Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  November 24, 2008

First things first. We’ve checked, and what Radmanovic was wearing during last night’s game were not snowboarding goggles. So, we can all relax about that. And while the orange protective eyewear may not have been pretty, it could have been worse. (Thanks to Henry at TrueHoop for that link.)

As for last night… Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, and the Lakers apparently took that literally on the defensive end. Third game in four nights and all, they lacked focus. But I think there were three factors that played into the off defensive night.

One, Sacramento played three bigs — Brad Miller, Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson — who can shoot from the outside. Because of that, Lakers bigs had to go out to the perimeter with them, and that took them out of good help positions. Stu Lantz talked about this during the broadcast, and he’s right. If the Suns want to send Shaq outside or the Celtics want to send Perkins to the three-point line, Bynum can let them go and stay in to help protect the paint. But with Hawes and Miller, you have to go with him. Now, this does not excuse the wretched pick-and-roll defense the Lakers played, but it is part of the reason nobody was in the paint to stop the penetration.

Second, as Darius pointed out in the comments, the Lakers played poor transition defense, and with all the turnovers there were a lot of transition opportunities for the Kings.

Third, people underrate the Kings. They have some nice young talent, and we sometimes forget that.

None of these things strike me as unfixable long-term problems. I’m going to let the one bad game go (in part because it was a win) and just watch to see if any of this becomes a long-term issue.

• Do you have memories of watching Jerry West play? Have a personal story or anecdote involving the Logo? Well, highly-respected Lakers author Roland Lazenby wants to talk to you, he’s working on a book about West. If you want to reach him, follow this link and email him.

• Two great posts to check out at Basketball Prospectus:

First, does the new and improved Cleveland Cavalier team (best offensive rating in the league so far) have what it takes to win a title? Coach Anthony Macri (of IMG) thinks they just might. I think there are three teams that could come out of the East right now, but Boston is still the team to beat. Cleveland, however, took them to seven last season before Mo Williams came on board.

Second, the first coaching change of the year took place in Oklahoma City. Kevin Pelton has a great look at the new coach there.

• Not far behind Carlisimo was Eddie Jordan in Washington, who is out after a woeful start for the Wizards.

My question in both cases — was it really the coach that was the problem, or the fact they had pretty questionable rosters to work with? (Yes, the Wiz have some talent, but it’s injured.)

• Is there an NBA Live curse?

• Happy 70th birthday Oscar Robertson!

to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. I saw Durant play live in the middle of last season and then a number of times on League Pass, but not towards the end when he became more effective. I have been keeping an eye on him this season and see the same problem that I saw last season. Durant spends too much time parked on the weak side with his hand waving for the ball. Then when he gets the ball he uses his one-on-one skills to try and penetrate right into the heart of a defense he doesn’t quite have the strength to beat. I remember one game earlier this season where he was picked clean on two separate occasions while working his crossover. He seems always to rely on out talenting NBA players rather then letting his talent emerge in the context of an offensive system. Now, I think he’ll figure it out but I never thought PJ would be he coach to help him along. It’ll be nice if Pelton is.


  2. Speaking on Durant, PJ, and the team in OKC…..I thought that PJ didn’t do Durant any favors by having him play SG. I think Durant is like Dirk in many ways and must be put in positions where his skill as a bigger perimeter player could be matched up against players who aren’t used to guarding that skill set. Now, would putting KD at PF (or SF) leave him exposed on defense and on the glass? Probably, but KD was one of the better rebounding players in college that year he was @ Texas and that aspect of his game has nearly disapeared in the pro game. I also think that if you want KD to get stronger (the way that KG and Dirk have as they got older in the league) then you put them in positions where they *do* feel a bit exposed and you prey on their competitiveness to fill those holes in their game(s).


  3. I saw Kobe used the “sky hook”!!
    HEre’s a question – what’s so special about jabbar’s “sky hook”? How is it different?
    TIm Duncan uses a “running hook”, Gasol uses a milliong different “hooks”, shaq uses a “jump hook”, and andrew bynum used a hook yesterday w/ his left hand. WHat exactly is “sky hook”?
    Wikipedia just says it’s because jabbar was tall so the hook looked like it was from the sky…


  4. Cleveland has a legitmate shot because LeBron is that awesome. You look at their team, and it’s not impressive, but they can play tough and physical defense, then let LBJ carry them. He’s proven that the past 2 years, and I think this years team is better than the year he made the Finals. LBJ is Celtic proof. Now, if he can figure out how to defend PP just a little better, they will beat the C’s, but I’m hoping it’s a rematch in the Finals. I want revenge.

    I think the MVP is his to lose because I think they’ll win 55-58 games this year. The voters are looking for a good reason the give it to him, and we know his stats will be great. The only thing stopping a LBJ MVP is the Lakers winning 70+ games. Then it will go to Kobe.

    I think OKC will ruin Durant’s career, in a sense. He’s good, but I just don’t see him being an alpha dog the way LBJ turned into one. Just as I don’t see Kevin Martin as an alpha, just a talented scorer not good enough to raise a team’s play just based on his presence. True superstars make their team at least a little dangerous. OKC is pathetic. Not Durant’s fault, but it is what it is.


