Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The No-Win Situation That is Gopher Football

I used to coach town-team "traveling basketball" and AAU basketball, both for boys and girls.  We would have long practices before the season started and try to develop the kids' skills and stamina and knowledge of the game.  Then we'd think "OK -- team is ready to play."

But sometimes you would show up for your first tournament and the other team would just, literally, beat the living hell out of you.  Hold, push, elbow, grab - every possible illegal move.  And the refs would call nothing.  So once you complained for a quarter or so and got no help, you were left with two options:  1) lose; or 2) fight back and cheat also.  As a coach, I always took option 2.  I remember one game where at halftime I noted that we could either be the hammer or the nail, but I would think it would be better to be the hammer.  One girl went out and committed two very hard fouls after halftime and looked over at the bench.  We shared a smile.

The point is, we would all like the world to be wonderful.  It would be great if people let you in when you are trying to merge in traffic.  It would be great if your boss were reasonable.  And it would be great if your college basketball team featured 12 athletes who were all 4.0 scholars and who stayed all 4 years and led the team to 4 national championships.  The world, unfortunately, does not work like that.

You generally have 5-10 teams in either college football or college basketball who are truly contenders to win it all based upon coach or pedigree.  Football -- Alabama, USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State.  Basketball -- Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas, UConn

Now, this is not to say that these teams cannot fuck it up -- I mean, all of these teams have suffered at least brief bumps in the road (cough, UNC under Matt Doherty) but they have something to sell -- the nameplate.  "We are _____ and we have won a BUNCH of titles!  Now, do you want to come play here and continue that tradition, or do you want to go to some school and hope to get a few votes for top 25?"

And there have been very, very serious efforts at re-writing the script and making new great teams.  I mean HUGE amounts of booster money have been spent at Oregon and Oklahoma State.  Spurrier made Florida great for a while.  UNLV rose to prominence.  Wisconsin is trying to become a constant Top 10 force.  Tony Bennett has become a regular season force in Virginia and hopes to turn that into tourney success.   

But let's face it.  For most college football teams and college basketball teams, there are two real options -- accept your lot in life, or cheat a lot.  If you are NC State or Clemson in basketball, you generally will be 5th-8th in the ACC depnding upon how hard the other teams fighting for those spots are cheating.  If you are BC or Syracuse in football after 1986, you are going to be fooling around with .500, maybe 2 games over, maybe two games under.  You may get lucky and go 9-4.  You may get unlucky and go 4-8.

Faced with this option, a lot of teams that want to win cheat.  And if they don't cheat, they look the other way, and I mean 180 degrees the other way.  Do you remember when Peyton Manning was kicked out of Tennessee for tea bagging the school employee?  Or when Tennessee investigated allegations that its employees wrote student papers and found itself guilty and shut down the program?  Or when UNC agreed not to play in last year's NCAA tourney because of rampant academic fraud in its men's basketball program?  Or when Oklahoma State sanctioned itself when finding out that Dexter Manley could not read?  Remember those profiles in courage?  No?  That is because THEY DID NOT HAPPEN.  Remember Cam Newton and Jameis Winston's stated scandals and how they resulted in forfeiture of all games they ever played in?  No?  Again -- schools looked into it - found they did nothing wrong.

The coaches and the administrations of these schools determined that (like me coaching basketball) they were not going to discourage conduct occurring outside of the rules if that it what it took to win games.   UNC's ridiculous claim that its WOMEN'S basketball program was primarily to blame for the decades of academic cheating is perhaps the low point of all legal or factual arguments ever made.  Yet it has stymied the NCAA for what appears to be at least 2 years!!!  UNC set up and operated an academic fraud system for 20+ years that was designed to help a women's team who was almost never any good?  Talk about a desire to comply with Title IX!!  How noble. 

Against this background, we have the state of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota.  I grew up in Western NY.  I moved to Minnesota in 1989.  Here is my observation about Minnesota sports fans -- there really aren't very many.  If you live in the Eastern time zone, you are taught as a kid that sports are everything, you live and die for them and that is your identity.  "I am a ________ fan."  Acceptable responses: "Fuck you, I am a _________ fan" and "So I am, let's be friends."  I would say of the guys I grew up with that 90% were avid sports fans.  I gave a speech in Philly 15 years ago where I started with "and I am an alum of Duke - with our three national titles" huge applause line (with a few muttered "fuck yous" included).  If I gave that same speeech in Minnesota, people in the audience would wonder why I would ever mention Duke basketball. 

