Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball #6
Posted by fendo
on April 21, 2014
The playoffs are here, landed on our front doorstep or stoop or at the foot of a hut – wherever you live, the playoffs are there too like a jokester turned suddenly serious. The seamless transition from NCAA Tournament to NBA playoffs seems an act of cool cohesion from seasoned partners and with Commissioner Adam Silver’s recent proclamation that, yes, raising the league’s age limit is of paramount need for the long-term security of the league. Wait … perhaps I’m mixing my NSA/CIA talking points, but with Silver’s non-stop stream of post-takeover proclamations, please forgive me if confusion occurs. Silver timelines, aside, let’s get to the bullets:
- If you consider yourself a fan of coaching stability, then this first bullet is not for you. This morning, before I even arrived at the office, Minnesota Coach Rick Adelman had retired and Knicks Coach Mike Woodson was fired. I’ll always remember Adelman for his time spent coaching the Drexler Blazers and Webber Kings. Somewhere in between he also coached the Warriors, but I have absolutely no recollection of this and it’s likely Adelman doesn’t either as his record over two seasons in Oakland was 66-98. Adelman also authored a book, The Long, Hot Winter: A Year in the Life of the Portland Trail Blazers – fun, but a little drab when I think back. Woodson, on the other hand, is not gone for good and will likely be back on the sideline in some paid capacity soon. He has a viscously vicious goatee that looks like it could swallow insects or rodents.
- If people are already talking about the mysterious 3×1 Club, then they’re people I don’t know. The 3×1 is the rare occurrence when a player averages at least one steal, one block and on three-pointer per game over the course of a season. When you think of 3×1 guys, think of your versatile forwards. They’re likely lengthy men with shooting range. The pioneering members were Robert Horry, Scottie Pippen, and Clifford “Uncle Cliffy” Robinson back in 1994-95. Since then, it’s been achieved a total of 39 times with Paul Millsap being the only player to achieve the threshold this season. Shawn Marion has accomplished the feat six times followed by Uncle Cliffy with five, then LeBron, Dirk and Rasheed Wallace with four each.
Any questions on versatility should be directed to the 3×1 Club’s latest member, Paul Millsap c/o the Atlanta Hawks
- As long as we’re talking about statistical oddities, let’s take a look at the bearded rebounding and outlet-passing sage, Kevin Love and his recent 40-14-9 line. If the 3×1 club is made up of a relatively small, yet similarly physically dimensioned group of players, then the 40-14-9 group is much more exclusive. Since 1985-86, only Vince Carter and Larry Bird (twice) have thrown up games like Love’s. While Vince’s game is probably the most impressive since he’s merely a small forward and was playing against a former college teammate (Antawn Jamison – he really stuck it to old Twan, didn’t he?) Bird’s 47-14-11 line against the Blazers on Valentine’s Day 1986 takes the cake and reminds us, once again, that nobody beats the Bird – not even you Kevin Love.
- Watching one of the Blazers last games of the season, Antoine Walker was referenced for some reason. Walker’s legacy as a player is unfortunately enmeshed with his life off the court where he’s lost money in all sorts of endeavors and been accused of being a slumlord, which is a downright dirty and despicable label. If we’re able to separate the off-court issues, there’s still another hurdle to Walker’s legacy: His stubborn insistence on jacking threes even though he was a below average three point shooter. For his career, nearly 30% of his shots came from behind the line while he shot below 33% from deep. Even with a three point insistence that borderlines on the compulsivity of addiction, Walker is one of a handful of players in league history to retire with career averages of 17ppg, 7rpg, and over 3apg. He was supremely talented and versatile, but his junky-like commitment to bad on-the-court decisions resulted in too many failures. Of the long list of Hall of Famers on that 17-7-3 list, Walker is dead last in any measure of Win Shares with less than half the total number of WS than the penultimate player, Chris Webber. I wanted to find some positivity in Walker’s legacy, but instead this little excursion was like climbing into the attic and finding a bunch of pictures that just bring up bad memories, better forgotten.
- Last night, we were treated to a beautifully played, but horrifically officiated game one of the Blazers vs. Rockets series. In a game composed of memorable little moments and tide turning details, LaMarcus Aldridge was a Usain Bolt of sorts on a court full of Carl Lewis’s. Before fouling out, Aldridge compiled 46 points and 18 rebounds. In five games against Houston this year, Aldridge is now averaging 30-pts and 16-rebs. I’m happy to borrow from the research of others to further articulate the historical ass whipping he applied:
- While we’re at it, watching the Rockets and James Harden and Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons last night, one feels forced to revisit the Harden trade. Sure, we can stick our heads in the sand and say what’s done is done (because it is done), but every day that passes, as Harden’s beard gets fuller, OKC GM Sam Presti looks more and more like a sucker (for the Harden deal, not in general). The problem isn’t that Harden was moved or that Kevin Martin and some picks were part of the deal. The egregiousness of it all and the reason Presti deserves criticism is that he was unable to do one of two things: 1. See the talent in Chandler Parsons and/or Terrence Jones and 2. Pry one or both of those players from Houston.
Glasses might make us look smart, but that doesn’t mean they make us smart
- TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager has leukemia and that sucks. Beyond the vibrant Technicolor and richly textured suits Sager is so famous for, he’s a damn good reporter and is synonymous with the NBA Playoffs. The games will go on, because that’s what distracts us from cold reality and keeps the bills being paid for a lot of people, but the landscape is strangely incomplete.
- Road teams went 5-3 in opening games.
Jerry Colangelo: One of the most powerful men in the basketball world?