As advanced stats become ubiquitous they become an equalizer not an advantage. Previously advanced stats were like trade secrets of individual teams, but in the last decade they have been adopted so wide spread and the demand for analytic GMs has become so quintessential that it's almost as useful as traditional stats.
Much has been made of the parallels between Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers, and Penny Hardaway in the late 90’s. Both had injuries derail their careers in their 5th season. Both were All Stars cut down in their prime. Both were about 6’7” and 215lbs. Even their stats are mind-bogglingly nearly identical. The prevailing assumption is that Roy, like Hardaway before him will never regain the glory and promise of his early years on the court.
Fortunately the similarities do not end there. And that leaves a glimmer of hope for Roy, as he may be able to learn from Hardaway’s mistakes and maintain a productive career for himself.
For all the hype and fanfare Penny garnered early in his career, he made enemies immediately with fans in Orlando as he was blamed for running Shaq out of town and labeled a prima donna. For all his court awareness Penny failed to realize his greatest attribute as a player was his dual threat as both playmaker and a scorer. Jack McCallum had immortalized Penny in Sports Illustrating calling him the only player in the league equally comfortable giving and receiving an alley-oop pass. But Penny was determined to emulate the reigning King of the league, Michael Jordan as a supreme scorer with an assassin’s mentality, who would simply take over games all by himself through sheer force of his own will. Penny abandoned the point guard position from which he had so confused NBA defenses with his playmaking and scoring abilities, to become a fulltime scorer. The theory was that he could be more aggressive without having to concern himself with running the team on the court. He could just be single-minded about putting the ball in the basket. Unfortunately the results were only a lower field-goal percentage and consecutive first round exits in the playoffs.
Sound Familiar Blazer Fans?
Amazingly Roy has followed an identical career trajectory. Although he was never listed as a PG, in essence he filled the roll with Steve Blake starting alongside him as primarily a spot up shooter. Roy was the primary ball handler and initiated the offense himself. But Roy also has sought to emulate the cold-bloodedness of the reigning NBA champions in Kobe Bryant. Roy’s playmaking mentality, which like Hardaway before him, made him such a difficult cover, not only for his individual defender but for the opposing team as a whole to gamelan for, was abandoned so that Roy could concentrate on being aggressive with his own offense. The dual threat was gone. His teammates struggled to find their own rhythm when Roy wasn’t on his. Yet Roy has struggled playing alongside a genuine PG in Andre Miller, lamenting that Dre doesn’t provide him the kick out option he needs to keep defenses honest. The irony is that Roy, just a Penny before him, cannot see the dependence of his game on his multi-facetedness, not on a system of singularly skilled shooters, keeping the defense honest for the one prolific scorer. Indeed the genius of both Penny and Roy was that they alone provided a system where singularly skilled shooters could be effective when kept honest by the multifaceted skill set of brilliant playmakers.
And so now that Roy is at this time essentially a hobbled old man, who has lost his explosiveness, the ThinkTank Panel (of One) humbly submits that Roy should move to PG. Become a facilitator. Being Brandon Roy he will still command defensive attention, attention greater than he probably deserves at this point. Keeping the defense honest, by remaining a playmaker seeking to involve the rest of the team. If nothing less Roy can reprise the role Steve Blake played alongside Roy himself in Portland.
Of course the best place to employ this tactic is off the bench. Roy has always been the “back up PG” by default, and it just makes sense to cast him in that role explicitly. He’ll save ware and tear in less minutes, and he won’t have to struggle to share the ball with Andre Miller. And of Course if he happens to get Hot, the Blazers can always feed the hot hand. Thus the injury reduced inconsistent Roy can be used efficiently to maximize his value to the team.
Some nights Roy will still go for 30, other nights he will only play a few minutes. But his value, as it ever has been, but now more than ever, is based on his versatility and craftiness, not on a single overpowering attribute. And now given his physical limitations due to injury, Roy has to be more versatile than ever in order to help his team win.
Penny never recovered his multifaceted playmaking approach to the game, and thus was never able to overcome his physical limitations. Roy still has the slimmest of chances, if only he can stop History from further repeating it’s self.
I hate to keep rehashing this topic because it is excruciatingly painful, but here is the definitive last word on the god-forsaken Oden or Durant debate. The debate boils down to 2 facts.
