Friday, April 17, 2015

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of Croatia.  I kid you not.

The Second Greatest NBA Player of All-TIme? Wilt Chamberlain

Any guy who slept with 20,000 women deserves to be #1.  But, here I only consider on-court performance, so Wilt comes in at #2. 

As I said in evaluating Kareem, the decision between #2 and #3 is very tough.  Kareem won more titles, Kareem was more often first-team all-NBA.  Kareem lasted longer....again, on the court.  Kareem even had 3 awesome seasons that were as good or better than any Wilt ever had.  But Wilt's stats over a 12 season career just cannot be denied.

Scoring --
Most consecutive seasons leading league in points, 
Most points, seasonHighest average, points per game, season
Most points, rookie, season

Highest average, points per game, rookie, season

Most points, game
100-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. New York, at Hershey, Pa., March 2, 1962

Most points, rookie, game
Most games, 50 or more points, career
118-Wilt Chamberlain
Most games, 50 or more points, season
Most consecutive games, 50 or more points
7 -Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, December 16-December 29, 1961
Most games, 40 or more points, career
 471-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, 1959-60-1961-62, San Francisco, 1962-63-1964-65; Philadelphia, 1964-65-1967-68; Los Angeles, 1968-69-1972-73
Most games, 40 or more points, season
Most consecutive games, 40 or more points
14-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, December 8-December 30, 1961
Most consecutive games, 30 or more points
65-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, November 4, 1961-February 22, 1962
Most consecutive games, 20 or more points
126-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, San Francisco, October 19, 1961-January 19, 1963
Most points, one half
59-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. New York, at Hershey, Pa., March 2, 1962 (2nd half)

Rebounding Records --

Most seasons leading league
Most rebounds, career

Highest average, rebounds per game, career
Most rebounds, season
Most rebounds, rookie, season
Most seasons, 1,000 or more rebounds

Highest average, rebounds per game, season
27.2-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, 1960-61(2,149/79)

Most rebounds, game
55-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. Boston, November 24, 1960

Most rebounds, rookie, game
45-Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia vs. Syracuse, February 6, 1960

 Wilt had a 20-20-20 game. 

Wilt led the league in assists for an entire year.

Wilt is said to have blocked 26 shots in a game, yet they didn't keep blocks during his time (his 20-20-20 was with assists).  When Wilt and Bill Russell played at the same time, Wilt was first-team all-NBA 7 times.  OK, you understand that?  Bill Russell, who claims to be the greatest player in NBA history, was regularly second-team all-NBA behind Wilt. 

Wilt was 4X MVP in a league that included Russell, Oscar, Baylor, and Petit.

In the 1963-64 season, in which Oscar averaged nearly a triple double, Oscar was named the MVP.  Wilt finished second.  Wilt was robbed.  Wilt's 1963-64 season is arguably the greatest season ever played.  Wilt led the league in minutes played, PER, Win Shares (25), WS/48 (.325) and scoring.  He had 14 offensive Win Shares and 10 defensive Win Shares. 

In the history of the game, no one else has ever had 14 OWS and 10 DWS in a season.  Never.  In the history of the game, no one else has ever had 10 OWS and 10 DWS in a season.  Ever.  No one.  In the 6 seasons that Russell had 10+ DWS, he never logged 4 OWS.  Think about that.  10 DWS in a season has occurred only 8 times.  Russell 6 and Wilt in 1963-64 (14 OWS) and 1967-68 (9 OWS).

The 1963-64 Warriors were coached by Alex Hannum.  The #2 Win Shares player for them that year was Tom Meschery (similar career path to Robert Reid and Mark Olberding).  That team reached the NBA finals by defeating a team of Bob Petit, Zelmo Beatty, Cliff Hagan, Richie Guerin and Lenny Wilkens.  Wilt averaged 38 PPG.  In the Finals, Russell managed to hold Wilt to 29-27 and 2 and the Celtics won in 5.

Wilt that year had 3.8 playoff Win Shares and a .323 WS/48.  Yet that goes down as just another year where Wilt lost to Russell and Wilt didn't even win the MVP.  Arguably the greatest year of basketball ever played, lost to the sands of time. 

So, why isn't Wilt #1?  Well, Wilt had opportunities to win and didn't win.  He only won 2 titles.  He did reach the finals 7 times.    There is one guy in NBA history who has about as many statistical #1 placements as Wilt, and he won the title 6 times in 6 finals, so I have to give him the edge.   But I will NEVER abuse anyone who thinks that Wilt is the greatest NBA player of all-time on the court, and if you add in the off the court legend, well......

RIP big fella. 

