Sunday, November 30, 2008
No, this isn't a sports blog. I haven't always posted about sports and it's not my intention to keep strictly to sports. But with the recent performances by rookies Bill Walker (SF) and J.R. Giddens (SG)... I just had to spread the good word.
On Friday, Bill Walker (47th overall pick in the 2008 draft; traded from the Wizards to the Celtics for cash) and J.R. Giddens (Celtics 1st round draft pick in 2008; 30th pick overall) made their debut for the Utah Flash; a Celtics D-League affiliate.
It's hard to say who outperformed who... 6'5'' shooting guard J.R. Giddens hit the game-winning shot in overtime, and 6'6'' small forward Bill Walker, who played alongside Michael Beasley at Kansas State, had 5 steals and went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Bill Walker (SF) played 41:03 minutes and, despite foul trouble (4 PF), had a tremendous stat line:
23 PTS (9-19 FGM-A; 5-9 3PM-A; 0-0 FTM-A), 8 REB (1 OFF, 7 DEF), 4 AST, 3 TO, 5 STL, and 0 BLK.
J. Giddens (SG) played 45:21 minutes and also put up solid numbers:
19 PTS (8-18 FGM-A; 1-4 3PM-A; 2-5 FTM-A), 12 REB (4 OFF, 8 DEF), 1 AST, 4 TO, 1 STL, 2 BLK, and 2 PF.
I know a lot of people consider the D-League a joke, and I wouldn't completely disagree. But after producing assist wiz Ramon Sessions, I think they've made a huge leap in proving to be a viable source of talent. If the D-League turns out to be the equivalent to the MLB's farm system, then NBA executives will look like geniuses. If not, what do they have to lose? I love the idea of bringing the NBA -- in some form -- to rural areas that would otherwise be uninterested in professional basketball.
The point I was trying to get at is this: don't discount Walker and Giddens, who could act as quality role players for an NBA team in the near future. And if you're one of the many who are quick to dismiss the legitimacy of the D-Leaguers... give it some more time.
Here's something to keep you entertainment while you wait:
An introduction to Bill Walker (interview footage mixed in with great in-game footage)
Now that you've been acquainted, here's Bill Walker's nasty slam dunk in an NBA pre-season game against the 76ers. I thought Theo Ratliff was a shot blocker... If anyone knows where I can buy the poster, please let me know using the comment section.
You may want to click on the videos so you watch them on YouTube in "high quality"
Opposing Team Stats are a solid indicator of how strong a team is performing defensively. The Boston Celtics were the best defense in the NBA last year. Anyone who considers themself to be a fan of the NBA knows this, because it was one of the best defensive seasons in NBA history.
How are the Celtics faring defensively this year? Have they lost a step? At least from a statistical standpoint, it'd be difficult to argue otherwise.
Opposing Team FG%
1. BOSTON CELTICS - 40.8%
2. Cleveland Cavaliers - 42.1%
3. Dallas Mavericks - 42.1%
4. Houston Rockets - 42.8%
5. Los Angeles Lakers 42.9%
6. Orlando Magic 42.9%
2007-2008 Season: Opposing Team FG%
1. BOSTON CELTICS - 41.9%
2. Houston Rockets - 43.3%
3. Detroit Pistons - 43.7%
4. Dallas Mavericks - 44.3%
5. San Antonio Spurs - 44.4%
Opposing Team 3PT%
1. Dallas Mavericks - 29.0%
2. Houston Rockets - 30.2%
3. Orlando Magic - 30.5%
4. Milwaukee Bucks - 30.8%
5. Denver Nuggets - 32.0%
6. Los Angeles Lakers - 32.0%
....BOSTON CELTICS rank 16th (35.6%)
2007-2008 Season: Opposing Team 3PT%
1. BOSTON CELTICS - 31.6%
2. Detroit Pistons - 33.2%
3. San Antonio - 34.2%
- If the Celtics finished the 2007-2008 season with 35.6% opposing team 3PT%, they would have tied for 8th best in the NBA. Not too shabby.
