Tag Archives: Kobe Bryant

The 2017 first-round picks owed, ranked by drama

The NBA season is almost here. Several teams made major tweaks to their rosters over the summer, which makes it feel like there are more teams with playoff hopes in 2016-17. Eventually, though, the playoff race will narrow and be joined by the tankathon and additional excitement thanks to draft picks traded years ago. Going into the 2016-17 season, there are six first-round picks that could change hands, and I ranked them in terms of drama they could generate. That seemed a little goofy, but it made sense after writing this up. The draft pick Golden State owes to Utah, for example, will be as unexciting as it gets, which kicked off the #rankings. A number of sites go into detail about draft picks up in the air because of trades, but I prefer RealGM.

6. Golden State Warriors to Utah Jazz, unprotected

This was part of the July 10, 2013 trade that sent Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors dumped a lot of salary (most notably Andris Biedrins’ contract and his Magic Beans) and multiple draft picks as the price to open up the necessary cap space to fit in Iguodala.

Since then, Iguodala’s been wonderful. The Warriors have been wonderful. It could’ve gone south whether from Stephen Curry‘s ankles, David Lee preferred over Draymond Green, Green not developing into a freakishy well-rounded player, a possible Kevin Love trade that goes horribly wrong, Mark Jackson, or whatever. Everything’s nice in Golden State, and it turns out that this will very likely be the 30th pick in next summer’s draft. There’s little to sweat over.

Maybe it’s a trade piece for Utah for something huge in the summer, but it’s also cheap enough to keep for what will become an expensive roster soon. Regardless, it feels like Utah’s approaching the one-player-away territory and finding that piece is never easy, but at least they have outs through the draft. Long shots, but still.

5. Los Angeles Clippers to Toronto Raptors, lottery protected

There were two poor trades that involved this pick. In the summer of 2014, Milwaukee initially received it from the Los Angeles Clippers to get Jared Dudley off Roc Divers’ books. A year later, Toronto got this draft pick from Milwaukee (and Norman Powell) in exchange for Greivis Vasquez.

The Clippers could fall off this year, making this a little dramatic by turning a late-20s pick into, well, an early-20s one. Not great, but hey, a good team like Toronto with multiple first-rounders is cool. They have opportunities for sustained success even after Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are past their peaks. Wild cards lurk on their roster in Norman Powell, Terrence Ross, and Jonas Valanciunas, but it would obviously help if they nail next summer’s picks or use them in a nice trade, whatever that would be.

4. Memphis Grizzlies to Denver Nuggets, top-5 protected

The hidden treasure of a January 2013 trade between the Cavaliers and Grizzlies that involved four future Hall of Famers: Jon Leuer, Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, and Josh Selby. The Cavaliers eventually added this pick in a trade to acquire Timofey Mozgov.

This trade probably played a part in Memphis paying huge sums of money to keep Mike Conley and acquire Chandler Parsons. It’s just really hard to tear down a roster in one season and guarantee a top-five pick. Finish the season outside of the worst four records, and it’s a coin flip at best whether top-five protection works its magic. Memphis also owes a top-8 protected 2019 pick to Boston, because of course, Boston. Because of these draft obligations, the Grizzlies didn’t have much of a choice in which direction to go this summer.

For Denver, there’s still some drama here. Memphis could very well win over 50 games and put this pick in the mid-20s, but they could just as likely be a late-lottery team. Conley, Parsons, and Marc Gasol are injury risks thanks to all those body parts in the legs that need to be banned. Even at full health, the wing depth is shaky.

Overall, though, Denver will get few to no lottery balls out of this, but every additional draft pick helps on the rebuilding path.

3. Sacramento Kings to Chicago Bulls, top-10 protected, or to Philadelphia via swap rights

This draft pick changed hands starting at the 2011 Draft, attached with Omri Casspi to Cleveland for J.J. Hickson. Sacramento eventually acquired Casspi through free agency, and this pick has fallen in its protected range every single season. Over time, this draft pick changed hands again, as it was a trade piece to Chicago to acquire Luol Deng.

