Friday, November 21, 2014

The Sixers

K.J. McDaniels' mom thinks they are tanking:

Look - ordinarily most teams are unwilling to intentionally go 5-77.  There is some element of pride, and there is some lost revenue in the idea that you will be so bad that your fans will simply stop coming and you will draw 3,000 a game when you could draw, say, 10,000 with a 20-62 club.  I have really never seen anything like what Philly is doing.  They are starting guys whose names I do not recognize.  They are playing multiple guys who are undrafted free agents. 

The worst team I ever saw was the early 1990s Dallas Mavericks (maybe 1992?  I won't look it up) - a team that played Walter Bond (who never started for the Gophers) as its starting off guard.  Radislaw Curcic anyone?  Walter Palmer?  Mike Iuzzulino? Randy White?  Doug Smith?

But the Mavs at least had drafted Jimmy Jackson, who was a contract holdout.  They also had drafted White and Smith as high first-round picks.  They weren't affirmatively TRYING to be shitty.  They just had three high first rounders who were contributing next to nothing. 

The Sixers - frankly, I have no idea what they are doing.  They are effectively red-shirting their picks (Noel, Embiid).  Basketball is not football.  In football, you can get bigger and stronger and faster by working out for a year.  In basketball, it is a skill game, you need to play the game to improve.  Constantly drafting injured players delays their development for probably one extra year, making you worse for longer.

The Sixers were also willing to move Thaddeus Young to Minnesota for nothing (Alexei Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute) when they could have asked for Anthony Bennett.   That was the case of dumping a veteran player for no good reason.  (Consistent with the Wolves' luck, however, Young's mom has died and the rumor is that he is so grief stricken that he may not play all season......or until his mortgage holder advises him that he needs to).

Maybe this is just a case of company pride -- I mean, the Sixers' famous 9-73 season from 1972 held up as the worst ever for around 40 years, but then the 2011-12 Bobcats defeated the Sixers, both in fewer wins and lower win percentage (7-59).  Maybe there is a desire in Philly to not only reclaim the title, but put it so far out of reach that no one will ever challenge it again?  I mean, those awful Mavs teams won 11 games and then 15 games.  The Timberwolves have trotted out terrible teams with coaches like Jimmy Rodgers and Kurt Rambis - never won fewer than 15 games.  Any team that has a few NBA level players should win 11 games if they play hard.  Bill Musselman won 51 games in 2 years with the best CBA players he could find.  I kid you not, that was his personnel philosophy.  Won 22 and then 29 games.

But this Sixers team?  They would lose to Kentucky 4 games to 2 in a 7 games series.  Kentucky has way, way more talent.  If you asked Calipari to pick 12 guys from the two rosters, he would pick 8 of his guys and 4 Sixers. 

Barring a trade or some wild miracle where a veteran decides at year end he wants to play for Philly, I predict 5-77 for the Sixers.

Kamala the Ugandan Giant -- Not Doing Well

My favorite line of one of Kamala's managers was, "He speaks no language known to man."  Seeing now that his name is Mike Harris and he is from Mississippi, that is probably true.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rooting Hard For Kevin Garnett

I know it is hard to fathom watching him today, but Kevin Garnett used to be a top 5 player in the NBA for a lot of years.  And he busted his ass every single night for Minnesota, with very little love for the things he was doing up here - particularly defensively.  I doubt that I have ever seen a player anchor his team more on both ends of the floor.  Even LeBron is not the defensive anchor that Garnett was in his prime.

That said, it is sad to see KG struggle so hard to play at a decent level today.  Starting last year, KG seemed a certainty to pass Oscar Robertson and Artis Gilmore on the all-time Win Shares list.  But then KG put up an almost laughably awful 1.2 WS for the entire season last year, leaving him short of both guys.

Counting in KG's 0.2 WS this year, he is now still 9th on the all-time NBA-ABA combined Win Shares list:

6.Tim Duncan192.20
7.Artis Gilmore*189.65
8.Oscar Robertson*189.21
9.Kevin Garnett188.64
10.Dirk Nowitzki186.23
11.Shaquille O'Neal181.71
12.Julius Erving*181.11
13.Moses Malone*179.15
14.David Robinson*178.67
15.Charles Barkley*177.21
16.Reggie Miller*174.40
17.Kobe Bryant173.13
18.LeBron James169.22

KG just needs a lousy 0.58 WS to pass The Big O and 1.02 WS to pass Artis.  He will never catch Duncan, but I would really like to see him play well enough to reach these extremely modest goals.   Sadly for KG, some of the guys behind him (Dirk, Kobe, LeBron) show no signs of retiring any time soon, so KG will probably end up around 10th in any event, but I have long loved KG as a player, and he deserves to be recognized as an all-time great.  Come on, KG, get that 1.02 WS that you need!


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Rare Hockey Item

Now I may need to find some scenes from that Sarah Palin documentary again....

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

20,000 Point NBA Scorers, Sortable by Win Shares and WS/48

Remarkably, there have only been 40 such NBA players.  Where does the most recent addition, Carmelo Anthony, fit into the group?

Well, Melo is 38th in overall Win Shares, ahead of only Mitch Richmond and Tom Chambers.  Excuse me, "Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond" and Tom Chambers.  The fact that Richmond is in the Hall virtually assures us that Melo will reach the HOF. 

As far as Win Shares per 48 minutes played (WS/48) -- Melo reaches #32, ahead of 8 guys:

Havlicek, English, Iverson, Greer, Hayes, Jamison, Chambers, Richmond.  The only guy that I am a bit surprised to see Melo outplay there is Havlicek.

