Author Archives: Clint Peterson

2013 All-Star Profiles: Kobe Bryant

Flickr -Bruce McKay Yellow Snow Photography

Flickr – Bruce McKay Yellow Snow Photography

The longest recorded lifespan of a black mamba was in captivity, 14 years, or one year less than Kobe Bryant’s record consecutive All-Star Games streak of 15 years. In the wild, a black mamba lives only an average of 11 years, but with careful supervision it can live for 12 or more, or in Kobe’s case, including playoffs, an astounding 52,000-plus NBA minutes in 17 years and counting.

Even more remarkable is the level Kobe’s still producing at, one of his best statistical years coming in what would be far beyond twilight for virtually every other player in the NBA. It’s not much of a reach to put him in the MVP conversation even at his geriatric NBA age. Almost 20 years into his career and he’s lifted and carried the Lakers in his talons like an eagle, keeping them in the hunt in the West practically single-handedly, scavenging wins from his lofty perch  where few others saw them.

Bryant has a willpower unequaled in the league, the capability to snatch victories from the jaws of defeat from the depths when you least expect it. You can be tromping along merrily on your way to a win when suddenly, like a saltwater crocodile, he bursts forth from the murky darkness and snaps his jaws shut on your neck, dragging you under the surface kicking and mewing wildly with eyes round and dilating in a panicky struggle to find your footing and breath.

But like the croc, Kobe tends to miss more often than hit, and if you can manage to coax his jaws shut by letting him try and take you on in the open one-on-one away from the water, you can keep them that way without much trouble. Solitary hunter Kobe, far from the rim isn’t nearly as deadly, although all it takes is once, and you never forget. The scars from a direct hit can last years.

Wolf pack Kobe is much more dangerous as he cuts in and among the trees, the pack taking turns snapping at you from all angles, sharing duties in a common cause to bring you down and tear your soul from your bloodied body. As the alpha dog, the pack goes as Kobe goes, following his lead, fending off attacks together while taking turns darting in to share in the kill. Bryant is capable of being this beast at will, but has rarely chosen to do so throughout his career. His contract lifespan is one more year, 18, to match the beast in the wild. Will he use this final year as a pack hunter or the lone wolf we’ve become accustomed to seeing so often, especially at the end of games?

Kobe Bryant is an animal, a beast with a legendary tolerance for pain that rivals that of the thick-skinned rhino, king of pain among the wilds. The only question, the only quest left at this point, is can he also not manage be as stubborn as a mule and continue leading this pack back to the promised land before even his time comes, as it inevitably will, to board the ark and sail off into the foam and swells.

It’s A Revival: Jamaal Tinsley

Via Flickr – Nutmeg, Nikita Awakumov

Sometimes we get a second chance to leave a first impression, an opportunity to turn around a career and life gone awry, set right wrongs and leave behind a patched if parceled legacy. Such is the story of Jamaal Tinsley, left for dead by the basketball world, exiled first to the bench, then banned from the arena, and finally forgotten by the NBA at large.

As was the case recalled here today by guest writer Sean O’Connor, Tinsley was always on the periphery, never the center-piece, but always a key cog in a chaotic life on and off the basketball court. Tinsley never gave up his love of the game and continued to ply his trade, seeking a second chance, a shot at redemption. That chance to leave another first impression, this time upon a new generation.

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The Indiana Pacers once decided that paying Jamaal Tinsley to stay away from the team was the best move they could make for the franchise.

 While getting paid millions of dollars to literally not do anything for a year seems like a dream for most people, for Jamaal Tinsley the above scenario represents rock bottom for his basketball career. Tinsley, at the time a highly paid and fairly productive player, carried so much baggage that the Pacers decided he wasn’t worth keeping him with the team, “exiling” him from the team and telling him to stay at home until they could get rid of him.

 The Pacers reached this conclusion through a series of incidents that occurred over the darkest times in franchise history, of which Tinsley was an integral part. The following is a timeline of Jamaal Tinsley’s career, along with notable events of some of his Pacer teammates, to understand exactly how the Pacers reached this decision, how Tinsley ended up sitting out a full season, and how Tinsley has been able to salvage his career in Utah.

 2001 NBA Draft – The Vancouver Grizzlies drafted Tinsley 27th overall and traded him to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal involving Pau Gasol and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The Hawks then traded Tinsley later on draft night to the Pacers. Tinsley, after being traded twice, would experience more whirlwind nights like this throughout his life and career going forward.

 2001-02 Season – Tinsley earns the starting point guard spot for the Pacers, starting 78 of 82 games for a Pacers team that made the playoffs. Tinsley finished 7th in the league in assists per game. The 78 games started and 80 games played to this day represent career-highs for Tinsley, whose production sadly would not improve much over his rookie campaign. He did, however, earn a spot on the All-Rookie 2nd Team for his efforts.

2003-06 Seasons – Tinsley missed games repeatedly for injuries, so often that he had to earn his starting job back upon his returns. He played no more than 53 games per season, but he was so important to the Pacers’ on-court success that he earned a contract that averaged over $6.5 million per season over 6 seasons.

 November 19, 2004 – The Malice at the Palace occurred. Tinsley was not among those suspended or majorly involved in the carnage, while teammates Metta World Peace, Stephen Jackson, and Jermaine O’Neal all served multiple-game suspensions. The former Ron Artest was suspended the entire season for the incident. The Malice marked the start of what was a major PR problem for the Pacers, as players from the team would eventually get involved in a series of incidents over the coming years, which includes (but is not limited to) Tinsley. This also marked the start of a breakup of a 61-win roster, one that seemed primed for a second consecutive championship run. The Pacers fell down in the standings without their star defender, and since this point the Pacers have yet to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again.

 January 25, 2006 – The Pacers traded Metta World Peace to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojakovic. This would be the first of three major trades designed to rid the team of its association with the Malice at the Palace.

October 4, 2006 – Tinsley (along with two teammates, including Marquis Daniels) was present when a car ran over his teammate, Stephen Jackson, outside of a strip club. Jackson then proceeded to fire bullets from a gun he legally owned. According to Jackson, in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Palmer, Jackson took out his gun when saw someone follow Tinsley out of the club, possibly looking to rob him.

