HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
The Most Cost-Efficient Players
By Jason Fleming
Plenty of ways exist for teams or fans to evaluate value, all of them subject to debate and interpretation. One of the most popular of late is the concept of efficiency, a calculation that tries to take all of a player’s stats and boil them down into a single number.
This formula is tracked and ranked with all the other stats on NBA.com, and the full calculation looks like this:
((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field Goals Att. – Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. – Free Throws Made) + Turnovers))
A quick glance of the top 25 (well, 26, since Raymond Felton and Kobe Bryant tie for 25th) going into the New Year’s Eve games reveals an unexpected name at the top of the list:
Click here to continue…
Williams Takes Success In Stride
By Alex Raskin
It’s that tired old story of a once-disgraced basketball player getting a second chance. The guy with all the talent and ability nearly loses everything, only to rediscover his passion for the game.
In a season that features the resurrections of both Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley’s, it’s hardly a unique storyline.
Of course, this narrative isn’t so tiresome for the Knicks’ Shawne Williams. After struggling to find a role for three franchises in four seasons—and struggling harder to stay in shape and out of trouble—the Memphis native is counting his blessings. He’s a major contributor for New York’s first playoff contender since 2004 and the 6-9 swingman is finally in the spotlight for something positive.
Coach’s Notebook: Celtics Attack Textbook
By Anthony Macri
Each week, HOOPSWORLD NBA analyst and coach Anthony Macri opens his notebook and offers an assortment of observations on games, players, and teams from throughout the league. Coach Macri serves as a player development consultant for the Pro Training Center and Coach David Thorpe, working with a variety of NBA players on their skills and game understanding. The Coach’s Notebook appears on HOOPSWORLD every Thursday.
The baseline is death
When most look at the success of the Boston Celtics it is easy to point to their defense (it is that good again). The play of point guard Rajon Rondo has also been spectacular and having a top shelf orchestrator can go a long way. However, one thing that really stuck out about the Celtics this week in their win over the Indiana Pacers - and really throughout their entire season - was how each player attacks off the dribble. Specifically, the way they really focus on driving middle and avoiding the baseline.
One of the central points of emphasis when teaching players offensive theory is helping them to understand where trouble spots and premium spots on the floor are. The Celtics do as good of a job as any team of pacing their attack and giving the defense a chance to open up as they attack middle. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Nate Robinson pick spots, often faking a drive baseline to set up their attack on the middle of the floor. The benefits of this attack are immediate and obvious: finding shooters on the opposite side of the floor, hooking up with Shaq over the top, and having a wider variety of options on a finish.
Is It Time To Fear The Beard?
By Susan Bible
Think back to the 2009 NBA draft. The Los Angeles Clippers had the first pick, the Memphis Grizzlies had the second pick, and the Oklahoma City Thunder had the third pick. Obviously, the Clippers were set to draft Blake Griffin first overall. Many believed the second and third picks would be Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet, with Tyreke Evans and James Harden rounding out the perceived top five. Some saw Stephen Curry as the wild card. In the end, Memphis went with Thabeet, and the Thunder surprised many by drafting Harden before the Sacramento Kings drafted Evans and the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Rubio.
With the Thunder’s lack of a wing scorer, NBA-ready Harden seemed to be an ideal fit. Further, the former Arizona State player (and 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year) embodied the team’s DNA; that is, a young, smart, hard-working, team-first player. What OKC discovered during Harden’s first year is that he’s a shooter with real versatility as well as having solid playmaking skills.
Seven Teams and Counting Covet Flynn
By Bill Ingram
Two summers ago any team in need of a point guard and in possession of a lottery pick was nearly assured of finding what they needed in the NBA draft. After all, we’re talking about a draft class that included Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Darren Collison, Roddy Beaubois, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Toney Douglas . . .and that was just the first round.
This season there are already some NBA teams starting to look to the future, as in next summer’s draft, and the teams who need point guard help aren’t finding much to be optimistic about when it comes to the Class of 2011. Beyond Duke’s Kyrie Irving and UCONN’s Kemba Walker it’s going to be slim pickings in this summer’s draft, and with that in mind teams are already starting to shop for their next point guard amongst the ranks of current NBA players. Enter the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Time To Trade: Western Conference
By Lang Greene
The Orlando Magic pulled off two blockbuster deals on December 18 and after a shaky start has proceeded to run two elite teams off the court (Boston and San Antonio). Already possessing the talent of a title contender, the Magic decided to take a huge risk by bringing in a new collection of talent. All eyes will undoubtedly remain on Orlando the rest of the season because of the deals, but they don’t call them blockbusters for nothing.
Further, now that December 15 has passed all of the summer’s free agent signings can be included in deals, which in itself opens up an even deeper array of trade possibilities for teams looking to create financial flexibility (cap space) going forward or those franchises looking to gear up for a deep playoff run.
Award Watch: Rookie of the Year
By Luke Byrnes
They say that the NBA season doesn’t really start until Christmas and with the visit from old Saint Nick now in our rearview mirror, it is safe to say that things are starting to heat up in the basketball world. One-third of the way through the 2010-11 NBA season, the pursuit of the Rookie of the Year award is looking like a one horse race as Blake Griffin continues to play at an All-Star level. There are still some 50 games to be played, however, and today we look at how Griffin and the rest of the field are shaping up.
Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs – 17.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists (last week)
One of the more well-traveled and unheralded players in this rookie class, Gary Neal has been a bright spot for the Spurs this season. With George Hill out with a toe injury, Neal stepped up and played big minutes for Coach Gregg Popovich this week. In Hill’s return to action on Sunday, Neal saw his streak of four straight double-digit scoring efforts (a career-high) come to a halt as he scored nine points in 24 minutes of action in a 90-84 win over the Washington Wizards. In his three other games this week, Neal averaged 20 points per contest while shooting .486 from the field and .400 from behind the three-point line. Following the team’s 109-103 win over the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 22, Popovich said, "We don’t win this game without Gary Neal playing for us." Neal is taking advantage his time spent honing his skills overseas the last few seasons and has helped the Spurs to the best record in the NBA.