Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Opening Night Thoughts

It's back! The NBA is back! Thank goodness. Here's to a wonderful season!

I. Some Definitions

Some places online, most notoriously basketbawful, have made a habit out of naming boxscore statlines after the players who have made them famous. In a similar vein, I'm not sure who came up with it, but there is a statline known as the Eddy Curry, which is when a player has more turnovers than combined assists, steals, and blocks, or the Dwyane Wade triple double (points, assists, and turnovers). Anyways, as the season goes on, I'll introduce a few of my own such named statlines.

A. The Oscar Robertson
I didn't think up the Oscar, I read about it a year or two ago, but I can't seem to find the reference right now. Anyways, what's generally associated with Robertson is the triple double, but it's unreasonable to compare a player who could average 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists with someone who just happened to put up 13, 11, and 12 just because we happen to use a base-10 number system (or think of it like this: if we had been born with 6 fingers instead of 10, would we compare Nate McMillan to Oscar Robertson just because Nate could put up 6, 6, and 6?). So, for the purposes of this blog, an "Oscar" will be the name for when a player scores 30 or more points, and has 8 or more rebounds and 8 or more assists. Currently, the player most likely to put up an Oscar is Lebron James. This definition also segues well into the motivation for the next one --

B. The J-Kidd
This is when a player puts up 10-15 points (not more than 15, though), 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Bonus points if the player shoots under 40% from the field and picks up 3 or more turnovers. Jason Kidd himself has put up 48 J-Kidds in his career so far. Jason Kidd is still the player most likely to put up a J-Kidd.

C. The Dream
Hakeem Olajuwon had 61 games in his career where he collected 4 or more of both blocks and steals, so he gets this one named after him. Current players most likely to gather a Dream are Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Garnett, Gerald Wallace, and Josh Smith.

D. The Glenn Rice
This is when a player scores 30 or more points, but registers 2 or fewer rebounds and assists. Michael Redd is one of the current masters of this particular statline.

Now, with those out of the way, here are some thoughts I had about yesterday's action.

II. Boxscore Watching
I had to work late, so I unfortunately missed the two early games yesterday. Here are some very brief reactions to the boxscores and gameflows.

A. Cleveland 85 at Boston 90
The main story here appears to be Leon Powe, who scored 13 points on 7 shots in 23 minutes of play. Looking at the popcornmachine gameflow, Powe sparked runs as soon as he came into the game at the end of the first and third quarters after Cleveland had gotten a lead. At the end of the first they Celtics went on a 7-0 run as soon as he entered the game, and they went on an 8-0 run shortly after he entered in the 4th. Also of note: Mo Williams and Sasha Pavlovic combined for 7 turnovers and 2 assists, while Boobie Gibson ended up with 3 assists and no turnovers.

B. Bucks 95 at Bulls 108
Tyrus Thomas played 41 minutes in this game. In his career under Scott Skiles (and a half-season of Jim Boylan), he has had exactly one game where he played over 40 minutes, and only 7 games where he played over 35 minutes. It must have been nice to get all that playing time against the coach who kept him glued to the bench for the last two years, and he responded with 15 points (on 10 shots), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a block, and two steals (speaking of guys happy to get some minutes, Joakim Noah got 3 blocks in 19 minutes). Derrick Rose came within an assist and some rebounds of putting up a classic J-Kidd, complete with 4 turnovers and 3-9 shooting. He had three steals, too, which on the highlights looked gorgeous. The gameflow shows that the Bulls were at their best on this night when Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni came into the game. As for the Bucks:
  • Michael Redd put up a Glenn Rice
  • The Bulls shot 44 free throws, the Bucks shot 20. The Bulls won by 13.
  • Ramon Sessions didn't suit up for this one. I do not know why. In terms of people who did play, though, welcome to the league, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute!
  • Before the season started, Bulls fans were saying that Scott Skiles would quickly bench promising young players like Charlie Villanueva and give far too many minutes to Malik Allen. I thought it was an exaggeration, but lo and behold, Villanueva ends up with 9 minutes and Allen gets 20 off the bench. Well Mr. Skiles, enjoy the mediocre roster, you deserve it. Enjoy your 25 wins and being described in the local media as "gritty" and "blue-collar." (In Skiles' defense, Villaneuva was benched after making a lousy attempt at an outlet pass that quickly turned into a Derrick Rose dunk).
III. The Late Game
Got home in time to watch the Lakers beat the Blazers, 96 to 76. It's just one game, but the Lakers defense was nice to see. They were a solid defensive team last year, but they didn't play like this. Andrew Bynum was coming all the way out to the three point line to guard the pick and roll and recovering quickly enough down low, Pau Gasol was challenging shots, and everyone on the Lakers was switching and challenging every shot. All told, Portland shot 34.5% from the field, and only made 8 free throws. Kobe Bryant was so active along the perimeter challenging everyone (particularly Brandon Roy, who ended up shooting 5-15 and had two turnovers), that Vladimir Radmonivic was able to sneak up into passing lanes and ended up with 4 steals. The only Trailblazer players who looked able to get off clean shots were Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez, who were able to move off the ball, score in transition, and score off of broken plays.

At one point, Trevor Ariza made the sort of block that maybe 5 or 10 players in the league can make. It was in the open court, on a layup attempt by (I believe) Jerryd Bayless. Ariza reached from behind Bayless's right side above Bayless's body and across to swat away a left-handed layup attempt, without every making any contact (not even body contact) with Bayless. Huzzah. Ariza is still well behind Kobe in his ability to stay with a player on the perimeter, but his ability to recover and make athletic plays is very cool.

Offensively, the Lakers were a bit sloppy but did enough to win easily. There wasn't very much of the Triangle played at all, as they were taking every opportunity to get out and run, to mixed results (Pau Gasol definitely took advantage, shooting 7-10 on mostly easy lobs and layups). Aside from Kobe Bryant, a lot of guys looked so-so on the offensive end (Kobe was absolutely brilliant, despite 5 turnovers) -- Farmar missed a few easy shots, Andrew Bynum missed a few lob passes (a couple of which from Bryant, hence some of the turnovers) as well as took at least one headscratcher 15-foot jumper and had a couple of botched post moves to the basket.

Also: get well soon, Mr. Oden.

1 comment:

  1. William de WilliamsburgOctober 30, 2008 at 7:35 AM

    Don't forget the excitement over the D'Antoni era. Curry is finally getting the minutes he deserves (DNP), an actual rotation is emerging, and we have a new anthem by Q-Tip. Really, I am surprised at how much I missed having a semi-functional basketball franchise, it seems like it's been forever. I don't care that we are openly setting our targets for 2010, it's just nice not to be mired in constant consternation, thinly veiled rage, smug grins and 10 sleeping pills.

    NO - GS was very entertaining last night as well, though the Warriors suddenly became very incompetant in the last minute. I'm sure they'll have a lot of games like this year, especially with their kiddie-pool depth.

    Also, we'd like to extend an offer to McFruity and all readers (except Scott Peterson). If you want in on a/another fantasy league: Yahoo! league ID# is 147386 and the Password is kamaal. Draft is Monday at 11pm (EST), though you can rank players beforehand for an autodraft.