10 Awful Minnesota Timberwolves Horror Stories - Off the Top of My Head

After another 60+ loss season, I am feeling all Britt McHenry, so I will rip off just 10 for now.  I am not saying these are the worst 10, or I couldn't think of 50 more, but here are ten bad memories from my 26 years as a Wolves season ticket holder.

10.  Joe Smith Fiasco -- It was common in the late 1990s and early 2000s to violate the salary cap by telling your own players (whom you could sign for any amount) to wait for contract renewals until after you signed new free agents (where you were capped) and then you would sign the currently rostered guy to a big deal.  There were dozens of secret deals done, and everyone knew it was being done.........but the Wolves got caught,  As I recall, Smith fired his agent and the agent sued, saying he wanted a percentage of the $84M deal that Glen Taylor had put into a writing brought to him in the hospital by Kevin McHale before Taylor's surgery.

We lost 5 1st round picks, later reduced to three.  The Wolves became a laughingstock for putting a secret illegal agreement into writing, and chances to improve the team got even slimmer.  On the plus side, Smith didn't get the $84M.  But he got worse, and still was re-signed by the Wolves.

9.  Stevie J, The Target Center DJ -- Stevie J was an African-American guy whom the Wolves hired to do in-arena entertainment.  He was a very loud and obnoxious guy.  Very few, if any, fans liked him.  The Wolves had, I am pretty sure, Gary Trent and Marc Jackson at the time.  Marc Jackson had gone on a fitness program in the off season and lost around 50 pounds.  Stevie J goes into the crowd and has a trivia question, "What Wolf weighs the most?"  Everyone is trying to help the guy -- I am pretty sure he answers "Gary Trent."  Ooooh, no,  The correct answer is Marc Jackson.....  Jackson was none too happy with Stevie J., and J disappeared from the public eye shortly thereafter.   A Wolves staffer stated that he could not understand my distaste for Stevie J. since the Wolves believed he was "edgy entertainment" that the fans wanted.

8.  The Despair of Andrew Lang -- the Wolves got rid of Christian Laettner because he had the gall to claim that his Wolves teammates and coaches weren't high quality.  WHAT!?!?  Jimmy Rodgers, Sidney Lowe, Bill Blair, not high quality?  Laettner gets traded to Atlanta where he becomes a one-time all-star and solid playoff performer for the Hawks.  The Wolves get Spud Webb and Andrew Lang.  Lang comes to Minnesota and just about literally wants to kill himself.  He hates the team, hates the city, hates everything about being here.  He looks and acts like a guy who literally has to cry himself to sleep every night.

The Wolves eventually have to move Lang because they fear for his life.  The "upside" story of Andrew Lang is that Lang was good enough that Milwaukee felt he was a good enough piece to the puzzle to trade Milwaukee's higher pick to Minnesota for a lower pick (if Milwaukee got Lang).  The Wolves at the time touted this development that allowed them to get Stephon Marbury and only give up........Ray Allen.  Sigh.

7.  The Departure of Cheerleader Natalie Kane (Nyhus) -- the most gorgeous Timberwolves cheerleader of all-time was Natalie Kane (now WCCO personality Natalie Nyhus).  Two things to note about Natalie:  1) she is FAR better looking in person than on TV; and 2) when she was early 20s, she was even BETTER looking.  Natalie left the squad for a year, causing a deluge of calls to the Wolves to ask where she went (study abroad was the reason given).  She then returned and was later promoted to the in-arena hostess (basically Stevie J's old job).   I sat near Natalie for half a quarter once.  I do not remember anything that occurred during that time frame other than that she sat near me and maybe talked to me briefly.  Although she was a great in-game hostess, the loss of Natalie as a cheerleader is a loss from which the organization as never recovered.  Some say it was Garnett's departure....could be either, could be both.

6.  Jonny Flynn and Ndudi Ebi -- The Wolves drafted these two guys, I am pretty sure, without ever having seen either play a full game live in person.  Flynn was drafted for his charisma and the fact that he "fought hard" when posted up by Tyreke Evans during a workout.  Now, he couldn't dribble the ball with any degree of skill, but hey.  He was selected ahead of Stephon Curry.  Ebi was picked with the 26th pick in the draft ahead of ACC 1st Team player Josh Howard (who played the same position) because Ebi had once held LeBron James to around 20 points in an all-star game.  You selected a guy who weighed like 175 pounds over a first-team all-ACC player on the basis of an all-star game.  Flynn and Ebi were both out of the league quickly.

