Sometimes, innovation is cool. Other times, itâ€™s better to steal ideas. This is an â€œother time.â€ The NBA Alphabetical is based on Orson Swindleâ€™s consistently amazingÂ College Football Alphabetical and reviews 26 recent NBA stories.
A is for Amarâ€™eâ€™s Return
Steve Nash has watched a torrent of players come and go over the past few years. And Amarâ€™e Stoudemire was clearly the best of the bunch that parted ways with Nash and Phoenix.
For years, fans and analysts had questioned how much of Amarâ€™eâ€™s game was predicated on Nashâ€™s creativity. Through 35 games, weâ€™re rapidly learning the answer- STAT is pretty damn good on his own. Stoudemireâ€™s Offensive Rating (points produced per 100 possessions) has dropped to 109 from the 117 he posted from 2008-2010, but heâ€™s also taken on a larger scoring burden. And even though heâ€™s being assisted on just 49% of his shots this year (61% last year with Nash), heâ€™s managed to keep his eFG% relatively steady.
Itâ€™s almost stunning to see the opposite directions Stoudemire and the Suns have gone since parting ways, but maybe this was to be expected.
B is for Booray
This card game has taken the NBA world by storm in recent years, and Iâ€™m sure a large number of readers are unacquainted with its rules. Being a booray aficionado myself, I thought Iâ€™d explain the rules of the game via a simple flow chart:
PROTIP: The richer you are, the more likely you are to call it â€œbourrÃ©.â€ (Up until the Ironic Hipster line of course (estimated at $700,000 earnings per calendar year).
C is for Clutch
82games.com released its latest â€œclutch playâ€ data this week.
As Rob Mahoney wrote for the NYT blog this week, Dirk Nowitzki ranks among the league’s most unguardable players, while some surprises (like Charlotte’s Ty Thomas) make the list.
Derrick Roseâ€™s MVP Prospects
They do not exist, and this Bleacher Report article â€œChicago Bulls: Why There NBA Title Hopes Are Legitâ€ is hilarious.
Yeah, yeah, B/R, Lowest Common Denominator, etc. Let me ask you this: you laugh at Reggie Miller, donâ€™t ya? DONâ€™T YA?
E is for Efficiency
There are few players in the NBA as efficient as Kevin Martin. He perennially ranks among the leagueâ€™s top free throw shooters (including a ridiculous 10.3 FTA per game with Sacramento in 2008-2009).
His game on January 5th against Portland was a case of Martin simply outdoing himself. Martin scored 45 points on just 8 shots, converting 13 of his 15 free throw attempts and knocking down 6 of his 8 threes. Effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage really put it into perspective. Martin posted an 89% eFG percentage and a 91.5% (!!) true shooting percentage and averaged 1.56 points per possession for the game.
F is for FIT
It was FIT week in the NBA these past few days. The new team warmups (FIT emblazoned across the fronts) looked a bit ugly, but obviously, promoting fitness nationally is a great cause. Multiple NBA teams, including Kevin Durantâ€™s Thunder, ran campaigns for kids.
G is for Grangerâ€™s Availability
It hasnâ€™t been a great year for Danny Granger. Heâ€™s posting career lows in floor percentages, turnover rates, rebound rates, and overall offensive efficiency (ORtg).
This week, Marc Stein reported that Granger is no longer an â€œuntouchableâ€ asset for Indiana. The Pacers are still on pace to make the playoffs in the East, but Granger could have as big an impact on this yearâ€™s postseason with another team as Andre Iguodala or Carmelo Anthony. Provided, of course, his lack of form is temporary.
H is for Hideous
Donald Sterling is a hideous human being. This week:
â€œPlayers Sam Cassell,Â Elton Brand, andÂ Corey Maggette complained that [Sterling] would bring women into the locker room after games, while the players were showering, and make comments such as, â€˜Look at those beautiful black bodies.â€™
I is for Illusory
The story of Ted Williams is awesome for so many different reasons. The primary one is obviously that a homeless man begging for money on the side of a street could now be an announcer for an NBA team.
