Tuesday, 26 March 2013

White Hawk, Blue Devils - Mason Plumlee!

Nicknamed “The White Hawk”, Mason Plumlee plays for the Duke Blue Devils and stands at 6”11 and 240lbs.  As a freshman in the 09-10 season he played backup forward along side his older brother Miles Plumlee; who now plays in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers.  Currently he plays together with his younger brother; Marhsall.

Mason Plumlee along with his two other brothers and sister

In the video below Mason’s father “Perky” Plumlee talks about the growth and development of his three sons and how their passion for the game of basketball developed.

Plumlee has been a spectacular player so far throughout his career and has racked up many accomplishments including:

  • Helping his high school (Christ School) to 3 state championships and an overall record of 99-8 over the three years.
  • Winning a silver medal with the 2008 USA U18 National Team in the FIBA Americans Under 18 Championship
  • Being named as a McDonald’s All-American in 2009
  • Being named as a Jordan Brand All American, Parade All American and Slam All American.

In this current 2012-2013 season Plumlee is averaging (accurate as of Monday, 25th March): 17.2 points per game on 59.8% shooting; 67.2% from the free throw line; 10.0 rebounds a game; 2.0 assists per game, 1.5 blocks per game; 1.0 steals per game and 2.9 turnovers per game in 34.5 minutes per game.

Mason Plumlee is likely to be a lottery pick in the 2013 draft for the 2013-14 NBA season so let’s break down his game and take a look at some of his strengths and weaknesses.


Dubbed as ‘the most athletic big man in Duke history’ it’s no secret that Plumlee is a freak of nature when it comes to his athleticism.  As a result he’s proven to be a solid rebounder, defender and finisher.  Whist many rebounders in college and the NBA rely purely on their athleticism to get them rebounds, Plumlee is a solid fundamental player when it pertains to grabbing boards and frequently boxes out his opponent before going for a rebound.  Additionally, Plumlee’s athleticism means that he is able to finish in, around and under the basket with both hands very well and frequently gets fouled – which is shown by his 7.2 attempted free throws per a game.  According to Synergy Sports Plumlee makes 63.8% of his shots around the basket and as a result he has been ranked in the “excellent” section for this category.

Plumlee’s defense, especially his help defense is also a strong point to his game.  While some may say that he only averages 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per game it’s important to note that defense is much more than blocks and steals.  Plumlee’s help defense is solid and he has proved to be an effective post defender, limiting his matchup to an average of 38.6% shooting and 0.68 points per possession in the 2011-12 season.

Another category in which Plumlee shines is his vision.  Draft Express ranks Plumlee in the top 5 centers when it pertains to passing, although he only averaged 2.0 assists a game – which is quite good for a center nonetheless – Plumlee has shown that he is able to find his wing players both on the fast break and out of the post.  It’s here that I feel Plumlee will be head and shoulders above the rest if he makes the pros.  There are many athletic players and big men in the NBA but history has shown that a player needs more than just a high vertical or fast 40-yard dash time to survive in the pros.  If he continues to develop I can see him becoming an elite passer amongst big men in the NBA and joining the likes of a Joakim Noah or DeMarcus Cousins when it comes to passing.


Early on in Plumlee’s career his free throw shooting was a major problem, while he’s continued to develop his shooting technique (which is notorious for having an awkward release) Plumlee must continue to strive for a higher percentage – currently shooting .672% - especially when his style of play commands double teams and he is fouled often when attempting shots from under the basket.

Furthermore, while he is very athletic, he lacks a variety of post moves and this makes him somewhat predictable.  In recent times we’ve seen him shoot more hook shots.  It’s unlikely that Plumlee will make this part of his arsenal as it has become somewhat of a lost art in today’s college game and in the NBA but if Plumlee does add this to his game then it will be very interesting to see how effective it is. 

Plumlee attempting a hook shot

Mason’s lack of a jump-shot also means defences know that he’s going to score the majority of his baskets inside of the painted area and therefore can adjust quickly and without much disruption.

