Tag Archives: Pau Gasol

The NBA’s All-Bizarro Leaders in Minutes

The dead stage of the off-season is here.

This might be a hot take, but the best and/or most irreplaceable players should be on the floor as much as possible. That doesn’t always happen, though, and a season usually ends with more than a few teams with unexpected leaders in total minutes. Injuries pick apart the top of some rosters, other teams rebuild with somebody having to be a key cog, and some aging players continue to play a major role on the floor. Other weird things happen over 82 games that lead to some larger-than-expected minute totals, but those are three simple reasons for it.

So since it’s the off-season, why not make a five-player squad comprised of the most unusual minutes leaders? A while back, I actually tweeted my five bizarro minute leaders from last season, but I made an adjustment while putting this post together. Despite a center, Marc Gasol was an understandable leader in minutes for Memphis. He’s pretty good and stuff. A key component to being good at the NBA level is having basketball skills, and Gasol has them, or it. He has it.

Replacing Gasol was a Sacramento King not named DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gay, but still a decent player. Most of the guys were fine players who happened to log like 1,000 too many minutes for their team, usually a mediocre to bad one. 2014-2015’s bizarro minute leaders:

2015 Tm MIN G MPG
Shane Larkin NYK 1,865 76 24.5
Ben McLemore SAC 2,670 82 32.6
Solomon Hill IND 2,381 82 29.0
Wes Johnson LAL 2,245 76 29.5
Pau Gasol CHI 2,681 78 34.4

Larkin, McLemore, and Johnson were on teams retooling either in the summer or mid-season, Hill played over 10 times as many minutes as he did in 2014 thanks mostly to Paul George‘s freak leg injury, and Pau Gasol logged over 2,500 minutes for the first time since 2011. Things happened.

That’s as realistic of a starting five when it comes to picking weirdo minutes leaders. For the heck of it, I did the same exercise back to the 2006-07 season. I found most of these players to be truly interesting, but I figured some players like Khris Middleton would be strange only to those who weren’t all that aware of him yet.

2014 TM MIN G MPG
Randy Foye DEN 2,485 81 30.7
Jodie Meeks LAL 2,556 77 33.2
Khris Middleton MIL 2,460 82 30.0
Jeff Green BOS 2,805 82 34.2
Tristan Thompson CLE 2,594 82 31.6
2013 TM MIN G MPG
Luke Ridnour MIN 2,474 82 30.2
Greivis Vasquez NOH 2,685 78 34.4
J.R. Smith NYK 2,678 80 33.5
Martell Webster WAS 2,200 76 28.9
Tristan Thompson CLE 2,564 82 31.3
2012 TM MIN G MPG
Brandon Knight DET 2,129 66 32.3
Marco Belinelli NOH 1,966 66 29.8
Luis Scola HOU 2,067 66 31.3
Antawn Jamison CLE 2,151 65 33.1
Kris Humphries NJN 2,162 62 34.9
2011 TM MIN G MPG
Jason Kidd DAL 2,653 80 33.2
Beno Udrih SAC 2,734 79 34.6
John Salmons MIL 2,554 73 35.0
Boris Diaw CHA 2,778 82 33.9
J.J. Hickson CLE 2,256 80 28.2
2010 TM MIN G MPG
Andre Miller POR 2,500 82 30.5
Corey Brewer MIN 2,482 82 30.3
Rasual Butler LAC 2,702 82 33.0
Andre Bargnani TOR 2,799 80 35.0
Andray Blatche WAS 2,256 81 27.9
2009 TM MIN G MPG
Chris Duhon NYK 2,906 79 36.8
Jarrett Jack IND 2,716 82 33.1
Kelenna Azubuike GSW 2,375 74 32.1
Ronnie Brewer UTA 2,605 81 32.2
Ryan Gomes MIN 2,494 82 30.4
2008 TM MIN G MPG
Jamal Crawford NYK 3,190 80 39.9
Cuttino Mobley LAC 2,702 77 35.1
Ricky Davis MIA 2,963 82 36.1
Anthony Parker TOR 2,634 82 32.1
John Salmons SAC 2,517 81 31.1
2007 TM MIN G MPG
Ricky Davis MIN 3,021 81 37.3
Charlie Bell MIL 2,848 82 34.7
Desmond Mason NOK 2,575 75 34.3
Chris Wilcox SEA 2,586 82 31.5
Eddy Curry NYK 2,849 81 35.2

Random note: If you’ve ever fiddled with the simulations at WhatIfSports, the players in the seasons listed above are a bit pricey because of their minute totals and are some of the worst minute-per-dollar versions of themselves. That’s a solid site to kill time during the off-season, by the way. Their basketball simulation isn’t perfect, but it’s fun.