 January 16, 2007 – The Pacers traded Jackson, among others, to the Golden State Warriors for a group headlined by Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy. Jackson eventually led the “We Believe” Warriors to the second round of the playoffs, while the Pacers missed the playoffs.

 February 6, 2007 – Tinsley, along with Marquis Daniels, got into a bar fight and were eventually arrested. According to the police report, Tinsley allegedly punched a bar manager and threatened to kill him. Both Daniels and Tinsley eventually had to serve 32 hours of community service in lieu of going to trial. This was the second major incident for Tinsley in less than six months.

2006-07 Season – Tinsley remained healthy for the most part, and while he struggled shooting the ball, he provided enough in other areas to be a solid contributor for what ended up being a disappointing Pacers team.

December 9, 2007 – Tinsley, along with a group of companions, was shot at late in the night following a gathering at an Indiana night club. The bullets did not hit Tinsley, but they struck Pacers equipment manager Joey Qatato, who was with Tinsley and who eventually sued him for $400,000. Tinsley was found not guilty in the civil suit after passing a polygraph test spurred on by an assumption that Tinsley had started the altercation, when he was in fact the victim of circumstances.

This marks the last major off-court incident Tinsley had as a Pacer, all in fewer than 1.5 years. He would eventually play out the season, playing more games than he had at any point since his second NBA season. At this point, following the incidents on-court and off-court, the Pacers felt they still had a PR problem even after trading World Peace. World Peace had maybe the worst moment of violence on an NBA court ever seen (with the only competition belonging to Kermit Washington), and the Pacers couldn’t condone that. But the off-court troubles, and their legal ramifications, eventually pushed the Pacers to blow up their core.

2007-08 Season – More of the same for the Pacers and Tinsley: injuries for Tinsley limited him to fewer than 40 games, and the Pacers disappointed again.

 July 9, 2008 – The Pacers traded Jermaine O’Neal to the Toronto Raptors. This trade did a number of things which ultimately changed Jamaal Tinsley’s life. For one, it represented the trade of the third and final majorly suspended player from the Palace brawl. O’Neal, aside from that one incident, had been seen as a fine, upstanding member of the NBA. Second, it brought T.J. Ford, a starting-quality point guard, onto the roster, providing a good excuse to bench Jamaal Tinsley.

 2008-09 Season – Aside from fan-favorite Jeff Foster, Tinsley was the only member of those maligned teams left on the roster. His large contract for multiple years and his injury history prevented him from being moved in a trade over the summer, but the Pacers wanted to move on. So while trying to find a trade partner, they sent Tinsley home. They “exiled” him from the team, which included taking him out of the media guide despite his being on the official roster, removing his belongings and his name plate from the Pacers locker room, and banning his presence at Pacers team facilities. Because he was not playing, his trade value dropped even further, and the Pacers were unable to complete a trade by the trade deadline. Eventually, the Union filed a grievance on Tinsley’s behalf, forcing the Pacers to buy Tinsley out during the 2009 summer.

 By not playing a year and having a bad reputation around the league, Tinsley went unsigned throughout the summer. At this point, Tinsley had been 31 and wasted maybe the last year of his athletic prime, but teams knew of his passing ability, and he figured to sign somewhere at some point during the season.

 November 14, 2009 – Tinsley signs with the Memphis Grizzlies, technically his second stint with the organization after being drafted by them eight years prior. He signed to essentially replace the disgruntled Allen Iverson as a point guard off the bench. He had a sub-par year by his standards, averaging career per-36 lows in practically every statistic. His performance left him unsigned and out of the league in 2010-11.

 November 3, 2011 – Tinsley declares for the D-League draft just before the deadline, and because of his history in the NBA is drafted first overall by the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers NBADL affiliate. He averaged 9.9 points and 7.6 assists per game in 8 games. Meanwhile, the Lakers are still looking for a decent backup point guard.

 December 10, 2011 – Tinsley becomes a D-League call-up by signing with the Utah Jazz. He would sign a one-year deal with a team option, which would be picked up after a solid season and eventually earning the backup point guard spot. The Jazz have since lauded him for his leadership role on a young team.

 Jamaal Tinsley, it seems, was more of a victim of circumstances than someone who looked for trouble. He couldn’t have been paired with a worse franchise for him than the Pacers – a team with an image problem after a nasty incident that did everything it could to break away from it. Combine that with the contract and the injuries, and Tinsley was robbed of his prime years. He went from leading a potential NBA finals team to getting injured, nearly losing his life, then sitting out some of the final years of his athletic prime. Some of this was his fault. Much of it was not.

 Tinsley could not have foreseen the brawl with fans happen. While he could have not partied late at night, that behavior isn’t out of the ordinary. He also didn’t look to get robbed or shot at, and by all accounts he was only a victim of the club incident and the shooting. Again, much of his image problem had more to do with his surroundings.

But now, in Utah, his image is well on its way to being restored. Since signing in Utah, he’s been a model citizen by all accounts, a “true professional” in the eyes of Utah’s head coach Tyrone Corbin, and a solid backup point guard for the Jazz. He’s been a source of stability for a young roster as part of a larger, stable organization, one unlike an Indiana Pacers organization in flux and looking to solve a major image problem. He has stayed healthy for the most part, too.

In a perfect world, it could have worked out better for Tinsley, whose value and career got derailed by staying at home for a full two years. But now he has a solid role for a solid team in a solid place. Maybe that’s what Jamaal Tinsley needed all along.

Sean O’Connor (@soconnor76) is a graduate student and a CPA-in-training in Philadelphia. He previously served as editor for The Sixer Sense and currently writes at various spots around the internet, most notably the general NBA blog Hoop City, where he hopes to profile more NBA comeback stories.