While Mason runs the floor well as a big men with both the ball in and out of his hand his lateral speed is poor.  This can and has been tolerated by coaches as big men are naturally not as quick as guards, however it has usually been the large, dominating centers who struggle with lateral speed such as Shaquille O’Neal, Tyson Chandler and Serge Ibaka.  The leaner centeres in the NBA such as Joakim Noah are expected to defend pick and rolls better because of their decrease in body mass and weight.  His poor lateral speed is reflected in the number of point he gives up per possession when it pertains to isolation plays at 0.86

What team would I like to see him at?

Due to Mason Plumlee being an athletic big man I’d like to see him get drafted to the Toronto Raptors.  The Raptors are a young and very athletic team due to having players on their roster such as DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross and I feel that Plumlee would fit in well.

The Raptors training staff have done a very good job in developing DeMar DeRozan into the player he is today and although Andrea Bargnani is their main big man I still feel that Plumlee could flourish at the power forward position.

The Raptors are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference and many predict that Plumlee will be a lottery pick and therefore it’s unlikely that he’ll go there. 

Realistically I think Plumlee is more likely to end up going to the Orlando Magic who are 14th in the East, and with the recent absence of Dwight Howard the Magic are looking to rebuild and Plumlee could be just the person they’re looking for!

The Bobcats are bottom of the NBA as it stands and with young talent such as Kemba Walker & Michael Kidd Gilchrist one can only hope that if Plumlee was to be drafted there that the team would improve, after all, they can’t get any worse!

This blog post has been sponsored by Spreaditfast - www.spreaditfast.com

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Truth About Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is one of the most talked about NBA players of all time and has arguably been the face of the NBA for several years.  One cannot deny that he is certainly one of the best players to have ever picked up a basketball,but I feel that some of his accomplishments are not put into perspective.  Before I start I'd like to say that Kobe is personally one of my favourite players to watch and has been since I started watching the NBA.  He is an all time great, first ballot hall of famer and an incredible player.

5 Rings
One of the arguments when it pertains to Kobe being the "G.O.A.T" (greatest of all time) or when ranking him on an all time scale  is the 5 rings that he has. Yes, Kobe Bryant has 5 championship rings to his name, but what does this actually mean? 

Bill Russell has 11 rings, Robert Horry has 7 rings and Michael Jordan has 6 rings; does this mean that both Russell and Horry are better players than Jordan? Of course not, why, because unlike Russell and Horry, Jordan was the main man on each of those championship teams hence why he has 6 finals MVPs. (Note that the finals MVP was not around in Bill Russell's day however he still wasn't the number one player on all 11 championships)

First of all, basketball is a team game and to rank someone based on the number of championships they have won is a very basic way of looking at things. 

Of Kobe's 5 championships he has 2 finals MVPs (2009&2010). Shaquille O'neal was the main man on on the first three championship teams and as a consequence he has 3Finals MVPs. This is not to say that Kobe was useless throughout the first 3 championships. It is just to say that he was the second option, the side-kick and therefore to label him as the leader of all 5 championships (which is something that many main stream media organizations such as Sport’s Illustrated do) is clearly not true.

Fans accept this when talking about Jordan and Pippen, no one says 'oh well Pippen has 6 rings therefore he's better than Kobe' because they clearly understand that Pippen was the side-kick for all six championships. However for some reason this isn't the case when it pertains to Kobe. 

81 points and Scoring
Often when I ask a Laker fan who they think the greatest scorer of all time is they reply with "Kobe of course."  When I further question them the first response is "he scored 81 points." 

This is probably the most illogical response possible.  Kobe's 81 points against the Raptors (who were the worst defensive team in the NBA at the time) was the second highest single scoring total in NBA history by an individual. Surely using that logic then Wilt Chamberlain at 100 points in a game would make him the best scorer ever?  Using the same logic would mean that David Thompson (career high 73 points) and Elgin Balyor (career high 71 points) are better scorers than Michael Jordan (career high 69 points).  Using one, single game as evidence as to someone being the best scorer of all time is extremely shallow!

There's no doubt that Kobe has been a prolific scorer for much of his NBA career, however,I feel that the negatives are drastically overlooked when people and the media talk about his scoring.  Kobe is currently 11th all time on the all time points per game list (25.51) (accurate as of Monday 11th March 2013) however for his career he is only shooting .454% from the field. In fact, he's never shot above 48% for a season, which is quite poor.

