Archive for NBA

Random Musings

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The Seattle SuperSonics are now the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The team went from being a scientific definition to a weather element.  In a way it actually makes sense.  Because now if fans start counting how many seconds it takes for the Thunder to score after their opponent does, it will help them determine how close they are to being a winning team.

Angels pitcher Jared Weaver cut his fingers while sitting down on the dugout bench, and he may have to miss his next start as a result.  That’s a weird way to get injured, but it’s not quite up to the level of Sammy Sosa’s costly sneeze, Kevin Brown introducing his pitching hand to the wall, and me pulling a muscle while studying.

The last time the Braves had a meaningless September was when Zack and Kelly had to have their own prom outside the school gym.  That was about a year before she dumped Zack for that “Fratboy babe stealer.”

Apparently Tatum Bell stole Rudi Johnson’s luggage after he was cut from the team.  What is this, junior high? Rumor has it Bell resorted to the five fingered discount after his plan to dip Johnson’s fingers in warm water while he slept fell through.

It’s becoming more and more common for athletes to give a statement over text.  Does that mean we’re going to see an increase in quotes along the lines of “OMG, I need an MRI.  TTYL!”

I just did some simple math and discovered that A-Rod makes $19,204 per inning.  Coincidentally, that’s how much it will cost to go see a game at the new Yankee Stadium.

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Anyone Else Feel a Draft?

Posted in NBA with tags , on June 27, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The Chicago Bulls drafted hometown hero Derrick Rose with the number one pick in the NBA draft last night. Anyone stunned, stupified, and dumbfounded? I didn’t think so. Congrats to the Bulls for their selection. Averaging nearly 21 PPG, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in his first and only year in the NCAA, he could inject some life in the United Center.

Rounding out the top 5 of the draft were Michael Beasley/Miami (26.2 PPG, 12.4 RPG), OJ Mayo/Minnesota (20.7 PPG, 51 steals), Russell Westbrook/Seattle (12.7 PPG, 4.3 APG), and Kevin Love/Memphis (17.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG).

I’d like to act all cool and insightful and talk about who will be a star and who will end up being one of the guys who has to keep the warmups on the whole game and twirl his dry and unused towel as he cheers his teammates on. But I don’t know. Unfortunately I’m not a prophet; it’s one of my flaws. So instead what I’m going to do is look at how last year’s top 5 picks fared. So here you go.

1. Greg Oden – The 7 foot freshman Buckeye averaged 15.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG, had 105 blocked shots, and won numerous defensive awards in his only year with Ohio State. Unfortunately for Portland, he then went on to average 0 PPG, 0 RPG, and O blocked shots since he missed the entire season due to knee surgery. But the man with the 60 year old face is still only 20, so while the Blazers had to wait a little longer than anticipated he could still be a good pick for them.

2. Kevin Durant – In his only year with Texas, Durant led the Big 12 in scoring with 25.8 PPG. He also led the conference with 11.1 RPG and 1.9 blocked shots. In his first year with the Sonics, he averaged 20.3 PPG, 4.40 RPG, and 2.4 APG. Hey Kev….it’s pretty cool that you didn’t burn the place down.

3. Al Horford – with the first two picks of the 2007 draft a given, a lot of speculation focused on who the Hawks would pick at number 3. They went with Horford, and for the first time in a while they chose……wisely. (Shout out to the old dude in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Oh, if only that truly had been Indy’s last crusade). In his last year at Florida, Horford averaged 13.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 1.8 blocked shots. As a leading Rookie of the Year candidate this year, he put up 12.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 3.6 APG.

4. Mike Conley, Jr. – Another freshman Buckeye, he averaged 11.3 PPG, 6.1 APG, 2.2 steals, and shot 30% from the arc. This year with the Grizzlies he battled injuries while posting 9.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 4.2 APG. He also dropped the Jr from his name. When asked why, he said because it made him think of what was perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most vile and disturbing movie – Junior.

5. Jeff Green – The Hoya forward averaged 14.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 3.2 APG. He had a solid first year with the Sonics with 10.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.5 APG.