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• With a reputation earned as a tough defender for those stingy Pacers squads, Tinsley brings much needed perimeter defense to the Jazz. He is the point guard in three of Utah’s top four defensive units this season, minimum 20 minutes played

• Of Utah’s ten most-used lineups this season, Tinsley plays point in it’s best net offensive and defensive rating, 114.0 on offense and it’s best defensive lineup with an 85.6 DRtg, a net plus 28.4, alongside Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson, indicating that when Utah plays better perimeter defense it puts a lot less pressure on it’s big men to play late, scrambling anchor D

• Never known as a consistent shooter, Tinsley started the season 1-14 from the three point line, since shaking off the rust going 16 of his last 34

• Tinsley has a career assist percentage of 38.2% and, while clearly rusty in a rotation as a backup where head coach Ty Corbin has played Tinsley two games on and two off, with Earl Watson, a respectable career turnover percentage of 21.5%. Expect the career high 31.3% turnover rate to continue to dwindle, as it has all season long, as he continues to shake off the rust

• Tinsley shows not only quiet tenacity on defense, but also patience on offense, often finding the right man with the shot clock running dry, making the correct passes with smooth confidence, a necessity in many of the lineups of fresh young faces he often plays with in Utah

• While he’s logged minutes in ten NBA seasons, thanks to the Pacers, Tinsley has only 13,539 NBA miles on his legs, only about halfway to the typical decline of an NBA player’s numbers. Think Marcus Allen, whom most thought his career was finished with the Raiders, only to have him play several more years for Kansas City

• If he was qualified for minutes played, which he soon will be with starting point Mo Williams out indefinitely, Tinsley would currently be ninth in the NBA in assist percentage

• The Jazz are 4-1 this season when Jamaal Tinsley starts

With his mother as his inspiration, the Brooklyn, New York native has returned home each holiday season for the last nine years to give back to the less fortunate. You can learn more about what the Jamaal Tinsley Foundation does at his official website.

Jamaal Tinsley continues to be a pillar in the community, and although he is away from Indiana, he continues his toy drive yearly becoming ‘Santa Tinsley,’ providing over 200 kids with a Christmas party, gifts, clothes, and computers. Kids who maintained a good GPA were provided with coats and Thanksgiving during this past holiday, a blessing for children who now reside in the neighborhood where he grew up.

Kids were given tickets to the Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets game on December 18 at the new Barclays Center. “These kids need the guidance and help to get through tomorrow. I don’t mind being that extra push,” said Tinsley. “It was rough growing up for me during the holidays, so any extra help goes a long way,” Tinsley reminisces about spending Christmases at the old recreation center in his neighborhood.

Mel Mel the Abuser says, don’t forget to add some nutmeg to your eggnog this holiday season.

Special thanks to Jamel and Jamaal for the quotes and additional information included in this post. 

Jolly John Stockton Day

It’s December 12, 2012, or 12/12/12 by the Gregorian calendar. This won’t happen again until December 12, 2112, when Kobe Bryant will still be putting up 20 points a game and Father Time, Jason Kidd, will still be fooling defenders into falling into his feet in the clutch.

Speaking of J-Kidd’s flop from last night, do you know where one of the most notorious floppers of this generation, Derek Fisher, credits his obtained acting skills from? John Stockton.

It’s a day to pay homage to a true pioneer, the greatest number 12 to grace the game, one John Houston Stockton. How great is it that Stockton’s hallmark moment in the NBA came on “The Shot,” beating the Houston Rockets to send the Utah Jazz to their first NBA Finals ever? That would be like MJ’s name being “Michael Bryon Russell Jordan” instead of Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

A day numerologists either adore or fear, let’s never forget that Stockton leads in some numerical categories that will never be matched, records that will never be broken.

• Most career NBA assists: John Stockton 15,806. Most assists, active NBA players: Jason Kidd 11,903, Steve Nash 9,924

• Most career NBA steals: John Stockton 3,265. Most assists, active NBA players: Jason Kidd 2,591, Kobe Bryant 1,758

• Most assists, one NBA season: John Stockton 1,164. Stockton holds the top four spots in this category, seven of the top ten. Most by an active player: Chris Paul 925 in 2007-08, 17th on the all-time list for a season.

• Most complete scheduled games played seasons among NBA career leaders in games played (250 players on the list): John Stockton 17. SEVENTEEN. In 19 seasons, Stockton failed to play every single game on the schedule only twice, missing a grand total of 18 games in his entire career.

Not only a notorious flopper and iron man, Stockton is often also included on the infamous list of Dirtiest Players by his colleagues. Not a big man by NBA standards, by any means, Stockton was still a mean mofo, feared despite his modest size. Heading into every game, John would target the biggest, baddest dude on the opposition, and first opportunity that presented itself, often on a screen, would drive his knee as hard as he could into that man’s thigh at a full-on clip, giving him a dead leg that was never forgotten.

Always one to shun the spotlight, Stockton is first a family man. One of my favorite Stockton stories embodies everything about him in this regard, as witnessed by Deseret News beat writer Jody Genessy about three years back outside Energy Solutions Arena:

Call TMZ? Who’s the man in the minivan?

True story here: While walking to my car after the Jazz-Nets snoozer Saturday night at about 11:35, a bunch of pre-teen girls and a small boy flew out of a silver minivan parked by EnergySolutions Arena. The group of gigglers raced over to the John Stockton statue, laughing, posing, goofing off and climbing all over the bronzed Hall-of-Famer as a woman with long, blond hair took pictures. While passing the impromptu photo shoot, I glanced inside of the minivan and almost started giggling with the girls. Sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle with “Dealer” license plates? The statue’s doppleganger a.k.a. the real John Stockton. And though I only saw the back of her head, I’m pretty sure the stylish blonde was Nada Stockton and not Britney Spears. The Jazz legend, by the way, did not get out and climb on his statue or on Karl Malone’s. Go ahead. Try to top that star-sighting story.

-Jody Genessy, Deseret News

Remember the days before baggies? John Stockton was as famous for his short-shorts as Pete Maravich was his floppy socks. November, 2001:

O’Neal squeezes into pair of Stockton’s shorts

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal, who proclaimed he didn’t want to wear “John Stockton shorts,” squeezed — barely — into a pair of Utah Jazz shorts Tuesday night in a pre-game gag.

O’Neal smiled while tugging the size 32 purple shorts onto his size 54 waist. Reporters laughed at the ridiculous result: the 7-foot-1 O’Neal stuffed into too-tight, too-short shorts. He couldn’t get the waistband over his hips.

“Are these better, Stern?” he said, invoking the name of NBA commissioner David Stern.

O’Neal was among nine players, including Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, who were fined $5,000 each recently by the league for wearing their shorts too low during games.

At the time, an amused O’Neal said he didn’t want to wear “John Stockton shorts,” referring to the 39-year-old Utah guard who prefers his shorts a lot shorter and tighter than most of the younger players.

