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, December 24, 2003
Chris Andersen Christmas Update

14.4 minutes, 3.6 points, 2.2 blocks per game

Monday, December 22, 2003
Big Game Performance

It seems Scott from NBA Weblog and I disagree as to how important it is. In the comments for my post on the Elliot Kalb book he writes:

"And I think when choosing such a team, performance in big games counts. Now Kalb is not going to rate stepping up as much as he discredits stepping down. That is, Wilt never won a Game 7 in his career, and he played in numerous Game 7s. This is what he means. Jordan was always seemingly able to step it up when all the marbles were on the line (see 1993 and 1998 for prime examples)."

Performance in big games is over-rated. There are multiple reasons. One is that most guys don't get to play that many "big" games, which leads to small sample sizes which means that you can't draw good conclusions from that.

Second is that a lot of times guys get labeled because their teams don't perform when it isn't really their fault. Some guys get more credit than they deserve. Kevin Garnett got labeled as a guy who couldn't win the big game because his team couldn't get out of the first round. To say it was his fault though is absurd. Those teams weren't exacty swimming in talent. If you read the current Pro Basketball Prospectus you find that Kevin Garnett's average game score per 30 minutes drops .76% in the playoffs. HOWEVER, if you read the first PBP you know that the league average is a 10% decline. So the reality is that KG is 10% better than most come playoff time.

Now Robert Horry is over-rated as a big game performer in my opinion. I know Big Game Rob has hit numerous game winners in the playoffs. The thing that drives me crazy about that stat is that no one ever mentions how many games he's done it in - 181. That's a season and a half worth of playoff games people. Should we be that surprised that a guy who can shoot like him has hit a few game winners in that many games? No. Now Horry does raise his game score per 30 minutes 4.6% come playoff time. That's huge don't get me wrong, but when it is going from 8.86 to 9.93 that still means he is an average player at best. It's a nice jump, but he still isn't a great player.

Holding losing game 7's over Wilt's head just distorts the picture of how good he was. Wilt didn't lose those game 7's by himself. Jordan was a great player, but he didn't win those game 7s by himself either. How can you use a team stat to evaluate an individual? I doubt Wilt played enough game 7s that you could get a good sample to evaluate his stats from. So how can you hold those against him?

Layden Out, Zeke In as Knicks President

I applaud the fact that the Knicks finally got rid of Scott Layden. It was a long time coming and I doubt I'd find anyone who disagreed. On the other hand, hiring Isaiah Thomas isn't necesarily a step up. Thomas has never been known for his personnale decisions or business savvy. Does anyone remember what happened with the Raptors? Or what about the CBA having to decleare bamkruptcy while Zeke was running it? The reality is that at this point, Zeke has his hands tied with a bunch of guys whose contracts are not comparable with their actual value on the court. So other than the draft, there may not be a whole lot that Thomas gets to do for the next few years.

Thursday, December 18, 2003
Who's Better, Who's Best in Basketball?: Mr. Stats Sets the Record Straight on the Top 50 Players of All Times

The book above, by Elliot Kalb, is the subject of a recent post over at NBA Weblog (12/16/03). Kalb's "worked as a statistical analyst for NBC's NBA department for numerous years, has been courtside for all NBA Finals games since 1991, and has met with and talked with hundreds of present and past NBA greats for their take on the greatest players of all time." I also was at the bookstore last night and saw the book and glanced through it. While I don't doubt that the book is an entertaining read, I see it as little more than that. When it comes right down to it, the book is nothing more than Kalb's opinion. I realize that his opinion is probably much more informed than mine, but it is still nothing more than his opinion.

My problem with this is that he makes it seem like the list is more than that - like it is an authoritative ranking. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Look at the things he says are most important in his rankings:

- Performance in big games / championships
- Scoring titles
- Rebounding titles
- MVP selections
- All-Team NBA

Uggghhh. Where do I start? The last two are a joke. By heavily weighting those, he bases his opinions on the opinions of others - namely sportswriters and NBA personnel. Basing opinions off of opinions is a slippery slope, especially when sportswriters' opinions are involved.

Scoring titles and revound titles - guys can win these while doing little else on the floor. Dennis Rodman rebounded and played defense and that was it. He won an absured number of rebounding titles, but that doesn't mean he should be considered for one of the fifty best players necesarily. Similar arguments can go for scoring. I know points win games, but there are a lot of things that go into making a bucket.

And then we get to my least favorite of the five - performance in big games. You know what, this is such crap. There are few players that consistently step it up come playoff time. Hell the guy who has the biggest improvement come playoff time in the modern era is Raja Bell - RAJA freakin BELL!!!! I think that more than makes my point. The reality is that if you look at the stats, a huge majority of guys don't play better in the playoffs and they don't make the guys around them better. Talking heads on TV may say that they do, but the stats disagree.

I'm sure Kalb's book is a fun, interesting read, but that's all it is. If I got in an argument on the subject of who's the best player, I'm not citing Kalb as supporting evidence. I'll stick to objective evidence, namely the actual stats like what is used by John Hollinger.