So there you have it. The draft is always fun when it happens, but it takes time to truly figure out how good it actually was. Time will tell how Rose, Beasley, Mayo, Westbrook, and Love take to their new NBA careers. It will be fun to watch.

On a side note, as interesting as it was to do this research, I’ll be happy if I don’t have to type PPG, RPG, and APG for a little while.

The Hall of Fame Question

Posted in 1, MLB, NBA with tags , , on June 20, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

As the cameras scanned the crowd during the Celtics win the other night and gave us glimpses of some of the all time NBA greats, I started thinking….and that’s always a dangerous thing. But I started wondering: what is it that makes a player a hall of famer? We go through this debate every year in every sport as the latest inductees are determined. There always seems to be some controversy as to players that people think should be inducted but haven’t been, as well as the ones that people think shouldn’t have been inducted but were.

Sure the decision on who to induct is easy when it comes to people like Babe Ruth, John Elway, Bill Russell, or Wayne Gretzky. But what about the more “borderline” candidates. What pushes a person from a good player in the league to a hall of famer?

Let’s look at two players. The first is a second basement who played 17 years in the Major Leagues, all with one team. He had a career batting average of .260, and compiled 2016 hits, 138 home runs, and 853 RBIs. He never won an MVP, but had 8 gold gloves and played in 6 All Star Games.

Player B was an outfielder for most of his career. He also played 17 seasons, a .265 career average, 2111 hits, 398 home runs, and 1266 RBIs. He collected 5 gold gloves, won 2 MVPs awards, and played in 7 All Star Games.

One of those players is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s Player A – Bill Mazeroski. Player B is Dale Murphy, and it looks like he may never get to give a speech on the lawns of Cooperstown.

What makes Maz a Hall of Famer and the Murph “just” a great player in his day? What quality or stat is separating them?

I didn’t have the chance to see Mazeroski play, and Dale Murphy’s best years were when I was more concerned with what new useless toy they were selling at the school store. So I realize that there are some intangibles that I’m not able to consider. But based on pure numbers, if Maz was voted in then Murph should be too.

So what are the writers looking at when they cast their ballots? Should they be looking for the players who challenged the records? Or should they also vote for the ones who were premier players in their era even if they didn’t set records?

For my own part, I think it should be both. As I mentioned earlier, certainly there are other factors that must be considered as well.

What do you all think? Is it possible to come up with a check list when voting forms hall of famed? And why do you think the Mazeroskis get in and the Murphys do not?

TGIF

Posted in 1, Golf, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL with tags , , , , , , on June 13, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Remember the good old days when Friday meant more than just the end of school or work? It meant something far superior than that. It meant something that surpassed paychecks and not having to worry about homework. It meant something that had far more of an impact than a couple of days off from the daily grind. What did it mean, you ask? It’s simple.

Friday meant 2 hours of Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers and Step by Step. Now all we’re left with is some lousy made for TV movie. However, this actually has nothing to do whatsoever with my topic for today. It was just something I had to get off my chest.

So what I’d like to talk about today is a thoughtful yet ultimately unanswerable question. Those are the best, aren’t they?

If you’ve read my bio, you know I don’t exactly have the most prolific athletic history. When your most vivid memory of playing sports is remembering when you fell on your butt into a puddle of mud on the infield and then couldn’t sit in the car on the way home because of it, then it’s safe to say that your primary role in sports is that of a fan. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of because fans are important.

So with that in mind, which sport is the greatest fan sport? Meaning, which one offers the most to it’s fans in exchange for their rabid enthusiasm and a percentage of their paycheck? And since it’s Friday and no one wants to work anyways, I’m asking you guys to chime in big time and let me know what your thoughts on the issue.

But to get things started, I’ve created a list of pros and cons for each sport.

Baseball

Pros – 162 games over 6 months (not including the playoffs, which means you can watch your team play almost every night during the season. In the Braves case, between March 30 and September 28, there will only be 18 days where they won’t be playing a game.

Thanks to foul balls, home runs, and generous outfielders, it allows you the greatest chance to walk away from the game with a souvenir.

Cons – the potential of being put in a coma through A) a viscious line drive or B) the pitcher who just can’t seem to throw a strike anymore.

