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Archive → March, 2010

Tuesday Trivia: Starters on recent NBA Champions

This week’s quiz is about the starting lineups for recent NBA Champions.

My Score: 47/50

Warning: spoilers in the comments.

Should Jonas Jerebko make the All-Rookie team?

Keith Langlois broached the subject last week, but I want to look a little closer. Should Jonas Jerebko make the All-Rookie team? John Kuester told Langlois yes:

“There’s no question in my mind he should make it,” Kuester said after Monday’s practice. “He should definitely make it. Is that strong enough?”

That’s fine, but Kuester is obviously a little biased. Here’s an attempt at a more objective look.

Unfortunately for Jerebko, position isn’t a factor. If it was, he would be battling just Taj Gibson and DeJuan Blair for the two post spots. Instead, he’ll likely be passed over for five guards.

I see 11 legitimate candidates for the All-Rookie team – plus Omri Casspi, whose high scoring average makes it likely he receives consideration.

Charts

Both charts include each of the 12 player’s PER, adjusted plus-minus and win shares. The first chart is organized by my rating system.*

*For each category, I computed how many standard deviations each player was from the mean. Then, I averaged the three results for each player. Can any statisticians out there tell me if that’s sound analysis?

Player PER A P-M WS Rating
Marcus Thornton 17.61 3.76 3.4 8.256667
Stephen Curry 15.47 5.06 3.5 8.01
Tyreke Evans 18.35 -3.41 5.1 6.68
DeJuan Blair 17.16 -0.98 3.7 6.626667
Brandon Jennings 14.65 1.45 3.6 6.566667
Taj Gibson 13.95 1.79 3.9 6.546667
Jonas Jerebko 14.01 0.28 3.8 6.03
Darren Collison 15.99 -0.95 2.2 5.746667
James Harden 14.41 -2.57 4.1 5.313333
Omri Casspi 13.2 0.1 2.5 5.266667
Wesley Mathews 12.48 -1.4 4 5.026667
Ty Lawson 16.54 -6.52 3.4 4.473333
Jonny Flynn 13.13 -9.18 0.1 1.35
Average 15.15 -0.97 3.3 5.837949

 

In case there’s an issue with my analysis above, I’ve included a second chart. It looks at the same categories, but it’s sorted by rank among this group of platers for each category.

The obvious drawback is that it doesn’t measure how close a player is to everyone else. For example, Jonny Flynn has fewer win shares than DaJuan Summers. But the Timberwolves guard just shows up one spot behind Darren Collison on this chart.

Player PER A P-M WS Average
Tyreke Evans 1 11 1 4.333333
Marcus Thornton 2 2 9.5 4.5
Stephen Curry 6 1 8 5
Taj Gibson 10 3 4 5.666667
DeJuan Blair 3 8 6 5.666667
Brandon Jennings 7 4 7 6
Jonas Jerebko 9 5 5 6.333333
James Harden 8 10 2 6.666667
Darren Collison 5 7 12 8
Wesley Mathews 13 9 3 8.333333
Ty Lawson 4 12 9.5 8.5
Omri Casspi 11 6 11 9.333333
Jonny Flynn 12 13 13 12.66667

Next, I want to take a player-by-player look (organized by their rating on my chart). When available, the blogger for the player’s team has the first word. At the end, I’ll give my pick of whether Jerebko or that player is more deserving of All-Rookie honors.

Marcus Thornton

Ryan Schwan of Hornets247:

Thornton is probably tied as the best pure scorer in this rookie class. (Note: this is purely as a scorer. He’s NOT a playmaker.) Evans will end up better, but right now his offensive game isn’t anywhere near as complete as Thornton’s, and his numbers outstrip Thornton purely because of opportunity. Steph Curry is a match for Thornton in the variety of ways he can score, but I’d take Thornton’s aggression over Curry’s shooting any day when looking for a scoring guard.

I’m impressed by Thornton’s ability to score efficiently and also in volume. Jerebko’s role is rebounding and defending. Thornton is also a role player, and his role is scoring. I think he fills his role a little better than Jerebko fills his.