5.  Paul Grant Hits the Side of the BackBoard....Twice -- the Wolves drafted large white stiff Paul Grant from Wisconsin in the first round (ahead of Bobby Jackson, a local hero whom the Wolves subsequently acquired, then let go right before he got really good).   In an exhibition game, Paul Grant comes onto the floor to the hopeful cheers of Wolves fans.  His legs were almost the same color as his brand new white socks.  If you had to ask me which was whiter, I would go with the legs.  Anyway, Grant gets the ball.  15 footer, baseline.  Hits the side of the board.  Yikes.  It is hard to hit the side of the board on a 3, much less a 15 footer.  The very next time that Grant gets the ball on the baseline.  Same shot.  Same result.  Now, I have watched thousands of high school and college and NBA games in my 51 years.  To this day, I have never seen anyone else hit the side of the board twice in the same game.  Never.  Three years later, the Wolves are playing an early season game.  The Wolves had improved, so the fan base is pretty active.  Guy takes a shot from 18 feet on the baseline -- hits the side of the board.  A fan 6 rows behind me stands up and shouts, "We have a Paul Grant sighting!!!"  I was howling with laughter.  Grant, by the way, hung around on NBA benches for a few years and was quickly out of basketball.

4.    Kurt Rambis and His Players at Media Day -- I get an invite to attend Media Day and there is Kurt Rambis.  You almost literally cannot hear what the guy says.  He speaks in almost a whisper.  But if you stand close enough and use context clues from the question he is being asked, you can figure out what he is saying.  Is Corey Brewer a starter for you?  No.  Is Kevin Love a potential all-star and rebound champion?  What?  Kevin Love?  God, I cannot see him ever being a star in the NBA.  Questions for Brewer and Love -- do you expect to start?  Yes.  Play 40 minutes a game?  Yes.  How a coach and his players could be so far off from the same page is/was baffling and astounding.  It is also unclear who Rambis felt would start instead of these two, given the absolute dearth of talent on the roster, but maybe he was thinking he could go with three guys?

3.  The Wolves' Various Draft Day Reports On Their Own Draft Choices -- For first round choices -- "We really didn't get the guy we wanted."  For second rounders -- "There was no one left we liked." or "You cannot get anyone good after the first 15 picks."   Some other great efforts -- the confusion of Fred Hoiberg when the Wolves traded O.J. Mayo (whom he had just got done anointing the next Michael Jordan); the despair in the voices of guys who had actually selected players they didn't want.  Now, this remarkable history of player hate has been, of course, offset by a lot of the ridiculous optimism of the Wolves on certain other guys based upon.......basically....nothing.  Flynn - played hard in a tryout and smiled big.  Ebi - one game of some medium success against LeBron.  William Avery - he really looked great in unguarded three point shooting drills.  Louis Bullock and Bracey Wright and Glenn Robinson III -- "These are basically the equivalent of first round picks." 

It is very, very difficult to get through a Wolves draft night.  This is particularly true when you start hearing the inside scuttlebutt.  "I mean, yeah, we love Jonny Flynn."  "We aren't picking Danny Granger, we really like Rashad McCants (the 4th best player on his UNC club) because no one could stop him in 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 scrimmages."  "We selected Wes Johnson (the knock on him being that he was disengaged as a player) because he is a safer bet than Paul George."  "Derrick Williams has physical talent no one can teach."

2.  Darko -- Oh, Darko.  We got him from the Knicks for nothing, and he played so hard in his first action (and was so horribly out of shape)  that I literally thought he was going to die.  Rambis continued to play him (Rambis also would regularly leave an injured Love lying in the 3 point lane in harm's way and refuse to call a time out).   Darko had some upside skills, but my God was he a dog.  He would regularly attempt passes that were sidearm, underhand, flipped over the soldier, which would be great, except 50% went for turnovers.  Once the Wolves decided they just couldn't hack him anymore, I watched a few minutes of a Wolves scrimmage one day.  Darko would literally jog down the court as the last guy down, ask for the ball just inside the three point line and then attempt bank shots from 22 feet.  I would have thought it just a lapse in judgment, but he did it twice in a row and, thereafter, would request the ball at the same spot (and not receive it).

Early on, David Kahn said to Chris Webber about Darko -- "We think he can be like Vlade."  Webber was shocked into asking "Vlade Divac!?!?"  Kahn stuck by his claim and basically told Webber he didn't know WTF he was doing and Darko would be great.  Webber's famous reply, "Good luck."

1.  The Best of Times, the Worst of Times -- ironically, the Wolves' best season of 2003-04 was also one of the most heart breaking.  One must remember that the Wolves got extremely lucky in 2003-04.  The original plan was to cut Ervin Johnson immediately after trading for him.  However, due to injuries, the Wolves had to keep him for a while to fill out their roster.  By pure happenstance, Johnson proved to be a perfect fit and gave the Wolves tremendous interior defense, even against Tim Duncan.   The Wolves also added as a throwaway free agent Trenton Hassell for under $1M per year and he was their best perimeter defender.  The Wolves actually finished 6th in the NBA in Defensive Rating!  Let me repeat that - Flip had an elite defensive team!

