Saturday, June 21, 2008

Housekeeping, Summer Projects

I didn't post anything after Game 6 of the finals since it didn't feel like there was much to say. The Celtics were better -- much better. It's been said a million times, but they were somehow able to have 4 guys in the paint and still close out on defense. Also, I had noticed during the regular season once Pau arrived that the Lakers were the best in the league at getting the ball into the post quickly to start the offense (the occasional Sasha turnover notwithstanding). Well, in the finals the Celtics sagged off the passer and the Lakers couldn't make them pay, there were numerous turnovers that resulted from failed entry passes, and these turnovers fueled a lot of Boston transition points. This was most apparent whenever Lamar Odom ended up as the initiator, as he was refusing to take the open shot he was being given (and he was probably correct, given his 3p% this year was around 27%). Meanwhile, the Lakers couldn't get their own transition points since the Celtics pressured in the backcourt, stifling ballhandlers and denying outlet passes. All of this is to say, they did everything right. And the Lakers turned the ball over a lot.

Ok. So the season's over. I'll have an occasional post on things going on in the WNBA. For now I'll just point out that Candace Parker is unbelievable. Forget rookie of the year, she's angling for MVP. She averages 17.4 points on 14 shoots and 5 and half free-throws, 9.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and almost 2 steals per game, in 34 minutes. With just over 2 turnovers per game. She's what Lamar Odom was supposed to be.

Also, I'll have some thoughts on the draft, as experienced by someone who has zero interest in college basketball. My info comes from draftexpress and various blogs. Sometimes a youtube video. The only thoughts I have right now:

(a) my choice for draftee who will benefit most from the NBA finals is: RUSSEL WESTBROOK. MONRR (Myth of the Next Rajon Rondo -- see freedarko for the history). All anyone can remember right now is the long athletic point guard with great defensive skills and an iffy jumpshot who caused havoc.

(b) I don't know why, but for now my favorite player in the draft is Brandon Rush.

(c) Which point guard in this draft will benefit from off-base Chris Paul comparisons? Is it too soon for that?

(d) Roy Hibbert should sue Bryan Colangelo. There's a myth that there is a new NBA that is smaller and faster. I'm not sure if the people who believe that watched the playoffs this year, particularly the last two rounds.

I may also comment on free agency. Mostly, I'm curious to see what happens with Josh Childress. Also -- am I wrong in seeing him as a small-forward version of David Lee? Offensive rebounding machine, lives on the baseline, has a high shooting percentage mostly due to the fact that almost all of his points come from within two feet of the rim, and seems like he's supposed to be a great defender, but isn't.

But the main thing I want to look at is some sort of analysis of style. More of a football outsiders approach to basketball. Beyond four-factors and the obvious efficiency differential, looking at what teams do well and what they defend well, etc.. I imagine that would be really valuable in looking at playoff matchups. One first step in this direction might be looking at team-by-team shooting location (offense and defense) and eFG% charts like THESE.

AND FINALLY. I have already spent a good deal of time as a Laker fan looking ahead to next year, with Ariza and Bynum back. Wondering how Lamar Odom fits in. Will he really move to the guard spot and push Kobe to the three? Will he improve his 3-point shot over the summer? Can he defend guards and small forwards? I can barely wait to find out. For an extremely rough calculation of what we can expect, I took a look at the adjusted plus/minus numbers for next year's probable team. Here's what I found:

If the Lakers are healthy next year and the pieces fit, then they could have an efficiency differential around 12-13 points next year. That would put them in the same category as this year's Celtics, and would have them winning between 65-70 games. Yay! I'm assuming that would be good enough for homecourt throughout, also. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but this is the reason I'm excited about next year.

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