Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 7, 2008

Gasaway, Pomeroy at Duke and Kentucky

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 9:42 am

Hello from Chicago, the latest stop on our round of personal appearances in support of our book: College Basketball Prospectus 2008-2009. If last night’s signing is any indication, Ken’s favorite sound bite this year will be: “DePaul could be this year’s Drake.” Then again maybe he was just saying that because we were in the DePaul Barnes & Noble.

Now, coming this weekend….

  • Duke University: Saturday, November 8, 7pm, Regulator Books, 720 9th Street, Durham: Ken and I will be signing books and talking hoops. Is Coach K’s new high-speed low-TO style here to stay? Can the Devils make it to the tournament’s second weekend this year? And what about that other area top-10 team? Come on out and all shall be revealed.
  • University of Kentucky: Sunday, November 9, 2pm, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 161 Lexington Green Cir #B, Lexington: Last year Kentucky had enough injuries to last a normal team for two or three seasons. Assuming they stay healthy this year, how far can Coach Gillispie take Patterson & company? And what about that other (kind of) area team, the one down the road in Louisville? Stop by and find out.

Blue Devils, Wildcats, and anyone else in the immediate vicinities, hope to see you this weekend. 

Rose Garden Report: Portland vs. Houston

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 12:09 am

Apparently tonight’s Houston-Portland tilt, nationally televised on TNT, is a big deal. John Hollinger and Ric Bucher of ESPN are here, as is Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Ballard. And they let me in too for another live blog. This was supposed to be Greg Oden’s debut against Yao Ming, but like many early-season Blazers matchups has lost a little of its luster with Oden sidelined. That doesn’t make it any less important, especially for a Portland team that wants to avoid a 1-4 start to the season and is playing the second game of a back-to-back.

Portland 21, Houston 18 (end first quarter): Not a lot of flow in this first quarter, but the end result is solid for the Blazers despite an Aaron Brooks three to beat the buzzer. Rick Adelman talked before the game about how the Rockets’ offense has been stagnant in the early going, and we’ve seen that. Luis Scola has eight points, but Yao Ming has been held in check and Tracy McGrady has been very quiet (a football analyst might point out they haven’t said his name a lot).

The Blazers are honoring the late Kevin Duckworth tonight, with a feature at each timeout thus far including Jerome Kersey speaking eloquently to his teammate and friend. While Duckworth was an easy target for criticism at times, he gave Portland good minutes at the middle during the team’s run in the early ’90s.

Portland 52, Houston 51 (halftime): Taut, entertaining first half. I hope you’re staying up to watch this on TNT. The Blazers’ starting lineup has struggled thus far this season, with the second unit picking up the slack. It hasn’t been that extreme tonight in terms of plus-minus, but reserves Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez and Channing Frye have combined for 24 of Portland’s 52 points.

McGrady, upset by my comment earlier, came alive in the second quarter and displayed vintage athleticism on acrobatic forays to the hoop with difficult finishes. He’s got six points and four assists and Brooks, who played his college ball down the road at I-5, has 10.

Portland 74, Houston 71 (end third): Perhaps at some point, some team will open a double-figure lead in a game at the Rose Garden this season. Failing that, we’ll happily accept back-and-forth action. This has turned into the Tracy McGrady and LaMarcus Aldridge show, McGrady scoring 13 of his 19 points in the third period and Aldridge putting up eight of his 22. Aldridge has really gotten very good at creating good shots, using 26.3 percent of Portland’s possessions in the early going. He hasn’t been hitting them at a great rate, but the gambler’s fallacy is working for him tonight, as he’s 11-of-14 from the field.

With Yao Ming as invisible as a 7-6 guy can possibly be, the Rockets have run their offense through McGrady with strong results. The narrow difference in this game right now probably can be traced to the Blazers’ bench. Travis Outlaw has been very good in a reserve role and is a rebound away from a double-double.

Portland 90, Houston 90 (0:33.8, fourth): Well, the Blazers did briefly take a 10-point lead, but we’ve got another barnburner tonight. Houston has the ball and a chance to take the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter. The Rockets are finishing with Chuck Hayes at power forward for defensive purposes and Aaron Brooks at the point. Portland has Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy together in the backcourt, Roy playing the point, with Travis Outlaw and the starters up front. Roy has really not been on his game tonight, shooting 4-of-16 with four turnovers. No one else has stepped up as the go-to guy.

Portland 90, Houston 90 (end regulation): Ron Artest taketh away, Ron Artest giveth. A disastrous possession on offense for the Rockets saw only Artest touch the ball before taking a contested three. However, Artest stripped Brandon Roy going up at the buzzer, and thus overtime. While this is going to make it a late night on I-5 for me, I’m looking forward to five more minutes of intensity from this crowd.

