell me they still call things extremely touchy, especially when compared to what the 80′s was. I haven’t tweeted him, but I will follow his/twitter website to see what he has to say. Have you ever listened to/watched/read Bruce Blitz’s podcast/youtube vids/ website?
      14. We all have our preferences I suppose.

      @Loch, what’s the harm in saying Bird was a better shooter, but Lebron got to the basket more? My main problem with the statistic is the name of it, it might be an irrational hatred, but that’s how I feel about it, lol.

      Posted by pointguard40 | January 22, 2013, 7:19 am
      • 1. Stars are playing similar minutes with a comparable role. To get pace out of the way, you use an adjustment per possession. Per possession LeBron outproduced Bird, per season and over their career. Fg%, compared to efg% is utterly useless, that should be obvious.
        3. You made the point that handchecking made scoring much easier for perimeter players. But that is not true, because it hasn’t been the only change. Thus the impact of that rule was wrongly stated.
        5. They would have had less success in the late 90s and early 0s, because that was the best defensive era in nba history, but that’s about it.
        6. Moses Malone had no lateral movement or athleticism whatsoever. Barkley actually made that point for me during the spurs suns game, in contrast to Karl Malone (with Spencer Hawes as context). 80s Kareem also had no athleticism whatsoever left, being a liability as a rebounder and as a defender outside the paint (guys like Olajuwon killed him). That has nothing to do with developing skills.
        7. There were about 90 million less american citizens in the 80s compared to today, with almost no foreign talent, less monetary incentives to play in the nba and all that with just 7 teams (or 84 rotation players) less. There is no credible argument whatsoever that the NBA is less talented now than back then. The only argument you can make is the possible difference in franchise players – I still wouldn’t agree – but distinctions like that change almost from year to year.
        9. I took an example of what I view as normal back then. Most games looked like that, especially in the western conference. Outside of egregious stuff like clothlines and punches thrown, the games don’t differ as much as you want us to believe.
        10. You get free throws either way. Players don’t get them anymore. We have the lowest rat of free throws attempted per shot attempt in the history of the league. Please allign this fact with your theory of more post play back then and more driving today etc. all the while it being easier to score today.
        11. They didn’t shoot well, beacuse it wasn’t part of their sets. Players had the skill, but it wasn’t used. We have no reason to believe that more 3s as part of the offense would have hurt the Ortg. But even so: They were able to have higher Ortgs with almost no 3s made; that is pretty astonishing…
        12a. Teams like Boston and Chicago use them almost fulltime, every team uses them, especially against teams with dominant wing scorers who like to isalote on the wings/elbows. But I have to admit, that I can’t give you the percentages.
        12b. Concerning 3 seconds: It gets called about 1.5 times per game for each team. If the refs would actually implement the rule, each team would commit about 10-15/game, especially teams with Dwight or Bynum on them (Dwight Howard commited about 20 3 second violations last night against Chicago). So there is a pretty big discrepancy between the intended effect of the rule and the outcome/result/reality of the game. It is by the way not important anyway, because strong side zones don’t need the third player to be in the paint.
        13. Ok: In 2005/06, the NBA had the highest amount of players scoring more than 25 and 30 points per game since the 60s, which is the last season before the implemantation of the strong side zone. The following year, the average scoring of the top scorers regressed back to the niveau since the implementation of the handchecking and zone rules. Combined with the annual dropoff of free throw rate/shot attempt since then and my eye-test (which you don’t seem to share) it seems logical and likely to assume, that the leeway in handchecking has changed. Personally, it is still too strict, because I don’t like the cheap fouls you can get this way (hello Kevin Durant, posterboy of this era) but it used to be even worse. I also like that there are less and less free throws, because I hate watching free throws, it is almost as boring as baseball.
        Ah yes, Bruce Blitz. Mr Jordan nostalgia in persona. I Don’t care about him. Having read some of his metric creations and his articles comparing Kobe and Jordan it is obvious that he has no clue about basketball, atleast not about the intricacies.
        14. That is what I don’t like about your way of discussion. You dumb down my arguments to preferences, while I am trying to be intersubjective. Can you give me a rational argument why box score metrics, or even per game statistics are better than advanced box score metrics combined with ridge-regressed +/-?

        Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 1:37 pm
      • I am more than happy to agree that Bird is a better pure shooter than Lebron and am not at all unhappy with the distinction you drew. The harm, in response to your question, is when you list Bird’s shooting percentages against Lebron’s in trying to make the argument that Bird is a better player at that point in his career. It’s misleading, because a Lebron shot is worth more.

        I’m more than happy to call it something else, though. Perhaps functional shooting percentage? :)

        Posted by lochpster | January 22, 2013, 11:28 pm
  22. And, at the half-way point of the season, the Lakers are 17-24, 15 games back and equally far from the playoffs and the worst team in the conference (4 games). D’Antoni’s solution? Plug in Earl Clark for Pau Gasol because “We’re better when we’re small.” Facepalm!

    Now I admit there are certain strategic benefits to having Clark start and bringing Gasol off the bench, but the last thing this team needs is to try to push the tempo when they’re clearly already too tired to play defense or close out games. I am officially sticking the fork in the Lakers.

    We’ve seen enough of this team to know that it’s not going to work. I thought they’d turn it around, despite being a poorly built, old roster with questionable coaching, I thought that a team with 4 Hall of Fame starters couldn’t possibly be this bad. But these guys aren’t meshing, and they’re too old and too expensive to be given much more time to figure it out. The Lakers’ roster for this year, including penalties for being over the cap, is costing the boss 130 million bucks.

    If I’m the Lakers’ GM, I’m out there aggressively shopping Gasol, Nash and MWP for cap relief, and I’d even be listening to offers for Kobe or Dwight.

    Posted by lochpster | January 21, 2013, 9:43 pm
  23. They won’t trade Kobe, nor should they, but the other players should be on the table. They should also fire the coach sooner, as in right now, rather then later.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | January 22, 2013, 10:21 am
    • 100% agree on firing D’Antoni. But it isn’t going to happen.

      A fish rots from the head, and it seems like Jim Buss is the root of the problem here. He chose D’Antoni over Phil Jackson for what now appear to be personal, spiteful reasons, and he’s just not going to admit his mistake at this point (let alone bring back Jackson, who I believe would give this franchise a real shot at relevance this season).

      It’s too bad the owners of the NBA’s flagship franchises feel the need to hand off their franchises to their arrogant, incompetent children. It hurts the teams, the fans, and the NBA as a whole when the Knicks and Lakers are run by trust fund babies Buss and Jim Dolan. Here’s hoping Jerry Buss recovers.

      Posted by lochpster | January 26, 2013, 11:30 am
  24. I cannot say what changes were made in the Lakers locker room, but based upon Kobe’s play the past two games something had happened.

    Both games were Lakers wins and both games were all around great ones by Bryant, though it did require him to temper his FGA.

    Combined box score:

    15/22 FGA (ZERO 3ptFGA!!)
    18 Rebounds
    28 assists
    35 points.

    That is some really effective offensive play.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 27, 2013, 10:24 pm
    • Agreed … the key is whether Kobe can sustain this process (essentially, he’s suppressing his base urge to dominate the ball via personal heroics only) … if he can keep it up (I believe he can, though I’m unsure he will) and even expand upon it (and the other teams cannot or fail to adjust), the Lakers just became a much more effective team.

      They’re still loaded with more talent than any other team, but for the last two games they’re actually playing to win no matter the cost to personal agendas (players and coaches alike) … I remain dubious that they can win the ring this year, but who knows? Crazier things have happened …

      By the way, the alternative argument that Kobe didn’t shoot the Lakers out of games but actually had high FGA when he “couldn’t trust his teammates to knock down shots” was always a fib (play by play analysis disproves this argument resoundingly) wrapped in lie (this isn’t a chicken vs. egg argument … anyone who has ever played or coached basketball at any level fully understands that players become more effective when they’re engaged in the game and become less effective when they are in a system that enables them to just stand around … Kobe’s teammates execute worse when the Kobe-ball offense persists because the likelihood of seeing the ball is remote) and placed in a package of irony (if any player has a right to disregard another teammate when they’re not knocking down shots, it would be anyone else on the Lakers) …

      Let’s see where this goes … I would love to see a Lakers – Heat Finals … I’m pretty sure we all would …

      Posted by Ken | January 28, 2013, 8:50 am
      • by the way, I really appreciate Kobe’s 4.67 / 1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the past two games …

        over his previous five games, he was 1 / 1.13 …

        huge difference, especially in the OKC win where the game flow was tighter than the final margin …

        Posted by Ken | January 28, 2013, 8:57 am
    • I don’t think that the Lakers have improved or at least it is far too early to say that. They play well at home and that may be it.

      They already were pretty good in home games right before their recent 4-game losing skid, beating the Cavs 113-93, then the Bucks 104-88 and ultimately losing to the Heat 90-99 (but they actually played well in that one too).

      It is on the road where they really struggle (only PHX, SAC and WAS have fewer road wins) and it is yet to be seen if they really improved. Considering they will play the next 7 games away from home we don’t have to wait long to see how it goes.

      With regard to Kobe “magical” turnaround, we’ve seen this before. He appears to trust his teammates, but only if they are winning. Even against the Thunder, when the final score could go either way, you could see a glimpse of “old” Kobe.

      It’s just a matter of time. When the Lakers trial by 8-10 points in the 4th you’ll definitely see Kobe not trusting his teammates again and playing the heroball as always.

      As for the Lakers making the playoffs it is still a possibility, but they will not go higher than the 8th seed. This is assuming 42-45 wins is enough to qualify.

      But seeing how the Mavs are playing lately LAL may need more than that. The time will tell.

      Posted by doosiolek | January 28, 2013, 9:50 am
      • Another Lakers win last night (Jan 29).

        Though it was at home and with 7 straight road games in 10 days, the Lakers could have turned a corner especially if Bryant continues to keep his assists to FGA ratio where it has been for the past three games.

        Utah: 10 FGA, 14 assists
        OKC: 12 FGA, 14 assists
        NOH: 12 FGA, 11 assists

        To put this into a different context, Braynt has cut his FGA in half while simultaneously doubling his assists rate.

        The results are a very small sample, to be sure, yet the results have all been positives: greater balance of usage on the roster and all wins.

        Bryant’s rebounding has also jumped
        with him pulling 9, 9, and 8 in those three games.

        Though he did attempt 4 three’s last night (missing them all), it seems that he has not been so eager to pull that trigger of late.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 30, 2013, 4:28 am
        • At this new rate (based on the last three games), Kobe’s scoring average dips to just over 23 PPG by the end of the regular season.

          I think you’re mistaken if you honestly believe that Kobe has it in his DNA to sacrifice his scoring that much.

          Posted by Skyhook | January 30, 2013, 9:24 am
          • I completely agree with Kobe’s long term unwillingness to subjugate his own scoring for any team benefit, real or imagined.

            That, to me, seems the conundrum of KobeNation:

            Which player has a greater effect on winning?

            The one that scores 29 PPG on .450 FG%, 20+ FGA per game with 5.8 3pt FGA per game adding 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds OR is it the player that scores 23 PPG at a .480 rate on 16 FGA and adds 7.0 APG and 6.0 RPG?

            That answer seems pretty logically obvious to me.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 30, 2013, 10:07 am
          • A few weeks ago, Kobe spent large parts of two consecutive games guarding an important backcourt player on the opposing team (Kyrie Irving and Brandon Jennings). Both players had subpar games, by their own standards.

            I’m unsure how much of the result was Kobe’s defensive efficacy as opposed to these much smaller, younger PGs having rough shooting nights. Nevertheless, Kobe supporters proclaimed that these two games were validation of their long-held argument that Kobe continues to be every bit the premier wing defender that all of those all defense team selections might suggest.

            Before those two games, Kobe’s defense (particularly his off-the-ball defense, help defense) had been pretty spotty (at best) over the past few years. Since then, his defense has reverted to what we had grown accustomed o for many years now. At least one backcourt player has dominated in just about every game other than the rent Utah game.

            My sense is that the recent assists run will end after a few games, just like the defense run ended. And that’s where the “I eat first” mentality will retain and compromise this already shaky season.

            Posted by Skyhook | January 30, 2013, 2:14 pm
          • “Which player has a greater effect on winning? … That answer seems pretty logically obvious to me.”

            Yes, it is obvious and apparent, especially from the team outcomes, ans well as from observation, that this version of Kobe has a greater effect … this season (and possibly for the past two seasons).

            Not as apparent when comparing the “new” Kobe to the Kobe of 2009 and 2010 titles. We know that Kobe got the desired outcome playing how he played those years, and while the ends don’t always justify the means, why would one change his style of playing if it was working (goal being team success, not individual success)?

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 30, 2013, 3:08 pm
          • Skyhook,

            As predicted, points, rebounds and FG %age (dramatically) are all down … additionally, assists are down dramatically … next stop: “hero ball” …

            2 f’ing games …

            Kobe is really just Allen Iverson with better luck …

            Posted by Ken | February 3, 2013, 3:54 pm
  25. Court Vision Analytics:

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/49142/courtvision-the-best-shooters-so-far

    The best shooters so far. Love these! Going a step beyond the box score. WHERE a players shoots from is a vital, basic piece of info for any shooting analysis.

    Posted by Gil Meriken | January 29, 2013, 2:05 pm
  26. Gil,

    Why do you suppose that the biggest critique I have with Bryant is the frequency of long range shots?

    Why do you think that FG% were higher in the 1980′s?

    Of course WHERE shots are attempted matters.

    As does whether that shot is contested.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 29, 2013, 2:41 pm
    • Paulie,

      Of course! And that data is only alluded to in the box score, like a shadow. But if we want to cite those statistics, we need to have the data, not try to somehow infer them. That’s not scientific.

      Neither is my way, but until we have it, best not to try to use the box score to make finer distinctions between players.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 29, 2013, 2:56 pm
      • Sooo,

        What Gil is saying is that the methods of measurement we have now are so fallible that we cannot determine who is the better player between Ray Allen or Jalen Roae?

        Between Moses Malone and Manute Bol?

        Between Jason Kidd or Brevan Knight?

        Somehow, I am betting that we can make such determinations and that we would likely “resort” to the crappy data we have now.

        Of course, the new space aged, not yet available data may tell us that Jalen Rose is better then both Kobe and Jordan.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 30, 2013, 5:35 pm
        • I think he’s trying to argue that you CAN make gross distinctions (e.g., LeBron James is better than Reggie Evans – by the way, smart move Reggie), but finer distinctions CANNOT be made between players (unless you focus strictly on team accomplishments, minutes played, FT shooting, and the nebulous “eye test”). Nevertheless, I disagree with his thesis in any event.

          I cannot believe the Lakers blew the game vs, PHX last night. This season is a nightmare for that team. How does a team with that much talent, experience, and depth manage to find its way so far underwater with less than three months left in the season?

          Posted by Skyhook | January 31, 2013, 9:36 am
          • And I don’t necessarily disagree that we need to use very refined and subtle measurements to separate, if they is any, levels amongst the elite players of all time.

            Yet, sixths same person seems very quick to summarily dismiss those that played in earlier or formative eras simply because they, and I will paraphrase, “do not look as good”

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 31, 2013, 9:44 am
  27. you can’t make a conclusion when player A averages 6 3ptFGA per game and player B attempts 1.4 and they have similar skills but one has a higher FG% than the other?

    We can make the conclusion; we just need to be prepared to amend that judgment when new evidence arises.

    This is the real problem; that seldom does anyone wish to abandon their preconceived notions in the face of contrary evidence.

    That is when they just start making stuff up or attempt to conflate the meaningless with the substantive.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 29, 2013, 3:49 pm
    • “you can’t make a conclusion when player A averages 6 3ptFGA per game and player B attempts 1.4 and they have similar skills but one has a higher FG% than the other?”

      What’s the conclusion?

      And what’s the sample size? And what are the players’ roles for the team?

      See how much context we have to manufacture to even use the data you’ve given. It’s not impossible, but there are so many assumptions you have to make, because of the gaps in the box score data.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 29, 2013, 4:22 pm
  28. The sample size would be, for example 10,000 minutes.

    Similar players would indicate similar roles.

    The next question would be to ask WHY does player A jack up more 3′s than player B?

    I can admit that there exists some ambiguity. . . but again this why I have said over and over and over. . . use data in combinations

    What is the Fg%
    What are the FGA?
    What are the 3 pt FGA?
    What are the FTA?

    What is the contribution of the remainder of the team?

    What is the scoring of the league?

    Gil,

    I am not Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith (I speculate as to what the “A” stands for, but I think we all know). I am seeking truth, not trying to sell something to make my Disney overlords happy.

    Haven’t I demonstrated this enough?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 29, 2013, 5:55 pm
    • What I’m trying to tell you is there’s a whole heckuvalot missing even if you get the answers to those things you mention:

      “What is the Fg%
      What are the FGA?
      What are the 3 pt FGA?
      What are the FTA?

      What is the contribution of the remainder of the team?

      What is the scoring of the league?”