In my years in Minnesota, I would say that I have met maybe 100 people who are truly avid sports fans.  When my son played Little League baseball (or whatever they call it here), the dads would gather around at functions.  Here were the primary topics:  1) drinking, 2) the cabin, 3) boating, 4) fishing, 5) hockey.  So, I figured, well, at least I am pretty up (at the time) on the NHL - let's discuss that.  Nope, it was YOUTH hockey they were discussing!  I was at a baseball party and literally no one was talking baseball, football or basketball. 

And these are the dads who care enough about sports to have their sons in sports.  Now imagine the level of sports fandom from moms or from dads whose kids were not in sports.  This explains why Minnesota for many, many years struggled to get a new stadium for sports while places like Cleveland and Cincicnnati and Pittsburgh were building new stadiums after voter referenda.  In those cities, people love sports.  In Minnesota, most people can take or leave sports.  This is an attitude shared, from what I can tell, only in cities like L.A. and Seattle.  Minnesota lost its hockey team to DALLAS!!  The only sport in which Minnesotans have a modicum of interest (at least on the youth level) was lost because Minnesotans would not spend money to renovate Target Center to house both the Wolves and North Stars.  The water freezes in Dallas roughly 10 days a year.  They stole our team.  The Twins in 2001-02 were about to be contracted back into the MLB.  No one really cared all that much.  The Twins' threats to simply take money to dissolve got them a new stadium in.......2010.

This brings us to the Gophers.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers play football against high Division I competition.  I have talked to people with Division I connections.  The player stories they tell are eye opening even for a 52 year old guy who has seen a lot.  If you enjoy watching high D-1 sports, do not ever have an honest conversation with someone who has played or been around high D-1 sports.  Suffice to say, the Gophers play against teams who cheat in recruiting, don't send their kids to class, pay players, hire hookers for their players, cheat on player drug tests, etc., etc.  That is their competition.   (side note on drug testing -- I asked my source, "well if they don't take their tests, why do they sometimes get caught?"  the answer was that if the coaches were angry enough with you, they'd make you take your own test, knowing you would fail). 

People in Minnesota, for whatever reason, feel that the Gophers should be really good at football.  Why?  That is a great question.  I wish I knew.  The Gophers have not been to the Rose Bowl in 50 years.  The Gophers have one 10-win season....ever.  They have never, for example, been 14-0, 13-0, 13-1, 12-2, 12-1. 11-3, 11-2.    So why would anyone expect that level of play?  I mean, you can HOPE for that level of play, and I can HOPE that tomorrow People Magazine will tell me that if I drop 25 pounds I will take over for The Rock on its "Sexiest Man Alive" cover.  But is that really a reasonable expectation?  I have never won a beauty contest or even been thought of as particularly handsome.  Would it be nice?  Sure.  Should my wife chide me if I fail to achieve the goal?  No.

The Gophers play in a metro area of around 3 million people.  They have a nice 60,000 stadium.  Big Ten teams from large metro areas -- Ohio State and Michigan -- have 110,000 seat stadiums.  Wisconsin (80,000+) and Iowa (70,000+) have stadiums bigger than Minnesota's.  They play in the huge cities of Madison and Iowa City.  There is nothing about Minnesota's "facilities" that would make you think that they are supposed to be awesome at football.

But the biggest impediment to success in Gopher football is that the University feels a great need to self-report and "self-find-itself-guilty."  I mean, I kid you not, after the Gophers self-guilted themselves on the "we write papers for players" issue, Tennessee employees came out and said "oh yeah, we do that too, always have".  Tennessee investigated -- "nope, never happened, we are innocent." 

Look at the latest Gophers "scandal."  If you read the 80-page report, multiple Gophers football players had sex with a 21-22 year old woman.  They said it was consensual, she said it was not.  Her story is littered with credibility issues.  (There are many - she said she was drunk, though not overly drunk and had stopped drinking hours before....or maybe dehydrated.....she asked her first rapist what had happened to her, then later claimed to the University a very specific knowledge of the events that occurred....the report itself finds that the first alleged rapist did not, in fact, rape her).

Add in a specific misidentification of one player.  The University actually found that this error (a pretty big error -- "he did it....OK, I guess not....") INCREASED the victim's credibility: 

"RS misidentification of A10 demonstrates that RS memory of the events in the apartment may be faulty at times However, RS report about her misidentification also demonstrates her willingness to admit that she initially remembered something incorrectly...."   