I flip-flopped between this pick and Memphis’ being third, but this got the nod because it could go down to the last few weeks and would be an amazing hold if it doesn’t convey next summer. Six seasons of Sacramento keeping their pick is possible, instead handing over a 2017 early second-round pick. It’s so hard to be bad for that long. Very, very Timberwolves-like to attach a first-rounder to a dumb trade and then hang onto it for a half-decade. After the Deng trade, which happened in January 2014, I wrote that it was a coin flip whether the Bulls would ever get to use this first-rounder. I mean, really, a coin flip if a top-10 protected pick would convey over the next four seasons. Any other team would be a near lock.

Chicago’s going to need that pick, though. They have nearly $70 million committed this season to players 27 or older. Sooner or later, a rebuild will probably have to happen, and using their pick with an additional one in the ~11 to 16 range would help. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bulls and Kings with identical records by March, but Chicago making sure they have a worse record by the end of the season. The Kings are going to finish 10th? Nah, the Bulls are getting there and putting Sacramento at 11.

Chicago and Denver could own four of the five picks between 10 and 14, by the way. Fun times.

2. Brooklyn Nets to Boston, swap rights

Brooklyn could’ve made the 2014 Finals after shipping a ton of draft picks (and dead salary, by the way) for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. Maybe they were something along the lines of a solid, deep squad like the 1999-00 Blazers, but a bit older. It flamed out almost instantly. Brooklyn eventually found success going “small” in one of the craziest differences in performance from pre-January 1st to after, but it was too late to get very far with it.

That feels like forever ago. Now, the Nets are torn down and Boston’s reaping the benefits, now in the good-team-with-a-high-draft-pick scenario that’s been pretty rare until now. They have too many draft picks to know what to do, so maybe this is when they unload a few for a player who could make a defense that could be the best in the league even stingier. Or, because of Golden State, they play the long game of drafting moar prospects. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong here with Brooklyn in the early stages of rebuilding. They’re on the right track, but Boston’s still headed for a top five pick and possibly another in 2018.

1. Los Angeles Lakers to Philadelphia 76ers, top-3 protected

This obligation finished first because of the pick protection that Lakers and Sixers fans will sweat over all season. Boston’s getting Brooklyn’s pick, but we won’t know until the lottery results whether the Sixers get Los Angeles’. It’s the last piece of the trade with the Phoenix Suns that brought Steve Nash to Los Angeles, then was attached in a trade that brought, among other players, Brandon Knight to Phoenix, Michael Carter-Williams from Philadelphia to Milwaukee, and that draft pick to the Sixers.

And the pick has refused to convey. This will be the second-straight season of top-three protection (it was top-five protected in 2015). Even the worst team in the NBA has a 36 percent chance of finishing fourth in the draft lottery. The Lakers held on last year despite Philadelphia clearly being the worst team last season, giving Los Angeles a 44 percent chance of losing their pick but winding up with Brandon Ingram. The Lakers would’ve no longer been favored to keep their pick if they were third-worst, a 47/53 percent coin flip, but the lottery played out exactly where teams were slotted, so the protection would’ve held up anyway.

The Lakers should be terrible yet again, especially if Deng doesn’t play at power forward, but they will be without Kobe Bryants chucking and Byron Scott’s, well, everything. They will be less frustratingly terrible, though because of the pick protection there’s always a decent chance they hand over their draft pick to Philadelphia, giving the Sixers possibly two top-five picks in what should be a solid draft.

Another layer of drama is if the Lakers lose this year’s draft pick, they’ll have to give Orlando an unprotected 2019 first-rounder as part of the Dwight Howard trade. Both teams need that pick. Neither has been the same since that trade.

There could be a few more draft picks added to the list before the trade deadline, though Cleveland, Miami, Minnesota, and Oklahoma City are unable to trade theirs because of their 2018 firsts going elsewhere.

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East vs. West Week 5: Same result just re-defeated or something

(Not my best attempt to go off of the “same soup just re-heated” line.)

With the West going 18-7, Week 5’s end result was a bit like what we saw in Week 4 when they beat the East 18 out of 21 times. That means the West is 36-10 in their last two weeks despite 10 less home games. Fun times.

Week 5 actually looked interesting through Monday’s set of non-conference games. The East went 3-3, including Indiana beating Dallas on the road, but then the West took care of business. Golden State went 4-0 in non-conference games last week while Houston, the Clippers, Portland, and San Antonio each went 2-0. New Orleans lost both of their non-conference matchups. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are somehow 3-0 against the East after last night’s win against Toronto. (We will miss you, DeMar DeRozan.)