Fact #1: Durant is destined to be Dirk Nowitski X 1.5. All the hype about Durant as a revolutionary wing player at 6’10” will be over by his 25th birthday. Granted that still gives him 4 years, but when his hall of fame career is over he will have played 2/3rds of his career as a power forward. History proves it over and over. Players try to resist the move but team needs and the demands of a player’s body as they age make it inevitable. Players start to fill out at 25 years of age and big men are always at a premium. Swing men are a dime a dozen in the NBA (look at the T-Wolves this year).
Kevin Garnett tried to be a 6’ 13” small forward. It didn’t last. By all accounts he’s been playing center for 10 years. Dirk was drafted to be the revolution only a European big man could become; a 6’10” small forward who could handle the ball like a pg and shoot from the hash mark. All the same things they say about Durant now, they said about Dirk in 99. He’s played power forward for the last 8 years and rarely handles the ball above the foul line extended. By the time it’s all said and done he will average between 25 and 30ppg for over a decade. Durant could put up between 30 and 35 for a decade. That’s Jordan and Chamberlain territory alone, but hardly revolutionary. But how many rings do Dirk and KG have between them? Only one. The fact is swing men and stretch 4s do not a championship ring bring.
The single exception to this fact thus far is Lebron James who, to his credit, has recognized this fact and purposely refused to develop a post game to delay his eventual move to power forward that Pat Riley is planning as we speak (Riley did the exact same thing to Lamar Odom, another 6’10” multi skill perimeter player converted to a 4 out of need and convention).
Which brings me to fact #2 which I’ve actually already stated indirectly:
Quality Big men are now and forever shall be the closest thing to a shortcut to winning NBA Championships. Now granted a big man always needs great little men to get him the ball and shooters to stretch the D, but no amount of outside shooting and perimeter all stars can make up for a mediocre low post presence. Look at the league now. Dwight Howard comes of age and Orlando is a perennial contender out of nowhere. The 2006 Miami Heat won a title with the 2006 Shaq. The 2007 Heat with no Shaq was one of the worst teams in history with Dwyane Wade. Name a team with a quality center who isn’t considered at least a fringe contender? The Nets with Brooke Lopez are the only example currently. How many playoffs did Olajuwon miss? The David Robinson lead Spurs were always in the hunt. Look what a difference Gasoil’s presence makes in LA, or Garnett’s in Boston. Those are the facts proven time and time again by history repeating it’s self.
If you think about it, the team that drafted Durant will try to convert him into Oden if he doesn’t win them a title soon. The Thunder are lacking a game changing big man. Do you see them winning a title in the next 2 years with Serge Ibaka at center? The conversion will come and everything special about Durant right now; the size on the perimeter creating match up nightmares, the coast to coast one man fast break, seeing over the screener on the high pick and roll, and the turnaround fade way jumpers over the swarming triple team from dam near half court all will be sacrificed to try and manufacture what could not simply be acquired on draft day: an elite big man. Only Magic Johnson has escaped this fate because he won a title for the Lakers as a rookie. Ironically he did so by scoring 42 points and grabbing 20 rebounds while playing Center for the injured Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the series clinching victory of the NBA finals. And so Lebron is still the only exception as even Magic became a big man when it mattered most.
Ok, so now you are an NBA GM with the first pick in the Draft and you can draft Dirk Nowitski 1.5 or a 50/50 Raffle ticket for an NBA Finals short cut. If you want to sell tickets you take Dirk 1.5, if you want to win titles you roll the dice with the 50/50 short cut. The Blazers took the 50/50 shortcut, knowing it would be either a Bowie (bust), or a Walton (Championship in his 3rd year). If the Blazers don’t win a title this year with Greg Oden, it just means when they draft 1 overall again in 15 years, they should draft the big man again because the odds say they are due for the title shortcut.
The 2010 mid term elections are being tallied, and whatever the verdict, the campaign season told us plenty about how America feels about President Obama’s term in office thus far. In the state of Missouri every Republican campaign was the same. They ran against Obama. All they did was say their opponent voted with Obama once, and then proceeded to rail on the president. One time they even equated a republican with Obama in the primary becasue he owned a car dealership that had participated in "Cash for Clunkers." This is a brilliant move because the President already has his dirt aired in the national media daily. It’s much easier to air the same old criticism of the president rather than having to dig for dirt on your opponent who may have never so much as had their picture in the local paper untill this election .