Prosecutors (whose job it is to investigate and charge crimes) felt the story wasn't very compelling.  Her civil lawyer settled her lawsuit. 

And let me address another thing about the findings of the EOAA Report.  A great deal has been made of the fact that the Report had to use the "predonderance of the evidence" standard so the players had to lose.  This argument is wrong.  If Mr. X has 35 people come and testify that something happened, and Mr. Z has 1 person come and testified that it did not happen, and Mr. Z also has a video showing that one thing the 35 witnesses said happened pretty clearly did not happen, Mr. Z is very likely to win on the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, properly applied.  What happened here, in my opinion, is that the EOAA applied what I would call a "summary judgment" standard.  Under a summary judgment standard, if we believe everything that the claimant says and nothing that the defendants say, could claimant win?  I mean, that is what basically happened.  Every error by defendants (the report notes that one defendant, when quizzed, got the order of sex wrong, thus indicating that he was probably lying) is used against them and every positive inference is made in favor of the claimant (she misidentified one guy entirely, but that shows she is willing to admit her errors). 

So this is the scandal.  Several of these players were defendants in a civil suit.  The civil suit sought to enjoin the players from being IN THE STADIUM while this woman worked at games because she was afraid of them.  Now imagine that a lawsuit of this type had been filed in Tuscaloosa or Columbus.  "Judge, I need you to sit out the two starting corners for the Tide/Buckeyes because a woman fears that they may assault her at the game....."  Imagine that idea.  Imagine that.  Now imagine how quickly that request for extraordinary judicial relief gets denied.  This Minnesota court motion was granted - the two starting corners for the Gophers were, without ever receiving an evidentiary hearing, enjoined from entering the stadium on the off chance that they might, presumably while in uniform and on the field, assault this woman. 

After allowing these same players to play most of the season, Eric Kaler and Mark Coyle eventually suspend all 10 players involved and then lie to the players and tell them Tracy Claeys (their coach) was responsible for the suspensions. 

Now, what would have been the appropriate thing to do? 

1) Read the report -- geez guys, you guys looks like sexual predators out to have sex with any vulnerable woman you can find, do you have a response? 
2) Yes, we have filed an appeal and we think we will win because of ____________.
3) OK, well, you are entitled to privacy and due process, so we are going to let you play the Holiday Bowl, but if you lose your appeal you are done.

People who are convicted of crimes often remain out of jail pending appeal!  Corporations who are found guilty of fraud and have a $40,000,000 judgment entered against them don't have to pay if they file a bond.  What was the requirement that the University suspend these guys?  None.  Again, the administration knew what these guys were accused of for MONTHS and allowed them to play football.  But they suddenly suspend the players, lie about who did the suspending, and then face a player boycott and a coach backlash.

This would have never happened at any traidtionally top 20 program.  I mean, my lord, what was the punishment for Michael Floyd's DUI at Notre Dame?  Was he ever tossed out of school?  Suspended for a couple games?  Nope.  He lost his team captain status.  I am sure opposing coaches feared him less without the C.

Here is what would have happened at a top 20 program:

1) Report to the police - police take a report, advise no charges.  Prosecutors do not charge.
2) Civil suit filed.  Motion for restraining order denied. 
3) Booster approaches claimant - provides large amount of money through scholarship and free housing and duffel bags of cash.
4) EOAA office determines that they will agree with prosecutors and find no violation.  Claimant deemed to be not credible.

By contrast, Minnesota just HAS to constantly self-report and self-find-itself guilty. Thus the ultimate result is that it loses many players and fires a winning coach whose team loves him and who has a record of academic success with his players.  The guy went 9-4 at Minnesota, won a bowl game and has a LOT of good players on defense who will return in 2017.  That is the upside of the coach.  The downside?  When given the opportunity to suck Eric Kaler's dick, he chose not to do so.

The Minnesota press and Minnesota citizens both continue to search for the elusive set of 60 football scholar-athletes who will bring the team to a deserved 14-0 back-to-back title seasons; players who spend their Friday and Saturday evenings helping old women across the street and freeing scared cats from trees.   These 60 saints in football garb will want to attend Minnesota because Minnesota (despite no Rose Bowls in 50 years) deserves the best players in America.  I am not certain that this will occur, but I guess hope springs eternal.