      This gets you only a small portion of the picture (let me throw out there, 20-30% of it, whatever, less than 50%) if you are to do any serious analysis. Right now, to fill it in the vital missing data is necessarily a subjective endeavor, until someone or something decides to track those things…

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 29, 2013, 11:11 pm
      • It seems like the singular purpose of this persistent debate over metrics (and the elusive promise of unavailable data points that we’re assured will be far more insightful than our present array of basic and advanced statistics) is to thoroughly undermine definitive positions altogether. But why? Well, if your bedrock position about anything is supported by little and refuted by much, I suppose postponing the argument to a later date is as good of a delay tactic as any. That’s why.

        Many of those lacking the factual high ground would rather live on an island of prospective what-ifs than accede to the inevitable. I reject this practice. Saying never is seldom wise, but in is case, it fits the circumstances. It doesn’t matter what comes down the pike, Kobe Bryant (and let’s be perfectly clear, the water on this issue is always carried by his fans) is NEVER overcoming Michael Jordan as the greatest of all time, he’s NEVER cracking the Top 5 greatest players in NBA history, and he’s certainly NEVER making the NBA all time starting five. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird (eventually, LeBron James will take this spot), Tim Duncan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (or Wilt, for some). The gaps between Magic, Michael and Timmy, and the next best players at their respective positions, are enormous. Denying that doesn’t make it any less true.

        So, we live in two camps. Those that accept what’s before them in clear, unambiguous terms and those that deny, deny, deny in the hopes that false promise will redeem their foolish arguments. It won’t.

        Posted by Skyhook | January 30, 2013, 9:03 am
        • “Those that accept what’s before them in clear, unambiguous terms and those that deny, deny, deny in the hopes that false promise will redeem their foolish arguments. It won’t.”

          This has got to be the most foolish comment I have read yet, and that includes Ken’s ramblings.

          What is clear and unambiguous about individual box score statistics in relation to winning basketball games? Very little.

          There is no “false” promise, only the promise that better observations and tracking will lead to better and more accurate and actionable analysis.

          Here’s another link for your edification:

          http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/49283/courtvision-the-worst-shooters-so-far

          Posted by Gil Meriken | January 30, 2013, 3:11 pm
          • Despite your protestations to the contrary, reasonable (albeit imperfect, from time to time) conclusions can, in fact, be drawn from basic and advanced metrics that are available today.

            Of course more data is better than less data. That doesn’t mean that determinations made today with only 85% of what MAY ultimately be the total metric set are inaccurate.

            I believe there is a perfectly zero likelihood that any new data that we may glean in the future will change the ultimate legacy of players like Kobe. After 16+ seasons, if you still insist on gauging his efficacy almost solely on your subjective “eye test”, there will never be data to satisfy you.

            Posted by Skyhook | January 30, 2013, 3:28 pm
        • Let me be the third to pile on and reject Gil’s position utterly and completely.

          There are flaws with box score statistics. I also can’t absolutely prove my own existence or that of gravity. I choose to make use of all of the imperfect data to understand the world around me.

          It’s up to you if you wish to try to ignore data that doesn’t support your pre-formed conclusions, Gil. I have no interest in doing so.

          Posted by lochpster | January 30, 2013, 3:31 pm
          • Comparing the argument for gravity to the argument that individual box score statistics measure player value is ludicrous.

            The former is based on proven and testable scientific methods; the latter is not.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | February 1, 2013, 2:26 pm
          • I personally have a lot of gripes with the box-score, so I can understand the wish to ignore it. But I’m not sure why you are even on this site, given that you aren’t contributing any tangible information and you won’t be able to change the minds of the typical contributors.

            Overall I disagree with the idea that we don’t have data that gives us a good idea about player performance. Advanced +/- models, SportsVu data and synergy models are really great, especially if you compare their findings.
            Their is by the way a really interesting repeating occurence: There exists no advanced model that grades Kobe as a player in accordance with popular belief. It’s just the negative delta that changes in volume. He is the only “star” player where I have ever seen this.
            I bring this up, because I often get the feeling that especially Kobe fans are against advanced stats. I don’t want to insinuate that your arguments are an attempt of only defending Kobe, instead of the search for “credible” statistical analysis, but it sure comes off that way sometimes.

            Posted by Chris | February 1, 2013, 3:21 pm
          • Chris – you are right, and I agree with you on all counts, as far as being on the site, even your takes on Kobe, the delta, and the perception of my “defending” Kobe.

            As we say this, another brilliant analysis from Goldsberry is out explaining WHY Durant is so good using spatial data.

            http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8919214/kevin-durant-having-one-greatest-offensive-seasons-nba-history

            A great example of what people are doing here vs what they will be able to do in the future is this: in the past, to get large samples of how much “usage” a player had, you had to get it indirectly- shot attempts, assists, FT attempts – these all alluded to how often the player had the ball in there hand. Today, you can know exactly how many times a player touched the ball, and for how long. That’s the difference between working in the shadows, and working in the light.

            What I’m saying is: I’m outta here. You’re right. To the relief of all here, I’m sure. I’ve been a nuisance, but I’m quite certain the future will vindicate my view on the antiquated box score.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | February 6, 2013, 2:10 pm
          • That piece is nice, I agree. SportsVu and comparable methods are definitely the future of basketball analysis.
            Instead of saying somebody is a good shooter, we will be able to tell if he is a good shooter from the right side, from the left baseline, when his shot is contested, when he dribbled the ball two times before the shot, between 6 and 4 seconds left on the shot-clock etc.
            It’s obvious that you are looking for this kind of data, because that is the level of refinement that is necessary, right?
            People on this site agree with this notion, they just disagree, that less refinement means that what we use now, is useless.
            If you make a large list of players of the last 60 years, with perceptions from bad to “GOAT” players and compare it with the average results of advanced box-score and +/- models, you won’t find much disagreement.
            I personally think that your problem is, that people are using advanced models to proof stuff those models aren’t designed for in the first place. People are often using PER, WS, WS/48, WP, WP/48, and +/- without understanding what they are representing and what their explicit or critiqued shortcomings are.

            I don’t expect you to answer to this, because you probably have already said what you wanted to say, but let it be known that I actually liked most of your posts. You’re not a biased, polarizing figure like Bruce Blitz or David Friedman, so I hope that you didn’t take my post as an attack.

            Posted by Chris | February 6, 2013, 3:14 pm
          • For avoidance of doubt:

            “What I’m saying is: I’m outta here. You’re right. To the relief of all here, I’m sure. I’ve been a nuisance, but I’m quite certain the future will vindicate my view on the antiquated box score.”

            To be clear (and despite your mild protestations to the contrary), I have always understood your “view on the antiquated box score” to be much more about a pretty transparent effort to prop up Kobe Bryant’s role in NBA history and much less about illuminating a point that has already been conceded by most interested parties on the planet … the traditional box score is imperfect. Nearly everyone gets that point; very few argue a contrary point.

            If “vindication” means finding validation where none is needed, then success is on the horizon for you. However, if hanging onto some sliver of hope that within that outcome lies a silver bullet to obliterate all of the abundant criticisms of Kobe Bryant, then I wish you great luck in tilting at those windmills going forward …

            Finally, I’m sad to see you go … given your preseason prognostication, I was looking forward to your excuses for the Lakers poor performance (i.e., Kobe deflections) this year … I was already prepared for “I said INJURY was the only thing that could stop them” (which conveniently overlooks the team’s composite record when all six all-stars on the team were active) …

            Nevertheless, enjoy the remaining 9 weeks and six days of your season …

            Posted by Ken | February 7, 2013, 9:33 am
          • By the way, when people scoff @ suggestions that Kobe (and/or his camp of sycophants) is often the primary source behind the anonymous “injury reports” that are used to mythologize his status as a “warrior” or some kind of “hero” for purportedly playing through injuries that nobody else would dare play through:

            http://www.ocregister.com/sports/bryant-492862-kobe-york.html

            Once more, the guy sells this nonsense to try to fool those predisposed to believe him into thinking he’s just like Mike.

            How many games have I watched over the years where Kobe’s true believers have insisted that his fingers were “mangled” or that his wrist was “falling off” (sic) only to see him return to the bench mid-game (generally leading into timeout after one of his own missed shots or turnovers led to a basket on the other end) and viciously slammed the exact same appendage into a seat or the back of a seat? Too many to count.

            You want to see a mangled hand? Try Torry Holt’s. Try a turnaround, fadeaway 20 foot jumpshot with that thing.

            Posted by Ken | February 7, 2013, 10:11 am
          • wow!! a report to tell us that Durant is a great player. No way could anyone have ever thought that using only “box scores”

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 7, 2013, 10:40 pm
          • Yes, and it’s also very hard to figure out just looking at the ever useless “boxscore” data that he’s having one of the greatest offensive seasons of all-time.

            It’s even more surprising considering he’s averaging ONLY 29.3 PPG on a DISMAL shooting (.653 TS) while having a TRAGIC ORtg of 124.

            Also leading the league in Offensive Win Shares definitely doesn’t help his case.

            Posted by doosiolek | February 8, 2013, 5:29 am
          • let’s see … elbow iced and wrapped to comical proportions, sure to get lots of exaggerated attention from media playing up their usual NBA marketing b.s.

            efficient shooting night, he’s the warrior GOAT!

            inefficient shooting night, his “elbow’s mangled” …

            see how that works? win – win … even in an embarrassing blowout loss to the AT LEAST as short handed Celtics (no Rondo, no Sullinger) …

            btw, 0 assists and 6 turnovers in the last six quarters … yeah, he sure is just as multi-talented as Magic Johnson or LeBron James …

            Posted by Ken | February 8, 2013, 8:27 am
          • * 7 turnovers …

            Posted by Ken | February 8, 2013, 8:41 am
          • Ken,

            This is why the ardetn Kobe supporters do NOT want to use the box score data (or any other measured data) to compare Bryant to the other greats.

            It is far easier to use anecdotes that are true yet irrelevant rather than compare actual measured data.

            Some of the good ones that I have read on here:

            Kobe inspires his teammates to win

            Kobe won a Slam Dunk Contest (joining Harold Minor, Dee Brown, Cedric Ceballos and Kenny Walker)

            Kobe was the MVP of the All Star Game (right there with Tom Chambers)

            When the Lakers have talent, then they win because of Kobe; when the Lakers don’t win it is because the other players failed, but Kobe did EVERYTHING he could to get the win.

            Awards are biased, so only 1 MVP doesn’t matter, but the 1st team All Defense DOES matter.

            Kobe has two scoring titles (which puts him BEHIND Iverson, Gervin, McAdoo, and Durant. Not to mention Wilt and Jordan) But, he is tied with Tracy McGrady, Shaq and Kareem!!

            All probably true statements, but mostly irrelevant and hardly singular from any other great player of all time.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 8, 2013, 9:58 am
          • look, re: Kobe, I obviously tend to be a broken record or one note Johnny about his place amongst the greats … but the expansive mythology you allude to obviously deeply offends my sensibilities …

            It’s just a game, but horseshit is still horseshit.

            Posted by Ken | February 8, 2013, 11:25 am
          • If you greatly disagree with me, just go ahead and re-watch the last 6:32 of the venerated 81 point game … if that nauseating display of bush-league desperation to pad his stat line with the game firmly in hand doesn’t disturb you and shake you from your Kobe slumber, nothing will …

            12 FG attempts in the final 6 +minutes (approx. 3:00 of Lakers possession time … 4 shots attempts per minutes of possession time) … with the game already out of hand …

            8 FG attempts in the final 4+ minutes … with his team already up by 15+ points …

            I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that Michael Jordan and LeBron James (after he hangs ‘em up) will have both finished their respective careers with at least 100 games that are comparatively more impressive than the one Kobe produced that night in Los Angeles … that wasn’t an opus; that was an abomination …

            Posted by Ken | February 8, 2013, 11:49 am
  29. so, then we simply shouldn’t do it all then?

    At least not until this someone or something is present or at lest until it meets your satisfaction?

    Sorry, I cannot abide with your position.

    I likewise believe that you completely underestimate how much can be gleaned from the information we presently have.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 30, 2013, 4:14 am
    • Why would you use what you have when it doesn’t help with more advanced analysis?

      “This calculator is accurate up to the tens digit. After that, it’s useless. But I need to calculate to the ones and tenths digit. How do I do that? Well all I have is this calculator, so I’d better use it.”

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 30, 2013, 3:14 pm
    • “And I can calculate up to the tens myself. But I’ll still use this calculator to do the ones and tenths.”

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 30, 2013, 3:16 pm
  30. And, as expected, this nonsense is burning up on re-entry … he just can’t do it … 34 or not (seriously … at 34, MJ was three-peating, regular season MVP, Finals MVP, 1st Team All NBA, 1st Team All Defense), he can only muster a couple of games that are no better than JV LeBron-esque, then he falls into mediocrity … 17.5 points, 9 boards and 14 dimes on 68% shooting in the first two games; since then, 16.5 points, 7 boards, and 8.25 dimes on 39% shooting in four games …

    Experiment over … I fully expect 27 or more FGA next game …

    Posted by Ken | February 3, 2013, 3:38 pm
    • even with poor shooting in the past two games, that still puts Bryant’s “box score” contribution at a par 7.

      That’s pretty good, 34 or not.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 3, 2013, 4:21 pm
      • I’m wholly unclear how you might think 16.5 / 7 / 8.25 on 39% shooting with nearly four turnovers per game and cumulative + / – of minus 15 across that last four games is compatible at all with an argument that he’s playing “great” … he’s just not. The facts are the facts. We don’t need to have spatial and other data points to settle on a conclusion.

        Fuck … I have never seen a player get passes as often as this guy! And even form his critics sometimes!

        Posted by Ken | February 3, 2013, 4:33 pm
    • I stand corrected … 24 FG attempts.

      Sue me …

      However, there are two other matters to close out …

      First, his overall FG %age has continued its slow regression to the mean … we’re now at 46.2% and I have every expectation that we’ll see sub-45% before too long … to those who suggested that this was the year Kobe enjoyed a FG %age breakthrough, turn in your crystal balls … Once more, the inimitable Denny Green said it best …

      Second, the following second half line from last night doesn’t really wow me:

      12 points on 6/14 shooting …
      1 rebound
      0 assist
      2 steals
      1 block
      3 turnovers

      A road win is a road in, so hat’s always a good outcome. But, damn … does it sure dazzle the Laker faithful! The motley krewe / crew @Lakersgound have Kobe as MVP frontrunner always, but especially after he dunks. Forget Samuel Dalembert’s 35 on 17/21 with 12 boards in 27 minutes! Kobe dunked* on Kris Humphries!

      P.S. Deron Williams, you have always been a fraud when it came to games against the Lakers, so thanks again for getting me some prop. bet walking-round $$$ by choking (again) in the latest installment …

      * sort of …

      Posted by Ken | February 6, 2013, 9:05 am
      • He still has the highest efg% of his career, but yeah, he is obviously declining.
        Btw, the Nets are a horrendous team. I can barely believe that they have won so many games.

        Posted by Chris | February 6, 2013, 9:24 am
        • whoops …

          Agreed (I guess having six all stars [4 within the past two or three years] on this team [incl. 4 of the ESPN Top 25 this year] somewhat explains his better looks, resulting in better eFG), however his metrics from 12 feet out are pretty awful … he’s very efficient in the post (at one point, he had the best numbers fom the post), which I guess means that his FG, eFG, whatever from 12+ feet is pretty abysmal …

          The roster is often criticized, but I don’t know … I’m pretty confident most superstars would be ecstatic playing alongside 3x DPOY Dwight Howard, multi-all star Pau Gasol, 2x MVP Steve Nash, 1x DPOY MWP, Antawn Jamison (did play with him in CLE), Jordan Hill, Earl Clark, etc.

          Re: the Nets, I’m not entirely convinced they’re just plain terrible as much as they have wild fluctuations in their level of play … I’m convinced DWilliams bets against his team when thy play the Lakers … he and Boozer always tanked in Utah vs. the Lakers, as I recall …

          either way, i hope I got my “they’re / their” contexts, right?

          POSTED BY KEN | FEBRUARY 6, 2013, 10:02 AM

          Posted by Ken | February 6, 2013, 10:03 am
  31. though, that 1 for 14 from behind the arc the past 5 games is pretty telling.

    My biggest complain against Kobe has always been that he shoots way too many 3′s. Especially for a player that can get to the rim like he can.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 3, 2013, 4:27 pm
    • Yeah, but they are better misses than other players can muster … he’s the GOAT at getting defenders out-of-position for rebounds off those misses.

      Iverson (who has better career playoff numbers, btw … and get that “but what about AI’s field goal rate” b.s. outta here … if Kobe gets a pass for chucking, so should AI) … deal with it.

      Posted by Ken | February 3, 2013, 4:38 pm
    • Actually, he’s 1 for his last 21from “3″ … lights out, just like the Superdome ….

      Posted by Ken | February 3, 2013, 6:14 pm
    • Three pointers are an effective shot. He’s hitting 34% of them this year. He should keep shooting.