When you compare his FG% to other elite scorers; both past and present, it's shocking to see how low is FG% is.  Additionally more than 60% of Bryant’s 50 point games have come against bottom 10 defenses in the league. While Kobe is to be commended for taking advantage against poor teams it is important to put these 50-point out bursts into perspective when comparing them to other player’s 50-point games.

To give you a quick summary regarding the negatives of Kobe’s shooting/ scoring here are some of records that Kobe Bryant holds:

  • Most missed shots in a regular season
  • Most missed game winners and buzzer beaters
  • Only Finals MVP not to shoot above 50% in a single finals game (did this both in 2009 and 2010)
  • Worst shooting performance by any NBA finals MVP in history (40%)
  • Of the top 11 scorers of all time, Kobe has the lowest FG%
  • There are only 13 games in NBA history where someone has scored 50 points or more on sub 50% shooting, Kobe is responsible for 7 of those 13 games.
  • Most missed shots in a playoff series
  • Most missed shots in a finals.
Bet you didn't know that huh?

From the above records its clear that while Bryant scores the ball a lot, he has done so at an inefficient rate. 

Often the media will only focus on one side of the scoring; the point total.  In recent years Kobe has passed up some of the all time greats such as Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone and Julius Erwing when it pertains to all time total points but has done so shooting a lower percentage.  In fact on the day Kobe passed Jordan for all time total missed shots he shot 3 for 21 against the Wizards, ironic isn’t it?

Statistically speaking Kobe is predicted to pass Michael Jordan in all time total points in the near future (most likely during the 2013-2014 season) and I know that the media and Kobe fans globally will be stating that this alone makes him a better scorer than Michael Jordan.

While Kobe may pass Jordan in all time total points it’s important to recognize that Kobe has already played approximately 200 games more than Jordan and has yet to reach his point total while shooting approximately 4% lower from the field.  Additionally, by the time he passes Jordan in all time total points he will move into number 1 on the all time missed shot list while only being number 3 in total points made.  Not to mention the numerous other records that Jordan will still hold scoring wise.

Clutch Myth
Another myth that lives when it comes to Kobe is that he's 'clutch', he delivers the game winning shot when it's needed on a regular basis.  I hate to burst your bubble but this simply isn't true.  In fact, it's quite the opposite. Although there are varying definitions as to what 'clutch' is, it's widely accepted that a clutch shot is within the last 24 seconds of the game when your team is tied or down by 1,2 or 3 points.

Accurate as of March 17th 2013

Bryant is 45 of 138 - 32.6% - in the regular season and 7 of 28 - 25% -in the playoffs

Compared to some of the superstars of the NBA both past and present:

Michael Jordan - 33 for 58 - 56.9%  (9 for 18 in the playoffs)
LeBron James – 23 for 69 – 33.3% (5 for 12 in the playoffs)
Carmelo Anthony – 21 for 44 – 47%
Vince Carter – 31 for 96 – 32.3% 

The Media’s Portrayal
I’ve talked a lot about how the media portrays Kobe and how they compare him to other all time greats such as Jordan; so let’s take a look at one such example. 

Please note that the video compilation is fan made but I will be focusing on the audio that is spoken by various analysts and reporters from the main stream sports media.

“At the time of their 33rd birthday, is it Kobe that is more accomplished –outpacing Jordan in points, all star appearances and championships”

“Maybe even a better clutch player than Michael is….Kobe’s a better shooter than Michael Jordan and every bit the type of closer that Jordan was”

Let’s start off with the opening statement comparing Jordan and Kobe at their 33rd birthday. Is this a fair thing to do? Jordan entered the league at 21 years old where as Kobe entered the league at 18 years old.  Therefore meaning that Kobe has already played 3 more seasons in the NBA than Jordan.  Then we take into consideration that Jordan retired at the end of the 93 season and didn’t come back until the last 15 games of the 95-96 season, so already we can see that Kobe has almost a five year advantage over Jordan when comparing them.

