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Guest Post: All-Time NBA Artisan Rushmore

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

Miles Wray writes a column for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency called “Reviews of Self-Help Books by Professional Athletes” and is a staff writer at Ian Levy’s Hickory-High. He lives in Seattle but just moved there so no hard feelings about the Sonics. In this post, he takes on his artisanal Mount Rushmore... with a basketball twist.

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Hall of Fame: The Case For and Against Dennis Rodman

During a barrage of stories concerning the NBA All Star game, Jerry Sloan’s retirement, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and the trade deadline, a story caught my eye that hasn’t really received a lot of attention.

On February 18th, the NBA announced a list of the twelve finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame this year. The list includes Maurice Cheeks, Chris Mullin, Tex Winters and Dennis Rodman.

It caused me to think about Rodman’s career in the NBA, but it also forced me to take a good hard look at what I think qualifies a player to be enshrined. Should a player’s on-court resume stand alone, or should a player’s off-court behavior affect his candidacy, and if so, to what degree?

Let’s take a look. Continue Reading

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Thoughts on Jerry Sloan’s Retirement

If you never got the chance to watch Jerry Sloan coach a game in person, you missed something amazing. Even in the past couple years, with Sloan pushing 70, his focus on the ebbs and flows of the game was amazingly intense.

He’d sit on the bench with those hawk-like eyes, and whenever he saw a missed call, he’d jump out of his seat like he had springs in his pants; barking and hollering at the refs like they were part of some evil conspiracy to throw the game and destroy the world.

He was so animated that even fans who didn’t see the missed call would start hollering too, even if they didn’t know what they were hollering for.

Over time, the fans got better at noticing what Jerry was reacting to and better at seeing the game the way that Jerry saw the game. Before long, the Jazz fan base started looking for things like offensive schemes and off-ball screens and needle threading passes to the open man on the cut. Continue Reading

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Thoughts on Jerry Sloan’s Retirement

If you never got the chance to watch Jerry Sloan coach a game in person, you missed something amazing. Even in the past couple years, with Sloan pushing 70, his focus on the ebbs and flows of the game was amazingly intense.

He’d sit on the bench with those hawk-like eyes, and whenever he saw a missed call, he’d jump out of his seat like he had springs in his pants; barking and hollering at the refs like they were part of some evil conspiracy to throw the game and destroy the world.

He was so animated that even fans who didn’t see the missed call would start hollering too, even if they didn’t know what they were hollering for.

Over time, the fans got better at noticing what Jerry was reacting to and better at seeing the game the way that Jerry saw the game. Before long, the Jazz fan base started looking for things like offensive schemes and off-ball screens and needle threading passes to the open man on the cut. Continue Reading

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Jerry Sloan to Resign as Jazz Coach?

Some breaking news to pass along in the NBA, as KSL-TV in Salt Lake City is reporting that sources tell them that Jerry Sloan will be stepping down as head coach of the Utah Jazz this afternoon. Assistant coach Phil Johnson is also expected to resign, according to the report.

There’s not much more info than that out there at this point, but wow. Just wow.

That’s really all you can say right now. I’m not sure anyone saw this coming if this is indeed true. At least not at this point in the season. We knew Sloan wouldn’t coach the Jazz forever, but I’m not sure we expected this now.

This team has struggled recently, and suffered a tough loss to the Bulls last night at home. But still. This? No way. Continue Reading

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Free Agency Profiles: Carlos Boozer

Now that the draft has passed, it is time to focus on attention to the event that NBA fans have been anticipating for literally years. On Saving the Skyhook, I’ll do a review a day of each of the major players who figure to command the most attention come July 1 — in no particular order. Today features Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz.

May 04, 2010 - Los Angeles County, California, U.S. - Utah Jazz

Source: Yardbarker.com

In this year’s crop of free agents, the position of power forward is heavily stocked with worthy talents. With Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire already profiled, I move on today to another top 4 in the league, who — while certainly not up to their level on terms of desirability — Carlos Boozer is still a solid option at the position for even the best NBA teams.

Boozer has shown he can be a top force in the league since he began playing with the Utah Jazz several years ago. After a few disappointing, if productive, seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the transition to Jerry Sloan’s system, in which he encountered Deron Williams, was the best thing that could ever happen to Boozer.

On the offensive end, Boozer has a very complete and well-rounded game. He combines effectiveness around the basket on layups with an abundance of post moves and polishes it off with range to about 15 feet on his jump shot. His many talents in that regard contributed to his 59.9 true shooting percentage, good for third among power forwards in the league who played 21 or more minutes. That said, he stands at only 6-foot-9, so he does have an inordinate number of shots swatted away by lengthier players.

In what can only be described as a quandary, Boozer excels on the boards despite his short stature and stunningly negligible vertical leap. By muscling and manhandling other players in the post, Boozer establishes fantastic position for rebounding. The effort paid off this season, as he wrangled in over 11 rebounds per game this past season with a rebound rate of 19.4: third in the league among power forwards.

Boozer further augments his talents on the offensive end with sound game awareness and above-average passing ability. In fact, his 14.3 assist ratio slid him in at eighth among power forwards playing 20 minutes or more.

Despite these numerous talents, many are holding off on committing to Boozer for two major reasons, the first of which is his suspect defense. While Boozer manages to largely negate his physical limitations through good work and awareness on the block and the boards, he fails to do so on the defensive end. As demonstrated by the Lakers’ slaughter of Utah’s front court in this year’s playoffs, Boozer simply cannot effectively prevent taller players from scoring on him. They simply shoot over his outstretched arm, and his lack of vertical renders him a complete nonfactor as a shot blocker.