But few remember that the Wolves had home court advantage on the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and should have advanced to the Finals to play Detroit, except for the horrors that befell the Wolves late in the year.  First, Troy Hudson's leg, foot, ankle, etc. blew out completely (Hudson, by the by, is another tremendous Wolves horror story - the Wolves wanted to pay him $X if he was healthy and $xminus20 million dollars if he was not healthy.  The Wolves submitted the contract to the league in that manner.  The league said that such a contract was improper and would not approve it.  So, you would guess the Wolves offered him $Xminus10M as a compromise, right?  Nope.  He got the higher figure even with no guaranty he would be healthy).

Anyway, Hudson being sh-sh-sh-sh-shutted down left the Wolves with Darrick Martin as a backup, but Sam Cassell had been second team all-NBA that year and in the playoffs he would be playing 44 mpg, so who cares?  Well, in the Sacramento series Cassell was hampered by what Wolves medical staff identified as "back spasms" so Martin had to play more, even contributing some key late free throws one game.  Then Cassell reached the point where his "back spasms" made it impossible for him to run.  He couldn't play at all.  Diagnosis -- torn hip socket.  Out for the last 5 games of the Lakers series.

During the Lakers series, Darrick Martin or Fred Hoiberg were the choices at PG.  Garnett regularly brought the ball up the court and started the offense.  Despite this awful situation at point guard, a position where, again, Cassell had been second-team all-NBA and had run up over 12 Win Shares during the regular season, the Wolves managed to take two games off the Lakers. 

But, even during the greatest season ever, they were still the Wolves and were cursed, denying them of their chance to win an NBA title.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Horny Georgia Mom Plays Naked Twister With 16 Year Old Daughter And Young Friends

And that is FAR from all she did.  The best parts -- 16 year old asks to come over and party -  hell yeah.  18 year old bangs mom in bathroom.  Mom not satisfied, puts on a show,  Mom has more sex in hot tub.  Mom wakes up and is being banged by 16 year old.  Daughter feels bad....but not for what you would think.

Oh, The South.  What a wonderful world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Republicans Suggest $269 Billion Tax Cut For Paris Hilton and Other Heiresses

You want to know who owns your GOP government representatives?  Ask no more.

The estate tax exemption is over $10M for a couple.  If you have a decent trust and estates attorney, you never pay that tax anyway.  But what this would do is basically give Paris et al all of her daddy and mommy's money and the government would NEVER receive $1 of capital gains tax on the money. 

So, if you have $5,000 in the bank and get $20 a year in interest, you pay the government $4.  Paris Hilton's dad may have made $200,000,000 on his investments, but once he dies and gives them to Paris, she gets the $200,000,000 tax free.  Seems fair.

Oh Citizens United.....

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The 3rd Greatest NBA Player of All-Time? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Lew Alcindor left Power Memorial high school, went to UCLA, and won three straight titles.  He then, under his birth name and later as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, went to the NBA and won 6 MVPs and finished in the top 5 of MVP balloting 15 times. 

That is not a misprint.  Kareem finished in the top 5 in MVP balloting from 1970 through 1981 and then came back to spring into the top 5 again in 1984-86.  Most guys do not play for 15 years.  Kareem led the league in Win Shares 9 times.  He had 11 seasons with at least 12.9 WS.  He had over 10 WS in a season 16X.    He was 10X first-team all-NBA.

Kareem won 6 NBA titles.  He is the all-time leader in points, Win Shares, minutes played, Offensive Win Shares.  He is 3rd in blocks even though the league did not keep blocks as a statistic for the first 3 years of his career.  If you give him 900 blocks for those three years of play, he is #1 in blocks.

Kareem put up the #1 Win Share season of all-time (25.4 in 1971-72).  He has three seasons of at least 20 Win Shares with at least a .3 WS/48.   38% of all such seasons.  Between 1971 and 1974, his stats are insane.  His stats would tell you that from 1971 to 1981, he was the best player in the league.  For ELEVEN YEARS he was statistically the best player in the league!!! 

His regular season and playoff stats for his first 8 years in the league are frighteningly good.  If you stopped Kareem's career at year 12, comparing them to my three other greatest players (LeBron, Wilt, Jordan) here are his stats:

As you can see from the last link, trying to find the difference between these four guys is tough.  So why does Kareem (6 titles, played longer) fall behind Wilt (2 titles, played less)?  I must admit, this 2nd place 3rd place fight was the hardest for me.  LeBron is clearly the worst of the 4 (though he still has time to advance).  But why does Kareem fall behind Wilt and Jordan?