Verdict: Thornton

Stephen Curry

Everyone knew Curry could shoot. But he’s controlled the game in many other ways, too. He’s a lot more complete than I expected, and he is and should be an All-Rookie lock.

Verdict: Curry

Tyreke Evans

Evans’ season averages: 20.3 points, 5.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The only rookies to post a 20-5-5-1 season are Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Evans is special.

Verdict: Evans

DeJuan Blair

Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell:

I really love Jerebko’s game. He should have a fine career and is certainly deserving of All-Rookie consideration. During the last Spurs-Pistons games, San Antonio couldn’t account for Jerebko’s unrelenting activity. But I give Blair the edge because he has played a vital role on a playoff-bound team, and his individual metrics are better.

Jerebko plays nine more minutes per game than Blair, but he doesn’t produce more than the Spur. Jerebko is a good rookie rebounder. Blair is a great rookie rebounder.

Verdict: Blair

Brandon Jennings

Jennings is being asked to shoulder a huge load on a playoff team. Yes, his numbers have slipped, but he’s still a very good player.

Verdict: Jennings

Taj Gibson

Jerebko and Gibson are putting up very similar stats in similar roles. This one was really tough choice, but I think Gibson has been slightly better. And he’s playing for a team in the playoff hunt. I don’t think that should mean a lot, but in a close race, it gives him the edge.

Verdict: Gibson

Darren Collison

Ryan Schwan of Hornets247:

Other than poor, forgotten Ty Lawson, Collison is the best rookie point guard.  Evans and Curry are combo guards, Flynn reminds me of a Grant Hill-era Lindsey Hunter, Brandon Jennings is more 55-point game hype than substance.  Collison runs a team masterfully, knows when the press and when not to press, and picks things up astonishingly quickly for a rookie. He puts up gaudy numbers in crazy minutes, but even when you normalize, he’s taken the shots he should take, gotten his teammates involved, and turned the ball over two times more than he should have because he turns on the jets a little too hard and gets in trouble.

Who would’ve thought Chris Paul could go down with an injury and the Hornets would get similar point guard play? Collison has been awesome.

Verdict: Collison

James Harden

Royce Young of Daily Thunder:

Honestly, after looking it over, I hate to say it because I’m a shameless homer and I feel that I need to side with my guy, but I’d give the edge to Jerebko. They’re averaging virtually the same points per game, Jerebko shoots a higher percentage from the field and he also gets more minutes. Harden has been extremely important to the Thunder’s success (consider the team is 3-3 without him), but rookie awards don’t consider things like playing on a winning team. So in terms of who has been the more productive rookie and not who is the betterplayer, I think I’d go with Jerebko, strictly in terms of first-team all-rookie.

I agree with Royce. I really like what Harden brings, but it just hasn’t been as much as Jerebko this year. Long-term, I’d take Harden over Jerebko. But this season, Jerebko produced more.

Verdict: Jerebko

Omri Casspi

His shooting has been way down lately, and his defense has left a lot to be desired all season. He was even benched for a game. But it wouldn’t surprise me if his strong start and early-season hype place him on the second team.

Verdict: Jerebko

Wesley Mathews

Spencer Ryan Hall of Salt City Hoops:

I absolutely give the nod to Matthews. It’s still crazy to me that he want invited to the Rookie-Sophomore game. For me the clincher is the fact that he’s not only starting but usually finishing for a Western Conference contender.

I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I can’t think of another rookie who is contributing for a contender like Matthews.

Mathews and Jerebko score a similar amount of points on similar usage rates. They’re both good defenders, too. But  I don’t think Mathews has another dimension to his game that can match Jerebko’s rebounding.

Verdict: Jerebko

Ty Lawson

Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company:

Ty Lawson has been exceptional this season for the Denver Nuggets. It is not easy for rookie point guards to make the transition to the NBA, nor is it easy for a rookie to play an important role on a contending, OK quasi-contending, team. Lawson has handled both duties superbly. He can accelerate the pace of the game all by himself, earn a teammate an easy scoring opportunity in the half court offense and even knock down the three pointer. The biggest surprise however, has been his defense. No one expected Lawson to defend his position so well. To top it all off Lawson has filled in admirably for Chauncey when he has been injured. In games where Lawson played more than 30 minutes, he has averaged 20.0 points and 6.7 assists. 

