The NBA season tips off today. Seeing as the majority of members currently sitting on the ThinkTank Panel (Of One) have some kind of tie to the Portland metro area, the ThinkTank Panel (Of One) would like to commemorate the 2010 Tip-off by correcting a common misconception that has plagued the Trailblazers of late.
There is this perception that Brandon Roy, the Blazers 3 time all star guard, is incapable of running a fast break. Phrases like “pace” and “initiate the offense through Roy” have been used to paint Brandon as a prison shackle and speed bump to the Blazers offensive output. Numerous articles, editorials and fan comments on the subject over the past 4 seasons have made this view nearly ubiquitous. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Everyone seems to have forgotten Roy played in an ultra up-tempo college system at Washington. In 2004 the Huskies averaged 86.5 points per game (2nd in the Nation) and earned the #1 seed in the west region before losing to Louisville in the sweet sixteen. That team featured the uber fast Nate Robinson and Roy had no problem keeping up with Krypto Nate. In his senior season Roy took over the main ball handling duties and went on to win Pac 10 player of the year honors. Despite loosing Robinson, leading scorer Tre Simmons, and 3 year starter Will Conroy to graduation, the Roy led Huskies’ averaged 82 points per game (4th in the nation , less than 1 point per game behind leader Long Beach State), and advanced once again to the sweet 16 before losing in an epic double OT game with Connecticut.
What’s more is Roy has thrived in his All Star appearances, which are not exhibitions of half court execution. Roy has proven in his time with the Blazers to be quite comfortable filling the wing, running out ahead, or handling the ball in the middle of the break. So where does this blatantly erroneous perception come from?
The misperception comes from the fact that Roy’s game is built upon a foundation different from the other All Star caliber guards in the game. The elite players at the 2 guard position traditionally are freak of nature athletes, guys that win dunk contests and spend their early careers trying to dunk on everyone. Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, a young Vince Carter, young MJ, Ginobilli, and even lesser caliber players such as Andre Igoudola, and Gerald Wallace, all violently attack the rim, jumping over and bowling through any defender who dares to enter their path. These guys could earn their pay checks almost exclusively off the open court jam. That does not describe Roy’s game. Nor does the other end of the 2 guard continuum in which players such as Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Reggie Miller, Ben Gordon, Steph Curry, and a host of other long range shooters base their game on occupying and stretching defenses with their catch and shoot mentality. Roy’s game is different. Frankly, it is not even in the middle of the continuum. It is unique in that Roy is the rare young player who dominates with craftiness, on having more game than his opponent, not relying on pure athleticism or a single go to skill. This is evident as everyone agrees Roy’s greatest attribute is his ability to finish at the rim, a skill eschewed by both the athletic dunkers and the long range bombers. Craftiness takes patience and awareness, not the single-minded self assuredness in ones athletic dominance or outside touch. Roy is patient and takes what the defense give him rather than trying to force the ball down the other teams throat, or jacking up catch and shoot threes. Therefore Roy appears to “pace” himself and “thrive in half court setting.”
However, Roy does have an NBA body, at 6’6” and 216.
He has NBA Range as exhibited here:
He also can attack the rim with authority when needed.
It’s no joke when Kobe Bryant talks up what a highly skilled and complete player Roy is. Roy provides the Blazer’s with a closer, a guy who can create a shot when it is most crucial. This is a necessary component for any team hoping to win a playoff series.
Now remember that Roy’s best basketball skill is finishing at the rim, but that does not mean he has to be the one to get the ball there. Granted he is pretty darn good at driving the ball, but there are any number of ways team basketball can get a player as good as Roy the basketball in position to score; curl screens back door cuts, pick and rolls, out in transition, short corner baseline against the zone, etc.
One supposed evidence that Roy slows the Blazers down was his difficulty playing with Andre Miller early last season. Miller was expected to come in and push the ball up and down the court. That didn’t happen because miller was trying to prove his worth to the team; to earn his starting spot, justify his signing with team, etc, and he and Roy didn’t develop any chemistry. Consequently Roy found himself waiting for Miller to create and Miller didn’t know how Roy wanted to get the ball. Add to this the Blazer’s commitment to playing proper position defense which does not lend its self to running out in transition and the Blazers were a slow half court team. Oh there was one more mitigating factor early last season that contributed to the notion of a Slow-Roy Blazers. The intentional force-feeding of the ball to Greg Oden before he broke his knee-cap.
The NBA has banned shoes made by Athletic Propolsion Labs. (A link to the ESPN article is here.) The article quotes the NBA as saying: "Under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game that creates an undue competitive advantage."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "undue competive advantage" the whole point behind the performance athletic shoe industry?? Nike has created "technologies"such as Air, Shox, Foamposite and Zoom Air. Reebok has produced technologies such as The Pump, DMX, hexalite and even a CO2 cartridge custom fit mechanism. Adidas has The Adaprene system and the classic "Feet you Wear" campaign. The underlying appealof all these shoes and the ad compaigns used to hauk them was the competitive advantage the wearer of these shoes would have over their competition. However with all the research, development and rigorous testing on the feet of the worlds finest athletes testing, none of these shoes have ever been considered an "undue competitve advantage."
The fact that Athletic Propulsion Labs has managed to create a shoe that improves performance so much that it could potentially disrupt the fairplay dynamics of the entire league, means APL must have one hell of a shoe.