It also looks like the West also got a bit more brutal thanks to Oklahoma City getting back Crazy-High Usage Russell Westbrook. They’re something of a feature team in Week 6’s matchups as they play two non-conference games over next weekend:

week6

The home court advantage the East enjoyed the last two weeks is mostly gone. They play one more home game this week than the West, a mehhh 13-12 edge. They do have something of a rest advantage, though: 5-2 edge in games where one team has one or more days of rest compared to an opponent on the tail-end of a back-to-back.

But dang, this could be another bad week for the East in the wins and losses. Boston, Detroit, Indiana, New York, Orlando, and Philadelphia play a combined 14 games with Indiana and Orlando on road trips out west. Philadelphia’s arguably best chance to get their first win comes on the road against Minnesota. For someone about 45 minutes from Minneapolis, I really hope the Sixers get their first win in Oklahoma City instead.

For the most common teams in the West, they aren’t packing too much strength this week. Denver, the Lakers, Sacramento, and Utah play a combined 10 games. They’re no pushovers, but no Memphis Grizzly-type either. Dallas (three games), Golden State, the Clippers, Memphis, Portland, OKC, and San Antonio play combined 13 games.

Hopefully there are some upsets in the East’s favor. In the meantime, I’m really going to try and add some more posts this week. We’re just over a month into the season, so maybe time for a roundup relating to that.

Previewing the 2014-15 season with Adam Mares

My worst Kirby photoshop yet.

My worst Kirby photoshop yet.

With real basketball and cool things like televised games on the horizon, I exchanged a few e-mails with Adam Mares on what we’re most looking forward to this upcoming year. Adam is the creator of the NBA PhD program on Reddit, writes for Analytics Game, and in my opinion is underfollowed on Twitter. You can reach him there at @Adam_Mares.

Below is what he and I had to say about this upcoming season over the span of a few days:

Adam Mares (October 14, 2:17 PM):

Hey Matt! The NBA season is almost here! That means we don’t have to replace Kirby’s head with Carlos Boozer or Ty Lawson’s head with Peyton Manning. I mean, we still will, of course, we just won’t have to. We can start to watch and talk about actual basketball. And there is so much to look forward to this season. Like, hundreds of thousands of things that I am excited about.

I’ll get the obvious one out of the way first. Lebron is back in Cleveland! And he brought some friends with him too. It’s almost impossible for this Cavs team to disappoint, at least when it comes to entertainment. They’ve got the best basketball player on the planet, the most unique power forward in the game, a point guard with a ridiculous handle and the potential to be one of the game’s best, and enough outside shooting to fill a 3-point contest for all-star weekend. And yet I’m most excited about David Blatt. I’ve allowed myself to become convinced that he is a basketball messiah, sent to Cleveland to create the world’s greatest offense. And I say that having only seen a few press conferences, a couple of clips of his former teams in Europe, and some nice reviews from former players.

Blatt is like the hot foreign exchange student that shows up one day in your class. The one who has that thick accent and weird clothes, and yet somehow after seeing her you are convinced that you’ll never fall for an American girl again. They all pale in comparison to her and her glowing blonde hair and the way she says “mercy” after she sneezes. That’s David Blatt! He might just be another guy, but I’m convinced he’s the one!

Matt Femrite (October 14, 3:25 PM):

First off, I might’ve attended the wrong high school and college because there was no female Blatt that I know of. Then again, I may or may not have napped my way through those years. Cavs fans would’ve been wise to do the same the last four seasons, and Blatt (along with, you know, LeBron and everyone else acquired this off-season) is like that fresh cup of coffee or three to get back up and going again.

IT’S ONLY PRE-SEASON, BUT Cleveland’s offense looks like it will end up as the most efficient in the league, and it’s been super fun to watch so far with Blatt deserving a lot of credit. The weave in particular and the off-ball movement produces spacing that’s just unfair. Kevin Love‘s going to have more than a few nights like against the Heat where he quietly scores 25, and we’ll have the 12th straight year wondering if LeBron will flirt with a triple double because of all the open looks this offense will create. There’s a lot of lineups that produce a ton of spacing, and sometimes defense just doesn’t matter when Cleveland could snap a 10-2 run in a minute.

