Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Current Events

Yeah, you're so bored with history. I understand. There's a reason that there aren't a lot of sites about Purvis Short and Walt Hazzard.

As much as I'd like to think about how "Yi hopes to develop strength in the offseason" could lead to a communist steroid scandal, there's some big stuff coming up, the playoffs and the yearly awards. I'll save the playoffs until the seeding is set and give out the first annual Don't Ever Give Up: The Basketball Blog End of Season Awards (DEGUTBBESA).

Rookie of the year: Kevin Durant. I'm not going to beat a dead horse here. Kevin Durant is very good, very young, and very thin. The last part worries me, but most professional athletes put on a lot of muscle in their early twenties (Jermaine O'Neal, Ben Wallace, etc.).

Honorable mention: Luis Scola. Am I impressed by Al Thornton averaging 13 points on 43% shooting for a crappy Clippers Team? No. Juan Carlos Navarro's 11 points per game shooting 41% on an even crappier Memphis team? I don't think so. I don't really think that much of Jeff Green at this point, and although Al Horford is having a good season for the resurgent Hawks, he's playing more minutes and picking up about the same stats Scola is for a very good Houston team. Throw in the fact that Scola shoots 51% and is a good teammate with a good all-around game, and I think that's good enough for second place.

Honorable mention second place: Mike Conley. I just wanted to stick Mike Conley in there. After a slow start, he's averaging a cool 15, 5 and 4 in April while shooting 49% and 44% on threes. Throw in a steal per game and an average of less than two turnovers per game, and you've got a solid point guard. He even led the team to victories over Minnesota, New York, and Miami this month!

Future good player that is not having a great rookie season: Thaddeus Young. Thaddeus Young is a player I like a lot who is an exceptional athlete and great slasher. He can't shoot or block shots at all, but otherwise he is pretty technically sound (good free throw shooter, good defender) and he gets after it. These guys are very necessary on a good club with a bunch of jump shooters (the Knicks, for example) and they often slide under the radar because coaches/GMs hate having guys that can't make a shot when called upon.

Sophomore of the year: Rudy Gay. He went from being Stromile Swift Jr. to a legit 20 ppg guy who shoots over 46% and can drain the three consistently. His team being terrible hurts him here and almost makes me want to pick LaMarcus Aldridge or Ronnie Brewer (or even Rajon Rondo) but 20 points is 20 points, no matter how you cut it.

Sophomore slump: Brandon Roy. It was tempting to pick Andrea Bargnani that's too easy - everyone knows guys like him and Bogut (and Olowokandi, and Brown) aren't going to be stars in the NBA once they finish underwhelming rookie campaigns without a hint of dominance. Even Adam Morrison looked like he had more potential than Bargnani last year.

I know that Brandon Roy had a good season this year (19.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.9 apg, 45% fg, 34% 3pt) and that it's pushing it to call him a disappointment. However, his stats certainly do not demonstrate constructive progression from a guy who had a great rookie year averaging 16.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg, 46% fg, 37% 3pt. Furthermore, a star shooting guard should be lead his team, and while Roy has plowed the road at times (in December, when the Blazers went 13-2 including 13 in a row, Roy averaged 21.2, 5.3 rpg, and 6.4 apg), he has also shown an inability to be the kind of shooting guard that is "the guy". It is a lot to ask for a second year player to do that, but when you have as good a rookie year as Roy did (arguable better statistically than Durant's this year), you set the bar high. Roy may be technically consistent in his scoring but never reaches the next level; despite being an almost 20 ppg scorer, he only topped 30 points twice this year.

Most Improved Player. Rudy Gay. This is obvious, for the reasons stated above. Just to underline them, here are his stats last year vs. this year.

2007: 10.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.9 bgp, 42% fg, 36% 3pt.

2008: 20.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 46.3% fg, 35% 3pt.

Believe it or not, most of ESPN's people are stating that they believe Hyadet Turkoglu is the MIP. Um, he's averaged just under 15 points per game for the last four years, and now he averages just under 20. Whoop dee fucking do. The only thing that amazed me more than most of ESPN's pundits picking Turkoglu was how many picked Deron Williams, last year's (true) Most Improved Player. It's not a big deal to go from 17-9 to 19-10, you fucking idiots. And his team was good last year. Jesus. (The only person on ESPN.com's staff to pick Rudy Gay for MIP was some guy named Matt Wong...coincidence?) (I know it's silly that I'm so mad about this, but some people even picked David West. David fucking West? You don't improve when you come back from a half-season-ending injury. You're just healthy again. He averaged 18 and 8 last year and he's averaging 19 and 9 this year. People at ESPN are fools.)

Update on Alexander Johnson.


Alexander had a better year this year despite being shuffled from the Grizzlies to the Heat, where Pat Riley undoubtedly sees his potential as the next Oakley/Mason enforcer. Alex is averaging about 4 and 4 but he is in the rotation. Here is a little video awesomeness to remind you that he is huge.