For me though, the disconnect between his appearance and his voice is the best part. The first time I saw the video, I could have sworn it was edited. But, obviously, it wasnâ€™t. Williams mentioned in a later interview that he was inspired to develop his voice when, as a kid, he saw how wildly disparate a local radio personalityâ€™s voice and appearance were. And thatâ€™s so true. Every time I see an announcing duo on the screen on NBA League Pass, it comes as a jolt. â€œWait, those were the guys that were talking this whole time?â€
So best of luck to Mr. Williams.
J is for Jesus Misses
Ray Allen is as close to automatic as it gets in this league. Sure, heâ€™s missed three or more free throws multiple times in a game before. But you never expect him to miss at the end of the game, let alone miss twice. Thatâ€™s exactly what happened in Bostonâ€™s marquee matchup with the Spurs.
As Glen Davis said after the game, â€œI wouldâ€™ve put my whole salary that he made at least one. I wouldâ€™ve been in trouble.â€
K is for Knee Operations
Weâ€™ve seen many players flame out with knee conditions recently (and even Kobe Bryant noted this week that his knee was â€œalmostâ€ bone on bone). Brandon Roy, apparently, will be trying a solution no player has attempted yet.
The Portland Tribune reports that Roy will explore the possibility of getting a meniscus transplantation. No active professional player has ever had the procedure, and Royâ€™s case could be a landmark moment in terms of the way NBA players deal with and recover from knee injuries.
L is for Lockoutâ€™s Draft Impact
Andrew Luck passed up a chance to be the NFLâ€™s #1 overall pick on Thursday, opting to return to Stanford. As Tom Ziller wrote for SBNation on Friday, the NBA could very well see a similar scenario unfold.
With a potential lockout looming, any player drafted in the 2011 Draft may have to sit for an entire year before earning a single NBA paycheck. Itâ€™s clear why the alternative option- staying in college, remaining in the spotlight, and getting paid MOST DEFINITELY NOT GETTING PAID EVER- is so attractive.
At this point, Iâ€™m not sure of what to make of Jared Dudleyâ€™s cryptic tweet on Wedensday either.
M is for Markâ€™s Diss
Mark Cubanâ€™s random insult thrown Phil Jacksonâ€™s way (â€œI love that Jeanie Bussâ€™ boy toy had something to say about us. Itâ€™s nice to know she lets him speak in public about other teamsâ€) wasnâ€™t particularly surprising. Weâ€™ve seen him be childish and immature in the past, and weâ€™ll see it again the future.
The surprise was the maturity of Jacksonâ€™s response- â€œI love it. Iâ€™m a boy toy? Thatâ€™s terrific.â€
N is for Not On My Watch
Carmelo Anthonyâ€™s move to the New Jersey Nets appears to get closer by the day. In its latest incarnation, 17 different players would be moving. But one of those players- Chauncey Billups- remains staunchly opposed to going anywhere.
Billups has long maintained that heâ€™d like to be a part of the rebuilding process in Denver and finish his career there. Itâ€™s a rare sentiment in this day and age. And itâ€™ll be intriguing indeed if Billupsâ€™ refusal to play for the Nets ultimately breaks up the deal as itâ€™s currently constructed.
O is for Odomâ€™s Reality Show
Take it awayâ€¦ Khloe Kardashian.
Ok dolls, itâ€™s official! Lamar and I will soon begin filming our very ownÂ show on E! calledÂ Khloe & Lamar! WOOOOHOOOOOOOO! How exciting is this?! Itâ€™s been an option since we got married, but we wanted to enjoy our first year in private. With Keeping Up with the Kardashians, only a very small part of our life together is shown, but with this show, weâ€™re putting it ALL out there LOL.Â Rob will play a major role in this too since he lives with us. Heâ€™s basically like our son LOL. With the three of us living together, itâ€™s honestly like aÂ sitcom. Trust me, there will be a lot of laughs.
Lamar and I could not be more thrilled about this. Itâ€™s show time baby!!!!
Yep. Hope youâ€™re ready. Dolls.