O’Neal claimed Stockton sent him the shorts; a Lakers spokesman said someone on Utah’s staff did.

-CNNSI

One has to wonder if John drove his knee into that staff member’s thigh. Accidentally, of course…

Authentic John Stockton John Hancocks are hard to come by, Stockton also being notorious for shunning the Sharpie every bit as much as the spotlight. As a Jazz fan since before even Stockton joined the squad, I chased that elusive autograph for over 20 years, fruitlessly. Until one day last year. Stockton was scheduled to appear at the Grand Re-Opening of his Honda dealership in Sandy, Utah, and there was no way I was missing this chance after so many decades of failed attempts.

I took my framed Stockton and Malone Heart and Soul poster and waited patiently in line. Mind you, I’m not much of a chaser, but there’s a few I just gotta have. My turn came, and I beamed from ear to ear as I carefully pulled my precious poster from under glass and handed it over for the moment I’d waited so longingly for. I shook his hand as he poised over my poster with permanent marker in hand, then he froze as I said, “John Stockton! My second favorite player ever!”

John froze, peering up at me from his bent position over the table and growled “Second?!”

“Yeah,” I said, “Don’t tell Karl he’s third,” to which Stockton then continued penning his duty with a loud chuckle.

You didn’t know John Houston Stockton had a sense of humor, did you? Most of us didn’t until his Hall of Fame induction speech. This was by far my favorite speech of the night, and has to rank, like Stockton himself, among the best ever.

A Pelican’s Gotta Do What A Pelican Do

Now that Yahoo! has let the bird out of the proverbial pouch, we’re here to help you embrace and understand this magnificent mascot in all it’s glory, so that the  transition from pun and proficient metaphor to practical application will be as smooth as possible. Once you know what this avian athlete can really do you’ll only want more. It’s okay if you still don’t get it and still don’t want to play, Eric Gordon. We still love you. Unless you make a habit of it.

The Pelican is a huge bird with a 7′ 5.5″ wingspan.

During the winter Pelicans can usually be found in warm, coastal marshy areas of Louisiana, but have been known to migrate in search of prey, where they are rarely more successful than had they stayed at home in their own swampy estuary or bay.

Pelicans are hypercarnivores and will hunt for almost anything with an insatiable appetite for preying on the hapless and unsuspecting…

 …often diving for it.

The Pelican’s natural competition will often attempt to steal it’s catch, but the Pelican itself is not above thievery either…

…although, quite frankly, they’re not very good at it since they’re such awkward, slow beasts on land.

Pelican’s will flock together cooperatively for a common goal to achieve their aims when foraging…

… but aren’t above sending a member of the squadron on it’s merry way if it becomes discontent and uncooperative, be it for avian or other reasons (hear that, EJ?).

Now that you know what the Pelican is all about you can freely embrace it, celebrate it, buy it’s jersey, it’s sneakers and hoodie. Hell, no one on Bourbon Street is gonna notice anyway, amirite?

I’ll just leave this here.

 

 

 

DeMarcus Cousins Puts The Kings In Jeopardy

A little trivia for you, Alex Trebek style:

Leads the NBA in technical fouls over the last three years, including this season.

Who is DeMarcus Cousins, Alex?

Ding ding ding ding ding!

Crazy talented, Cousins cuffs his own hands, and that of his teammates, coach, and franchise, with his demeanor, as apt to explode when he’s playing at either end of the spectrum. When he’s having an off night, look out, he’s like a ticking time bomb of frustration, as likely as not to draw a silly foul with an errant and unnecessary swipe, followed by a technical for arguing it vehemently, as he is to bring down the house with a mighty throwdown.

Likewise — and this is even more troubling — when he’s playing really well, he’s just as likely to get over-hyped, high on his own unique brand of  adrenalin, and implode all over himself as he did at home against the Utah Jazz the other night. Just look at him. You stare at him, you stare into the depths of chaos waiting to claw it’s way to the surface to consume you.

That would be Cousins’ last bucket of the game. With 14 points, 9 rebounds, and an elite 3 assists, he was a lock for a 20/10 late in the third quarter. But less than a minute later he would start swinging away at a banging-on-the-block Enes Kanter, and hear the first of three quick whistles in succession. Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh, Showertime.

Sure, the Kings would go on to win the game, while Utah puked all over themselves, but have you seen their record over the last three years? The last thing Sacramento needs in the middle of a bitter Mexican standoff between the broken Maloofs and the city itself is a player that plays out like a bad Jake Busey B movie night after night.

Over the last three years Cousins leads the NBA in techs with 31, has five already this year, tied for the lead with Carmelo Anthony, and is tied with Andrew Bynum for ejections with four each. And Bynum won’t be getting ejected from anything but a bowling ball return any time soon.

Most technical fouls in NBA over last three seasons, including 2012-13, through Nov 24, 2012

DeMarcus Cousins 31

Carmelo Anthony 29

Dwight Howard 28

Blake Griffin 27

Kendrick Perkins 26

Tyson Chandler 19

Most ejections in NBA over last three seasons, including 2012-13, through Nov 24, 2012

DeMarcus Cousins 4

Andrew Bynum 4

Larry Sanders 3 (in two seasons)

Carmelo Anthony 2

None of the other tech-happy candidates has more than one ejection, and Dwight and Tyson have none.

It’s a good thing, a necessary thing, to be the owner of a chip on your shoulder, to have that edge in an uber-competitive sport with the highest caliber athletes in the world in their respective profession, but there has to be a limit. Or, more accurately, you have to learn to channel that energy in a manner more conducive to the end goal of yourself and your teammates.

Drawing unnecessary technicals to one’s self not only limits what you can do for the rest of a given game, forcing a high-energy player to be more aware of what they can and can’t do, thereby neutralizing some of their effectiveness, making them back off the intensity a notch or three, but word also gets around officiating circles quickly. A player can easily find them self on a pregame list of potential troublemakers, further saddling efforts on the court that are conducive to the team goal with a couple of quick whistles and a strategic comment under the breath that comes with a sidelong glance of warning at both the coach and player.

DeMarcus Cousins possesses tools and talent that most can only dream of, but a ten-cent head on the court in competition when it counts. Just a few games ago he made Sean Elliot drop pebbles all over courtside.