That was nine total squads, though. 2005-06 minutes leaders weren’t all that interesting, but we can get to a perfect round number by throwing out possible names to make the 2015-16 squad:

  • Roughly 95 percent of the players in the Atlantic Division.
  • Enes Kanter.
  • Meyers Leonard please, please, please, but Damian Lillard is just a bit more likely.
  • Zaza Pachulia or Wes Matthews.
  • Andrew Wiggins if he plays like 3,500 minutes.
  • Kobe Bryant, just because of age and stuff.
  • Rajon Rondo, a mediocre NBA player for a mediocre blog.

There were probably a few players I forgot, because of course.

All statistics were from Basketball-Reference. I love you.

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East vs. West Week 4: Here we go again

In Week 2’s non-conference roundup, I noted that last year’s Western Conference began their dominance in weeks 3 through 7. They went 69-23 during that stretch.

Well…

With an 18-3 record and a +10.9 point differential versus the East, last week was arguably the West’s third most impressive since starting these posts. In weeks 3 and 7 last season, the West went 13-1 with a +13.14 point differential and 16-2 with a +10.00 point differential, respectively.

There could a case for last week to be ranked higher. The West went 18-for-21 despite 19 of the games featuring their team going off zero or one day of rest compared to 13 occurrences for the East, plus nine games where an East team had a rest advantage of one day or more. The East also had five more home games with a 13-8 edge.

The issue came, as you might’ve guessed, with talent. Using SRS as one measure, at the time of 15 of the 21 games, the West team had a higher mark, per Basketball-Reference. The West won 14 of those games, their only loss when Chicago defeated the Clippers without Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol. It was a hell of a victory for the Bulls and ended what was a struggle of a Monday for the East. The Lakers won in Atlanta the next day, the West went 5-1 on Wednesday, Sacramento and the Clippers took advantage of some missing players on Chicago and Miami’s squads in their TNT games, and the weekend was quite ugly. The West went 6-1 from Friday to Sunday and outscored opponents by a total of 100 points. Ew.

I’m not sure it gets that much better for the East. Check out what matchups take place in Week 5:

week5

The East has another five-game advantage at home, but as usual the West has some heavy hitters. Golden State and Dallas each play four non-conference games while the Clippers, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, and San Antonio play two each. For the East, most frequently on the menu-I-MEAN-SCHEDULE is Charlotte, New York, and Toronto. Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, Orlando, and Philadelphia combine for eight other games. For the most part, that’s not great.

Some other bad news for the East might be that Houston, without Dwight Howard, does not play another non-conference game for another month after Monday’s matchup versus New York. Minnesota, not doing too hot without Ricky Rubio, among others, is also on a bit of a non-conference break. They play their next non-conference game on December 3 (Week 6) before playing a bunch of East foes in Week 8. The East will avoid Memphis for a while, though, so at least they won’t match up against one juggernaut.

But a few more are looking to feast. Last season, much of the West took advantage of road trips out East and against those traveling on west coast trips. Let’s see if it also continues to be the case this season.

A follow up on the Celtics, Lakers, and what only the 2007 Mavericks have done to them

celticslogo_history3

I think I made my new Twitter avatar?

The first related post can be found here.

Nearly four months ago (!!!), both the Celtics and Lakers came into the season with very average expectations, even the possibility each could contend for a top-3 pick in this summer’s draft. Only in 1994 had both teams come close to such an occasion, when Larry Bird was two seasons into retirement and one season before a brief comeback by Magic Johnson.

But even during that season, no team accomplished the near-impossible feat of winning more games than the Celtics and Lakers combined. It’s only happened once, back in 2007 when the Dallas Mavericks won 67 games to Los Angeles’ (41-41) and Boston’s (24-58) combined 65.

It’s difficult enough to say one team could win more than any random two combined, let alone two of the most storied franchises, but right now the current chances are as good as ever. Below is table with teams with either more wins than the Celtics and Lakers combined or within reach.

 

The Lakers (18-35) are on their last legs with a depleted roster missing Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and even Nick Young and others while Boston (19-35) has won four of their last six, but are 6-17 in 2014 overall. The trade deadline also looms with an outside chance each franchise parts with key players, either the Lakers with Pau Gasol or the Celtics with Rajon Rondo. They also have other tradable pieces and, of course, the chance to acquire more lottery balls.

Another similar, weird accomplishment came in 1997 when the Clippers won more than the Celtics and Spurs. Maybe one day we’ll look back at 2014 when a few teams won more than the Celtics and Lakers, which is incredible in itself as both are bound to reload through the draft and free agency, but we could also say the same about a team winning more than the collective total of two teams like the Pelicans and 76ers.