  5. I trully believe that FANTASY BASKETBALL is really BAD FOR REAL BASKETBALL. I think that by trying to use statistical scores and indicators we totally take away from team game and pressure players into becoming more stat oriented. Not long time ago, having 0 points or steals but being a bruiser and team oriented worker counted more if a team won. These days, it’s all about the stats. It’s even on TV already! and most of the ESPN articles are about who to draft for a fantasy team and how some player’s value goes up or down. I think that could explain Sasha’s behavior. Right now he is all about getting stats


  6. #4
    Jabbar’s skyhook was considered unguardable because of the leverage he gained between he and his defender. This was due in large part to his size and the technique and touch he possessed. His release point was higher than that used by any of the other players you mentioned (thus the sky idea, its like he was dropping it out of the sky) and his light feet allowed him to get good positioning and a great angle on his shot at the rim. That’s pretty much the idea I get about how great the shot really was, I am a youngster too though, but this is what I’ve gathered on it..


  7. Kenny,
    I would say the difference is footwork. While Duncan (and Shaq on occasion) can shoot a running hook, that shot requires the player to put the ball on the ground and then fire off the shot in a sweeping manner similar to the path of a driving/swooping scoopshot. The player takes his momentum forward in a parallel path to the basket and executes the shot. The jump hook is a hybrid of Kareem’s sky-hook as it is executed from a post up/back to the basket move. However the jump-hook comes from a 2 legged base and the shooter turns his body almost completely toward the basket on the follow through. This shot is almost like a shot put at the basket where the players solid/two-footed base gives him the balance to elevate into a defender and still shield the ball (though not as effectively as the sky-hook).

    Kareem’s sky hook (like the running hook) is executed off a one foot release. However (like the jumphook) it is performed, typically from a back to the basket initiation (especially in Kareem’s later years). Also, the Sky-Hook is released with the player only half-way turned to the basket so that he can create a natural buffer between the release point of the ball and the defender, by using his (the shooters) body. What made Kareem’s Sky Hook different as well was the fact that it could be taken from much further distance because of the touch put on the ball. A touch that is established because the shooter has much more control over the ball (almost exactly like a jumpshot, but without the guide hand). Kareem could sink that sky hook out to 15-16 feet if needed. A player would never attempt a fifteen foot jump hook, as he wouldn’t have the touch (based off the typical shot put motion). The Sky Hook was just so unique because A). no one could block it. (I have seen the same highlight looped over and over again of Wilt as a Laker, jumping as high as he could trying to block the young (Milwaukee Buck) Kareem’s sky hook and falling short). And B). Because it was so refined that it became the standard offensive move for the player who would set the all-time scoring mark. Kareem would literally shoot this shot every time down, unless he was close enough to the basket to execute a lay up or dunk, or if he caught the ball at the FT line area and shot a traditional jump shot.

    The only shots (in the history of the game) that even come remotely close to being as effective a go to move as Kareem’s sky hook are Jordan’s fade-away from the post and Kobe’s pull up jumpshot. Both of these shots are nearly as unstoppable (especially when the player is on his game), but both have their limitations as they can be contested easier and rely on much more effort to attempt against effective defense.


  8. Darius, you did that better than I could have, thanks. Let me add one thought.

    Kareem would get the ball on the block (usually the right block, especially the later years) and shoot the sky hook from there. But, you ask, why not overplay it and take it away? Well, people tried, but Kareem had amazing diversity of moves, which is something people forget. If you overplayed his left shoulder, he spun right into the lane (which is what should be your defensive priority) and basically had a layup.

    So, why not double him? Well, people did, but Kareem could pass very well out of the post. And as a Buck he had Oscar Robertson and others who could hit the outside jumper that opened up. As a Laker, by 1980 he had Jamal Wilkes and Norm Nixon (and later Byron Scott and others) who could make you pay for leaving their man.

    So, you have no shot that one man can defend, and a passer and team who could make you pay for the double team. That is how you win titles and MVPs.


  9. The offense would also space itself so that any help defenders were coming towards Kareem, allowing him to pass to a cutter.

    If you tried to overplay the hook towards the baseline, he would spin into the lane for an easy lay up. And because he could shoot it from so far out, he didn’t have to get deep position.

    Here it is:

    “Swing left, hook right.” was how Chick always called it.


  10. Kurt,
    Kareem was, indeed, the greatest. I know that most young(ish) fans (including myself) remember him mostly at the tail end of his career and saw a diminished player that struggled on defense and (seemingly) had one move on offense.

    But I’ve seen a ton of tape on Kareem and a ton of Classic Games on replay. And honestly there was no one more skilled or fundamental….he was truly amazing. You’re so right about his myriad of moves and his ability to kill the double team with his vision and passing ability. It became a *pick your poison* dilemma for most teams that faced the Lakers. I think, in the end, they just hope he missed.


  11. Ah… the sky hook. I’m not sure if there’s a single laker fan who hasn’t tried that shot in the playground, or at least when nobody’s watching 😉

    There once was a piece in LA Times when Kareem blogged there that described the proper way to shoot the sky hook, and it seemed quite ‘ordinary;’ just that by today’s standards, the shot is like Timmy’s bank shot – somewhat ‘wimpy’ and not as exciting, no matter how good the percentages are.

    Also, maybe I’ve got a rosy view of everything Kareem (anyone who starred in a Bruce Lee film gets that kind of credit, even Chuck Norris) but the other part of no player trying to digest that shot also has to do with it being so strongly associated with Kareem, as it would invite comparisons where you really can’t win.


