JumpBall

June 25, 2008

Mock Draft 2

Filed under: NBA Draft, NBA Draft 2008 — Ankur @ 3:27 PM

The draft is tomorrow! We’ll finally get to see where all these young talents will show their stuff. Below, find our take at figuring out who’s going where.

Number

Team

Needs

Options

Ankur’s Pick 2

Sid’s Pick 2

1

Chicago

Low Post Scorer, Offensive go-to guy, Team Philosophy

Rose, Beasley

Derrick Rose: Vinny Del Negro is expected to play the young guns, which diminishes the need for a low-post scorer as Noah and Thomas expand their minutes. As such, they take the best player in the draft, Rose.

Derrick Rose: Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon better start looking for new homes because at least one of them is going to get traded.

2

Miami

PG, C, another forward for the rotation (Hmm, a lot of needs and a team that wants to make the playoffs now? Sounds ripe for a trade.)

Beasley, Mayo, Rose

Michael Beasley: The attitude concerns are overblown, and Beasley’s just a little too good to pass up. Immediate upgrade to Udonis Haslem. If they’re really sold on OJ Mayo, expect a trade down from here…

OJ Mayo: They most likely will trade down to get him, but even if they are forced to make this pick, they will go with Mayo. Listen, its easier to compensate with Udonis Haslem as a starter than Chris Quinn.

3

Minnesota

Forwards to complement Jefferson, Guard to team up with Foye; Jaric, Telfair, and Gomes have all started for this team so getting anyone who can replace those guys and a losing culture is a must.

Beasley, Brook Lopez, Bayless, Mayo, Love

OJ Mayo: Recent reports indicate the T-Wolves are moving towards OJ. The versatile guard can hopefully team with Foye to stabilize the backcourt.

Michael Beasley: Kevin McHale would love this scenario. Beasley and Al Jefferson would form a new age McHale and Parrish. If Mayo is available, I think the Wolves will go with Brook Lopez. The Mayo talk is a smokescreen.

4

Seattle

PG who does not need to be in a platoon, SG to allow Durant to move to forward. Any position other than small forward probably is an upgrade.

Bayless, Brook Lopez, Jordan, Mayo, Westbrook

Russell Westbrook: High riser, but “Rondo with a jumper” is actually the fastest riser in the draft. Defensive ability complements KD’s scoring.

Jerryd Bayless: This pick is a lock. Bayless will make teams pay for doubling Durant for years to come. Along with Green, the Sonics have a great young foundation going for them if they all learn to focus on defense.

5

Memphis

A young shooting guard or running center.

Jordan, Brook Lopez, Love,

Eric Gordon: Yeah, he’s the big riser in this mock. The big men aren’t too appealing, so Memphis drafts the gunner who can elevate this offense once Miller is traded.

Kevin Love: His outlet passes will help jumpstart the fast break in Memphis, and maybe finally get people into the arena seats.

6

New York

Defenders, rebounders, players who can play out of position and run

Brook Lopez, Randolph, Gallinari, Bayless, Alexander

Danilo Gallinari: Recent reports indicate that he will refuse to come to the US unless taken by either NY or NJ. While no one can replace Nash for D’Antoni, Gallinari comes closer to that level of offensive vision than anyone on the current Knick roster.

Joe Alexander: His offensive game just gets better and he is an eager defender. He is like Anthony Randolph in that he projects as another Shawn Marion type, but he is stronger and more coachable.

7

LA Clippers

Guards to complement the tandem of Brand and Kaman.

Gallinari, Gordon, Brook Lopez, Bayless, Randolph, Love

Jerryd Bayless: PG’s really the biggest need for this squad, and Bayless is a strong enough prospect to fill that gap.

Russell Westbrook: His stock isn’t rising to number four pick status, but he is getting up there. The hometown Clippers will gladly scoop him up. With Livingston possibly unable to ever play again, this is the pick you have to make.

8

Milwaukee

A low post scorer who can command a double team and create space for their many shooters, defensive wingman other than Mason.

Gallinari, Brook Lopez, Love, Randolph

Joe Alexander: Scott Skiles is going to love this kid, whose athletic talent is matched only by his work ethic.  Should benefit from Skiles’ structured approach.

Eric Gordon: He’ll come off the bench and move Redd to SF. With Williams, Gordon, and Redd on the court, the Bucks are going to give opposing defenders fits from the perimeter.

9

Charlotte

A combo forward, or center who can more Okafor to PF.

Brook Lopez, Alexander, Gallinari, Arthur, Randolph, Gordon

DJ Augustin: Larry Brown apparently dislikes Felton already, so expect him to snatch the high-character replacement in DJ.  Meanwhile, the frontcourt issues go unresolved.  Have fun, Bobcat fans!

Brook Lopez: This team needs a low post prescence to free up space for Richardson and Wallace on the wings. Lopez will most likely be just what this team needs to finally make the playoffs.

10

New Jersey

A forward to back up Jefferson and play some PF, more big men for the rotation.

Arthur, Alexander, Gallinari, Jordan

Kevin Love: Best PF in the draft is a true offensive threat, something the current NJ crop lacks.

Danilo Gallinari: My money is on Jefferson finding a new home in the offseason. Even if he doesn’t, Gallinari becomes the first swing men off the bench. A good insurance pick for a young team in transition.

11

Indiana

A replacement for Tinsley is a must, as is the heir to JO. Athletic players would help, but at this point the team wants high character guys.

Alexander , Gallinari, Westbrook, Arthur, Augustin, Gordon

Brook Lopez: High-character low-post player falls into their lap.  Irked as they might be at missing out on Augustin, this is a pretty good consolation prize.

DJ Augustin: Apparently the Pacers have promised to take him, so here you go. Even with the trade, Tinsley is on his way out and Ford is a health risk, meaning DJ is a good pick for the Pacers.

12

Sacramento

With Artest expected to leave they could use a good athletic forward to replace him. PF is also a need.

Alexander, Gallinari, Speights, Gordon

Anthony Randolph: Burgeoning talent could develop into a great presence.  Already has the defensive game to form a formidable tandem with Ron, and potential-laden offensive game makes him too tempting to pass on.

Anthony Randolph: With this being a young team, they can start him right away and let him learn on the job. He is a great pf of the future for this team.

13

Portland

Maybe another forward, but in reality they have a lot of young prospects and are better off trading the pick or stashing it in Europe. Another big man in the case Oden struggles early could help too.

Gallinari, Batum, McGee, Robin Lopez

Alexis Ajinca: Unless Pritchard finds some more draft-day magic and trades up, this is about as close to a lock as it gets.  European talent can be left abroad to blossom, making for one less contract for the Blazers to worry about.

DeAndre Jordan: Jordan at worst gives Portland a talented backup to Oden and also has the raw ability to play bigger minutes if Oden isn’t healthy enough during the season.

14

Golden State

If Davis leaves, they need a PG. Otherwise, they just take the best player available.

McGee, Speights, Greene, Anderson, Douglas-Roberts

Chris Douglas-Roberts: With three key reserve wings leaving, the Ws desperately need depth. CDR’s strong defense and versatile offensive game make him an easy pick here.

Marreese Speights: Al Harrington is probably on his way out. Speights shoud replace him and flourish at the pick and roll with Monte Ellis.

15

Phoenix

The bench is very depleted. They need another three-point shooter to turn to, another wingman defender, and a center who can keep Stoudemire at PF after Shaq retires.

Batum, McGee, Speights, Gordon, Jordan

Brandon Rush: Suns are looking to win now, so the big men get ignored for another year. Instead, the steady swingman and eventual replacement for Grant Hill gets tabbed.

Brandon Rush: Batum has heart problems so I think that leads the Suns to take the closest thing to a sure thing at this point in the draft. A good shooter who will hit the open shot and then rush back on defense which is all the Suns will ask him to do.

16

Philadelphia

A big man to one day take the heat off of the new AI, better shooters to space the floor

McGee, Speights, Budinger, Gordon

Mario Chalmers: Trade talk has surrounded Andre Miller since he got here, and for good reason – he’s too old to be part of this youth movement. Chalmers is his eventual replacement. At the rate Mario’s stock is rising, this might be too low for him.

Roy Hibbert: This guy’s stock is all over the place, but he seems like a decent risk for the Sixers to take. He can help space the floor, score a little in the post, rebound, and block shots. Sounds like an improvement over the current center there.

17

Indiana

With PG well taken care of, a big man would be nice to replace JO’s production. Alternatively, depth is key.

Speights, Hibbert, McGee, Greene, Ajinca

Darrell Arthur: This offensive freak should be a great complement to their frontcourt players.  A bit unpolished, but has time to blossom with this group.

Alexis Ajinca: He couldn’t get more than five minutes off the bench from his European team but is suddenly expected to produce in the NBA…still, teams love his size and shot. This workout warrior could even get picked higher than this.

18

Washington

This all hinges on Jamison. They have shown they can play well enough without Arenas but no such proof exists for them playing with out Jamison. Depth at big man is a definite need.