Between his rookie year and Magic coming to the Lakers in 1979-80, Kareem had 2 finals appearances and 1 win.  Wilt in 11 years had 1 title and 5 finals appearances.  LeBron 2 titles and 4 appearances.  Jordan 4 and 4.  While Kareem was a great dominant player, his presence on a team pre-Magic did not guaranty a finals appearance.  If you review the info in the last link, you will see that Kareem had the fewest playoff games played and Win Shares of the top 4 guys. 

If you look at Kareem's Win Shares per season and place them next to Wilt's, you see that Kareem wins twice, there is one tie, and Wilt has more WS 11 times out of 14 years:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar25.422.321.918.417.817.014.814.414.313.812.912.111.210.910.810.
Wilt Chamberlain25.023.121.921.420.920.418.818.217.015.815.114.712.62.3

Wilt was a slightly better player.  He didn't play as long.  He didn't win as many titles, but he also was more successful on his own than was Kareem.  If I am going to rank Magic as the 6th best player of all-time, I obviously have to discount by some amount the last 10 years of Kareem's career.  Not by much, but by some.  In 1980 Kareem sat Game 6 while Magic won the series.  In 1981, Kareem was lit up by Moses Malone.  In 1983, Kareem was lit up by Moses Malone.  By 1984, the team was 50% Magic's and 50% Kareem's.  The three-peat Lakers (1987-88-89) were primarily Magic's team.

So I rank Kareem #3.  I could see #1 and I could see #2.  I don't see him falling below #3, so that is where I put him.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Duke v. Wisconsin, the Final 4:25 -- Wisconsin goes up by 2.

Remember now, in the post-game, Bo Ryan does NOT complain about any out of bounds calls.  He complains that his team couldn't win because they were being physically beaten up by Duke.  Let's examine that position.

After Wisconsin took a 2 point lead, for the final 4:25, there were exactly ZERO foul calls that Wisconsin got and didn't deserve or deserved and didn't get.  Sorry Bo Ryan:

4:25Sam Dekker made Layup. Assisted by Josh Gasser.58-56 
4:09 58-59Tyus Jones made Three Point Jumper.
4:06Duke Timeout
3:38Frank Kaminsky missed Jumper.  (Bo is watching the play right in front of him, he makes no protest about any alleged foul - Frank just blows an 8 footer)58-59 
3:38 58-59Justise Winslow Defensive Rebound.
3:22 Official TV Timeout
3:14 58-61Jahlil Okafor made Layup.
3:14Foul on Frank Kaminsky.  (Kaminsky tackles Okafor, clear foul, even if it were not, Okafor misses the free throw)58-61 
3:14 58-61Jahlil Okafor missed Free Throw.
3:14Sam Dekker Defensive Rebound.58-61 
2:50Frank Kaminsky missed Layup.  (Frank plows into Okafor, gets his shot blocked, gets the rebound anyway) 58-61 
2:50Frank Kaminsky Offensive Rebound.58-61 
2:41Frank Kaminsky missed Jumper (the ball kicks around and Kaminsky jacks an awful one hander at the shot clock buzzer)58-61 
2:41 (actually a team rebound on a 24 second violation)58-61Justise Winslow Defensive Rebound.
2:13 (one of 12 missed layups for Duke on the game)58-61Justise Winslow missed Layup.
2:13 58-61Jahlil Okafor Offensive Rebound.
2:08 58-63Jahlil Okafor made Layup.
1:53Bronson Koenig missed Layup. (Koenig charges wildly into Winslow who doesn't move and inch, Koenig tosses up an awful airball)58-63 
1:53 Really a team rebound58-63Justise Winslow Defensive Rebound.
1:24 58-66Tyus Jones made Three Point Jumper.
1:09Frank Kaminsky made Three Point Jumper. Assisted by Bronson Koenig.61-66 
1:05Wisconsin Timeout
1:03Tyus makes a horrible decision, he is arguably fouled, but in a late game situation in a national championship game, you won't get such a minor foul you can see by the fact that in all of the plays listed above, no one has been called for a foul where a tackle was not involved.61-66Tyus Jones missed Layup.
1:03Frank Kaminsky Defensive Rebound.61-66 
0:50Nigel Hayes made Dunk. Assisted by Bronson Koenig.63-66 
0:43Duke Timeout
0:35Foul on Nigel Hayes.  (There are actually 39 seconds to go).63-66 
0:35 (Hayes inexplicably waits 11 seconds and then attacks Tyus with the body at the halfcourt line -- Jones falls over backwards into the back court and not one person watching has any doubts that a foul has occurred.  The announcers believe that Wisconsin has fouled intentionally to stop the clock.)  Badgers send a 90% shooter to the line and he, as you might expect, makes both.63-67Tyus Jones made Free Throw.
0:35 63-68Tyus Jones made Free Throw.
0:21 (Winslow knows Duke has a foul to give, so he just wraps up Koenig on the dribble so Koenig cannot go by him for a layup).63-68Foul on Justise Winslow.
0:18Bronson Koenig missed Jumper.63-68 
0:18 (Wisconsin holds the ball out front and dribbles around aimlessly for 20 seconds,  They eventually end up with a closely guarded 3 by a small guard over Amile Jefferson, who might get a piece of the ball.  No dispute by anyone on the play.  No one claims a foul has occurred).63-68Justise Winslow Defensive Rebound.
0:15Foul on Josh Gasser.  (Tackles Winslow to stop the clock).63-68 
0:15 63-68Justise Winslow missed Free Throw.
0:15 63-68Duke Deadball Team Rebound.
0:15 63-68Justise Winslow missed Free Throw.
0:15Frank Kaminsky Defensive Rebound.

