Wednesday, May 24, 2017

LeBron James' Dominance In Playoff Win Shares

If you review the list below, you can see exactly how dominant LeBron James has become as an all-time playoff performer.  Currently, there is no one who has achieved 90% of his playoff WS.  (Jordan 89.47%).

Guys who have achieved 80% of his WS -- Jordan, Duncan, Kareem

70% -- add Magic and Wilt.

60% -- down to Jerry West

50% -- down to #16.

LeBron James 44.44
2.Michael Jordan* 39.76
3.Tim Duncan 37.84
4.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 35.56
5.Magic Johnson* 32.63
6.Wilt Chamberlain* 31.46
7.Shaquille O'Neal* 31.08
8.Kobe Bryant 28.26
9.Bill Russell* 27.76
10.Julius Erving* 26.89
11.Jerry West* 26.75
12.Larry Bird* 24.83
13.Scottie Pippen* 23.58
14.Dirk Nowitzki 23.13
15.Karl Malone* 22.99
16.Hakeem Olajuwon* 22.60
17.Dwyane Wade 21.54
18.John Stockton* 21.35
19.Kevin McHale* 20.67
20.Manu Ginobili 20.60

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Honor Student Banned from Graduation for Wearing Shirt

There is no doubt that part of what is occurring here is the current belief of people in positions of authority that they can never be questioned for anything they do.  This has become a common problem with school administrators, teachers, professors, and - in keeping with this Blog's typical content - referees/umpires.

When I was growing up and in school (1970-82) and when I used to play organized ball (1973-82) the people who were in charge would generally listen to you and try not to overreact.  Then came "zero tolerance" in schools and the teaching of officials/referees/umpires that you have to maintain absolute control at any cost -- just start handing out technical fouls and threatening to toss guys.  Don't improve your skills as an official, just assert absolute authority to be as shitty at your job as you want to be!

If you review the annual survey of players in the NBA, the two things that are consistent on rating officials are this -- 1) the best officials will engage with players and coaches and concede that it is possible that they did something incorrect; 2) the worst officials will never engage and will, instead, just hand out a ton of techs.

When my daughter got in a dispute with school officials in 2012, I called the guidance counselor, who was my stated person to contact.  He gave me the "Well, I cannot do anything, we have a rule...." speech.  I replied "You know, my dad was a guidance counselor, and he viewed his job as being the advocate FOR students.  And I know my dad would advocate FOR his student here and not simply throw up his hands and do nothing.  But I guess we don't care about students anymore."  The guidance counselor told me there was nothing he could do, and said, "I guess you'd have to call the principal."  Which One?  "Ms. ___________"   So I called Ms. __________.  Her secretary literally would not allow me to talk to her or set up an appointment to do so!  "That is a set policy, she won't be able to change that."  Well, can I speak with her?  "No."  Set up a time to speak?  "No."  My tax dollars at work!  The guidance counselor called me the next day and apologized for saying that I should talk to the principal.  "I should have never said that."  I told him he had done nothing wrong and it sucked that the school had made him fall on his sword.

In any event, my daughter's problem was solved when it turned out that the whole thing had been an error anyway, so she got what she wanted. 

Now, let me add this - my calls made the guidance counselor feel so guilty that he went to the School Board and worked to change the thing my daughter had complained about and......succeeded!!  So - note to Ms. _________ -- fuck you!  I won.

Anyway, Ms. Summer Bond's errors here:  1) she is far more attractive than the female principal; 2) despite being far more attractive, she failed to kowtow to  the female principal's every whim; 3) just go put on the fucking other shirt - you know you are dealing with a psychopath dictator, should you have to comply?  No.  But is the psycho ever going to be reasonable?  Nope.  Just go put on a new shirt so the psycho isn't so upset that boys are looking at your goodies while considering her as an old dried-up hag.


Friday, May 19, 2017

My Notes on the 2017 All-NBA Team

Voting summary (5 points for a first-team vote, 3 for 2nd-team, 1 for 3rd, 100 voters):

First Team All-NBA 2017

1. Harden received 100 first place votes, 0 second, 0 third, unanimous selection for The Beard.  Justifiable and well deserved,

2.  LeBron James 99-1-0 -- his 11th first team all-NBA selection, tying Kobe and Karl Malone for the most ever and surpassing numerous guys (including Michael Jordan) who had 10 first-team all-NBA selections.  His 13 first or 2nd team honors is also tied for the most all-time.