Back to Blatt, though. Seems fair to put him near the top of the Coach of the Year candidates. That award has some, well, interesting names receiving it over the last 15 or so years. Quite a few have been awarded after a surge in wins which Blatt is going to qualify for, but Stan Van Gundy (Detroit), Monty Williams (New Orleans), and Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta) are a few who could be in the running as well. Is Blatt your pre-season pick?

And I’ll lob (or outlet pass?! Or both, like a full-court alley-oop?!?!?!) another question to you: With Kevin Durant about to miss a good chunk of time, is LeBron the #1 and #2 MVP candidate or do you see anybody taking the #2 slot up to the New Year?

Adam (October 14, 4:31 PM):

Lebron has been my #1 MVP pick every year since about 2008 and I think the odds are strongly in his favor for this season, but I actually think his usage will go down this year even if his impact is as big as ever. He’ll also get some competition from Blake Griffin, the three-point specialist. I think people, myself included, tend to think of Blake as a finished product when really he’s 25! This will likely be the first year of his prime. It’s entirely possible that Blake makes a leap this year not just as a shooter, but as an all-around player. Durant could also be in the mix, especially if the Thunder struggle without him and his return helps bring them back to the top of the Western Conference. People’s memories are short and if he returns on Christmas most people won’t even remember that he missed games by the time votes are due in April.

And what about the Unibrow? This promises to be a big season for him since his learning curve has been ridiculously steep. The Pelicans probably won’t make the playoffs in the loaded West, but how are teams going to score against Davis and Omer Asik? Anthony Davis reminds me of sci-fi movies when a robot slowly gains consciousness to the point where they can no longer be controlled. Or that movie Lawnmower Man! Anthony Davis is basically a basketball lawnmower man. Every game he is better than the last. Davis started last season as the 33rd ranked player on ESPN’s player rank. He finished last season as the fifth or sixth best player in the league. Where will he rank by the end of this season?

Matt (October 14, 6:09 PM):

Fair point on Durant. Game totals will impact voting for awards and All-NBA teams, but memories are indeed short and if anybody was going to win MVP on less than 70 games for the first time since Bill Walton in 1978, it would be Durant. It’s a steep hill to climb, having to surpass a few big names, two you mentioned in the Brow and Griffin, but also possibly splitting votes with Russell Westbrook. Voting history over the last 20 seasons, via Basketball-Reference, suggests Durant could place in the top 3 if he ends up playing around 60 games.

For the Brow and his age, history suggests a tough obstacle to climb into the top 5. 2006 LeBron, 1994 Shaquille O’Neal, 2010 Durant, and 1998 Tim Duncan are the only players to place in the top 5 voting and be 21 years or younger, which is where Davis is currently at. He’s just as freaky as each of those players, but making the playoffs like the rest of those guys would help a ton.

Regardless, it feels like this is the year Davis starts to terrify people for betting against him and the Pelicans. Like, Zach Lowe just took Serge Ibaka over him for Defensive Player of the Year? What does Pierre think of this? I also give it two months before Davis’ basketball-reference page looks like this:

borw

Adam (October 15, 12:09 PM):

Ha! I love it, although I doubt Lawnmower Man catches on. The brow is just too solid of nickname to be replaced. I think Ibaka as DPOY is as good a bet as any although there are plenty of challengers. Davis is certainly a contender for the award along with… Dwight Howard. The Rockets have become a punchline for the league, especially James Harden and his matador defense. They’re going to need 2009 Dwight back if they plan on being in the conversation this season and that means dominant on both sides, especially defensively.

Speaking of defense, how about the new look Charlotte Hornets? I am fully aboard the Steve Clifford bandwagon, I’m running for president of the Steve Clifford fan club, I’ve even ordered my Steve Clifford tiger beat pinups. Okay, maybe not that far but I am a believer. Have you seen the way his players talk bout him? And on top of that, in one year he turned Charlotte from the worst defensive-rated team in the league to the fifth best. Look at guys who had career years for them last year. Al Jefferson, Josh McRoberts, even Kemba Walker improved greatly as the season went on, averaging 5.4 assists in December, 6.3 in January, 7.3 in February, 7.5 in March and 8.5 in April. And now you add Lance to the mix? A guy that grew up competing against Kemba in NYC? I’ve got a feeling I’ll be watching a LOT of Hornets games this year on league pass. I know there are sexier picks out there, but I’m going with the Hornets as my pick for league pass team of the year!