DeMarcus Cousins was dead wrong. His behavior was inappropriate and inexcusable, so let’s start with that.

You don’t walk out of a locker room in the heated aftermath of a game to confront an announcer for his on-air characterization of your skills, your demeanor, your conditioning, your haircut, your whatever.

You just don’t do that.

You stay in the locker room. You take a shower, calm down, ignore the agitating  text messages on your cellphone – friends and loved ones are rarely the most objective sources – and let cooler heads prevail.

Does Cousins have a cooler head these days? We think so.

As of Sunday night, Cousins took yet another sizable step backward, scribbling yet another note in his chart, showing few signs that any improvement in his attitude will have any sort of sticking power. If he fails to rein it in, that volatile attitude will stick a lot longer than he’s likely to in the league.

 

Kobe: Phil Was Cast Out

Kobe 3000

Yeah, this is the right here
Goes out to all the baby Mambas, Mambas
Fans of Mambas, Mambas
Baby Mambas, Mambas
Yeah go like this

I’m sorry, Phil Jackson
Ooooooh
Buss is a foooool
Never meant to make you go and fly
I won’t apologize for Mike and Mike

(Repeat)

A coaching drama, on a big top, don’t like me
He doin’ things like havin’ his boy
Come from Hollywood
To try and corral me
ShortBuss need to get a piece of the LA pie
And take his bite out
Not in my house
I disconnect the internet
Staples turn the lights out
And let him know Dwight is a baby
I earn twice his paycheck
Don’t need no D’Antoni offense
Six titles or less
Homie don’t play that
I dig Dr Jerry and everythin’
Nash is the one laid down
He want me for 20 a night
Start a ball handling war
Steve Blake, stay down
Pau never got a chance
To play my side of the court
Rotations only eight deep
Pick-and-rolls to Dwight put me asleep
Despite it, show Mike D respect
When my shot follows through
Y’all just go defend
My number, when I call it, yeah

I’m sorry Phil Jackson
Ooooooh
Put ShortBuss back in schoooool
Never meant to make his sister cry
I apologize for Nash and Dwight

(Repeat)

Me and the ball
Got a usage rate thang goin’ on
You say I need Superman
I say just give me the calls
Gasol ain’t gon’ win this
Been that way forever
You can cite clutch stats
But no more whippin’ us with leather, P Jax

Eleven rings to my five
Like a Derek Fisher dive
Mike D’Antoni has none
This shit just got live
Pringles meet tacos
Fans can’t be happy, how many days til he’s deposed
Mike Brown how my ass taste
Now where my sixth ring
Now MJ’s up forever
Forever, forever, ever? Forever, ever?
Forever never seems
That long on the throne
Until you get pushed out
Demanding the moon
Phil Jackson my intentions were to win
This bench too thin
I wish you could be GM, they don’t listen to him
Thoughts of Shaq, talkin’ smack
Your book on the rack
Askin’ what happened in ’04, you still came back
Man, I got in the chopper
Lubed up knees overseas, I’m a stopper
Just know I keep workin’ the duel
Watch from Montana
I still take ‘em to school, and the podium

I’m sorry, Phil Jackson
Boooooo
Brown was a toooool
Never meant to make Defensive Teams
I can’t wait for Mike D’Antoni schemes
I’m sorry, Phil Jackson
Ooooooh
And Jeanie, your booooo
Now I’m gonna make D’Antoni cry
And I’ll never get to Be Like Mike

Mamba OUT

___

 

Outkast – Ms. Jackson

Beware Brandon Jennings’ Nickels And Dimes

Via Flickr – atomicshark

“Brandon Jennings is breaking through! Finally…”

-Milwaukee Bucks fans

Whoa, pump the brakes, check the rotors and calipers, and the blinker fluid while you’re under there. It’s not as if this is the first time Jennings has fooled our inner-mechanic. Never forget…

 

While this was a glorious moment that raised much fanfare for the future of the first NBA player to skip college entirely, opting to play in Europe until he reached the mandatory age limit of 19 required by the league, and few, if any, expected it after his less-than-pedestrian Italian career, it’s hardly indicative of the 203 games in between the three-game stretch where Jennings averaged 37.3 points per game beginning six games into his inaugural season as a rookie in Milwaukee. So, there is precedent for the current kind of explosion from Jennings, with three full seasons of mediocrity in between.

Don’t get me wrong, his career-second-best 17.0 PPG, and by far career leaps of 13.0 assists and 4.0 steals –over career marks of 5.5 and 1.5 — per game thus far this season is an historic leap. But hardly sustainable if your name isn’t Nash, Rondo or Paul.  Indeed, while the overall average this year is impressive, it is all by itself skewed by the first game alone.

Jennings had “one of those nights” that he’s quite capable of on occasion against the Boston Celtics in the Bucks’ opener, scoring a crazy-efficient 21 points on .529 shooting, handing out 13 assists, and taking away six steals from the C’s on the way to a comfortable win over the Boston Centrum Silvers.

He followed that up with another victory, this one at the buzzer at home versus Cleveland, courtesy his very own self, but not after once again dishing 13 dimes. Jennings is doing the unthinkable: Leading the NBA in assists. This is not who we thought he was, the swag-y shoot-first mentality that has made his reputation tarnished as a point guard. Has he really turned it around, changed the essence of his game, the essence of who he is?

Let’s delve deeper into the reality of what has truly transpired.

The Bucks’ field goal percentage leaders — Sam Dalembert aside, who has taken a grand total of one shot, and made it — are Larry Sanders, Tobias Harris, and Mike Dunleavy, shooting a combined .744 from the floor on 7.8 attempts a game, an astounding percentage of made field goals. It’s also one that, like Jennings, is not sustainable. Sanders is a solid .455 FG% for his career, Dunleavy .445, and Harris made .467 of his 169 tries as a rookie last year.

Furthermore, of Jennings’ 26 assists this season, half of them have been on made jumpers outside the paint, six of them three-pointers. So, 13 assists have been garnered on lower percentage shots. The Bucks are simply one huge hot hand right now, shooting .491, to the league average of .443 (as of the current clock). The above hot hand players, and entire team, is destined to regress to the mean once the gloves are off and sample sizes progress to more meaningful measurements.