A Final Note on Mark Coyle:
This is a guy who spent one year at Syracuse as AD under Jim Boeheim, oops, sorry, I meant "with" Jim Boeheim.  I grew up 80 miles from Syracuse.  I have met Syracuse residents and Syracuse cops.  I have heard their stories.  Suffice to say, if Mark Coyle spent a year at Syracuse, he knows what a northern school's program does to "compete at the highest level".  I would suggest that even in his brief tenure at the 'Cuse that Coyle saw how it is done.  He didn't want to do it, or be the AD while it was being done.  So what did he do?  He came to Minnesota.  For his travles, he got a football team accused of gang rape.  Whether rightfully or wrongfully accused, you have to figure that Coyle thought "I thought I left this behind." So when he got the choice to keep or fire Tracy Claeys, he fired him. 

Coyle will now take the position that he will hire a coach who is squeaky clean and who will uphold the Minnesota ideal (he wants a coach who "knows what Minnesota is") of all guys who get 4.0s and hang out in the Christian Science Reading Room in their spare time.    Good luck.  I think Gerry Faust is still alive.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Some Thoughts on the 11-22 Timberwolves.

The Wolves were 5-13 when I last complained about them.  They have since gone 6-9 (5-4 in their past 9).  Not that good, but better. 

Of all of my ideas, the Wolves have done the one that is most important.  They now run a ton of stuff through Karl-Anthony Towns.  They run him into the post early and often and force the opponents to defend him in there.  They run a ton of high ball screen action for Towns and Wiggy or Towns and Lavine.  The increase in Towns' usage has led to a better team overall. 

My concept that the Wolves should dump Rubio has not come to fruition and they still play Kris Dunn over Tyus Jones.  I don't appreciate that.  You can definitely see why Thibs, a defensive coach, wants to play Dunn.  Dunn is a +++ defender for a point guard.  He rebounds, gets his hands on balls, helps out powerfully and aggressively on defense. And he is a + athlete from a speed and leaping standpoint. 

But Dunn is simply brutal at running an offense, and he is one of the reasons the Wolves' bench is at the bottom of the league in bench scoring.  I would suggest that the Wolves' bench lineup should be Tyus/Dunn/Shabazz or Lavine/Aldrich/Bheli (or Payne).  It is a small bench lineup, but what NBA clubs have high scoring big guys off the pine?  Not many.

Jordan Hill -- should never play.

Thibs has somewhat calmed down, but that may be an offshoot of the fact that the Wolves started 6-18.  I mean, you are expected to go 41-41 and you start 6-18.  Everything has gone so shitty that basically there are now nearly no expectations on you as a club.  It is unlikely that you will (after playing at a 20-62 pace) suddenly go 35-23 and make the playoffs.  So you can just go out and play the game.  You suck, you are a doormat again.  no one expects anything from you.  (In the parking garage elevator after one Wolves home loss an opposing fan told me "Gee, I don't think your team is that bad after all, they kept it close.")  It hurts to be patronized.  This is basically, "HM, you really aren't THAT fat and ugly.  I'd consider telling my less attractive niece to think about dating you."


1) The coaching staff has settled down by a factor of 25%.  It needs to gear back another 25%, but at least there is not panic and screaming on every single play.

2) The staff has some fun out of bounds plays that actually work.

3) The staff has a funky defensive free throw alignment where they line up the SF and SG in the scoring corners and then have the PG race the ball right up the middle.  Opponents have terrible trouble with this play and it generally results in a layup or a wide open 3.

4) Lavine has played well.  His offensive rating is around 117.  He has learned not to dribble greater than 3 times in a possession.  He is brilliant at maneuvering to get open 3s and he has very long range.  He is a terrible defender (115 DRtg) so he needs to improve greatly there.  The guy can touch 12 feet, there is no way he shouldn't get more steals and blocks and maybe even some defensive rebounds.

5) Wiggy is TRYING to improve his rebounding.  I mean, look, the guy has terrible hands.  They are either super small or they have grease on them or he just never played catch growing up.  So it is not only lack of interest/energy that keeps Wiggy at 3-5 RPG, he is also not a gifted rebounder even when he tries.  That said, I can see that the coaches are trying to get him to square up the ball between his shoulders, high-point the ball, and rebound with two hands.  That way, when the ball squirts out of his hands (as it inevitably often does) the ball is likely to drop right in front of Wiggy and his body can shield the dropped ball from opponents.