I do have a request to make though. Do not hold the fact that acting coach Adrian Dantley seems to think he should play behind Anthony Carter against him. Dantley is clearly insane.

Do not let the fact that I cover the Nuggets fool you. I can see things objectively and I can say without bias or partisanship that Ty Lawson is more deserving than Jonas Jerebko of being named to the All-Rookie team. Jerebko has been a nice addition and will be a contributor in the NBA for years to come, but he is not the talent Lawson is. Now if we can only get Ty some playing time…

I’d take Lawson over Jerebko in a heart beat. But All-Rookie honors aren’t about who’s better. It’s about who’s accomplished more, and I’m not giving Lawson a bonus because he plays less. So, with all that considered, it’s almost a tossup.

Verdict: Lawson

Jonny Flynn

After taking a closer look, Flynn shouldn’t even be in this discussion. But because he has a high scoring average, I bet he makes the All-Rookie second team.

Verdict: Jerebko

Conclusion

I think eight players – Marcus Thornton, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, DeJuan Blair, Brandon Jennings, Taj Gibson, Darren Collison and Ty Lawson – should make the All-Rookie team ahead of Jerebko.

That would place Jerebko solidly on the All-Rookie second team, which based on gut feel, seems about right.

Pistons to enter uncharted territory by building through lottery

Mark Ginocchio of Nets Are Scorching asked me a few questions in advance of tonight’s game. I think one led to an answer I haven’t addressed here before:

NAS: Other than the MLE, what are the top priorities for the Pistons this summer?

The top priority has to be the draft. The Pistons will pick in the lottery for the first time since Darko and only the second time in the Joe Dumars era (he also picked Rodney White, another bust). That means the Pistons have been fortunate enough to make the playoffs most years, but it’s also pretty remarkable they had such a great run without their own lottery talent. Look around the league, and nearly every team is built around a player or players it drafted in the lottery. It’s the simplest road to success, one Detroit will try to travel down this summer.

Check out Nets Are Scorching for the other questions and answers.

Lessons for the Pistons’ rookies

ESPN’s David Thorpe has given the league’s best rookies players to watch and learn from. For Jonas Jerebko, Thorpe recommends Jerebko take a page out of Ron Artest’s book:

It might seem like an odd pairing, but it will make perfect sense. Jerebko has the stuff to be a real pain in the butt to go up against — all arms and elbows and a red-hot engine that never stops. Great teams always seem to have one guy who fires up his own team while punishing opponents with both mental and physical play.

Artest is not the player he once was (I’d want Jerebko to pull out some classic game film of Artest and maybe even get into some ’90s Dennis Rodman footage), but he’ll show Jerebko enough to help him reach another level on defense and the boards. No, I don’t want Jerebko to look at Artest’s shot selection — just his ability to get under the skin of his opponents using his length, physicality and bone-crushing attitude.

If you have Insider, I recommend you see what Thorpe wrote about other rookies. It’s a really fascinating piece.

But it made me wonder who the Pistons’ other rookies should emulate. I had no easy time thinking of answers (share your ideas in the comments), but this is what I came up with:

Austin Daye – Shane Battier

Like Daye, Battier isn’t that athletic. But unlike Daye, Battier is a premier defender. Battier is also tough, a trait I haven’t seen from Daye .

Being an elite athlete is usually a good first step to becoming a good defender. But as Battier has shown, there are other approaches. Battier is one of the league’s smartest players and relishes in learning opponents’ tendencies.

By all indications, Daye is very bright, too. I think he could handle the type of scouting Shane Battier does. That would mean less attention to his offense, but I’m OK with that.

If he wants to become more than a role player (and he’s not even there yet), Daye needs to learn how to defend and show some grit.

DaJuan Summers – LeBron James

Obviously, Summers will never approach James’ level. But there’s still a lot he could learn from the King.

The Pistons like Summers because of his combination of size, speed and agility. But he doesn’t always know how to control that and can look like a runaway train at times.