(Down 5, the Badgers' only chance to win is to score very quickly, then foul or get a steal, and then hit a miracle 3 to tie.  Instead, they go pretty slowly and give it to a guy who is 0-5 from 3 to that point, with 3 airballs).
0:09Sam Dekker missed Three Point Jumper.63-68 
0:09Josh Gasser Offensive Rebound.63-68 
0:04Nigel Hayes missed Three Point Jumper.63-68 
0:04 There are absolutely no fouls involved in any of this.  Wisconsin puts on a shooting gallery display like the town drunk at a bad small town carnival and just runs out the time trying to score over token defense by guys just  trying not to foul).63-68Amile Jefferson Defensive Rebound.
0:00End of Game

 Tyus Jones 8
Okafor 4
Kaminsky 3
Hayes 2.

Wisconsin lost.  Someone has to win and someone has to lose.  Whining about non-existent fouling issues does not make you a sympathetic loser.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Duke v. Wisconsin Championship Game -- Preview

Duke beat Wisconsin earlier in the year by shooting 65%.  I think we can safely assume that this level of shooting will not occur again.  I can also assure you that Rasheed Sulaimon will not have another great game of 14 points for Duke, because, well, he has been kicked off the team.

It is basically a pick'em game.  I was told by my brother-in-law yesterday that the line is now Wisconsin -1.  Fair enough. 

The greatest thing going for Wisconsin is that they beat Kentucky.  I am sure that great historic upsets have happened in the past and the team failed to win the title (I am thinking Houston over the Lakers in 1981 and 1985, even though those were first-round upsets, but Houston got to the Finals both times).  But generally when a team (USA Hockey, Duke over Vegas in 1991) gets a great penultimate win they also get the ultimate prize.  There is such a huge boost.

Anyway -- strengths and weaknesses:

Wisconsin Strengths -- rarely foul, rarely turn it over, cannot give them open shots because virtually every guy can shoot.  Play very solid fundamental defense and offense.  Hard to guard because their guys all can shoot, dribble and pass.  Big across the front line.  As Kentucky learned, they will not get overwhelmed by an opponent's size.  Every primary guy shoots free throws well.

Duke Strengths -- rarely turn it over, have some high end offensive players (Okafor, Winslow, Cook), they play as a team and understand their roles, most guys don't try to do too much.  Okafor demands a double team.  When they lead with 6 minutes or less to go, they can use their four ballhandlers to run off time - two of whom shoot 90% from the line.  You do not want to trail Duke with under 6 minutes to go.

Wisconsin Weaknesses -- Losses to Duke, Maryland and RUTGERS!?!?!  Not explosive inside, not physically overwhelming in the backcourt, can give up some guard penetration.  Not huge shot blockers or steals guys.  Their general concept of defense is to try to keep you in front of them and allow you to get bad shots off.  That is both good and bad since many teams are poor offensively and take poor shots, but some teams are good offensively and will make the shots they are given.  Generally do worse against well coached teams who don't panic late in the shot clock, so teams with a good coach and good PG play can trouble them.

Duke Weaknesses -- losses to Notre Dame twice, NC State and.......MIAMI!?!?!!?  Very poor at stopping guard penetration; very poor against pull up 3 point shooters, very thin on the bench (3 scholarship bench players, two of whom played under 15 minutes a game during the year).  Okafor and Jefferson are poor free throw shooters, which could be death in a close game.  Okafor can easily be taken out of the game with a double team.  Tyus Jones from a scoring standpoint has been uneven.  Struggle against big teams and teams that are very athletic with shot blockers.