P is for Propitious
Doc Rivers became the 4th all time winningest coach in Boston Celtics history last week. It prompted various Boston journalists to wax poetic about Riversâ€™ coaching prowess, his legacy, and his Hall of Fame credentials.
And itâ€™s fascinating. In late November of 2004, Rivers was fired as the head coach of Orlando. His team was floundering with just 1 win in eleven games. Though he won Coach of the Year in his first season (1999-2000) by leading a team picked to finish last to a 41-41 record, none of his other seasons were particularly remarkable.
Under Chuck Daly, the Magic were a strong defensive team but a poor offensive one. Over Riversâ€™ five plus seasons in Orlando, the Magic defense steadily regressed. By the time of his departure, it was clearly an offensive team (that wasnâ€™t very good).
Rivers joined the Celtics in 2004. From 2004-2007, Boston won 45, 33, and 24 games respectively. Rivers wasnâ€™t exactly provided with the leagueâ€™s best talent, but that doesnâ€™t mean he had no critics either. Of course, that summer, the Big 3 came together. Importantly, Tom Thibodeau joined Riversâ€™ staff. The Celtics went on to post the leagueâ€™s strongest defense (never considered one of Riversâ€™ strong suits throughout his career) and won the NBA Finals.
How much of Bostonâ€™s success do we credit to Rivers? Thereâ€™s really no correct answer. Thibodeauâ€™s impact has to be mentioned, especially since his new team in Chicago is among the NBAâ€™s elite defenses this year. But thereâ€™s also something to be said about managing a collection of talent like the one Boston put together. And which coach has ever won without elite talent?
I donâ€™t mean to criticize Rivers as much as I want to point out how circumstantial coaching success can be.
Q is for Quatorvirate
Or a body of four.
Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, Brandon Jennings, and Javale McGee are the four players that have been named to the dunk contest thus far. Griffin is the presumptive favorite; Ibakaâ€™s dunks are largely of the more-impressive-in-game variety, McGee can get up but may be at a judging disadvantage due to his height, and, as my friend pointed out this week, Brandon Jenningsâ€™ shoe commercial has him performing a layup (and heâ€™s coming off injury obviously).
It would have been nice to see LeBron James participate, and perhaps if Griffin wasnâ€™t a part of the field, he would have.
R is for Rising
I was never a fan of Jrue Holiday. I thought he came out too early from college, I didnâ€™t think he was worth the hype, and I didnâ€™t think heâ€™d amount to much.
This year, heâ€™s proving me (and all the doubters) wrong. In outdueling John Wall last week, Holiday merely continued a great sophomore campaign. Heâ€™s doubled the rate at which he gets to the free throw line, heâ€™s increased his assist rate by more than 7%, decreased his turnover rate by 5%, and continues to develop into an elite defender at the point guard position. And he doesnâ€™t turn 21 until June.
S is for San Jose?
Larry Ellison confirmed last week that he attempted to buy the New Orleans Hornets but was rebuffed.
Two main takeaways:
(1)Â Ellison is clearly undeterred after his failed bid for the Warriors. Heâ€™s rich, San Jose is a great market despite the presence of the nearby Warriors, and he mentioned that heâ€™d be willing to pay relocation fees and reimbursement/market encroachment costs to the new Warrior owners. Ellison probably wonâ€™t be going away any time soon as a potential NBA owner.
(2)Â Marc J. Spears wrote this week that Ellison was willing to meet Hornets owner George Shinnâ€™s demands, but Shinn attempted to negotiate with Gary Chouest (who was offering less) because he was convinced that Ellison would try to move the team away from New Orleans. And thus, the love-hate-(love?)-HATE relationship between Shinn and his two NBA cities continues.
T is for The Showcase
It didnâ€™t technically happen in the last two weeks, but the D-League Showcase begins today.
Each of the 16 D-League teams will play two games over the next four days at the South Padre Island Convention Center in Texas, with numerous NBA scouts expected to be in attendance. NBA teams were recently allowed to begin signing players to 10-day contracts, and as the linked article notes, eight D-League players received call-ups immediately following the 2010 Showcase. Er, sorry. Eight D-League players received GATORADE call-ups.