      Posted by lochpster | February 3, 2013, 9:48 pm
      • No doubt! I definitely say “keep shooting (PLEASE!)”, too … as I have for the past 8+ seasons. It’s one of the most effective methods to illuminate what a one-trick pony this guy is … bonus: it’s an inside joke because his mythologists actually believe his voluminous shooting (at low rates) somehow burnishes his rep.

        TS% is strictly for defenders who can’t live in reality, btw … only irrational Kobe disciples cling like barnacles to FT %age, minutes played or other longevity measures, and TS %age … and the promise of imaginary spatial metrics, of course …

        Posted by Ken | February 4, 2013, 8:57 am
  32. Also interesting to note, Earl Clark, despite some flashes in the last few games, still has the worst adjusted +/- of any player in the NBA this season and has never finished out of the bottom 20 in any of his four seasons.

    Pau Gasol, reinserted into the starting lineup and finally allowed to play like the All-Star caliber center that he is, turned in a dominant performance in Detroit.

    What a mess this Lakers team is!

    Posted by lochpster | February 3, 2013, 9:59 pm
  33. I went back to review the linked piece …

    1. It’s a really informative resource … thanks again!

    2. For avoidance of doubt (re: the Venn diagram conflict I noted above) … I very clearly understood Chris to mean that he thinks Kobe’s scoring efficiency is adversely affected by what he considers to be Kobe’s propensity to end the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (and any OT periods) with the low probability FG attempts that tend to drag down anyone’s %ages, more so than his high-production peers … these are offensive possessions typically initiated with less than 5 second on the game clock … receiving the inbounds pass just inside halfcourt with 18 seconds on the game clock, down by 1, and proceeding to take one’s time in ISO backing down a single defender before executing a turnaround 14 foot jumper along the baseline with 2 seconds left IS VERY MUCH a higher probability action than receiving the inbounds pass under your own basket with 4 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, taking two dribbles and heaving the ball toward the basket 65 feet away …

    tbh, Kobe’s just inferior to MJ and LBJ in this area because his purported high BBIQ simply has never translated into good shot selection in these 17 seasons …

    Posted by Ken | February 5, 2013, 1:20 pm
    • “tbh, Kobe’s just inferior to MJ and LBJ in this area because his purported high BBIQ simply has never translated into good shot selection in these 17 seasons …”

      This I agree with. While the specific scenario you mentioned happens rarely, the Kobe refusing to pass the ball in the last 5 minutes scenario happens often enough. If you’ve read Henry Abbott, you’re probably familiar with how Kobe’s ballhoggery wrecks the Lakers’ crunch time offense, but here you go anyway.

      http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7649571/nba-kobe-bryant-not-money-think-espn-magazine

      http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/24200/the-truth-about-kobe-bryant-in-crunch-time

      So while does attempt more shots toward the end of games than other superstars, it is not only to the detriment of his shooting %, but also to that of his team.

      Posted by lochpster | February 5, 2013, 3:29 pm
    • You understood me correctly.

      I can subscribe to the statement, that Kobe doesn’t often do what he knows to be right. It’s the same defensively. He is a great on ball and off the ball defender in theory, a great defensive communicator and actually pretty versatile. But his defensive peak was back between 2002-04, when he actually used his knowledge and combined it with effort while adhering to what is good for the team.
      He recently said that he could do anything a basketball player can do around 2002/03 and that he has since only been refining his skills. While that is certainly true for his jumpshot and his postgame, I actually think that the rest of his game has been regressing since then.

      Posted by Chris | February 5, 2013, 3:52 pm
      • Kobe has made plenty of hubristic remarks over the past 17 seasons (e.g., promises to LA management that he can carry the team in 2004, followed by three seasons of miserable .500 ball and relegation to the NBA wilderness; “I got Brandon Roy [et al.]” to close a game, who proceeds to absolutely torch Kobe; absurd guarantees in a mid-series sweep at the hands of the Mavs in 2011; and too many others to bother with now) …

        While I agree with your commentary in principle, I scoff at the suggestion that he “could do anything” by 2002/2003 because his teammates probably would have appreciated if he had bothered to summon those ethereal powers when they were being massacred by Detroit in the 2004 Finals, not to mention 30+ point playoff series CLOSEOUT losses to Phoenix in 2006, Boston in 2008, and Dallas in 2011 (not to mention last year’s debacle vs. OKC).

        Kobe’s talk is just like his game … contrived to impress the most impressionable amongst us. By way of example, did anyone else catch his tweeted photo of him sitting at a piano recently? You know, the one where he indicated that he plays classical pieces to calm himself? I ask you … is it likely that he can actually play the piano (“OMG, I knew it … he is a renaissance man! 5 rings! 81 points!”) or is it more likely that his narcissism NEEDS to reinforce this irrational true believer syndrome amongst his drones that he is, in fact, a virtuoso in every area of life. Ninja please …

        Posted by Ken | February 6, 2013, 9:41 am
        • Agreed (I guess having six all stars [4 within the past two or three years] on this team [incl. 4 of the ESPN Top 25 this year] somewhat explains his better looks, resulting in better eFG), however his metrics from 12 feet out are pretty awful … he’s very efficient in the post (at one point, he had the best numbers fom the post), which I guess means that his FG, eFG, whatever from 12+ feet is pretty abysmal …

          The roster is often criticized, but I don’t know … I’m pretty confident most superstars would be ecstatic playing alongside 3x DPOY Dwight Howard, multi-all star Pau Gasol, 2x MVP Steve Nash, 1x DPOY MWP, Antawn Jamison (did play with him in CLE), Jordan Hill, Earl Clark, etc.

          Re: the Nets, I’m not entirely convinced they’re just plain terrible as much as they have wild fluctuations in their level of play … I’m convinced DWilliams bets against his team when thy play the Lakers … he and Boozer always tanked in Utah vs. the Lakers, as I recall …

          either way, i hope I got my “they’re / their” contexts, right?

          Posted by Ken | February 6, 2013, 10:02 am
  34. So…thoughts on(right now) Lebron as the MVP this year?

    I am thinking we have a repeat NBA finals as well. OKC-Miami, with OKC having home court. I don’t think Miami will push itself to lock up the overall top seed, they could if they wanted to though, the East is weak enough. But I think Miami likes playing 3 straight at home in the finals.

    I still can’t see OKC beating Miami in a 7 game series, I mean it could happen but consider that Miami has better role players(ray allen for one), Wade is fully healthy and I hope he stays that way, we have yet to see more then flashes of what Miami can do when it gives a crap, AND Lebron is better then he was last year. That has to be a scary thought for teams in line to face him in the playoffs. It used to be that you could force him to take bad shots, then he started going inside, well now if you block him from going inside and he doesn’t pass the ball he can hit jump shots.

    If Lebron stays healthy and wins another couple of titles I think he will retire as the second greatest player of all time behind MJ.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 9, 2013, 10:20 pm
    • I know its bad form to reply to my own post but I just saw this on espn and I had to join in the kobe bashing

      “For a more balanced view, consider this. Since 2003, when James entered the league, Bryant has taken 525 more shots than James … and scored 86 fewer points than him.”

      Posted by nightbladehunter | February 9, 2013, 10:50 pm
  35. Well, the Lakers have managed to make themselves relevant again. At .500, they’ve managed to play pretty good ball over the last and are only 1 1/2 back in the western conference playoff picture. Meanwhile, Houston, Golden State and Utah all are treading water. Anyone think the Lakers are going to leapfrog any of these teams and squeak into the playoffs?

    I think they’re probably going to do it. They appear to be playing better than Utah and have much easier sledding from here on out.

    Posted by lochpster | March 6, 2013, 10:51 pm
    • Utah has been horrible since the allstar-break. Golden State has also been horrible and they will probably continue to struggle, even with their home heavy schedule. Houston is a high variance team, so neither their losses nor their wins really surprise me.

      The Lakers are still an average team, but they have a better shot to get to the playoffs than Utah and maybe even GS. I would love a first round between LA and OKC. Would be the most talked about first round sweep of alltime.

      Posted by Chris | March 7, 2013, 8:46 am
    • Currently it’s a 50/50.

      The Lakers have absolutely no chance of catching GSW (even if they win two upcoming games against them). The Warriors are too good of a home team (20-7) where they play 14 of their remaining 20 games.

      They will also not finish ahead of the Rockets (unless Houston totally collapses) who, going forward, have easy schedule.

      They can catch Utah though. Owning the tie-breaker the Jazz are 2,5 games ahead of LA, but they have very heavy schedule.

      But even if the Jazz keep loosing the Lakers must keep winning. They play their best ball of the season, yet they still struggle to win convincingly (1-point win at home vs ATL, 18-points deficit before the final period at NOH, 4-point win at DAL with the help of the refs).

      They are winning, but many of their recent victories could have gone the other way.

      Posted by doosiolek | March 7, 2013, 9:24 am
    • Funny thing is, Vegas still has the Lakers at 20-1 to win the title.

      Other odds on the board-Miami is 13/10, OKC 3/1, SA 11/2, LAC 9/1, Indiana and NY 18/1, Chicago 25/1, Memphis 30/1 and Denver 33/1. Any of those look good to gambling aficionados?

      I think the odds for both SA and OKC look decent. I think these are the best two overall teams in the league if healthy (sorry, Heat) and I think it’s extremely unlikely one of them doesn’t come out of the West, despite its incredible depth.

      Out East, Miami has the best odds, and they should. Not because they’re the best team, but because the East is so bad. However, there’s no way in heck they should be favored over the field. Indiana is the one really tough out I see (NYC is a paper lion IMO)-they are a matchup nightmare for Miami and have better plus/minus numbers than Miami does during its winning streak. I don’t think Miami’s 23 times more likely to win the title than Indiana, although the oddsmakers clearly do.

      I’m seriously thinking of throwing down some cash on OKC when I visit Las Vegas since I think they’re just the best team in the league this year and am strongly considering Indy and SA. Thoughts?

      Posted by lochpster | March 8, 2013, 12:25 am
      • “I don’t think Miami’s 23 times more likely to win the title than Indiana, although the oddsmakers clearly do.”

        That’s not how linemaking works. Vegas anticipates the betting public to have these expectations.

        “I think they’re just the best team in the league this year”

        They are, but they will lose against Miami if that’s the finals again.
        They have lost 7 of their last 8 games against them and in only one of them were they leading after the 3rd quarter – and they didn’t win that game. The only game the Thunder have won in the last 8 was game 1 of the finals, when the Heat experimented with guarding the Durant/Westbrook side screen. That’s one of OKC’s only two good late game sets and the Heat have figured out both of them.

        Posted by Chris | March 8, 2013, 7:12 am
        • Westbrook seems to be the variable factor for the Thunder.

          He is prone to horrid performances wrought with turnovers and some very poor shooting in losses.

          Wade, by contrast, is typically a very effective scorer and doesn’t seem to be subject to a big turnover game.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | March 8, 2013, 11:27 am
          • I really don’t care about Westbrook in this discussion. Wade is better than him, LeBron is better than Durant and Chris Bosh actually plays defense and rebounds a little in the playoffs, which makes him better than Ibaka. Without looking at choaching, system, strategy, sets, eyperience, savvy and role players, a series is already decided by those matchups.

            Then again, I don’t trust Wade to keep up his play and stay injury-free…

            Posted by Chris | March 8, 2013, 12:41 pm
          • There are a few factors running against the Heat that I think are quite salient to their chances of repeating this year. The biggest one that I haven’t really heard anyone talking about is their age.

            I really believe age is a huge factor in who wins in the NBA, and the Heat would be the second oldest team to win an NBA title ever if they manage to do so this year.

            http://en.hispanosnba.com/teams/comparison

            Of their top 12 players, only 4 are under 30-James, Bosh, Chalmers and Norris Cole. James and Bosh, of course, each have plenty of wear and tear under their belts, as they are 10 year vets, and James is just coming off an Olympic run to boot. Wade, as you mention, is a walking injury waiting to happen. And they’ve had the bullseye on their back for years now, which wears on a team.

            The other issue with a roster this old is there’s little room for growth. I don’t think anyone would be shocked to see Kawhi Leonard or Paul George or Blake Griffin or any number of guys on the Thunder show us something new, but the Heat are maxed out.

            Posted by lochpster | March 9, 2013, 4:55 am
          • I’m also not sure how much predictive value the Heat’s recent dominance over OKC would be should they meet in the playoffs. Last year’s finals were competitive until the last game despite a horrible shooting series form Westbrook and Harden, plus heavy minutes going to both Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins (the latter may still be an issue). And regular season W-L is almost irrelevant to playoff results.

            Two years ago, the Bulls swept the Heat in the regular season and the Celtics won 3 of 4. Both got swept in 5. The Heat ultimately lost to a Dallas team that they’d throttled that year during the season by an average of 16 points.

            Also worth noting, the Heat are 1-4 against the top 2 teams in the East this year and have been outscored by an average of over 10 points per game. Presumably they’re not sitting up at night having nightmares about the Pacers and Knicks.

            Still, I think your points are compelling enough that I’m not going to jump all in on the OKC bandwagon for the time being.

            Then again, I’m really interested in the Miami-Indy game tomorrow to see if Indy can continue it’s recent success. The Pacers were the last team to beat the Heat and have split their past 8 games with Miami-winning both games this season, for the little that’s worth-and they clearly seem to relish playing them. They also present all sorts of matchup issues-particularly with Hibbert and David West in the paint-and Paul George seems to give James and Wade as much trouble as anybody. They’re athletic, deep and, as noted above, have the best +/- numbers in the East since February while going 12-4.

            I want to talk myself into this team, but I’m just not quite sure I actually buy my own argument.

            Posted by lochpster | March 9, 2013, 5:38 am
          • “I really believe age is a huge factor”

            Going forward yes, but I don’t see it as a problem this year. Injuries, as a side-effect of age, would be my guess for derailing the Heat’s quest.

            “only 4 are under 30-James, Bosh, Chalmers and Norris Cole”

            So 3 of their best 5 players, with Wade rounding into shape?

            “And they’ve had the bullseye on their back for years now, which wears on a team.”

            They don’t seem to care about it this year. They are also coasting, even during their winstreak.

            “The other issue with a roster this old is there’s little room for growth.”

            Growth comes through holistic alignment and synergetic improvement. Staying on a very high plateau is all that’s needed to win, if you are already the best.

            “Last year’s finals were competitive until the last game despite a horrible shooting series form Westbrook and Harden, plus heavy minutes going to both Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins (the latter may still be an issue). ”

            Let’s pinpoint things that happened in last year’s finals that probably won’t happen again – than again, other odd stuff is sure to happen:

            James Harden won’t be there to choke. But Martin seems to be a good choice for the yearly choker award.

            Kevin Durant will not hit every runner, stepback jumper, fadeaway and ridiculous jumper you can imagine. In case people have forgotten, Durant played the best offensive playoff series of his life in the finals.

            Wade and Bosh won’t be needing surgery directly after the finals end.

            LeBron James will make more than 1 Jumpshot outside of 10 feet per game. In case people have forgotten, LeBron was unbelievably awful from the outside in the finals.

            Stupid stuff that will happen again: Scott Brooks will play Perkins and Fisher minutes…
            On the other hand: Spoelstra won’t play his god awful players.
            The Thunder will try to isolate all game long against the best isolation defense in the NBA – when engaged – and Miami will actually run an offense.

            Etc.

            “And regular season W-L is almost irrelevant to playoff results.”

            The results are, but not the process. It’s basically groundhog day: The same stuff happens every time and the Thunder look befuddled every time.

            “The Heat ultimately lost to a Dallas team that they’d throttled that year during the season by an average of 16 points.”

            Again, process. LeBron struggled mightily against Dallas in the regular season and the way they defended him in the finals was very similar back then. He was visibly uncomfortable gainst Marion and Chandler and checked out for periods of those regular season matchups. LeBron has by the way never lost against a team without a dominant defensive center in his entire playoff career. I don’t see that changing.

            “Presumably they’re not sitting up at night having nightmares about the Pacers and Knicks.”

            Playoffs are about matchups and strategy primarily. The Heat look at the Knicks and see no way they can beat them in the playoffs, because there isn’t – outside of getting hot from 3 like the 09 Magic. The Pacers are the Bulls from the last 2 seasons: Great defense, great rebounding and they give a lot of effort. But neither West nor George are proven playoff performers and they don’t have matchup advantages. A defensivley engaged LeBron locks down both of them. They are bascially a paper tiger.

            “to see if Indy can continue it’s recent success. ”

            I expect Miami to lose or win with a small margin. The Heat haven’t been playing good basketball for 2 weeks now and you can’t bring those uneven performances against quality teams that are locked in. The strategy of “coast for 2,5 quarters, try at the end of the 3rd and clamp down the hatches in the 4th” won’t work.
            But it’s that exact illusion come playoff time, that made the Bulls think they had a chance of defeating the Heat in the past.

            “I want to talk myself into this team, but I’m just not quite sure I actually buy my own argument.”