James is also big and fast, but he has great control of where he’s going. He knows how to shift his weight to keep balance at all times.

If Summers improves in that regard, it will help his offense defense.

Pistons are toast, and John Kuester should have to watch until the bitter end – plus Dumars will use mid-level exception

John Kuester deserves to be fined for what he did last night.

Late in the third quarter, Ben Gordon swung his elbows to clear space and may have hit A.J. Price. Gordon was called for an offensive foul – hardly a big deal.

Kuester went off the deep end, screaming at the official who made the call. Then storming to other end of the court, he went after another official and was ejected.

When asked about the incident after the game, Kuester paused before trying to put the words together.

“It was.. I was…,” he mumbled.

He talked about the foul difference in the game and how Price flopped.* The league probably won’t take kindly to those comments. But that’s not why I think he should be fined.

Kuester got out of watching the rest of the game.

Good for him. But I want him to pay. If the rest of us have to suffer through the end of this season, so should he. No early exits.

*Kuester also said Gordon’s offensive foul took away the Pistons’ momentum. I knew things had gotten low this year, but I didn’t realize it’s so bad the 5-0 run the Pacers were on, which expanded their lead to 11, when the foul occurred counts as momentum for Detroit.

The Pistons lost, 98-83 – and it was only that close because the Pacers are terrible. With Ben Wallace out, Detroit doesn’t have the players or fire to even compete with lottery teams.

I wish I could say the players should give full effort no matter what – like Tayshaun Prince, who had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He’s seemingly gone back to the robot-like player who can do a little bit of everything as long as you don’t ask him to do too much. He just puts his head, doesn’t think about his role and does his job.

For the most part, I like players who think and share their feelings. But I prefer this Prince. When Prince thinks and shares his feelings, he’s been a malcontent and distracted by criticism. I don’t want him shut his brain off all the time, but it might serve him best to do it around basketball.

But he’s the exception. How can these players not be worn down by this season? It stinks. A lot of this team is used to winning, and this isn’t easy to deal with. It shouldn’t be easy to deal with.

I can’t take much more, either. I don’t want to hear George Blaha getting excited about the Pistons cutting a 16-point deficit to 11 or calling it a huge possession down 11 later in the game. I understand it’s job, and I don’t begrudge him, but it’s annoying – especially after he’s had to say similar things all season.

Before this game, Chris Iott of Mlive wrote:

If the Pistons cannot muster enough energy and effort to beat the Pacers, it means they have waved the white flag.

I’m not one for putting too much stock into a single game. But I’m ready to surrender, too. Let’s get past these final 11 games as quickly as we can.

Joe Dumars plans to use mid-level exception

Here’s the real news of the night:

Joe Dumars said in an interview with Eli Zaret that aired during tonight’s telecast he plans to use the mid-level exception this summer to acquire a quality player.

I was worried with the economy down in the area, coupled with his desire to sign Will Bynum, that Dumars wouldn’t use the MLE this year. Thankfully, it’s in the cards.

Dumars also said he plans to acquire a quality player through the draft and another via trade (which indicates he’s not looking to dump Richard Hamilton for an expiring contract – at least not as the only deal of the summer).

That’s a plan I can get behind.

Tuesday Trivia: MVP votes

This week’s quiz is about active players who’ve received MVP votes.

My Score: 42/42 (3:34 remaining)

Warning: spoilers in the comments.

Joe Dumars nearly drafted Joe Johnson ahead of Rodney White

From Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

I think if there’s one draft choice Joe D would like to have back – even more than Darko, who was the overwhelming choice at No. 2 by NBA personnel evaluators that year – it would be choosing White over Joe Johnson. Remember, the revered Jerry West had said he thought White was the best talent in that draft, so a lot of people thought the Pistons got a steal at No. 9. But Dumars went into that draft with a soft spot for Joe Johnson, who went one pick later, and I think that’s the pick he wishes he had back. He managed to turn White into a No. 1 pick from Denver a year later, recovering pretty nicely and also affirming that other teams thought White had a real NBA future, too. It just never panned out for him, largely because of off-court issues.

Does that make you feel better about this year’s draft?

