The End of the Bench

Basketball blog with takes on basketball and anything related to basketball . . . as well as a haven for jingoists everywhere - in America.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2002
What Were They Thinking?

That's the name of a little thing they run over at Page 2. One of the ones for this week was "What were Sheed and Stoudamire thinking?" My favorite choice was "Of course Damon has glaucoma. Have you seen him shoot the ball lately?". Despite my wishes though, the choice with the most votes was "We were just practicing the pick and roll. 'Sheed picked it, and I rolled it." Either way, it's pretty funny stuff.

Friday, November 22, 2002
It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

But mostly, the 4th quarter of the Nuggets-Clippers game was just the worst. The Clippers scored a mere 8 points in the quarter - no that wasn't a typo, 8. The Clippers went into the 4th quarter up 62-49. The Nuggets had yet to break 20 in a quarter in the game. The Clippers had 4 FG in the 4th quarter. They went 5:58 between the 2nd and 3rd FG. For the game, the Clips shot .413 and lost. That's not that surprising by itself. However, the team they lost to shot .365 - .365!!!!!

I must admit though, that despite the fact that the 4th quarter of this game was more reminiscent of the 1st quarter of the NBDL game I watched (between the Fayetville Patriots and Asheville Altitude) as I ate my lunch, it was exciting simply because you could feel the comeback coming. Once the Nuggets got within 8 (by going on an 8-0 run no less), you knew it was gonna be fun. The lead changed three times in the final two minutes (trust me, that was an avalanche of scoring for this game) and when they inbounded to James Posey with about a second left on the clock you just kinda knew he was gonna hit it. I must admit that once the Nuggets went on the 8-0 run, I was rooting for them. I figured a) the Nuggets aren't gonna win many this year and b) the way the Clippers were playing, they didn't deserve to win. But the excitement despite it being such a bad game is what I like most about basketball, and really sports in general. But enough. I gotta stop before start to get really sappy


Yao Ming got his first start tonight and showed why he was the #1 overall pick. Yao went for 18 points, 8 boards, 3 blocks and a steal while going 7-11 from the field and 4-4 from the charity stripe. However, this was a down shooting night for Yao. You see, Yao missed 4 shots tonight. Considering he had only missed 4 FGA total in the two weeks before tonight's game you can understand. My friends, Yao-mania has arrived. The guy can play.

There were lots of people hating on him before the season, but no one expected him to start doing this so quickly. The guy is averaging 8.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and .7 bpg, which doesn't sound that impressive til you hear that he is averaging a mere 17.3 minutes per game. However, the guy is shooting 72% - 72%!!!!!! He down right dominated Dallas to the tune of 30 and 16 last night. About a week ago John Hollinger said, "I still think one game in January things will click and he'll (Yao) get 25 and 17 out of the blue, but check back in two months." And by January he meant one game a week from now. So basically I'd like to give a shout out to all the Yao haters out there: Yao better recognize!!!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Fun Stat of the Day

If you go by NBA record, Texas (25-7) is trouncing California (18-29) in the race for "best NBA record by a state with at least 3 teams in it."

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Great ESPN Graphic Caption

I was watching NBA Fastbreak Tuesday and they had a graphic showing Yao Ming's first 6 games compared to his last 2 (counting tonight). The caption? "Yao Better Recognize"

Sunday, November 17, 2002
What Box Scores Should Look Like

I was having a conversation with my friend Ben Matasar about what box scores should look like and we came up with the following example using the Celtics game from Friday (11/15/02). This is what the Celtics box score should have said:


A. Walker F 43 11-22 0-4 0-0 1 6 3 2 0 2 2 22
E. Williams F 27 3-4 0-0 3-6 2 8 1 0 0 0 1 9
T. Battie C 23 2-4 0-0 0-0 2 7 0 0 1 1 3 4
T. Delk G 38 7-20 5-11 0-0 3 5 7 1 0 3 2 19
P. Pierce G 39 4-20 1-8 0-0 1 7 3 3 0 1 2 9
W. McCarty 14 0-3 0-2 1-2 0 2 0 1 0 1 2 1
S. Williams 32 7-13 3-9 2-2 0 2 6 1 0 2 3 19
V. Baker 23 1-4 0-0 1-2 3 5 0 0 3 1 1 3
J. Bremer 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 35-90 9-34 7-12 1 42 20 8 4 11 16 86
.389 .265 .583 Team Reb: 9 Total To: 12(15 PTS)

TBWG@EOTB of course stands for "Token big White Guy at the End of the Bench"

Here is another example for you. This one is courtesy of the Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors from tonight's game