Matt (October 15, 3:54 PM):

Charlotte’s new court gives them a few extra wins, no? I’m just glad the Bobcats are gone. It was mostly a forgettable 10 years and last season looked like it was going to fit in with the first nine, but yeah, it’s remarkable what Clifford has done with that defense.

We could see some really ugly scoring out East. The Bobcats, Magic, Pacers, 76ers, Celtics, and Bucks… I mean, 7 of the 9 worst offenses last season came out East. I’d like to see how they play against a team like Cleveland, just from how well Charlotte would defend the Cavs’ fast break and such. Are there any matchups you’d really want to see, no matter how weird? Let’s stick to regular season games for now since everyone’s going to play everyone at some point or another.

Adam (October 15, 5:49 PM):

There are soooooo many match ups I want to see! Cavs vs Bulls will be the ultimate Offense vs. Defense matchup. Cavs vs. Wizards has rivalries at every position — Kyrie/Wall, Dion/Beal, Lebron/Pierce, Varajao/Nene. Any matchup between ATL, CHA, TOR, BKN, and WAS will be fun since I think they will all be neck and neck in the standings. How about GSW vs NYK? Will the garden give Steve Kerr an earful for leaving Phil at the alter? In Texas, I love that Cuban and Morey are beefing. I fully support a front office beef. I wish there were more. I want a Steve Ballmer/Paul Allen feud.

how

vs. Utah

Then there’s the Lakers and their rivalry with logic and progress. Seriously, I am pretty neutral when it comes to all things Lakers but I have to admit that I am kind of looking forward to seeing just how bad this team will be. It’s not just the age or lack of talent on D, it’s what they seem to want to represent: A return to some idealized version of old school basketball. I hope we see more nights where the Lakers stick to their guns and shoot 70 mid range jumpers and go 0-3 from behind the arc. Nothing will demonstrate more perfectly just how much the game has changed.

Then there are the rookie matchups. We’re gonna get Wiggins vs. Parker, Smart vs. Exum, Randle vs. Noel. Nurkic in Denver is looking like a rebounding machine. This rookie class is going to be a story in and of itself. Which of the rooks are you most excited to see and who do you think finishes with the ROY?

Matt (October 15, 7:15 PM):

Totally agree with why the Lakers should continue what they’re doing. They’re going to be something of a time machine, possibly surpassing the KG-led Wolves as the least “Moreyball” squad since shots have been tracked on NBA.com. FUN TIMES.

Jabari Parker should be the favorite for Rookie of the Year, and looking at Bovada’s Sportsbook he’s the clear leader with Andrew Wiggins, Nerlens Noel, Julius Randle, and Doug McDermott (!!!) rounding out the top 5. I’m most looking forward to Wiggins, though, partly because he’s on the local Timberwolves but with Zach Lavine and Ricky Rubio he should also ease the rebuilding process. Orlando’s rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton have a lot of intrigue, too.

Like you said, there are quite a few fun rookie matchups, and it’s going to be a fun storyline both early on and hopefully during the last 20 games or so when the season can get stale.

Just for the heck of it since awards keep popping up, who do you have for each?

Adam (October 16, 2:33 PM):

I’ll stick with Lebron at MVP; it’s the only real choice. I’m really tempted to go with Wiggins for ROY. A LOT of people I really respect are down on Wiggins but I love his game and think he’ll have a more immediate impact than most. Clifford at COY for all of the reasons I already mentioned. I’ll go with Taj Gibson as 6th man of the year. This award typically goes to high volume scorers like Crawford but I think Taj is in a great spot now with Pau taking over the starting 4 duties. I think he’ll be more useful and more efficient behind Pau and will even get to play the 4 alongside Pau in some lineups. Also, the Bulls will be good and they need an award to show for it.

I think Steven Adams wins most improved. This might finally be the year Brooks realizes that the Thunder are better without Perkins on the court and I love what I’ve seen out of Adams. He fits that roster perfectly. Defensive player of the year award will be a tricky one. I could see Dwight stealing this one if Houston can become a better defensive team, which I suspect they will replacing Parsons with Ariza. I could be waaaaaay off on this one but I think Dwight has one of his best seasons ever this year and that starts with his defensive impact. Executive of the year will go to Lebron James. How can it not? He created a super team in a city that used to be free agency poison. The league will hand it over to David Griffin but we know who really deserves it.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?  And lastly, who do you see bringing home the title?