Of course a small faction of the ThinkTank Panel (Of One) sees a thinly veiled conspiracy. When it comes to basketball shoes, history shows the only marketing ploy more effective than the explicit endorsement of the world's greatest basketball player, is the explicit banning of the shoe by the NBA.
Random Randy Thunks
So the Patriots trade Randy Moss to Minnesotta for a 3rd round pick last week. This week they trade a 4th rounder to Seattle to get former Super Bowl MVP Dion Branch back. Both deals were worked out quickly as the Patriots were anxious to get rid of Moss and get Branch back.
Three years ago, the Seahawks trade a 1st rounder to get Branch from New England, and New England aquires Moss for a 4th round pick.
I know it’s not that simple, and there are lots of risk factors with Randy Moss, but shouldn’t the Seahawks have at least tried to trade Branch straight up for Moss a week ago?
While watching Randy Moss’s re-debut as a Minnesota Viking, and witnessing the thrilling but ultimately futile performance by Bret Favre against the Jets, the nation’s obsessive love/hate fascination with Favre was on full display. Football pundits have long pointed out Favre’s penchant for forcing throws makes him as much a liability as an asset. The success or failure of Favre’s teams over the last 4 years has been tied completely to Favre’s turnovers. Never was that more clear than on Monday night. On the night when Favre threw his 500th 501st and 502nd touchdown passes, he became the NFL’s all time leader in fumbles. He also threw interceptions on the 2 most crucial plays of the game; the potentially game tying 2 point conversion, and the 3rd down TAINT (Touchdown after interception, props to the Sports Guy) in the 2 minute drill that killed a potential game winning drive. To the football experts, (maybe even his own coaches and teammates), Favre’s insistence that the game is won or lost by his arm is tantamount to football treason.
However, as fans, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Fans want heroes. Favre provides heroics. That 37 yard TD to Moss was an awe-inspiring feat of seemingly supernatural effortless precision. This is how fans want to see games won. It’s how players want to win games. It’s just more fun to win by making plays, as opposed to wining by maintaining discipline.
Generally that’s not how coaches want to win. But there is one coach who does want to win that way:
The Patriots coach has won the Super Bowl the old fashioned way, through discipline and execution…3 times. The last one was 6 years ago. Since then he has done everything in his power to turn Tom Brady into a Football Super Hero like Favre. That’s why he went out after Moss, to turn the Pats into a pass wacky 45 ppg scoring, awe-inspiring, play-making offensive juggernaut. But it didn’t work because in Super bowl XXXX the New York Football Giant’s made 1 superhero heroic play and the Patriots didn’t.
Pac-10 and Counting
Given that the Pac 10 conference is currently in negotiations to finalize its scheduling now that it has expanded to 12 team with the additions of Colorado and Utah, the ThinkTank Panel (of One) would like to revisiting it’s proposal for further Pac -10 expansion.
The sticking issue in the Pac -10 scheduling discussion is that the California teams want o all be in a division together, and the rest of the teams want the California teams split amongst 2 divisions so that they get to play in the state at least once each year in front of California high school recruits.
To rectify this situation, the ThinkTank Panel (of One) humbly suggests reviving the super conference band dream boat and set sail on a Pac-16, one day to be a Pac 20.
First step is to, as the ThinkTank Panel Suggested previously, continue to raid the Mountain West of BYU and Boise State. Since BYU’s attempted departure to football independence and WAC everything else earlier this season, the MWC is on shaky ground. No one really wants to be there. If Boise State ( which is supposed to Join the MWC next year, but at the rate things are going why would they want to) and TCU go undefeated and neither plays for the National Title this year, they will be primed o leave so now is the time to plant the seed. Step 2 is raid the WAC as well, forcing the 2 division to reunite and form a mid major super conference of themselves.
In addition to adding BYU and Boise State, the PAC-10 adds 2 additional California Schools in Fresno State and San Diego State. Now you have 16 teams to go into, wait for it………… four divisions consisting of 4 teams each.
The 4 divisions will be….
NW Division: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Oregon State
California Division: California, Stanford, USC, and UCLA …. just like they want it.
South Division: San Diego State, Fresno State, Arizona and Arizona State
New Rocky Mountain Division: Boise State, BYU, Utah, and Colorado
At face value this looks like it will no one outside of the California Division will go for it. But here are the scheduling rules:
Each team plays its 3 division opponents.
Each team plays one team from each of the other 3 divisions on a rotating home/away basis. So you play each non-division team once every 4 years.
And here’s the kicker: Each team plays an additional California Division team away game!!
So that means each team will play 7 regular season conference games. At least 2 against the Classic 4 California Schools, one of which is guaranteed in the State of California. Some years a team may play as 3 away games in front of California high school recruits if you happen to play at San Diego State or Fresno State.
And here’s the second Kicker. A 3 games conference tourney pitting the 4 division winners for the conference title. The championship games to be played at the neutral site of Las Vegas as is expected to be the case with the 12 team format anyway.
Future expansion could lead to a 20 team conference with four 5 team divisions. The key is the 4 divisions instead of 2 allows for division champions to be determined while maintaining a balanced schedule allowing recruiting exposure to the super populous California high schools players.
Colorado will complain because they “demand to be in the same division as USC. But the Pac-10 can drop them for Nevada at the drop of a hat, and bust the Buffs back to the Big 12 or as it will soon known as the Former Republic of Texas Conference, once it picks up TCU, and UTEP or Houston, to replace Missouri and Iowa State who will end up paying $20 million bribe/buy in /registration fees to convince the Big-10 to let them in.