More thoughts with less thought than ever.

  • Thursday night’s TNT schedule boasted one of this year’s premier doubleheaders, with a Finals rematch that fell flat in Miami and a game that was routinely touted as a “Western Conference Finals” preview, Thunder vs. Lakers. In the interest of full (if unwanted) disclosure, these are the teams I would most likely envision pairing up in this year’s penultimate round, but both teams have gotten a free ride as far as the public discourse goes in one most important regard: their defenses. If a team has had offensive trouble throughout a year, such as Boston with its 25th league-ranked offense, that outfit will justifiably be written off as one without much chance of playoff longevity, as teams at or below the league average on either side of the ball simply do not get rings, empirically speaking. So how is it that two teams, OKC and LA, with defenses of relatively low calibers (12th and 9th leaguewide, respectively. Sounds decent, but the 4 points per 100 possessions more that the Thunder give up than the league’s best add up quickly) have come to be the de facto frontrunners out West? [read more…]

in columns

Only three players in the league have made more corner threes with a higher percentage than Courtney Lee: Nick Young, Ryan Anderson, and Ray Allen. He’s connected on more, with greater efficiency, than Kyle Korver, Shane Battier, and Daequan Cook (who Lee shoots 11% better than, on just a few more attempts). Of the six players mentioned here, all are well-reputed marksman, but just one (Young) is known for having more complexity to his offensive game. By taking all these corner threes, Lee is tempering his own athletic ability in a semi-sacrificial way, complimenting wonderful playmakers like Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic by standing idle in the corner and doing right by his team.

Every shooting guard in the NBA can hit a wide open three-pointer from the corner. An argument can be made that because of its relative ease and high value, this particular shot is the smartest one in basketball. (Eight of the 10 teams that boast the highest percentage on corner three-pointers are either a lock to make the playoffs or right on the border—Houston ranks second.) Shooting for three points from this spot on the court offers a reward that so greatly outweighs any actual risk, that you wouldn’t be a smart team if you didn’t find a way to get more than a couple open looks per game. (No surprise here: Charlotte ranks last in attempts.) [read more…]

in essays

On the outside looking in


After last night’s loss, the Rockets moved back down to 9th in the Western Conference, a familiar spot in recent weeks.  There’s no point in trying to diagnose the team’s problems.  It’s simple: they’re playing without their starting backcourt.  One could argue that Dragic and Lee have been better than Lowry and Martin, but the fact still remains that losing two critical pieces takes a huge chunk out from a team’s overall depth.  In fact, I think it’s remarkable that they’re even still in this thing.

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Patterson, Hayes and Boykins

  • As I had written last week, the Rockets had been feeding Patrick Patterson in the paint pretty aggressively in recent games.  They went away from that last night and it paid off with the big man hitting some huge jumpers down the stretch.  I think the team needs to abandon the idea of Pat in the post altogether, or at least, for now.  He just doesn’t have the touch.  He seems to put the same force into shooting the shot as he does into backing down his man.  And quite frankly, why do fans insist that he post up anyways?  He’s a good to very good jump shooter and even without a postup option, just running their normal guard oriented offense, the Rockets are top 10 in the league in production.  To be a good big man, you don’t have to post up.  If you play defense–which Pat does–and you space the floor, you will more than suffice.  That’s what Charles Oakley did and I don’t think anybody in New York was complaining about him.

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