Matt (October 16 4:25 PM):

MVP: LeBron James, but I can see Jon Leuer giving him a run.

ROY: Jabari Parker. I just see him as getting the most bulk stats and he has nobody to split votes with unlike, say, the Orlando Magic with Payton and Gordon.

Most Improved: Anthony Bennett should be the favorite for this, but it’s such a weird award. Like, Kobe could be in the running. Adams is a fun pick, maybe Reggie Jackson too. Is it bad if I don’t know?

[Throws dart at board.]

Cole Aldrich?

COY: Clifford’s a fun pick, but he may have missed his chance as this award is usually given to teams with big improvements in regular season win total. I’ll lean on Blatt.

6th man: Taj Gibson is a nice pick. Probably should’ve won it last year. I’ve wanted to modify who qualifies for this award, but that’s a post for another time.

DPOY: I’ll go with the Brow because I don’t want to upset Pierre.

GM: Heh, LeBron is a solid choice. This award will go to somebody in Cleveland.

As for which team survives the gauntlet that is the playoffs, I like the Spurs to repeat. It’s so close, but I like whoever gets that 1-seed out West. It’s a disaster to fall to #3 which OKC, another decent choice to title, might be placed.

It’s just so hard for a new trio to win it all, and while I always thought the ’08 Celtics were going to win a championship, them winning it all looks more impressive each day. The ’11 Heat ran over teams on the way to their first Finals appearance, but even they fell short in the end. For Cleveland this year, sure, the players will probably be disappointed if they don’t title, but to me that’s more than okay. If we learned anything from the SSOS Suns or the early-2000s Kings it’s that teams with great, super-fun offenses have lasting power.

What about you?!

Adam (October 16, 10:43 PM):

I have absolutely no reason to pick against the Spurs. They perfected basketball last year. Their finals performance was a work of art. They made a team that featured one of the best 10 players of all time look like a J.V. And yet, my gut tells me it won’t be them this year. My gut is telling me that Lebron and the Heat made it to the finals in Year One with Carlos Arroyo running point! Lebron learned the hardest lesson of his life that season, and I think he’ll take those lessons with him into this season. There are so many questions surrounding that team, but I take Lebron at his word this time around, that he’s ready to accept the challenge.

My head tells me there are a half dozen teams that could give the Cavs trouble. Chicago, San Antonio, OKC, the Clippers. But my gut tells me this will be Lebron’s season. My gut and my head are usually in sync but on this one I have to pick a side. I think we get a pantheon year out of Lebron.

It’s something of a transition period in the league. It’ll be a fast, short one. The Heatles era is over. The Pacers era might be over, at least the one we’ve come to know over the last few years. The David Stern era is over. As is the Donald Sterling era. The Spurs era might never truly be over, but it’s entirely possible that the dynasty is coming to a close. Kobe’s era is also a flicker. KG and Paul Pierce are on their last legs. Steve Nash, Vince Carter, and perhaps even Dirk Nowitzki are all writing their final chapter. But new, bright and exciting chapters are being written. One in Cleveland. Another in New Orleans. Another, in a sense, in Clipperland. And in Minnesota, Boston, Milwaukee, and so many other cities the new book is being written. This will indeed be a season of new beginnings.

Matt (October 17, 2:18 AM):

Could a contender please sacrifice 10 projected wins and trade for Kevin Garnett already? Is there a bizarro trade Cleveland can pull off to get him there? Regardless of what happens, I’m going to soak in the final days of his career and potentially the last from so many other stars of the late-90s, early-2000s. They’re my childhood and last major rooting interests around the league. That’s not to say the players of this era are dull or anything. They’re absolutely not and this is a golden age for basketball, but my fandom with most players, much like my rooting interest in the Timberwolves, comes and goes.

I very much agree that this season brings new beginnings and the excitement it could provide down the road will make for some great discussions, but right now the careers winding down mean a little more to me. The league is going to continue to soar when they’re gone, but like those before them we shouldn’t forget who helped pave the way. The nostalgic side of me sees this season as one of endings.