Speights, Green, Thompson

Mareese Speights: This team pretty much has to be thinking PF, so they take the best one available. Thompson is another option.

Donte Green: His stock is falling, but he won’t go lower than this. He can play sf for most teams and a little pf for this one. Has the potential to at least be a rotational player here.

19

Cleveland

A big point guard to bring the ball up while using his height to keep Daniel Gibson on the floor; a true low post threat; just an all around talent upgrade on offense.

Budinger, Green, Douglas-Roberts, Augustin

Kosta Koufos: Z’s getting old, so it’s time to think about his replacement. Koufos’ workouts have his stock rising enough to make this quite reasonable.

Kosta Koufos: This guy’s stock is rising almost as fast as Ajinca’s but I like his chances to make it in the league more. He handles contact better than most of the other centers. At some point he will contribute if tutored by Ilguaskas.

20

Charlotte

Big man is really a huge need, as is talent overall.

Green, Weaver, Thompson, Robin Lopez, Augustin

Robin Lopez: And Okafor breathes a huge sigh of relief, as he finally gets to slide to PF.  Lopez’ defensive game makes him a good fit, and blossoming offensive skill makes him that much more attractive.

Mario Chalmers: He makes plays, can defend, and is clutch. Like Ankur said, his stock is supposed to be rising, but with all the better athletes ahead of him, he’ll still finish well outside of the lottery.

21

New Jersey

Another swingman to back up Carter and Jefferson, and another big man depending on whom they lose in free agency.

Greene, Thompson, Robin Lopez

Donte Greene: I have the Nets taking care of their big man concerns earlier, so I’ll hand them a swingman this time around. One of the most offensively gifted players in the draft, Greene allows this squad to consider dumping either RJ or VC.

Darrell Arthur: NBA teams are starting to question his size. He is another guy who at one point was rising but has now fallen back to earth except Arthur seems to have fallen especially hard here. New Jersey isn’t a bad fit for him tho.

22

Orlando

Better talent at guard positions, another big man to help with rebounding and shot blocking

Green, Thompson, Robin Lopez, Koufos, Chalmers, McGee

Courtney Lee: I think center is a bigger need for this squad, but they see Howard as a good fit there.  In that case, Lee’s ability to space the floor and high character make him the answer to the revolving door that is their SG position

Robin Lopez: Despite the offensive potential, I see him dropping to this late in the draft. This is a good spot for him though as he gives Dwight Howard the big man help he will need.

23

Utah

Kirilenko can push the team to a higher level but is wildly inconsistent, and Harpring is getting old, so the team would do itself a favor by getting a good SF. Replacement low-post defense is also a priority.

Green, Thompson, Koufos, Chalmers, Rush, Hibbert, Ibaka

DeAndre Jordan: While his motor is slightly questionable, his talent level is not.  Look for Jordan to turn things around under Jerry Sloan, and become the low-post presence this team badly needs.

Nicholas Batum: He is simply too big a risk for the early draft picks because of rumors of heart problems, but here the Jazz can take a chance with him, because his potential outweighs the risk. Could be a steal or could die on court like dad.

24

Seattle

At this point in the draft, the team might as well swing for the fences with a big man prospect if they do in fact go for a guard earlier in the round.

Green, Thompson, Koufos, Chalmers, Ibaka

Jason Thompson: All this guy did for 4 years at Rider was produce.  At this point in the draft, it’s worthwhile for the Sonics to find out if this is their eventual replacement for Chris Wilcox.

Ryan Anderson: Seattle should keep giving Durant weapons to keep him from being doubleteamed and that’s what Jerryd Bayless and now Ryan Anderson are. Anderson has limitless range, and will help space the floor for KD and give him lanes to drive.

25

Houston

A big man who can keep Yao’s minutes (read: chances for injury) down. Priority on defense here, as you have to think Deke’s retiring soon.

Green,Koufos, Chalmers, Jawai

Ryan Anderson: Versatile offensive game makes him a perfect big man sub. Taller than Landry, allowing Adelman to mix things up as needed.

Serge Ibaka: Rick Adelman teams tend to be very good at getting the best out of foreign players. Ibaka will be no different. At the very least, he will keep the defense running at a high level.

26

San Antonio

Athletic players at the forwards who can replace Bowen, Horry, and Finley. Must get younger fast. With the news about Splitter, big man depth may be a concern, too.

Green, Chalmers, Jawai, Jefferson, Rush

JaVale McGee: This guy has too much potential for the Spurs to pass up. He’s not exactly Tiago Splitter, but landing a guy with this kind of low-post game makes that loss a little easier to swallow.

Chris Douglas-Roberts: The Spurs want to get younger fast, but they also want to win now. CDR will defend well for a rookie, and could become a sparkplug off the bench allowing the Spurs to finally start Ginobli.

27

Portland

Pritchard seems to be setting his sights on a particular player – why else trade back into the bottom of the draft? Whoever he is, he’s probably European.

Tomic, Ajinca, Asik, Petrovic

Ante Tomic: They’ve wanted this guy for a while. Having gotten a swingman earlier, Pritchard can sit back and enjoy another successful draft.

Ante Tomic: This pick is going to get traded to the Blazers who will use it to select him or Batum. They have liked Tomic for a while so my money is on him.

28

Memphis

A young shooting guard, but with so many young players already, this pick might be better suited for a player expected to stay in Europe for a while.

Chalmers, Jefferson, Lee, Pekovic

Nicholas Batum: The flying frenchman is expected to take a couple years to develop and then come to the NBA. That fits Memphis’ needs and timeline perfectly.

Jason Thompson: I disagree. The Grizzlies should try and get as many warm bodies in jerseys as they can. Thompson is another guy who can thrive in the open court, and since he is just a late draft pick, why not take a chance on him?

29

Detroit

This team actually has very few holes. Good guards, good forwards, and decent depth after lacking it for a few years. Still, that core is starting to age…

Chalmers, Lee, Pekovic,

Bill Walker: Late in the draft and with their core set, the Pistons can afford to take a flyer on a talent this strong.  Knee trouble is worrisome, but medical clearances make that a bit less of a concern.

Bill Walker: Can play either swing position, and on this team can take some time to learn the game. A little small for SF but his strength and athleticism more than make up for it. Could be next Latrell Spreewell.

30

Boston

They could use an upgrade at the backup 2-spot, but it will most likely come from free agency.

Chalmers, Lee, Hickson, Dorsey, Asik

Roy Hibbert: As fantastic as the C’s backups played in the playoffs, they simply lack size.  That’s one thing Hibbert has in spades, allowing him to fill a key need for this squad.

Kyle Weaver: Will bring the ball up when Rondo is on the bench. With Cassell and House gone, this is a smart pick here. Weaver’s defensive ability also gives him the edge.

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June 18, 2008

Game 6 Musings

Filed under: NBA Finals — siddhant2001us @ 1:26 PM

There are times when you just have no idea what the future can hold. Before the NBA finals started, I had a friend ask me if I was nervous at all for the Lakers to be facing the Boston Celtics. I was a little bit nervous as I had seen the Lakers get dismantled by the Celtics in the regular season. I had seen the way Tom Thibbedeau had figured out ways to get his players to consistently disrupt the triangle offense. With his defense, he turned the perfect offense from one of crisp passes and smart shots to the ugly stationary basketball that got the Lakers blown out in both games. Yet I was suddenly confident in the ability of the young Los Angeles Lakers. I told myself that they were a different team. They had added Pau Gasol, earned the number one berth in the tough western conference, and beaten the San Antonio Spurs to get here. They stifled the Spurs with their defense, and finished them off with their amazing offense. So when my friend asked me if I was nervous, I told him that the Lakers would have to seriously screw things up to lose four out of seven games.

Then last night happened, and seemingly every good thing the Lakers had done this season to get them to this point was meaningless. The Celtics stomped all over them for a 131-92 battle. The Laker offense was once again pushed away from the basket and forced into stationary basketball while the defense was repeatedly abused by the veteran Celtics who already had to beat much better defenses in Cleveland and Detroit to get to the finals. In the end, Celtics just wanted it more as they played through the contact to achieve their goals while the Lakers let the contact disrupt them from whatever they wanted to do. The Celtics dived after every loose ball, made smart gambles on defense (leading to a ridiculous 18 steals,) and fought for every rebound available.

The Lakers never threatened in this game, so there is no point to doing the usual who played well and who played poorly. If you can get blown out by 39 points, no one played well. It is that simple. Conversely, if you can blow a finals caliber team out by 39 points, then everyone played well.

Indeed, this years Celtics is a championship team to forever remember, and this game highlighted all of their strengths. Ray Allen used screen after screen to hit shot after shot. Paul Pierce chipped in point wise only when he needed to and added 10 assists while the real point of the Celtics Rajon Rondo added eight of his own to go along with his 21 points and pesky, 6 steal, defense. Even Kevin Garnett bounced back from a lousy game five to get 14 rebounds. Speaking of which, in this game, the Lakers shot just 42 percent and yet got just two offensive rebounds (both when the game was out of reach.) The Celtics managed to win the battle of the boards 48-29.