The good news is, that with increased movement, 13 of those assists have come from eight feet on in to the rim. Sanders in particular, 13-16 field goals on the season, has taken only a single shot outside eight feet, and made it. But if you think Dunleavy is going to continue to blister the arc for .875, and Tobias Harris .667, you’re quite insane.

While Jennings’ overall assist numbers should rise this year, likely from the career 5.5 to around 7.0, his line from the second game of this 2012-13 campaign is much more Brandon-esque, when we remove the hot hands from the equation: 13 points on .385 field goals, with two steals.

So don’t start investing in nickels and dimes just yet.

 

I Watched You Change

Before 2008 the only thing I really knew about the internet was that Al Gore didn’t invent it and it was one helluva fun place to play Diablo, which somehow felt related. Then one evening Utah Jazz color man and ringbearer of the 1971 ABA Utah Stars, Ron Boone, was deep into his pregame spiel on the night’s tilt between the Jazz and LA Lakers when he mistakenly blurted out “Well, certainly Kobe is the best team in the league… ER…” I had to share this. But where?

Within minutes I’d created an ESPN profile and was telling anyone and everyone who would listen about the accurate hilarity of this surely Freudian slip. I had no idea at the time that there was already a huge, burgeoning basketball community, that responses of all manners would come pouring down on me like a Bible Belt summer storm, that my life would change forever in that moment, that moment I found out I could actually share my love of basketball with anyone in the world I wanted to.

I was hooked irrevocably after those first however-many hours that made me one of the walking dead at work the next day. Soon my wife would begin to bitch that she never got to use her computer anymore because I was on it every waking hour that I wasn’t at my real job. She isn’t my wife anymore. I decided to create a fan page that quickly became a sizable basketball community — that actually still exists today, though now lies dormant in it’s original form, the members all having migrated to Twitter — and we held a weekly sort of ancestor to today’s DDL, where we would all agree to meet up and chat about a game on national television that week. It was so popular we soon had to have two.

I cut my teeth at blogging on my profile and was ecstatic to wake up one day to find my face and article on the front page of ESPN (I forget the title, and have come up blank trying to find it again, but it was a preseason prediction of sorts about how Portland was poised to break through and make the playoffs once again after an extended absence). Not long after, the mothership would once again leave my mouth on the floor on a Christmas day, featuring my mug once again for a preview I’d done of the five games to be played. I couldn’t tell you what else I got that Christmas season, but I can never forget the one given me when I woke up and fired up the net for the day that day.

Fast forward a few months and the Daily Dime Live would be born. I don’t think I missed more than a couple hours of that inaugural season of DDL, and there I’d get yet another surprise. A game had wrapped and I stepped away for a breath only to come back to find a  message from the proprietor of SaltCityHoops asking me if I’d like to write for him. Reading TrueHoop daily there were two places that I used to sit and stare longingly at, wishing I could contribute to, although I had no delusion that they were far out of my reach, that their scope was so vast, their content so professional that all I could ever do was hope to imitate, never duplicate them. After a short stint with Spencer Ryan Hall that didn’t go as either one of us had expected, I found myself without a basketball home — mind you, it was an amicable and agreeable split. We still text, tweet, talk, meet up at games, and I intend to do some guest work for him this season by invitation. Spencer is one of the most intelligent and courteous people you could ever hope to meet — but it wouldn’t be long before I was picked up by British NBA fan Kevin Guy at ShootHoops, then shortly after I kind of bullied my way onto TheUtahJazzBlog, which has since married into the SLCDunk family. 

It didn’t take long for my works to start popping up in links in places like Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie and SI’s Point Forward (shout out, Kelly Dwyer and Zach Lowe). But it wasn’t TrueHoop. I yearned for another shot at Henry’s baby. All those in-between times I’d sit and stare at the page in front of me my eyes were always continually drawn ultimately to one blog. “If I could only write for one blog,” I’d say to myself, and aloud, “it would be Hardwood Paroxysm. Heh. Too bad. Those guys are so far above my head it’s like Manute Bol standing next to Mugsy Bogues.”

So the message from the venerable and volatile Matt Moore was met with more than an ounce of butterflies and elation. Opportunity and optimism mingled with a sense of pressure and partisanship in my gut. I’d fly out of my seat with a smile only to sit back down with sweaty palms. For like the next eight weeks. It’s not like the guy is busy or anything…

Although my part tends to be piecemeal at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It what we do here at Hardwood Paroxysm, a place we can all cut loose and buckle down at the same time.

Happy birthday, HP. Now grab your ankles and take your spanking like a man. After you make your wish, of course.

Synergy Sessions: Synergy Compliments Rajon Rondo’s Defense

Since you don’t have mySynergySports and we do, we won’t rub it in too hard and we’ll even field a few questions for you.

Courtesy BasketballReference:

If we went by the electoral college coaches vote, your Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler, isn’t even close to being the DPoY. Maybe Synergy will say better for Tyson. All Best and Worst Points-Per-Possession ratings are for a minimum 10% of play type. The leader for each category is bold.

Tony Allen Overall Rank 108, 0.80 PPP – Best, P&R Ball Handler Rank 23, 0.63 PPP – Worst,  Spot-Up Rank 260, 1.01 PPP

Dwight Howard Overall Rank 48, 0.75 PPP – Best, Isolation Rank 25, 0.61 PPP – Worst, P&R Roll Man Rank 44, 0.84 PPP

Serge Ibaka Overall Rank 280, 0.88 PPP – Best, Isolation Rank 147, 0.77 – Worst, Spot-Up Rank 217, 0.96 PPP

LeBron James Overall Rank 166, 0.83 PPP – Best, P&R Ball Handler Rank 34, 0.66 PPP – Worst, Spot-Up Rank 268, 1.02 PPP

Chris Paul Overall Rank 108, 0.80 PPP – Best, Isolation Rank 62, 0.67 PPP – Worst, Spot-Up Rank 118, 0.89 PPP

__

Kobe Bryant Overall Rank 166, 0.83 PPP – Best, P&R Ball Handler Rank 42, 0.68 PPP – Worst, Spot-Up (37.9% of time) Rank 251, 1.00 PPP

Tyson Chandler Overall Rank 108, 0.80 PPP – Best, Isolation Rank 17, 0.59 PPP – Worst, Spot-Up (30%) Rank 322, 1.08 PPP

Luol Deng Overall Rank 108, 0.80 PPP – Best, Isolation Rank 84, 0.70 PPP – Worst, Spot-Up Rank 173, 0.93 PPP

Kevin Garnett Overall Rank 108, 0.80 PPP – Best, P&R Roll Man Rank 8, 0.69 PPP – Worst, Isolation Rank 270, 0.93

Rajon Rondo Overall Rank 40, 0.74 PPP – Best, Isolation Rank 14, 0.58 PPP – Worst, Spot-Up Rank 110, 0.88 PPP

By the Synergy numbers, your DPoY is at best T-3 among the coaches candidates, with your real winner emerging from the cellar of the 2nd Team. Your 2011-12 SynergySports Defensive Player of the Year is *drum roll* Rajon Rondo.