He probably deserves the one "didn't vote for him" finger poke in the eye b/c he took many games off and the Cavs were only 2nd best record in the East.  The first-team vote went to either Durant (who had 3) or Draymond Green (who had 2 at forward and 2 at center).

3.  Russell Westbrook -- 99-1-0 -- the other vote went to Curry -- I also cannot get too upset about that given Russ's ridiculous Usage Rate (an all-time high) and huge number of turnovers (#2 all-time to.....Harden!).  if you'd like your players to be less ball hoggy and let their teammates play, you may want to vote for Curry instead.

4.  Kawhi Leonard -- 96-3-1 -- Three votes went in some combination to Durant and Draymond.  Someone felt there were FOUR forwards who had a better year.

The feeling of Kawhi haters is he is a "system" player and the Spurs went 8-1 w/o him, so how good is he, really?   My general reply?  Some people are dicks.

5.  Anthony Davis -- 45-34-16.  Davis was left off 5 ballots completely and he only beat Rudy Gobert by 4 points (343-339).

Second Team All-NBA

6.  Rudy Gobert -- 43-38-10 -- the difference here was that, while Davis was left off 5 ballots, Gobert was left off 9 ballots.  5 more third-team votes would have given him the #1 spot.  Gobert is the #1 rim protector in the NBA, but basically a one-end player.  Interesting that the voters would rank him so highly and Karl-Anthony Towns (a mostly one-end player the other way) so lowly.  Given Gordon Hayward's pitiful showing, voters appeared to give Gobert virtually 100% credit for Utah's surge this year.

7.  Steph Curry -- 1-93-6 -- the only Second-team player to be on all 100 ballots.

8.  Antetokounmpo -- 0-81-15  -- this is far too high for the Greek Freak.  Media loves him more than the current state of his game justifies.  Left off only 4 ballots (Anthony Davis was left off 5)!

9.  Kevin Durant -- 3-66-26 -- was having a first-team all-NBA season before he missed 19 games.  Would have been interesting to see if he would have displaced Kawhi or LeBron,

10.  Isaiah Thomas -- 0-71-23 -- had a great year; but let's be honest, he is probably the worst player on the list of 15 and has the least trade value.  Still a proper choice - you vote on what the guy produces, not on his intrinsic value.

Third Team All-NBA

11.  Draymond Green -- 4-21-51  -- Draymond received two first-team votes for forward and two for center.  He should not get votes for center or at least after he doesn't win as a center his voters out to have to vote for a real center.  Does LeBron get votes for center?  He plays a fair amount of center when the Cavs go small.

12.  John Wall -- 0-19-68 -- got the most 3rd team votes of anyone.  Apparently NBA writers walk around doing word association of "John Wall?"  "Third team."

13.  Jimmy Butler -- 0-19-45 -- had a great year, well deserved.  Probably deserved even more votes.

14.  DeMar DeRozan -- 0-4-50 -- just squeaked by Chris Paul; Chris Paul probably deserved the honor more.

15.  DeAndre Jordan -- 3-17-18 -- it is amazing that you could make 3rd team all-NBA when 62% of the eligible voters did not believe you deserved to be 3rd team or better.

What this shows us is that there are a lot of centers in the league who received a lot of votes and the splintered voting allowed DeAndre to sneak in.  Consider this, however, why does DeAndre, the defensive anchor for a LAC team, record virtually the same as Utah, get 54 points worth of votes while Rudy Gobert gets 339 points worth of votes.  The two guys are virtually indistinguishable, and Jordan may actually be better.   He falls nearly 300 points short of Gobert?

Other Receiving Votes

KAT 50 points, 2 first-team votes
CP3 - 49 points
Marc Gasol - 48 points, 2 first-team votes
Boogie Cousins - 42 points, 2 first team votes
Paul George 40
Gordan Hayward 27
Hassan Whiteside - 18
Kyrie - 14
Klay - 14
Jokic - 12 points, one first-team vote
Lillard 12
Millsap 3
Aldridge 1
Blake Griffin 1
Al Horford 1

The worst set of votes are the two guys who voted for Griffin (61 games, 7.7 WS, getting worse as a player); and Horford (68 games, 6.3 WS, was actually a regular season disappointment). 

Hayward and George are not eligible for the "super max" contracts they could have received from Utah and Indiana respectively had they made a team.  Is Paul George a better player than Butler or DeRozan?  Sure.  But he didn't get the votes. 