M. Harpring F 40 10-17 0-1 3-5 4 13 1 1 1 3 3 23
K. Malone F 37 6-20 0-0 3-5 1 7 5 4 0 3 1 15
J. Collins C 12 0-3 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 1
C. Cheaney G 40 3-9 0-0 0-0 3 9 3 0 0 2 2 6
J. Stockton G 30 7-11 0-0 1-2 1 4 7 1 0 1 2 15
M. Jackson 21 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 5 8 0 0 3 1 2
G. Ostertag 36 5-8 0-0 2-4 5 7 0 0 1 4 3 12
C. Arroyo 11 4-6 0-0 0-0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 8
S. Padgett 13 0-5 0-2 0-0 1 4 0 0 0 1 3 0
J. Amaechi DNP - EMFTSU
Totals 36-82 0-3 10-18 16 49 27 6 3 17 19 82
.439 .000 .556 Team Reb: 5 Total To: 17(17 PTS)


M. Peterson F 32 5-12 1-4 1-2 2 4 1 0 0 2 4 12
A. Davis F 38 4-14 0-0 10-10 3 8 1 1 1 2 3 18
J. McCoy C 23 1-3 0-0 0-0 3 8 0 0 1 2 3 2
V. Lenard G 38 2-11 1-6 2-2 1 4 1 1 1 4 1 7
A. Williams G 43 8-17 0-3 4-5 0 5 6 3 1 1 3 20
J. Williams 30 4-9 0-0 3-4 2 7 2 4 0 1 5 11
L. Hunter 10 0-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
G. Foster 10 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 0 0 2 2 4
C. Jefferies 6 0-3 0-2 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Bradley 10 2-3 0-1 0-0 0 2 0 0 1 1 2 4
Totals 28-79 2-16 20-23 12 42 12 9 5 15 23 78
.354 .125 .870 Team Reb: 12 Total To: 19(20 PTS)

For the Jazz, Deshawn Stevenson's DNP speaks for itself and John Amaechi's stands for "Equipment Manager Forced to Suit Up." For thr Raptors, they all seem pretty self-explanatory. Now wouldn't this be more fun to read when you are combing the box scores? Personally, I think so.

Thursday, November 14, 2002
Kobe Bryant and Measuring Greatness

Yesterday, a reader left a comment on one of my recent Kobe Bryant posts. It read as follows: "The full extent of Kobe's greatness will never be known until he has to carry a team by himself. This is the Bill Simmons theory and I agree with it." I started to respond in the comment box, but then realized that it would probably be a little lengthy for a comment (and why waste something I could use for a post:) ). So I will adress it here.

I think this is true to a certain extent. I think if you surround Kobe with a bunch of scrubs (sort of like what is happening now with Shaq out), then you get to see how dominant that player can be when the odds are stacked against him. With the Lakers right now, Bryant is getting a large majority of the defense's attention mainly because the other guys on the team don't exactly strike fear in the other team's hearts. Because of this, you get to see how Kobe the individual can dominate and if he can still do it against a whole other team. However, that is not a great measure of greatness by itself. Many players who are great are not gonna be able to succeed in that situation.

There are so many factors to greatness that saying we won't know someone's greatness til they are on their own doesn't cover it. In fact if anything, being the only great player on a bad team can lead to a player getting less respect. People simply say it was because no one else on the team could score/rebound/etc. so of course player A's numbers are gonna look a lot better.

One of the big problems with greatness is that no one can agree on what it is. While most people can tell you what player's they think were great, they all will probably a) give different lists of players and b) define greatness differently. It is like the MVP. The reason the MVP is constantly a controversy is because no one defines it the same. You got people that say a player can't be valuable on a losing team and you have people that say the greatest player is the one with the greatest stats.

So I guess in the end, I don't really agree with Simmons' statement. When it comes right down to it, greatness is what you show. If Kobe retired today, we would know the extent of Kobe's greatness - it would be what we have seen so far. Perhaps he would have had potential to be greater, but potential doesn't exist in the real world. Potential is an idea, but ideas and potential don't score 20 points a game or win games. Potential is simply people's guess at a players ceiling of ability, but greatness is something that you see. It's real. It shows up on TV and it shows up in the box score. Maybe we won't know if we had seen all of the greatness Kobe Bryant could have possibly exhibited, but when he calls it a career we wilknow exactly how great Kobe Bryant was. We just won't be able to agree on it.


Sorry about the disappearance there. Midterms tend to do that to me. Anyways, onto the basketball.

Webber wants charges dropped
I think Joey Knish (John Turturro), from the movie Rounders summed up my feelings on this best when he said, "I want a blowjob from Christy Turlington. So what?"