More surprising was the way the Celtics coaching staff was able to hold their own. Before the series started, everyone was under the impression that Phil Jackson and his nine NBA titles would destroy Doc Rivers in everyway, shape, or form during these finals. Instead, the opposite may have happened. Rivers and his coaching staff always seemed to be at least one or two steps ahead of Jackson who was forced to play catch up. In the end, Jackson never figured out how to beat the Celtic defense, and could never get his team to play consistent defense where as Rivers shredded the Laker defense with simple screen and rolls and motivated his players every step of the way.

So what’s next? For the Celtics, they can relax for a little bit and enjoy some time in the sun. They have done what every team wanted to do at the start of the season: win it all. For doing that, they can justify some time off. When they are done, they can start looking for a backup point guard who can dribble better than Eddie House or Sam Cassell. Maybe they should add another swingman as well as insurance if Ray Allen’s legs can’t hold up or just general depth. Other than that, I expect to see this team back in the eastern conference finals at least next year.

As for the Lakers, this loss will be tough to swallow. They must become more mentally tough if they do want to someday win it all. Moreover, when Bynum comes back what happens to Odom? His jumper (unless continuously worked on over the summer) isn’t good enough to space the floor were he to start alongside Bynum and Gasol. Then the best bet would be to have him come off the bench and be a valuable sixth man. Can he handle that? Vladimir Radmanovic must be traded. His defense was completely gone this series, and his shot is too inconsistent. Getting rid of him even if only for a second round draft pick is worth it. Hell, at this point getting rid of him by way of buy out is also acceptable. In the end, this team has a lot of soul searching to do. Hopefully, Phil Jackson can further emphasize defense in training camp, because until then its going to be a long five months.

June 15, 2008

Game Five Comments

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 11:09 PM

Watching this series makes me really feel that sometimes basketball can be a very simple sport. This whole series has gone back and forth, quarter by quarter, based on who was willing to play harder, hustle for loose balls, and be the aggressor. That is really it. In game five today, the Lakers opened up to a 19 point lead only because Kobe was on fire from the three point land and the Lakers were willing to move without the ball to get open for some easy lay ups. Sure, it was a daunting task, but it came as no surprise that the Celtics were able to catch up because during the second quarter (and fourth by the way) they took the ball to the hoop early and often. Whenever the Lakers settled for contested or early jump shots, they allowed the Celtics to stay in the game. This was a very physical game, but the Lakers better expect it to get even more so come games six and seven. If they play in Boston as they have played these past three games, expect the Celtics to hoist the trophy very soon. However, if the Lakers can fight through the non-calls (and for the most part in the NBA finals they should be non-calls,) then expect the series to go the full seven games with the outcome being a true toss up.

Lakers

Who Played Well:

Jordan Farmar: The Celtics have worked all series to limit Kobe’s drives, and yet Farmar comes in during a critical stretch in the fourth quarter and gets to hoops repeatedly against the fearsome Celtic defense for key lay ups and rejuvenated an otherwise stagnant Lakers offense with his energy.

Kobe Bryant: after forcing too many jumpers in the fourth, Kobe poked the ball away from Paul Pierce and followed it up with a resounding dunk to put the game away.

Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol: While the duo allowed Kevin Garnett to get too many offensive rebounds (seven!), they also combined to shoot 14-20, 24 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 blocks to finish also with a combined 39 points. Furthermore, they stayed inside often, and forced the Celtics to consistently worry about someone other than Kobe. Gasol also managed to finish with zero turnovers and have no shots blocked despite being guarded very physically by the Celtics especially KG.

Who Played Poorly:

Sasha Vujacic: the poor guy was clearly affected by game four as he consistently took shots too early in the offense as he so obviously wanted to make up for his numerous mistakes in the previous games. There is a lot to like about a player who so badly wants to be the hero, but that said it didn’t help in this game.

Chris Mihm: he was so clearly nervous to be on the court after not playing for much of the previous 150 games or so. In less than 3 minutes, he managed to miss an easy shot, turn the ball over, and pick up two stupid fouls. He has the talent to be the fifth big man I discussed in my last post, but he sure didn’t show it tonight.

Celtics:

Who Played Well:

Paul Pierce: When I say the Celtics drove to the hoop often, who, I am actually talking about is Paul Pierce. Coming off screens near the top of the key, Pierce was able to get to the line or hit a lay up almost every time. This guy is a big time player who cannot be guarded by the Lakers individually and demands a total team effort, which is something the Lakers didn’t show tonight.

Sam Cassell: I never thought I would put him here for this series, but Cassell was huge in the fourth as he countered Farmar with seven points of his own in the fourth. He may be generally a washed up player, but in the fourth quarter Cassell came to life like he used to earlier in his long career. Although to be fair, if you are Jordan Farmar, how do you ever let a 38 year old player beat you to the hoop?

James Posey: Despite scoring only three points, Posey was the quintessential hustle player in this game diving for every loose ball and coming up with the ball almost every time it was up for grabs. The longer this series goes on, the better he has played.

Who Played Poorly:

Kevin Garnett: despite his seven offensive rebounds and his key basket midway through the fourth to tie it, Kevin Garnett used this game to generally show why he has never won a championship or advance more than twice in his now long career. In the fourth quarter, he missed clutch free throws, couldn’t tip in a Ray Allen miss despite being guarded by Jordan Farmar of all people, and allowed Gasol to do whatever he wanted on him on the other end. The Celtics are favored to win it all still, and rightfully so, but Kevin Garnett may be destined to become the next Karl Malone/ Elvin Hayes if he keeps up his inability to come through for his team when they needed him most.

Ray Allen: After being the team’s most consistent player for the first four games, Allen was reduced to 4-13 shooting in less than 40 minutes after playing all 48 in the last game. With the ball in his hands during a critical sequence in the fourth quarter, Allen was able to get a screen and drive to the hoop. However, unlike when Paul Pierce did it earlier in the quarter, the Lakers finally tried switching with Odom picking up Allen and Farmar suddenly guarding KG. This should have been a huge advantage for the Celtics with them able to make any kind of pass to KG and him being able to catch it and follow it up with a dunk. Instead, Allen took the ball right at Odom for a very difficult lay up (and missed.) On the next play, the Lakers were able to extend their lead to five. This three point swing was another candidate for being what may have iced the game in the Lakers favor.

Random Thoughts:

  • If you are Phil Jackson, please highlight this one play. Pierce stands at the top of the three-point line, takes a screen from KG, and then hits a wide open lay up or is fouled. How does Gasol not sink off KG the fifth or sixth time? Instead, the Lakers seemed content to let Pierce (the Celtics best player) get to the hoop single teamed with no help defenders anywhere near his vicinity rather then force him to pass out to KG who was shooting something under 40 percent on his jumpers…
  • Now that I am in the market for a new car, I have been watching the car commercials during the game with renewed interest. All I can say is that I could never ever buy a GMC after what I saw. I am too scared the actor in the commercials would follow me around with his endless chatter until I finally snapped and beat him to death with the golf club I always leave in the trunk of whatever car I do drive. The worst part about those 30 seconds of terrible GMC promotion is that somewhere there is a GMC marketing person who found those ads hilarious and probably sent them to all his friends in one of those emails with the subject being “LOL you must check this out.”
  • Speaking of ridiculous commercials, what was up with that McDonalds soccer commercial. After watching it, the only thing I thought was: “so only losers get McDonalds?”
  • Last commercial note: maybe I should buy the Honda Pilot. That way I can pick up random hitch hikers whenever I want, have like 12 cup holders, and deftly avoid man eating Bison with my super cool car. Moreover, I bet it doesn’t have any danger of exploding after hitting just two big rigs (get your act together BMW!)
  • Bill Walton is one of my favorite announcers because he so clearly loves the game more than anyone else, but it’s also nice for him to finally acknowledge his son in a game. Still Walton proved why his knowledge of the game ranks up there with anyone by correctly pointing out during half time the many times the Lakers offense stagnated.
  • Speaking of which, when you heard Larry Bird wished Walton luck, did you really think it was as big a deal as Mark Jackson did? I mean, no way was Bird wishing that the Lakers win the series, just that Walton plays well as the Celtics sweep. No way does Larry Legend ever go against the Celtic green even if his own son were to play for the Lakers rather than his friend Bill’s kid.
  • In the end, this game didn’t tell us too much, because the Lakers had to win where as the Celtics could lose and then simply win it all in front of their home crowd. Still, I can’t wait for game six. The Lakers should still be hungry while the Celtics will still be hobbled by the loss of Perkins and Rondo.
  • Speaking of missing big men, how did Leon Powe only register 5 minutes?
  • The key to game six is Kevin Garnett. If he will get a lot of open shot opportunities if the Lakers focus their defense on Pierce. If he can knock down that 20 foot jumper consistently, the game is a blow out in the Celtics favor. If he misses, the Lakers should pull off a close victory.