6) The Wolves are valuing Gorgui's 17 foot jumper as a weapon.  Gorgui, like former Wolf center Mark Blount, has a deadly 15-20 foot jumper when left alone.  And he is often left alone.  When the Wolves wre good (and yes they once were) Sam Mitchell was the grizzled vet who stood 15-20 feet out, waited for the ball, and drilled the jumper at the shot clock buzzer.  Gorgui can do that as well and we are seeing it more.


A) The Wolves are pussies.  When an opponent has a physically imposing big man who plays hard, the Wolves almost always lose and they almost always give us 115--120 points.  If, however, an opponent has no big strong post presence (or that presence is a dog ala Dwight Howard)  the Wolves can beat anyone (played GState close, had Houston beat).   Your chances of winning should not be based upon whether opponents can manhandle you.  An opponent should never manhandle you. 

B) The Wolves play harder in some games and less hard in others.  Tonight Wiggy wanted to be thought of more highly than his draft classmate Jabari Parker.  So we got the great Wiggy (6 asssits, shut down the Greek Freak).  But then he will go to Denver and cannot guard anyone or even try to do so.  This was a trait of J.R. Rider - J.R. would light up Mitch Richmond and then give up 40 to Eddie Jones. 

C) Wolves have almost no bench play.  Kris Dunn's PG skills appear to be roughly 15% better than the PG skills that made Lavine into a full time off guard.  Offense aboslutely grinds to a halt with Dunn.  And his jumper?  It is like the shooting equivalent of a random number generator - could be left, right, long, short, air, or it could go directly into the basket.  He could make 4 in a rown or airball 4 in a row and neither would surprise anyone.  Imagine getting into your car every day and the heater works 100 times out of 300, but sometimes 4 in a row and sometimes not at all for 9 times and some times it causes second-degree burns to you finger when you hit the on button.   That is what watching Kris Dunn shoot a basketball feels like for me.

D) Speaking of - after starting the year with a newly-crafted jumper with perfect shot rotation, Wiggins now appears to be back to his old ways of side spinning the ball so it is a swish or nothing.  He likes to come across it in a curveball spin. 

D) Wolves still don't really understand what they are trying to do on defense.  I think the newest strategy on pick and rolls is to show and recover more.  I think.  It is bad when you cannot tell exactly what the strategy is by watching 99% of the play (as I do either live, on TV live, or on tape). 

E) Wolves are really, really, really bad at running shooters off the 3-point line.  I mean, my lord, if I have to watch anorther team's 2-3-4 man stand and stare at the Wolf defender for 3 seconds and then hit a three, I will lose my mind.   Get up under him or on his shooting hand and make him at least dribble.  Yes, if the guy has 11 moves to get a 3 (like Curry or Lavine) it may not work.  But allowing a guy to stand, do nothing, then hit an open three in your face?  That has to stop.

OK -- all for now.  At 11-22 there is some hope of improvement at least.  They are at least building toward their 29 win pace of last year.  And if they are on pace for 29 wins with 20 to play, they could pick up 4-6 more games as teams try to tank for draft picks.   

We shall see.

Happy 32nd Birthday, LeBron James, which is the greatest website ever invented, will allow you to search for players by age.  They define "age" as how old you were on February 1 of a particular season.  So, if you were born February 1, 1985, this would be your "age 32" season.  But if you were born February 2, 1985 this would still be your "age 31" season.  I suppose Feb. 1 is selected because it is roughly the midpoint of the season.

Anyway, this will be LeBron's "age 32 season" so to see where he fits with other 32 year old careers, you need to search.

Since you'd like to see stats like VORP. that means you need to do a couple different searches, because Oscar Robertson and Wilt, for example, have no VORP (the site doesn't keep that stat that far back) and you need to account for the fact that Kareem only has VORP for part of his career (as does Bird and Magic, etc.).

Anyway, here is one search

Here is another to get the guys without VORP --

Now, might I be a bit off using just these two searches?  Yes.  But, here is the best info I have on LeBron's rankings as a 32 year old.  This also assumes that he will not ever play another game this year and that he will record no positive or negative stats from now until the end of the season.