Week 16 in non-conference play: Wednesday’s losses put East under .500 for the week

On Monday I predicted the East could win as many as 10 games against the West this week, mostly thanks to 10 of the 16 games heading into the all-star break taking place at their home courts (Indiana with two of them) and Miami on the road against foes from the Pacific Division. It started off as expected with the East going 6-2 heading into Wednesday, the last day of non-conference games before a much-needed league-wide breather. Eight non-conference games were left and the East hosted six of them.

And then the 10-win prediction fell apart. The Knicks melted down in yet another game, this time against Sacramento. Raymond Felton just might’ve sleepwalked through the whole game, which would’ve fit perfectly with how Philadelphia performed this week. Meanwhile, Washington continued playing .500 ball to a T, Indiana took a step back, Memphis held on against Orlando despite a scary fall from Marc Gasol, and so much more disappointments happened in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday.

Only Miami won, thanks to one of LeBron Jamesmost amazing shots yet. The East ended the 16th week 7-9, though slowly but surely they’re chipping at away at what two months ago was an unprecedented level of stink against the West. Below is the updated week-by-week breakdown:

Toronto, with the help of the rising DeMar DeRozan, became the third team to win 10 games against the West, so there’s that too. They’re 28-24 overall, good for the third-fricken-place. Only one other team outside of the Raptors, Pacers, and Heat has even nine or more wins against the West, which is the Nets. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is 1-19 in non-conference play. FUN.

Below is a table showing each team’s standings and how many non-conference games they have remaining for the rest of the season:

The East is fairly balanced, with only the Nets having more than 11 games left against the West. That’s going to change next week with a road trip, though it’s one of the more friendly ones possible. There’s also the possibility Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal are matched up against each other in some good ol’ late-90s early-2000s nostalgia.

Here’s the Week 17 non-conference schedule:

Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Dallas all play three non-conference games this week. Each has a decent chance at finishing 2-1. For the Mavs and Nets, that’s obviously important to their respective playoff races, and it’s amazing that Dirk Nowitzki can still carry a team to possibly 50 wins.

As for the rest of the games, I’m done predicting them after how last week turned out. The trade deadline looms anyway when guys like Pau Gasol, Omer Asik could further beef up contenders out West or allow a legitimate third seed out East to take place.

There’s also this thing called the All-Star Game this weekend (!!!). If Joe Johnson leads the East in a blowout over the West, it should count as 100 non-conference wins, though that would only put them a shade over .500 for the season.

Life when the Spurs last made the NBA Finals

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Geoff Livingston | Flickr

Before finishing the sweep of Memphis last night, 2007 was the last time the San Antonio Spurs made an NBA Finals appearance. That feels like yesterday and forever ago at the same time. For someone now approaching their mid-20s (really depressing admitting that), 2007 to 2013 were times of major change that happened way too quick. Most of my best friends back in 2007, both in high school and college, are ones I haven’t spoken to in years.

But there’s more to 2007 than just depressing memories, and that’s what the NBA is for! Here’s how I looked at the NBA and other aspects of life back then:

NBA

If I have a soft spot for anything in 2007, it’s that Kevin Garnett was traded that off-season to a contending team. Trading Garnett is all I ever wanted after Minnesota imploded in 2005 followed by the likes of Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, and Marko Jaric playing at the Target Center the next two years. I don’t know how Garnett put up with it, but I’m glad 2008 happened. That’s all at another post for another time, specifically when Garnett retires.

Back to 2007.

Dirk Nowitzki being awarded as the 2007 MVP got awkward really fast, right? I remember the feeling of doom for the Mavs as they were being overtaken by Baron Davis and the Warriors. It was like they would never be the same and Dirk was going to be the next Karl Malone. That’s before he was even named MVP. It was similar with the Miami Heat last year after losing Game 5 versus Boston, but both the Mavericks and Heat bounced back. It took Dirk and Dallas four years while LeBron and Miami only needed two days.

But back in 2007, both Dirk and LeBron were at a weird stage in their careers. Dirk had an unfair Karl Malone tag on him while LeBron put in one of the greatest playoff performances ever in Game 5 at Detroit. The expectations of LeBron being the next Michael Jordan went from ridiculous to still ridiculous to believable, but still a bit ridiculous for many reasons. Now both players have their own places among the NBA’s best ever. Six years ago, there was a chance they would’ve been remembered differently.

Also having its place in history is this highlight from the 2007 playoffs:

What else was the NBA like in 2007?

  • Brandon Roy was Rookie of the Year. Sigh.
  • Caron Butler made the All Star Game along with Josh Howard, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. Only the last two were injury replacements. Really.
  • Walter Herrmann made the All-Rookie 2nd Team. So did Adam Morrison.
  • The Hornets/Pelicans played their final season in Oklahoma City.
  • Did I mention Kevin Garnett was still a Minnesota Timberwolf? Pau Gasol was also a Grizzly.
  • The Toronto Raptors won more games than the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics combined.