Furthermore let’s look at the breakdown of the analysis. They have chosen to use only three categories to compare Kobe and Jordan; points, all star appearances and championships. As I stated earlier in this article Kobe has been a very inefficient scorer throughout his career and this clearly was not taken into consideration when making the claim.  Yes, he had more total points but he has played 5 years longer and has shot with a lower percentage than Jordan has for that duration. Furthermore the analyst goes on to mention all-star game appearances.  Since when did appearances in a exhibition game determine how great they were? Using that logic Kareem is the greatest of all time because he has the most all-star game appearances (19). Lastly, the analyst states that Kobe has more championships than Jordan.  As I covered previously in the article championships are a team achievement. It’s interesting to note that the analyst did not mention the number of finals MVPs that both players had at their respective ages, why do you think that is?

Let’s look at the second statement:

“Maybe even a better clutch player than Michael is…. Kobe’s a better shooter than Michael Jordan and every bit the type of closer that Jordan was”

Well, the percentages don’t lie;

Jordan is 33 for 58 - 56.9% in the regular season and 9 for 18 – 50% in the playoffs when it pertains to being clutch 

Kobe is is 45 of 138 - 32.6% - in the regular season and 7 of 28 - 25% in the playoffs when it pertains to being clutch

Now for the remainder of the quote: ‘Kobe’s a better shooter than Michael Jordan.’  Kobe’s career FG% is .454, Jordan’s is.497.  From 3-point range Kobe is .337, Jordan is .327.  Kobe is shooting 1% higher from 3 point range while Jordan is shooting 4% higher from everywhere else inside the 3 point line.  You do the math.

Some of the information presented in this article may come as a shock to some of you, especially the young generation.  The article was not meant to come across as bashing or ‘hating’ on Kobe. He’s an all time great, a first ballot hall of Famer and one of the best shooting guards to ever play the game of basketball.  He is one of my all time favourite players and I have loved watching his career.

I wrote this article to dispel some of the myths and lies that are told about him. I have no personal problem with Kobe Bryant however when the media tells blatant lies about a player or twists the truth as I have just shown you I see fit to correct them.  It’s amazing the amount of people that think Kobe is the greatest of all time all because ESPN presented them with 3 or 4 facts and a false statement.  Hopefully this article has shed some light on Kobe Bryant’s career.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Progression of the NBA Over the Last 30 Years

Due to popular request I've decided to write this blog post regarding the progression of the NBA over the last 30 or so years.  It doesn't take a basketball genius to see that there have been some obvious changes in the game of basketball, but how do these changes affect the players today?  Hopefully this post will be able to answer a few questions that you may have and educate those who are curious about the changes.

Before I start I'd like to say that I am not 'hating' on the NBA or those responsible for the changes, I am merely an observer of the game and am presenting facts and statistics to support what I'm saying. 


One of the major changes in the NBA over the last 30 years is the decline and eventual removal of hand-checking in the NBA.  For those of you who don't know what hand-checking is it's being able to exert physical force on a player using your hands, regardless of whether they are on the perimeter of in the post.  Tex Winter (responsible for the refining the world famous 'triangle' offense) describes hand-checking as a "freedom of movement initiative."

Note the defender's left hand pushing against Jordan's chest, physically detaining him from driving to the basket.

Again, note the defenders left hand pushing Jordan's chest. (1993 NBA Final)

Hand-checking was eventually removed from the NBA at the end of the 2004 season.

As stated by the nba.com website
  • 2004-05 - New rules were introduced to curtail hand-checking, clarify blocking fouls and call defensive three seconds to open up the game.

(I'll cover the defensive three second rule later)

Well what affect has this had on the game I hear many of you saying.  One season after the total removal of hand-checking (2005-06 season) the NBA recorded its worst defensive season since its beginning in terms of defending perimeter players; ten players averaged above 25PPG (points per game), see below.

Points Per Game Leaders
1. Kobe Bryant - LAL  - 35.4
2. Allen Iverson - PHI  - 33.0
3. LeBron James - CLE  - 31.4
4. Gilbert Arenas - WAS - 29.3
5. Dwyane Wade - MIA - 27.2
6. Paul Pierce - BOS - 26.8
7. Dirk Nowitzki - DAL - 26.6
8. Carmelo Anthony - DEN - 26.5
9. Michael Redd - MIL - 25.4
10. Ray Allen - SEA - 25.1

I believe that this sharp increase in scoring is due to the removal of hand-checking (amongst other things).  To give you an idea of how big an increase this is currently (23/02/2013) only 5 players in the NBA are averaging over 25PPG.