Having to constantly watch the players adjust their jock straps.

Football

Pros – The 16 game schedule allows for greater intensity because each game carries a lot more weight.

It’s always funny when an opposing players lifts his face out of the dirt and has grass stuck in his helmet.

Cons It gets a little tiresome to hear John Madden say things like, “Well the quarterback mongoose chaw kumquat gizzard oompa loompa….TOUCHDOWN!”

During the Super Bowl halftime show, you’re forced to either watch either some aging rocker who miraculously lived to age 60 or the latest teenaged sibling of another pop star. Would it be too much to ask for an act that’s somewhere in between?

Hockey

Pros – You get to hear the commentators say things like “That is what this game is all aboot.”

It proves that you don’t have to have your real teeth to be successful

Cons It’s easier to figure out the square root of 2928372934579827 than it is to learn how to pronounce half of the players’ names.

You don’t get to drive the Zamboni

Basketball

Pros Smaller arenas make it a lot easier for fans to be closer to the action. And the proximity of courtside seats enables Jack Nicholson to wear sunglasses inside and still see what’s going on.

It made Converse All Stars very famous in the 1950s.

Cons – You celebrate 3 of your own birthdays and your neighbor’s son’s bar mitzvah in the same amount of time it takes the teams to play the final 2 minutes.

Golf

Pros – You get to practice your polite clap, which incidentally also comes in handy at weddings, graduations, and when your friend asks you to come watch their interpretive dance routine.

You get to unload unwanted cameras by intentionally taking a picture during Tiger Woods’ backswing

Cons – With the price of oil, a golf cart is looking more and more like the only car you can afford.

Tennis

Pros – By the time you’re done watching a match, your neck can bench press 200 pounds.

Let’s face it, you never get tired of watching the ball boy frantically run from one end of the net to the other.

Cons – The women’s grunting scares you a little

You realize that the frumpy looking net judge has entirely too much power for someone sitting in a high-chair.

Curling

Pros – Makes death seem like not such a bad thing after all

Cons – Explains why the prices of brooms and kettles have more than tripled at your local Wal-Mart since the last winter Olympics.

So there you go, just a few things to consider as we discuss which sport is the best one for spectators. I look forward to everyone’s contributions! And long live Balki Bartokamous.

 

Lakers vs. Celtics: A statistical nightmare

Posted in NBA with tags , , , on June 5, 2008 by nathanelwell

Tonight’s opening game of the NBA Finals will mark the 11th time that the Los Angeles Lakers will face the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.  In previous NBA Finals appearances, the Celtics have put away the Lakers (yes, including the Minneapolis Lakers) in 8 out of a possible 10 times.  In the history of the NBA Finals, the Lakers have appeared a staggering 28 times, and have won half of the appearances (14).  The Celtics have appeared 19 times and have had a bit more luck by only losing in 3 of those 19 appearances (57’-58’, 84’-85’, 86’-87’).  As luck would have it, 2 of the Celtics 3 NBA Finals losses came against the Lakers (see chart below).

  Total NBA Finals Appearances W-L in NBA Finals Appearances Total NBA Finals against each other W-L in NBA Finals against each other
Los Angeles Lakers

28

14-14

10

2-8

Boston Celtics

19

16-3

10

8-2

In the 2007-2008 season, the Lakers scored an average of 108.6 points per game (ppg), while the Celtics scored 100.5 ppg, but held their opponents to a league best 90.3 ppg.  The Laker’s opponents scored an average 101.3 ppg.  Let us break it down even more.  The Lakers had 5 players that averaged at least 10 ppg, the highest being Kobe Bryant at 28.3 ppg.  Out of those 5 players, their ppg average is 17.2 ppg.  The Celtics had 4 players that averaged at least 10 ppg, the highest being Paul Pierce at 19.6 ppg.  Out of those 4 players, their ppg average is 16.6 ppg. 

The Lakers and Celtics were nearly identical in Field Goal (FG), Three Point (3P), and Free Throw (FT) percentages for the 2007-2008 season (see chart below).