June 13, 2008

Game 4 Notes

Filed under: NBA Finals — siddhant2001us @ 12:17 AM

Wow, there are few words to describe the shock and disappointment that I feel, but one of them has to be wow. The Los Angeles Lakers, who at one point were ahead by as much as 24, completely squandered their lead in the second half. They abandoned their aggressive style of play from the first half in favor of playing into the defense and missed jump shot after jump shot. The theme of this whole series has been that whoever is more aggressive wins the game. Well, the Celtics were that team in the second half and that made all the difference. They played harder and simply wanted it more. The Celtics can now win just one of the next three games and still earn the right to be called the NBA champions. The Lakers on the other hand now firmly have their backs against the walls. Wow…just wow…

Celtics:

Who Played Well:

Ray Allen: The steadiest of the big three showed up once again when it mattered most. His lay up in the 4th quarter to put away the Lakers will be played over and over again on the highlights and forever be shown in ESPN Classic. Before this series started, Allen seemed to be the most fragile of the big three, and yet here he showed his toughness by playing all 48 minutes of the game.

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett: Team leaders withstood the early lead by the Lakers to comeback in the second half to finish with 20 points and 7 assists and 16 points and 11 rebounds respectively. Pierce was big in the second half by agreeing to guard Kobe. Here, he did exactly what you are supposed to do when you guard the game’s best player. He was patient, never bit on most of Kobe’s fakes, and allowed his teammates to help as well.

James Posey and Eddie House: these guys came off the bench and hit big shots to help bring the Celtics back. They did all the little things that the team needed. In the end, they played like champions and as a result are just one win away from forever being immortalized as such.

Who Played Poorly:

Rajon Rondo: he was clearly hindered by his injury, which further allowed the Lakers to exploit his lack of a consistent jumper. If Eddie House hadn’t come in to hit shot after shot, Rondo’s flaws would have once again been highlighted.

Kendrick Perkins and PJ Brown: The big men were unable to rebound in this game or not foul drivers and cutters. The Celtics did their best and made their comeback when both of these guys were on the bench.

Lakers:

Who Played Well:

Lamar Odom: The entire first half lead can be attributed to his play. He played point forward and destroyed the Celtics defense by getting inside and either dishing it to the open man or getting the basket. He didn’t get the ball enough in the second half and never took advantage of being guarded by James Posey. Still, compared to the first three games, Odom had a solid game by his new standards.

Pau Gasol: He got 17 points and 10 rebounds to help lead the Lakers in winning the rebounding battle for the first time this series.

Who Played Poorly:

Sasha Vujacic: after his superb play in game three, he couldn’t buy a shot by going 1-9. What is worse is that he couldn’t really hinder Ray Allen at all. He was the one who was beaten so badly on that lay up by Allen that put the game away. Hopefully, this game doesn’t affect his confidence and change his career, because the Lakers will need him if they still want to win this series.

Random Thoughts:

  • Every member of the Big Three for the Celtics came to play (at least in the second half.) When was the last time that happened?
  • Kobe Bryant didn’t get put in either the played well section or played poorly section because his game was entirely so up and down. During the first half, he didn’t force any shots, but helped out his team with six or so assists. In the second half, he never drove in for the first 20 minutes and settled for jumper after jumper. Then in the end game Kobe came thru by driving in and getting key baskets. Too little too late, but at least he did something. A lot has been made about his being a poor teammate, but in all honesty, what will cost the Lakers the series is not Kobe, but the inability of the majority of the Lakers to come through for him when it mattered most.
  • Trevor Ariza did a solid job in the first quarter before being a non-factor for the rest of the game. If he continues to improve his jumper, he will be a great asset off the bench next year.
  • As depressing as the outcome of this game is, Laker fans should take solace in the fact that this team will be even better next year. A healthy Bynum along with a full year of a healthy Ariza will make the Lakers that much better for next year. No matter how this series turns out, the Lakers did gain valuable experience and hopefully won’t be so inconsistent next year.
  • If the first half showed anything, Rajon Rondo should lock himself in the gym to work on his jumper during the off-season.
  • Sasha Vujacic has gone full circle during this series. He went from being the guy with the hair band who wasn’t hitting shots to the clutch reserve in game three, which he then followed up by dressing like a European gangster for post game comments. Then tonight he went back to being the bench player who couldn’t buy a shot. Hopefully, this means he explodes in game five.
  • Speaking of Vujacic, how did someone not point out to him that dressing up like you are in the mob the same day the Donaghy allegations came out was a bad idea? He was just tempting karma there.
  • The Lakers lost despite having eight more assists.
  • Kevin Garnett finally played in the post and played well. It is about time.
  • Each time one of these teams makes a huge comeback, they do so by playing small ball. How did it take this long to go to those lineups?
  • Is Doc Rivers actually out coaching Phil Jackson? Jackson seems to keep expecting his players to figure it out and play through it, but at some point, he needs to step in and show everyone why he has nine championships.
  • Speaking of coaching, how is Tom Thibodeau not going to get a head coaching job after his superb job with his team’s defense? If I’m Seattle, New Jersey, Minnesota, or even Denver and Cleveland, how am I not firing my current head coach to give Thibodeau a chance? Not to speak ill of their current head coaches (except for PJ Calisemo of whom I am not a fan at all,) but none of them will help win their respective teams a championship so why not roll the dice with the hottest name in assistant coaching? Especially the New Jersey Nets who have stopped listening to the otherwise superb Lawrence Frank. With their entire goal seeming to be the acquisition of Lebron James in 2010, why not bring in a guy that Lebron has had trouble getting past and thus respects?
  • This series is still not over. Unless the comeback by the Celtics has broken the spirit of the Lakers, they should win in LA. If the Lakers can will themselves to be the more aggressive team in each of the next three games, they will win them all.
  • As for the Celtics, they cannot get complacent. Everyone brings up the fact that Paul Pierce was part of one of the greatest comebacks when he was going against the New Jersey Nets, but in the end the Celtics lost that series.

June 10, 2008

Game 3 Comments

Filed under: NBA Finals, Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 11:32 PM

When the final horn sounded, I wasn’t thrilled by the Lakers finally winning. I was just relieved. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce shot a combined 8-35 from the field and the game still needed Kobe to hit big shots to ice it at the end. With Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant combining for 14 missed free throws, the Lakers were never able to shake off the Celtics and actually trailed heading into the fourth quarter. Still, the difference in this game was the ability by the Lakers to get to the hoop, stay aggressive and draw fouls. In addition, the Lakers were able to stay close in terms of rebounding edge, as the Celtics ended up with just one more rebound.

Lakers:

Who Played Well:

Kobe Bryant: despite missing too many free throws and whining a tad too much after any bad, Kobe set the tone early and often for the Lakers by frequently driving to the hoop and getting the Celtics defense out of sync and opening up the court for the rest of the Lakers.

Pau Gasol: While he had to wait until the third quarter before getting his first field goal, his offensive rebounding in the fourth quarter kept giving the Lakers second chance opportunities and helped demoralize the Celtics when they needed them the most. He also played a big hand in hold KG to just 6-21 shooting.

Sasha Vujacic: 7-10 from the field, and 20 points off the bench. Vujacic made the Celtics pay for doubling and had no hesitation taking and making big shots. The Celtics would be wise not to leave him open in game four.

Who Played Poorly:

Lamar Odom: Another game marred by inconsistency. One good play where he drives towards the basket and opens up the weaknesses of the Celtics defense is sandwiched between two stupid play where he tries to do just that and ends up with turnovers either by getting his pocket picked or by committing a careless offensive foul.

Vladimir Radmanovic: made a quick three near the start of the game, and then managed to commit three fouls in the first nine or so minutes before playing just three minutes the rest of the way. A poor game three after he was so key during the Lakers near comeback in game two, but at the same time anyone who has followed Radmanovic over his career should have come to expect it.

Celtics:

Who Played Well:

Ray Allen: used screens, curls, and a quick release en route towards 25 points on 8-13 shooting. Allen was the only one of the big three to show up ready to play in game three. His play was especially big in the third quarter when the Celtics were able to make a run and take the lead away from the Lakers. With Rondo hobbled by an ankle injury, the Celtics may want to take Jeff Van Gundy’s advice and have Allen play a little point guard alongside James Posey and Pierce.

Who Played Poorly:

Paul Pierce: These playoffs have shown Pierce to be especially streaky. Leading up to this game Pierce was averaging five less points on the road. Well, this game he took it to a whole other level by settling for jumpers, playing soft defense, and ending up with just six points on 2-14 shooting.

Kevin Garnett: Despite the fact that many players shoot worse on the road than when they are at home, KG was shooting only 39 percent after two games in the series. So, it would be hard for him to do worse. Yet, KG did indeed manage to shoot worse than that by going 6-21. In that total you have him going 4-7 in the paint, but just 2-14 everywhere else. Stop settling for jumpers and get inside more KG! In addition, despite his 12 rebounds, KG also managed to be out hustled for many key rebounds in the fourth quarter by Pau Gasol and the rest of the Laker big men.