Where are they now? aka Least Improved Player aka What the Hell: Emeka Okafor. This is a guy who won ROTY (official) over Dwight Howard. He was the number one pick. He's a great defender and has a good enough offensive game for the NBA. He's a team-first guy. He even had a 3.7 GPA at UConn.

I know Emeka's had injury troubles, but he's still a 26 year old, jacked, 6-10 athlete. He has started every game this year and averaged 33.2 minutes per. So how the hell is he having a worse year than he did his rookie year, when he averaged 15, 11, and 1.7 bpg? This year, he managed 13.7, 10.7, and 1.6 bpg. He was Mr. Irrelevant on Team Irrelevant, the Bobcats (who should have been better this year with Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, and Emeka). 13 freaking points per night is not going to cut it - he's getting outscored by Raymond Felton! He's averaging only 4 points per game more than Nazr Mohammed, who is so bad that people forget he's Muslim! Emeka...get it together.

The Whoa! Award for best under the radar season: Danny Granger. "Danny Granger averages 19.5 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, 2 assists, a steal, and a block, and still manages to be a 45/40/85% shooter?"

"Yeah."

"Whoa!"

The What the Hell? Award: A microcosmic Whoa! Award: "Danny Granger, in the last three games, has had 35 and 9, 37 and 5, and 30 and 11?"

"Yeah."

"What the hell?"

Sixth Man: Ginobili. Probably the first year in a long time that the sixth man is completely without question. Barbaro-bosa had a glue factory year (by his lofty standards).

Coach of the Year: Stan Van Gundy. Traditionally this goes to the coach of either the best team or the Team that No One Expected to Do Well. That means it's either Doc Rivers, Phil Jackson, Byron Scott, or Rick Adelman.

I'm not that impressed by any one of these guys (with the exception of Adelman) and I would give the award to Stan. He had to deal with a max contract guy having a disappointing year (that must be fun in the locker room), knowing that he was the second fiddle to the very big douche bag that is Billy Donovan, a weird point guard tandem system, and a lineup with only one good defensive player.

Van Gundy turned the team around, got Turkoglu to play well enough that Rashard Lewis's lackluster effort didn't hurt the team, and managed to work out the best offense in the East (and 6th best in the NBA). I don't think anyone expected the Magic to do this well but they've consistently played well, and they're more than the sum of their parts. They won 50 games and even survived a midseason slump (the same kind that killed the Trailblazers). Stan, you are the man. If Shaq ran you out of town, it wasn't fair.

Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Camby. When you lead the league in blocks (3.6) and you're second in rebounds (13.2) it's that simple. Many make the argument that Kevin Garnett shores up the whole Celtics defense but to be honest I think that's taking away a lot of credit from a very good unit (especially Rondo) and heaping it on a guy who averaged 9.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.4 steals. Giving the award to KG this year is like giving the Oscar to Denzel for training day. Deserved, but for the wrong reasons.

Honorable Mentions: Ron Artest, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler. Ron Artest is still the best overall defender in the league, Dwight Howard is a true big man and by far the best rebounder, and Tyson Chandler is the most active and versatile big guy who is not KG.

MVP: I hate to say this, but I have to give it to Kobe. He's the arguably the best player on arguably the best team in the league, and you can't say that about any other guy. He's clutch, he's a good defender, he's very clearly the leader of his team, he doesn't take games off, and he is probably at his peak as a player, even if he scored more in other years.

Honorable Mentions and why I didn't pick them: Chris Paul: Not dominant like Kobe, but my second place guy by virtue of the way he turned around his team and his incredible season. LeBron: Basically last year's Kobe and deserving of the MVP if it wasn't for this year's Kobe and Paul's great year.

Not an Honorable Mention: KG. He's already won an MVP, and even though he got screwed one year, he's not MVP this year. KG is a vital role player and the leader of the best team in the NBA. He can't score when called upon, he can't take over a game on offense, and being extremely intense and competitive and a great defender does not make you MVP. Ask Charles Oakley.

Best Dunker: LeBron, no question, fuck you very much Vince Carter.

Biggest Asshole: Kobe. He got lucky on the Pau trade, had nothing to do with it, was ready to bail on his team, and now has a chance to make his own legacy. Though he will be doing it with his own talent, the fact is he was working against it, and aside from Wilt, I think that's unprecedented. And Kobe is no Wilt Chamberlain.

Worst Coach: Isiah Thomas. Absolutely no inventiveness, an inability to instill chemistry, an allower of clear insubordination and quitting, and a team that still cannot play a lick of defense.

Worst GM: Isiah Thomas. Isiah, nice move trading for Zach Randolph. It was one of the only bad moves of the offseason.

I know everyone knows this, but Isiah Thomas is a good man and arguably the greatest point guard in NBA history. He's good at scouting talent, and has had better results than one M. Jordan. But he has to be judged by the same standard as any other team manager and he just hasn't cut it as GM or coach.