            For me, it comes down to this question: How much are the Heat really coasting? Watching every game this season, my answer would be “all the time” outside of 3-4 games against specific teams. If you think that the Heat’s inconsistencies are here to stay for whatever reason – or myriad of reasons – than you definitely shouldn’t believe in them.

            Posted by Chris | March 9, 2013, 6:29 am
          • “Injuries, as a side-effect of age, would be my guess for derailing the Heat’s quest.”

            That is, essentially, my point. The Heat are super high risk, compared to all the other contenders, of being derailed by injury, based on their age, mileage and the composition of their team. Hard to imagine they make it through the playoffs without at least one significant injury. If not, they probably win the title.

            “Let’s pinpoint things that happened in last year’s finals that probably won’t happen again – than again, other odd stuff is sure to happen:”

            Yay!

            “Martin seems to be a good choice for the yearly choker award.”

            Based on?

            “Durant played the best offensive playoff series of his life in the finals.”

            And has been every bit as effective this regular season as he was during last year’s finals. 31 PPG and 65% TS in the finals, 29 PPG on 65% TS this year. No reason that should change.

            Conversely, Westbrook’s TS% should rise above the wretched 50% figure he produced last year while leading this team in shots, and Martin, almost by default, should outproduce Harden. Ibaka, for the record, had the worst offensive series of anybody, scoring a total of 35 points with a TS% of 46! Hard to see how the Thunder offense wouldn’t get better.

            “LeBron James will make more than 1 Jumpshot outside of 10 feet per game. In case people have forgotten, LeBron was unbelievably awful from the outside in the finals.”

            Man, I wish I could be unbelievably awful putting up 29 PPG with a TS% of 56 in the NBA.

            Speaking of shooting, Miami hit 43% of their 3 pointers during the series, while OKC hit 30%. Talk about an outlier! Mike Miller and Shane Battier combined to go 22 for 37. Both teams are nearly identical in 3 point shooting and 3 point defense, so that shouldn’t happen again.

            “Stupid stuff that will happen again: Scott Brooks will play Perkins and Fisher minutes…
            On the other hand: Spoelstra won’t play his god awful players.
            The Thunder will try to isolate all game long against the best isolation defense in the NBA – when engaged – and Miami will actually run an offense.”

            Probably true. I have no clue what goes on inside Scott Brooks’ head. His Durant-Westbrook-Sefolosha-Martin-Ibaka lineup is the best in the league by far. If he ran this unit, with Collison their top big guy reserve, they’d be unstoppable.

            Lucky for me that didn’t happen last year-I was all in on the Heat :) And based simply on variance, it’s unlikely we’ll see this matchup again this year anyway.

            “The results are, but not the process.”

            Only if the teams keep doing the same thing. Which, with Scott Brooks at the helm, seems plausible.

            “LeBron has by the way never lost against a team without a dominant defensive center in his entire playoff career. ”

            Kendrick Perkins? Fabricio Oberto? Both teams had good posts help in Garnett and Duncan, true, but the Thunder have Ibaka.

            “The Pacers are the Bulls from the last 2 seasons: Great defense, great rebounding and they give a lot of effort. ”

            The Pacers have the one thing that we both agree really bothers Lebron-a great defensive center in Hibbert. Won’t be enough to beat Miami at 100%, though, I agree.

            Posted by lochpster | March 9, 2013, 9:19 am
          • “Based on?”

            Based on being in the playoffs once in his entire career and being useless against the Heat. I guess I shouldn’t have said choker, even if this will be the narative in the end. I just don’t think that Martin will outproduce Harden’s performance.

            “No reason that should change.”

            Because no wing can translate shooting from the regular season to the playoffs. And as I already said, what was so spectacular about Durant’s performance was the way he got those points. I have never seen such a high level consistency shooting wise in a finals series in an eternity.

            “Conversely, Westbrook’s TS% should rise above the wretched 50% figure he produced last year while leading this team in shots, and Martin, almost by default, should outproduce Harden.”

            Why? Westbrook always struggles against Miami and Martin’s on a downward spiral after a hot start.

            “Man, I wish I could be unbelievably awful putting up 29 PPG with a TS% of 56 in the NBA.”

            So do you deny my statement? He was really good, but shot really bad at the same time.

            “Talk about an outlier!”

            The Heat got better looks on average than the Thunder. The Heat also have more shooters than the Thunder can rely on. LeBron and Battier are always taking away the spot up 3 from Durant, without relying on the defense to sink into the paint to deter drives, which also cuts of the open 3s Durant often assists on.

            “lineup is the best in the league by far”

            The Heat’s closing lineups are vastly outperforming the Thunder’s best lineups and that’s true for other teams too. So your statement is just wrong.

            “Kendrick Perkins? Fabricio Oberto? Both teams had good posts help in Garnett and Duncan, true, but the Thunder have Ibaka.”

            Ibaka is not even close to Garnett or Duncan in their defensive primes. Outside of weakside help, his defense isn’t much better than average. And Perkins is useless against LeBron.

            “a great defensive center in Hibbert”

            Hibbert’s movement is horrible. Let the Heat run 20 high pick and rolls – something they almost never do in the regular season – with Lebron/Bosh, Wade/Bosh in one half and Hibbert will be in constant foul trouble and utterly exhausted, because his conditioning is horrible.

            Posted by Chris | March 9, 2013, 11:58 am
          • “Because no wing can translate shooting from the regular season to the playoffs. And as I already said, what was so spectacular about Durant’s performance was the way he got those points. I have never seen such a high level consistency shooting wise in a finals series in an eternity.”

            I’m unaware that there were such drastic changes in wing production between the regular season to the playoffs. Could you please point me to your source/evidence here?

            FTR, Durant’s career regular season averages are 26.6 PPG, TS% 59.1. Playoff averages-28.1 PPG, TS% 59.2. Also, for the record, Durant has averaged 37 points with a TS% of 65 this year vs the Heat.

            “So do you deny my statement? He was really good, but shot really bad at the same time.”

            I don’t deny it. I just fail to see why it’s relevant. When talking about scoring, I don’t care about whether they’re making it rain or can only make dunks and layups. I care about how many points they score and how efficient they are.

            “The Heat’s closing lineups are vastly outperforming the Thunder’s best lineups and that’s true for other teams too. So your statement is just wrong.”

            I stand corrected.

            “LeBron and Battier are always taking away the spot up 3 from Durant”

            Durant shoots, and makes, more 3 pointers against the Heat than against other teams on average. Over the past 7 games he’s 17-42 from downtown against Miami.

            Posted by lochpster | March 11, 2013, 4:04 pm
          • “Could you please point me to your source/evidence here?”

            You could just look up the player pages of all wing volume scorers and compare their fg% and efg% between the regular season and postseason. Improving or holding steady over a large sample size is unheard of.

            “Playoff averages-28.1 PPG, TS% 59.2.”

            His TS% holds steady because his FTs increase. His efg% drops, with the noted exception of last year’s playoffs. I watched every Thunder game and Durant just got on a hot sreak in the conference finals and improved in the finals. To expect him to repeat that is not realistic.

            “Durant has averaged 37 points with a TS% of 65 this year vs the Heat.”

            He played well in the first game, when he was mainly defended by Battier. In the second game he was almost exclusively defended by LeBron, resulting in a disastrous shooting performance through the first 3 quarters. The combination of prevent defense and Wade guarding him gave him the opportunity to greatly pad his stats in the 4th, but that doesn’t overshadow, that he had an awful game.

            “When talking about scoring, I don’t care about whether they’re making it rain or can only make dunks and layups.”

            I would agree with you if it were only up to a player which shots he takes. But those easy baskets are a rarity in the playoffs. Durant will mostly get 12-15 feet runners and stepback jumpers against the Heat or contested longrange pull-ups. That’s the way LeBron especially defends him. Just watch the tape of the finals and you see how difficult it was for Durant to get quality shots. If I’m right and that shooting exhibition won’t become the norm, his efg% will dip greatly.

            “Durant shoots, and makes, more 3 pointers against the Heat than against other teams on average.”

            That % in under his average and again, there is a difference between process and results. Durant has gotten 2 open 3s against the Heat while being defended by LeBron in their last two games, that’s it.

            I’ve watched a lot of tape of LeBron guarding Durant and I have been very satisfied with the process and that’s what I will concentrate on.

            Posted by Chris | March 12, 2013, 11:35 am
          • “You could just look up the player pages of all wing volume scorers and compare their fg% and efg% between the regular season and postseason. Improving or holding steady over a large sample size is unheard of.”

            I actually went through and did this, and you are right. Among the great wing scorers I looked at, other than Durant, all declined to some degree. Only two of the 7 I looked at had either postseason FG% or eFG% that declined by more than a percentage point, however-Lebron and Carmelo. The rest exhibited declines of a percentage point or less in both stats-Jordan, Kobe, Wade, Harden, Gervin. Durant has had no drop off.

            So the effect you mention is real, but it’s also barely noticeable over the course of a series in most cases. If he regresses to the mean as you expect rather than continuing to perform at his current level, we’re looking at a theoretical difference of roughly one FGM over the course of an entire series.

            “His TS% holds steady because his FTs increase.”

            That’s good, right? As you’ve pointed out MANY times, free throws do matter to scoring.

            “In the second game he was almost exclusively defended by LeBron, resulting in a disastrous shooting performance”

            In his worst performance against the Heat, 3 quarters guarded by Lebron, he scored 22 points with a TS% of 55. Hardly disastrous, and I don’t think you can take much from such a small sample size. Still, if he replicated this over a series, OKC is toast.

            “there is a difference between process and results.

            I’ve watched a lot of tape of LeBron guarding Durant and I have been very satisfied with the process and that’s what I will concentrate on.”

            In sum, my understanding of your overall argument (correct me if I’m wrong) is that you think, based mostly on game tape, the results of Durant’s next few meetings with the Heat will be less effective than he has been so far because he’s taking hard such hard shots, and he won’t be able to continue to make them at such a high rate. I also assume, from your last sentence, that your mind is 100% made up on this.

            Fair enough. I disagree, however. When I watch the tape, I see Durant scoring like crazy at an absurd efficiency rate. Sometimes the shots do look really hard, but he makes them because he’s an offensive savant. I think he’ll continue. And I don’t think James, or anyone else, can slow him down appreciably over the course of a series.

            But I could be wrong. If they meet in the playoffs and your prediction holds true, I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong.

            Thanks for the discussion.

            Posted by lochpster | March 12, 2013, 2:20 pm
          • “we’re looking at a theoretical difference of roughly one FGM over the course of an entire series.”

            I expect more than that, considering the small sample size of Durant’s postseason career.

            “That’s good, right? As you’ve pointed out MANY times, free throws do matter to scoring.”

            Of course, but I’ve been only arguing about shotmaking from the onset.

            “3 quarters guarded by Lebron, he scored 22 points with a TS% of 55.”

            1st quarter: Durant misses every shot attempt, gets 2 free throws after a foul from Andersen after having drawn a switch and NOT being guarded by LeBron.
            2nd quarter: He makes 4 free throws while being guarded by Wade, makes a three after a screen while being guarded by LeBron, makes a basket in transition off a steal without being defended, draws a shooting foul from LeBron, – which wasn’t a foul at all by the way – makes a technical free throw after LeBron gets a technical called on him for being infuriated with the officiating – which had been horrendous for those last two minutes.
            3rd quarter: Durant scores on a difficult jumper while being guarded by LeBron, he scores in transition off a steal, end. So in 3 quarters LeBron made ONE defensive mistake, where he didn’t fight through a screen and ONE other time Durant made a stepback jumper against him.

            “will be less effective than he has been so far because he’s taking hard such hard shots, and he won’t be able to continue to make them at such a high rate.”

            Yes. I don’t expect much of a difference, because Durant is really great, but nobody can hit so many tough shots without ever having a bad game. I definitely don’t expect him to shoot even better in a potential finals.

            “I see Durant scoring like crazy at an absurd efficiency rate”

            I see him do that against Battier, Wade and on switches against bigs or whoever else ends up on that island. But Durant doesn’t like posting up LeBron and he also has trouble against the Heat trap where LeBron acts as the big. LeBron is also really good at funneling him into help defense or to cut off his lane and force step-backs or pull-ups. It’s just a matter of how many he will hit. And I expect something between the first 3 quarters of their last game and the finals series and I don’t see a reason to assume anything else.

            “Thanks for the discussion.”

            Thank you very much indeed.

            Posted by Chris | March 12, 2013, 4:23 pm
      • @Lochpster…I wonder if your mind has been changed about Miami in light of the recent streak and the way that they crushed the Pacers at home.

        I wonder if you still believe that Miami isn’t the best team, and if you do please explain who you think is better and why.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | March 27, 2013, 12:55 pm
        • They’re the best team in the league right now, no question.

          Posted by lochpster | March 27, 2013, 9:31 pm
          • That said, I still think it’s going to be VERY tough for them to repeat. I don’t believe the best team usually wins the NBA title, and I believe it’s even harder to repeat. Eventually, attrition or luck turns against every team. The Eastern Conference playoffs will be a slugfest, and I still believe Indy matches up well enough against the Heat that they could win a series if the Heat don’t/can’t bring their A game. They’re capable of throwing the Heat off with their physicality and should dominate the boards and the paint. If the Heat show up at full strength and play well, the Pacers are toast, but who knows if that will happen?

            I also truly believe that while the Heat will and should be favored over the Thunder or Spurs, either team winning wouldn’t be much of an upset.

            Posted by lochpster | March 28, 2013, 10:21 pm
          • I don’t give the Pacers much of a shot. Remember last season’s series was played with Chris Bosh. Also one of the Pacers key players is gone, that will hurt them come playoff time.

            I agree about the Spurs, not so sure I agree about OKC though. I think that OKC plays Miami’s style of basketball which gives Miami an edge in that series, enough of an edge that I would be shocked if they could beat Miami 4 times in 7 without homecourt.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | March 31, 2013, 12:19 pm
          • I just think the Heat are overblown as a juggernaut. Yes, they are the defending champs, they just won 27 games in a row, they are the best team in the league, they have the best player in the league, they’ve settled into an offensive system that really works for them, and the media is fawning all over them. But they also accumulated that league-best record in the (l)East and have accumulated a lot of fatigue during that streak despite somehow avoiding any season-altering injuries. They don’t rebound well, are beatable on the defensive end, and are very vulnerable to injury due to depth and age issues (as tough as Wade is, his body is a ticking time bomb). If they aren’t fully healthy, their outside shots don’t fall and they don’t win the turnover battle, they could very easily flame out.

            Efficiency differential is usually the best predictor of who wins the championship. OKC has a differential of 10.8 per 100 possessions, Miami 10.1 and San Antonio 9.8. Sure, Miami has dominated OKC recently, but these teams are different from the teams that met in last year’s playoffs (where games 1-4 were very competitive), and regular season head to head records is a very poor predictor of future outcomes.

            Some folks say Miami is a terrible matchup for OKC-Chris, above, laid out his argument as to why he thinks this very thing. I respectfully disagree with such arguments. When they play their best game, I don’t believe anybody can slow Durant appreciably or hang with OKC in general. They’re hyper athletic and very long, they’re tough on the boards, they’ve got 2 unguardable offensive weapons, and they play very solid defense. For them, it’s about consistently reaching their potential-something that Miami and San Antonio have learned to do.

            I still expect Miami would probably beat them in a series, but it would be very close.

            But what I think doesn’t matter. Someone’s going to win the title and render these discussions moot :)

            Posted by lochpster | March 31, 2013, 9:39 pm
          • “the Heat are overblown as a juggernaut”

            They are a juggernaut, just not the only one. The media does a poor job of covering the Thunder, but I know many writers that have made your point.

            “But they also accumulated that league-best record in the (l)East”

            There are more teams in the East who give the Heat trouble than in the West. Their 25-5 record shows just that. The Heat would probably prefer a series against the Clippers and the Warriors over the Bulls and Celtics.

            “have accumulated a lot of fatigue during that streak”

            Maybe mental fatigue, but their rotation played the usual amount of minutes. Considering how they responded since the streak has ended, especially compared to other teams that fell apart after long streaks, there is no big concern.

            “despite somehow avoiding any season-altering injuries”

            This is a real concern. Definitely a disadvantage compared to OKC, whose top 3 players seem to be indestructible.

            “They don’t rebound well, are beatable on the defensive end, and are very vulnerable to injury due to depth and age issues”

            They are average at rebounding. But especially the Thunder have struggled to exploit that.
            They are still a great defensive team, no idea what you are talking about.
            They are not vulnerable to depth and age issues. There aren’t any teams in the east which have more depth. And age is only relevant if it leads to injuries. The Bulls had a lot of success with this model in the past.

            “If they aren’t fully healthy, their outside shots don’t fall and they don’t win the turnover battle, they could very easily flame out.”

            You can make such a list for every team in NBA history. And by the way, all 3 of those factors came into play against the Pacers and the Celtics last season and the Heat were a worse team last year.

            “Efficiency differential is usually the best predictor of who wins the championship”

            Historically, yes. Lately, no. Considering how those respective differentials came together, I won’t make it the main ingredient of this discussion.