So, where do we go from this information?  Well, the Wisconsin guards generally do not concentrate on penetration off the dribble, so that is a huge Duke weakness that probably won't be exploited.  The Badgers don't force many turnovers, and Duke rarely turns it over, so we will see a lot of shots at the basket by Duke.   Wisconsin does not have great shot blockers, so that should be a plus for Duke.

Things to look for:

1) Duke players will get a lot of shots, will they make them?  Clearly in the first matchup Duke got a lot of shots and made them.  Wisconsin is not going to turn you over or block your shot, so their goal is to force you into bad shots and get the rebound (which they can do, because they are huge and all of their players rebound).

2) Is Wisconsin willing to play a little faster and shoot a bunch of threes?  If you walk the ball up the floor against Duke, and slowly get into your sets and look for the perfect shot, Duke can beat you and actually keep you under 65 points.  When, however, you run the ball up the court and take the first open 3 you have, Duke has a real hard time stopping you.  That is just a fact - witness Duke's losses and the first 4 minutes of the Michigan State game.  That is how you beat Duke.  Your goal should be to beat them by 10-20 points and play fast and shoot a ton of threes, even threes off the dribble.  Duke has two 6'1" guards, they cannot stop aggressive jump shooters.  Jahlil Okafor is very fast at the offensive end.  He rarely gets back on defense before the opponent is done preying upon the midget-y Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook on fast breaks.

3) Fouls -- who wins the fouls battle?  No one in this tournament has taken advantage of the fact that Duke has 8 guys and really likes to play 6 guys.  No one.  Duke has been playing against some really slow, ugly, offensively challenged clubs (SDSU, Utah, Michigan State) and a team in Gonzaga that seemed content to walk the ball up and play a slowdown game.  If you get 3 fouls on Tyus Jones, his defense goes from mediocre to non-existent.  Duke goes to a matchup zone that has more holes in it that Carly Rae Jepson's dress on SNL.  Jahlil Okafor is such an awful defender that he is hard to draw fouls against (must be like playing against a ghost at times) but no one seems very willing to try to get any fouls on him.  Winslow is so wildly out of control at times that he could easily be sitting with 2 or 3 fouls 4 minutes into the game,  If Kaminsky gets in foul trouble against Okafor early, Duke could be up 15 at half.  That would turn the game into a 14 minute game where Wisconsin had to catch up from 15 to 5 by 6 minutes left.  Not ideal for the Badgers.

4) Oh Tyus -- It is All Up To You -- as is the case with most close Duke games, so much depends upon which Tyus Jones shows up.  Is he the Ricky Rubio type of Tyus Jones who does everything else well but shoots 3-9?  Or is he the Chris Paul type of Tyus Jones who went 22-4-6 against the Badgers in Madison?  Cuz, frankly, when Duke gets the Chris Paul type of Tyus Jones, Duke will win.  Tyus played 5 years of high school basketball and 4 years of traveling basketball in Minnesota against gritty, flopping white guards.  The game sets up well for him against the gritty flopping white Badger guards.  But if he goes 3-9 or 1-11, it is likely to be all Badgers all of the time tonight.

My prediction -- Duke will win.  I would guess 68-63.  Wisconsin was a perfect matchup for Kentucky -- big, well coached, able to force Kentucky into awful airball shots, played harder than Kentucky while the Kentucky kids were just left looking around staring at their press clippings.  Duke was an awful matchup for Kentucky.  Kentucky beats Duke by 15+.  But Duke is a bad matchup for Wisconsin.  Duke has tiny guards, but Wisconsin does not have big athletic guards.  Wisconsin likes to set it up on offense and run its sets - Duke doesn't struggle against those sorts of teams.  Duke fares poorly when overwhelmed physically.  Wisconsin is big, but they don't terrify you with the ability to run and jump.  And I think Bo Ryan may decide to single-team Okafor, which Izzo did, but which is just ridiculous.  You are taking a guy who is a 20 point scorer when singled and giving him 20 points instead of 6 to 10.  The theory of not doubling Okafor is that you "take away Duke's 3s" -- news flash, Duke gets their killer threes when the game opens up and Quin Cook spots up.  So if you are slowing down the game anyway, there is no reason not to double Okafor unless you are super concerned that Matt Jones will pop open for 9-12 points.  So you are giving up 10-14 points with the hope that you can hold Matt Jones down by 9-12 points?  Genius.

