Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy 31st Birthday to LeBron James

So, for guys who met my criteria as statistically top 100 NBA players while under the age of 31.5 (basketball-reference measures player age as "how old were you on February 1 of that season") we get these stats for the regular season:

Where does LeBron James rank on this list (he still has January, February, March, and most of April to play this year, so his raw numbers will likely go up)?

Regular Season Win Shares -- 2nd 0.2 behind Wilt, LBJ will likely be #1

Points -- 2nd, 133 behind Kobe, LBJ will likely be #1

Games Started -- 2nd behind KG, LBJ will likely be #1

FG made -- 2nd, substantially behind Wilt

Turnovers - 2nd behind Magic (he will not catch Magic)

FG attempted - 3rd behind Kobe and Wilt - he won't catch Wilt

Games Played - 3rd behind Kobe and KG, he won't catch KG

Minutes Played - 3rd, he will catch KG most likely and be #1

Assists - 6th, over 3,400 behind Magic

PER -- 6th this is a declining stat, he won't reach higher than 6th (Jordan #1)

WS/48 -- 8th see above (Jordan #1)

Steals 8th, over 400 behind Stockton

James 29th in blocks, 32nd in rebounds

Funny one -- he is only 67th in fouls, Shawn Kemp had over 500 more fouls by age 31.5 than anyone else on the list!


Playoff Win Shares - #1

Category finishes of 2nd place (before this set of playoffs, in some categories he can move up):  FG, FGA, Assists, Steals, Turnovers, Points, Games Started, Minutes Played

PER -- 4th (Jordan, Mikan Shaq)

Rebounds -- 5th

WS/48 -- 5th (Mikan, Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, LeBron).

Blocks -- 9th

I find it interesting that LeBron follows (in order) Jordan, Wilt and Kareem in Playoff WS/48 since I have him ranked as the #4 overall player in NBA history, behind those three guys, in that order.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Anthony Bennett - Sent to the D League

The first ever #1 overall pick to go to the D League

When Cleveland drafted Bennett at #1 overall, I was stunned.  I had never seen or read any draft preview that had him at #1.  (It was a terrible draft, but still, Bennett's name was top 5 or top 3, never #1).

I then, of course, went and looked at his highlight film, including a breakdown of strengths and weaknesses.  When your weaknesses are listed as "poor ball handler, selfish, overweight and undersized" then I am not sure how any team could pick you top 5, let alone #1.

Watching Bennett play in Minnesota -- he tries hard.  He could be a plus rebounder if given minutes.  He has good form on his jumper and can make a wide open shot.  He occasionally shows bursts of athletic ability where he will flash (block a shot, dunk on the break). 

The problems with Bennett as a player:

1) He has terrible shot selection.  He thinks he is a scorer.  He is not.  Therefore, when he gets the ball he thinks he needs to shoot it.  Guys can be 6 inches from him when he receives the ball and he will still shoot it.  There are no players in the NBA who can be effective as catch and shoot players when their guy is right up on them.  He never figured that out.

2) He has very poor agility.  This means that he cannot shot fake and do anything.  If he starts to shoot, just jump out on his shooting hand as hard as you can.  He cannot dribble, he cannot drive, he cannot escape dribble and re-set his feet.  He cannot do anything.  This means that he can only be an offensive option when left wide open.

3) He needs a running start to jump well.  I haven't gone through and analyzed tape, but I would guess that AB is a 2-foot jumper.  He needs some space and a run up to gather his body weight and get up in the air.  Look, Nique and KG are both two-foot jumpers also, but they are freakishly athletic and agile.  Bennett, on the other hand, being undersized and not agile, struggles mightily to defend inside or get his own shot off in the post.   So, if you are a poor interior defender and cannot score inside, exactly when can you play?   I guess if you are a 50% three point shooter like Matt Bonner, you can play.  But you need a great team to hide all of your weaknesses.

4)  He will always have the stigma of being a #1 pick.  Look, if you found a hard working 23 year old guy who was 6'8", occasionally athletic and who could hit an open shot, you'd work with him to see if he could be a contributor (Bennett is certainly no worse of a player than Adrian Payne, whom the Wolves traded a mid-one to get).    But there is a stigma to trading for a sucky failed draft pick.  People know his weaknesses and they see him on the court and go -- "Go right at him defensively and get up on him offensively".   Most mediocre bench players can get 4-8 points a game for a stretch simply because the other team's bench players don't spend any time studying their strengths or weaknesses.  Not true with failed high draft picks.