Sam Smith: Contraction should be on Stern's agenda
With the first paragraph of his article, Smith made the most hated list with David Aldridge and Bill Walton. When you start the article doggin on Brad Miller and saying that if the league weren't so bad he wouldn't be an All-Star, you are going to incur my wrath. Has Smith ever seen Miller play? Has he looked at the stats? I have. Last year, his PER of 20.13 was 3rd among centers. So far this year, Miller's PER of 27.29 is good for 4th - in the entire league!!!!(see From the Baseline for 11/14/02) But as always it gets worse before it gets better.

He then goes onto complain about how shooting percentages are down to record lows, guys are too young and don't have the fundamentals . . . blah blah blah blah blah. We are through10% of the season. Step back off the ledge Sam and get back to me about the poor shooting when we are a quarter of the way through. He then goes onto say that he loves the game. If you love the game the way it is, why don't you quit your complaining?

However, the most absurd part is when he turns on the fans in Charlotte for revolting against George Shinn. "But then they got embarrassed and angry. Owner George Shinn went through an embarrassing sexual assault trial. This was the Bible Belt, after all. Top players were allowed to leave, although management did a good job of keeping the team competitive. Shinn wanted a new arena. Well, they'd show him." The trial and players leaving had nothing to do with the fans ignoring the team. Shinn tried to bully the city and its citizens into paying for a new arena and they called him on it. Good for them. Shinn deserved everything the fans gave him. I realize there are always other opinions, but quite frankly I don't know how you could see this one any other way.

The part that really took the cake though was the last paragraph. Here it is in all its glory: "I'm glad for Brad Miller. He's a wonderful guy. He's a guy you root for. I'm just a little sad that he has become something of the standard for centers. I think he'd be a great sixth man. I think that would be a wonderful team to watch. But Brad Miller is too good to ever be a bench player in this NBA. Look, "The Producers" doesn't play everywhere. It's OK. Bigger is not necessarily better. More is sometimes too much." I don't know what Smith is talking about and it is probably obvious to everyone that he doesn't know what he is talking about either. A great sixth man? This is absolutely absurd. Even if you don't look at PER, the nirmal stats are on my side. See the table below for the comparison from last year.

  Name            PPG   RPG   BPG    FG%    FT%   TO    MPG

Brad Miller 15.1 7.8 1.0 .507 .836 1.7 29.7
M. Olowokandi 11.1 6.8 2.9 .546 .600 3.4 32.1
Vlade Divac 11.1 8.4 1.2 .472 .744 2.0 30.3
David Robinson 12.2 8.2 1.8 .507 .681 1.3 29.5
A. Mourning 15.7 8.4 2.5 .516 .657 2.4 32.7
D. Mutumbo 11.5 10.8 2.4 .501 .764 2.0 36.3

You'll notice a few things in that table. First you'll notice some of the names not there. I left Shaq off because we all know he is the best center in the game and one of the best ever most likely. I also left off guys who play centers on TV (I'm talking to you Raef LaFrentz and Dirk Nowitzki). Those are guys who aren't really centers, but do sometimes log minutes there because of there teams lack of interior players.

The next thing you'll notice is that of the guys listed, Miller holds his own or is better than most (or all) in almost all those categories. The other thing you should notice though, is the minutes per game column. With the exception of David Robinson and Vlade Divac, everyone else played a fair amount more minutes than Miller. The lesson here is that Miller did the same or more in less time than the rest of the guys on that list (except for Robinson, who had the 2nd highest PER among centers last year). To say that Miller would be a good sixth man and basically calling him a decent bench player is absolutely ludicrous. Hey Sam, you better come with something stronger than your opinion and nostalgia before you start throwing statements like "Miller would be a good 6th man" out there. Next time a little research would help too.

Friday, November 08, 2002
Coming soon to cable: LeBron James

"This season, his team's routinely sold-out games will be offered on pay-per-view in 14 counties in northeast Ohio. Most of his home games will be played at the 6,000-seat University of Akron arena."

If you read the article you'll notice there is no mention of James getting a cut. This is part of my problem with college sports and in this case high school sports. James is the reason that the school and Time Warner are making the money, yet he won't see a damn dime of it. The same thing happens in college sports like football and basketball, where the schools make millions off the players and yet the players don't see their fair share of it.