VORP - 1st
Points - 2nd
Win Shares - 2nd
Turnovers - 2nd
Games Started - 2nd
Minutes Played - 3rd
FG  - 3rd
FGA - 3rd
Games Played - 4th
FTA - 4th
PER, WS/48, 3PA, FTM -- all 5th place
Assists - 7th
3P made -- 9th

He is also 13th in steals. 
Maybe the most amazing stat -- 3rd in MP, 13th in steals, 78th in fouls (meaning he almost never gets called for a foul).

Not so great categories:
Effective FG% - 19th
3P% - 21st
TS% - 26th
Blocks - 36th
FG% - 40th
Total rebounds - 42nd
Free Throw Percentage - 74th.

With another 1 WS he will pass Wilt for #1 on the age 32 and under WS list. With another 325 points he will pass Kobe for the #1 32 and under scorer.  With another 118 minutes he will pass Garnett for #2 in MP, needs 628 to pass Kobe.

Happy birthday, LeBron.  For longevity purposes, keep in mind that to get in the top 5 for points and top 5 in assists he will need to play 5+ more years.  He already has played the 34th most minutes of any player, so playing 12,000 more minutes would place him in the top 3 all-time in minutes played.  At some point you expect to see diminishing returns.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Naismith Hall of Fame Candidates for 2017

I will not purport to claim a great knowledge of the other categories (though I do love Jennifer Azzi).  So I will concentrate on the American male players category.

I will drop guys who are coaches or contributors or someone like Geese Ausbie who was a great Globetrotter.  I mean, how do you evaluate that?  Did the fans like him more?  Did the Washington Generals have more trouble stopping him?

My goal here will be to identify no more than 6 male player Finalists

As I have opined in the past, there are a lot of clunkers in the Basketball Hall of Fame, so I really cannot concentrate on things like "Is he better than Calvin Murphy or Guy Rodgers or Mitch Richmond?" 

I am not going to say "Well, Ralph Sampson is in, so...." That is not a true HOF test.  Instead, we will look at my criteria for NBA players:

Was he any of the following:  

1) a top 3 starter on a championship  team;
2) a couple times first-team all-NBA;
3) top 10 in MVP balloting at least 2 times;
4) possessed with some otherworldly skill that deserves recognition (10 times all-defense, 3 times defensive POY, rebounding champ 4+ times, etc.); or
5) top 10 all-time in one particular positive stat of note.

Let's look at the list: 

Guys who have been left out forever (10):
Paul Westphal, Jack Sikma, Sidney Moncrief, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson, Bobby Jones, Mo Cheeks, Terry Cummings, Swen Nater, Junior Bridgeman

Guys who have been left out for a some time (5):
Tim Hardaway, Mark Price, Steve Smith, Mark Aguirre, Muggsy Bogues

Newer Candidates (4):
  • Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber, Ben Wallace, Glenn Robinson 

  • We have 19 Guys and I am trying to knock the list down to 6.

    In Fairness, Let's Use my Criteria to Identify Guys Who Don't Meet the Bare Minimum Qualifications. 

    Mo Cheeks, Terry Cummings, Swen Nater, Junior Bridgeman, Steve Smith, Mark Aguirre, Muggsy Bogues, Glenn Robinson are all out.  (I do not consider Cheeks to be a top 3 Sixer or consider his 10th place finish in steals per game to be enough, even with his 4x all-defense awards).

    That leaves 11 guys for 6 spots.
    Kevin Johnson
    Marques Johnson
    Bobby Jones
    Tim Hardaway
    Mark Price
    Tracy McGrady
    Chris Webber
    Ben Wallace

    All 11 are excellent players and deserving of consideration. 

    Category A -- The 2 Locks
    McGrady and Ben Wallace.

    1) Tracy was 2x first-team all-NBA, 6X in the top 10 in MVP voting, 7X all-star.  He had a season with 16 WS.  He is in.

    2) Big Ben is #1 all-time in Defensive Box Score Plus-Minus.  #1.  Ever.  DPOY, 5X first-team all-defense. Starter on a title team and a great team that went to 7 games in the Finals.  He is in.

    Category B -- The 4 Guys Who Don't Deserve It
    Best to Worst -- Mark Price , Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson

    These are all "very, very good" players, but they were all guys who were elite for only 3-4 years.  Not to say that they could never get in, but I couldn't skip them forward in the line while others stayed out.

    They have a combined 3 first-team all-NBAs and a combined 11 times being voted top 10 in MVP voting.  Between the 4 guys. 

    That leaves us with 5 guys for 4 spots -- Westphal, Sikma, Moncrief, Bobby Jones, Chris Webber.