The saddest thing about Bennett is that he is not lazy.  He worked to get himself into better shape.  He works on his jumper.  He asked to be sent to the D League.  He wants to be good.  I saw him play for Team Canada.  Against poor athletes, his willingness to play hard and be active made him look like a better player than Andrew Wiggins (who always seems willing to float and do nothing if he can).  But Bennett is undersized and not agile and lacks judgment.  Wiggins is properly sized, unbelievably athletic and, if anything, does not try to do ENOUGH on the court. 

Good luck, Anthony Bennett.  Perhaps some day you will be a 10 point and 5 rebound guy off the bench for someone.  I will root for you because you try and because it is not your fault that someone picked you #1 overall.

A personal note -- I once was in a tennis tournament at an old law firm that I worked for in the summer of 1987.  I am not a good tennis player.  I try, and I have played a lot with my brother, but I am not good. But in 1987, I was 23 and a very good athlete (I could get the ball back in play).  As the tourney continued on, I was beating guys just because I could get the ball back and they were old and would make mistakes.  I reached the finals, where I was quickly dispatched 6-0, winning maybe 4 points all match.  The response?  "My lord, HM sucks.  How did he ever reach the final?  Good lord.  His presence just makes everyone look bad."  On Monday, the word around the office was about how badly I sucked in the final and how everyone was embarrassed for me. 

What was I supposed to have done?  Lose on purpose? I had reached the final.  I tried, but against truly good competition, I sucked.  I think, ultimately, Anthony Bennett may look back on his career and say the same thing. ala James Ingram, "I did my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough..."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bo Ryan -- Quitter

Things we clearly know about recent quitter Bo Ryan:

- He took a program in complete disarray (OK, so it was actually one year removed from a Final 4 appearance)

-- And with almost no talent (OK, he had two of the top 18 draft picks in the NBA draft)

-- And led them to a national championship (Oh, wait, no he didn't)

-- But when they lost the title game, he always acted with class - (Oh wait, no he didn't

Well, one thing can be said for sure -- he didn't worry about coaching a shitty team and was all too glad to take his lumps while the 2015-16 team rebuilt and went .500 in Big Ten play........oh, wait, no he wasn't.

One thing I commend Bo for:  when I coach basketball, I always tell my team it is bad luck to end warm-ups without making your last shot.  So if we simply cannot make a shot, I will send someone out to make a layup before we start the game.  Bo waiting to play crappy Texas A&M--Corpus Christie so he could get a win before quitting is the same thing I did by sending my point guard out to make a layup before tip off.   Meaningless gesture - made me feel better.

I will not miss Bo Ryan. 

Israeli Authorities Arrest Bar Refaeli for Tax Evasion, Take Away Her Passport

If she ever gets out of Israel and comes to Minnesota, I strongly suggest that Minnesota authorities do the same so we can have her walking around for 6 months.

One of my favorites.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Marco Rubio aka "Mr.Amnesty Is Great!"

So THIS guy wants to be the Republican nominee?  THIS is their savior?  A name born to non-citizens who is pro-immigration/amnesty? 

We will see if GOP voters can him rammed down their throats by their wealthy overlords, just like they did with McCain and Romney.

Chris Christie -- "I Will Be More Trusted By a Guy Dead Since 1999"

Well, in his defense, Chris had just been moved up from JV and was not used to people actually watching him debate. 

And I think he was probably really hungry.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Trump Up 25% in Zogby Poll

Here is what I do not understand about all of the hand wringing regarding Trump: 

1) According to THIS:, 20% of households make less than $42,000 a year, 49% of households make between $42K and $126K, and that leaves 31% of U.S. households making over $126,000 a year....31% seems high to me, but I guess that is how I am reading this.  (If 31% is high, that makes my pro-Trump point even stronger).

2) If you look at 2012 exit polls, Obama gets about 60% of votes in the sub-$50K area, 46% in middle class and 44% above that.

(I should note that I have seen some exit polls broken out by state and in the northern states Obama gets like 70% of the poor and in the southern states Romney gets over 55% of the poor -- southern poor folks vote more GOP than do northern poor least in 2012).

4) So, assuming that poor or middle class GOP voters = .4X20% plus .54X49%  --

about 35% of the country is poor or middle class Romney voters and the other 12% of the country that voted for Romney is rich GOP.

5) That means that there are at least 3 times as many GOP voters who will NOT benefit directly from tax breaks for the wealthy as there are GOP voters who WILL benefit from tax breaks for the wealthy.  (Recall that Obama only repealed the tax cuts of GWB above $250K for singles and $400K for married filing jointly, so the number is probably 4-5-6 times more non-tax-voters, but I will use 3X since I have to assume that the wealthy vote more often than do the poor).