U is for Unemployment
As Kurt Helin pointed out at NBCâ€™s Pro Basketball Talk this week, a number of players were waived in the past week.
Multiple players were given deals that only became guaranteed in January this year, so in a way, it does make sense. But some of the cut players were either playing with some regularity (Ime Udoka, Rodney Carney) or could definitely have helped their respective teams (Damien Wilkins).
V is for Van Gundy Cries Out!
Last Tuesday was National â€œIâ€™m Not Going to Take It Any More Day,â€ and considering the circumstances, thatâ€™s quite appropriate.
Stan Van Gundyâ€™s lack of patience with the national mediaâ€™s insistence on attributing every Dwight Howard shot ever to a few hours spent with Hakeem Olajuwon is understandable. And Van Gundyâ€™s â€œoutburstâ€ is another reminder as to why heâ€™s one of the leagueâ€™s most entertaining coaches. How many coaches go on the record like that on an issue that doesnâ€™t really matter? Van Gundy wanted to get that off his mind and so he did.
W is for Weathering the Storm
Two weeks ago, the Dallas Mavericks lost Caron Butler for the season. Since losing Dirk Nowitzki for a recent stretch, the Mavs have been in a tailspin, dropping 5 of 7 games.
Many have noted that if any team could weather the loss of second-tier stars (like Butler), it would be Dallas. Theyâ€™re deep, and theyâ€™re disciplined defensively. But that said, if Dallas is indeed going to preserve a high Western Conference seed, theyâ€™ll need some of that depth to step up a little bit more. Jose Juan Barea has been shooting awfully from the field. With Tyson Chandlerâ€™s promotion to full-time starter, Brendan Haywood has been one of the leagueâ€™s worst backup bigs. Jason Kidd is posting another bad turnover rate, his worst three point percentageÂ since 2003, and his worst rebounding season since 1996. Even the reliable Jason Terry has a sub .500 eFG% for the first time in eight years.
Dallas is deep, but that depth exists in theory more than in practice right now.
X is for x
A.k.a. the roman numeral for 10. Billy King had the following to say this week:
â€œI donâ€™t think Brook is ever going to be a 10-rebound guy. Some guys have a knack for it. Some guys donâ€™t.â€
First of all, itâ€™s humorous to me that a GM would measure a playerâ€™s rebounding ability by his raw rebounds per game figure. And second, itâ€™s obvious that King isnâ€™t very well versed in Lopezâ€™ background.
As a rookie in 2008-2009, Lopez posted a 10.6% offensive rebound rate, a 21.2% defensive rebound rate, and a 15.8% defensive rebound rate. If heâ€™d gotten the minutes he did in his sophomore year during his rookie season, heâ€™d have finished very close to the 10 boards a night mark. Lopez has regressed badly this year on the glass, but the potential was clearly there. Itâ€™s crazy to overlook how good he was on the glass just two years ago (and Lopez wasnâ€™t terrible last year either). King was likely trying to take the pressure off Lopez, but his quote shouldnâ€™t inspire much confidence in Nets fans.
Y is for Yikes
The Cleveland Cavaliers are bad. They shoot terribly, they donâ€™t get to the line, they donâ€™t rebound their own misses. They allow high shooting percentages, and they donâ€™t force turnovers. Overall, theyâ€™ve got the leagueâ€™s second worst offense and its 5th worst defense. Itâ€™s clear that their early season start was illusory. With Anderson Varejao ruled out for the season, that start could very well have saved them from â€œworst team everâ€ talk.
Z is for Zydrunasâ€™ (and Joel Anthonyâ€™s, Juwan Howardâ€™s, etc, etc) Replacement
Udonis Haslem was always going to be a critical component of the Miami Heat championship puzzle. The Heat look to have adequate shooting around their big 3 (especially with the return of Mike Miller), and so their biggest flaw remains their post defense and rebounding.
Haslem could reportedly return as soon as â€œlate Marchâ€ according to the AP. For anyone thatâ€™s seen the Heat play basketball over the past month, thatâ€™s scary.