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12-07-2012, 09:05 PM #5941
12-07-2012, 10:36 PM #5942
12-08-2012, 01:06 AM #5943
- Join Date
- May 2012
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That was an awesome and very in-depth post about the lakers. Also, this is my first post from my iPad on here. Sweeeeeet.
12-08-2012, 08:30 AM #5944
12-08-2012, 10:05 AM #5945
Lakers should get kwame brown
12-08-2012, 11:23 AM #5946
12-08-2012, 02:35 PM #5947
12-08-2012, 08:44 PM #5948
Mayo bustin out!
12-08-2012, 09:58 PM #5949
My Raptors are killing me
12-09-2012, 03:10 PM #5950
12-09-2012, 04:45 PM #5951
Kwame or Darko?
12-09-2012, 05:02 PM #5952
12-13-2012, 02:15 PM #5953
I'd probably take Kwame too.
New York Knicks legit threat in East
Knicks have pieces in place for magical season (PER Diem: Dec. 13, 2012)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And by "it" I don't mean Paris and London in the late 18th century; I'm talking about tonight's Knicks-Lakers game.
We've already spilled lots of digital ink on the Lakers, whose injuries and poor depth have them 9-13 entering tonight and in danger of missing the playoffs entirely. But what of the Knickerbockers? They're perhaps the most positive story in the league, with a 1.5-game lead in the Eastern Conference, two routs of Miami and an attractive flowing style that has produced an avalanche of open 3-pointers.
What's so amazing is how unlikely all this was. The idea of such a joyous brand of basketball emanating from MSG's poisoned tower seemed almost laughable until, well, the season began and it started happening. As recently as a year ago, they had basically driven a truck over the Linsanity era, then backed over it a few times for good measure -- all so we could go back to watching more Carmelo Anthony isolations and try to justify owner James Dolan's insane, meddling decisions on big-picture moves.
But while owner Dolan and his minions at MSG had visions of riding a my-turn, your-turn offense to glory behind Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony, they inadvertently hired a few people with different ideas to build their basketball team. Those people, most notably Glen Grunwald, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien, kept finding 3-point shooters, ball handlers and defenders to complement their oddly fitting centerpieces. As a result, even after Linsanity died down and the Knicks returned to iso-heavy drabness last spring, they were able to play some decent basketball.
And, as always with stories like this one, fortune intervened and smiled upon them. Stoudemire's knee injury forced the Knicks to make the one move they had been stubbornly resisting: moving Anthony to the starting power forward spot -- where he had always put up much better numbers -- while taking Stoudemire's LOL defense out of the equation.
Suddenly, the Knicks were a juggernaut. Anthony as a power forward has been a revelation, finally cashing in on his potential by ranking sixth in the league in PER and shooting 3s at a career-best 44.9 percent clip. The latter figure, a 10-point improvement on his career norms, stems largely because the pick-and-pop chances he gets from this position are much cleaner looks than the iso stuff he relied on as a small forward. Melo has been credited with greater esprit de corps too, although in reality his assist rate is at a career low and barely half what it was last season. The big story here is that his shots are going in, particularly his 3-pointers.
As for not having Stoudemire? That hasn't been much of a problem because New York has surrounded Anthony with a flotilla of long-range bombers who make double-teaming him a punishing experience. As long as Stoudemire isn't playing, New York usually has three 3-point shooters on the court and a devastating dive man in Tyson Chandler. Six different Knicks average more than three 3-point tries a game; as a team New York is making 40.9 percent while attempting more than 29 a game -- both league-leading figures.
In fact, the Knicks take nearly 50 percent more 3-pointers than the league average as a percentage of their attempts (see chart), a rate that blows away even that of the second-place Rockets.
The crazy part is that the best shooter among them, Mr. Discount Doublecheck Steve Novak, is barely getting warmed up -- his 42.3 percent mark on triples is still awesome, but pales beside the 48.5 percent he made over the previous two seasons. But New York has made up for it partly because of an out-of-body experience from Jason Kidd (52.2 percent!), partly because Anthony is shooting so well from the power forward spot and partly because they've added so many other shooters to the party.