6)  You have to assume, then, that 75% of GOP voters are people who care more about the other GOP party planks -- guns and God (including anti-abortion here) and overall hatred of minorities and immigrants.

Why would ANY of these 75% of voters prefer a candidate like Jeb Bush who is kinda weak and mealy-mouthed and talks about how tax cuts will lead to 4% compounded annual growth?  Would they not be FAR more likely to vote for someone who screams about how he will kill every enemy of the state and their families?  Trump should have at least 3 voters to every one for Bush....and he does.

The only real crack in Trump' political wall is the second G - God.  He is a many times divorced northerner who is not a born-again evangelical.  That is why his closest pursuers are usually Cruz and Carson, both of whom want the country run by their interpretation of the Bible.

Look, you may not like Trump, but he has a very solid appeal to 75% of the GOP base.  Unless he is shown trucking illegal immigrants and terrorists into the country in the back of a car stolen from Ted Nugent, I don't see any reason why his poll numbers should decline.  He epitomizes what 35% of the country loves the most.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Paige Spiranac -- Ridiculously Hot Golfer

Couldn't sleep, was flipping around the channels, saw this person playing golf in Dubai. I mean, uh, wow. She looks even hotter on TV.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Things That Concern Me About the 2015-16 Timberwolves

The Wolves continue to give me (a 26 year season ticket holder) the giant middle finger by playing so awfully at home (2-8 versus 6-3 on the road).  But their apparent hatred for their home court/home fans is not what troubles me.  Here are some things that trouble me:

1) The failure of Sam Mitchell to find a rotation and 5 go-to guys.  Look, it is a basic element of any good NBA team that they have guys whom they can turn to at key times, including end of game, and say, "Go get em."  Now, the 5 guys may vary slightly (maybe you choose 5 of 6 or 5 of 7 depending upon who plays well) but it cannot just be a horrible jumble or grab bag where you go "Well, I guess Towns won't play at all in the 4th tonight....for some reason...."

As George Karl once screamed at Marcus Camby as he sulked off the floor at Target Center, "It is called a player rotation.  Get used to it."  The Wolves' players never have to worry about hearing that from Sam, as he appears to pick names out of hat throughout the game.

2)   Andrew Wiggins' Game Is Less Efficient and Overall Less Productive --  His shooting has actually gotten worse.  He percentage is down across the board, but he is taking more 3s.  His jumper is all kinds of crazy looking and he is squeezing off shots with absolutely no rhythm.  As a rookie he had a beautiful release and perfect rotation.  He now shoots the ball as if it were aflame when he receives it, often resulting in wild side spin efforts that clank harshly.

Add to this the fact that Wiggins (already sort of a Jeb Bush-ian "low energy" player away from the ball) has had his numbers in assists, rebounds, steals+blocks ALL go down this year.  How is that possible?  The guy to whom I most often compare Wiggy's upside is Paul George.  Paul George's rebounds and assists numbers are DOUBLE those of Wiggins.  It isn't like the Wolves are so awesome that there are just not enough stats to go around.  If Shabazz Muhammed can play 20 minutes and get 9 rebounds, certainly Wiggins could get his overall rebounding up to 6 a game.

3) The Tyus Jones Fiasco -- Look, the Wolves traded to get Tyus.  They obviously felt they had a player who could play in the NBA.  Now I realize that Flip (who loved Tyus) died, but the the situation in Minnesota just seems to scream out for Tyus to play the backup point guard.  LaVine is far more productive and happy playing off guard.  One of Rubio's best attributes is he can play 36-44 minutes a game.  So you play Rubio and you play Jones 4 to 12 minutes off the bench. 

The rap on Jones is that he is small and cannot defend.  The Wolves last year played Zach LaVine almost 2,000 minutes, often at starting PG.  He had negative Win Shares for the year.  His Offensive Rating was 19 points worse than his Defensive Rating, for the year.  Now, you take Tyus and you actually play him and you don't make him play out of position and you play him 6 minutes when he is awful and 15 when he is good.  How much worse could he be than LaVine was last year? 

Instead, what the Wolves have done is use LaVine at PG, a position where he will never be happy or particularly great, and send Tyus to the D League to languish in Boise.    All for.....what?  So they can solidify LaVine as Rubio's backup?  So they can get time for Tayshaun Prince? 

4) Kevin Martin May Have Just Straight Out "Lost It."  Not including his rookie year, when he played only 455 minutes, Kevin Martin's worst PER has been 14.8.  His PER this year is 10.8.  If Kevin Martin is a sub-par offensive player, you may as well release him, because he is a poor defender, he won't rebound, and he never gets an assist.  If you play him with Wiggins, you have two guys who may very well combine for fewer than 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 70 minutes of combined play.  That sucks. 