Kevin Durant - OKC - 28.9
Carmelo Anthony - NYK - 28.4
LeBron James - MIA - 27.2
Kobe Bryant - LAL - 26.9
James Harden - HOU - 26.4

Additionally, in the 2004 season a big man; Kevin Garnett led the NBA in both total points and points in the paint, the following season a perimeter player led the NBA in total points (Tracy McGrady) and a perimeter player also led the NBA in total points scored in the paint (Tony Parker).

The Three Second Rule
Another big thing the NBA has done in order to increase the amount of scoring, especially of that of perimeter players, is the introduction of the three second rule.

2001-02 rules changes state:
• Illegal defense guidelines will be eliminated in their entirety. (Zone defence is now allowed legally in other words)
• A new defensive three-second rule will prohibit a defensive player from remaining in the lane for more than three consecutive seconds without closely guarding an offensive player.

2004-05 Rules changes state:
- "… and call defensive three seconds to open up the game."

For those of you who do not play basketball and don't understand the concept of "the three second rule"; currently a defensive player cannot be in the 'key' (the painted area under the basket) for more than three seconds unless he is guarding an opposing, offensive player.  When a player is close to being inside of the key for three seconds he must leave the key (therefore providing an open lane to the basket if you will.)

Why is this so big? Because as the rules changes state it "opens up the game."  Previously to this a player would not have been able to drive towards the basket for a dunk of layup when in the half court set at will because an opposing player such as a power forward or centre would have been waiting for him to disrupt his shot attempt.  However, in today's game an offensive player can now drive past a defensive player on the wing (now with much more ease due to the curtailing of hand-checking) and attempt a layup or dunk with a reduced (not total) chance of being disrupted.

This leads me onto my next point; the lack of big men in the NBA.  There is currently a myth going around that the NBA much now is taller then it's ever been.  This is simply not true.

Height in the NBA

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_league_average_height,_weight,_age_and_playing_experience )

Below is a table taken from Wikipedia regarding the average height of NBA players over the years.  The orange represents the three seasons with the highest average height and the blue represents the three seasons with the lowest average height.

The average height of NBA players season by season

As the table shows the average height for an NBA player went below 6"7 in 2006 and the two seasons from 2006-2008 are the seasons in which the NBA was at its smallest.

Personally, I'm not going to use the reduction in 1 or 2 inches on average to prove that the NBA has become "softer" than in the 80s or 90s, I merely included that to destroy the myth that many people believe.  However, what I will say is that there are a lack of big men in the NBA today, and this I have evidence for.

The 2013 NBA All Star Weekend just passed and this was the first All Star Weekend in which people were not given the opportunity to vote for a centre, why? Because the NBA removed the centre position from the all-star balloting.  Surely this shows that there are not enough high quality centres in the NBA today?

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that the NBA has become more ethnically diverse in recent years and consequently there has been an increase in the number of European players (especially big men).  These European players such as Pau Gasol (Spain) and Andrea Bargnani (Italy) are notorious for being able to shoot better from mid range and three than the typical post dominating centre.  But wait, being able to shoot is to do with offense I hear you say and yes, you are correct.  

However this means two things.  One, it forces the opposing centre to leave the key and defend on the perimeter (thus leaving the key open).  Secondly in order to be a decent shooter from mid range and from three point range you have to be leaner and carry less muscle mass than a typical post 'pound it inside' centre.  

As an example I'll take Pau Gasol - who many claim to be the best shooting big man in the game today, and Dwight Howard - who many claim to be the best overall centre as well as most athletic centre in the NBA.  For those who are not aware of the noticeable size difference; Pau Gasol is 7"0 tall and weighs 250 pounds where as Dwight Howard is an inch shorter at 6"11 and weighs 15 pounds more at 265 pounds.  It would be foolish to draw a conclusion about the entire NBA from only two players however I believe that these two show the general rule in that big men who play in the post weigh more than big men who play further away from the basket.

Changes in Shooting Percentage
One of the more overlooked things when it comes to the advancements of the NBA is the way in which FG% is measured.