Moving away from Melo, there are a couple surprises to me -- Elgin Baylor ranks between Nique and Vince Carter in WS/48.  Baylor, I am pretty sure, was first-team all-NBA 10 times.  It seems odd to see him down here with guys who are borderline top 60 guys.

On the plus end of WS/48, look at where Reggie Miller and Adrian Dantley's stats put them!!  Reggie is right next to Hakeem (Reggie widely regarded as a not-top-50 player, and Hakeem often ranking in some subjective ratings up around 15-20).   Dantley ranks between Bird and Garnett!!  Again - subjective rankings would put Dantley nowhere near the same stratosphere as these two great players. 

If you look at the top 14 WS/48 guys on this list, you see a few against whom you could argue as top 14 players (Dirk and Barkley, for example, are not regarded as highly as their stats show), but it is a damned impressive list above that .200 WS/48 figure: 

Jordan, Robinson, Wilt, LeBron, Kareem, Barkley, West, Pettit, Duncan, Dirk, Shaq, Oscar, Karl Malone, Bird.

Magic, Russell, Dr. J. and Artis Gilmore did not have 20,000 NBA points.

Ariana Grande

Keep saying, "she is 21 1/2 years old" as you watch this.  It still just doesn't feel right.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Top 25 NBA Salaries 2014-15

I would say that at least 10 of the guys on this list are not even Top 25 Players in the league.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Would Alex Gordon Have Scored?

I think the truth of the matter is that the Royals were defeated by incorrect expectations on this play.  Gordon hit the ball hoping it would be a single but fearing that it might get caught.  He was running 3/4 speed to first.  Buster Posey was strolling out to the mound to congratulate Bumgarner.  Bumgarner certainly was not backing up second or third.  So, obviously, when the ball was hit, the view at home plate as it seemed to everyone in that area was that the ball was the final out.  Gordon was one of those folks.

The centerfielder, however, was playing too deep.  He couldn't reach the ball, and he was frozen into neither diving for the ball nor just letting it fall for a single.  Gordon could scarcely have believed that the ball would be so horribly misplayed.

Now, the ball WAS, in fact, horribly misplayed and Gordon takes off for second and probably third.  If he understands or believes that the outfielder will fail to cleanly pick up the ball, he will have his head down and be looking to score.  As you can see from the shot of the 3rd base coach holding him up, Gordon is already slowing up and looking over his shoulder.  He didn't anticipate yet another misplay.

I was a baseball outfielder in high school, but most of my experience with the difference between triples and inside the park home runs comes from playing shortstop in softball 1990-2006.  As the runner, I was involved in that play probably 20 times, and, as the shortstop, probably 100 times. 

--If a guy jogs out of the box and then is surprised by the bad play - it is likely a double.  He isn't going to turn it on and reach third unless someone falls down.
-- If the guy goes 3/4 out of the box and sees such a misplay, he is going to 3rd, and if we get a clean pick up and a clean relay we may have him at 3rd.
-- If the guy goes hard out of the box, or is super fast, or really thinks our team is sucky at fielding, he puts his head down about 2/3 of the way to third and he is going to try to score.

As the shortstop, you keep looking over your shoulder to see where the runner is and how he is running.  The key is, is his head looking into the outfield or is his head down and trying for that last base?  There are VERY few guys who are so fast that they can look out into the outfield and not slow down.

Then the sole remaining issue as a shortstop is the relay throw from the outfielder.  Ideally you want that up by your left ear (every shortstop is a right handed thrower), thrown very hard, so that you are going to be able to catch and turn and throw all at once.  Like an outfielder on a sac fly, you do NOT want to be stationary when you are catching the ball.

If you break down the pictures from the link, you can see that Gordon was obviously not running real hard out of the box, he was looking into the outfield going to third, and, by his own admission, is not very fast.  As he approaches third, the coach already is asking him to stop (which is what Gordon wants to do anyway).  The only way that Gordon scores is if his third base coach is wildly waving him in and Gordon has to put his head down and give it his best.  So, we will never know - once the stop sign went up, Gordon was never going to try to score.

But, assuming that he would have been asked to score,  WOULD ALEX GORDON HAVE SCORED?  I say 60% yes.  The outfielder's throw to the shortstop is very low, and it would not have permitted the shortstop to gain any momentum to throw the ball home.  Gordon would have been about 80 feet away from home if he was being waved, since he would be running full out.  That shortstop throw from the mid-outfield bending down and facing the wrong way is nearly impossible.  When you gather and later turn, your throw will be about 85-90% of maximum velocity, and the throw is almost certain to tail off line one way or the other.  There is no worse feeling than letting that ball go and seeing that it has nothing on it and the guy will score standing up. 

The pictures show that there is a second (actually third) relay lined up about 80 feet from home plate.  So, if the throw is obviously off line, and Gordon is chugging, there is a chance that guy cuts it off and still gets him at home.  But that is an even more problematic play for the defense.  If the throw is so obviously off line, then the cutoff man need to run to chase it 5-10 feet, then somehow turn and make an accurate throw for the tag play at home.   It is a 15% play.  Why do we honor Jeter's relay flip against Oakland?  Cuz it was so nearly impossible to do.  But if Giambi makes a good slide, he is safe anyway. 

In my opinion, if Gordon sees the 3rd base coach waving him, the shortstop has a 25% chance of throwing Gordon out, and the last relay guy has a 15% chance of cutting the throw and relaying it for the out.

60% chance that Gordon scores.

Chance that a good Royals hitter gets a hit off Bumgarner?  Based upon experience in 3 games? Maybe 15%?  Sending Gordon was a better play by a factor of 4.