(Side note: Tonight's announcers will fawn over Kidd's improvement as a long-range shooter over the course of his career, since this apparently has become a requirement in recent years. It hasn't happened nearly to the extent folks would like to think. As a second-year pro in Dallas in 1995-96 he shot 33.6 percent on 3s; as a world champion in Dallas in 2010-11 he shot 34 percent. In between he had a couple of blips in the low 40s (1996-97, 2009-10) but every time, all roads led back to 35 percent. The only thing that has changed is he shoots almost exclusively 3s now because he can't get to the rim anymore. So what I'm saying is: Take this 38-of-72 start by Kidd with a few grains of salt. I'm guessing the previous sample of 5,376 attempts will win out.)
The underrated part of this is not just that the Knicks found shooters on the cheap -- Novak off waivers, Rasheed Wallace wallowing in retirement, along with Kidd and Pablo Prigioni as inexpensive free agents. It's that they found ball handlers too.
Creators usually don't come cheap, and Anthony is certainly an example. But New York now has two legitimate pick-and-roll creators making less than $4 million in J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton. Smith is crazy talented, and although the "crazy" sometimes outweighs the "talented," the sum of his package is that he creates a ton of shots off the dribble with the second unit. And many of them are high-quality looks.
Felton, meanwhile, has rebounded from a disastrous year in Portland by getting in better shape and sharply cutting his turnovers. New York's system gives him a little more space too, which is very helpful -- Felton's tendency with the Blazers was to cram a pocket pass past four sets of hands and starting a two-on-one the other way. Also, with New York he's able to throw his pocket pass 2 feet above the rim and have Chandler slam it home -- as one of the league's best dive men, Chandler's dunk threat creates a lot of open 3s on the weak side. As a result, he has been reborn as a pick-and-roll creator, and when the ball swings back to him he's shooting 40.4 percent on 3s.
It all fits together, in other words, in a way that seemed almost unimaginable to those who watched the uneasy anti-chemistry between Stoudemire and Anthony a year ago.
Somewhere in all this, Mike Woodson played a huge role as well, and he's as unlikely a participant in all this as Anthony. Woodson had always been lauded for his work out of timeouts in Atlanta, but in Atlanta he was an orthodox practitioner of Larry Brown tenets who usually preferred big lineups and isolations. His experience is a reminder that coaches can and do get better; he has borrowed liberally from Mike D'Antoni and others to create a slick-passing, ball-moving machine.
As a result, New York leads all East teams in offensive efficiency and ranks a close second overall behind the Oklahoma City juggernaut, an offensive bonanza that has more than offset the defensive cost of their system -- a 16th-ranked D that too often depends on Chandler bailing out beaten defenders.
So dare to dream, rest of the NBA, because a magical season is erupting from the most unlikely of places. No, the Knicks may not keep up some of these individual numbers all season, but take a step back and the big picture is very much for real. This is a legitimate threat to the Heat in the Eastern Conference, thanks to a beautiful, floor-spacing offensive attack that somehow, some way, has sprung from all the insanity (with no L) at MSG.
Last edited by punjabi212; 12-26-2012 at 01:58 PM.
12-15-2012, 10:32 AM #5954
Last article from John Hollinger as he was hired by the Grizzlies as VP of basketball operations.
12-22-2012, 11:19 PM #5955
12-23-2012, 11:12 AM #5956
Fiiinnnallly nash plays. I was starting to think rose would come back before nash.
12-23-2012, 05:23 PM #5957
Now for Dirk.
12-26-2012, 01:57 PM #5958
Lakers' problems stem from Kobe
Opposing GM, coach and scout point to Bryant for Lakers' ills
What Kobe Bryant is doing this season is both phenomenal and unprecedented. No player in NBA history -- not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not Moses Malone, not Karl Malone, not any of the league's famed ironmen -- have come close to scoring as Bryant has in his 17th professional season.
Heck, most greats -- guys like Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Jerry West -- didn't even play 17 seasons.