  12. Darius,

    I agree with you regarding: “player that struggled on defense and (seemingly) had one move on offense.”

    It’s ironic that the one move that prolonged his career, probably changed the perception of how great he was. I never quite understood why he continually gets overlooked as the greatest center of all time. Magic being the alpha dog probably has something to do with it as well, but Kareem was and MVP and Champion before Magic, and the rules were changed because of Kareem in his younger days.

    All he ever did was live up to potential.

    One more thing, if you don’t mind. How old are you? You’re young (and old) enough to enjoy a KRS-One show, but old enough to “know” 80’s basketball. I’m guessing early 30’s. Sometimes you can guess a commenters age depending on how they view today’s Lakers in comparison to Magic’s Lakers, and you seem to know the 80’s Lakers very well, so i thought you were older, then you mention KRS-One.


  13. When I get in a jam, I use the “baby hook.”


  14. First, yay for bynum for building on his one nice post finish against denver to get a few more against the kings. Getting him to the same level of pau with offensive moves in the post will be huge for us, and can easily get bynum up to the 20-10 guy we all know he can be. This isn’t a bynum negative – he’s getting doubleteamed quite a bit and the right move is to pass out of those, not try to force something. I’m just really happy he’s taking his time a bit more and being able to finish the post moves, vs. trying to force something and ending up with a bad shot/turnover (as we saw earlier in the season).

    Second, to dive into Kurt’s point about the defense a bit more, the pick and roll was atrocious, and looked like the problems we faced last year with that. Typically the bigs (bynum being one that stood out) would try to “hedge” on the screen, but wouldn’t space things properly to force the ball handler to adjust their angle at all, thus giving the primary defender no time to recover and a basic “4 on 3” situation at the basket. a lot of this was happening at the top of the key as well, so there wasn’t any “strong side zone” happening either to help with the defense in the paint. Our bigs need to learn to time things better to really push the ball handler off course and give the primary defender more time to recover, or we’re going to have real problems going forward, esp against teams with quick guards (SA, Celtics, utah) that like to do a lot of this.

    Other interesting note – we got in to trouble several times when we were able to use the strong side zone, because someone on SAC was either hovering around the freethrow area or diving to the freethrow area, then getting the pass from the guard. whoever’s doing the “zone” portion of the SSZ needs to be aware of this and shade up to that area – and I think the guard doing the on-ball defense needs to change their usual response – instead of hedging to drive the offense to the baseline, hedge to drive them back to the middle (closer to where the SSZ man is. Interesting tactics for “defeating” the SSZ as they’re basically what you do for countering a regular zone anyways.


  15. I’ve been reading up on all of this “Lebron and Bosh to NY” hype. I still don’t understand. Is it really true that Lebron+Bosh+three bags of Frito Lays will be able to dominate the league. An (unfortunately) aging Kobe, Pau, and Bynum I think could definitely take them, with Ariza and Farmer hopefully still in the purple and gold.

    What does everyone else think? Is this just the hyperventilating of sportswriters who foam at the mouth when imagining the reemergence of basketball in NYC, or will they seriously win five titles when paired together? I still think we can take them,


  16. Aaron,

    To answer your question. Look what LeBron is accomplishing with 4 bags of Frito Lays and a team that doesn’t have the resources to not mind being in the luxury tax. Swap Ben Wallace with Chris Bosh, and add the deep pockets of the Knicks. Much better view. LeBron is proving to be that good.

    I still like our squad though.


  17. If you haven’t already, I would read the article on Basketball Prospectus which explains how Cleveland’s offense right now is uniquely suited to Lebron’s game. I know they aren’t great, but Mo Williams, Big Z, Delonte W, Varejao, and Wally aren’t too bad. And the Knicks are in such a mess that they won’t be able to put a similar core around Lebron too soon. Yes, with Bosh they’d be great, but they still need to fill out the other roster spots, and I wouldn’t be too optimistic when Galinari is your third best option.


  18. So far, there’ve been two instances of subpar Laker defense. Both Detroit and Sacto shot better than 50% from the field, and both feature bigs with perimeter skills. It’s too early to call this a definite trend, but I’m curious if anyone can recall whether the Lakers implemented their regular trapping scheme for the duration of these games, or whether they made any adjustments.


  19. 1 LAL 11-1
    2 UTH 9-5
    3 HOU 9-5
    4 PHO 9-5
    5 DEN 9-5

    I just thought this was kinda amusing. Has a nice ring to it 😉

    Anyway, as for Bosh and LeBron… in 2010, I give our squad a better chance if it’s just that, but not sure how much depth we’ll have in 2010 since we’re bound to lose our bench to some overeager bidding.

    But before you say LeBron and 4 nobodies… the 4 nobodies actually played defense, which is more than what we can say about our team in the finals. They took Boston to 7 (hawks did too) and we got ousted rather convincingly in 6.


  20. the other Stephen November 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    i have a feeling that bynum is saving up the skyhook that he learned from kareem for a special game.


  21. harold,

    I didn’t really mean that his teammates were nobodies, but none of them are the caliber of a Chris Bosh, and if that scenario did happen New York could do no worse than put together a team of comparable talent that Cleveland has now. Also, I was just playing on Aaron’s comment.


  22. 14) wonda
    “When I get in a jam, I use the “baby hook.”

    Yeah; that doesn’t go over real well in meetings at work, though.