Portland 101, Houston 99 (final, OT): Unable to buy a basket for 52 minutes and 58 seconds, Brandon Roy picked the right time to come alive. Roy hit two of the most improbable shots you’ll see in the final two seconds as the Blazers twice won this game (sort of). First, Roy hit on the secondary break to untie the game at put the Blazers up with 1.9 seconds remaining. Then Yao Ming topped him with a turnaround from the post plus the foul to give Houston a one-point lead with eight-tenths of a second on the clock. After a timeout, the Blazers inbounded to Roy, who immediately turned and fired from about 30 feet out on the left wing and saw his prayer splash through the net just after the buzzer, handing the hosts a 101-99 victory amid delirium in the Rose Garden stands. From an analytical perspective, hitting that shot tells us nothing about the Blazers. However, this was a team that needed this win to feel good about themselves minus Greg Oden. 2-3 feels a lot different than 1-4 this time of year.

“Hey Kevin, welcome to Portland,” says Ben Golliver of Blazer’s Edge. Really, is every game going to be like this?

November 5, 2008

Daily Ten: Election Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 2:22 pm

There weren’t a lot of eyes on NBA action Tuesday night, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, there was a terrific early-season game in Houston, where the champion Celtics held off the Rockets. The Celtics are now 4-0 in Texas over the last two seasons. Boston is being spared the usual harsh three-game journey into the dark heart of the Texas triangle this season, not playing at Dallas until Feb. 12 and at San Antonio on March 20.

Nov. 4 (4.1% of season complete, 50/1230 games)

PLAYER, TEAM gRATE
1. terry,jason_dal 11.8
2. nowitzki,dirk_dal 9.2
3. perkins,kendrick_bos 8.4
4. nash,steve_phx 7.9
5. scola,luis_hou 7.1
6. barbosa,leandro_phx 6.5
7. duncan,tim_sas 6.0
8. kidd,jason_dal 4.5
9. bell,raja_phx 4.4
10. anderson,ryan_njn 4.0

Explanation of gRATE here:

Center court
Kendrick Perkins beat Yao Ming like a drum (geez, how cliche is that?) on Tuesday night. Yao posted a -7.2 gRATE (to Perkins’ 8.4), shooting 4-of-14 from the field in 28 minutes, during which the Rockets were -8. Afterwards, Yao called it one of his worst-ever performances. Perkins had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting. He joined with point guard Rajon Rondo (10 points, 7 boards, 7 assists) to once again show that the Celtics are much more than a Big Three.

In the news

  • The Spurs are 0-3 for the first time since 1973. A quick jaunt over to basketball-reference.com reveals that the then-Dallas Chaparrals were a non-descript bunch whose most notable player was future announcer Steve “Snapper” Jones. James Silas, a future backcourt partner for George Gervin, was also on that squad.
  • NCAA note: Defending national champion Kansas played its first exhibition last night, against Division II Washburn. You can’t take much from these kinds of games, but it is worth noting that the Jayhawks surrendered 19 offensive rebounds to the Ichabods.
  • The Rockets have played four games. Backup point guard Aaron Brooks missed the first one. In the three games since, Brooks has posted gRATEs of 8.0, 1.2, 1.6. Starting point guard Rafer Alston, meanwhile, has been at -9.6, -0.1, -2.2. I’m just saying.

November 4, 2008

Daily Ten: Monday’s games

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 5:57 pm

An abbreviated Daily Ten today. The day has been chewed up by finishing off the last part of my rebuild of NBAPET — the ability to account for multi-team players without having to split things up manually. Thought I had plenty of time for that part. Thanks Dumars.

Nov. 3 (3.8% of season complete, 47/1230 games)

PLAYER, TEAM gRATE
1. hamilton,richard_det 10.5
2. marshall,donyell_phi 10.1
3. brown,shannon_cha 9.9
4. millsap,paul_uta 9.6
5. west,delonte_cle 7.8
6. lewis,rashard_orl 7.7
7. kirilenko,andrei_uta 6.9
8. james,lebron_cle 6.8
9. davis,baron_lac 6.5
10. gordon,ben_chi 6.3

Explanation of gRATE here:

Live and In-Person: Gasaway and Pomeroy

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:05 pm

Ken Pomeroy and I are about to hit the road in support of our book. (Did I mention that it received a very nice review in the New York Times’ Play Magazine on Sunday? Well, if I didn’t my mom will.) If you’re in or near Indy or Chicago this week, stop on by. We’ll sign that CBP 08-09 for you and talk some college hoops while we’re at it….