The center voting was unbelievably weird.  9 first-team votes went to guys who were not 1st, 2nd or 3rd team all-NBA as centers:

-- Draymond 2
-- KAT 2
-- Gasol 2
-- Boogie 2
-- Jokic 1

Draymond's votes, as I stated earlier, should have been thrown back into the voting pot and re-cast.  He is not a center. 

KAT probably got screwed a little, since his team's sub-.500 mark and terrible defense (KAT's DRtg on is a dismal 110) led voters to discount his unbelievable season (12 WS, 25-12, 100+ threes).  But KAT is young and if this motivates him to work more on defense, I will be ecstatic.

Gasol is working off reputation now - he is a declining player.

Boogie seems to make his teams actually WORSE.  This hurts your chances to win post-season awards.  After Davis, he is probably the second most talented center in the league.  But geez, if you actually take a team and make it WORSE.....

Jokic's voter, I cannot really get mad at him or her.  I think a good argument could be made that Jokic has the greatest upside of anyone but Davis/Boogie/KAT and Embiid.  He is freaking enormous and highly skilled.  Now, does that justify a first-team all-NBA vote?  No.  But I see how someone might think it does.

Friday, May 05, 2017

How Do You Evaluate the All-Time "Best" Basketball Players?

In March and April of 2015 I listed my top 36 NBA players of all-time.

I was chatting with a friend the other day and he said, "You've ranked LeBron #4 overall, but you say he has an argument for #1.  Why don't you move him up?"

I will need to look at updating the list in April 2018, but my friend's comment really brings up the question of how, exactly, do you "rank" players?  How do you rank them across generations?  Are newer players always going to be listed higher due to nutrition, training, conditioning, etc.?  What rank do you assign to someone with a great but short career (example, George Mikan)?  Do you rank them based upon how great they were at their absolute peak (example, Tracy McGrady had a top 15 all-time season -- does he get ranked based on his peak ability, when he shined the most?)

In a prior item, I identified 10 common traits of an all-time great NBA player

1) Was regarded at his time as truly great; evidence of this would be all-NBA selections and top 5 MVP voting;

2) Was regarded as the best player in the game at least once, and, hopefully, on multiple occasions, as would be generally reflected by MVP awards;

3) Was dominant in some aspect of the game - teams needed to adjust their games to stop him and generally did not succeed;

4)  Was physically superior to other players;

5) Was well ahead of his time as a player/there simply were not players that did what he did at the time he did them (and possibly there still aren't today);

6)  Played a sufficient amount of time that his body of work can be considered not just a blip;

7) Was consistently excellent for a long time (this can be determined most easily by advance stats);

8) His playoff performance did not generally decline substantially from his regular season work (same);

9)  Led his team far into the playoffs on multiple occasions;

10) Won multiple titles.

But how, then, do you weight these factors?  Karl Malone was 1-4, 6, 7, 9.  Huge gap for 8 and 10.  So would a player like, for example, Chauncey Billups or Jason Kidd be a "better" player than Karl Malone? 

Similarly, if a player is recognized as many time all-NBA and an MVP candidate (cough, Dwight Howard) and he becomes a somewhat lesser player due to back issues....where does he fall?  There is no question that for a 6 year period, Dwight Howard was unbelievable.  George Mikan, likewise, was great for 5 years.  If we ignore Mikan's multiple titles, should he get REWARDED for playing so few years while Howard gets punished because people have to watch him struggle for 10 years until the gas finally runs out of the car?

I mean, had Johan Santana blown out his arm on his last pitch as a Twin, he is probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  By continuing to pitch with the Mets, he is regarded almost certainly as a non-HOF player!

So, what "method" do I use?  What weighting do I give these 10 factors?  Is Robert Horry (7 titles) a better player than Karl Malone (0 titles)?  Of course not.  How close, however, would Horry have to be to Karl Malone as a player to get the nod?  When would the 7 titles be enough?

Here are my thoughts:

A) The primary means of evaluating a player should be his ability to excel in regular season play.  After all, without good regular season play there can be no playoff play. It is also a far larger sample size.  Playing well over 82 games is far harder than playing well over 10-12-20 games.

B)  Next on the list has to be the perception of the player from those who watched him play.  I never saw Bob Pettit or Elgin Baylor play.  I do know, however, that they were deemed to be 10X first-team all-NBA.  George Mikan was named the best player in the world 1900-50.  You cannot ignore that fact.

C) Then I turn to advanced stats, which are an attempt to measure certain levels of play by assigning a number to them.  The greatest players generally have two things in common - a) they have huge single-season number; b) they have great longevity at a high level of performance.