Opposing Team Rebounds (Offensive/Defensive; Total)
1. Portland Trail Blazers - 9.3/27.1; 36.4
3. Utah Jazz - 11.2/26.4; 37.6
4. New Orleans Hornets - 9.3/28.7; 38.0
5. Milwaukee Bucks - 9.3/30.2; 39.5
6. Phoenix Suns - 11.9/27.7; 39.7
2007-2008 Season: Opposing Team Rebounds
1. Utah Jazz - 10.3/27.5 - 37.8
2. BOSTON CELTICS - 11.0/27.9 - 38.9
3. Detroit Pistons - 10.6/28.6 - 39.1
Opposing Team Turnovers
1. Los Angeles Lakers - 16.6
2. Miami Heat - 16.5
3. BOSTON CELTICS - 15.6
4. Utah Jazz - 15.6
5. Denver Nuggets - 15.6
2007-2008 Season: Opposing Team Turnovers
1. Golden State Warriors - 16.2
2. Denver Nuggets - 15.6
3. Utah Jazz - 15.4
4. BOSTON CELTICS - 15.3
5. Indiana Pacers - 15.0
Opposing Team Points Per Game
1. BOSTON CELTICS - 90.1
2. Houston Rockets - 90.2
3. Charlotte Bobcats - 92.4
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - 92.7
5. San Antonio Spurs - 93.0
6. New Orleans Hornets - 93.0
2007-2008 Season: Opposing Team Points Per Game
1. Detroit Pistons - 90.1
2. BOSTON CELTICS - 90.3
3. San Antonio Spurs - 90.6
4. Houston Rockets - 92.0
5. New Orleans Hornets - 95.6
6. Dallas Mavericks - 95.9
Monday, November 24, 2008
Last Updated: November 24, 2008
I don’t want to put too much weight on how teams have played the first 12 or so games of the season, so know I’m not taking the statistics I cite too seriously. Power Rankings generally lack consistency. As I’ll say again, Power Rankings aren’t about the W-L column. Teams lose games by 5 or less points, and that L isn’t the same as one suffered in a 20-point blowout.
Celtics Boston Lakers Los Angeles Cavaliers Cleveland
I feel almost as uncomfortable putting the Cavs in my Top 3 as I do leaving
Eight Suns' players are averaging 20+ minutes per game; all of whom are providing excellent contributions. They'll need their aging stars to be kept around 30 minutes per game if the team wants to be in good shape for a long playoff run. Steve Nash and Shaq are providing tremendously given their respective ages and Grant Hill is doing OK to start, but I think Matt Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell and Boris Diaw are going to win them a lot of games. Plus they have this kid, Amare, who is probably the most impressive offensive player west of Ohio.
Pistons Detroit Jazz Utah
It pains me to put
Don’t fool yourself: the only Big Three in the NBA is in
- Portland Trail Blazers
When they play at their highest level… I cry a little bit. LaMarcus Aldridge showed last year that he’s very capable of scoring big in the paint. Brandon Roy is playing on a level with Danny Granger and Joe Johnson that can only be looked down on by Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Greg Oden is the tenacious defender. So what if he can’t shoot? He’ll average 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks on 55% FG and 65%
Hornets New Orleans Nuggets Denver
The Billups-Iverson trade is still rocking my world. Who won in that deal? It’s too early to tell. It’s clear that
Magic Orlando Raptors Toronto Mavericks Dallas Hawks Atlanta Spurs San Antonio
If the season ended today, the Spurs would be the #8 seed in the Western Conference. They were 1-4 with Tony Parker, and have been 5-2 without. Was Tony Parkers’ 27.4 points-per-game weighing them down? Of course not! My point is that the Spurs are getting it done without Parker and Ginoboli. Manu has said that he expects to play tonight against
My guess is you’re thinking, “So what? The Spurs are 12 games in and at 6-6 are only back 2 games in the division.” I generally can’t find any report on the Spurs that shows my same optimistic outlook, so I feel somewhat compelled to give some reason. The fact is this: when Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are all playing, and are as healthy as possible… the Spurs are the only other team in the same stratosphere as the Celtics and Lakers. They may even be better than that.
76ers Philadelphia Heat Miami
Kings Sacramento Bulls Chicago Pacers Indiana Knicks New York Warriors Golden State
Clippers Los Angeles
Unlike most Power Rankings, I’m not giving up on Chris Kaman, Al Thornton, Baron Davis, and Marcus Camby just yet.
Remember: these are Power Rankings, not Win Projections. A team that’s 0-10 can be better than a team that’s 4-6. It’s too early in the season for a team’s poor start to be so strongly indicative of a team’s final record.