The players above average in attempts from everywhere

Lately I’ve fooled around with player field goal attempts per 36 minutes, but mostly from a specific shot zone and compared that to the player average by dividing by it. While it’s a statistic I’ve yet to filter by positions, it should still have some value (as you might have noticed on Twitter if we’re friends on there). It’s weird that it’s rarely cited if at all when we sometimes compare a player’s shooting percentages from shot zones with the league average, even though that has its flaws too.

One reason could be be that the player average of attempts/36 minutes is a stat that’s probably hard to find and, at least for me, takes a little bit of time to calculate. Taking that into account and since it’s a key part of this post, it’s probably helpful to post a breakdown of the player averages from each shot location from 1998 to 2014. Numbers were calculated about a couple months ago from NBA.com, and the chart is interactive so sort, filter, even type into the chart if you’d like:

We can use those averages for silly things like to see if any player over the last 17 seasons took an above-average amount of attempts/36 from every shooting location and from the free throw line. As you might’ve guessed from the title, that’s what I did here. With the minimum minute total set at 1,000 for every season except 1999 (set at 600 minutes) and 2012 (800), 46 made the cut out of a possible 4,296. Quite a few players made repeat appearances.

Below is the list where I divided their attempts/36 minutes by the player average that season, so for example if a player’s above the break 3s spat out a number of 2 or higher, it means they took at least twice the player average of above the break 3s per 36. The table itself is ordered by years but the chart should allow for sorting and filtering. You can also find a player’s per-36 numbers in a second sheet:

There are definitely some odd names on that list. Among them: 2009 John Salmons, 2012 Jordan Crawford, 2004 Tim Thomas, even last season’s Jeff Green. Those guys narrowly made the cut. Some more expected names are probably Allen Iverson, the early to mid-2000s Vince Carter, the first Shaq-less year of Kobe Bryant, the rise of LeBron James, and, of course, Toni Kukoc.

Just about all players were comfortably above the player average in attempts/36 from the above the break 3. I suppose this isn’t surprising since most centers bring the average 3PA/36 down and wings were likely impacted negatively when it came to filtering shots in the two zones inside the paint. Again, adding a position filter is a project before next season.

Overall, though, the corner 3 was the biggest dealbreaker when filtering out players who didn’t take the average attempts from a certain spot. Below is the number the list grows to if we take out the filter from each location and minutes, along with some notable players who would then make the cut:

  • Restricted Area: 113. So much Ben Gordon, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Martin, and Ray Allen. Also 2003 Rasheed Wallace.
  • In the Paint (Non-RA): 87. Some random names but also lots of Jerry Stackhouse, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, and Stephen Jackson.
  • Mid-Range: 75. Nobody from the recent Rockets squads show up, but Manu Ginobili and Antoine Walker make multiple appearances. Also much more Gary Payton.
  • Corner 3: 147. Basically every season from Iverson, Bryant, and LeBron.
  • Above the Break 3: 65. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Luol Deng, and 2014 Evan Turner.
  • Free Throws: 60. Lots of randomness: 2005 Keith Bogans, 2007 Randy Foye, 2003 Rodney White, 2008 Willie Green, and 2013 Michael Beasley.
  • And also minutes: 56. Lester Hudson (!!!).
  • If we even made every filter 90% of what it normally was (minutes included): 137. Lots more Antawn Jamison, Metta World Peace, and about every 2004-2010 season of Michael Redd. Also included would be 2014 Goran Dragic.

Something else worth noting is how rare something like this is happening over the last half-dozen seasons. A thought on why: The change in the shooting guard and wings overall. Looking at some of the teams those players were on, it’s also understandable a few had carried a significant load of the scoring.

Overall, the last six seasons make up 35% of the time between 1998 to 2014, but the players from that span make up only 21% of the list. Nearly half of it comes from 1998 to 2004, though quite a few players are repeats. If we took out the free throw filter (which felt kind of unfair to begin with), the ratio of players from 2009 to 2014 and 1998 to 2014 is nearly the exact same.

Going forward, I actually thought Paul George was a strong candidate to join this list in 2015 despite a likely decline from the corner three, but unfortunately we know now his campaign won’t happen.

