Like the loss to Minnesota, this was a slow-paced game featuring efficient offense and minimal defensive effort on both sides. The Blazers won because despite being in a slump over the past few weeks, LaMarcus Aldridge (30 points on a mind-boggling .850 TS%) can still get whatever shot he wants against Javale McGee and Andray Blatche. The Wizards are probably the least professional team in the entire NBA, and if Nick Young and Jordan Crawford don’t have absolutely insane games they have very little chance at beating even a competent team. So a competent victory. Though the Blazers don’t look good by any means at the moment, but there appears to be a four way contest to miss the playoffs between Houston, Dallas, the Blazers and Minnesota. That means despite the worst efforts of Portland’s guards, a first-round blood bath at the hands of Oklahoma City or San Antonio may still be in the offing.
I really do enjoy Bill Simmons’ trade value column even if a lot of his other stuff is unreadable dreck. It’s great that a top columnist takes the time to watch so much NBA and even understand the vagaries of the salary cap. He also has a pretty good eye for the game. On Ricky Rubio:
Of course, you can pick apart Rubio’s “impact” pretty easily with advanced stats, which actually makes me feel better about basketball as a whole. I’m glad Ricky Rubio can be picked apart. I’m glad he’s the 33rd best point guard in PER right now. That reinforces everything I believed about those numbers in the first place. Sometimes, they’re going to be a little … off. They should be used to accentuate what we’re watching, not to single-handedly shape opinions or beliefs. You can’t fully measure how teammates relate to one another and fit in with each other; even the five-man plus/minus stat (which I like) only goes so far. We’ll always have players and teams defying their metrics. Kyrie Irving is better than Ricky Rubio — we can all agree, right? — but I’m not sure this particular Timberwolves team would be better with Kyrie Irving. That’s why I love basketball. It doesn’t always make sense
This is a good observation. From my observation, Rubio’s passing clearly makes Love and particularly Pekovic better with his passing, in a way that’s not fully summarized by his assist rate. A Rubio through traffic bounce pass to Pek for a dunk is different than a Westbrook drive and kick, in a way that’s not yet quantifiable. So yes, PER probably understates his value, and that’s even before we dig into his defense. I think most non-Dave Berri statheads would agree there is a place in NBA analysis for these sorts of observations from knowledgeable fans.
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is something I am dubbing fanalysis. For this sort of thing, see Simmons on Carmelo:
I went to Sunday’s nationally televised Knicks-Celtics game in Boston. Carmelo made what seemed to be the clinching basket; Pierce made a 3 to tie; then Carmelo had a chance to win the game in regulation. As ‘Melo was getting off the shot, everyone in the building had a collective slow-motion heart attack. Noooooooooooooooooo! We all thought that shot was going in. In my opinion, seven 2012 players make opposing fans crap their pants in a big moment: Kobe, Wade, Durant, Rose, Dirk, Carmelo … and just on reputation alone, Ray Allen. If you employ one of those players, you have a better chance of winning the title than everyone else.
If you want to write about what it’s like to be a fan, that’s fine. Those stories are entertaining to read. But you lose credibility by stating that “scary” players are important in clutch situations. You know what’s important in clutch situations? Players who make shots.
I wonder if Bill Simmons was scared here:
Were the Kings scared in this game? I was there and I was more nervous for Ty than anything.
Did Chris Paul “crap his pants” because Jewish Jordan is on the Nets?
I appreciate that Carmelo is a scary player, he has a lengthy catalog of game winners. He is one of the best scorers in the league. But really it’s ridiculous to act like a player who is “scary” is important in winning titles. Yes, Durant, Bryant, Rose and Wade are “scary” in the clutch. Why is that though? Could it be because they are top 10 players in the NBA for all 48 minutes? I don’t think it’s some sort of intangible property that makes them good in the clutch. It’s their dizzying array of skills and athleticism.
Carmelo Anthony is a good player to have in the clutch, just as he’s a good player to have for the other 45 minutes of a game. He can get his own shot from anywhere on the court, whenever he wants. Of course he is still relatively inefficient, not a particularly good passer, and he puts no effort in on defense. Those are all still problems in the last five minutes of a game, just like they were previously. And if you really just need a guy who has a “scary” ability to hit shots in late game situations, Jamal Crawford is much cheaper.
And even though Bill Simmons left TDGarden with soiled loins the other day, Melo missed the shot and the Knicks lost, leaving them on firm collision course for an obliteration at the hands of the Bull’s suffocating defense in the first round.