  23. Doesn’t this season remind you how special last season was? Despite the fact that we are steamrolling almost every opponent, the victories early last year were sweeter. The expectation of winning makes the successes less sweet and the (single) defeat, even against a good team, more bitter. Still, it’s a good time to be a Laker fan, because the bandwagon fans are (as they should be) on Boston’s side.

    We are perhaps witnessing history, guys. 11-1 is quite impressive, even more so in the Western Conference. Odom for sixth man!


  24. wondabap,
    You wouldn’t be too far off with your guess…

    As for the Knicks and landing two marquee free agents (ie Lebron and Bosh), I’ll leave discussing the possibility to others, but would make one point. I think championships are won with at least 1 home grown superstar/impactful player on your team. When you look at past champions, the only team that this doesn’t hold true for are the 2004 Pistons (who defy the trends that define many past champions). Pierce, Duncan & Parker, Wade, Kobe, Jordan, Hakeem…the list goes on and on. And while I don’t want to diminish the value of Bron or Bosh, nor imply that they wouldn’t mesh well or be good enough to win. But I think you need (at least) one (and usually more) really good players that grew up with your team and know the lay of the land, and can embody the soul of that team as the player who this truly matters for. I think you need that guy who is the personification of the franchise that needs this (and then in repeat champions) the guy who has *been there* and can lead by example. And besides all those motivational reasons, I think it’s hard to bring in multiple FA’s (trades are another story) and have them mesh as a true team. Plus it’s hard from a salary cap standpoint.

    And, speaking briefly from a cap standpoint, the Knicks would have to let almost every meaningful player that they have walk that season. They’d have to renounce FA rights and not renew contracts for players just to clear up the space needed to offer both guys what they deserve.


  25. Bball on the brain: I just watched a replay of Aaron Rogers faking a throw and running into the end zone and thought, “Dude, he traveled!”


  26. I remember in an interview Bill Walton once said something about how Kareem’s left leg should be placed on the hall of fame. Because it was so strong and sturdy that even jumping just off that leg he was able to gain that balance needed to direct and control that shot

    I remember that the Sky Hook was my basketball reality check. When I was a kid I tried pulling that move in the playground…
    I’m 5″4 right now (I’m 21) so imagine my height when I tried doing it haha.


  27. After some initial skepticism, I increasingly believe the Knicks plan might work. Assume the salary cap in 2010 is set around $62M (a conservative estimate b/c of the economy). Assume they can find a taker for Curry, but not Jeffries. Assume they sign Lee for $5M per, but let Robinson walk. Assume their 2009 lottery pick will make around $3M. Assume they only sign players next summer that will expire in 2010. Assume they renounce all of their own free agents in 2010. That would leave them with 5 players signed in 2010 (Chandler, Lee, Gallinari, 09 lottery pick, Jeffries), totaling around $19M. That puts them $43M under the cap. Assume the maximum allowable starting salary is around $17M. If they sign two max free agents (say Lebron and one of Bosh/Amare/Dirk), that costs $34M and leaves them with $9M. Assume that between 2009 and 2010 they sign 3 quality second rounders for minimum contracts ($700k per). Assume Nash and two other veterans looking for a ring agree to split up the remaining $7M. That leaves them with 13 players and the following roster:

    PG Nash
    SG Chandler
    SF Lebron
    PF Lee
    C Bosh (or Amare/Dirk)

    Bench: Gallinari, 2009 lottery pick (probably top 5), 2 strong veterans, Jeffries, 3 young 2nd rounders.

    I don’t think the cohesion/home-grown factor is absolutely critical. Remember, before last season Garnett, Pierce, and Allen had never played a game with any of the group. Garnett and Allen had never played with Rondo, Perkins, Powe, Davis. Many of the key rotation players were brand new (Posey, House, PJ Brown, Cassell). And yet, they were far and away the most united, cohesive team in the league.

    Now, it’s a bit of wishful thinking to assume NY can (i) trade Curry, (ii) land two max superstars, and (iii) get Nash to come for cheap. But think about the draw. They can offer Lebron the chance to redeem the New York Knicks and the world’s preeminent city as his own. What bigger opportunity in basketball is there? What better story and stage? What better place to market yourself? Think about the pressure his sponsors will put on him. The Knicks can tell Lebron that they have room for a worthy sidekick that far outpaces whoever Cleveland has (Bosh, Amare, Dirk, or even Joe Johnson). They can tell the sidekick that they can play and win titles with Lebron for years. Now think of the D’Antoni-Nash side plot. Nash worships D’Antoni and lives in NY in the offseason. Phoenix will be in decline. He will probably be ringless at that point. Nash and D’Antoni have inside leads on Amare and Dirk. D’Antoni is the preeminent players coach in the league. Nash and Lebron are notably unselfish. I can see it all coming together in a perfect storm. It’s set up beautifully. And would want to face that team?

    Nash, Chandler, Lebron, Lee, Bosh/Amare/Dirk – with a deep bench led by Gallinari and a top 09 lottery pick.


  28. “Kareem’s sky hook (like the running hook) is executed off a one foot release. However (like the jumphook) it is performed, typically from a back to the basket initiation (especially in Kareem’s later years). Also, the Sky-Hook is released with the player only half-way turned to the basket so that he can create a natural buffer between the release point of the ball and the defender, by using his (the shooters) body.”