Worst Person: James Dolan. He: Permits sexual harassment of employees, can't run anything, has a media policy akin to Mussolini's, plays in a shit blues band with a very foolish goatee, has a billion dollars of daddy's money, signed Isiah to a four year extension after no progress even after signing Larry Brown to a 5/$50M and having it blow up in his face, turned MSG into even more of a piece of shit by continuing to try to give away tickets, AND....okay, I guess that's it.

As always, e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com.


James Dolan sings his "Oedipus Complex Blues"

1 comment:

MattG21 said...

Even though I previously thought he was an idiot and not a very good coach, I have to say you (semi) convinced me with Stan Van Gundy for coach of the year. 52 wins is 52 wins...with virtually no point guard, a 2nd year bust (Reddick), and a seemingly disinterested, overpaid, player (Lewis), he squeezed 52 wins out of them. They won't do a lick in the playoffs, but none the less, 52 games...not bad. And now to completely contradict myself: I will be happy if Doc wins it.

I agree with Durant for ROY...his post all-star break splits were good...actually very good. I was down on him for his poor shooting, but I believe he shot something like 48% the second half of the year, and that's saying something considering most guys hit that rookie wall. He got stronger as the season went on, and thats very encouraging. Though he hit some game-winners, you can't argue that he played in any game with any meaning -- except one: The Sonics home farewell to Seattle game. He played great AND beat a hot Mavericks team, showing lots of heart and emotion in the process. That was the icing on the cake for me.

Even though I called it and told you he'd be good, I'm having trouble with naming Rudy Gay MIP. Rondo has a leg up on him I think. He could've single-handedly fucked that team up, but he was actually a very useful player and they won 66 games. As you know, he had some pretty ridiculous lines this year. Some really great all around games -- Rebounding, steals, assists, points, you get the idea. He shot 49% from the field and hit his shots when left open (which was a lot) -- Also very solid defensively as well -- all of this in less than 30 mpg. I think he gets my vote.

I agree with Okafor -- is he going to be this mediocre forever? I'm glad I traded him and Bargnani to you. WOW. He's not that young and if he doesn't have a resurgent year next year, he looks like a veritable disappointment. However, I do disagree with what you said about Bogut. He averaged a solid 15 and 10 with almost 2 blocks a game...Obviously that's not amazing for the #1 overall pick, but he's improved in each of his 3 seasons. Not a bad player.

You picking Marcus Camby for DPY is an absolute joke. He played for the worst defense in the NBA, and they got blown out by double digits some ungodly amount of times. His rebounding and block numbers are impressive, but I just can't reason giving him the Defensive POY award on such a bad defensive team. You probably think I'm bias, but having watched more Celtics games than any other games, I feel like I have a pretty good gauge on this. KG's impact on that team, defensively, is astounding. His team defense skills on the court are equally as valuable as his mental and intangible skills. It's incredibly cliche, but he just makes everyone else play better. It's not that his play breeds better technique and positioning and whatnot...but the other players on the court with him, want to play better. They've always been stand-up guys and average defenders, but do you think Ray Allen, Rondo, Pierce, and Kendrick Perkins would have the incentive to play defense if KG wasn't on the team? If I was on the team, and KG thought for a second that I wasn't trying, I would probably shit my pants. The guy just scares his teammates into trying hard...and as I think we'd both agree 90% of defense is just trying. If he was mic'd up for games, there would be no way they could air it...you can read his lips and the guy is constantly dropping F-bombs at the top of his lungs. He's just pure intensity...and it translates logically to the defensive end of the floor.

On the MVP front, I'd honestly feel fine if any of the 3 guys won the award. The guy I'm leaving out is Lebron. Yes, amazing statistical season, but his team (in a weak conference) just wasn't that good. Surely without him, they would be putrid, but with him shouldn't they win at least 50 games? He puts his team on his back at points, and yes it's impressive. He's great. But not MVP at this point.

I've pretty much made my case for KG, as all of my points are virtually the same on the offensive end of the court. I'm never one for giving out awards based on intangibles -- I'm usually a stats guy, but this year I honestly feel like KG deserves it. I don't care if he's won it before, I don't care if his stats are worse, if you take him away and put either Kobe or Chris Paul on that team, they don't win 66 games. Period. I know people argue that he has 2 other all-stars' help, but he's the one that helps them. With Danny Granger (20 ppg scorer) or Al Jefferson (20 ppg scorer) or Rudy Gay (20 ppg scorer) do they win 66 games? No. He makes everyone better, and that's my definition of an MVP. Granted Kobe (maybe) and CP3 make their teammates better...but did they win 66 games? Like I said before, I'd have no problem if Kobe or Paul won MVP, but I think what KG's done this year is special.

Kobe has had better years, and this year seems to be a proverbial "lifetime achievement" MVP...it happens. Doesn't mean it's right, but it happens. Oh well. If Kobe wins MVP, he should just stick the forwarding sticker on the box it comes in, and mail that shit to Chris Wallace. Without that trade, Kobe is a distant 4th in the MVP race. Hopefully I eat my hat with this one, but I think he's going to win it.