Some people just don't understand Power Rankings...
Some people just don't understand Power Rankings...
Fox Sports (#28) said: “Yes, they're playing everyone close, but an eight-game losing streak is an eight-game losing streak. That matches Minny's longest skid last year.” Dumb
ESPN.com (#30) said: “Don't want to alarm a fan base still coping with KG winning a title in his first season away from 'Sota . . . but the previous team to lose eight straight after starting 1-0 was the 2003-04 Magic, who went from 1-0 to (gulp) 1-19.” I bet the Suns should be worried too. One time in NBA history, a team opened up 8-3, lost two straight games, and finished the season under .500! No one likes 'Sota, ESPN -- use one of the many good reasons not to.
The only one who seems to get it is NBA.com (#28): “The Wolves had three tough losses this week. They were right there in the fourth quarter of each, but lost at
Bobcats Charlotte Bucks Milwaukee Wizards Washington
Two All-Star players (
Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo are strong scorers. No team with Marc Gasol as their big man can be taken seriously, though.
Nets New Jersey Thunder Oklahoma City
Talk about an exciting season… Sure,
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This much we (I) know. Slumdog Millionaire is garbage. Today, prominent Hollywood blogger Jeffrey Wells wrote that he gets the feeling Millionaire is the current favorite for the Best Picture Oscar (he meant in a very gut feeling, not-saying-this-is-the-way-it-will-turn-out kind of way). But the fact that it is crap, and the fact that I have been reasonably happy with the last two winners (No Country and The Departed) leads me to believe something else will win. However, NO upcoming movies are exciting me.
-Milk like the "seen: I bet Penn's really good. But this just looks-it-before" biopic. Meh. (see Penn below)
-Frost/Nixon: This is definitely a "seen-it-before." Ron Howard won't drop the ball, the performances will be good, but the chances of this movie surprising or exciting me in any way are 0. And yes, I can be certain of that without seeing it.
-The Reader: "The Reader"? Not even TNT would approve that title. Oh wait, Stephen Daldry, Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes? Sounds stuffy.
-The Wrestler: By all accounts it's great, but Arnofsky has never done it for me. That said, what's it competing against so far? I'm ready to embrace this movie if it's half as good as people say.
-Doubt: Another one I'm counting on at this point. A playwright adapting his own hit play with a great cast sounds dependable to me.
Che: My most anticipated of any of these, but it's huge length means the Academy would never go near it even if it was getting unanimous praise.
So what does this mean for us? Doubt, The Wrestler, Button, and Revolutionary Road seem like the four movies that could turn out great AND end up being nominated for Best Picture. Throw The Dark Knight in there and I'll definitely be happy. More realistically, two out of those four end up being good enough to deserve it and hopefully they're nominated and I have horses to root for.
Just please no Slumdog Millionaire.
I. Love. Greg. Oden.
Consider this part one of a two part post on Oden. (I'm keeping this short because Portland is playing right now and I don't want to miss him swat another shot)
Greg Oden’s first three full games have been excellent...
Averages: 65.2 FG%, 72.7 FT%, 15.3 PTS, 9.6 REB, 3 BLK, 1 STL, 1 AST, 2.3 TO, 4.6 PF
As I post, his stat line reads:
17:27 minutes, 3-7 FG, 5-6 FT, 10 reb, 3 blk, 11 pt
5-6 FT makes me giggle a little. Man... He's going to be a very, very good player.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
No movie in my DVD collection owes as great a percentage of its success (in my opinion) to its score as Punch-Drunk Love. I'm always a sucker for Jon Brion's minimalist ditties, they have a way of keeping any story upbeat and afloat. Because Brion frequently doesn't use conventional "instruments" or crowd his score with more than one or two sounds at a time, he is able to blur the line between the diegetic and the nondiegetic. Heavy, "traditional" scores can distance me from a story, they reinforce the feeling "this is a movie." But Brion's scores have a feeling of spontaneity and awe, as if he's uncertain of of the sounds he's making even as they are coming out. While most scores feel structured and crafted to elicit a certain feeling, Brion's piece together scattered elements and then almost reluctantly declare, "This is music." Not coincidentally, movies like Punch-Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dwell on the intimate, piecing together disparate moments and concluding, "This is life."