Five most-hated Boston Celtics

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (and maybe Monday’s blowout loss), Graham and I compiled a list of our five most-hated Celtics of all-time. It just seemed like a perfect way to commemorate the day.

Honorable mention: Glen Davis, Tiny Archibald (his wrongful inclusion on the NBA’s 50 Greatest list helped keep Joe Dumars off), Ricky Davis, Bill Walton, Gary Payton

5. Larry Bird

Get him!

He’d always start a bunch of conflict, then step out of the way. At least the Pistons’ star, Isiah Thomas, would handle his own business sometimes instead of deferring to Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn.

But, honestly, I hate how good he was. His steal and pass to Dennis Johnson still gives me nightmares. And I didn’t see it until it hit ESPN Classic.

4. Kevin McHale

Sexy.

McHale was just as dirty as the Bad Boys. But his reputation was a lot more pristine. He was Detroit’s Rick Mahorn – but with more talent, and that just made him more infuriating.

His reputation in Detroit shot up when he told Bill Laimbeer to beat the Lakers after the Pistons beat the Celtics in 1988. Otherwise, he’d be a lot higher on this list.

3. Danny Ainge

Me too.

This about sums it up. From a 1987 Boston Globe article:

Danny Ainge was the first of the Boston Celtics players to start dancing. There were 4 seconds left on the digital clock atop the blast-furnace old arena and he came close to Dennis Rodman of the Detroit Pistons and he started . . . started . . . what?

He did not seem to know the exact steps to do.

"Is this how you do it?" he seemed to ask the Pistons’ rookie as the time ran down on the Celtics’ 117-114 win in this final, ferocious seventh game at the Garden to capture the NBA Eastern championship and send the world champions into the finals this week against the Los Angeles Lakers. "One finger in the air. Isn’t that it? Right index finger. How about the feet? Is this the right way to do the feet?"

Danny Ainge danced and then Dennis Johnson danced and Kevin McHale danced and half the people in the packed, hot building danced. No one really knew how to dance the way Dennis Rodman had danced in those three Pistons wins in Pontiac, Mich., but somehow that did not matter. The dancers all looked out-of-step, out-of-synch lovely.

"That dance was something I planned to do from the beginning of this series," Danny Ainge said. "That was the Dennis Rodman dance. It was geared right for him."

2. Robert Parish

He played four more seasons after Sports Illustrated called him “old.” Just retire already.

This is exactly why I hate him. Every time I see this play, I get enraged. He didn’t even get called for a technical foul.

Worse, it wasn’t a personal foul, either.

(The NBA hated Bill Laimbeer.)

We really wanted to use this picture, but the watermark prevented us. Just check it out. It’s worth it.

1. Antoine Walker

Nom nom nom nom nom

The reason he’s so high is probably a generational difference, but I just can’t stand the sight of his face.

One of my favorite moments at The Palace came I believe during the 2002 playoffs. The scene on a scoreboard video: a fat guy in a Pistons shirt was eating a giant pizza in what happened to be the Celtics locker room. He got sauce all over himself and needed something to wipe it. Well, right next to him happened to be an Antoine Walker jersey. He grabbed it and sauced it up. The Palace crowd cracked up.

The best part: the entire Celtics bench was watching and losing it, too.

Everyone hated that guy.

Putting a sunshine twist on this miserable season

So, DaJuan Summers played well last night. But other than that, it was more of the same for the Pistons – Tayshaun Prince got hurt and Detroit suffered an embarrassing defeat. The Pistons are probably in store for suffering against Cleveland tonight, too.

And it’s really a shame. Spring is here. The sun is shining. It’s warm. There are so many reasons to be in a good mood.

Except the Pistons.

So, I dug up some old posts from this season about the good times. Yes, they were scarce. But if you need a lift, check them out. And remember, it’s almost over.

PistonPowered’s NCAA Tournament pool

I figured I’d host an NCAA Tournament pool this year. It might give us more of an excuse to watch some future Pistons – and maybe it will be a distraction from this miserable season.

No entry fee. No prizes. Just bragging rights. So, come join me and show what you’ve got.

Join here.