 

FG%

3P%

FT%

Los Angeles Lakers

.476

.378

.769

Boston Celtics

.475

.381

.771

During the 2007-2008 regular season, the Celtics played the Lakers on two occasions and won by large margins in each game.  On November 23rd, 2007, the Celtics beat the Lakers by a score of 107-94, and on December 30th, 2007, the Celtics beat the Lakers by a score of 110-91.  During the season, the Lakers were 30-11 at home while 27-14 on the road.  The Celtics were 35-6 at home while 31-10 on the road.

As we look at the statistics above, we see two extremely talented teams that are meeting in the NBA Finals.  This will not be a snooze fest like the 2001-2002 Lakers-Nets Finals.  It could be argued that the Lakers have more experience in the NBA Finals (Phil Jackson, Kobe, Derek Fisher, etc) but we cannot forget the complete history of the Celtics in the NBA Finals.  The Celtics have phenomenal defense, but on the other hand, they have shown difficulty in winning on the road during the playoffs.  The Lakers have the Finals experience in the past, but can Kobe play unselfishly with the team around him?

Sigh….  With all of that said, I have no clue which team will go on to win the NBA Finals.  So I’m going to come up with the most ridiculous statistics and decide based on those statistics who will win the NBA Finals.    

Let alone all of the talent on both teams, lets take a look at how the Celtics faired against the Lakers on specific days of the week during the NBA Finals:

 

Celtics W-L Record

Lakers W-L Record

Sunday

7-9

9-7

Monday

3-0

0-3

Tuesday

5-3

3-5

Wednesday

5-4

4-5

Thursday

5-2

2-5

Friday

5-1

1-5

Saturday

3-1

1-3

Ok, I still have no clue who will win, so I have assigned each side of a coin to a team.  The Celtics are heads, and the Lakers are tails.  And who is the winner? 

Game 1 (heads) – Celtics win

Game 2 (tails) – Lakers win

Game 3 (heads) – Celtics win

Game 4 (heads) – Celtics win

Game 5 (tails) – Lakers win

Game 6 (heads) – Celtics win

I guess the Celtics will win the NBA Finals in 6 games.  Enjoy the Finals, and enough with statistics!

 

Will the Bulls truly win the lottery?

Posted in NBA with tags , , on June 3, 2008 by nathanelwell

In 1984, there was a revolution in the United States. But it was not from culture, from a military conflict, from fishnet stockings, parachute pants, or break-dancing (sorry M.C.). The revolution came from one man. You know those corny voices for movie previews? “Its the story of a maaaaan”… It all began with the NBA Draft back in 1984, with a 21 year old tall and scrawny kid from Brooklyn, NY. He didn’t even make the 1st pick of the 1st round. He was 3rd, but his name (and performance) became revolutionary.  Michael Jordan, MJ, His Airness, and Air Jordan, whatever you prefer to call him, was the best lottery pick (by far) the Chicago Bulls have ever made and arguably the best in NBA history.

Since MJ’s 2nd retirement from professional basketball in 1999, the Bulls have had several opportunities to repeat their luck from the 1984 draft. The Bulls have had 27 1st round draft picks. Of those 27 draft picks, the Bulls currently have retained 8 of those picks. Some would argue their strongest year was 2004, when they picked up Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Chris Duhon. Others would argue it was 1999, with the dynamite center from Duke, Elton Brand. Unfortunately, his time with the Bulls was cut short when he was traded in part of a package that eventually brought two young high schoolers to the Bulls in the form of Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. In 2007, the Chicago Bulls were favored to run all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, and possibly the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, they completely missed the playoffs, and their coach was fired.

Coachless they came into the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery. According to the Associated Press, the Chicago Bulls had a 1.7% chance of receiving the 1st spot in the 2008 NBA Draft. The chances were so slim, in fact, that John Paxson, the GM of the Bulls, didn’t even show up for the lottery. And sure enough, luck would have it that the Chicago Bulls have ended up with the #1 pick in the draft. There is a definite sense of Deja Vu that the Bulls have been in this exact position before. There is an eery feeling in Chicago that giving the Bulls a #1 draft pick is like handing a crystal vase to a “clumsy butterfingers”. There luck hasn’t been all bad, but at the same rate, after 27 1st round picks, they have neglected to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 10 years.