Wisconsin Scenario for Victory -- Duke gets in foul trouble, shoots poorly and Wisconsin overwhelms Duke with drives from Dekker and Hayes and the Badgers pound the offensive glass for layups and broken play threes. 

We shall see.

Friday, April 03, 2015

The 4th Greatest NBA Player of All-Time? LeBron James

Now, for anyone who reads this Blog or even sorts through old entries, there is no question that I am not very objective when it comes to LeBron.  From the first time I saw him play on TV as a high school player, I saw greatness.  So, I am a huge fan.  That said, I think there is an objective basis for naming LeBron the 4th best player of all-time, and here it is.

If you look at players with at least 170 career Win Shares, a WS/48 of at least .2 and a PER of at least 22 (I think it is 11 guys) then you will see that LeBron is 10th in career Win Shares, 4th in WS/48 and 2nd (only to Jordan) in PER.

So, just based upon his existing statistics for the regular season, even assuming he never plays another minute, his average in these stats is around 5.33 - so roughly 5th place.  

Then, if you take his career "MVP Award Shares"  of 6.1, he ranks 3rd all-time behind Kareem and Jordan.  Assuming that he gets a few votes this year, he could pass Kareem for 2nd.  So, based upon contemporary evaluations of his dominance as a player, he is the 2nd or 3rd most dominant regular season player of all-time.

Points per game - 3rd best; PER - 2nd best; assists per game 28th best; steals per game 28th best.

WS/48th -- 6th best; Box Score Plus-Minus - 1st; Value Over Replacement Player - 3rd (this is a stat that generally improves with years played - he could eventually be 1st).

8X First-team all-NBA.  4X MVP (should be 5 or 6); 2X Finals MVP, 2 titles, 5 finals appearances.

He has had 10 years with a Value Over Replacement Player of at least 7.  That means that there have been 10 years where he has accounted for 19 or more wins versus what the team would have had with a replacement player.  Jordan is second with 9 such season.,  He had a year at 11 VORP.  That is roughly 30 Wins Added.  Jordan had two such years, LeBron had one, it has never been accomplished by anyone else.

Seasons with Win Shares over 15 and WS/48 over .27 -- Jordan has the most, then Kareem and Wilt, then LeBron.

Seasons with Win Shares over 18 with WS/48 over .3 - Kareem and Michael have 3, LeBron 2, Wilt 1. 

Let's be blunt - since Jimmy Carter took office, there have been only two guys putting up freakish dominant regular seasons -- Michael Jordan and LeBron.

OK - let's go to LeBron's supposed "weakness" - the playoffs.  He has as many titles as Wilt.  He has 5 finals appearances, all of which were his doing.  There are very, very few players who can say that they led a team to 5 finals. 

The most "really good" playoff seasons?  Michael first, Kareem and LeBron tied for second most.  If the Spurs go out early this year and the Cavs reach the Finals, it is conceivable that LeBron will have the 2nd most playoff Win Shares of any NBA player ever......trailing only Michael.

So why isn't LeBron first?  Well, if you go through basically every single stat, LeBron trails Jordan.  He has a few stats where is comes out ahead, but if I had to guess, I would say LeBron is behind Jordan in 90% of stats and/or invented seasons that I could possibly review or make up.  Jordan was a slightly better defender.  Jordan always won; LeBron just sometimes wins.  (A LeBron defender would say that winning at all with Mike Brown and Erik Spoelstra is a miracle, but I won't go that far).

Why not second place or third?  Well, both of the big guys, Wilt and Kareem, were just so freakishly dominant in overall production that LeBron just cannot catch them without more MVPs or titles and more first-team all-NBAs.  If you go through the seasons and start looking at season-by-season Win Shares, Wilt has 11 seasons with over 15 Win Shares.  Kareem had 11 seasons with over 12.9 Win Shares.

LeBron, by comparison, has only seven 15 WS seasons and only ten 12.9 WS seasons.  He won't make 12.9 WS this year, and his days of doing so may be over.  I see no indication from watching today's LeBron that his body will hold up at a 13 WS level ever again.  We have probably seen the best of LeBron, and 10 WS may be a very good season for him from here on out.

So, while he is undoubtedly my favorite, he appears stuck at 4th place.  What could he do to move up?  Well, if he rolled up 60 more career WS and 3 more first-team all-NBAs and won an MVP, he might move up.  Or if he won 2 more titles where he was Finals MVP he might move up. 

But hey.  The guy is 30 years old and I have him at #4 overall.  I could see an argument for dropping him a spot.  I could see an argument for pumping him up to #2.  His overall rank in the history of the game will depend upon how his body holds up over the next 5 years.  We shall see.