Lastly, below are radar charts visualizing the stats in the two sheets previously listed. I also tried to make the axis on each chart as consistent as possible but exceptions were made for one player. The galleries below are probably on auto-play, but they should be fairly easy to toggle through. There’s even a little animation between each screenshot. Hopefully they’re not ridiculous:

Player’s FGA per 36 / Player Average FGA per 36 (sorted alphabetically)

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Player’s FGA per 36 ( sorted alphabetically)

After charting a players’ attempts per game for a while, you get to see what kind of players take on certain shapes. For the high-usage, high-scoring player, the shape is often what is seen here: A…stingray? Sometimes it’s a fat one or whatever.

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All stats are from NBA.com. Not expecting these to be shared, but if you’d like to share those charts please either link back to this post or give some kind of credit involving Chicken Noodle Hoop or my name. I know both are weird to type out or say out loud, but it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.  

A look at 50-point games among active NBA players

Keith Allison | Flickr

Keith Allison | Flickr

Last night’s matchup between Golden State and Oklahoma City became the 70th time an active NBA player scored 50 or more points. Cheers to Kevin Durant, who scored 54 points on just 28 shots. I’ll take a look at that night and the 68 others that featured 50-point scorers who have yet to hang it up, or so I think. Basketball-Reference lists players like Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse, and Richard Hamilton as active, but probably because it’s only a matter of time before they play for Brooklyn and round up an All-2000s squad. (For a simple table of the 50-point scorers, click here.)

Overall, 25 active players make up the list of 70 fifty-point outings across over 15 different seasons. 23 teams have been the victim of 50-point games while seven remain free of the embarrassment, though that could change while Kevin Durant continues his efficient explosion without Russell Westbrook. It only makes sense that teams with the 50-point scorer have won 50 of those 69 games.

Kobe Bryant has 24 of the 70 fifty-point occurrences with 16 coming post-Shaquille O’Neal and pre-Pau Gasol. The Lakers were 17-7 in those offensive explosions, including four consecutive wins in March 2007 (he averaged 40.4 points per game for the month). Bryant and Antawn Jamison are the only active players to score 50 points both against each other and on the same night, which is why there are 69 different games instead of 70. Jamison had back-to-back 50 point games in December of 2000.

Age

Brandon Jennings is the youngest player (20 years, 52 days) to ever score 50 points. I miss comparing him to Allen Iverson, which didn’t last long at all but nevertheless long live ‘Fear the Deer‘. As far as active players go, Andre Miller is the oldest (33 years, 317 days) to score 50. Both outings for the two players happened in the 2009-10 season, and their shot charts greatly differentiate from one another. 

Least and most attempts

The least amount of field goal attempts on a 50-point night belongs to Kevin Martin, who relied on 23 free throws and a good chunk of threes. Bryant’s 62-points-on-31-shots on December 20, 2005 could’ve given Martin a run, but he needed a few more shots to hit the 50-point mark. Instead, Bryant’s needed the most field goal attempts to get to 50 points (42 shots) when he finished with 53 points off 44 attempts in a loss to Houston. Surprisingly, Jerry Stackhouse’s 50-point night didn’t need 50 shots. He took 36, tied for 13th-most.

Other stats with 50 points

20 double-doubles (three from 10+ assists, 17 from 10+ rebounds) have been recorded from players scoring 50 points. Eight of those came from players logging over 48 minutes. As far as tons of minutes are concerned, sixteen 50-point games were recorded while playing over 48.

Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Love each had 50-point games without logging a single assist with Love’s coming while playing 49 minutes. As for Bryant and Anthony, they also had 50-point games where they didn’t record a single turnover. Surprisingly, that’s happened to Kobe not once but twice. Rashard Lewis is the only other player to accomplish such a feat.

Starting games versus coming off the bench

Every one of those seventy 50-point nights were from players who started, but a (currently active) player off the bench has scored 40+ points 14 times. That features nine different players who all needed starter-level minutes (30 or more). Each one of them also made at least one three-pointer.

A BOLD statement

The three-pointer brings me to my closing remarks regarding these high-octane outings. Only four times has a player who scored 50 points not made a three with those games belonging to Jermaine O’Neal, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, and Paul Pierce.

Going forward, I’ll go on a limb and say no 50-point game will happen again without a made three-point shot.

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