The other major problem people have with Boozer is his susceptibility to injury. During his six-year tenure in Utah, Boozer has played more than 51 games only three times, and he played under 40 contests in two of those seasons. His legs are shaky, and any team that signs him has to be wary of an eventual breakdown.

While Boozer is not the top option at the position, many teams are going to be in the market for a big man who is a proven 20-10 commodity. However, he might not get the money or length of contract he truly desires, as many GMs have concerns about both his defense and injury concerns, much like Stoudemire’s.

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Free Agency Profiles: Carlos Boozer

Now that the draft has passed, it is time to focus on attention to the event that NBA fans have been anticipating for literally years. On Saving the Skyhook, I’ll do a review a day of each of the major players who figure to command the most attention come July 1 — in no particular order. Today features Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz.

May 04, 2010 - Los Angeles County, California, U.S. - Utah Jazz

Source: Yardbarker.com

In this year’s crop of free agents, the position of power forward is heavily stocked with worthy talents. With Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire already profiled, I move on today to another top 4 in the league, who — while certainly not up to their level on terms of desirability — Carlos Boozer is still a solid option at the position for even the best NBA teams.

Boozer has shown he can be a top force in the league since he began playing with the Utah Jazz several years ago. After a few disappointing, if productive, seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the transition to Jerry Sloan’s system, in which he encountered Deron Williams, was the best thing that could ever happen to Boozer.

On the offensive end, Boozer has a very complete and well-rounded game. He combines effectiveness around the basket on layups with an abundance of post moves and polishes it off with range to about 15 feet on his jump shot. His many talents in that regard contributed to his 59.9 true shooting percentage, good for third among power forwards in the league who played 21 or more minutes. That said, he stands at only 6-foot-9, so he does have an inordinate number of shots swatted away by lengthier players.

In what can only be described as a quandary, Boozer excels on the boards despite his short stature and stunningly negligible vertical leap. By muscling and manhandling other players in the post, Boozer establishes fantastic position for rebounding. The effort paid off this season, as he wrangled in over 11 rebounds per game this past season with a rebound rate of 19.4: third in the league among power forwards.

Boozer further augments his talents on the offensive end with sound game awareness and above-average passing ability. In fact, his 14.3 assist ratio slid him in at eighth among power forwards playing 20 minutes or more.

Despite these numerous talents, many are holding off on committing to Boozer for two major reasons, the first of which is his suspect defense. While Boozer manages to largely negate his physical limitations through good work and awareness on the block and the boards, he fails to do so on the defensive end. As demonstrated by the Lakers’ slaughter of Utah’s front court in this year’s playoffs, Boozer simply cannot effectively prevent taller players from scoring on him. They simply shoot over his outstretched arm, and his lack of vertical renders him a complete nonfactor as a shot blocker.

The other major problem people have with Boozer is his susceptibility to injury. During his six-year tenure in Utah, Boozer has played more than 51 games only three times, and he played under 40 contests in two of those seasons. His legs are shaky, and any team that signs him has to be wary of an eventual breakdown.

While Boozer is not the top option at the position, many teams are going to be in the market for a big man who is a proven 20-10 commodity. However, he might not get the money or length of contract he truly desires, as many GMs have concerns about both his defense and injury concerns, much like Stoudemire’s.

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Jazz defense falters as Lakers take Game 1

Kobe Bryant made the Jazz defense look like Golden State's in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Game 1.

It takes a nearly perfect effort to beat the Lakers. And if that effort isn’t quite perfect, it’s best not to let those slight imperfections manifest themselves at the end of the fourth quarter.

But that is what Utah did Sunday, surrendering a very winnable Game 1 to the defending champions 104-99 in which it had a lead with as little as 3:16 left to play in the final period.

Despite permitting the Lakers to shoot 53 percent from the field for the game, the Jazz played admirable defense. Los Angeles shot just 2-16 from three-point range, and Utah allowed the Lakers to score only one point in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter as the Jazz crawled their way to a lead from an eight-point deficit.

Then, at the 3:16 mark, it all went downhill. Coach Jerry Sloan assigned small forward C.J. Miles to guard Kobe Bryant one-on-one, and the Lakers isolated the entire left side of the court for Kobe to take Miles on his own.

Kobe began to back him down, and as he forced him back to the left elbow, Miles reacted to a push by flopping over in an attempt to take a charge. As a result, Kobe had an open lane for a jump shot, and the late rotation for the contest resulted in Kobe’s and-one conversion.

Thereafter, Sloan elected to have the stronger Wesley Matthews take Kobe on defense. With about 55 seconds left in the game and the Lakers up one, Matthews successfully defended Bryant and forced him into a fall-away turnaround jumper from 14 feet. The shot missed, but Carlos Boozer failed to block out Lamar Odom, who corralled the offensive board and put it back up for the easy layup.

Lastly, with about 24 seconds left to play, Matthews was guarding Kobe one-on-one by the logo; the other four Jazz players were standing near the four corners of the lane. Kobe drove, and Matthews went for the strip — so he was beat. Then, in a display of some of the most regrettable defense of all time, Kobe sliced directly down the middle of the lane, without so much as a glance from one of the Jazz players, for an easy layup.

It was one of the easiest dagger shots I’ve ever seen in an NBA game, as it put the Lakers up five with minimal time on the clock.

Utah will have to give a fuller effort in the next several games if it hopes to knock off LA. Forgetting to box out and trying for a strip on Kobe when he’s running at full speed from center court are incredibly unwise decisions.

By the way, C.J. Miles, a referee will never call that offensive foul on Kobe, regardless of how much of a foul it was, at that juncture of the game. And it’s just not smart to flop like that with no one to help on defense behind you.

Hopefully when Andrei Kirilenko returns to the Jazz (supposedly in Game 3), these defensive miscues will fade away.

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