Today, President Obama is the most polarizing figure in America, some how taking that mantle away from Lebron James which is quite a feat given the backlash from the “Lebron’s decision” Show. The mear mention of the name Obama and one is forced to pick sides. All this, less than 2 years removed from Obama’s own campaign promise to bridge the bi-partisan divide. The man preaching transpearancy and compromise in advocating for the enviroment and children, while laughing with ESPN anchors as he makes hisNCAA tourny picks and praising the power of basketball to unite people at the NBA All-Star game, suddenly is using back-ally deals and parlimantary procedural loopholes to ram spending bills through congress, while talking to Matt Lauer on the Today Show about “Whose Ass to kick!” and going on The Daily Show with John Stewart specificly not to be funny.
So what happened?
The following clip best illustrates exactly what happened to the Obama presidency. It's a metaphor. To be perfectly clear; Obama is represented by the guy on the left. Republicans are the guy on the right. The white guy that walks in represents the American electorate.
(WARNING: This Clip is from the rated R movie “the 40 year old Virgin” and as such is full of Bad Words!! Cover your ” 40 year old Virgin” ears.)
So there you have it. Obama became the guy Denzel Washington plays in every movie (however that is not Denzel in the Clip, sorry Shaniqa); the Good guy gone ghetto. The Republican’s collectively stonewalled Obama’s agenda. You can definatley picture Obama saying “lets move forward amicably” and then getting it thrown in his face. This is exactly what happened at the "Health Care Summit" And that was it. His inner "Shaft" came out, and he decided he was through reaching out to the ”party of no.” And it was on.
Unfortunately for the president the Rupublican’s had played him perfectly. They planned it going down this way. They wanted this. They baited him, and he took the bait. The first Black president of the United states has to accomplish something. He can’t afford to strike out, and he most certainly can not strike out looking. So he swang for the fences. He hit a double and tried to stretch it into a tripple. On Tuesday, the election just threw him out. He will have other at bats.
But remember baseball is not his game, basketball is.
And Basketball is played in the hood!
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.
So much of life is going through the motions. We humans being are creatures of habit, we learn by routine and perfect via repetition. Consistency is a virtue we all seek, against the unpredictable chaos that surrounds us. The other virtue we seek to attain is the flip side to this coin; versatility or adaptability, the power to adjust and course-correct in the face of the chaotic onslaught of life. Between these two virtues one can sail through calm seas in record time, and then stay afloat and maintain their heading when those seas become rough. To survive and to thrive.
Well just as the seas can not be both calm and rough at the same time, so too are we human beings either in consistency thrive mode, or adapting survive mode. One can not seek to attain proficiency and perfection through continual change and adjustment, nor can one expect to find innovation repeating the same means over and over.
Now this post's painfully obvious lesson in juvenile pop psychology is probably insulting to the intelligence of most reader's but while the notion is still fresh in your mind....the ThinkTank (Panel of One) would suggest the next time you find yourself merely surviving instead of thriving or vice versa.... try closing your eyes.!!!!!
Hate to beat the Lebron James Horse to death (actually beating Lebron James and anything pertaining to him is quite popular at the moment) but the ThinkTank Panel (of One) has considered the pitfalls of the new big three in Miami and come up with a solution. After all that’s what a think tank is for.
The main problem facing the big three is staying interested. Sharing shots and determining “whose batman and whose Robin (and in this case who is Alfred)” are all symptoms of the overriding but little publicized but not exactly secret reality that there are 82 games to play and no superstar really cares until May. Normally this is dealt with by players trying to win scoring titles and MVP awards. There are all star teams to make, stats to accumulate before the next contract year. Guys play 82 games for vanity and pride, basking in the adoration of adoring fans. Now Lebron and Wade cannot share a scoring title on the same team, nor can they share an MVP award (unless it is an all star game a la Stockton and Malone in Utah).
There is no doubt the big three can put egos aside and just win baby once the real season starts in the playoffs. But the regular season is all about ego and showing off for the fans. That is how the league makes money.