Random Thoughts:

  • Take out Kobe, Sasha, and Ray Allen and the rest of the players on the two teams combined to shoot a paltry 32-109. That’s just 29.4 percent! While defense had to play some part of that, there is no way either team can be happy with their offensive execution. Look for a lot of small adjustments for both teams before game four aimed to fix just that.
  • The Lakers shot 14 more free throws than the Celtics, but the Celtics still managed to get to the line 22 times. Most of the close calls did go to the Lakers, but because the Celtics did manage to get to the line that many times the disparity was not quite as great as it was in game two.
  • The Celtics giving up with about 30 seconds or so to go was surprising. It is almost as if they wanted to lose, as if the league wanted it to happen, as if the whole thing was a clear set up. Just kidding! Tim Donaghy is just a desperate individual trying to avoid as much jail time as he can. The Celtics lost because the coaching staff went for the steal, couldn’t get it, and then just gave up. There are no conspiracy theories to be found here.
  • I agree with Jeff Van Gundy. The man is bald. He shouldn’t have to pay the same amount as someone with more hair after his “haircuts.”
  • So much for Odom being inconsistent. In three games, he has consistently disappointed. It got the point where Phil Jackson stated after game two that Odom looked ‘confused.’
  • Rondo getting injured in the game when he suffered an ankle sprain should be a huge concern for the Celtics. Rondo isn’t going to help win the game with his shooting so if the injury prevents him from blowing by his defender look for the Celtics to keep him on the bench more and get Eddie House more minutes.
  • Speaking of Celtic back-up point guards, the Celtics’ point guards other than Rondo went 3-12 in about 25 minutes of play. Mind you, these guys are in the game primarily for their shooting. More reason to try out Ray Allen as a back up point guard.
  • What was up with both teams also missing a combined 20 free throws? It seems the legends of Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal (career free throw percentages of 42 and 52 percent) live on in LA.
  • If the Lakers aren’t going to play Chris Mihm, they need to focus their efforts on getting a fifth big man for the roster for next season. Once Odom and Radmanovic got into foul trouble the Lakers were forced into playing Gasol and Ronny Turiaf more minutes. Turiaf isn’t a bad big man to have coming off the bench, but the more minutes he plays the less he is able to keep up his reputation as a high-energy player. Sure, Bynum will be back next season, but if another injury hits to him or the other big men, it again becomes a problem.
  • By the way, David Stern, regarding that last column, despite our conclusions, we here at jumpball.wordpress.com are firmly against any and all forms of tanking by any team. So if you could call off whoever has been following us or listening in to our phone conversations since the column was posted that would be nice.

Pat Riley Is An Idiot

Filed under: NBA Draft — Ankur @ 12:01 AM

We take a break from our finals coverage, now, to talk a little NBA draft. With my Warriors out of the playoffs, it’s pretty much all I’ve got, so…

Professor Berri of the Wages of Wins mentioned the issue of tanking the other day, which got me thinking. The NBA is unique in that teams’ order in the draft is not directly tied to their season-ending seed. Though this is meant to ensure a lack of tanking, it seems to fail quite often – most recently, with the Miami D-League All-Stars finishing up the year for Riley and company.

The tanking debate, till now, has simply focused on whether or not the assumed gains from tanking are worth the unsportsmanlike action of playing to lose (or, more charitably, not playing your hardest). Those assumed gains, however, are worth scrutinizing.

To do such analysis, I needed some data on the NBA draft lottery, which I easily found on Wikipedia. Using these probabilities, I calculated the expectation (or weighted average) of each seed’s eventual draft choice, where the #1 seed has the highest probability of winning the lottery, etc. Those results are right here:

SEED Expected Pick
1 2.64
2 2.98
3 3.41
4 3.97
5 4.69
6 5.55
7 6.53
8 7.6
9 8.71
10 9.79
11 10.81
12 11.78
13 12.78
14 13.79

Interesting things to note already: for the top three picks, the expected pick (EP) is worse than the seed. Everyone else comes out slighly ahead. This makes sense, since the lottery is for the first three spots only, which is proof that my number-crunching hasn’t thrown anything out of whack.

Let’s stop for a second and make some assumptions:

  1. The higher the pick, the better: pretty self explanatory…the first pick is better than the second is better than the third…
  2. Teams don’t want to lose: in other words, there is a cost to being a higher seed. Think of this as angry fans, declining revenue, whatever. To keep things simple, let’s say that the cost to jump up a seed is approximately as much as the gain from jumping up 1 in EP.
  3. Management has an imperfect ability to choose seeding: there are factors outside of the team’s hands (like the actions of other teams) that affect its record. As such, a lottery-bound team can’t pick its slot…it can probably control the general vicinity where it ends up, but that’s really it. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that teams can influence their seed by 1 – Seattle, for instance, could’ve ended up either 1st or 3rd if they’d wanted.

With these assumptions in place, I’ll introduce the next bit of number crunching: Marginal Expected Pick (MEP). To find this, all I did was take each seed’s EP and subtract the EP of the next (lower) seed.

SEED MEP
1 0.34
2 0.43
3 0.56
4 0.72
5 0.86
6 0.98
7 1.07
8 1.12
9 1.08
10 1.02
11 0.97
12 1
13 1.01
14 1.21

Under assumptions 1 and 3, the utility-maximizing GM of a team has a really simple question to answer: should we tank?

The answer, say the numbers, depends on your seed. If assumption 2 is accurate, the answer is yes if you’re seeds 6-14, and no if you’re seeds 1-5. In other words, once you’re in the top 5 seeds, your exact position doesn’t matter all that much. Before that, though, you do, in fact, want to tank…a result Commissioner Stern probably doesn’t want to hear, but is abundantly clear.

Which is why Pat Riley is an idiot. To lock in that .34 MEP, he basically stopped even pretending to be competitive, and probably didn’t make a utility-maximizing decision. While the NBA lottery takes a lot of heat, therefore, there’s reason to believe that dumb GMs are the problem, not the commish’s office…

June 8, 2008

Game 2 Thoughts

Filed under: NBA Finals — siddhant2001us @ 10:19 PM

Before the game, my friend Ankur suggested we live blog this game for this site. After the game, I am just thrilled that I said no. By the second quarter, I would have snapped and started swearing like a sailor (no word on how the stupid Microsoft Word paper clip would have handled that.) Yes, as a Laker fan I did think that the calls were one sided, but as a more objective fan I also realize that much of the discrepancy had to do with the Celtics continuously getting to the hoop and playing aggressive for most of the game and being rewarded for doing so by the refs while the Lakers after 5 or 6 minutes in the first quarter started playing very passively and settling for jumpers. As a result, the Lakers were largely ignored. That’s the way it works in the NBA. I don’t believe there was any other bias or league wide conspiracy or anything of that sort. The Lakers lost because until their comeback in the 4th quarter, they played timid and scared. Their defense was inconsistent at best, which was highlighted by Leon Powe going end to end for an uncontested dunk. If they play defense like that in LA, the series is over in four. Anyway, lets take a look at who played well and who didn’t for both teams

Celtics:

Who Played Well:

Leon Powe: The ultimate hero for the Celtics. He kept getting good inside position, and continuously disrupted whatever the Lakers tried to do defensively. He got 21 points in 14 minutes. Interestingly enough, and something alerted to me by one of our readers, this is not the first time Powe has come up big in an important game. He came up with a combined 19 points off the bench in the two game sevens that Boston has played. Props to loyal reader Pat Monk for the heads up.

Paul Pierce: Do I believe Pierce is badly injured? No, I do not. That’s not to say he faked anything. Its just that in game one he fell to the ground, heard a pop, and freaked out. Then he put his foot down, and discovered it really wasn’t that bad. Can we stop bringing it up now? Anyway, Pierce was the steadiest of the big three in game two. He went right at Kobe’s defense in the end game and well the Celtics did win didn’t they?

Rajon Rondo: Didn’t shoot particularly well, but his 16 assists more than made up for it. Credit Rondo for knowing that his shot isn’t great and passing up those shot chances to get his teammates better looks.

Who Played Poorly:

Kendrick Perkins: Second straight mediocre game for this starting center. Didn’t do a great job protecting the rim, and didn’t make the Lakers pay for not guarding him like Leon Powe or PJ Brown did. Should play even less minutes in game 3.

Kevin Garnett: didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (7-19,) and the Lakers have had no problems attacking him at the hoop. Gasol especially took him to the bucket whenever he wanted.

Lakers:

Who Played Well:

Pau Gasol: Played even better than he did in game one by rebounding better and playing aggressive the whole game (something you can’t say for the rest of the Lakers.) Why the hell didn’t the Lakers try harder to get him the ball in the second half? The offense should run through this guy for game three.

Who Played Poorly:

Kobe Bryant: He still did not attack the rim, and continued to settle for jumpers. One play was telling. In the third quarter he attacks the rim gets fouled, but no call. Instead of getting angry and continuing to drive to the hoop, he got a technical foul and didn’t go inside again until late in the 4th. He is the leader of the team, and it is on him to lead by example and get to the rim early and often in game 3.

Lamar Odom: Started off playing so aggressive for the first 6 minutes, and ended the game watching on the bench. A talent like Odom should be dominating Leon Powe or PJ Brown, instead he has played ineffective in the first two games.