Monday, December 15, 2003
Ricky Davis traded to Celtics for ball rack

Real trade details are as follows:
Celtics get: Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart
Cavs get: Tony Battie, Eric Williams and Kedrick Brown

The Cavs just gave Davis away. Basically, Dabis wanted out and Silas wanted him out. Davis went from shooting every touch to never shooting almost like he was trying to tell Silas to suck it. On one hand I find it hard to believe that Paxson couldn't get more for Davis, especially when they're packaging Mihm with him who has turned into a decent center for the Eastern Conference. The Cavs got pretty much crap back. Williams and Battie are solid, but not spectacular. But when you give away a guy who can score 20 a night at will (even if he does have an attitude problem) you can get more. It may just be a case of wanting Davis out of town as fast as possible though.

For the Celtics, Paul Pierce get a helper in the scoring department - as long as Ricky is willing to be second fiddle to PP. Mihm also helps in the middle and we'll all get to see what he can really do with 30 minutes a night. The Celts will need the help in the middle with Raef LaFrentz gone for the season.

Friday, December 12, 2003
Fun Quotes From Camby

"Sometimes when he doesn't get the ball, he gets a little frustrated, then he starts speaking Portuguese," Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. "That's when you know he's upset."
-- From a Rocky Mountain News article on Nene Hilario

Spurs and Rockets set mark for half time futility

As Jim Rome pointed out this morning, is anyone surprised that Jeff Van Gundy was involved in this?

Thursday, December 11, 2003
We're slumping and we lost To Orlando!!!! Where's the Panic Button!!!!

The Suns fired Frank Johnson. Colangelo says the chemistry wasn't there, blah blah blah. It's just a case of the players can't be fired so the coach gets it. Now I meant to link this when I first saw it linked by the guys over at SportsFrog.

John Hollinger did an article in the wake of the Doc Rivers firing on how a coaching change historically hasn't made a huge difference in the team's record. Basically, the coach gets fired usually because the team is bad and they can be bad with someone else too. There is some improvement, but it can be explained by things other than the coach. Hollinger cites Memphis last year. Hubie Brown got hired after the team started 0-8. The team wasn't gonna lose every game, so an improvement was inevitable. The reality is that the coaching change probably isn't gonna make a huge difference for the Suns, but it is more symbolic than anything else.

New Comments Thing

Like Matt over at Bulls Blog, my comments service also decided to stop actually telling me how many comments there were. Therefore, it had to go. So now everyone will be able to tell how many comments there are. The bad part, however, is that I lose all the comments from before. It sucks, but it is necesary.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Quick Stay: Bliss Quits as Volunteer Coach

And the players are now safer for it. Glad to have been able to do my part.

Monday, December 08, 2003
Orlando Comes Back From 22 Point Deficit

How sorry must the Suns feel right about now? I know they didn't have Amare Stoudemire, but they were up 22 . . . 22!!!!!!! on Orlando. When you're up 22 on a team that's lost it's last 19, you should be able to close that one out. Some fun quotes from the recap:

"As the music blared, coach Johnny Davis was accepting a bottle of champagne . . . "

I want a job where I can accomplish my goal 10% of the time and get champagne. Okay, so it was really for his first win. Just out of curiosity, how old you think that bottle is? Did they put the same bottle on ice for each of the first ten games on the off chance they won or did they have to dig one out tonight?

"The free throw discrepancy was unreal," said Johnson, noting the 32-11 edge in favor of Orlando. "I'll leave it at that."

Boo hoo. I'm tired of people blaming the officials when the free throw attempts aren't even. Now granted, sometimes it is officiating. But you know what? A lot of times the one team is just fouling a whole lot more than the other. Does anyone believe that the team that lost 19 in a row is gonna be getting calls from the officials? Other than Tracy McGrady, who on that team is gonna get calls? No one. But it wasn't McGrady shooting all those foul shots. He took 7, but so did Juwan Howard. Hell, Shammond Williams took 5 as did Drew Gooden. Even Gordan Giricek shot 4. These are not guys who get that borderline call from the officials. I didn't see the game, but I would guess that Orlando simply drove the lane much more often than Phoenix did (particularly in the second half) and that Phoenix simply committed more fouls. So to Frank Johnson and everyone else who wants to blame the referees for their team being a bunch of hacks on any given night, quit your crying.

Sunday, December 07, 2003
New Link

Infinite Hoops is a website with some NBA news, but it's main function is to assist people in finding pickup games near them. Check it out. Personally I think it's a really cool idea and I signed up (no charge or anything like that). So go check it out.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Ninja Turtle on the Move

The Blazers have traded Bonzi Wells (aka. The Ninja Turtle due to his strong resemblance to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) for Wes Person and a conditional 2004 1st rounder. The conditions for the pick are that it can't be top 3 in 2004 or 1st overall in 2005. I like Wes Person . . . okay no I don't. Either way, Person isn't the player that Wells is and a first rounder doesn't make up the difference, especially when it is likely to be late lottery.

This trade was a matter of getting Wells the hell out of Portland and the Blazers getting what they could for him. Person is older, a better shooter, but not as good an athlete, scorer, rebounder, etc as Wells. Wells was an attitude problem lately and his rift with Mo Cheeks was the last straw. I mean how do you get in a rift with Mo Cheeks guy? How much of a punk must you be to piss Mo Cheeks off? Maybe Hubie Brown will get Bonzi's head on straight. Right now, the Grizzlies got the best of this deal, but if Wells continues to be a pain in the ass that may change.

Bliss volunteers to assist son's prep team

If you're the coach of that team, isn't this one of those times you say "Thanks but no thanks"? Do they do random counts to make sure all the players are still there? And if you one of the parents of the players, aren't you concerned about this? I wouldn't let him anywheer near anyone I knew, let alone my kid.