    This is really the key to the success of the sky hook. While Kareem was indeed an excellent passer and a skilled center, the truth is that barring an enormous amount of pressure from behind it didn’t matter how many people would guard him. Because of his ability to shoot with the ball on the opposite side of his body from the hoop, even 2 defenders were usually unable to prevent his shot. Kareem could fake a move, forcing both players to overplay his back side somewhat, then spin back and shoot over them.

    His touch (as anybody who HAS tried the shot in the playground knows) was astonishingly good, as the shot is rather difficult to execute properly with the kind of arc and range Kareem possessed.

    On a side note, Ginobili looked pretty good for his first game back. 12 points on 3-4 shooting in only 11 minutes.


  29. Reed – if that scenario works, the east is going to be amazingly interesting and battered by the time they face the us 😉

    Aging Nash vs. Peak Rondo
    Chandler vs. Ray Allen
    Lebraon vs. Paul Pierce
    Lee vs. Garnett
    Bosh/Amare/Dir vs. Perkins

    and the bench on the Celtics ain’t that shabby either. This looks to be a frustrating series for both of them while in the west, we are going to have a toothless PHX or DAL (or both), with Bynum peaking, Bryant being more wise, Ariza, Farmar, Sasha unlocking their potential and… and…

    I like that scenario. Don’t forget that we can make deals of our own too. If we’re successful prior to 2010, we can resign players cheap / get good use out of MLEs.


  30. I may have mentioned this before somewhere in here, but all you really need to know about Kareem is that he was the MVP of the NBA Finals FOURTEEN YEARS APART. (1971, 1985).

    Just think for a moment about that.

    He also went 88-2 in college with 3 Final Four MVPs…


  31. Reed,
    That’s an amazing scenario. I think it’s more fathomable if Curry is bought out, rather than traded though. Finding a trade partner that sends back contracts that expire by 2010 for Curry is a tall task.

    In the end, I think your scenario has promise though. If the Knicks can really get that far under the cap, they will be a major draw for FA’s. However, I’m still not sure if they’ll really be able to win unless some of their homegrown players become real difference makers. (Although in your scenario, Lee and Gallinari could be those players).


  32. The homegrown players would likely be Lee, Chandler, Gallinari, and the 09 lottery pick. Is that much different than Pierce, Rondo, Perkins, and Powe? You could also have players that are intimately familiar with D’Antoni’s system and suited to it — Nash and/or Amare. Lebron and Bosh have also been coached by D’Antoni as part of the Olympics, played together, and are ideally suited for the small ineup, run and gun style of play.


  33. The team that willingly trades for curry should be immediately contracted from the league.

    Which teams have famous knicks as GMs like Kevin McHale or Jerry West?


  34. I think in Kareem’s day, you weren’t allowed to compete as a freshman, explaining why he only had 3 as opposed to 4 🙂

    And speaking of trades, which do you think was a more lopsided deal now?

    Pau Gasol = Marc Gasol and expiring contract


    Trevor Ariza = Evans and Cook?

    Marc posting good numbers (in his first year; still young) , and him being a center (harder to find than PFs, at least my impression) have made the deal look more and more even, while Ariza’s breakout has made that Cook/Evans deal more and more lopsided.

    As for me, I believe the best trades were the ones that weren’t made. Glad we didn’t trade Bynum, Odom, and most of all, Kobe.


  35. Reed must be my favorite poster here; his stuff’s always dynamite.

    The cold, hard truth is that we have next to no idea what the NBA landscape will look like in two years. There are so many potential variables that any prediction would be folly.

    It sure is fun to speculate, though!

    I’m on the record as saying that I don’t think championships can be bought with expensive free agents, because the new team always has to overpay (and in this scenario the Knicks would do so at the expense of the rest of the roster). I might have to change my tune if the free agents in question were Lebron and Bosh, though.

    Still, I see Lebron’s defection from Cleveland being far from a sure thing, and if I was a betting man I’d put money on Bosh and Amare staying put. I don’t think Lebron + the Knick’s leftovers + any other 2010 free agent other than those two would equal instant domination.

    Plus, how old would Nash be by then, 37? I know skeptics have been predicting his decline for years and it has yet to transpire, but seriously … that’s OLD in point guard years. Even Stockton’s numbers and minutes took a big dip after age 35, and he was a freak of nature.


  36. In 2011 the Charlotte Bobcats will start a lineup of:

    -Dwight Howard
    -Andrew Bynum
    -Andrew Bogut
    -Greg Oden
    -Zaza Pachulia


  37. Three things…

    Something that stood out as a negative in both the Kings and Pistons games was the trouble the Lakers have in transition D during periods when the offense goes cold. It becomes cyclical: a turnover or bad shot leads to the opposition getting out on a break or taking a quick shot, thereby not allowing the Lakers to set their defense. It sounds counterintuitive, but this team really needs to score first (or at least get a good shot) for it to set the defense properly.

    As for Kareem, dude has never received the credit he’s due. He was not only the greatest center of all time, I’d argue he’s the greatest basketball player ever. Too many were brainwashed by Nike and NBC into thinking the default answer to “Who’s the greatest player ever?” has to be “Michael Jordan.” Check the stats:

    Points: Kareem had 38,387 to Jordan’s 32,292.
    Rebounds: 17,4440 to 6,672 edge for Kareem.
    Assists: 5,660 for Kareem, more than MJ’s 5,633.
    Kareem was a 19-time All-Star; Jordan was a 14-time All-Star.
    Both won six NBA titles.
    Kareem won six NBA MVP awards to Jordan’s five.
    Kareem won three NCAA titles to Jordan’s one, and recall that Kareem wasn’t allowed to play as a freshman per the rules at that time, nor was he allowed to dunk.

