Points in the Paint

» March 11, 2009 7:09 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:  “The Jazz won 11 in a row from April 1-18 in 1999. If they keep it going Wednesday night, they’ll head to Florida this weekend with a shot at equaling the franchise mark of 15 straight, achieved twice during the 1996-97 season — which ended with their first of back-to-back Finals losses to Michael Jordan’s Bulls. That night in what used to be called the Delta Center 11 years ago — when Jordan picked Malone’s pocket, dribbled the other way, and politely shoved Bryon Russell to the floor on his way to immortality — seems like yesterday. Hard to believe it’s been that long since the Jazz were in the Finals. Is it premature to start thinking they could be on their way back? I don’t think it’s crazy. I understand that as the fourth or fifth seed — Utah is currently fourth — the road would be exceedingly difficult. Assuming the Jazz could get past likely first-round opponent Portland, they’d be on a collision course with Kobe & the Lakers in the second round. The Jazz are 1-1 against the Lakers this season, playing both games without Carlos Boozer, who is back with a vengeance after missing 44 games with a knee injury. But Utah is 3-6 against the Lakers the past three seasons, becoming road kill for Kobe.”

  • Dave McMenamin at NBA.com penned a great article on Phil Jackson. Here’s an excerpt:  “While one more win in the Finals would validate Jackson as the most accomplished coach in the history of the Finals, it would also redeem the current crop of Lakers. ‘He’s been in it for a long time and I think if anybody knows that opportunities like this are fleeting and that they don’t come around as often as you might think [it's him],’ Fisher says. ‘He more so impresses on us to take advantage of it. Just don’t let it go by and look back and wonder, ‘What if?’ or woulda coulda shoulda. I think it’s been a good message so far for us this year.’ In The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, describes Tim Robbins’ character in a way that could aptly fit how Jackson is seen by many.“I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn’t normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.” Jackson doesn’t identify his coaching with the stars he’s coached (such as Kobe Bryant), but instead with the reflection of his philosophies. Jackson has taken some flak, from the criticism that he has won only because he had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to the jabs about the throne-like seat he occupies on the sidelines, a seat that is designed to alleviate pain in his hips. Jackson shrugs it all off.”
  • LeBon James on the ways in which he can help his team win:  “I can struggle from the field but can also make an impact on the game because of what I can also do by rebounding and getting guys open shots.  I’m not just a scorer,” said James.  “One day you guys will figure that out, that I don’t have to score to make an impact on the game.  If I’m struggling from the field, I’m always trying to do something else from the field to make us win ballgames.” I’ve seen this theory floated elsewhere, and I’ll agree that LeBron is versatile enough to win games without putting a ton of points on the board. But make no mistake, LeBron is a go-to scorer. Sure, he can pass like Magic and rebound like the ‘Big O’, but he won’t get past the Celtics unless he shoots a high percentage.
  • Via Sports Radio Interviews, Josh Peter and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports report on the impact the NBA’s age-limit rule has had on agents and AAU basketball:  “Kevin Love said he would’ve preferred hitting In-N-Out Burger with his family after another UCLA victory last winter. Yet, there was Pat Barrett, head of one of the top AAU basketball programs in the country, waiting outside the Pauley Pavilion locker room and pleading for Love to come with him instead. Love had known Barrett since he was in fifth grade, played two years for Barrett’s traveling team and, as a result, said he felt obligated to go. What Love apparently didn’t know was a New York sports agency had donated $250,000 to Barrett’s team under the premise Barrett could deliver players such as Kevin Love – to dinner first, then as a client. When Love arrived at Mr. Chow, the famed Chinese restaurant in Beverly Hills, the waiting group included Jay Williams, former national player of the year at Duke and 2002 NBA lottery pick. Williams was there on business, as the chief recruiter for Ceruzzi Sports and Entertainment, the very agency that staked Barrett with a quarter-million dollars. ‘I was like, excuse my French, what the [expletive] is this all about?’ Love said during a recent interview. Like other young basketball stars, Love found himself in the middle of a cutthroat business where access to potential NBA players and people of influence is more critical than ever. Some agents still dispatch runners who lurk in the shadows and hope to befriend top college players with hundred-dollar handshakes. But welcome to Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills, and a newer and more sophisticated way of doing business. Williams was there to woo Love. Barrett was there to introduce them. Barrett also was there to help avoid trouble – by picking up the check. The NBA’s four-year-old age-limit rule has such dealings on the rise, and the case of the interaction between Ceruzzi Sports, Barrett, Love and Williams provides a glimpse into what the NCAA sees as a growing problem.”

3 Responses to “Points in the Paint”

  1. Ryan J. Parker Says:

    The goal is the determine what role refs play in the game. This exercise was an attempt to measure the relationship refs have with points scored per 100 possessions.

    There isn’t a whole lot of use for it other than to say that it is likely refs have a positive relationship here, meaning they add points. The real key will be figuring out how they impact the underlying features of the game, like shooting percentages and (the most obvious area) fouls.

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Ryan:

    I understand your goal. I think you’re definitely on to something too. Your formula threw me off.

    Do you think that it could be used to help predict point spreads? Tim Donaghy, for example, claimed to be able to predict the outcome of NBA games by knowing which officials worked specific contests.

    I know that’s probably not what you had in mind. But if you’re working with points scored and allowed per 100 possessions with relation to officials, that would appear to be a possible application.

    Regardless, it’s good to see that you’re thinking outside the box.

    Keep up the great work.

  3. Ryan J. Parker Says:

    Donaghy’s claim makes it sound like he had inside information as to which refs were biased against which teams, although it could be deeper than that (such as this ref calls such and such a way which will benefit this team). It’s hard to say what his claim meant.

    I think the real value with this will come from finding out where the refs have an impact. Are certain refs associated with lower shooting percentages from some areas of the court? etc.

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