Luke Walton: Not enough of an athlete to play as much as he did this game. Pierce curiously didn’t attack him as much as he should have in the second quarter. With the Lakers needing to play stronger defense in game 3, Walton’s minutes should be cut in favor of Sasha Vujacic and Trevor Ariza

Random Thoughts:

  • Down 24 with under 8 minutes to go, the Lakers started one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history only to fall short. I’ll be honest, I thought it was over before that. Despite falling short, I’m glad the Lakers proved me wrong. I hope that they take that aggressive play full of dribble penetrations and assists over to game 3. Sorry for counting you out.
  • Ultimately, all the Celtics did was hold serve by winning the first two games. Now it is on the Lakers to do the same and bring it back to Boston up 3-2. There is no way they win both games in Boston if they don’t.
  • The biggest thing about the Celtics winning on the boards is that it doesn’t allow the Lakers to fast break as much as they would like to, but since the Celtics don’t fast break, the Lakers might as well just send 4 guys to the rim on every shot. They might not get to run the break as much, but they will cut down on second chance opportunities for the Celtics.
  • Too many turnovers for both teams. Teams combined for 28.
  • Who the hell are Boston Pop and why were they playing the national anthem for the NBA finals and not some high school baseball game?
  • Here is hoping Phil Jackson mispronouncing Leon Powe’s name in post game comments leads to the complete and utter unraveling of the Celtics.
  • For Celtics fans, you have to be thrilled right now. Other than the 4th quarter rally by the Lakers, the Celtics have come out this series and done all the little things while being the aggressor in the series. If they can win even one in LA, the series is as good as over (providing they don’t completely collapse at home.) As it is, the team that wins the first two games has gone on to win the series 90 percent of the time.
  • Speaking of which, would I mind if the NBA gives Kobe the Wade treatment for the rest of the series…I’m still thinking about that one…

June 6, 2008

Game 1 Comments

Filed under: NBA Finals — siddhant2001us @ 6:10 AM

This was a frustrating loss because the Lakers were able to work their offense into a lot of open shots, but they just couldn’t knock them down. On the other end, the defensive rotations were late giving the Celtics whatever they wanted on too many of their possessions. Still its only the first game, and the series is still young. Let us see who played well and who played poorly.

Lakers:

Who Played Well:

Derek Fisher: Fisher showed up to play in this game. He shot the ball ok, got to the rim, drew fouls on the Celtics players (4 trips to the line,) and hustled his way into a few steals. He played strong defense and got to a lot of loose balls

Pau Gasol: He didn’t rebound very well, but no one on the Lakers really did so you can’t completely hold that against him. He had good movement on offense, which led to him running into a lot of points via nice passes by the rest of the Lakers and his long arms forced KG into a lot of misses whenever he got him to take fall away jumpers.

Who Played Poorly:

Kobe Bryant: He had a lot of decent looks from the perimeter (at least for his standards) but most of those shots rattled in and out. I think he went something like 4-18 from 15 feet out. The problem is, when his shots weren’t falling he just kept taking more rather than attacking the rim. His defense was lazy during early offense opportunities, and he is the one who should have tagged Pierce during those three point shots in the third that turned the tide.

Lamar Odom: He played so passive that the Celtics started moving off of him to help on others; played nearly 40 minutes but grabbed just six rebounds. The Lakers can’t have him become a smaller, more passive version of Eddy Curry if they want to win.

Sasha Vujacic: He comes into the game for Vladimir Radmanovic, and Ray Allen immediately scores 5 points. Then in the second half, he missed pretty much every open shot he got (and he got a lot.)

The Rest of Bench: This was a very hyped unit coming into the game, but no one seemed to do anything. Walton let Pierce dominate him, Farmar made no mark in the game, and Turiaf somehow took five shots in 12 minutes while only getting two rebounds. This unit needs to play smarter if the Lakers are going to have any shot at winning.

Celtics:

Who Played Well:

Paul Pierce: The difference between Paul Pierce and Willis Reed is that while both were inspiring, Reed didn’t do much after scoring on Chamberlain to start the game. Pierce on the other hand not only inspired his teammates, but he also went five for five in the 3rd quarter to help turn the momentum for good in the game.

PJ Brown: when Kendrick Perkins goes down, Brown comes in and actually plays much better defense, especially on screen, and rolls. Brown along with Leon Powe was able to grab 10 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench including three that were offensive.

Kevin Garnett: didn’t shoot particularly well. He took too many shots from outside the paint especially in the 4th quarter when he took five shots from outside the paint and missed them all. Still, KG came through by dominating on the boards including four offensive rebounds that help give the team numerous second chances.

Who Played Poorly:

Ray Allen: he knocked down his open shots, but also missed too many close shots near the rim. His strong play in the first quarter was neutralized by him not doing too much the rest of the game. He was especially missing in the clutch. The fact that he played better than he did in the previous rounds of the playoffs doesn’t excuse the fact that he still played below his all-star caliber.

Random Thoughts:

  • The Lakers couldn’t buy a rebound too often in this game. If they want to win, they have to fix that. Some people have brought up that Utah also dominated them on the boards, but the difference was that the Jazz weren’t able to convert on their second chances opportunities. The Celtics will.
  • The Lakers missed almost all of their open shots. Those shots will fall at home, but they need them first to fall in game two.
  • Conversely, the Celtics defense is overrated. Periodically, they would play very well, but the Lakers still were able to get the shots they normally take and make. Kobe Bryant isn’t going to play like this every game
  • Sam Cassell took something like three shots for every pass. He played ok this game, especially in the first half when he kept the team in the game by sinking three straight shots. The Lakers didn’t pressure him as strong as Lindsey Hunter did in the last round. If they don’t adjust, he gives the Celtics that back up point guard they need to give Rondo a rest as well as a shooter in the 4th quarter to affect spacing.
  • Ronny Turiaf trying to grow dreadlocks basically means anyone who wanted to know what Lil’ Wayne looks like on steroids finally gets their chance.
  • At the same time, Sasha Vujacic and Pau Gasol keep trying to pull off the long hair look. I’m a big fan of the Lakers, but they keep testing that fandom with the hair bands and scrunchies. It is almost as if David Stern sent out a mandate for subliminal WNBA advertising. (Speaking of which, yes, Candice Parker, I would say all of those things.)
  • Doc Rivers keeps bringing up the South African whenever they interview him except that he never actually says his name, just calling him the South African or the man from South Africa. What are the odds that Doc Rivers just doesn’t know his name? What are the odds his name is Ubuntu?
  • Ultimately, this game was just the two teams feeling each other out. The Lakers started to get used to the Celtics’ physical play while the Celtics got to see the Lakers’ motion offense (which they were able to adjust to in the second half and force more isolation plays.) From here on out the series starts with both teams making adjustments.
  • Speaking of adjustments, one way for the Lakers to fix their rebounding issues and stagnant offense is to get Lamar Odom more involved in the offense. That should motivate him in other parts of the game such as boxing out, and make the Celtics pay for leaving him at any time. The Celtics should just keep running the offense thru Paul Pierce and keep the floor spaced to make the Lakers pay for double-teaming him.

June 5, 2008

Finals Preview

Filed under: NBA Finals, NBA Previews — siddhant2001us @ 5:44 PM

This is going to be a great NBA Finals. Let’s get straight into the position-by-position breakdown, except with so much switching from offense to defense instead of the usual point guard through center breakdowns, we’ll be using ball handlers, swing men, and big men.

Big Men: This is going to be a fun match up with both teams throwing out some very talented big men on the floor. Starting for the Lakers will be Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol and they will use their quickness and speed to cause problems for the Celtics Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins whose forte is strength and power. When the Lakers are on offense, Lamar Odom will be dealing with Kevin Garnett. Odom has to force KG to stay on him at all times, not allowing him to cheat and help on Gasol, Kobe or any other Laker that tries to drive or cut. The best thing he can do is go right at KG every once and a while to keep him honest and then otherwise stay on the perimeter to keep him out of the paint. With KG being occupied with Odom, Pau Gasol must abuse Kendrick Perkins to give the Lakers an advantage. Perkins is much stronger with Gasol, but if Gasol gets any chance to face him up or start off from the high post, he should win that battle every time. Gasol (and Odom if the Celtics switch KG onto Gasol) must get the ball and force the Celtics to double him and open up whenever Perkins is on him to open the ball up for everyone else. When the Celtics have the ball, KG is going to be guarded by Gasol. Gasol will try to use his length to bother KG, but if KG goes right at him, Gasol will quickly find himself on the bench with foul trouble. Luckily, for the Lakers, KG is much more likely to settle for jumpers. Perkins being guarded by Odom is interesting, because there is no way that Odom should be able to guard him in the low post. Perkins isn’t a great offensive talent, though, and won’t get the ball too much. He should still be able to score by getting a lot of offensive rebounds and put backs. Ronny Turiaf (Lakers) and PJ Brown (Celtics) are the primary backups, and both are really only going to play to give the starters a rest and for their rebounding. Speaking of rebounds, the Celtics should get plenty of them as they are stronger than the Lakers and can get better position.

