Points in the Paint

» November 30, 2009 2:11 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • The gap between conferences appears wider than ever, per John Hollinger of ESPN.com:  “Much as it did last season, the East appears to be shaking out as a top-heavy conference that will see a quartet of second-rate teams join its four elites in the postseason. Only four Eastern teams rate in the top 13; in fact, only eight rank in the top 20. Based on the Power Rankings, No. 20 Toronto — standing at 7-11 after losing its past three games by a combined 67 points — would slip into the postseason because, well, somebody has to. Charlotte, Milwaukee and Detroit would join it in what one suspects would be a rather brief first round. In contrast, No. 13 Portland wouldn’t make it in the West — partly because the Blazers have been a slight disappointment thus far but mostly because virtually every other Western team has been better than expected.”
  • Charley Rosen filed a comprehensive scouting report on the Miami Heat, that includes this observation:  “Wade’s jump shots are erratic. Against Boston, he took 13 mid- to long-range springers and converted only five. One of his misses was an air-ball, and two others were forced. Moreover, Wade’s jumpers are much more accurate when he pulls and shoots then when he releases his shots with his feet set. Twice Wade received the ball after curling over the top of a weak-side screen — losing his dribble on one of these, and choosing to make a neutral pass on the other. Otherwise, he attacked the lane after high brush screens or on just plain isos. But in the last five-plus minutes of the game, the Heat’s offense was limited to Wade’s going one-on-one — looking to either find a good shot or make a successful drive-and-dish — and both he and his team failed to register a single field goal. Indeed, Wade’s erratic jump shooting is what makes him a second-tier superstar, and what prevents the Heat from becoming a consistent winner.” According to 82games.com, Wade is shooting 36.3 percent on jumpers this season.
  • 48 Minutes of Hell’s Timothy Varner on Richard Jefferson, and the state of the Spurs:  “Jefferson has looked decidedly mediocre on most nights, despite a couple convincing early season performances. What’s the deal? Unfortunately for the Spurs, the main concern with Jefferson is that he’s not impacting the game enough on the defensive end. His man defense is good, but not great. The Spurs consistently look to George Hill and Keith Bogans to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter players. Hill and Bogans relish the role of defensive stopper, and they also bring the goods. This is something the Spurs wanted from Richard Jefferson, and could still use, but have yet to see. The worry here can’t be explained away by a lack of understanding. This is not a matter of Jefferson learning the system. This is a lack of defensive intensity.”
  • Rafer Alston knows what it’s like to be on a streak. As Houston’s starting point guard, Alston guided the 07-08 Rockets to a 22-game winning streak (the second-longest winning streak in NBA history), outplaying such high-profile opponents as Chris Paul, Baron Davis, and Kirk Hinrich along the way. Now, Alston knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence, as his current team, the New Jersey Nets, are one loss away from the NBA’s all-time worst start:  “I’m in the record books,” Alston told SI’s Arash Markazi. “I was on the team that had the second-longest winning streak in the history of the game and I’m now on the team with the longest losing streak in the history of the game. I guess my kids can call me a winner and a loser.”
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:  “Sometimes a new player’s impact isn’t best reflected in his own statistics, but rather what his presence does for others. I’m talking specifically about Stephen Jackson; his field-goal percentage with the Bobcats isn’t so special (41 percent), but in his first six games here, the Bobcats shot 48.6 percent. Compare that to what they shot before his arrival (39.4 percent). Jackson demands defenses’ attention and he’s a better playmaker and decision-maker with the ball than even coach Larry Brown anticipated. If he keeps this up, he’s the fix this offense needed.”
  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:  “McMillan said before and after Saturday night’s loss that the Blazers were in the midst of an offensive evolution because star players Roy and Aldridge were learning to adjust to life with a player of Greg Oden’s scoring ability in the post. The past two seasons, the Blazers have built their offense around Aldridge and Roy and it has produced both success and a comfort level for the two players. They knew when and where their shots would come and felt at ease with game plans and schemes designed to capitalize on their strengths. But with Oden becoming more and more of an offensive threat — he’s tied with Pau Gasol for the NBA lead in field goal percentage (63.3) and ranks third on the team in scoring (11.6 points per game) — the Blazers are trying to learn how to play off of him on offense.”
  • Mark Schlueb and David Damron of the Orlando Sentinel:  “Pete Madison already pays $210 for a prime seat every time the Orlando Magic take the floor at the Amway Arena. But the longtime season ticket-holder may not follow his team to a new state-of-the-art arena next season. A seat comparable to what he has — at center court, three rows back from the floor — will cost $275 in the new arena, a 31 percent increase. ‘They might be losing me,’ said Madison, a Belle Isle real-estate and race-track entrepreneur. ‘I’d really have to think about that.’ Last week, the Magic began sending its season ticket-holders a ‘relocation handbook’ explaining the process — and the cost — of shifting out of seats some have held for years and into new ones in a building that opens in 11 months. Many, particularly those used to sitting farthest from the action in the upper bowl, will pay about the same or even a bit less for a similar seat. The team is dropping the price of its $10 tickets to $5, for instance. But those in the lower bowl will see the cost of a similar seat jump by 28 to 51 percent.”

5 Responses to “Points in the Paint”

  1. Erick Says:

    I wonder if Tsunami read the Rosen article for the piece detailing Rosen’s reasons why Kobe is the best player in the game.

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Most of Rosen’s argument rings hollow to me.

    “Kobe’s left hand is better around the hoop, and his off-handed shots also have better range.”

    That couldn’t be further from the truth. Bryant isn’t a particularly good finisher — with either hand due, in large part, to the fact he can’t palm the ball. Moreover, LeBron is actually ambidextrous. James writes with his left-hand, and plays basketball with his right. In fact, LeBron will often drive right, and cut back left before finishing with a left handed scoop layup.

    “Kobe has a better handle, both in and out of traffic.”

    They’re both excellent ballhandlers.

    “There’s no comparison between Kobe’s reliable jumper and LeBron’s erratic one.”

    James is shooting a blistering 47 percent on jumpers this season. Small sample size, of course, but given his shot selection and shooting mechanics, I think the improvement is sustainable.

    Bryant has been a superior defender thus far this season, and when it comes to scoring from the block (at the guard/forward position) and from mid-range, Bryant has no peer, but that’s about it.

  3. Erick Says:

    I see LeBron mishandle more dribbles than Kobe but not enough to make a difference. LeBron’s the better finisher, and he’s really improved him jump shot this year. I just want to see Tsunami blow up when he sees the article.

  4. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Tsunami tends to lay low when the Cavaliers are struggling.

  5. Tsunami Says:

    I’m enjoying the Cavs right now, and I think they will be very good in the postseason.

    As far as Rosen’s bullet points, I’d expect nothing less.

Leave Your Comment