    This is subjective, but Kareem’s dominance came during a period when the league was better all-around than it was in Jordan’s glory years, as evidenced by the fact that the Bulls never met the same opponent in the Finals until Jordan’s final championship run. How many more rings would the Kareem-era Lakers have won were they not routinely pitted against great teams from Philadelphia or Boston come June?

    I just don’t get the Jordan argument. Never have, never will.

    And speaking of Kareem and skyhooks, he told the crew on Fox Sports West’s pregame show a couple of weeks back that Bynum has had the skyhook’s mechanics mastered for two years now but Drew refuses to use the shot in games. If he’d add that shot to his arsenal, he’d be scary good. Hopefully over time…


  38. Thanks to Darius and others for the excellent description of Kareem’s sky hook. I’d love to see Bynum break that out (or something like it). He does seem to have very good hands, so it seems like it’s a possibility. Somewhere I saw an interview with Kareem where he said Drew could shoot the shot in practice.

    I think it’s safe to assume the BronBron show could attract any number of mercenaries, ala The Malone/Payton Experience. Reed makes a really good point that a lot of these guys have experience playing (and being coached) together on the Olympic teams, which makes things easier as well. And bad Knicks teams in the interim could get a couple of good draft picks, too.


  39. On TV they kept calling Steve Nash a HoFer and I was thinking, really? He didn’t seem “great” for very long, but sure enough, according to basketball-reference, he has a 97% chance of being a HoFer. What do you guys think about that? He’s been pretty good to great from 2000 to the present.


  40. Fanerman- 2 MVPs, the end.


  41. Okay. I’m asking two questions. Will he get in? And is he reallllly a hall of famer? Part of being a hall-of-famer is being great for a long time, and has Nash done that?


  42. Long time lurker here,first time poster..Nash’s credentials ,however flawed, still have 2 MVP’s attached to them and that pretty much guarantees an enshrinement.On a more FreeDarko note,those Suns teams were an embodiment of American Muscle(Amare) meets Euro Flava (Nash n D’Antoni) .The Lig owes a great great debt to those teams,however much we may have hated them in ’05 and ’06, if just for the simple fact that they made “Offense First,Second and Last” a viable option,atleast for the regular season.They made basketball fun again for the layman, and freed us from the tyranny of Iso and the lowpost Battle of the Bulge,which had sucked the life out of the Lig, by then.Thank you,Nash.


  43. Nash has been arguably great since his Dallas days and even better during Phoenix, and with D’Antoni has been a crucial part of one of the more entertaining and successful regular-season offense.

    During that time, he was arguably at least as good as other PGs (AI, JKidd, T Parker etc) or better, ‘proven’ by his MVP hardware. Yeah, I think he’ll get in despite being ringless and not coming any closer than the conference finals.

    The more interesting question would be Horry’s eligibility. He’s got 7 rings? Something silly like that, most among ‘modern’ players, I think.


  44. Nash is an amazing talent and is going to get in. The argument ends with ‘he won 2 mvps.’ You have to think up reasons -not- to let him in with that on his resume.

    With regards to Big Shot Rob, again I think you have to think up reasons not to let him in. IMHO if I were on the committee I’d have a policy of if in doubt let him in. Its not like you are opening the flood gates by letting him in, what he did was special and deserves recognition.


  45. I think Horry will get in, because he’s made some big shots to win series or to keep his teams in series. So, the argument that he may have piggy backed his way to 7 Rings can’t apply to him. Most of the time, his teams won specifically because of what he did. The voters will recognize a true champion. Brian Scalabrine he is not. He earned his rings. All 7.


  46. The thing to remember about James as a FA is that the Cavs can pay him 30 million more than any other team can. Thats a huge chunk of money to leave on the table. I know that NY is a bigger market and its possible that he can make up the money and more with more endorsements. But his current team is pretty good (I’d say the 3rd best team in the league) and it looks like (if he is not already) he will be easily the best player in the league. If you put the best player in the league on a winning team, and he is as big as James the endorsements will come no matter where the team is located. If the Cavs keep winning, Lebron is not going anywhere in 2010.


  47. @42 and 43: Horry is nowhere near a Hall of Fame player IMHO. I liked him, but to let him in now would be to dilute whatever meaning the Hall has beyond all sense. He was a valuable and useful player, but he never carried a team, he never dominated anyone or anything, he never was the main or even a big reason his teams even got to the playoffs in the first place, and his teams did not “mostly” win specifically because of what he did. He hit some big shots, true, and full marks to him for that. That’s not enough, or it shouldn’t be. At that rate, anybody who hits a walkoff home run in a World Series should be in the baseball HoF.

    IMHO again, if the HoF means anything at all–and I’m not always convinced it does–it should be for players who were clearly head and shoulders above the great majority of their contemporaries, consistently and for some period of time (doesn’t have to be 15-20 years, but shouldn’t be just i or 2 years). That simply is not Horry, any more than it is Rick Fox or Danny Ainge or John Paxson.


