Normally, I try to stay away from writing pieces of pure opinion. As I've gotten older, the Crossfire-style talking heads yelling at each other about some #HotSportsTake in an essentially content free fashion has lost what little appeal it ever had. I prefer numbers and evidence, and like talking about what works and what doesn't. And the thing which drew me to sports in the first place is there is always an objective measure of what works. It's called the scoreboard.
Continued Thoughts on Rim Protection in Isolation (more numbers)
It's been two weeks since I first used SportVU data to try and isolate "rim protection value" provided by various NBA bigs. I want to revisit this periodically to see how it holds up over the course of the season. Has anyone improved or regressed greatly, and do these changes mean anything? Certainly teams have gone on streaks, which usually entails "an improved commitment to defense", or so we're usually told.
In Which I Lambaste Mike Brown (with a poke at Doc Rivers as well)
I don't understand, that always worked with Lebron
The other week when I talked about the horrorshow that is the Cleveland offense, I stated that Mike Brown is a bad offensive coach, figuring I didn't need to provide examples. But he provides them anyway, and not just of his teams' "get the worst shot possible given our talent" philosophy with the ball, but for a guy with a supposed great pedigree for defensive principles, oversees a team prone to some shocking breakdowns.
Attempting to Understand Why I Was Wrong About the Phoenix Suns (longish)
As I talked about at length on Christmas Eve, I've been slow to get on board with the "Phoenix Suns are legit" bandwagon. I lauded their "tanking strategy" of playing the young guys, questioned their pick and roll defense, and genuinely have been anticipating the bottom falling out at any moment. And waiting. And waiting. So it might be time for me to come around and examine what I got wrong preseason, or at least what I've been missing over the first third of the season.
Holiday Bonus Podcast: Better Than Jam of the Month Club
We knew we'd be good, right Bled?
Today being one of the few days on the calendar between opening night and the playoffs with no game action, Rob and I decided it would be a good time to add to the overall holiday mirth with that good podcast stuff. We went a little long today, probably because Rob gave me the floor to revise and extend my remarks about the Phoenix Suns. Podcast link, download and extras after the jump.
Familiarity, Contempt and Regular Season Only Scoring Plays
SHAQ WOULD YOU LET ME FINISH?
A common piece of received NBA wisdom is that certain things will change in the playoffs "when the game slows down." Matt from Chicken Noodle Hoop and I were conversing over twitter the other day about Charles Barkley constantly stating but not really explaining why jump shooting teams might struggle in the playoffs - he never is really given time to go deeper than "live by the jumper, die by the jumper" before Shaq offers some 'insight '.
One of the main themes of this blog is intended to be a refutation of the opinion that in the NBA, offense simply happens. The notion that players are more or less fungible production functions which can simply be pieced together and aggregate at the some of their parts is, I believe, pernicious to our ability to examine, evaluate and weigh individual players.
Even a cursory examination demonstrates this to be a false understanding. Take a player like mascot Kyle Korver. Not to beat a dead horse, but his main skill is catching the ball and shooting it. Forcing him to do anything else is bad for the offense and good for the defense. However, if he is able to catch and shoot, his attempts are among the most valuable in the league. The defense being aware of this attempts to prevent him from doing so, sometimes going to rather extreme lengths in this regard.
Sometimes Help Hurts (Post Play and Defensive Schemes)
Take your time, Dwight
On the podcast on Tuesday, we talked briefly about posting up, in general terms, as an offensive strategy. The subject of post play has become a hill upon which a lot of the "back in my day" types have chosen to die - you can't win in the NBA without a post presence, because, PRESENCE. Ignoring, of course, the changes in both the rules in place and the skillset of the modern big man. Taking into account those factors, many people smarter than me have wondered aloud what's so special about posting up?
Rob and I missed connections this weekend, so we decided to bang out a quick podcast this evening, listen or download after the break. Topics include us discussing Draymond Green (and the possible overrating of "underrated" 3&D assets), a little about Kobe's return, and a fair amount about the value of post possessions. The conversations about using the pass to "penetrate" the defense are here (PJax) and here (Brad Stevens)
I also wanted to take a quick look at a play that sort of epitomizes the lack of imagination that I characterizes the horrorshow that is the Cavs offensive scheme.
Rim Protection Adjustments and Revisions (more numbers)
After getting some positive offline feedback for Saturday's post, I realized that it really is a mistake to not adjust for pace and team factors when assigning credit to rim protection. For example, Chris Kaman's impressive (though small sample size riddled) numbers undoubtedly benefit from the fact that the Lakers allow the most shots at the rim in the league, and do so by a decent margin.