Here is the obvious solution, brilliant in it's simplicity yet ingenious in it's sophistication. Let Lebron take off 50 or so games. Seriously. Wade and Bosh can hold it down for a while. Let Wade garner all the scoring early, and Bosh can be sure to maintain his stats so he makes the All star team. That way it is DWade’s team, no doubt. The team has rhythm, and then after the All Star Break Lebron steps in. There is an adjustment period and then the playoffs start. Everybody wins.
So what does Lebron do in the mean time?
Lebron can do what everyone has been saying he could have done if he had chosen football over basketball in high school, play tight end in the NFL. The Dolphins need a money tight end. It’s a shame that Lebron didn’t consult with the Think Tank Panel (of One) before making his decision, because after hearing this suggestion he could have joined the Browns and then everyone in his home state of Ohio would not hate him. Lebron Plays the NFL season, wins a Super bowl the first week of February takes the rest of the month off and Joins the Heat March 1st. He wins an NBA Title in June just in time to attend minicamp.
Remember that episode of the Simpson's when Mr Burns brings in a Bunch of All Star Baseball players to play on the Company softball team? There’s Steve Sax, Roger Clemons, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr, Daryl Strawberry and Ozzie Smith among others. One by one something happens to each of them so that in the end it’s Homer Simpson who wins the game with 2 outs in the 9th inning by getting beamed in the head with the bases loaded...........
Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re new and maybe improved 2010/2011 Miami Heat!!!!!!!!
I wonder who will end up being Homer Simpson?? My money is on Chris Quinn.
The ThinkTank Panel (of One) just love the notion that Pat Riley is Mr. Burns.
The ThinkTank Panel (of One) proposes to unmask a conspiracy.
The Co-Conspirators: The Portland Trailblazers and Lebron James.
When Lebron James Makes his “decision” in just about a half hour from now. He will reveal a sign and trade deal sending him to the Portland Trailblazers. This deal has been in the works for months.
Kevin Pritchard’s firing for no apparent reason is only a cover so that he could work in secret to make the final arrangements. KP is “In New Jersey, interviewing for the nets job is all part of the cover and he will be in there with Lebron tonight. The Rumored Chris Paul to Portland deal will also happen now. Monty Williams worked out the Paul Deal on condition of getting his release from the Blazers butthey had to leak the deal was killed so as not to arouse suspicion, but the ThinkTank Panel (of One) is just too smart for them. Tom Penn’s bizarre firing was so he could spy and collect chatter from ESPN and other reporters at the draft. Why else would the Blazers have been pretending to interview all these bad GM candidates? It was a smoke screen so that no one in this new wild and wacky twitter and TMZ world we live in, would know the biggest deal in NBA history was going down before it happens.
I mean really, do you think Lebron would have his own show just to stay in Cleveland? Hell no. If he was going to Miami with Bosh and Wade, then they all three would have announced it on the decision show. If he was going to New York or New Jersey or Chicago he would have done it right after a presentation with them so it looks like he was sold by the team and improves the public perception of the team’s management, that they were able to win Lebron over.
So yep, Chris Paul is coming to Portland. Lebron is coming to Portland!! The ThinkTank Panel (of One) has only one question remaining. Who do the Blazers trade to Cleveland for Lebron? We know the Paul Deal, Pryzbilla and Andre’s contracts plus Batum, Bayless, and The Newly Drafted Williams From Memphis. Given what’s left of the roster surely one of the Big Three (Roy, Aldridge, Oden) are headed back to Cleveland in exchange for the current 2 time league MVP. The question is which one? The ThinkTank Panel (of One) doesn’t like to guess, but would speculate that the Cavs would demand Roy and picks for James straight up (that explains the bizarre trade of Webster, Cleveland must of coveted Babbitt, and Portland did what it had to do to get James). But KP is a sneaky bastard and he convinced Cleveland to take Aldridge, Babbitt, Rudy Fernandez, picks, and the newly acquired Emeka Okafor for James and the bad Contract of Antawn Jamison.
Portland now has a starting 5 made up entirely of all stars in Paul, Roy, James, Jamison and Camby. Free agents will sign for less to play with these guys. Greg Oden as a sixth man (if he will accept the role) could be amazing.
To be honest, with the 4 players in the trade and Mo Williams as a starting 5, Cleveland is a playoff team in the east. That is a lot of shooters and a rebounder = Orlando .5
So there you have it. Conspiracy uncovered. Future prognosticated. Dreams shattered.
Does anyone buy this??????????????????????