  • Indianapolis: Wednesday, November 5, Noon to 2pm, Barnes & Noble at IUPUI (420 University Blvd.). I’ll actually be flying solo on this one, as Ken can’t make it. So my plan right now is to do the first hour as “John Gasaway” and the second as “Ken Pomeroy.” Let’s see, as “Ken” I could sign every copy: “Gasaway totally carried me on this book. I am in awe of the man and you should be too.” I love this! Come on out, Indy. Spend your day-after-history lunch hour with me.
  • Chicago: Thursday, November 6, 6pm, Barnes & Noble at DePaul (1 E. Jackson Blvd.). The Ken-John show parachutes into the near North Side to talk Big East, Big Ten, Horizon, or any other kind of hoops. If you can’t make it but you’ve always had a burning curiosity to find out what we look like (and really who doesn’t?), be advised that Ken and I will be dropping in on the WGN News at Noon that day. I’ll of course try to convince them that I’m actually Nicolas Sarkozy, which will undoubtedly be way easier than putting Ken across as Carla Bruni.   

Still to come! On-campus appearances this weekend at Duke and Kentucky–tangled up in blue! Watch this space for details.

November 3, 2008

SCHOENE on Iverson for Billups

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 4:46 pm

We’ve got an old-fashioned blockbuster trade in the NBA today, it appears, with numerous outlets reporting that the Denver Nuggets are set to deal Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess with second-year center Cheikh Samb also a throw-in on the Detroit side.

As soon as I caught wind of the deal, I threw it into my “alternate scenario” spreadsheet that uses the SCHOENE projection system to evaluate hypotheticals. The results are generally predictable from the Detroit end–a projected drop of about two and a half games in the standings, which is approximately the projected difference between Billups and Iverson this season. As I wrote in my Northwest Division Preview, up this morning, I think Iverson’s drop might be a bit on the harsh side because Iverson is such a historical oddity that there are few appropriate comparable players. However, Iverson has been relatively quiet thus far this season (18.0 points per game despite the Nuggets playing two games without Carmelo Anthony) and it’s not unreasonable to think that when Iverson drops off it could come all at once.

From the Nuggets’ perspective, the projected gain is enormous–nearly eight games. Why the difference? As I explained in the Northwest preview, a large reason SCHOENE is so down on Denver is the lack of a projection for Chris Andersen. Giving minutes previously played by a generic replacement-level player to McDyess results in an enormous leap. So part of it is getting the Nuggets to a more reasonable projection in the first place. Also, keep in mind that Billups rates as more valuable than Iverson in fewer minutes, and the players picking up the extra minutes (J.R. Smith in particular, whom we now have projected to average nearly 18 points per game) add some value.

The big caveat to the deal, then, is whether McDyess ever suits up in Denver. Reports have suggested he might request a buyout because he wants to play in Detroit, while the Nuggets might be amenable if they can get under the luxury tax. That would hurt Denver’s frontcourt depth, as McDyess is a huge step up from the long-done Juwan Howard.

Bottom line, Detroit takes a step backwards out of the top tier of contenders in the East and into the second group with teams like Cleveland, while the Nuggets make a playoff run much more reasonable, especially if they hang on to McDyess. Look for a more complete analysis of the trade on Basketball Prospectus tomorrow after we’ve had some more time to see how things shake out.

Daily Ten: Sunday’s games

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 12:31 pm

Only a pair of games on Sunday, leaving the competition for the Daily Ten pretty sparse. Milwaukee’s Michael Redd’s 10.8 gRATE, however, would have made the cut on almost any day. Redd is off to a fabulous start. His 10.8 WP82 (wins produced prorated to 82 games) ranks 14th among the 240 players that have played at least 30 percent of the available minutes at their position. Redd’s peformance on Sunday was atypical, however. Redd took a backseat on the offensive end to fill-in point guard Ramon Sessions, who scored 18 points in 17 FGA in 43 minutes. Redd, meanwhile, scored 16 points on eight FGA before leaving with sprained ankle in the third quarter. NBAPET, nevertheless, gives Redd the bulk of the credit for Jamal Crawford’s 1-point-in-32-minutes flop. Either it’s a case of counterpart mismatching or Scott Skiles is already having a positive impact on Milwaukee’s defense.