During the 80s and 90s a missed shot, even if the player was fouled still counted as a missed field goal.  However, in today's NBA the same missed shot when a foul is called does not result in a missed field goal.

For example: If Clyde Drexler was to drive to the basket for this first shot of the game, get fouled, and miss his FG would be 0-1.  Whereas in today's NBA if LeBron James was to take the same shot while being fouled in the act of shooting and miss his FG would be 0-0.

Taking this into consideration leads us to two things:
1. What would today's players FG% be like under the old FG% marking system? (I predict it would decrease)
2. What would the 80s and 90s players FG% be like under today's FG% marking system? (I predict it would increase)

Remember, this is just taking into consideration the way in which FG% in marked.  We have yet to add in hand-checking, the 3 second rule and much tougher defences and centres.

Are Defences Tougher Now?
As I covered before in the hand-checking section the removal of hand checking led to the NBA's worst season for defending perimeter players.  Although scoring has slowed down since then it is common knowledge that players score a lot more then they did when compared to twenty or thirty years ago.

One thing that cannot be disputed is that today's defences are not as physical as previous.  One only has to look at best defences of the past such as the 'Bad boy Pistons' and 92 Knicks when compared to top defences today such as the Miami Heat and San Antoni Spurs to see that there is a difference.

Defensive techniques such as wrapping, hand-checking and even mauling have all been removed from the game.

In the 2011 off-season the NBA introduced a rule that states if contact is made with a player while he is at full extension when attempting a layup or dunk then an immediate flagrant foul is given to the defensive player.  Rules such as this are responsible for defences being less physical than twenty years ago.  It is worth noting that defences are more sophisticated now than before due to the advancements in technology and better coaching, but I don't believe that these single advancements are enough to out-weigh the changes in the game of basketball.

Adding all this together; the removal of hand-checking, the addition of the three second rule, less physical defences and the lack of big men in the game today leads us to only one conclusion; it is easier for perimeter players to perform at a high level today than compared to in previous years.

I took the time to explain all of this because I feel that it is drastically overlooked by many NBA fans and the media when it comes to comparing the current players to the past ones.  Many times the media will hype up an achievement without putting it in proper perspective.  An example of this is LeBron's recent run of 6 games shooting over 60% while scoring 30 points or more.  Yes, LeBron is to be commended for shooting efficiently and reading what the defence gave him and adjusting accordingly, but it is important to put into perspective the circumstances which he did it in.

Hopefully this blog post has educated you in the changes of the NBA, although it seems that I might be bashing the NBA there have been many positive consequences to this, for example, the increase in marketing for perimeter players that has lead to more people becoming interested in the NBA.

Although I generally dislike using quotes from NBA players and coaches I will leave you with some regarding the changes of the NBA.

During a 2007 L.A. Lakers pre-season broadcast, Phil Jackson was asked how he thought Michael Jordan would perform today, Phil said: "Michael would average 45 with these rules."
MJ also says due to defensive rule changes like hand checking, if he played in today's NBA, dropping triple digits would be reachable for him. “It's less physical and the rules have changed, obviously” says Jordan. “Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I'm pretty sure I would have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points.”

"You can't even touch a guy now," says Charlotte coach Larry Brown. "The college game is much more physical than our game. I always tease Michael [Jordan], if he played today, he'd average 50." 

“The history book inspires them to be some of the best,” said Jordan. “Rules have changed to help them. I could have averaged 50 points today!”

Question for Clyde Drexler:
"In the current league where there is no hand checking and no ruff play how much better would your numbers be?"

Clyde Drexler: "Oh, tremendously better, from shooting percentage to points per game everything would be up, and our old teams would score a lot more points, and that is saying something because we could score a lot back then. I do think there should be an asterisk next to some of these scoring leaders, because it is much different trying to score with a forearm in your face. It is harder to score with that resistance. You had to turn your back on guys defending you back in the day with all the hand checking that was going on. For guys who penetrate these days, it's hunting season. Yes, now you can play (floating) zone (legally), but teams rarely do."

"The defensive rules, the hand checking, the ability to make contact on a guy in certain areas [have] all been taken away from the game. If Kobe could get 81, I think Michael could get 100 in today's game." Scottie Pippen - January 2006

Hall of Famer Rick Barry, a keen observer of the game, said he would love to see players of the past getting to attack the basket under the new officiating. “They’d score a lot more,” he said.