Skype that.

Channing Frye is a true stretch 4, and Michael Beasley’s been gravitating further out in the last couple of seasons.

From sister site HoopData:

The Synergy offensive numbers:

Beasley certainly has the potential yet to become an all-around offensive force, unlike Frye who prefers to be primarily a deep threat as shown by his Spot-Up numbers. Beasley was actually more efficient from range than Frye in about half the tries, as both their HoopData and Synergy numbers show. Frye was actually quite a bit better in the Post than I’d expected, an area Beas clearly still needs a back-to-the-basket game in.

In short, while Beasley isn’t going to “awe” you with his threes, Mr. McAwesome, he’s quite capable of making them at a Frye Guy clip, at least in a couple less pops a game. In time he may develop a rep as someone who can’t be left alone on the arc, but in the meantime I hope you’re a fan of hero-ball, cause that seems to be Beasley’s specialty until further notice.

Mitchell clarified his tweet to say how will Randy Foye, now a Jazzman, complement the guys he’ll be playing with. Here’s the Jazz’s current depth chart courtesy the mothership (Logjam? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?).

The logjam on the Jazz isn’t where we keep hearing it is, but on the wing where Alec Burks will do his best to demand minutes every second of playing time he gets. Hayward played the third-most minutes on the team last year so it wouldn’t surprise to see Burks get those minutes at the 2 while Foye slides over to spell Mo Williams at the 1.

At media day, after Foye made one of the oddest analogies ever where he compared Utah to a PBS program with “lions hunting Gisele,” he said this:

Foye: “I’m a combo guard so I’m guessin’ I’ll be playing both.”

David Locke: “You’d rather play 2 than 1?”

Foye: “I would rather play 2 than 1.”

-David Locke with Randy Foye

Synergy actually likes Foye at either spot — his PPP numbers from last year, where he was primarily a 2, and his numbers from 2009-10, where he was primarily a 1, are very similar with an almost directly inverse proportion of percentage in his two most-used offensive play types.

2009-10 Foye was the P&R Ball Handler 43.8% of the time, connecting on 0.88 PPP, ranked 52 and took Spot-Ups 19.1% of the time, hitting a solid 1.06 PPP, ranked 84.

2011-12 Foye was the P&R Ball Handler 18.8% of the time, connecting on 0.82 PPP, ranked 59 and took Spot-Ups 40.6% of the time hitting on 1.03 PPP, ranked 88.

Whatever capacity Ty Corbin chooses to use him in he should be about equally effective, and if Hayward is out there at the 3 facilitating, defenses won’t be able to leave the .366 career 3-shooter Foye floating which should open up some paint space for young guns Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to operate more effectively than last season when Utah had no consistent perimeter threat.

With a career 19.5 AST% Foye is a good fit for Utah who will help bring a measure of patience, balance, and order to a young second unit.

Synergy Sessions: Debut Edition

A relatively new tool in the world of advanced statistics, mySynergySports offers much in the way of furthering the conversation, as chronicled in HP’s Understanding Advanced Stats series. Author’s note: Please excuse the funky symbols occasionally encountered in older posts — they’re simply HTML leftovers from the Malaysian assault suffered earlier this year. The relevant content is still all there. One day I’ll get around to fixing up my previous posts, but for now my bucket is pretty full.

Synergy is unique in the stats world in it’s approach, giving researchers stats and annual ranks on players by the possession, specifically Points Per Possession (heretofore referred to as “PPP”), as well as logging and categorizing every possession by every player in every game in video logs on offense and defense. The defensive part is especially helpful since defense can often be difficult to quantify by straight numbers. Used in conjunction with other defensive stats we can now get a clearer picture of which players are truly having an impact on the D end of the floor.

However, Synergy is a subscription service with a finite number of ‘scripts available, so much of the basketball world doesn’t have access to these particular metrics. Never fear, we’re here to help!

First up, expounding on the #NBArank conversation on Carmelo Anthony, I got into an interesting exchange with a couple of New York Knicks fans and a Utah Jazz writer wherein I intimated that Melo has been basically the same player his entire career.

Aside from Melo and Big Al’s BasketballReference advanced stats, let’s see what we can find from Synergy, specifically in regards to passing and defense, two of the main points of contention in the convo. Both players posted career highs in AST% last season — Melo by a little, Al by a little more — but when it comes to Synergy, we don’t yet have specifics for the assist stat aside from being the Pick-and-Roll Ball Handler. Nevertheless, we can still learn something about how these players play offense by looking at the types of offensive plays they do post at Synergy. For instance, an isolation play is exactly what it says it is, and not assisted by a pass from a teammate.

As one would expect, Melo is primarily an Iso player, going to it 35.4% of the time, scoring a relatively meager 0.84 PPP on a mere 37.4% field goals, good for only 59th-best in the NBA. By contract, Al goes Iso only 6.3% of the time, scoring 0.83 PPP, 65th-best. Synergy has only been around for three seasons, but Melo went to the Iso about 37% of the time when with the Nuggets.

Jefferson’s go-to move on offense is obviously the Post-up, nearly half the time at 48.2%, scoring 0.96 PPP on 47.5% FGs, 18th-best in the NBA. The Post-up is Melo’s second-most common O play at 13% of the time where he lands 0.95 PPP on 44.3% FGs, good for the 21st ranking in the category. Melo should clearly be posting up more and going iso less. In Al Jefferson’s last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves he went to the Post-up an astonishing 57% of the time. His first year with the Jazz that dropped to 38% of the time. Clearly, once on a team known for passing Jefferson’s game met with adjustments.