            “but these teams are different from the teams that met in last year’s playoffs”

            True, Miami is better and OKC is worse, especially from a matchup perspective.

            “and regular season head to head records is a very poor predictor of future outcomes”

            True, but it can tell us a lot about matchups. Don’t see any positive development for OKC.

            “When they play their best game, I don’t believe anybody can slow Durant appreciably or hang with OKC in general.”

            That’s laughable. OKC plays their best game, when teams allow them to isolate at the top or if their bigs are reluctant to hedge. Miami’s defense is almost perfect to stop OKC’s primitive sets.

            “They’re hyper athletic and very long, they’re tough on the boards, they’ve got 2 unguardable offensive weapons, and they play very solid defense.”

            Their athleticism doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t translate on offense. It definitely shows on the defensive end, but this was true last year, when they had Harden, and they weren’t able to handle small ball. They weren’t able to do so this regular season either and considering Collison isn’t even physically able to play much more minutes than he does and that Brooks is a horrible coach, this probably won’t change.
            And I disagree that OKC has 2 unguardable players. You can’t stay in front of Westbrook, but once you force him to make multiple decisions in the 10-15 feet area, he is an average player. Hey, that’s exactly what Miami has been doing against him, what a surprise…

            “it’s about consistently reaching their potential-something that Miami and San Antonio have learned to do.”

            To reach their potential, they need better sets and then they have to be able to execute them, which they can’t, because half their players have no basketball IQ at all (looking at Perkins, Jackson, Westbrook, the cadaver of the once intelligent Fisher and Kevin Martin, a player that is absolutely useless when his shot isn’t falling and the refs aren’t giving him free throws for his constant flopping).

            Miami also doesn’t play up to their potential. They have played their best ball in the last two Februaries and they have killed teams in those stretches. What we have seen from Miami in the last 4 weeks hasn’t been close to that level of play.

            “but it would be very close”

            Probably. OKC, escpecially Durant, is really good at coming back from 15 point defecits to only lose by 4-6 points.

            Posted by Chris | April 1, 2013, 8:38 am
          • Miami is a great defensive team still. Maybe not in every game, but they have shown that gear, especially in clutch situations where they can lock teams down. If they play with that gear the entire playoffs, and I see no reason why they wouldn’t since that is the time to play all out, then they are going to be one of the best playoff defenses. Lebron can take most players out of the game in the 4th Q, or at least limit them, and Wade plays very good defense as well.

            I will say that if they avoid major injury and they play as they are capable of playing there is no team in the league that can beat them. Miami has answers for every weak point that they have.

            They don’t rebound well, but they rebound fine when it really matters, and even in games they have been killed on the boards they have won. I don’t think rebounding is as an important factor as people think it is, I think its a way to nitpick at Miami.

            Turnovers are important, that was a good catch, Miami plays much better when they win the turnover battle, which they usually do.

            As for the 3 point shots not falling you can say that about just about every team in the NBA, I don’t think that is a valid point because it doesn’t just apply to Miami. Other teams(like NY) rely on the 3 point shot more then Miami does. Miami also has a group of very good 3 point shooters who can get hot at different times.

            I don’t see how OKC can beat Miami at its own game, and it doesn’t have the big’s to force Miami to play another way.

            IMO Lebron is the best player in the league and its not close, if he doesn’t win the MVP this season then the award is meaningless and Wade is a top 5 player and is better then Westbrook.

            Miami is a better team this season, and OKC is not as Chris pointed out. That doesn’t bode well for a possible finals rematch if your an OKC supporter. Does that mean that they can’t win? No, they could pull it off, but its unlikely if Miami plays its best basketball.

            Miami won the title last year with a hurt team, if they can make the finals with a fully healthy team, they will be in a good spot to repeat.

            I don’t see anyone in the East that can really push Miami in a 7 game series, that being said its possible that someone might push them anyway.

            I think its pretty clear that Miami wants to defend its title pretty badly, and they have everything they need to do so.

            I saw something is last nights game vs the Spurs, something that I take away from an otherwise meaningless game. Tony Parker can be guarded and thrown off his game, and guess who would be guarding him in the 4th Q of tight games? Lebron, and if Norris Cole(who played amazing btw) can rattle Tony Parker, then Lebron can shut him down for the most part. And you can bet that Miami will throw Norris Cole at him as well.

            While I think that Miami would rather play OKC, I think they could beat the Spurs as well.

            Miami should have been blown out of the building vs the Spurs with Lebron and Wade sitting, but they won the game. That is a sad state of affairs for SA. I refuse to believe that SA took Miami lightly because Lebron and Wade sat.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | April 1, 2013, 8:15 pm
          • “”The [Heat] are average at rebounding”

            First off, the Heat are not average at rebounding. They’re 24th in the league with a rebounding differential of -2.2.

            “You can make such a list for every team in NBA history. And by the way, all 3 of those factors came into play against the Pacers and the Celtics last season and the Heat were a worse team last year ”

            You are correct that these issues reared their heads last year and the Heat prevailed. But they are bigger issues for the Heat this year because of their poor rebounding. Last year, they had a rebounding differential of +1.8. This led to roughly the same number of field goal attempts as their opponents, and the Heat more than made up the difference if you include free throws.

            This year, they’re shooting 3 fewer times per game than their opponents, and they outscore their opponents by only 1 free throw per game. Fewer opportunities to score mean you have to maximize the possessions you do have. Which, to their credit, the Heat have done in spades.

            But shooting has been known to run hot and cold in the playoffs, and the Heat are more vulnerable to such streaks than most because of their possession inequality. The Spurs also have this issue.

            The only teams to win a championship with a negative rebounding margin since the ABA-NBA merger were Hakeem’s Rockets in 1994 and 1995. The past 14 NBA champions have been in the top 10 in rebounding differential. It’s a very strong predictor, and one that shines very poorly on the Heat. As Pat Riley himself is quoted as saying, “No rebounds, no rings.”

            OKC clocks in at +2.9, good for 5th in the league. The other top 6 teams are Indy, Memphis, Brooklyn, Denver and LAC. No surprise here, since rebounding is the box score stat most strongly correlated to winning.

            Last year, when Miami out rebounded OKC in the finals, they were 5th and 6th in rebounding during the regular season. This season, with OKC 5th and Miami 24th, Miami has out rebounded OKC by 4 RPG this season. Will this trend continue, or is it a statistical anomaly? I suspect the latter.

            “True, Miami is better and OKC is worse.”

            OKC has a point differential of +3.7 compared to last year’s squad. They also have a better winning percentage than last year. Hard to call that anything but better.

            “especially from a matchup perspective.”

            Can we just agree to let what actually happens in the playoffs decide this argument?

            “They are still a great defensive team, no idea what you are talking about.”

            Eighth in the league in defensive efficiency, compared to 4th last year. They are 2.7 points per 100 possessions better than the league average on defense, which is inferior to Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Indiana. Not great.

            You’ve made it clear you think James can shut Durant down in a playoff series and the rest of the Thunder roster is more or less chopped liver. To that I say, if these teams meet, we’ll find out.

            “They are not vulnerable to depth and age issues.”

            We’ve discussed this ad nauseum. Believe what you will.

            “That’s laughable. OKC plays their best game, when teams allow them to isolate at the top or if their bigs are reluctant to hedge. Miami’s defense is almost perfect to stop OKC’s primitive sets.”

            I don’t appreciate it when you ridicule me or my statements. Not a good way to foster discussion.

            I agree with you that OKC’s hoops IQ lags behind that of SA and Miami. This is why their differential is the best in the league, but their record is behind that of both Miami and SA. Veteran teams outperform their pythagorean win expectation and win games they shouldn’t, while young teams do the opposite. Predictable.

            What is not predictable is when those hyper-talented, hyper-athletic young teams put it all together. If this is the year the Thunder play with the level of focus and attention to detail that their championship-ring bearing counterparts do, I don’t see anyone who can hang with their combination of talent and athleticism.

            Clearly we’ve each made our predictions. I foresee a competitive series if these two teams meet (slight edge to the Heat still), while you see a Heat rout. If we’re lucky, we’ll actually get to see who is right!

            Posted by lochpster | April 1, 2013, 9:43 pm
          • “First off, the Heat are not average at rebounding”

            You are right, I looked at the wrong numbers. My point still stands nonetheless: OKC hasn’t been able to exploit that.

            “they had a rebounding differential of +1.8.”

            The Heat were 12th of 16 teams in the playoffs in defensive rebounding and even worse in the offensive department. Which makes sense, because just like this year, they were forced to play small ball – well, they weren’t forced this season – and it was reflected in their rebounding prowess, just like this year. So it’s wrong to paint the Heat team that prevailed in the playoffs last year as a better rebounding team than this one.

            “outscore their opponents by only 1 free throw per game”

            This is mainly the result of LeBron’s reluctance at the beginning of the season to attack the basket aswell as Wade’s slow recovery. It’s also a sign of the philosophical change in their offensive approach, mainly the evolving passing game.

            “and the Heat are more vulnerable to such streaks than most because of their possession inequality”

            LeBron and Wade trust the process in the regular season. In the past, LeBron would have started to recklessly attack the paint once open 3s by his teammates weren’t falling. This year, that hasn’t been the case. I don’t expect them to sustain that approach in do or die games.

            ““No rebounds, no rings.””

            Shows you how archaic even a great architect like Riley thinks and how deep he is still connected to the principle of paint domination in every way possible. But Riley could have also meant the advantage in possessions, something the Heat defense is known to produce.

            “Will this trend continue, or is it a statistical anomaly?”

            Having watched the film, I can assure you that it isn’t a statistic anomaly. But going along your way of argumentation: The Heat outrebounded the Thunder in games 2-5 in the finals, while playing small ball much more than the Thunder and with games 2-4 being pretty close.

            “Hard to call that anything but better.”

            They have no idea what to do in late game situations. None.
            As you should have recognized by now, most of my arguments are based on matchups, so I really have no choice but to call them weaker and definitely built worse to have success in the playoffs.

            “Can we just agree to let what actually happens in the playoffs decide this argument?”

            This is a stupid approach.

            “Eighth in the league in defensive efficiency, compared to 4th last year.”

            Seriously, why do you insist on judging teams on whole seasons, when there are clear indications that a team/teams have changed over the course of it? This Heat team has almost nothing to do with the one that was 26th in defensive efficiency in the first 5 weeks of the season.

            “You’ve made it clear you think James can shut Durant down in a playoff series and the rest of the Thunder roster is more or less chopped liver. To that I say, if these teams meet, we’ll find out.”

            Please don’t distort my argument to make me look hysterical. Nobody can shut down Durant. LeBron, and to a lesser extent Battier, are doing a really good job of containing him. They force him to be a scorer from 15 feet, without tasty looking open shooters. A Durant that basically isolates for a shot on 70% of his possessions is what the Heat want. If he ends up averaging 30 points that way, the Heat will still be satisfied, because the Thunder won’t win that way.

            “If this is the year the Thunder play with the level of focus and attention to detail that their championship-ring bearing counterparts do, I don’t see anyone who can hang with their combination of talent and athleticism.”

            This isn’t a question of detail and focus. It would be insulting to think that they aren’t doing this already. The point is, that they have no idea what to do once the game slows down and the way to the paint is shut off and the open shot is 3 passes away. I have watched every close game OKC has played this year and it is staggering to see how challenged Westbrook and Durant are once the decision making process becomes complicated.

            “while you see a Heat rout.”

            Again, I have never said or implied this. So much for your “I don’t appreciate it when you ridicule me or my statements.” bit. Because of variance alone, a series between those teams can easily go to 6 games. Even a game 7 wouldn’t be surprising. Hell, the Thunder winning is absolutely plausible. It just isn’t the most probable outcome. I’m mainly arguing with you about the importance of various parameters and how indicative they are for a prediction.
            It seems to me, that both of us have been overstating their arguments or atleast forced the other one to believe, that we are talking about almost absolutes. I atlest didn’t have that intention and I hope it wasn’t the only impression my arguments could lead anyone who read them to.

            Posted by Chris | April 1, 2013, 10:21 pm
          • I have to agree with Chris that it is silly to include Miami’s early season stats in any debate because Wade was making his way back to full health and the team wasn’t really focused. This is a now a team that sees the where they are going straight ahead and is heading there at a pretty steady clip.

            When I look at teams in terms of how they will play in the post season, I look at the best the team is capable of, with an eye to what can be carried over from the regular season(like most of the time you can’t shoot your way to a title through hot shooting alone, though Orlando almost pulled it off in 2009), the game slows down so that hurts teams that focus more on their offense then their defense in terms of scoring output(which is why a 7 seconds or less offense will never win an NBA title IMO), as a couple of examples of things that don’t carry over. What does carry over is if a team has another gear/level that it has shown it can play at. Some teams have that and some teams have maxed out what they can do in the regular season(Chicago in 2011 is a prime example). The teams that I believe have an extra gear….

            Miami
            OKC
            Spurs
            Unless serious injuries occur one of those 3 teams will win the title. The other “contenders” all have too many problems. I could go into them if someone wants, but just to list a couple.

            Memphis- Lacks a real scoring punch which they will need to carry them to a key win or two in a tight series. Defense alone can’t carry you to a title.

            Pacers-See Memphis

            NY-Way too streaky of a shooting team. Can get hot and beat most teams in a series but it won’t carry through the entire playoffs, it never does.

            Clippers-Have no offense, lob city is not an offense. Plus look at their coach. Also Blake Griffen is overrated in my mind. Hes not a superstar and people act like he is. On the other hand they have Chris Paul who is the best floor manager in the NBA, that will win them some games, that they would otherwise lose. Not enough to win an NBA title though. Its possible this team could upset either OKC or SA but I don’t see it.

            To me the two teams that are a real threat to Miami repeating are OKC and SA and that is it.

            I have a ton of respect for KD, hes an amazing player but OKC looks lost in close games as Chris has pointed out. Then there is Westbrook, I still tend to doubt the choices that he makes, he has to prove himself still.

            SA looks like its lost a step on defense and I question how their players will hold up over the playoff grind. If they can get it together on defense and play at an elite level and they can get and stay healthy then its a team that is more then capable of winning an NBA title.

            About Miami’s hot shooting…should that taper off in the playoffs I fully expect that Lebron and Wade will shift into full attack mode(like they did last year vs the Pacers) and take over the game. But open 3 point shots are the best shot to take in the game, so I expect that Miami with the shooters it has won’t have a problem having at least one hot hand from beyond the arc.

            I am a bit worried about the rebounding for Miami, but I think they can improve that in the playoffs through effort and doing a better job of boxing out on rebounds, as long as they don’t get murdered on the glass I believe that the amount of turnovers they force will more then balance that out.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | April 2, 2013, 11:11 pm
          • @Chris

            “Hell, the Thunder winning is absolutely plausible. It just isn’t the most probable outcome. ”

            “I atlest didn’t have that intention and I hope it wasn’t the only impression my arguments could lead anyone who read them to.”

            This, to me, is extremely reasonable. I have no beef with this position.

            I was arguing your earlier stated position that “they will lose against Miami if that’s the finals again.” Not sure how I could have taken that to mean anything but absolute confidence that Miami would trounce OKC, but fair enough.

            I stated earlier that I thought the NBA finals would be a roughly even money affair. I no longer believe that, but I still believe whoever comes out of the west will be a formidable opponent.

            “Please don’t distort my argument to make me look hysterical. ”

            Well, you did say this…

            “I really don’t care about Westbrook in this discussion.”

            this

            “Chris Bosh actually plays defense and rebounds a little in the playoffs, which makes him better than Ibaka?

            this

            “Martin seems to be a good choice for the yearly choker award.”

            and this

            “half their players have no basketball IQ at all (looking at Perkins, Jackson, Westbrook, the cadaver of the once intelligent Fisher and Kevin Martin, a player that is absolutely useless when his shot isn’t falling and the refs aren’t giving him free throws for his constant flopping”

            Sounds like you pretty much refer to the rest of the Thunder as chopped liver, so I don’t back down from that part of the statement.

            And you went to great lengths above to describe how great the Heat were at defending Durant. Whether it’s shutting him down or containing him is a semantic argument. I agree that the Heat would be happy with the outcome you describe.

            “This is a stupid approach.”

            It’s a stupid approach to make a prediction and then see if it comes true? Seems to me that’s the smart way to go about things-hypothesize, test, reassess. Scientific method. What other method do you propose?

            “it is staggering to see how challenged Westbrook and Durant are once the decision making process becomes complicated.”

            “They have no idea what to do in late game situations. None”

            The Thunder are 6-8 this year in games decided by 5 or fewer points. They also outscore their opponents by roughly 12 PPG in “crunch time.” They may not be the Heat, but to posit that they have “no idea” at best misleading hyperbole and at worst just patently false.