If Martin has "lost it" then you need to move him and get what you can.  But if you came into the season (as I did) thinking you have an above average off guard and now you have a terrible off guard, that is a huge problem.

5) End of Game Substitutions -- as a general rule, Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince cannot score.  They should NEVER be in the game at the end when you need a basket to catch up or go ahead.  Yet Sam Mitchell, oddly, doesn't go offense-defense in late game situations and the ball will end up with one of these oldsters, who is often (wisely) left all alone by opponents.  Similarly confusing is Sam's insistence that Tayshaun Prince can still stop good offensive players.  If you look at his "Per 100" stats, Tayshaun Prince stopped being a good defensive player around 2008: which was the last full season where he posted a Defensive Rating of 106 or lower.

Prince will be 36 this coming year, so it really isn't his fault.  But why Sam consistently refers to him as "our best defender" is a mystery, as he ranks 10th on the Wolves in Defensive Rating, one spot behind Zach LaVine.

6)  History  If I know anything from watching sports for probably 47 of my 51 years it is that it is very easy to be a loser, and very hard to change a losing atmosphere/history.  When you are 8-11, it is far easier to drop to 8-15 than it is to rise to 12-11.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Kobe's Historically Terrible 2015-16 Season Thus Far

Currently in the middle of the list of all-time shittiest Trash Heap seasons.

How to explain the historical crappiness of this Kobe season?   Well, Kobe is on pace to shoot the ball between 800 and 1200 times this year (depending upon injury and whether he ever develops a conscience)    If he reaches 1200 shot attempts and shoots his current 30%, or so, he will be performing at a level of inefficiency not seen since the late 1940s or early 1950s.   In fact, only Joe Fulks has seasons where he shot the ball so many times and had such a low percentage. Of course. When Fulks shot 30-33%, that was far closer to league average.

Kobe has negative 0.8 Win Shares and falling. Assuming he can manage to keep up this level of terrible play for the rest of the year (doubtful, but possible) he could register around 3 NEGATIVE Win Shares.  No player in NBA ABA or BAA history has ever registered negative 3 win shares.  Woody Sauldsberry had a year where he shot .299 and .560 from the line and registered negative 2.8 WS.  It is conceivable that Kobe (4-19 last night) could do worse in FG% and WS.  Woody played during the Kennedy Administration.

The names that start to come up when you start to estimate a Kobe season continuing on are frightening - Flynn, Beasley, Tskita, Donte Greene, DeShawn Stevenson, Marc Macon.   And a whole bunch of guys who played before the Korean War.

But even put to one side the shocking awfulness of Kobe's stats.  Let's consider what is going on in L.A.   A future Hall of Fame player is playing 33+ mpg a night, taking minutes from highly drafted younger players and also drawing $25m per year.   He is shooting a historically low percentage and yet he continues to shoot and the coach continues to play him and he is helping the Lakers draft lottery chances.   Yet there is no chance he gets traded and, at least it appears, no chance of having his minutes cut going forward.  

There are two HOF players in the Hall at least partially for their pro play (Ralph Sampson and Joe Fulks) who have registered at least 2 seasons with negative win shares.  Kobe has one such season already and he is headed for #2.   Fulks was an early pioneer of the game, and, if reports on line are accurate, probably a top 100 all-time player.  Sampson is not close to a too 100 all-time player.   Kobe, however, is my #18 and his fans suggest a top 10 or even top 5 status.

In light of Kobe's place in the history of the game, it is astounding that no one will step forward and say "you should not be doing this - get out" or "I am not playing you anymore" or even "I am going to stop passing you the ball".   But no one has, and it appears no one will.  So we are about to see the weirdest (and perhaps worst) season ever played

Friday, December 04, 2015

My Favorite Mitt Romney Exit Poll Answer

Most important quality in a leader:

(3 different ones listed -- Romney narrowly defeats Obama in all 3)

# 4. "Cares about People Like Me" -- of people who felt this was the most important quality --
Obama 81%, Romney 18%.

What does this tell you?  Perhaps the GOP has to come up with SOME platform piece other than cutting taxes for millionaires and taking rights away from women? 

We shall see.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Presidential Candidate Blasts Typical Republican Party Foreign Policy Plank

I do not believe that our foreign policy needs to be that "we've got to be these crazy neo-con invade-every-country-on-earth and send our kids to die in the Middle East.”

Pretty aggressive words by Bernie, I mean, TED CRUZ!!!!!!