Advantage: Celtics

Swing Men: The Celtics will start Ray Allen and Paul Pierce against the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Vladimir Radmanovic. Allen should start off on Kobe and make him work on defense by going through numerous screens. Meanwhile, Radmanovic will be trying to use his length to bother Paul Pierce, who’ll go right at him, so Radmanovic should only play 15-20 minutes a game this series. Luke Walton will also be mostly ineffective against Pierce, which is why Trevor Ariza might see decent minutes this series. Ariza has the length, speed, and strength to battle Pierce and make him work for his points. The Celtics main back up here is James Posey who won’t contribute much on this end other than the odd three pointer every once and a while. In crunch time, the Lakers will play Sasha Vujacic along side Kobe, so Kobe should also take a turn guarding Pierce during the end game. When the Lakers have the ball, the Celtics have some interesting choices to make. Neither Pierce nor Allen can stay with Kobe, with Allen being much worse than Pierce in that regard now that his legs are shot. The best match up they have here is to have Posey on Kobe because Posey is a good defender who has been to the finals before and thus knows what it takes to win. Another choice they can have is to have Allen on Kobe. Allen is a terrible defender, which is something Kobe knows all about. So why put Allen on the best player in the NBA? Since Kobe understands he can drop 60 on Allen if he tries hard enough, he may be inclined to take a lot of shots and ignore the offense. This throws the Lakers offense off by having the other players mostly just stand around and do nothing. This in turn lowers their defensive intensity, as players tend to slack off their defense and rebounding when not involved in the offense. Therefore, Kobe must keep his ego in check and allow the offense to flow for most of the game before taking over only when truly needed. The rest of the Lakers swingmen must keep their spacing up and be ready to knock down open jumpers or hit the cutters with passes.

Advantage: Lakers, although it’s slight

Ball Handlers: This is a match up between the Celtic’s young Rajon Rondo and the Lakers’ experienced Derek Fisher. In time, Rondo should be an all star. He is quick and supremely talented and should be able to stay with Fisher as long as he stays focused. Luckily, for the Lakers, he won’t stay focused and he can’t consistently knock down his midrange and out jumpers. Fisher, being a savvy veteran, will take full advantage of that. He can back down the smaller Rondo and make him pay for trying to double anyone else by knocking down the three (he’s shooting around 56 percent for the postseason!). Jordan Farmar will come in to give Fisher a rest, and his athleticism should match up well against Rondo. The problem for the Celtics is that they don’t really have a back up for their young point guard. Sam Cassell and Eddie House will give it a shot, but whenever they are on the floor, the Lakers will attack their dribble and force turnovers. Rondo will have to play big minutes and play well to neutralize the Lakers advantage here.

Advantage: Lakers

Coaches: Phil Jackson understands how to use his lineups and make his adjustments. Doc Rivers can’t really do either that well. Both are good at getting their teams to play hard, but there really isn’t much to say here. Phil Jackson is a much better coach than Doc Rivers and has the experience to run rings around him.

Advantage: Lakers

That’s pretty much it. This is a match up between the Lakers’ league best offense against the Celtics’ league best defense. It is going to be a lot of fun to watch but in the end, the Lakers have Kobe and Phil Jackson. That should be enough to win the series.

Prediction: Lakers in 6

June 3, 2008

2008 NBA Mock Draft

Filed under: NBA Draft, NBA Previews — Ankur @ 3:38 AM

Well, Sid and I have finally managed to put together that blog that we’ve been talking about for years. We’ve started the proceedings with this mock draft. Our picks are based on what we think is most appropriate for the team. Expect future iterations to make more sense, but here’s a start…

Team Needs Options Sid’s Pick Ankur’s Pick
Chicago Low Post Scorer, Offensive go-to guy, Team Philosophy Rose, Beasley Derrick Rose: This young team is going through a lot of change right now. Without a coach, you do not really know what the team philosophy is, and thus you might as well take the best player available—in this case, Rose. Michael Beasley: You’ve needed a post scorer for years now…so get him!
Miami PG, C, another forward for the rotation (Hmm, a lot of needs and a team that wants to make the playoffs now? Sounds ripe for a trade.) Beasley, Mayo, Rose OJ Mayo: Miami apparently isn’t sold on Beasley. Mayo on the other hand has been given a bad rap. He wants to win, and is willing to do whatever it takes to do so. The right situation will make him a star. I think this one is it. Derrick Rose: He and Wade form a tandem for years. Not a great outside shooting backcourt, but you can’t pass on the best players in the draft.
Minnesota Forwards to complement Jefferson, Guard to team up with Foye; Jaric, Telfair, and Gomes have all started for this team so getting anyone who can replace those guys and a losing culture is a must. Beasley, Brook Lopez, Bayless, Jordan, Mayo Michael Beasley: The Timberwolves would love for Beasley to drop this far. If it doesn’t happen, look for them to go for Lopez or Jordan and get a big man to complement Jefferson. Brook Lopez: Has the offensive ability to contribute right now, and gives them the ability to put Jefferson back at his natural position of PF. This is high for him, but he fills a need.
Seattle PG who does not need to be in a platoon, SG to allow Durant to move to forward. Any position other than small forward probably is an upgrade. Bayless, Brook Lopez, Jordan, Mayo Jerryd Bayless: The Sonics have drafted more centers than the Detroit Lions have WRs. It is time to give their young big men a chance to do well. OJ Mayo: Great defensive stopper on a team in dire need of one, a good offensive sidekick for Durant, and possesses the PG skills to fill that role.
Memphis A young shooting guard or running center. Jordan, Brook Lopez, Love, DeAndre Jordan: more athletic than Lopez, and with Iavaroni dedicated to running, that should be enough to take him. DeAndre Jordan: Kevin Love is tempting here, but the athletic big man seems a better fit.
New York Defenders, rebounders, players who can play out of position and run Brook Lopez, Randolph, Gallinari, Bayless Anthony Randolph: Long, lanky forward who will rebound and potentially be a great defender? Sounds like a potential Marion for Mike D’Antoni to use in his offense. Danilo Gallinari: D’Antoni’s roommate’s son will be a heady player with plenty of offensive talent, the type of guy who will thrive in this system.
LA Clippers Guards to complement the tandem of Brand and Kaman. Gallinari, Gordon, Brook Lopez, Bayless, Randolph Eric Gordon: Gordon was a top 5 prospect before the coaching scandal at his college. With Mike D’s steady hand, Gordon could team up with Shaun Livingston to form quite the combo. Jerryd Bayless: Combo guard replaces either Shaun Livingston (injury risk) or Cuttino Mobley (declining with age). Either way, he fills a huge need for the Clips.
Milwaukee A low post scorer who can command a double team and create space for their many shooters, defensive wingman other than Mason. Gallinari, Brook Lopez, Love, Randolph Kevin Love: Great passer who will find the open shooter. He and Bogut should wreak havoc together in the post with their vision. His poor defense isn’t a huge problem if no one around him plays defense. Kevin Love: Versatile offensive big man, improving defensively. Can play next to Bogut, making the expected trade of Charlie V that much more palatable.
Charlotte A combo forward, or center who can more Okafor to PF. Brook Lopez, Alexander, Gallinari, Arthur, Randolph, Gordon

Brook Lopez:

They need easier baskets, and he will give them that. A bit of a drop for Lopez, but this is also good fit for him.