            “I have watched every close game OKC has played this year…”

            “Having watched the film, I can assure you…”

            “As you should have recognized by now, most of my arguments are based on matchups”

            I find it incredibly frustrating how you use the fact that you watch the games as a trump card in these arguments. I’m sure everyone who posts here watches a ton of games and believes themselves to be pretty adept at assessing matchups-I know I do. So do all the “experts.” Yet history shows how bad we all are at assessing game tape.

            Remember, it wasn’t long ago where prevailing wisdom, based on game tape, was that Kobe Bryant was the crunch time king and “LeBrick” lacked the killer instinct and would never win a title. Less than a year ago, we didn’t think Lebron and Co. had the chops to handle the Thunder in the Finals based largely on Miami’s inability to slow down Durant and Westbrook. So much for the tape there.

            We trust what Nate Silver says because he puts his credibility on the line and nails it time after time. As I stated above, I’m more than happy to give credit where credit is due if your predictions prove prescient. Until then, you’re just some guy on the internet whose assessment of the game tape is different than mine. You know exactly how you can prove me wrong.

            Until then :)

            Posted by lochpster | April 13, 2013, 2:13 pm
          • “Chris Bosh actually plays defense and rebounds a little in the playoffs, which makes him better than Ibaka?

            this

            “Martin seems to be a good choice for the yearly choker award.”

            and this”

            Chris Bosh plays with more energy in the playoffs and Kevin Martin is easy to shut down and I really mean a shutdown. If that happens, he will be labeled as a choker. How is that hysterical?

            “Sounds like you pretty much refer to the rest of the Thunder as chopped liver”

            They have a lot of low basketball IQ players. Doesn’t mean they are bad players.

            “Whether it’s shutting him down or containing him is a semantic argument.”

            It’s not semantic, because there is a gigantic gulf between those two in terms of production and impact.

            “It’s a stupid approach to make a prediction and then see if it comes true?”

            No, it’s a stupid approach because it’s the easy way out of the discussion.

            “but to posit that they have “no idea” at best misleading hyperbole and at worst just patently false.”

            Of course it’s hyperbole and of course they are still good. But they still have no idea what to do. The either run an isolation for Durant or Westbrook or a 1-3 pick n roll at the top or on the side – mostly at the top. Once that first option fails, the offense breaks down. But they are really good defensively at the end of games.

            “Yet history shows how bad we all are at assessing game tape.”

            I don’t know how good you have been in that regard, but I had the wrong winner in only 2 playoff series in the last 3 years, one of them being the Miami Dallas Finals and the other one being the Hawks winning against the Magic.

            “was that Kobe Bryant was the crunch time king and “LeBrick” lacked the killer instinct and would never win a title”

            Watching tape doesn’t lead to those conclusions. What are you even talking about?

            “Less than a year ago, we didn’t think Lebron and Co. had the chops to handle the Thunder in the Finals based largely on Miami’s inability to slow down Durant and Westbrook. So much for the tape there.”

            Again, I don’t know what people thought back then, but I predicted a 6 game series for Miami. And its news to me that people ever thought that a LeBron led team cannot handle Durant, considering their head to head record.

            “We trust what Nate Silver says because he puts his credibility on the line and nails it time after time.”

            Yes. But you aren’t putting anything on the line. Am I arguing with you or the MOV rating, the SRS rating or actually the net rating of the Thunder?

            Posted by Chris | April 13, 2013, 8:03 pm
  36. Hi Guys!

    Chris – I didn’t stop commenting because I’m a Kobe apologist, it’s because I realized (with your help) the futility of convincing people here not to use a ruler (box score data) when a microscope (video tracking, spatial data) is needed for meaningful data-driven player analysis … or you could use the eye test, which would be about as good as using the box score.

    Ken – Your bizarre conviction that Chris and I are the same person only highlights your error-ridden thought process. Not sure how I would prove to you that we are not the same person, as any evidence would be countered with another theory (like the fact that if the moderator were to be able to check, he would find the IP addresses of mine and Chris’ are different and from different locations). By the way, that wasn’t me saying “You’re a LIAR!”. I’d write a little bit more than that.

    Good luck, and be sure to keep up with Kirk Goldsberry’s excellent work incorporating spatial data!

    Until next time …

    Posted by Gil Meriken | March 8, 2013, 4:30 pm
    • Gil, while watching the game is important because stats don’t tell the entire story…it is a mix of both that is important in my mind. Because we tend to remember things that confirm what we already believe, and forget those things that don’t confirm what we already believe. Stats help us overcome that. If for example I watch a game and I think that D-Wade shot great in the game and his shooting helped Miami win the game, but then I later look at his stat line and see that he missed a large amount of his shots, then how was it I remember him shooting great even though he clearly didn’t? This has happened in the past. So the stats help clear things up, however they don’t tell the entire story. I remember one game where he shot around 50% and I thought he was making more shots then that. What happened when I went back and watched the game again was that he was making 90% of his open shots, and those are the ones that I remembered when I thought about the game. Still he took 20 shots and made only 10 of them, so while it was a good game, it wasn’t one of his best shooting wise. He did have a number of key steals, which helped shape my belief that he had a great game.

      My point is that it takes both the eye test and the box score in order to analyze players. I have a hard time ranking players that I never saw play, because its purely numbers and highlights that I go off of. I watched MJ play as a kid and I remember the Flu game, I remember the fade away shots that he made to win games(and likely I forgot many of his misses) and I remember how at times he seemed unstoppable. I remember near the end of the Bulls run in the ECF with the Pacers and Reggie Miller, that went 7 games, how Reggie Miller made a number of key shots to extend the series. I would have to check but I believe he shot at least one game winner from the 3 point line. This is why stats and video exists and should be use, so that we can learn if what we believe is really what happened.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | March 27, 2013, 12:53 pm
  37. As the season is winding down, there are a few interesting plots relating to playoff seeding. In the East, Indy and New York are battling for that 2 seed, and there are 3 teams battling for the 3rd best record out west right now.

    However, what’s really interesting is the battle for that 8th seed out West. Utah refused to sell at the trade deadline, and they have recently snuck back into the 8th seed by continuing to give heavy minutes to veterans who likely have no role in the team’s future. Always fun to watch teams with no plan!

    The Lakers continue to be bastions of mediocrity, playing .500 ball and dealing with injuries. Of note, they seem to have the toughest schedule of any of the teams battling for that 8th spot. The fallout of the Nash trade is staggering-not only did the Lakers wind up with a bad coach in D’Antoni instead of (presumably) Phil Jackson, but they don’t get the draft picks they could need to rein fuse the roster with young talent. And 2 years from now, the only player the Lakers have under contract is a 40 year old Steve Nash, for just shy of $10 million. Ouch!

    They play Dallas on Tuesday, and a Mavs win could move Dallas ahead of the Lakers with just a handful of games left. They also finish the season at Houston, a team that could be motivated not only by playoff seeding but also as a team trying to recruit Dwight Howard in the offseason.

    You can bet on the Lakers at 20-1 to win the title! It’s no wonder Vegas stays in business if they can find people to take that bet.

    Dallas is playing the best of the three teams and is only one game back. Could Dirk’s Mavs slay the demons of the 2007 Mavs-Warriors series, when Dallas was toppled by the 8 seed? Could they hand Duncan and Pop their second loss as a 1? We all know how dangerous the Mavs can be when they catch fire.

    But no, that’s not going to happen.

    Posted by lochpster | March 30, 2013, 4:12 pm
  38. I never thought D’Antoni was the coach for the job. My pick was Phil Jackson. I think with Phil Jackson they could have won a championship.

    Posted by NBAVideosDaily | April 12, 2013, 4:25 pm
    • I think that Phil Jackson is the best coach ever but I strongly disagree with that statement. There is no way this team as it is built is winning a title. It lacks the shooters you need to play an inside out game which would be best for this team IMO.

      In other news it looks like Kobe is done for the season with a partly torn ACL.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | April 12, 2013, 11:03 pm
    • Thanks for the read! I think with Phil Jackson, they probably would have wound up with the rest of the teams vying for the 3 seed, and they’d have had an outside shot at winning the title this year.

      Guess we’ll never know.

      Posted by lochpster | April 13, 2013, 2:29 pm
      • @Lochpster, I think knowing what we know about this team now and assuming that Phil could force Kobe to follow an offense and that the Lakers would play at least average defense that a 3rd seed sounds about right. I still don’t think this team could(and I have said this from the very start of the season) beat OKC in a playoff series, even fully healthy and with Phil as their coach.

        I called an Miami-OKC rematch in the NBA finals and I am sticking with that pick.

        I think(just want to say it now before the playoffs start) that it will go 6 games with Miami winning the first two at home, OKC winning 2 of 3 at home(making it 3-2 Miami) and Miami winning game 6 at home. While I think Miami is a better team and OKC is not, I doubt Miami’s ability to take 2 out of 3 in OKC, its a really tough place to play. They can win once there and that is all they will need to do to keep it from being a 7 game series.

        I think having 3 in a row at home is a huge edge if your a great home team.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | April 14, 2013, 5:12 pm
  39. Without defence, the NBA is more a sports of individuals. The rich are much richer, so it would make sense to have the first two rounds a best of 5, and the last two a best of nine. I wish one extra FT was added to the end of each foul in the 4th quarter to avoid so many fouls. I’d playoff foul my head into their knees to avoid being suspended. Rondo and Nash are two exciting passers. Shots in midair should be more easily foul-able, says this hockey fan.

    Posted by The Keystone Garter | April 28, 2013, 1:04 pm
  40. Did y’all stop writing or something? I’ve been hoping to see something new cuz you always have good stuff to say.

    Posted by Elijah A | May 5, 2013, 10:50 pm
  41. Anyone still on this website? Thoughts on the finals?

    Anyway, the most bizarre story line in game 2 is that Joey Crawford has been picked by the NBA to ref the game. The 2007 Duncan ejection for laughing on the bench was disgraceful, and the Spurs and many NBA fans believe Crawford is out to get them. Given that many already have been claiming that the league will do just about anything to extend the series, adding Crawford to the mix just seems to add a lot of justified fuel to the fire.

    Of course, Crawford has a history with James, too. And honestly, Crawford is such a wild-card, who knows what unpredictable nonsense he’s going to pull. I was fairly confident the Heat would win game 2 before, and that hasn’t changed. But poor form, NBA. Poor form.

    Posted by lochpster | June 9, 2013, 1:24 pm
    • Sorry, Lochpster, but since Chris is the ONLY person that is absolutely right about everything, we all have simply deferred to his wisdom.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 9, 2013, 1:35 pm
      • Unfortunately that is probably true. Chris’s inclination to boorishly insult every poster he disagrees with has just about dried up this board.

        For the record, I think my predictions, when compared to Chris’ for this year’s playoffs, look pretty good. Obviously OKC didn’t make the finals, and we won’t see what happens in that series.

        However, I expected the Heat to show their age and have depth issues. That has definitely happened-despite Chris’ contention that “They are not vulnerable to depth and age issues.” Wade and Bosh are struggling and banged up, as predicted, and the rest of the Heat are struggling to make up the difference.

        I thought the Pacers had a real chance to upset the Heat and that Roy Hibbert would be a major defensive factor-that they were not the “paper tigers” that Chris claimed, nor that Hibbert would be exposed because his movement and conditioning here “horrible”. Yet the Pacers gave the Heat all they could handle until they fell apart in game 7.

        I expected whoever came out of the west to be roughly Miami’s equal, whether it was OKC or SA. And regardless of who wins, we’re in for quite a Finals matchup (yay!). I think we both expected SA to be a tough out for Miami, though, and Miami obviously still has a great shot at winning the series.

        I expected Durant’s efficiency to stay as high as it had-it did not. And Chris called out Kevin Martin as a choker in this year’s playoffs, and Martin’s high level efficiency dropped to very league average against Memphis. I didn’t expect those things to happen, and Chris did.

        Then again, there’s this zinger. “Chris Bosh actually plays defense and rebounds a little in the playoffs”

        Ouch.

        Posted by lochpster | June 9, 2013, 5:12 pm
        • I like the contrast in styles of the SA and Miami match-up.

          The Spurs play great team defense, are very active on offense and pass the ball quickly and effectively.

          The Heat rely more upon individual match-ups and a lot of drive and dish scoring.

          I am impressed with Parker’s performances as he seems to have really improved his outside game.

          The Heat need to keep Parker out of the lane.

          I was annoyed when the media started slobbering all over the Spurs after game #1. I guess they had forgotten the 1991 Finals when the Bulls lost game #1 at hoe and then easily dusted the Lakers in four straight.

          I am not saying that the 2013 Heat are as great a team as those Bulls, but one game does not a series make.

          By the way, Loch,

          I checked the playoff and finals data for 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1986 and I must conclude a few things:

          1) Kareem, not Magic deserved the MVP in 1980

          2) Magic was the best Laker throughout the 1982 post season.

          3) Bird was MILES better than any of his Celtics teammates in 1981, 1984. Though, McHale was very good in 1986, Bird was still quite a bit better.

          4) The Lakers had superior talent to the Celtics in the Magic/Bird years.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 10, 2013, 12:37 am
          • Definitely fun to watch Parker and Lebron go at it. They’re 2 of the best floor generals in the league and know how to make their offense a thing of beauty.

            One thing I can’t figure out is why Spo can’t find more minutes for Birdman. Outside of James, he’s been the Heat’s best player by a freaking mile. He’s putting up absurd offensive efficiency stats while being the Heat’s second best per minute scorer, their best rebounder, and a staunch defender. Wade’s suckiness this playoffs has been the elephant in the room for a while now, but there isn’t a single member of the Heat who couldn’t stand to give up a few minutes to Andersen IMO.

            Posted by lochpster | June 11, 2013, 10:35 pm
  42. Loch and Paulie…

    Who do you have winning it all?

    I say Heat in 6

    Posted by Mike | June 10, 2013, 9:24 am
    • Six games is pretty reasonable; a lot depends upon the health of Wade.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the Heat win in 5, but I am sure that Pop will make some adjustments for game #3.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 10, 2013, 10:04 am
    • Before the series, I called it basically 50/50. Given that these teams are so evenly matched but the Spurs have home court and a 2-1 lead, I’d say they’re more likely to win.

      I’ll be cheering for the Spurs for the mere fact that you could still get 2 to 1 on them before game 7 of the Eastern conference finals :)

      Posted by lochpster | June 11, 2013, 9:32 pm
      • They are pretty even. I really like how the Spurs play as team.

        The Spurs success with Duncan and Popovich is a big testament of their value. Basically, the Spurs have been contenders since 1999; that’s a very very long time in pro sports.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 11, 2013, 9:47 pm
  43. Hi everyone, I have returned. Sad to see still no new stories.

    Game 6 was epic and amazing and it all comes down to the deciding game 7 now. And I have to say that as a Heat fan I feel pretty good about it since its in Miami and we have the best player in the world.

    If you want to real truth, I am thrilled about game 6 but a bit of a train wreck about game 7. I feel like this is Miami’s game to lose, they have to win it because its on their home court.

    Lebron needs to play a complete game not just 17 good minutes and Miami has to play better defense the entire game. If they do that and get something from the bench(and Wade and Bosh) they should win game 7.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | June 19, 2013, 8:14 am
    • The Heat are more than 2 to 1 favorites to win tomorrow’s game in Vegas. That seems a little high to me.

      In my mind, the key to Miami winning game 7 is Wade. As in, Wade not playing. The Heat are -10 overall this series. They are they are -52 in the 216 minutes Wade has played and +42 in the 77 he has sat. That’s a net loss of 79 points per 100 possessions with Wade in the game. (James and Bosh are -8 and -11, respectively, this series. Right in line with their team’s totals) With Lebron and no Wade on the floor, the Heat score over 30 more points per 100 possessions than they do with Wade and Lebron both on the floor.

      Last night, Wade played 36 minutes, scored 14 points in 15 shots, and was -15. In the 17 minutes he didn’t play, they were +18. Every time he gets the ball, he looks like he’s forcing it.

      The Heat were +7 vs the Pacers in 261 minutes with Wade on the floor and +21 in the 77 minutes he sat on the bench. He hasn’t been right for months. For the playoffs he’s average 16 points per game on a hideous sub 50% true shooting percentage.

      My fear if I’m a Miami fan is that Spoelstra tries to ride his “stars” for all they’re worth. If that happens, the Heat are in trouble.

      Posted by lochpster | June 19, 2013, 6:16 pm
      • I agree with your assessment of Wade. I really thought his last shot in OT with the Heat +1 and :40 left was a hurried shot; he could have easily worked the ball around and found a better shot after burning some seconds.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 19, 2013, 8:59 pm
  44. I am hopeful that we can now lay to rest ALL of the moronic and totally unfounded “LeChoke” talk or any other bombast comparing James unfavorably to Bryant or any other great player.

    Three Finals in three years with two wins and now four MVP Awards combined with clearly being the best player in the championship runs should cement to even the most ardent and stubborn naysayer that James is clearly one of the elite players of all time.

    At this point in his career (and with many more games to go), I would place James as no worse than the 8th best player of all time.

    Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Duncan, James. . .

    Two or three more seasons even close to 2012-13 and James will likely move to #2; perhaps even supplant #23 himself.