Nov. 2 (3.3% of season complete, 41/1230 games)

PLAYER, TEAM gRATE
1. redd,michael_mil 10.4
2. mbah_a_moute,luc_mil 8.6
3. villanueva,charlie_mil 6.4
4. robinson,nate_nyk 6.3
5. richardson,quentin_nyk 4.4
6. brewer,corey_min 4.1
7. watson,earl_okc 3.5
8. collison,nick_okc 3.0
9. sessions,ramon_mil 2.6
10. mason,desmond_okc 2.5

Explanation of gRATE here:

Center court
Minnesota’s Corey Brewer had an unusually poor rookie season in 2007-08, especially on the offensive end. Brewer averaged just 10.2 points per 40 minutes, hitting a 38.2 eFG percent. He had trouble getting his own shot (15% usage rate), not a trait you want to see in a supposedly-athletic 21-year-old lottery pick.

In the early part of his second season, Brewer seems to be status quo. He’s at 9.8 points per 40 minutes and his eFG is 42.5 percent on a usage rate of 11%. Nevertheless, Brewer’s WP82 is a solid 6.4, which would be nearly 5 wins above his projection. I thought Brewer would be an elite perimeter defender coming out of Florida, with his long arms and athletic ability. He may be becoming an impact defender already. His steal rate is 14th in the league and his NBAPET individual defensive rate is in the top 40. He’s also chipping in with a surprisingly strong showing on the offensive glass.

Is Brewer a Quinton Ross or Bruce Bowen in the making? Too soon to make that call, but it’s something that bears watching. In Minnesota, where Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Rashad McCants are the go-to scorers, Mike Miller the shooting specialist and Kevin Love the physical presence, Brewer fills a role. I’m not sure it’s the role that Kevin McHale envisioned when he took Brewer at No. 7 last year, but it’s a role nonetheless.

In the news

  • Very early pace pulse: Mike D’Antoni has the Knicks playing at the fastest tempo in the league. Nate Robinson, in particular, seems to be thriving in D’Antoni’s system — on both ends of the floor.
  • I don’t think I need to embellish on what Reggie Theus told the Sacramento Bee about the possibility of starting Jason Thompson over Mikki Moore: “Mikki’s job is not in jeopardy at all,” Theus said. “If (young players) earn their minutes, they will get their minutes. (But) you’ve got to do something above and beyond to take a veteran’s position in the starting lineup.”
  • The Warriors’ last cut, Notre Dame rookie forward Rob Kurz, was re-signed on Sunday. The NBA’s rule is that you have to keep a player on the 15-man roster for at least three games before you can move him to the suspended list. Golden State played its third game on Saturday, meaning that Chris Mullin could remove Monta Ellis from the roster, opening a spot for Kurz.
  • Today could be Stephon Marbury’s last day as a Knick. Or it may not. New York president/GM Donnie Walsh is meeting with Marbury and D’Antoni today. Marbury has been inactive for two straight games and has no apparent role in D’Antoni’s plan for the team. What he does have, however, is a gigantic contract. Walsh told the New York Post: “I’m saying I got to get involved in this,” Walsh said. “There aren’t a lot of options.”

November 2, 2008

Daily Ten: Saturday’s games

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 6:58 pm

The Hornets’ Chris Paul had the game of the early NBA season. Paul had 24 points on 13 FGA, with 15 assists against 1 turnover. Meanwhile, his Cavalier counterpart, Mo Williams, was 5-of-15 from the field and committed 4 turnovers. The disparity of that matchup alone was too much for Cleveland to overcome on the road.

Nov. 1 (3.2% of season complete, 39/1230 games)

PLAYER, TEAM gRATE
1. paul,chris_nwo 18.8
2. howard,dwight_orl 13.1
3. wallace,gerald_cha 12.3
4. lewis,rashard_orl 11.9
5. herrmann,walter_det 11.6
6. young,thaddeus_phi 10.2
7. barnes,matt_phx 9.8
8. fernandez,rudy_por 9
9. moon,jamario_tor 8.8
10. kirilenko,andrei_uta 8.6

Explanation of gRATE here:

Center court
Walter Herrmann has shown up on the Daily Ten twice now in the first week. On Saturday, against the Wizards, Herrmann had 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and shot 6-of-9 from the field in 23 minutes. Overall, the Pistons have been very effective on offense during the early season, posting the second-best offensive efficiency (116.4) in the league. The Spurs lead at 119.3. Hey, it’s early.

In the news

  • A big problem for the Jazz last season was turnovers on the offensive end. Not so on Saturday. The Jazz set a franchise record with only five turnovers against the Clippers. This comes with Deron Williams missing his second-straight game with an ankle sprain. The Jazz and Clippers have a turnaround game on Monday. Williams is expected to miss that one, too.
  • Also missing Saturday’s game — as well as Monday’s return match — was Williams’ Clipper counterpart, Baron Davis, who has a bum hip.