Anthony Randolph: Offensive player who can add some much-needed versatility on that end. On the other, his improving defense creates an insurance policy for Gerald Wallace.
New Jersey A forward to back up Jefferson and play some PF, more big men for the rotation. Arthur, Alexander, Gallinari, Darrell Arthur: Look for the Nets to shake up their team further and look to get rid of either Carter or Jefferson. For now, Arthur is more big man depth. Joe Alexander: His versatile offensive game makes it that much easier to trade RJ or VC, and a solid defensive game makes him a steady choice. Sufficient strength to provide minutes at PF, too.
Indiana A replacement for Tinsley is a must, as is the heir apparent to JO. Athletic players would help, but at this point the team wants high character guys. Alexander , Gallinari, Westbrook, Arthur, Augustin, Gordon Russell Westbrook: Alexander would also be a good fit, but Westbrook gives them a young leader for the next decade. Darrell Arthur: High-character guy, and an absolute offensive freak who’s improving defensively. Provides much-needed big man depth if JO is healthy, and an instant replacement if he’s not.
Sacramento With Artest expected to leave they could use a good athletic forward to replace him. PF is also a need. Alexander, Gallinari, Speights, Gordon Joe Alexander: Gallinari would be a nice complement to Kevin Martin, but I think Reggie Theus will emphasize defense. Alexander is a tough player who will get to the hoop and get to the line. Mareese Speights: Intriguing PF prospect who provides some much needed low-post offense. Anything’s an upgrade over Mikki Moore and Shelden Williams…
Portland Maybe another forward, but in reality they have a lot of young prospects and are better suited to trading away the pick or stashing it in Europe. Another big man in the case Oden struggles early could help too. Gallinari, Batum, McGee, Robin Lopez Gallinari: there is almost no chance he falls this far, but if he does then Portland will happily take him. If he is gone, look for Batum to be taken and kept in France. McGee gets taken if Oden has another setback. Nicolas Batum: This is the next great European swingman, but he still needs to develop. That fits perfectly with Portland’s plans. McGee or Robin Lopez are their other options.
Warriors If Davis leaves, they need a PG. Otherwise, they just take the best player available. Batum, McGee, Augustin, Speights, Westbrook, Gordon DJ Augustin: I don’t see Davis coming back after the way the season ended unless he has no other options. Either way, the Warriors might as well replace him or groom his successor to start alongside him. Russell Westbrook: Even if Davis stays, an heir for him is a dire need. Westbrook’s explosive offense and length makes him a great fit as the PG of the future.
Phoenix The bench is very depleted. They need another three-point shooter to turn to, another wingman defender, and a center who can keep Stoudemire at PF after Shaq retires. Batum, McGee, Speights, Budinger, Gordon Nicholas Batum: This prospect seems to have the potential to be a complete player, and all he really has to do is gain some pounds of strength, and continue to work on his game. 3-point range means he could come in right away and contribute. Chase Budinger: High-flying athletic swingman is seen as the next Grant Hill, which is great because the old one is wearing out. Scoring and rebounding ability make him a sure-fire contributer.
Philadelphia A big man to one day take the heat off of the new AI, better shooters to space the floor McGee, Speights, Budinger, Gordon JaVale McGee: Dalembert is too streaky to depend on if the team hopes to make it into the second round. McGee motor is questionable, but his talent is not. This may end up being far too low for him. Eric Gordon: If he really falls this far, the 76ers are doing handstands. Shooting ability allows him to fit in at SG, taking some offensive load off Young and Iggy.
Toronto A back up point guard if Ford leaves, better talent along the wings, another big man to help Bosh on the boards. Speights, Budinger, Hibbert, McGee, Greene Roy Hibbert: Big man will get rebounds and block shots. Him being in the low post allows Bargnani and Bosh to play more from the outside or high post. JaVale McGee: The potential-laden big man fits in at center, allowing Bosh to play in the high post where he’s most comfortable.
Washington This all hinges on Jamison. They have shown they can play well enough without Arenas but no such proof exists for them playing with out Jamison. Depth at big man is a definite need. Speights, Budinger, Green, Augustin

Mareese Speights: talented power forward who replaces Jamison if he doesn’t come back, or has Jamison for a great mentor if he does.

Donte Greene: A SF/PF type, he provides much-needed depth in case injuries plague the team yet again. Eventual replacement for Jamison who can do all that ‘Tawn can, and more.
Cleveland A big point guard to bring the ball up while using his height to keep Daniel Gibson on the floor; a true low post threat; just an all around talent upgrade on offense. Budinger, Green, Douglas-Roberts, Augustin

Chris Douglas-Roberts: solid defender would fit right in with team defense, but he also has the offensive talent to give the team more options on that side of the ball. Can play some point at the next level tho real position is SG.

Chris Douglas-Roberts: Sid’s got this one right. It’s important that CDR excelled in Memphis while in an off-ball, second banana situation like the one he’ll face here.
Denver Another team that can use a bigger point guard to offset Iverson’s lack of height. Good defenders at all positions who can also play solid help defense to make up for rest of teams lackadaisical effort. Budinger, Green, Weaver, Thompson, Robin Lopez, Augustin

Kyle Weaver: a bit of a leap at this point, but Weaver is going to be a good defender if he keeps working hard at the next level and a good passer on a team with many scorers. If not Weaver, look for Robin Lopez to head to Colorado, and help out if the team doesn’t believe in Nene Hilario being the primary big man off the bench.

DJ Augustin: There is no way in hell he falls this far. If he somehow does, Denver grabs him and moves AI back to the more natural SG spot. Alternatively, he reprises Boykins’ role from a couple years back, making this the one team where DJ is actually taller than the guy he replaces.
New Jersey Another swingman to back up Carter and Jefferson, and another big man depending on whom they lose in free agency. Budinger, Green, Thompson, Robin Lopez

Chase Budinger: this team might as well go with the best player available. Budinger fell a bit in my mock, but he can shoot, is athletic, and might be the best rebounding guard in the draft.

Jason Thompson: The solid defense and improving offense of this low-post talent make him the best player available, in my book. NJ seems to like yeoman big guys, so he’ll fit right in.
Orlando Better talent at guard positions, another big man to help with rebounding and shot blocking Green, Thompson, Robin Lopez, Koufos, Chalmers

Robin Lopez: Rebounder who can keep Howard’s minutes down as well as play tough defense. Offensively raw, but has shown flashes that at this point in the draft could make him a steal.

Robin Lopez: This is too easy. Howard isn’t a C, and neither is anyone else of note on this roster. Lopez immediately upgrades the defense, and could in time serve as a secondary low-post threat.
Utah Kirilenko can push the team to a higher level but is wildly inconsistent, and Harpring is getting old, so the team would do itself a favor by getting a good SF. Replacement low-post defense is also a priority. Green, Thompson, Koufos, Chalmers, Rush, Hibbert.

Brandon Rush: Donte Green may be more talented, but is a bit soft for a Jerry Sloan team. Rush brings the defense and rebounding you look for from your small forward. Excellent long range shooter who will thrive receiving kick outs from Deron Williams.

Roy Hibbert: The Jazz are a phenomenal team, but desperately need a low-post defender, especially if they plan to trade AK47. While Hibbert’s lack of athleticism may restrict his ceiling, his defensive capabilities make him a good fit here.
Seattle At this point in the draft, the team might as well swing for the fences with a big man prospect if they do in fact go for a guard earlier in the round. Green, Thompson, Koufos, Chalmers,

Jason Thompson: Didn’t play for a big name college, but does appear to be the type of player with lottery potential. Hard worker and good passer, who will complement Durant well.

Kosta Koufos: Fairly polished, versatile big man fits in well with the run-and-gun style Seattle seems to be edging towards. Concerns about his toughness abound, though.
Houston A big man who can keep Yao’s minutes (read: chances for injury) down. Priority on defense here, as you have to think Deke’s retiring soon. Green,Koufos, Chalmers, Jawai

Kosta Koufos: Rawish talent that well benefit from going at Yao during practice. Good prospect who will play well if drafted by the right situation.

Nathan Jawai: This big man plays solid defense, and has a decent offensive game. Still needs to polish his skills, but learning from Deke and Yao should accelerate that process.
San Antonio Athletic players at the forwards who can replace Bowen, Horry, and Finley. Must get younger fast. With the news about Splitter, big man depth may be a concern, too. Green, Chalmers, Jawai, Jefferson, Lawson, Rush

Donte Green: another player who has dropped in this mock, but a great place for him to go as he will truly learn how to play while practicing with Duncan and company.

Brandon Rush: He’s fallen a bit in this mock, but provides an instant offensive weapon and a strong defensive force. Can step in and do a lot of the things Finley did this year.
New Orleans Pargo was once cut from the Lakers for his lack of talent despite the organization really liking him…he is the sixth man for this team. They need a bench with a focus on the wing positions especially SG. Chalmers, Jawai, Jefferson, Lawson, Lee, Hardin

Nathan Jawai: Must work on his conditioning before he earns major minutes, but his size (6’10’’, 275) will be a huge asset to pair with Chandler for stretches against teams like the Lakers and Suns.

Devon Hardin: This team has no depth at big man. While Hardin isn’t a great prospect, his rebounding ability and willingness to mix it up make him a much better backup big man than their current group.
Memphis A young shooting guard, but with so many young players already, this pick might be better suited for a player expected to stay in Europe for a while. Chalmers, Jefferson, Lawson, Lee, Pekovic

Davon Jefferson: a little old considering he was a freshman, but a nice prospect with solid fundamentals. May have a low ceiling, but could help the team right away.

Nikola Pekovic: Keep him in Europe and let him develop, as his defensive ability will eventually make him a great addition when the team is competitive.
Detroit This team actually has very few holes. Good guards, good forwards, and decent depth after lacking it for a few years. Still, that core is starting to age… Chalmers, Lawson, Lee, Pekovic,

Nikola Pekovic: Solid prospect they can keep in Europe for a few years until their older post players retire and they can then bring him from overseas.

Mario Chalmers: Hunter is getting quite old, and the team needs another backup guard alongside Stuckey. Enter the defensive-minded Chalmers.
Boston They could use an upgrade at the backup 2-spot, but it will most likely come from free agency. Chalmers, Lawson, Lee, Hickson, Dorsey, Asik

Ty Lawson: could serve as a change of pace point guard off the bench. Lightning fast point guard has no problem bringing the ball up something the Celtics struggled to do whenever Rondo wasn’t on the floor.

Kyle Weaver: Versatile guard can come in as a defensive sub or play backup PG. That flexibility is going to be valuable with Tony Allen and Sam Cassell both terrible and both leaving.

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