D) It is at this point that you start looking at post-season play.  This is where guys like Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett and Karl Malone and John Stockton start to falter.  You will note, however, that all of those players are in my top 26 all-time, so I do not consider consistent playoff greatness to be a disqualifying factor.  It is, however, a factor and one that can impact how the player is viewed when lines need to be drawn on "is Tim Duncan a better player than Karl Malone?"  Since the goal of playing basketball is to win the title, you need to give Duncan the extra "plus" over Malone.

E) It is at this point that you need to be able to rely somewhat on personal observation (if possible) and sort of a 'feel" for who was better.  (That is why we have all of these lists).  I fear that many lists use this factor E almost exclusively as their criteria.  I mean, ESPN has guys like Iverson and Isiah Thomas and Bill Walton and Kevin McHale very high on their all-time lists.  There is really no objective basis for these rankings - they are almost purely subjective or based upon something that once happened in one game (Isiah scored a million points with a broken ankle; Iverson stepped over Ty Lue; McHale was impossible to stop in the post (he played with Larry Bird yet averaged over 25 ppg once and over 20 only 5X))  Walton's ranking appears almost cult-like.  Yes, he could perform all aspects of the game when healthy.  He was healthy for 1 1/2 years and mostly healthy for 1 Sixth Man of the Year award.  He has 39 career WS.  His career WS performance is similar to Tom Boerwinkle's).

So, I guess my criticism of most ranking systems is that they start with E, then go to D, then maybe include a sprinkling of A.   I'd say you set your base by looking at A, B, C and then use D and E only in cases of extremely tough calls. 

The bias in my method, I will concede is AGAINST the belief that a guy is great simply because he gets a lot of shots and makes some.  And it is biased against guys who have enjoyed great post-season success (Horry, Chauncey, are disqualified from a top 36 consideration before ever reaching category D).

But I think that is the way it ought to be done.

As far as the issue of longevity - I do award "points" for consistently great regular season stats and for all-NBA awards and MVP Award Shares.  All of these are a function of longevity.  Certainly a guy who was great for 15 years has to get a plus over a guy who was great for 6 years.  After you reach 9-10 years of good play, however, there are diminishing returns for playing longer.  But still some credit. 

And on the issue of whether a guy who gets, say, 35 WS one year (has never occurred) and then sucks for 7 years should be ranked highly, I'd say generally no.  The exception would be if the guy was seriously injured. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Favorite "Youth Basketball Parents" Stories

I coached youth basketball for many years.  Here are my 7 favorite "youth basketball parents" stories.

7.  "My Kid Can Score In Bunches" --  We had a kid who played "A" traveling ball in 5th and 6th grades.  Good athlete.  Dad was a college athlete.  Kid simply had no desire to play D, rebound, run the offense, pass, or anything else other than shooting.  So 7th grade traveling ball comes.  He is our last pick for the team of 10.  Halfway through the season the dad approaches us -- "Hey, my kid ought to play more."  Well, he has a LOT of deficiencies as a player.  "Like what?"  (List them all).  "Well, I disagree with that analysis, and he is a Great Scorer!  He can score in bunches."  Well, we need to see improvement in [list all deficiencies].  He never improved.

In 8th grade we left him off the team.  The "B" coach doesn't take him.  He ends up playing "C" ball and not starting for them.  Dad calls -- "It would have been nice to know what we needed to work on before this all happened...."

6.  "Should We Just Leave, Go Home?"  -- Coaching girls.  We are in the state tourney.  Win game 1, so we are now in the top 8 in the entire state.  Dad, "I'd like to see you guys."  Walk out to the other room -- "So, should me and my daughter just not come tomorrow?"  Huh?  "Well, she played about 35% of the game today, so if you don't need her, maybe we should just stay home."  Look, man, we have played your kid 55% of the game all year, today she just played less.  "Well, it is humiliating to just sit there and have her barely play!"  (He is screaming now.)  Do what you want, I guess.  Just let us know by midnight.

5.  You Should Make Your Players Be Nice to My Daughter!" -- Coaching girls.  Parent of a player comes up to me, "You know, I blame YOU for what is happening to my daughter."  What is that?  "Well, in school, your players don't include her and treat her badly."  How so?  "Well, they just don't include her."  In school?  "Yes."  When I am not around at all?  "Yes. So do something!"  (she is screaming, she stomps off).