Both players post their best PPP in the halfcourt offense on Cuts, a play made by slipping a defender, moving to the basket without the ball, then being found by a teammate. This would be Al’s second-most-used offensive play, 13.9% of the time, where he lands an astounding 1.27 PPP on 63.4% FGs. His last year in Minnesota Al Cut a paltry 6.8% of the time. He’s benefited greatly from the improved offensive system in Utah as compared to that in Minny. Melo goes to the Cut only 4.3% of the time, but he’s very successful when he does, posting 1.21 PPP on 61.1% FGs.

As for defense, in 2009-10 on Minny, Jefferson was overall ranked 299th giving up 0.93 PPP. In 2010-11, his first year in Utah, he leaped all the way up to 70th giving up 38.5% FGs on 0.82 PPP and only 0.74 PPP on 35.5% FGs on Post-Up defensive plays, which was 49% of the time. Surprisingly, his best D-ranking came this year on PnR defense, ranked 36th-best while giving up 0.83 PPP, his being the target of opposing PnRs about 10% of the time. 2011-12 saw some regression on defense, Jefferson falling back to 199th overall, giving up 0.84 PPP. His Post-up D remained solid giving up 0.77 PPP, and while he was targeted on PnRs less, 9.3% of the time, he gave up a not-so-hot 0.91 PPP. Clearly there’s work to be done here on Al’s part. It may worth noting here that Al Jefferson is one the top three clutch-time shot-blockers, so we know he’s capable of a better effort when the chips are down. Utah was in a lot of late-game situations last year.

2009-10 Carmelo saw him ranked a lowly 398th overall on defense, giving up 1.03 PPP in Iso situations, 0.98 in Post-Up, and 1.01 on Spot-ups, his three most common defensive stances. Remember, there’s only about 400-450 active NBA players at a given time, so that’s really bad. 2010-11 saw a moderate improvement to 331st overall, but he was still giving up nearly 1.00 PPP in most defensive situations. As noted by both Knicks fans and Clark, Melo improved — for him — fairly dramatically on defense last season for New York, giving up 0.84 PPP overall, good for a 240 ranking. His Post-up defense was an incredible 0.52 PPP, good for 2nd in the NBA, although he is quite a bit bigger than much of his competition at the 3-spot. He showed little interest for chasing his man, however, posting a dismal 1.13 PPP on D in Spot-up situations, ranked 344th. It’s pretty clear Melo still only plays D when it suits him, and I’d bet without looking that he leaks out in transition often on said Spot-ups.

RAY’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!

With his third team in just over a year’s time, and before we bounce to PDX, it should be noted that Felton wasn’t even close to the same player in NY as in Denver, where he was a cog in the Carmelo force-out trade. Obviously, he is primarily a P&R Ball Handler, an average of 42% of the time for an average 0.81 PPP, but his role changed dramatically in Iso and Spot-up between the two locales.

In New York he rarely went Iso, only 7.8% of the time, good for 0.80 PPP. Once traded to Denver Iso became more prevalent, 10.9% of the time, but good for only a measly 0.59 PPP on 28% FGs. This negative effect was counteracted, though, by the most stark contrast to be found, in the Spot-up game. With the Knicks, Felton took Spot-ups only 8% of the time, whereas once in the Mile High City it skyrocketed to 19.8% of the time, 1.25 PPP on almost 48% FG shooting. Where Felton scores best seems to be in Hand Off situations. There were far more of these in New York where it was 9.4% of his offensive game, good for 0.95 PPP. In Denver he only did so 2.7% of the time, but hit on 1.44 PPG, on 66.7% shooting.

On defense he was again two different players between the Knicks and Nugs. As the PnR Ball Handler on D he went from giving up 0.88 PPP in NY to 0.71 in Denver. In Spot-ups he went from giving up 1.24 PPP to 1.04 PPP. But these gains were negated Off Screens where in NY he gave up only 0.64, to Denver where he failed to fight over or through screens properly giving up 1.26 PPP.

Once in Portland Felton played Ball Handler less often, 39.6% of the time where he scored poorly at 0.70 PPP, only ranked 116 on 40% FG shooting. The Spot-up trend obtained with the Nuggets continued where he did well 17.8% of the time for 0.99 PPP, but shot only 37.8%. Isolation, never a strength, was seen nealry 10% of the time, but he scored only 0.74 PPP and 33.8% FGs. The Trailblazers were a bad fit. But that’s not news to you.

Felton wasn’t awful defensively for Portland, defending the PnR Handler 45.9% of the time and holding him to 0.79 PPP, but that’s where the D highlights end. In Iso, Spot-up, and Off Screens he gave up at least 0.90 PPP, and was particularly susceptible to opposing Post-ups, giving back 0.97 PPP.

It will be interesting to see what Mike Woodson does with Felton now back in New York once again, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Hey, at least he’s reportedly less fluffy.


In case you haven’t yet been apprised of how Enes Kanter spent his summer, he spent it in a way that would make Vince McMahon proud.

Kanter posted up 112 times, 30.2% of the time he was on the floor on offense, but scored only 0.79 PPP on his man. Yes, he had trouble getting above the rim. Billed as a rebound beast coming in, he certainly lived up to that end of the deal where he’s extremely fundamentally sound, going glass 25.6% of the time, scoring 0.97 PPP on Offensive Rebounds, a massive proportion of percentage on O. He was most successful on Cuts, 17.5% of the time for 1.14 PPP. A pretty clear pattern emerges here for the Jazz, that being ball and player movement, where their big men can get easy looks.

On defense Kanter still has some work to do where he gave up 1.05 PPP in Post-ups. He showed some promise on PnR defense, but didn’t defend it enough to qualify for a ranking, and often lost his man in the screen switch.

It’s exciting to see a player work so hard to buff up in the offseason. I just hope he worked on his basketball skills just as hard.

If I didn’t get to your Synergy Session question this time keep ‘em coming, I’ll be sure to fit you in in future posts.

Send mySynergySports questions to @Clintonite33 on Twitter, hastag #SynergySession