According to most sources in the press, there are 2 options for the Chicago Bulls. The 1st option would be an upgrade from the current point guard Kirk Hinrich, in Derrick Rose, who led Memphis to the NCAA National Championship this year, only to lose. The benefit of Rose is it would allow for Hinrich to move to a shooting guard, and would give them a true point guard. He may have some of Air Jordan’s influence, as he is personal friends with MJ’s son James, and is a hometown product. But then there is Michael Beasley, the tall power forward from Kansas State. Beasley would give the Bulls a post player, something they have needed for a number of years. Beasley is a question mark, though, because many would say his off the court issues would overshadow his talent on the court. Beasley did break the single NCAA record for most double doubles in a season, previously set by Carmelo Anthony at Syracuse. No matter how good Beasley is, will he be strong enough to throw away the diapers and put on big boy pants?

As the Chicago Bulls have appeared to lock in a head coach, there remains one question: what will it be – another “Michael” or a “Rose among thorns”? One thing is for sure, when the Bulls make their choice, they’d better be darn sure that there are no motorcycles involved…

Joakim Noah – Hero or Zero?

Posted in NBA with tags , on May 29, 2008 by nathanelwell

This morning, one question rang in my mind as I contemplated the recent newsflash about Joakim Noah: “What makes a hero?”  If you don’t count a submarine sandwich at Blimpie or Subway, the first place you might look is in the history books.  Maybe even Hollywood (heaven forbid) or professional sports.  They could be amongst us as ordinary people.  Or you could watch that show on NBC, and maybe you’ll find some there.  As I think about what makes a hero, the first person I had to look to was the fictional Superman himself (or for all you ladies out there, Superwoman).  What more could you want in a hero – man of steel, super-sight, super-hearing, the ability to fly, and of course, the token suit that he wears.  But even outside of the Superman suit, the man who originally played him on screen was a hero outside of life.  And so I go to Christopher Reeve to define what a hero is: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles”.

Overwhelming obstacles…  For Michael Jordan this was getting cut from the varsity High School basketball team.  For Lance Armstrong it was recovering from cancer, and winning the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times.  But unfortunately, for the Chicago Bulls rookie Joakim Noah, its getting caught drinking in public and possession of marijuana.  The former Florida Gator superstar, who led them to 2 consecutive NCAA basketball championships, and who was picked in the 1st round of the NBA draft, is at a fork in the road of his life. 

At one road stands Josh Hamilton, outfielder for the Texas Rangers.  I can imagine Hamilton looking at Noah and telling him that all of the substance and alchohol abuse will catch up to him, and unless he makes drastic changes in his life, he’ll ultimately be destroyed.  But Hamilton would push Noah on being persistant and doing the right thing, and he will stress that persistance will pay off.  Hamilton has fully recovered and now leads the Major Leagues in RBI’s and is on a torrid streak towards this years MVP award.  Hamilton’s story might be the feel good story in sports this year.

Noah next glances over to the second road, where the late Lenny Bias stands.  Noah watches Bias and sees a young and arrogant athlete, and wonders if he is looking in the mirror.  Bias tells him, “If you walk down this road like I did, you’ll be sorry”.  Bias was in the same shoes as Noah back in the day.  He was picked in the first round of the NBA draft in 1986, like Noah, but only to die of cardiac arrest after snorting cocaine.

There is one last fork in the road, and on the road stands Noah’s father, Yannick, the French Open tennis champion from 25 years ago.  Yannick insists to his son that it is “no big deal” and “I’ve fooled around for 20 years and am still popular”.  Perhaps we have found the influence to Joakim’s problems?  Unfortunately, this fork in the road could be the most persuasive: his own father.

So will Joakim become a hero, or a zero?  I’m sure some would say he already lost out on being a hero.  But are any of us perfect?  The real question I have to Joakim is if he chooses to “endure in spite of overwhelming circumstances”.  Will it be Hamilton Road, Bias Boulevard, or Noah’s Way?  All three lead to different directions, but the decision ultimately must be made by Joakim Noah…