    Whatever the result, we are the beneficiary. Sit back and enjoy.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 24, 2013, 11:10 am
    • Nope. Dumb, moronic basketball fans still count rings, still talk about how MJ has 6, Kobe has 5 and LeBron has 2 as if it’s a one-on-one competition, still blame LeBron for 2011 as if he and he alone was the only reason the Heat didn’t win, still act like the best players must come from winning teams even though logic says that they don’t HAVE to.

      We did it for LeBron, and We’ll do it for the next up-and-coming legend if he somehow doesn’t rack up rings to start his career.

      Posted by The smarter Gil | July 3, 2013, 11:17 am
  45. I think the bashing on Wade has been unfair as well considering that he played through a lot of pain. He always shows up when his team needs him the most and he did in game 7. That looked like a more healthy version of Wade. If he can get back to 100% and stay that way then Miami will be clear favorites to win next year no matter what other teams do. I think Miami needs to manage his regular season minutes so that he is rested and hopefully healthy for the playoffs when it matters. I would like to see him play no more then 30-35 minutes a game for most of the season. That is enough for him to be in playing shape, but still have stuff left in the tank for the playoffs. This would also turn Chris Bosh into the main second option, which will be good so that he has his offense going around playoff time. He vanished far too often in the playoffs, and it can’t happen again.

    Miami should take a flyer on Greg Oden, see if he can give them anything. They need to resign Birdman as well.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | June 29, 2013, 9:35 am
    • Should we not say a guy’s hurting the team when he is because he’s playing through pain? Wade was terrible throughout the playoffs. We’ve seen it with all the great modern shooting guards. Kobe, Wade, even Jordan. They’re so proud, and there such alpha dogs, they just can’t get out of the way when their teammates are doing things better without them.

      In these playoffs, there’s no question that the Heat won despite Wade, not because of him. In game 7, he put up pretty good individual numbers, but the team played better with him on the bench. His presence disrupts the beautiful offensive synergy they have when Lebron is on the court with one big and 3 shooters because Wade’s not really a shooter, and all the other stuff he does, Lebron does better.

      As for the Heat being the favorites, they will be the individual team with the best odds, but they are underdogs to the field at +250 starting and they should be. Only three teams have ever made the NBA finals 4 times in a row-Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers and Russell’s Celtics. It’s too hard to maintain that level of physical and mental performance year after year.

      I think their age was really showing the last few rounds of the playoffs, and I think it’s going to be really hard for them to make it back to the pinnacle with Wade’s balky knee, Bosh’s continuing disappearing act inside, and their inability to bring in new talent.

      All that said, when you’ve got Lebron James in his prime, a lot of problems can be overcome. But he had to lead his team in every major category in the playoffs. He was their primary scorer, ball handler, rebounder, and often their defensive stopper. Can he continue to do it all? It’ll be fun to find out!

      Posted by lochpster | June 30, 2013, 11:08 pm
      • as a side note to the age of the Heat, Magic Johnson commented that the “Spurs are the older team and that the younger Miami team will wear them down”

        Again, another example of a commentator not knowing the truth.

        Here are the ages of the top 12 players of each team in terms of minutes played

        San Antonio Miami
        Green 25 James 28
        Duncan 36 Bosh 28
        Parker 30 Wade 31
        Leonard 21 Chalmers 26
        Splitter 28 Allen 37
        Ginobli 35 Battier 34
        Diaw 30 Cole 24
        Neal 28 Haslem 32
        Jackson 34 MIller 32
        DeColo 25 Lewis 33
        Bonner 32 Anderson 34
        Blair 23 Anthony 32

        So, when we add up the ages of the rosters of each team:

        San Antonio: 347. Average Age: 29
        Miami: 371. Average Age: 31

        Perhaps, you’re may think, that Magic meant the top 5 players of each team. Well, when we add up the top 5 on each team in terms of minutes played:

        San Antonio: 140 Average Age: 28
        Miami: 150 Average Age: 30

        Great Job, Magic. I guess we can look past this error because Magic is so eloquent with his delivery. Along with Jalen Rose, they are an inspiration to all with their ability to use the English language to elicit images and feelings. Vin Scully has indeed handed the torch to a new generation.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 1, 2013, 7:33 am
      • All that said, when you’ve got Lebron James in his prime, a lot of problems can be overcome. But he had to lead his team in every major category in the playoffs. He was their primary scorer, ball handler, rebounder, and often their defensive stopper.
        ———
        I think that out of all the wings in NBA history, LeBron and MJ were the only players capable of carrying this Hear squad to the Finals.

        Jame’s Game 6 where “Ray saved his legacy”:
        32 points, .512 ts%, 10 rebs, 11 asts, 6 tovs, 3 steals, 1 block

        Wade/Bosh/Allen combined (three players, supposed to be stars):
        33 points, .444 ts%, 16 rebs, 8 asts, 6 tovs, 4 steals, 4 blocks

        James did as much by himself as three other players did combined to help Miami win that game. But Ray Allen won the game for the Heat and “bailed out LeBron”? LeBron was supposed to be blamed for that game? Ray Allen’s shot is worth how many points again? 3? Out of 103?

        Posted by The smarter Gil | July 3, 2013, 9:38 pm
  46. On another note, Kobe’s reported pitch to Dwight Howard is one of the most pathetic sales jobs I’ve ever seen.

    “You need to learn how it’s done first, and I can teach you here. You have to learn how it’s done. I know how to do it and I’ve learned from the best – players who have won multiple times over and over.”
    “Instead of trying to do things your way, just listen and learn and tweak it, so it fits you. You have to learn how it’s done.”

    Kobe “I eat first” Bryant once again shows it’s all about himself. He has been so difficult that he has been at odds with about every great or potentially great person he has worked with, and most left town. Shaq and Phil Jackson headline the lineup, but the list of teammates he has repeatedly feuded with includes Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Karl Malone, Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, Mike Brown and now D12.

    Kobe’s been blessed with a skill set few in NBA history could match. Yet assuming Dwight leaves, that will be twice in 10 years that the most talented center in the league left LA because of Kobe’s toxic ego. That isn’t a black mark on his legacy, it’s a black box label warning.

    Posted by lochpster | July 4, 2013, 12:43 pm
    • but, don’t you know. . . Kobe IS the glue that keeps the Lakers together. Kobe is the ONE that elevates them when they win and is the hapless victim when they lose. That Bryant is the INSPIRING force that galvanizes multiple and diverse personalities and skill sets?

      Haven’t you learned this by now?

      Don’t you remember the wise words of the “other” Gil: “Even Kobe’s misses are better than other players”

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 4, 2013, 3:30 pm
    • You would think that players would stop using the old “I got _ rings, I know more about winning than you do” schtick when they argue their credentials as a player. Adam Morrsion has 2 rings, so that laughable logic should force us to conclude that he also knows “about winning”, too. Or perhaps Robert Horry can claim that he knows “about winning” more than Kobe, with his 7 rings to Kobe’s 5. And so on. Kobe Bryant (along with other players, fans, and media talkingheads, so he’s not the only one here) can’t seem to understand that winning only happens as a collective unit. Saying that “I won _ rings” is the epitome of selfishness when the sport employs up to 12 players on a roster, 5 at once on the court.

      If Dwight wants to “know winning”, teaming up with a younger, better SG in James Harden (0 rings) and Kevin McHale (a mere 3 to Kobe’s 5) would be way more practical than teaming up with a past-his-prime star who is coming off an Achilles tear but still acts like he he’s 25, not 35.

      Posted by The smarter Gil | July 4, 2013, 4:15 pm
      • I wouldn’t expect Kobe to. Or Horry to, for that matter. We all believe in the rules that support our own worldview, and this one’s deeply ingrained in all sports. Winning is everything, no matter how you got there.

        Further, Kobe, like Horry, has almost limitless self-confidence, and that helped him win many of those rings and turn into a legend (although it has certainly caused myriad problems). For better or for worse, that’s what drove him to be great, and all in all, he turned out to be just that.

        That doesn’t make him right or rational. I agree that going to Houston gives him his best shot at rings, at least in his prime, unless LA has some sort of inside information from Lebron that he’s coming there in 2014.

        Posted by lochpster | July 4, 2013, 6:50 pm
        • I believe Kobe to far more rational than the members of Kobe Nation.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 4, 2013, 8:22 pm
        • Well certainly you want athletes to have self-confidence in their profession. It’s their day job, and they want to be the best. I’m not knocking Kobe for that, as a matter of fact he should be commended for it.

          But it also seems some athletes are much more aware of the team concept than others, and Kobe’s pitch to Dwight shows that he still doesn’t fully grasp this concept, 15+ years after his NBA debut. Dwight knows well enough that Kobe has “five rings”; the media to the old Nike puppet commercials point this out to everyone. But Dwight also knows that players like Shaq, Pau Gasol, etc. greatly contributed to those rings that Kobe proudly shows off to his peers. For a stretch in the mid-2000s, all the winner Kobe knew was being the star of below-.500 Lakers squads and first-round playoff exits (and, right now, he’s the star of underachieving Lakers squads and 2nd-round playoff exits). If, in his own roundabout way, Kobe is still trying to play the “Five rings, so shut up and watch me” card when the same man that could help him win more of those titles has his foot out the door, then he’s not too bright, is he? The issue isn’t Kobe’s glowing 5 title resume; it’s his understanding of how that resume got to be that way in the first place. Dwight will continue to heal, and a healthy Dwight a better player than Kobe (and is the future of the Lakers franchise). Time to wise up Kobe, and follow your own advice about “learning how to win”.

          You’re definitely right that Kobe’s mentality doesn’t make him right or rational. It’s also what the Lakers can’t afford at the moment.

          Posted by The smarter Gil | July 4, 2013, 8:46 pm
          • I certainly agree with the last bit. Kobe’s just got too much treat on his tires to be the alpha dog on a title team. Most of the all-time greats who ended their careers on a high note did so because they were able to hand off the torch and transition into a successful secondary role. Robinson handed off to Duncan who handed off to Parker. Oscar Robertson learned to defer to Kareem, who later handed off to Magic. Russell handed off to Hondo who handed off to Cowens. Wilt handed off to Jerry West who passed the torch to Gail Goodrich. MJ managed to win one at 34, but he clearly had lost a step and had taken 2 years off, severely reducing the beating on his body.

            Whether or not D12 could have taken the Lakers to the promised land (which I doubt), that ship has sailed. If Kobe is truly rational and wants to do the best thing for his legacy, he’d be the biggest Lebron to LA in 2014 cheerleader alive. He could transition into a supportive role, potentially win some more titles, wind up the all time scoring leader, and ride off into the sunset with his team proudly positioned for the future. And honestly, if LA could resign Kobe and Gasol cheaply, I think LA could be extremely attractive to Lebron. However, I don’t think Kobe could sublimate his ego enough for that to happen.

            Posted by lochpster | July 5, 2013, 5:40 pm
          • Dwight to Houston. More proof that if you’re going to build around Kobe, you better surround him with players that will stay out of his way, which is why the Gasol trade was easily THE most important addition to any team in the new millenium outside of the LeBron sigining (as much as the “other” Gil berates his invaluable contributions to the squad).

            However, Lakers nation and the Kobe-loving media will spin this as an indictment of Dwight’s character that he didn’t want to join forces with the “5-time champion” Kobe Bryant. Dwight is a bit immature, but as you noted with your examples of other all-timers, it would be beneficial for the Lakers if Kobe helped to pave the way for stars who could lead the team for seasons to come. But then again, Kobe only works to benefit Kobe, and he insists on retaining his “right” to being the man of the franchise. Somewhere, Andrew Bynum is laughing.

            Posted by The smarter Gil | July 6, 2013, 2:58 pm
          • let’s not forget that Elgin Baylor, despite his star status, RETIRED when he saw that his minutes were negatively affecting the soon to be world champion Lakers.

            The Lakers started 6-3, hardly a poor start, but after Baylor retired, they won 33 in a row. Perhaps a coincidence, but that is still the way it happened.

            the decision was hardly a shocker as Baylor played only 2 games the previous season, yet in 1969-70 he did average 24 and 10 for the Western Conference Champions.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 6, 2013, 10:45 pm
  47. The ESPN/Disney talking heads, chief among them, Stephen A.(xxhole) Smiht have been talking all day about how Dwight Howard is, and I paraphrahse “gutless” to sign with Houston and not the Lakers. The chatter is that Howard did not like being “pushed” by Bryant, who is a “winner”.

    they alsol cite that Howard was not healthy this year and combined with Kobe’s “attempts to push” him that the Lakers never gelled.

    I am more than a little curious as to this narrative stated.

    1) Howard started 76 games this season and amassed 2722 minutes. Only Bryant had more on the Lakers.

    2) Howard had a FG% of ,578 and a TS% of .573. Both superior to Bryant (.463 and .570)

    3) Howard led the league in RPG at 12.4.

    It hardly seems to me that Howard’s performance was to blame for the Lakers relatively poor season.

    Could it be that the Lakers are an aging mess as a team and an even bigger mess as an organization right now?

    I contend that Howard made the right decision to leave the Lakers and go to a team that he can really make a difference on.

    Houston was 2nd in PPG in 2102-13 (106.0), but 2nd worst in points allowed (102.5).

    Seems to me that a player, like Howard, that is a huge DEFENSIVE force would really benefit a team that needs to SUPPRESS opponents scoring rather than rely on Howard to ADD to their already high scoring.

    I really wish Stephen A. Smith would go away and take Skip Bayless with him.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 8, 2013, 4:46 pm
    • Howard is an easy goat. It was pretty much a no win for him. Unless he took this aging, shoddy, mismatched roster to a title, he was going to be lambasted, and even if he did the impossible, Kobe would have garnered the lion’s share of the credit as he’s the city’s favored son. Pau Gasol already got raked over the coals despite 2 titles and excellent overall play, and Dwight was a heck of a lot less likable than Pau.

      The Lakers are radioactive right now. D’Antoni is terrible and Kobe is Kobe. But worst of all is Jim Buss. He’s gotten rid of the most important links to the Lakers’ success of the past 30 years, Phil Jackson and Jerry West, and proven himself the dangerous mixture of arrogant and incompetent. Had the Lakers hired Phil Jackson to coach the team, D12 probably stays, but Buss, in all his egotistical glory, refused to make the obvious choice, and now refuses to admit he was wrong and correct the mistake. Why anyone would hitch their future to Jim Buss’s wagon is anyone’s guess.

      IMO, Dwight did the brave thing. He made the right decision for himself, for basketball reasons and for personal reasons. I look forward to watching what happens in Houston, although I suspect they’re at best a fringe contender.

      And I have a morbid curiosity of what will happen in Lakerland the next few years as well. As long as Buss, Kobe and D’Antoni are all there, I don’t suspect it will be pretty. I suspect they win 35-45 games in full-on win now mode and refuse to rebuild.

      Posted by lochpster | July 8, 2013, 11:51 pm
      • Stephen A.(xxhole) Smith was ranting that the Lakers are going to go after either James or Anthony, whom Smith says will both opt out of their contracts.

        I really doubt Anthony would leave NY, and he wouldn’t offer ANY help towards winning.

        I would be equally doubtful of James going to LA when they would have nothing on their roster to help. He already had that situation in Cleveland.

        IF, and right now, it is a big “IF”, that James leaves Miami, I would like to see him land in no particular order:

        OKC
        Golden State
        Memphis
        Chicago

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 9, 2013, 11:40 am
        • Why wouldn’t LA go after those two? The Heat will be extra creaky by then and facing harsh cap penalties, and New York will have 40 million dollars tied up in a pair of 32 year olds-Amare and Tyson Chandler. I would not be surprised if both players strongly considered LA.

          The Lakers will have Nash, their 2014 draft pick (who would be surprised if the Lakers wind up with a top pick in the lottery?) and an endless supply of cap space. That’s more like what James had in Miami than what he had in Cleveland, given that he can reconstruct the team to his liking, and the 2014 free agency class is loaded as of right now.

          Posted by lochpster | July 9, 2013, 12:53 pm
          • I didn’t say that LA wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) pursue Anthony and/or James.

            What I said was that I doubted that Anthony would want to eave NY and that unless the Lakers re-load, they won’t have squat on their roster.

            that could change, but starting the 2014-15 season, if things stay as they are for the Lakers:

            Nash will be 40 years old, if he is still playing.

            Bryant will be 36 when the 2014-15 season starts and still unlikely to reduce his touches.

            Gasol will be 35 and perhaps have 2 more decent years left of starter minutes.

            The rest. . . who knows. Kaman may prove adequate for them and he would be around, but I still think the other teams would be better fits to continue winning.

            Though, OKC would likely have to give up Westbrook.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 9, 2013, 9:28 pm
  48. More proof that the Lakers have no idea what they’re doing.

    Sign Chris Kaman for 1 year, 3.2 million dollars as either a backup center or another guy to gobble up Pau Gasol’s prime real estate. Buy out Jordan Farmar’s Turkish League deal and pay him 1 million, relegating Steve Blake and his 4 million dollar salary to third point guard status. Amnesty MWP and his 7.7 million, leaving no small forwards on the roster.

