Semester Break for the Celtics

March 30, 2008

The probable Celtic sweep against the Hawks in the first round won’t remind anyone of the classic battles between Bird and Dominique. 

After passing their recent West Coast Exam with flying colors, and following their Texas Triangle performance with thorough dominance of the Chris Pauls at home, the Celtics have officially gone on winter break. 

The remainder of the schedule pits Boston against the likes of the Heat, Knicks, and other dregs of the Eastern Conference.  Their only game against a team over .500 comes against the Washington Wizards on April 9th, a team that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men.  The Conference title and home court throughout the playoffs should be sewn up within about 10 days. 

The match-up with the Heat tonight is a microchosm of the rest of the season.  The Heat are currently sitting Dwayne Wade, Shawn Marion, and anyone else worthy of a roster spot on a team worthy of your attention.  The lone bright spot is former UMass stud Stephane Lasme, who has a chance to make the league as a defensive stalwart, despite his subpar height and offensive game.  That’s one player who might have a shot at playing for a decent team in the future for more than a 10-day contract.

So, as much as Doc has denied it, the C’s will certainly be scaling things back until their likely first-round match-up with Atlanta–which should be a four-game affair.  The key will be limiting the starters to 30 minutes a night and giving Ray Allen and Paul Pierce a game or two off should they need it–The Truth has been the only Celtic to play in every game this season, so it’s his turn to take a couple days off.  Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Leon Powe, and Eddie House will need to up their minutes to get back in a groove for the second season, and the P.J. Brown and Xenu situations will need to be sorted out.  Whether or not the two late-season pick-ups should play much of a role in the post-season is still up for debate, and Doc must use his last 10 games to find the answers, not destroy inferior opponents at the cost of extra rest for his ageing superstars.

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Oden’s Haste Great News for Blazer Fans

March 28, 2008

Apparently Greg Oden played in a pick-up game Wednesday.  It was dumb on his part, and the Blazer brass gave him a stern talking to about it, so all is well now.  But things aren’t just well if you’re a Portland fan, they’re reallllllllly well.

Think about it, you’re best player is a smooth customer who can do everything, you’ve got a nice power forward to go with him, your roster is filled with talent, more is on the way this year from the lottery and possibly Rudy Fernandez, and best of all Greg Oden LOVES BASKETBALL.

I can’t even imagine how excited Henry Abbott must be.  If your best player loves the game so much that he’s willing to stupidly play amateurs who can’t even touch him, I’m guessing he’s going to be in the gym quite a bit working on his skills.  Since his game is a little raw at this point offensively, that sounds good to me.  I’m now thinking Oden will DEFINITELY be a superstar with good health.  Happy days in the Northwest.

PS–Durant’s been fire since he was called out for his poor play this season.  Check it out.  Plus, once the Sonics finally play him at the forward spot, his natural position, and let him do his thing on the blocks and against slower, bigger defenders on the perimeter, his rebounding numbers will jump up.


Introducing ‘True MVP Value’

March 25, 2008

This guy probably won’t be too happy our True Value MVP

The MVP race is loaded with quality candidates this season, and it’s not altogether clear who will win.  Kobe Bryant, otherwise known as TheRapist, (somehow) has become the sentimental candidate among talking heads.  The fact that he’s never won an MVP dismays folks, despite the fact that he’s never been the best player in the league, and has only been close a couple times.  Anyways, the race has essentially come down to two real candidates in my mind, LeBron James and Chris Paul, but Kevin Garnett and Mamba are probably ahead of Paul, in voters’ eyes at least.  Consequently, I’ve been thinking about a way to measure true value of any given player, and I’ve come up with an extremely unoriginal name for it: True Value.

The formula is both fascinatingly complex and incredibly easy at the same time.  First, you take John Hollinger’s magna carta, Player Efficiency Rating (PER), which is a lot more intricate than most would care to get, then you multiply that number by a player’s minutes per game, and finally, the actual number of games played.  This new number should help fix the disparity between massive production in short minutes and lesser numbers with a more cumbersome load. 

Two great examples of this are forgotten MVP candidates Amare Stoudamire and Manu Ginobili.  The two have been stellar this season, but have played shorter minutes than other superstars because of the teams they play on.  Their total numbers are both impressive, but they pale in comparison to the top tier of this year’s MVP candidates.  Manu posts a score of 50918.66, while Amare checks in at 4th overall with a score of 61776.144.

As far as the Final Four are concerned, KG (50204.83) finishes last due to a paucity of total minutes, Kobe’s next due to his ironman act (66672.266), Paul takes second (71329.5), and King James starts his reign with a gigantic tally of 79417.91.

Click here if you’d like the raw data to check my math (which was completed at 2:57 pm on March 25th).

Now there’s one other pesky little issue MVP voters love to toss out there: wins.

So, in order to appease our elders, we’ll throw them a bone, and gear our True Value formula specifically to the MVP race, and call it (ingeniously) True MVP Value.  To do this you simply multiply the aforewritten scores by each player’s team’s winning percentage, and divide by 1000 just to make the number a little nicer on the eyes.  This places CP3 (49.3) in the lead, followed by Kobe (46.0), LBJ (44.7), and KG (39.5).  

 

So you’re saying CP3 deserves to win?” collectively sigh MVP voters.  “Hmm, let’s vote for Kobe anyways!

One thing you might notice, since I did, is how messy the phrase “by each player’s team’s winning percentage” is.

It seems sort of silly to unequivocally equate one player’s value with his team’s record.  After all, Brian Scalabrine plays for the Celtics, so does that mean he’s better than even someone as bad as Zaza Pachulia?  Sadly, since ScalNasty makes $3 million a year, no.