Tex Winter said. "Players today can get to the basket individually much easier."

Asked if he could defend Jordan under today’s interpretation of the rules, Dumars first laughed, “It would have been virtually impossible to defend Michael Jordan based on the way the game’s being called right now.”


Monday, 19 November 2012

The Lake Show isn't over yet!

We all know The Lakers have been struggling so far this season, however they've actually been playing better than many people predicted.
Adding two new pieces to a starting rotation isn't easy.  Adding two new players in the starting rotation at the point guard and center isn't easy.  Adding two new player in the starting rotation at the point guard and center position named Steve Nash and Dwight Howard is NOT easy!

Howard was recovering from back surgery, Kobe wasn't 100% fit for the start of the season and Nash was injured early on.  Taking that into consideration I would deem their .500 start (10 games as of Monday 19th November) quite good.

In addition, there are many promising signs.  It's no secret that teams often defend Kobe Bryant with multiple players but a few things have caught my attention over the last few Laker games.

Against the Suns there was one play in-particular which caught my eye; an alley-oop to Howard.  If you watch the play carefully you can see that Kobe has 3 player defending him as he comes off of the pick and roll with Gasol. 

Kobe being guarded / circled by 3 players as he comes off the pick and roll!
Additionally Scola sags off of the pick and roll to cover Howard to prevent a pass into the post (this consequently allowed Bryant to come off the screen un-guarded).  The interesting thing about this is what motivated the defence to act in such a way, and the answer is fear! 

With Kobe, Gasol and Howard on the floor, teams are often confused as when to double team and help out on defence.  As one commentator said when talking about the 2008 Boston Celtics "it's impossible to double team 3 players."  This is also true for the Lakers! (soon to be 4 players when Nash returns)

Another positive sign is Kobe's triple double in Sunday night's game against the rockets.  In Kobe's 16 year career he has 'only' managed to rack up 18 triple doubles.  I say only because many people (including myself) feel that for a player of his quality, combined with the players which he has been fortunate to play with over his career *cough* Shaq, Bynum, Gasol *cough*, this number should be a lot higher!  Anyway, back to the point, Kobe dropped a triple double which shows he is PASSING THE BALL!  Why is he passing the ball? Because Howard and Gasol are wide open, literally WIDE open!

List of the all time triple double leaders, taken from Wikipedia

Now some fans may be screaming "well why didn't he do this when Shaq was in town?"  Kobe has matured a lot since the 2004 finals (which many blame the loss on Bryant for not passing enough) and I think he realises that time is ticking away and that this may be his last / only chance to win that 6th championship (all hail the Michael Jordan comparisons…maybe I should start writing that blogpost now!)

But the point remains, the Lakers are improving greatly.  Oh, and by the way all of this is happening while they assign a new head-coach in the form of Mike Antoni (he doesn't coach D so I refuse to put it in his name).  Come playoff time the Lakers, if healthy, are going to be a force, but then I suppose you knew that all along!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Mike Brown out; D'Antoni in!

So the Lakers had recently gotten rid of head coach Mike Brown.  I think the majority of people would agree when I say *LeBron voice*: 'it's about damn time'.  It's no secret that many of Mike Brown's coaching methods were questionable. (Remember him putting in Howard against the Pistons when the Lakers were up by 20.). In addition his continuous use of the Princeton offense due criticism from many NBA fans and broadcasters; most noticeably Charles Barkley.

Nothing happens in L.A without the permission of Kobe 'assistant coach' Bryant and many feel that his 'death stare' to Mike Brown at the end of the Jazz game was a contributing factor.  It's not the first time that Kobe had been displeased at a coach, so to say that his lone stare is the reason for the Lakers head office taking the action they did is a bit shallow. None the less, it does provide for a bit of humour. 

I think firing Mike Brown was a bit premature considering only 5 games have been played but I suppose it is better to sort the wrong out before it gets too late.