  48. Sorry, @43 and 44. My bad.


  49. Robert Horry got rings with 3 different teams playing 3 different systems…that does say something to his ability to understand the game and his position and role. He never tried to be a superstar (ala Glenn Rice) and was satisfied with his role…in a time of NBA EGO. I think that says more for Horry than anything.

    Plus…he threw a towel at Danny Ainge! that alone should cement him in the hall!

    And…one injury to any starter in Cleveland and their season is over


  50. 43/44/45

    I am sorry to say it, but Steve Nash is an incredibly overrated player whose numbers were inflated in D’Antoni’s system. A terrific shooter and passer yes, but also a physically soft player and one of the worst defenders in the NBA who never led a team to the NBA finals much less won one.

    That he won two MVPs says more about how far modern sports journalism has fallen than it does Nash’s HOF credentials. Is there any better evidence than that the MVP has been devalued than the fact that Nash now has more of them to his name than seminal players like Kobe, Shaq, Hakeem, Dr. J, & Oscar Robertson?


  51. is it me or has truehoop sucked lately?


  52. Richard (48),

    For the most part, I agree with you. The HOF should be for players who stand out above the rest. But I also feel that there is a place in the Hall for Championship role players. Horry helped to win 7 Chips, not just tag along. He got it done. I agree with some posters here that Steve Nash is over rated, and doesn’t belong in the HOF, but he might get in because of his bogus MVP’s (at least one was). Being a winner throughout your career has to mean something. Up until last year, I didn’t think KG, nor Paul Pierce belonged, and I would even go as far to say the PP shouldn’t have his # retired in Boston. They happened to be very good players. The ring changed all of that, because it validated their careers. Horry set a pattern of being a player you bring in to help get a team to the next level. that has to count for something.


  53. For someone to be in the HOF, they need to be the best/very near the best at their position for an extended period of time. I don’t think that applies to Horry; I think it does apply to Nash (even though I don’t think he deserved his MVPs.)


  54. There are many on this blog that share my frustration with the common statistics measured by the league. A good player on a bad team can ring up Abdur-Rahim like stats and win nothing. The only objective criteria for success is championships. This is why Shaq ranks himself (correctly in my view) at third behind Russell and Kareem. As our pain in receiving the silver medal palpably showed, second does not count.

    Robert Horry absolutely deserves to be the HOF. He is the winningest player of his generation, and the previous generation. More than MJ, more than Magic, more than Kareem. Think about that. If it were that easy, Malone and Barkley would have a championship or two.

    There is a precedent. KC Jones is in the HOF. In his career he was never the first, second, or even the third option. His career stats are 7.4 PPG, 38% FG, 4.2 APG, 3.5 RPG – EIGHT RINGS. Horry’s is 7.0 PPG, 42% FG, 2.1 APG, 4.8 RPG – SEVEN RINGS. Mediocre stats (except in the playoffs where Rob’s TS% is 55%)

    And unlike KC, Horry had several NBFR (Not But For Rob) moments. Championships that would have never been if not but for Rob. 2004 Lakers – Game 4 vs Kings. 2006 Spurs – game 5 (21 points in 4th quarter and OT plus the game winning shot).

    As far as Nash, I think the MVP should only go to a player with at least 1 championship. This is harsh but I think necessary after the Nash debacles. Nash’s MVP deserve asterisks. While an excellent, creative offensive player. He was a product of a perfect storm involving the right coach in the right system with the right support players designed to boost his numbers and win the requisit number of game (50+) while playing little to no defense and with no chance of winning the championship. Another way to fix this is to award the MVP to a player after the championship is over for the entire season (not the regular season). (On another note, shouldn’t the championship MVP be for the entire playoffs? It is as if the 3 previous series and 21 potential games never existed? – but don’t get me started….)


  55. 54.

    I love Robert Horry, but the guy’s career averages are 7.0 ppg (on .425 fg%), 4.8 rpg & 2.1 apg.

    Yes, he’s has some big moments in big games, but he also has had the incredible fortune of being able to perform in spots while playing next to some of the greatest players in NBA history.

    So yeah, if there were a HOF for lucky bench players, then he’s in. Otherwise, I’d like to see actual great players like Adrian Dantley get in first.


  56. 54. I think that KG would have made the HOF whether he won a championship last year or not based solely on the numbers that he put up. I think he had 9 straight years where he averaged 20, 10 and 5. Bird had the second longest streak to average numbers like that at 6 years. So I think KG was going to the HOF even if he was never traded to Boston. But I agree with you on PP. He never did anything for the beginning part of his career to warrant being a HOF.


  57. @54 (wondahbap),

    I agree, that counts for something. Just not (IMHO) the HoF. 🙂

    @56 (Bill Bridges),

    If you argue that Nash’s achievements were inflated by a “perfect storm,” why wouldn’t that logic apply to Horry as well? He was lucky enough to be on the Rockets with a primetime Olajuwon (and Jordan playing baseball), he was lucky enough to be on the three-peat Lakers with Shaq and Kobe, and he was lucky enough to be on the Spurs with Duncan, Parker, et al. This isn’t to say that he wasn’t a good and useful player, because he absolutely did contribute, but a big part of those 7 rings was luck. If you evaluate HoF-worthiness by rings alone, Luc Longley is more deserving than Karl Malone. Horry did indeed hit some big shots, but many other players could say the same. Still doesn’t make him a Hall-of-Famer. Any more than Kirk Gibson should be in Cooperstown for hitting that homer in 1988 against the A’s.