Thusly, I’m going to add two more of my cents, which is roughly 40% of my bank account.

If a player can account for no more than 20% of a team’s play at a time, how can his value be based on an unaugmented team stat?  I say it can’t, and this is my blog so deal with it.  Thereupon, I will multiply each player’s team’s winning percentage by .2 before recalculating my final scores. 

After all computations, Paul wins it all at 9.9, Kobe remains the perpetual bridesmaid at 9.2, LeBron’s team screws him over at 8.9, and KG’s side injury ruins his candidacy and lands him in fourth place at 7.9.

These numbers are based on current data only, which means they will change as the season progresses and each team completes its full schedule.  So LeBron may jump over Kobe, and a fluke injury could change everything, but most likely we’ve got our True Value MVP already: the quick-handed ball puncher.


Nathan and Barry Reaction

March 24, 2008

Joe Nathan has re-signed with the Twins for four more years (a phrase that makes me think of Bush and feel queasy), and the deal is valued at $47 million. It’s a nice move for the Twins, considering Nathan is one of the best closers on the planet, but he’ll be 37 in the final year of his deal, and investing so much in a closer for a small market team is extrememly risky.  For a large market team it would be a no-brainer (well, not quite, since anything no-brainerish is likely to end up being a rash decision), but if the Twins are going to trade the best pitcher on the planet for a grab bag of mediocrity then re-signing a luxury item for big money–and an older model at that–doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of their moves this offseason.  GM Bill Smith is off to a curious start to say the least.

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Elsewhere, the San Antonio Spurs have re-signed sharpshooter Brent Barry a month after trading him to the Sonics, along with a first-round pick and Francisco Elson, for Kurt Thomas.  It’s a nice, if not evasive, move for the Spurs.  Since the Celtics pulled a fast one of the league a few years ago and used Gary Payton’s contract to complete a deal, only to re-sign him shortly thereafter with some cooperation from their trade partners, the league has instituted a rule stating that a team cannot re-sign a player it has traded during the season until thirty days have passed.  The spirit of the rule is also important, as the initial Jason Kidd to Dallas trade involved Jerry Stackhouse and some sketchiness, but once Stack ran his mouth he couldn’t be included in the deal if he wanted to return to Big D in time for the playoffs.  So, while techincally legal, and apparently not premeditated, this deal still doesn’t feel right.  Except for on the court, where Barry’s sniper-like antics from deep, as well as anywhere else on the court, will help open things up for the Spurs and give them a better shot at defending their title.


Tigers Lock Up Their Future

March 23, 2008

 

 La palabra en la calle is Miggy’s lost a few pounds off his face since his trade to the Tigers.

Damnit.

My master plan of having Miguel Cabrera replace Manny Ramirez in leftfield has been thwarted by those pesky Detroit Tigers.  The amazing thing about this deal is while it’s officially the fourth biggest contract ever signed in MLB history, it seems like a bargain.

Miguel Cabrera is about as sure of a sure thing as exists in this world.  His credentials are unmistakeable and he’ll turn only 25 in April.  And this isn’t any questionable 25 either–the kid still looks younger than the Jonas Brothers.  Weight issues have clearly been addressed, as evidenced by his showing up at camp this Spring looking more like Gabe Kapler than his former future-self, Bartolo Colon.

Manny’s option years just became a hell of a lot more intriguing, and as Buster Olney writes, Hanley Ramirez may have replaced Miggy as baseball’s next $200 million man.  The only difference being, although the Red Sox and Yankees will be searching for shortstops in a couple/few years, Hanley Ramirez has graded as one of the worst in the game, so unless he improves steadily before his stay in Miami ends look for him to take over for Manny in left, Lowell at third, or perhaps for Melky in the game’s most hallowed position of them all in the Bronx.


Is Michael Beasley Better Than Kevin Durant?

March 22, 2008

 

The pride of Fitchburg, MA.  Sort of.

I’ve recently noticed that people don’t talk about Michael Beasley like he’s a sure thing or really all that special.  The strange part is that he’s most definitely both of those things.

Ironically, the person his game may most closely resemble, in terms of position and numbers, is his former AAU teammate Kevin Durant (Can you even imagine those two together?!?!).  Last year’s runner-up to Greg Oden as the first pick in the draft was one of the most balleyhooed freshmen of all time and a guy looked upon as a building block with the talent to one day become the best player in the entire league. 

I haven’t heard any such talk with Beasley.  In fact, people like to call him “risky” and to say he has a “troubled past” when both statements are much closer to false than they are true.  Beasley has never been arrested, never hurt anyone, and has displayed an incredible array of skills this season at Kansas State.  The combo forward can shoot it up from deep with his sweet lefty stroke or take his man to the blocks and score with ease.

Kevin Durant’s numbers last year were remarkable: nearly 26 points, 11 rebounds, an assist, and just under 2 steals and 2 blocks per game.

Michael Beasley’s stats are actually even more astounding: 26.3 points, 12.3 boards, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks.  He’s also doing all this at a 53.6% clip from the field, 76.8% from the line, and 39.6% from three.  Factor in his NBA-ready body–6’9″ or 6’10” depending on whom you ask and 235 pounds of muscle–and you’ve got a guy who will be a centerpiece for one lucky team for a decade.  Beasley’s arrival could take a team like the Timberwolves from 20 to 30 wins instantly, with 40 and 50 rising on the horizon.

So look out tonight, because a certain Notre Dame Prep alum wearing purple and black just might bust your bracket en route to shaking hands with David Stern June 26th at MSG.


The Luck of the Irish??

March 21, 2008

This video is simply amazing.

And once you’ve seen the one above, check out the rap video, but please see the first one before the rap video.

Also, you may enjoy meeting La Pequena Amy Winehouse.