November 1, 2008

Extension Decisions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 8:33 pm

Last night was the deadline for NBA teams to sign eligible players entering the final year of their rookie contracts to extensions or else have them become restricted free agents next summer. A few weeks ago, I broke down the extension market and did a decent job of putting players into categories of extension likelihood.

The only surprise amongst the extensions was Portland’s Martell Webster, whom I placed in the unlikely category. Danny Granger was the lone player I considered likely, and lo and behold he came to terms with the Pacers. Of the guys I considered 50-50 propositions, two signed (Andrew Bynum and Jason Maxiell) and three did not.

The extensions for Granger (a reported five years, $60 million) and Maxiell ($20 million over four years) seem pretty straightforward. The offseason set an average salary around $12 million as the going market for players of Granger’s ilk a bit below All-Star caliber, while Maxiell decided security was better than the chance of a longer and maybe slightly more lucrative deal as an RFA.

Bynum’s extension is complicated, naturally, by his recovery from knee surgery. Early in the season, Bynum has looked solid if not spectacular. He’s anchored a Lakers’ defense that has been very impressive thus far. The deal–a reported $60 million over four years, the last year at team option–gets Bynum his market value while limiting the risk to the Lakers by guaranteeing Bynum just three years. It seems like a reasonable deal for both sides.

That leaves the Webster deal, reported as similar to the one signed by Maxiell. If Webster has a breakthrough season, it could be a bargain. However, he’s amongst the least accomplished players ever signed to extensions. I would have favored waiting until season’s end to have a better sense of the direction of Webster’s development before committing to him, especially given the Blazers have eaten into their potential cap space at season’s end.

Below, Bradford asked to see Webster’s comps. Alas, they’re surprisingly good. While Webster’s high minutes totals at a young age have a lot to do with that, guys like Mike Miller and Joe Johnson were little or no more effective on a per-minute basis at the same age before developing into quality players.

Sim   Player                Year

97.9  Mike Miller          00-01
97.8  Joe Johnson          02-03
96.4  Ray Allen            96-97
96.3  Gerald Green         06-07
96.2  Tim Thomas           97-98
95.8  Peja Stojakovic      98-99
95.0  Andrea Bargnani      06-07
94.8  Jason Richardson     01-02
94.3  Dirk Nowitzki        99-00
93.7  Rashad McCants       05-06

Daily Ten: Halloween edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 3:29 pm

Kevin Garnett and the Celtics are showing no signs of complacency, notching a pair of impressive home wins during their first two games. Last night KG had 18 points on 11 FGA and grabbed 10 rebounds. But he tops the list for harrassing Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas into a — get this — 2-of-17 performance from the field. How many dunks can one player miss? Overall, the Celtics held the Bulls to a 31% eFG.

Oct. 31 (2.0% of season complete, 25/1230 games)

PLAYER, TEAM gRATE
1. garnett,kevin_bos 11.7
2. wade,dwyane_mia 10.3
3. parker,anthony_tor 8.5
4. biedrins,andris_gsw 7.4
5. mason,roger_sas 7.1
6. lewis,rashard_orl 6.9
7. bargnani,andrea_tor 6.6
8. green,willie_phi 6.5
9. calderon,jose_tor 6.5
10. miller,andre_phi 6.5

Explanation of gRATE here.

Center court
One of the most interesting players this season could turn out to be Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani, who will forever be laden with the expectations of being an overall No. 1 draft pick. In Toronto’s opener, Bargnani went 0-of-4 from the field but had a nice floor game, played solid defense, and the Raps were +10 with him on the floor. On Friday, Bargnani was much better, scoring 19 points on just 10 field-goal attempts. He also grabbed five boards and blocked three shots on his way to posting a team-best +11 plus/minus rating. Could this be the breakout season that, frankly, few of us expected him to have?

In the news

  • Just a fun fact: As of today, the combined age of the starting lineup of the Memphis Grizzlies is 106 years old. That’s the exact same age for the projected starting lineup for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
  • Kevin Garnett reached the 1,000 games-played mark last night. At 32, he’s the youngest player to reach that level. There have been 94 players to player in at least 1,000 games. For Garnett to break Robert Parish’s record of 1,611, he’d have to play until he’s 39 or 40.
  • There were a number of extensions signed and denied the last couple of days, as the decisions on a number of players had to be made by Nov. 1. The one that surprised me was Portland’s Martell Webster, who received an extension. I’d be curious to see the list of comparables from Kevin Pelton’s SCHOENE system.
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