    As for the KC Jones example, one questionable choice (if you consider it that) doesn’t justify another. One might as well argue that if you lost $500 playing blackjack in Vegas, you might as well lose another $500.:-)

    Of course this is all opinion, and all in good fun among fans. The actual votes of whoever decides these things will trump us all in the end anyway….


  58. I’d certainly like to see Horry enshrined in the HoF, and not just because the man brought so much joy into my life.

    Rob had a truly extraordinary career … unique and utterly without parallel …. and I, for one, think that deserves recognition.

    It would also be nice if the Basketball HoF did something like this from time to time if for no other reason than distinguish itself from its stodgier baseball equivalent. That Hall is all about individual achievement, which is fine, but since basketball is (arguably) the greatest team game it should probably honor the ultimate team player.

    Plus, it would be a fun moment! I bet Horry’s speech would be hilarous, they could play “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand” as he walked up to the podium, etc.


  59. There are so many great comments on this post! I love it! Here’s my opinion:

    Everyone please re-Reed (homage to Reed’s excellent postings. Love Darius’ insight as well) #38 from Chris J.

    I absolutely agree with what Chris is saying about Kareem being constantly overlooked. Granted he did not have the flash or marketing that Jordan had/created but the numbers don’t lie (although, Chris you forgot about Blocks….I’m sure Kareem had more blocks than Jordan). In EVERY statistical category Kareem was better than Jordan. Plus, Kareem had to go through other fellow HOF who played his position: Wilt, Russell, Walton, Parish, etc. Did Jordan even have 1 rival in the NBA at his position? Like Chris said, he never played the same team twice (except at the end vs. Utah) nor did he ever have to guard the other team’s best player. In fact who really guarded him? Payton/Xavier, Cliff Robinson, Byron Russell, and whoever Houston had. Now I’m not saying he’s not one of the greatest players to ever play the game and I do think he’s better than Kobe, but if I had to start a team based on their career output, I would pick a young Kareem over Jordan anyday.


  60. The MVP is a regular season award and should stay that way. I don’t think how many championships you have won should have any part in it.

    Now if they wanted to change the Finals MVP to Playoff MVP, I would be all for that. I think Kobe’s accomplishments in the Three-peat years have been diminished because of Shaq’s thorough dominance in the Finals. But Kobe’s thrashing of opponents in the earlier rounds were just as key to the Lakers’ successes.

    My two cents on Nash: he was good for those two seasons he won the MVP. The first one he won was when they were without Amare, I think, and weren’t predicted to do as well as they did. I don’t think he deserved either one, but please don’t diminish his accomplishments and talent.

    As for Horry for the HOF, I love Horry and think he played significant roles on three different teams winning championships. Should that merit the HOF? Maybe. But my gut tells me that you can’t have a player who played the regular season with less than half his heart in the Hall of Fame. But I wouldn’t complain if he got it. I love the guy.


  61. I wouldn’t say Kareem was better in every statistical category. Kareem played for a lot longer than Jordan. But Jordan put up crazy insane numbers in his prime. Kareem never had a PER above 30. Jordan had 4 straight years with a PER above 31. I’m not going to say one is better than another. I think Jordan had better prime years but Kareem had a longer career. Still, I think Kareem’s longevity has to count for something in a discussion of “best player of all time” and how good Kareem was in his prime is often overlooked.

    I think one thing everybody could agree on is that Andrew needs to bust out the sky hook soon. If he could do that he’d be a beast!


  62. To those of you who think Horry should be in the HOF:

    Where would you rank him among the power forwards of the last 15-20 years?


  63. A couple more things worth noting in the ESPN/Stein article Reed linked to above (#52):

    There’s a Q & A with Robert Horry, where he says he’s probably done, barring an unlikely last-minute call-up from some team.

    And a note that Utah effectively owns New York’s first-round pick in 2010, so there’s one less pick/one more space for an aging ring-seeker.


  64. New post up, Nets preview. Also, my take on the Horry debate, and a link.


  65. 56/59

    While I agree that KC Jones does not belong in the HOF, I would argue that he has a significantly better case than Horry, as Jones was the premier defensive player at his position during his era (it was unfortunate for his legacy that the NBA did not starts keeping defensive statistics and giving defensive awards until after he retire) and was the starting pg on three of those championship teams, a period during which he finish in the top 3 in assists in the NBA for 3 consecutive years.


    Horry was an inconsistent performer who stopped playing hard in the regular season years ago. Occasional big plays at important moments, yes. Ultimate team player, see John Stockton.


  66. Darius — Stein (obviously) provided the blueprint first. I just wanted to crunch the numbers to see how it could work under the cap (I was dubious at first). I asked a friend with long and deep ties to Suns management about the Nash to NY possibility and his reaction was that Nash is as good as gone — his love for D’Antoni and NY are that strong. We’ll see. The whole subject interests me because it would be so fascinating and good for the league to see the Knicks dominant again. There’s just something more interesting about key playoff games being played in LA, Boston, NY, and Chicago, as opposed to San Antonio, Sacramento, etc. Imagine the excitement of a finals sporting Kobe and the Lakers against Lebron and the Knicks. The league needs this. Maybe Stern will make it happen…