46 in the clip and 1 in the hole, Kobe Bryant is about to make some offenses turn cold

So I defend Kobe and go after Charley Rosen and what does Kobe do? 17-47. Just to put that in perspective, the Laker with the second most field goal attempts was Devean George with 11 and no one else even had double figure shot attempts. Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce combined for only 42 shots. Despite this I stick with what I said about Rosen's article. It's still early and the rest of that team isn't very good, so I don't know that it is such a crime that Kobe took so many shots. My probelm is in his shot selection. I understand throwing up threes from behind screens when you are hot, but when you've missed 4 long jumpers in a row and you keep doing it instead of trying to get to the hoop it becomes a problem. When you have someone open in the corner, yet you still try to dunk on two guys and get stuffed - that's a problem. I don't see this as a huge problem yet, but it could get there. I'm not kissing Rosen's ass til then though.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Rosen on Kobe Parts 1 and 2

Brace yourselves for a rant. Charley Rosen wrote two articles on why Kobe Bryant has been all selfish and blah blah blah. May I point out that he was selfish for two games and he already triggered this garbage from Rosen. Anyways, on with the analysis of the article(s). Rosen explains Kobe's selfishness with the following quote:

"Without Shaq roaming the lane and attracting double-teaming tactics, defenses can now afford to body-up on Kobe. That means Kobe's every spin, dribble and shot must be executed under maximum duress. The situation piques Kobe's fiercely competitive nature, and he views it as a personal challenge, so much so that he mostly disdains the rare open shot, determined to drive the ball into the teeth of the defense and thereby prove his dominance."

And Rosen knows this how? Did Kobe tell him this? Maybe it's because for the most part the rest of the team is below average to incompetent? If you were Kobe would you want to dish to Mark Madsen down low? Me either. Rosen is talking like this is the reason for Kobe's play, but in reality it is simply conjecture.

Later in part 1, Rosen uses the phrase, "Derek Fisher, a dead-eye 3-point shooter." Now don't get me wrong, Fisher can stroke it from deep, but I don't know about dead-eye. Fisher is a .374 3 point shooter for his career. Good, but not dead-eye. Steve Kerr and his .458 career mark is dead-eye.

Anyway, back to Charley Rosen on why Kobe is selfish. In part 2, the selfishness becomes dad's fault. Rosen says it is because Joe Bryant set a selfish example for Kobe on the court. He talks about how Joe felt while he was in the NBA, yet offers no quotes or other evidence to show that Joe actually did feel this way. This leaves the audience with the only possible conclusion that it is really only Rosen's guess as to how Joe felt.

Later Rosen goes on to discuss what Phil Jackson will do about it. Again I would like to point out that this is all based on two games of selfish play. It's two games! Kobe dropped a triple double between Rosen's writing of part 1 and 2. Two games is exactly 2.4% of the season.

Just like Charley speculated on what Jackson should do, I'm gonan tell Rosen what to do. First, either present some evidence that what you are saying is based in reality or else say that it is conjecture. Don't act like what you are saying is how it is when you can't really back it up. Second, step back off the ledge Charley. It's been two games! (Did I mention how little two games is relative to a season already?). And finally, you don't have to use big words just to use them. Think of your audience. Some of the readers aren't gonna understand words like "ineffable." Many of the rest don't want to read stuff like that when they come to ESPN. Personally, I'm looking for info and analysis that is clear and concise. The word flourishes and metaphors and other stuff just get in the way. If I want that stuff I'll read Shakespeare, not Charley Rosen former CBA coach.

Friday, November 01, 2002
Extensions, Extensions Everywhere

In case you oculdn't tell, the subject of the day here at EotB is contract extensions - three guys who got them and one who didn't. We'll start with those who got a little extra job security.

Wally Sczerbiak - Wally got $65M over 6 years. That is absolutely absurd!!!! While he did improve last year (PER rose by about 2), there is no way this guy is worth 10.5M per. He can shoot for sure, but the rest of his numbers are not worth that kind of money. He only had tthe 15th best PER last year - at his position. The move from small forward to shooting guard helped him defensively a little, he still is just this side of being a sieve.

Ron Artest - Artest reportedly gets $42M over 6 years. I think this was probably a bit much to pay for Artest, but it is not as bad as Wally World's deal. Artest raised his shooting percentage by .022 last year. I think the real Ron Artest is probably closer to the 40% mark he put up his first two years. When it comes right down to it, Artest is just not a good offensive player (he would disagree, but that's because he's a) a bit crazy and b) wrong). His value is on the defensive end anyway. The guy can just lock people down. Is that worth 7M a year? I guess so. Devean George got 5M, so I guess Artest is worth 7.

Jonathan Bender - No terms disclosed on this one. I hope it wasn't too much though. This guy needs to join Juan Dixon, Jared Jefferies, etc. and start mixing in some steaks at dinner. How can you be 7 feet tall, play small forward and only grab 8.4% of the missed shots while you are on the court?

DerMarr Johnson - The Hawks refused Johnon's option. When I first read it I thought that was kind of messed up. But when it comes down to it, basketball is a business. They had no way to know if Johnson was gonna be able to play or not and they couldn't afford the payroll hit if he doesn't. Just a bad situation to have to be in. I wouldn't have wanted to make that decision. Now way to win in that one.