So for Bryant to be leading the league in scoring at a 29.5 ppg clip while shooting a career-high 47.7 percent from the floor is nothing short of incredible. Before Bryant, Abdul-Jabbar had been the gold standard for well-worn scorers, averaging 23.4 points in his 17th season. But Abdul-Jabbar, who was 38 during that season, was clearly not near his prime, averaging just 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, well below his career averages of 11.2 and 2.6.
Bryant, while not the athlete he once was, is still producing at the same level he always has, posting 5.2 rebounds (5.3 is his career average), 5.0 assists (4.7 career) and 1.6 steals (1.5 career).
So it's very difficult to argue that Bryant is doing anything wrong in what statistically is one of his best seasons. And numbers never lie. But there are other numbers that say Bryant's offensive blitzkrieg is actually hurting the struggling Los Angeles Lakers more than helping them.
This season, the Lakers (12-14) are just 4-11 when Bryant takes 20 or more shots in a game. Yet, they are 8-3 when he shoots less than 20 times. And it's not necessarily because of the opposition.
With Bryant attempting fewer than 20 shots, the Lakers have beaten the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets, all of whom have better records than the Lakers.
The four teams Los Angeles has beaten with Bryant shooting 20 or more times? The bottom-dwelling Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, and Charlotte Bobcats, who have a combined record of 32-64 (.333).
The eight teams the Lakers have beaten with Bryant taking fewer than 20 shots have a slightly better combined record of 87-112 (.437).
This trend intrigued me so I decided to go back even further, checking the numbers for the previous two seasons. The evidence was overwhelming: When Bryant has fewer than 20 attempts in a game, the Lakers are outstanding. When he shoots 20 or more times, they're only slightly above mediocre.
Last season, the Lakers were 26-19 when Bryant took 20 or more shots. That's a .578 winning percentage. Not bad. But they were 10-3 in the other games, a winning percentage of .769. In 2010-11, Phil Jackson's last season as coach, the Lakers were 24-17 (.585) when Bryant shot 20 or more times and 33-8 (.805) when he took fewer shots.
So in the past three seasons, including 2012-13, the Lakers are 54-47 when Bryant shoots 20 times or more. To put it in perspective, that .535 winning percentage equates to a 44-38 record in 82 games. In that same span, when Bryant takes fewer than 20 shots, the Lakers are 51-14 (.785), which would be a 64-18 mark in an 82-game season.
It seems pretty clear cut: The Lakers are better, and would be better this season, if Bryant shot less. At least that's what the statistics say.
But I didn't want to jump to conclusions simply based on the numbers, so I decided to call some of the league's basketball minds to get their take on the topic. I wanted to know whether Bryant needed to be reined in, or whether he's simply shooting so much because the Lakers' roster is so limited and it's the only chance they have to stay in games.
I asked one general manager, an assistant coach and two scouts, all of whom work for teams that have played Bryant and the Lakers this season. Their opinions were strong:
The assistant coach says:
"Absolutely, Kobe's shooting too much. When we played them, we told our guys, 'Look, we don't necessarily want Kobe going for 50. I mean, we're going to guard him. But we're not going to double him, and we're not going to try to get the ball out of his hands.' Our main concerns were not to let [Antawn] Jamison hit a bunch of 3s and not to let Dwight [Howard] go crazy down low. There's no question they would be a better team if Kobe shot less. Why do you think [Pau] Gasol struggles? He's going to struggle in any offense where he doesn't touch it.
"At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with [Mike] D'Antoni and his system. It's all about what Kobe will allow to happen. When you play the Lakers, it's like they don't have a system. It's whatever Kobe chooses it to be. If he wants to take all the shots, he'll do that. He'll pacify his teammates early in the game, but then he'll throw up a heat check and if he's got it going, nobody else touches the ball. And then the other team benefits because the other Lakers won't defend as hard and they won't be engaged because they're not a part of the game on the offensive end. Kobe has to trust you, and it looks like he thinks most of his guys aren't trustworthy yet.