4.  The Man Who would Be Coach (Secretively)  -- I am an assistant coach for boys.   Father every third game or so will come up to me, "You know, that isn't how you run a press."  or "You know, that isn't how you attack a 1-3-1."  or "You know, you'll never defend that play properly the way you are."  I'd reply that I had discussed same with the head coach and we were comfortable with what we were doing, but if he had good insight, he should talk to the head coach.  "That wouldn't do any good."  Do you have specifics for me to pass on?  "That should be obvious."  Kid played for us for 3 years.  The dad never once gave the coach a poor written evaluation.

(Runner up for this category would be the dad of the 5'4" non-athlete who became the C coach "cuz my kid never gets a fair shake from the A coach" -- his theory, stay with me, was that we A coaches took guys who were so bad they should play C, leaving too many good players for B, so his kid played C.   We were 4th in the state in A basketball in 8th grade, playing our group of C players.)

3.  "My Kid Should Play.....Always."  -- When we coached, we had "playing time rules" that said every player needed to play 1 1/2 quarters.  So, with 10 players, your worst 5 players had to play 37,5% of the time and your best five could only go 62.5% (if you dared to risk the wrath of the worst 5's parents (you generally just played them 50-50% and maybe in the last couple minutes played the better players in a close game)).  Anyway, in 8th grade we had a girl who was probably our 5th or 6th best player.  Her dad was a former college player.  Dad, "She has to start, she plays better when she starts."  Start her.  "She has to finish.  She plays better when she is allowed to finish the game."  Um, that isn't likely.  "Look, she has to start and finish."  We do that for 2 games.  "Why is she playing less in the middle of the game?  That is hard on her.  Do I need to speak to the varsity coach?"  We go ask the varsity coach to come evaluate her as a player.  He says, "She is maybe your 7th best player.  I don't care if you play her at all."  Dad says she will finish out the season, but we have ruined her life.  We finish 6th in the state.

2.  "Why Don't You Get a Ride Home From Those Nice White Parents?"  I wasn't coaching here, but my son was playing in 6th grade AAU on a very good suburban team.  Being a Minnesota suburban team, we were all white.  We go play a team from Minneapolis.  We absolutely drill them (like 65-30).  Walk to the parking lot.  Minneapolis dad sees my son, walks over, "You are a very good player.  Great game."  Well, how nice!  Dad's kid walks up to him in the same parking lot, and  Dad, not so nice anymore.  "I don't know what you are doing out here.  You got killed by the white kids.  You think I am giving you a ride home after that?  Why don't you go get a ride with those nice white parents.  Maybe they can teach you how to play basketball!?!?"  Kid is bawling.  I drive away.

1.  "My Son Is Logging the Minutes on the Bench"  -- we are playing in a 3rd grade boys tourney -- first one we ever entered.  We have had no practices, have no offense, no defense, no press, no press break, etc.  First game we lose 58-11.  Opposing coach "How many games have you played?"  Zero, well, now 1. You?  "37."  Next game we are halfway close, so I play the better guys a little more and we lose by only 12.  We have one last losers-bracket "friendship game" the next day.  Get a call at my house at 9PM.  "My son was logging the minutes on the bench and he says your son played 18 minutes and my son played only 12."  OK.  "Well, we are not coming tomorrow if you don't play those two exactly equal."  Um, well, I was trying to be more competitive and your son played a lot and....  "Nope, he kept a log of the minutes, and he didn't play equally.  Either play them all the same or we are not coming.......Well?!?"  Sure, it is a fucking 3rd grade friendship game, I will play them all the same.  "I will be watching!"    I never engaged the dad or the son in a conversation ever again.  If he said hello, I would be polite, but I never talked to him or his son voluntarily ever again.

I am sure there are more good stories, but those come immediately to mind.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fox News to Fire Bill O'Reilly After Only..........13 years of sexual harassment

No one seems to recall that the complaints against O'Reilly stretch at least as far back as 2004, when he famously conflated the word "loofah" with "falafel" and offered to rub a female employee with one in the shower.

BOLD move by Fox cracking down after less than two decades!  Here is the Smoking Gun article and attached Complaint.  The woman apparently tape recorded O'Reilly when he called (he was often masturbating while speaking to her).


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lip Synch Battle -- Kaley Cuoco

THIS is a hard body. Geez:

Kate Upton -- Lip Synch Battle

If you want full confirmation that Ricky Martin is gay?  Watch him LAUGH when Kate Upton does this.  I had ZERO chance of laughing at this performance.

Looks like I better set the DVR.