    Category C - Left Out In the Cold

    Poor Jack Skima.  He was great as a champion Sonic, very good as a Buck, and he has 112 Win Shares - the most by anyone on the list.  He was 7X all-star, tied for most of anyone on the list.  But if you put a gun to my head and said, "rank the 5 guys left" I'd say Moncrief, Westphal, Jones, Webber, Sikma.

    Jack was never first-team all-NBA or first-team all-defense.  He only finished top 10 in MVP balloting twice.  Despite playing forever, he is not really well known for any great particular skill or statistical achievement.

    So he is out, but I would not cry if he got in.

    Category D -- They Get My 3rd Through 6th Votes

    3rd -- Sidney Moncrief -- the fact that Sidney Moncrief is not in the HOF should be mentioned to every HOF voter every day of his or her life until the problem is remedied.  Sid is 4x all-defense, 5x top 10 in all-NBA balloting.  He personally stopped Moses' quest for Fo-Fo-Fo. Top 7 player in the league 5 or 6 years.  Only 1X first-team all-NBA, but it is a joke he is not in HOF.

    4th -- Paul Wetsphal -- this will not be a popular take, but stick with me.  Paul Westphal was first-team all-NBA 3 times.  First-team.  He was one of the 2 best guards in the league 3X.  5X all-star.  Took his team to the NBA Finals.  One would find his career roughly the same or similar to Spencer Haywood.  I just don't think you can have a HOF where you say "sure you were deemd one of the best guys for 3-5 years, but fuck you."  Is hurt by only having 62.7 career WS.

    5th Bobby Jones --  he was great in the ABA, great in the NBA, played on the great Sixers teams.  He was 9X first-team all-defense.  9X.  And none of those were fluke all-defense awards.  He was great on the ball, great off the ball, great on chase down blocks.  He shot a high percentage, moved the ball, was a good teammate, his teams always won.  He was just a great overall player. 

    6th Chris Webber -- now, if someone came up to me and said "Webber is out and Sikma or Mark Price is in" I would not lose a great deal of sleep.  Chris was 1X first-team all-NBA and 5X top 10 in the MVP balloting.  Chris was great with Sacto, not so great with anyone else.  For more thoughts on Webber, see my old entry.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2016

    Top 75 in ABA/NBA Stats and Top 50 in ABA/NBA Stats - Look at Kevin Garnett!

    Per, the greatest site in the world, it currently takes the following stats to be Top 75 on the combined NBA/ABA lists:

    Points -- 17,770
    Rebounds - 8059
    Assists -- 4612

    The guys who have reached all of those levels? 

    Kareem, Wilt, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Julius Erving (counting ABA stats), and Larry Bird

    I looked -- Oscar is short a couple hundred rebounds and Magic is short like 10 points.

    Top 50 in all categories:
    Points -- 19,528
    Rebounds - 9,443
    Assists - 5,314

    Those who meet all three criteria? 

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st in points, 4th in rebounds, 41st in assists).
    Kevin Garnett (20th in points, 10th in rebounds, 47th in assists).

    For those, like me, who loved KG as a player, this is a very impressive Group of Two for him to be in and it indicates that for longevity and versatility KG should maybe be moved higher on the all-time lists.. 

    For those of you wondering -- Bird is short on rebounds to be Top 50.  Wilt, Karl, Doc all are short on assists to be top 50. 

    Thursday, December 15, 2016

    LeBron moves up the List of Those With 40,000+ Points/Rebounds/Assists shows the old list.

    LeBron is now at 41,631 total units and is #16, having passed Dan Issel.  LeBron is still roughly 2,000 units behind Dirk and Hakeem, and roughly 3,000 behind Artis Gilmore, Oscar, Michael Jordan and Shaq.

    Taking games off won't help LeBron reach top 10 status this year. But if he plays 50 games and averages 25/7/8 he will add 2,000 and get into striking distance of the top 10 for next season.

    Paul Pierce is currently at 38,528.  He has only registered 35 total units so far this year, so, yeah....

    Vince Carter, who played when Jesus was a carpenter, has not reached 35,000 total units.  Tony Parker and Chris Paul are not even at 30,000 total units.

    It is a big man's world in this stat category.

    Monday, December 12, 2016

    For you Fans of Fat Lever

    So, you know -- Wilt, Michael, Magic, Oscar, Havlicek...............Fat Lever!!!!