It's official, Mike D'Antoni; former coach of the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns is now coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.  I think everyone's initial reaction is "WOW, why not Phil."  According to sources (I sound like Chris Broussard now don't I) Jackson was asking for "too much."  As we all know Jackson retired predominantly because of health issues.  He requested not having to travel to certain away games, as well as hiring new staff including Scottie Pippen and total roster control (freedom to trade who he wanted etc).  In my opinion if someone has 11 rings as a coach and 5 rings in 12 years when they ask for something YOU GIVE IT TO THEM!  I understand that at the end of the day basketball is a business however can you put a price on championships? (Well yes, you can *cough* $95M roster that won the Lakers a championship in 2010 - but that's not the point!)

Mike D'Antoini, newly appointed
coach of the Lakers.

I know many people are wondering "what about the triangle offense?"  The triangle offense is somewhat over-talked about.  It's a long time since the early 2000s and the Lakers have moved further and further away from it.  That's not to say that they won't run it, but dont' expect to see it as often as other offences.  If things breakdown (eg down by 15 in the 3rd or 4th quarter) THEN you'll see it being executed.  But apart from that we can look forward to what Mike D'Antoni has to offer the Lakers.

On a side-note I hope he doesn't force the "7 seconds or less offense" like he did in Phoenix.  If he does you may well see another blog post about a new head coach for the Lakers very soon!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

2013 NBA Season - What Does it Hold?

The NBA season is only a few days away!!!!!!! *returns to chair.*  And this season promises to be just as good as the last one.

Although LeBron has his ring, all his eyes will still be on him to see if The Heat will repeat.  After all, all the greats have (well, Kobe, Magic, Jordan etc)

This is also the make or break season for The Knicks.  Will Carmelo and Stoudmire finally bond and reach further than the first round of the playoffs? Or will Stoudmire injure himself again?

How will the new look Lakers fear? Will the addition of Nash and Howard improve them?  Will they go 72 and 10? (Highest total of wins set in an nba season in 1996 by the Chicago Bulls).  Will Kobe finally grab hold of the elusive 6th ring?

The Thunder recently traded away James Harden for Kevin Martin (yeah, he's still alive), Jeremy Lamb and a few picks.  As for whether the trade will be a success or not is yet to be determined.  Many feel that this has automatically de-throned them as Western Conference champions.  However I believe that they still are champs until otherwise beaten.

Denver have recently added Igggyyyyyy (sorry was just practicing) and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the Nuggets this year.  The continued development of players such as Ty Lawson, Chandler and Gallornari will be a joy to watch and of course, one cannot forget about Javale 'Dopey' McGee.

Although I hate to make predictions, I suppose it would be interesting to see how many of them turn out right; so here goes!

MVP: Kevin Durant

WHATTTT NOT LEBRON JAMES?! Yes, that's right I didn't pick LeBron here.  Does that mean that I think he's going to have a rubbish season?  Of course not.  However I do think that the NBA won't allow this guy to win 4MVPS; at least while there isn't this level of high competition from players such as Durant.  LeBron should have won the 2011 MVP instead of Derrick Rose, however, because of his villain status he didn't.  Even though his villain status has somewhat disappeared due to his success this season I still think Durant will be named MVP of the 2013 season.  However, one can't help but think what if LeBron does win a 4th MVP this season? (Kareem has 6 and Jordan has 5)

DPOY: Dwight Howard
Last year was a bit of an anomaly for Dwight Howard.  However, with him at the Lakers things should somewhat return to normal.  By normal I mean him swatting layups to row Z and pulling down 14 rebounds a game.  But then again with Gasol next to him will he take away from Howard's rebounds and blocks?…..(that was a joke)

Serge Ibaka in a close second.

NBA Champions: Miami Heat
The Heat are the champs until otherwise beaten.

Finals MVP: LeBron James
Not much to say here really. 

Rookie Of The Year:
Anthony Davis

6th Man of the Year: Nick Young?

Most Improved: Kenneth Faried

Best record in the West: Los Angeles Lakers

Best record in the East: Miami Heat

Western Conference Champions: Los Angeles Lakers

Eastern Conference Champions: Miami Heat

League Leaders:
Points: Kevin Durant (yes for the 4th straight time!)
Rebounds: Dwight Howard / Kevin Love
Assists: Rajon Rondo
Blocks: Serge Ibaka