    Are they tanking? Are they trying to win? Or are they just making arbitrary moves with no real plan in place?

    I think the latter.

    Posted by lochpster | July 10, 2013, 9:45 am
    • According to some sources, Kobe is above taking a paycut that could help the Lakers retool their roster.

      The Lakers franchise “mystique” is going down the toilet, and its ironic that the names credited for building that mystique (Buss, Kobe) are the ones making it happen.

      Posted by The Smarter Gil | July 11, 2013, 7:47 am
      • I liked how Kobe grouped himself in with the other great Lakers “leaders” like Magic and Kareem.

        I guess Baylor, West, Wilt nor Shaq could qualify.

        “I think everybody is cut differently,” Bryant said. “[Howard] has his way of leading that he feels like would be most effective and would work for him, and obviously the way we’ve gone about it with this organization and the leaders that we’ve had — myself, Magic [Johnson] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] — we’ve done it a different way.”

        I will never understand why jocks ever allow themselves to get caught revealing their ignorance. Except, of course, that 90% of the ESPN/Disney fan base is even more ignorant.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 11, 2013, 8:42 am
    • And now Nick Young.

      The punch lines just seem to write themselves.

      This is the best summation of Nick Young I’ve ever read.

      http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/42243/nick-young-is-trying-to-kill-me

      Posted by lochpster | July 11, 2013, 9:55 pm
  49. Going to comment on a couple of things.
    1. Miami resigned its key role players, which was a good move on their part, they are talking with Greg Odin and they still have their mid level to offer to someone. I hope that someone is some center, that can play defense, rebound and catch the ball at the rim(like Birdman but a real center), because Miami needs another player that can bang inside with Chicago and Indy. I would love to see Bosh moved back to the 4 where he belongs, other then when Miami goes small and the other team responds, then he can play center in those situations. More then anything else Miami needs Wade at 100% in the post season. Remember what Lebron and Wade did on their first title run vs the Pacers with Bosh hurt, they imposed their will for 4 games. They became a two man show that was unstoppable. And that was with Wade at 75%, Miami needs him at 100% to have its best shot at repeating, no matter what other moves they make. I don’t think Lebron is leaving(why would he after winning 2( hopefully 3 titles), although I think all 3 opt out and Wade and Bosh resign for less money, clearing cap room for Miami to reload around the big 3. You can’t ask Lebron to take any less money then hes currently being paid, not with what he brings to the team, and Miami owes Wade, but not to the point that it cripples them. If Bosh wants to say he will have to take a lot less money, otherwise hes replaceable. As long as Lebron remains the best player in the game he will be able to draw other players who are ring hunting to him, and they will take less money to play with him. Hes the anti-Kobe in the sense that players want to play with him.

    2. The Lakers are counting on being able to sign two max players in 2014, which I admit is possible, but I just don’t see one of those players being Lebron. Why would Lebron go to a Lakers team, with an older not as skilled version of D-Wade AND a player that won’t take a step back and allow him to lead. I think it would take the Lakers tanking, getting a top lottery pick and then Kobe saying publicly that the Lakers would be Lebron’s team and even then why would Lebron go help Kobe win more rings? It doesn’t make any sense.

    I think Miami will be fine and I trust them to make the needed upgrades to compete for a title next year.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | July 13, 2013, 7:29 pm
    • Ok Pollyanna, it’s my turn. I see the Heat really struggling to keep it going in the coming year(s) for many reasons. The biggest is entropy-historically, this is the point when things fall apart even for premier franchises, and I believe we really started to see the Heat fray in the playoffs this past year.

      13 NBA teams have managed to play in 3 consecutive finals, but only 3 have managed to make 4 in a row (counting the Celtic’s long streak as one of each). All three of those teams were much younger than the current incarnation of the Heat, who, if they win this year’s title, will be the second oldest team to do so. It would be an impressive victory over father time.

      The Wade of 2011 is gone. He’s 31 with chronic knee osteoarthritis and an awkward running motion that leads to constant microtrauma. His game is heavily dependent on his athleticism, yet he can’t get to the rim or the line like he used to, and he has yet to develop the range that shooting guards generally need to stay effective late in their careers. Simply put, Wade’s never getting back to 100%, and unless he develops some new skills, his game could continue to age really poorly.

      Bosh has done better. He remains healthy and still has the talent to be an elite 2 way player, but his rebounding has gone from a strength to a weakness, and he has been alarmingly inconsistent. Lebron bailed him out by leading the team in rebounding, but given his responsibilities elsewhere, the Heat really need Bosh to pull his weight.

      Ray Allen turns 38 this year, well past when most shooters lose their shot. Battier will be 35 and struggled badly in the playoffs before turning it around just in the nick of time. Mike Miller always comes up big when the Heat need him, but he’s less athletic than some of the guys playing at the local YMCA. Birdman and Haslem are great bench guys, but they’re getting up there, too, and Birdman is always a wildcard. I don’t expect much from Oden given that he’s completely missed 4 of the 6 seasons for which he was eligible and last played in 2010.

      Lebron has reached a plane of basketball excellence few have ever reached and has answered every question anyone ever had about him. He has also played more basketball than anyone on the planet over the past 3 years, including the 2012 Olympics, and is entering his 11th season having averaged 39.7 minutes per game-far and away the most among current players. Last season, he lead his team in scoring, rebounding, while also being pressed into defensive stopper mode at times. At some point, something’s got to give.

      Add in that the competition should be better this year than it was last year. The Pacers, Bulls and Nets should all be markedly better and could make things tough on the Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Whoever comes out of the West should be extremely tough as well.

      If the Heat win the title this year, it’s hard to see Lebron leaving. But Lebron said himself that he felt like he was going back to his Cleveland days in the playoffs, basically being a one-man army out there. If his teammates don’t give him more than they did in the playoffs and the Heat bow out early, I could see him bolting and Riley retiring.

      Posted by lochpster | July 15, 2013, 12:56 am
  50. Did you see Birdman coming? That his pickup would be so huge? Who says Miami can’t find another player like that. They have a pretty good history of doing that.

    I am not counting on Oden to come in and be the answer to Miami’s problems. I am just saying that Miami should look into it. It costs them nothing to try and bring him in to sign him. If he helps out great, if not then oh well. His main value would be vs teams like the Pacers and the Bulls.

    If Bosh is going to keep playing center then he needs to add a bit of weight so he can bang inside better. I like that he opens up the offense with his jump shooting but he has to grab rebounds and defend better then he did. Otherwise Miami can find a much cheaper option to just open the offense with jump shots.

    Somehow I don’t think that if Lebron stays is directly tied to the results of this season. I don’t think Lebron is that shortsighted, it will come down to if he thinks that Miami can reload around him.

    Remember that he stayed in Cleveland despite their inability to put anyone around him for 7 years. Miami isn’t going to have a stretch where they waste his talent like that. Everything they did for the couple of years before 2010 was geared to clear enough cap space to sign 3 max FA. Miami plans long term, it doesn’t always work but they do.

    I think Wade should be on a plane to Germany to get whatever Kobe had done to his knees done.

    Wade shot his best FG% this season, and hopefully he uses the off season to improve as a jump shooter. I believe that he is hungry enough and skilled enough to do so. He can improve to the point that he is money at 15-18 feet, that would add another big improvement to his game and extend the amount of years he is able to play.

    I do agree that his days of attacking the basket with every single play are done, but he can still be a very effective number 2 piece if he just makes a couple of improvements to his game.

    Lebron and Wade are best friends, I don’t think that can be overlooked. And I am pretty sure that Wade isn’t going anywhere. Honestly who would take him for max money at this point? Hes not a max player anymore, but he is still a step below that(when healthy). Bosh never deserved to be a max player quite honestly, hes also a step below that level. If both of them resign for less money, that leaves Lebron as the only max player and leaves Miami with room to add younger pieces around the 3 of them.

    I know that Wade is only focused on winning as many titles as he can win, and he wants to do it with Miami, so I am pretty sure he will take a lot less money to resign. How much less I am not sure, but it will be a large amount. Wade also is making tons of money in other areas so that will help make that easier to take less.

    Bosh I am not so sure about, he is smart enough to know his best chance for titles is to stay in Miami, but I don’t know if he will be willing to take the pay cut he will need to take to help Miami be able to win as many titles as possible. If he wants too much I personally think that Miami should let him walk.

    I would say the same about Lebron taking less money because he doesn’t really need it, however I don’t think its fair to ask him to take any less money then hes already making, given what he does for Miami.

    Do I think Miami can win the title next year? Yes I do, I have a strong belief that they can. I don’t think its a given and I think that health will play a large role.

    We will have to see if Miami can pull another Ray Allen type player in who just wants to win titles. If they can, I think that will help them. I feel like Ray Allen got signed just to hit that shot he made in game 6. He has made shots like that so many times, has made teams pay over and over again for leaving him open. That is part of the reason I was so happy to get him, another part was getting him away from Boston.

    Miami has the best player in the game by far, and that gives them a legit chance to contend for the title next year.

    I don’t know how Lebron handles all those minutes on his body, but he seems like one of those players that can.

    Miami just let Mike Miller gone, which I understand but I am sad about. It makes perfect sense because hes replaceable, but its sad because hes hit some huge shots for Miami the last couple of years.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | July 16, 2013, 6:45 pm
    • “If both of them resign for less money”

      Is this something that has actually being discussed and I missed it, or is this just hopes and dreams?

      Posted by lochpster | July 17, 2013, 10:46 am
      • Its being talked about in the local papers here. I don’t know if the writers are hoping it happens or if these talks are already happening.

        But whatever happens in the summer of 2014, I am going to enjoy next basketball year, and hopefully watch another parade in the middle of next June.

        ESPN is reporting that the Lakers are targeting Lebron and Melo for the summer of 2014. I fail to see how this is news. Of course they are targeting them, but I don’t see a chance in hell of Lebron considering the Lakers as long as Kobe is still playing for them. Why would he want to win rings for Kobe? He wants to chase down Kobe and MJ not help them.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | July 18, 2013, 3:55 pm
        • the other point is who really believes that Anthony alone can help any NBA team win?

          Has there ever been a team with ONE star player that shoots below 45% and is, let;s say, indifferent defensively?

          Why would James want to “pair” up with Anthony? It would make far more sense to go to the Bulls, Clippers or even Golden State than the Lakers.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 18, 2013, 9:36 pm
          • Interesting question. There are 3 players in NBA history who have averaged 25 PPG and shot less than 46% from the floor in the modern era-Carmelo, Iverson and Kobe. If you look at their defensive rate adjusted plus/minus, they had a total of only 4 seasons where they played plus defense-zero for Carmelo, one for Iverson, and shockingly only 3 for Kobe.

            Iverson had his most team success in 2001, when Mutombo ranked as a top 10 NBA player by RAPM. During their three-peat, Shaq lead the league in RAPM all 3 years. The latter Lakers teams don’t apply as Kobe was playing above average defense during that stretch.

            So historically, a gunner wing like Anthony can and does do well when he has a dominant big man. Given that and the Knick’s success last year, you probably wouldn’t be shocked that Tyson Chandler was the top ranked Knick, coming in at #10 last year.

            Of the three, it’s worth noting that Kobe consistently grades out better than Carmelo and AI, who generally rate as above average players but far from superstars.

            Posted by lochpster | July 19, 2013, 3:48 am
          • would anyone consider Mike Kaman a “dominate” big man?

            Now, had the Lakers kept Howard. . .

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 19, 2013, 9:01 am
          • I don’t know who Mike Kaman is, but I still suspect Pau Gasol, if properly used, could make this Lakers’ squad very dangerous. Last year he was arguably the most dominant big man in the Olympics. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see this year’s Lakers squad put up a better overall mark than last year’s.

            Posted by lochpster | July 19, 2013, 12:29 pm
  51. On a hilarious note, the Lakers apparently gave Nick Young a player option on a second year. This his ridiculous for all of the following reasons

    a) The Lakers’ goal is to have as much cap room as possible in 2014. Now they have Nash, Young and Robert Sacre on the books.

    b) The Lakers were going to be reimbursed for part of Young’s one year deal by the league. However, since it’s a 2 year deal, they won’t be.

    c) If you thought Kobe and Dwight didn’t get along, watch out! Kobe may go postal on “Swaggy P”.

    d) If the Lakers are trying to harm themselves in the Lebron/Carmelo sweepstakes, this is as good a way as any to do it. There’s no way these guys want to play with this clown.

    e) In the extremely unlikely circumstance that Nick Young has a great year and looks like an actual NBA player, he will probably opt out. If he’s terrible he’ll stay. The ball is completely in Nick Young’s court.

    f) The two most important players to the Lakers’ future are currently Kobe Bryant and Nick Young.

    Posted by lochpster | July 19, 2013, 12:39 pm
  52. I guess the better question would be:

    Why does anyone think that Anthony can help them win? Doesn’t he have one of the worst post season records of all time (50 games minimum)?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 21, 2013, 2:30 pm
    • “Doesn’t he have one of the worst post season records of all time (50 games minimum)?”

      Terrible talking point. To get to the playoffs that much you have to be pretty good. No Carmelo lead team has ever missed the postseason, and this past year was the first time they were upset by a team with a better record. Michael Jordan had a 1-9 playoff record before teaming up with Scottie Pippen. Who’s been Carmelo’s best sidekick? Billups? Chandler? Iverson?

      “Why does anyone think that Anthony can help them win?”

      Because he makes a pretty big impact on a team’s offense. Last year he had one of the 10 highest usage seasons in NBA history and still shot a very nice 56% from the field on a team that ranked 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency despite not having a ton of help on that end.

      Of course, it’s all about fit and price. Is he a guy you’d love to have as a centerpiece of a team with multiple premier defenders like the Bulls, Pacers or Grizzlies? Absolutely, if you don’t have to gut the roster to get him. Is he the guy a franchise like the Lakers should bring in on a max contract to be a savior? Definitely not.

      Posted by lochpster | July 21, 2013, 4:16 pm
      • to play devil’s advocate. . .

        who was Billups’ top sidekick when the Pistons reached the conference finals 5 straight seasons?

        It is over-simplistic to lump Anthony’s team performance with his individual performance, yet is there another player that is being given the lip service to as being a “franchise savior”?

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 21, 2013, 8:47 pm
  53. How about Kenyon Martin? Marcus Camby? Andre Miller?

    Good to very good players, all. And, actually pretty well complimentary to Anthony’s skill set.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 21, 2013, 8:53 pm
    • and 1-9 is a far cry from 21-40.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 21, 2013, 9:07 pm
      • Jordan’s Bulls had seeds of 7, 8, and 8 in those first three seasons; they were the 3 seed when they went 4-6 in the post season and lost in the conference semi-finals.

        Anthony’s teams had seeds of 8, 7, 3, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, and 7.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 21, 2013, 9:21 pm
        • “It is over-simplistic to lump Anthony’s team performance with his individual performance”

          Yep

          “is there another player that is being given the lip service to as being a “franchise savior”

          Scorers are always overvalued. Nothing new here.

          “Anthony’s teams had seeds of 8, 7, 3, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, and 7.”

          In other words, they did exactly what you’d expect.

          “who was Billups’ top sidekick when the Pistons reached the conference finals 5 straight seasons?”

          Ben Wallace was the best player on those teams.

          Posted by lochpster | July 23, 2013, 1:02 am
  54. Anyone see the interview where D-Rose said hes the best player in the NBA? I know he should say that, but hes not and the timing of this couldn’t be worse for him.

    He was already under fire for skipping the playoffs after being cleared by the doctors and now hes running his mouth.

    To me this means that he just made himself the next player that has to win a title or be viewed as a total failure. He needs to back up his claims of being the “best player” in the NBA.

    He won’t though because Lebron will shut him down in the 4th again when/if the two teams meet in the playoffs.

    Melo has to be giddy because Roses comments will shift the pressure for him to win away from him and one to Rose.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | July 26, 2013, 6:48 am
  55. Miami got Oden, this could turn out to be a huge signing, or it could turn out to not mean anything. Hopefully he stays healthy and is able to provide some defense and rebounding in the playoffs vs Chicago/Indy/Houston(if they get that far)

    Posted by nightbladehunter | August 3, 2013, 8:51 am
  56. Mike Brown given the boot after 5 games, yet Mike D’Antoni has managed to last this long even though he has proven that he is clearly a poor coach for the Lakers.

    Posted by Slam Dunk | February 14, 2014, 6:07 pm
  57. Spain has Odom now and he quits on his first game. What is this. When here at http://www.meetup.com/Madrid-Basketball are freaked out.

    Madrid Basketball
    madridbasketball.com

    Posted by Madrid Basketball | March 12, 2014, 5:56 pm
  58. Go check it out I just started

    Posted by braxton | March 13, 2014, 9:48 pm
  59. Yes! Finally something about dvdfab 9.1.3.6 final.

    Posted by Dvdfab 9 download | October 28, 2014, 9:39 pm

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