"The problem between Kobe and Dwight is that you can't have Dwight on the floor in the fourth quarter, so how can you play through him. In Kobe's mind, that's why he doesn't pass the ball to Dwight. But the Lakers really need to sit down with Kobe and say, 'At this stage, this is what's best for the Lakers. We've got to play through our bigs.'
"Memphis is the best high-low team in the league with Marc Gasol and [Zach] Randolph. The Lakers could play that way with Dwight and Pau, but with Kobe shooting 28 times, that's not going to happen. That could definitely work, but the key is getting Kobe to sign off on it. The thing about this league is that every team is known for something. When you play the Lakers, you don't worry about stopping Kobe. You just make sure those other four guys don't have career nights because you can beat the Lakers with Kobe scoring 34, 35 points. Your biggest worry is if Kobe scores 25 points and has eight assists and then Dwight has 20 points and 16 rebounds and Pau has 18 and 11 and Nash scores 16 with 10 assists."
The scout says:
"One thing our coach always says is, 'Kobe's probably going to get his 28 points, but let's make sure it's on 28 shots and not 16 shots.' I would like to look at some box scores in detail to see if the Lakers are down in the fourth quarter and Kobe starts shooting a lot to lift them to a comeback, or to see whether he was getting to the foul line a lot in those other games where he didn't have as many field goal attempts.
"Watching the Lakers play the Knicks this year was hard to watch because the other Lakers were just so bad. It was like Kobe was trying to do all he could just to keep that game close. And hey, if Dwight's not going to try his butt off and if other guys aren't going to try their butts off, then I'm going to give the ball to the guy that's going to go for it, and that's Kobe. I don't think it's that Kobe doesn't trust his teammates; it's just that he trusts himself more. A questionable shot by him still might be better than a good look for one of those other guys. To me, they look disinterested.
"There's no chemistry. They're not pulling for one another. They're just a collection of individual talent that happens to be in the same place wearing the same uniforms. They look listless. Not Kobe, though."
The general manager says:
"Everyone thinks the problem is everybody else but to me, the problem is Kobe. Take a look at Andrew Bynum's quotes the other day, where he said Kobe stunted his growth. He didn't like playing with Kobe.
"And Pau? Pau's a really nice guy and Kobe just walks all over him. On the one hand, it's good for Pau because it helps make him tougher but overall, I think it hurts his game. Kobe can smack Pau upside the head and Pau will still go back to him and say, 'Yes, sir.' He's just too nice of a guy. But Pau can play. They won a few championships with him, so this notion that Kobe doesn't have anyone to play with and that he has to take all these shots is just wrong. Go back to the Oklahoma City series. Everybody blamed it on Pau and Bynum, but to me, it was more Kobe's fault.
"And we know what kind of a player Dwight is. He's not at his best because he's coming off the back injury and because of the system D'Antoni's running, but it's obvious to me that Kobe doesn't trust him. And I'm not so sure he likes the way Dwight jokes around so much."
Another scout says:
"That's been debated a lot -- whether Kobe is shooting too much. It's hard to argue against that if they're 8-3 when he doesn't shoot it 20 times. But I'd have to look at each game and study the game situations to really come to a conclusion. I don't think he's purposely hogging the ball or doing things selfishly to keep the team from winning. He's not trying to do anything to hurt the team. If he is shooting too much, it's only because he thinks that's what he has to do for the Lakers to win.
"My gut reaction is to say that Kobe does not need to shoot less. He's a top 5 player in the league, he's leading the league in scoring and he's shooting a good percentage. That's a big key -- he's shooting a high percentage. It'd be one thing if he was forcing up shots and shooting poorly. But I will say this, when you have as much talent as they do, you shouldn't have to shoot it as much as Kobe has been."
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12-26-2012, 02:03 PM #5959
Lakers always better when he shoots less. That's because when he shoots less the others are hitting their shots. When the rest of the team is bricking it he has to go into his offense first mode and try and carry the team, which only works about half the time. Kobe isn't the problem with the lakers IMO. Injuries and lack of cohesion are. Both can be fixed.
12-28-2012, 11:58 AM #5960