Winning the One-on-One Battle But Losing the Match-up War
I'm a big believer in the NBA being a match-up league. Players' have preferred spots and skills, and to the extent particular opponents are good or bad at stopping or attacking those things, this interaction between discrete strengths and weaknesses determines much of who has good or bad performances. However, too often we get focused on only one half of a match-up and forget that mismatches can go both ways.
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.
The great thing about writing about the NBA is that there are 30 teams and ten times that many things to write about. The terrible thing about writing about the NBA is that there are 30 teams...So, obviously the only way I'm going to complete the series on the Suns lackluster pick-and-roll coverage is to roll it into what I had planned anyway: a series of posts about young players who might or might not be long term keepers in NBA rotations.
Doug Collins can be very hit or miss as an announcer, which is ironic because by sheer repetition he ingrained in me the axiom that the NBA is a "make or miss league". The best defense in the world won't matter on the nights Carmelo Anthony goes IDKFA and starts tossing in 22 footers off the dribble with 2 guys on him. Some nights, you miss breakaway layups.
In the last post on Phoenix's pick and roll D, I noted some of the common mistakes the roll defender was making. Now, I'm going to look at some of the mistakes being made by other defenders. All of these examples come with the caveat that for the most part, I have no way of knowing what scheme Phoenix was attempting to run, so it's entirely possible I'm placing blame on someone for not making a rotation they weren't supposed to make. But aside from egregious errors
I see you, Morris Twins
where the players were clearly expecting different schemes or have no idea what a scheme is let alone which one they are attempting, I'm going to assume that everyone is at least attempting to do the right thing.
One of the more interesting development of this early season has been the competitiveness of "tanking" teams like Boston, Philadelphia and especially Phoenix. It's another discussion, perhaps for another day with the guys from PPP, but these teams are building correctly - they aren't trying to lose (more or less intentionally) by playing known crappy veterans (looking
at you, Utah Jazz, playing Richard Jefferson 40 minutes a night), but are willing to take some lumps with their young guys which does three things.