Actually, look at the records of the top eight Eastern Conference teams that year. Only three were in the playoffs this season:

1. Detroit Pistons 59-23
2. Cleveland Cavaliers 50-32
3. Toronto Raptors 47-35
4. Miami Heat 44-38
5. Chicago Bulls 49-33
6. New Jersey Nets 41-41
7. Washington Wizards 41-41
8. Orlando Magic 40-42

The West wasn’t as different as it is now. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk remain on the same teams though Phoenix was still chasing a title at 61-21, Utah won 51 games, and the Lakers were just 42-40. Wait, that’s like this year’s Lakers. The Spurs were just being the Spurs: winning in not-so flashy ways all the way up to their championship. Like ESPN, I kind of buried them in this post even though they were the champs of 2007. I’ll never understand why ESPN treats the Spurs like they’re in the NHL.

Also, Miami’s title defense in 2007 was a joke. They suffered a sweep to Chicago and started their season with a 42-point loss against them. Dallas performed a similar crappy title defense five years later, though their roster went through major changes. 2007 Miami was probably what a few people continue to expect from San Antonio each year: For age to kick in.

Last but not least, here are some notable players who retired following the 2007 season:

It was also Chris Webber’s last relevant year. He only played nine games in 2008 for Golden State.

Overall, 2007 was the last of what felt like a three-year NBA grace period, in my casual-fan opinion. The end of the Lakers’ Kobe-Shaq era in 2004 started it and the Celtics’ Big Three era ended it. Just look at the Finals matchups from 2005 to 2007. Three of the possible six teams were the ’05 and ’07 Spurs and the ’05 Pistons. They weren’t exactly must-see TV for the casual fan. The other three: the ’06 Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks and the ’07 Cavaliers, and it was inevitable that the Spurs would sweep Cleveland in 2007. But that summer was David Stern’s wet dream. Basketball in Boston came back. Eventually, the Lakers would turn into a contender too.

Freaking Kwame Brown.

Other notable sporting events in 2007

  • Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and the rest of the Florida Gators repeated as NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball champions. Kevin Durant and Greg Oden were freshmen in college.
  • Candice Parker was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
  • Track and field star Marion Jones surrenders the five Olympic medals she won in the 2000 Sydney Games after admitting to doping.

Notable video games

  • Guitar Hero II
  • Mario Party 8
  • Halo 3
  • Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Need for Speed: ProStreet
  • Rock Band

Notable albums

  • Graduation, by Kanye West
  • Taylor Swift, by Taylor Swift
  • Minutes to Midnight, by Linkin Park
  • Konvicted, by Akon

Notable hits that radio may or may not have killed

  • “Ayo Technology” – 50 Cent featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
  • “A Bay Bay” – Hurricane Chris
  • “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” – Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em
  • “This Is Why I’m Hot” – Mims

Notable films

  • Spider-Man 3
  • Transformers: the very first one!
  • 300
  • Freedom Writers
  • Blades of Glory
  • Knocked Up
  • SuperBad
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Saw 97 Saw IV
  • Juno
  • Charlie Wilson’s War

2007 in television

  • Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right for the final time in June. Drew Carey announced as the new host in July.
  • The Big Ten Network launches, with the first game featuring Appalachian State upsetting Michigan 34-32 at Ann Arbor.
  • The Writers Guild of America commences a strike against production studios.
  • Poker After Dark debuts on NBC.
  • Mad Men debuts on AMC.
  • The Big Bang Theory debuts on CBS. Bazinga is born.

Notable shows and their awesome titles that either ended or were cancelled in 2007

  • Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks
  • Catscratch
  • The (White) Rapper Show

    • Um…
  • Acceptable TV

    • How ironic.
  • Anchorwoman

    • Hey, real original.
  • Slacker Cats

    • How could this not be exciting?

It’s astounding how many shows are cancelled in their first season. They’re like newly hatched turtles trying to make it out to the ocean. Only a few will survive, even fewer will survive predators such as big-ass birds (or in this case, studio execs?), but after that it’s totally tubular and whatever else the turtles on Finding Nemo said.

Myspace

Can you put me in your Top 8?

Put me in your Top 8!

Myspace in 2007 was today’s Twitter and Facebook in terms of popularity. You could customize your profile, take quizzes that show what kind of person you are, choose your own theme music, and a couple other cool things I’ll go into detail. Basically, Myspace was a dream for a high school student, which was perfect since that’s who I was until graduating in 2007.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s profile was always #1 on my Top 8. It was likely one of the reasons why my girlfriends during the Myspace years dumped me. Well, that and “Hypnotize” by Young Jeezy was my profile music through most of 2007. What in the world…

You know how unfriending someone on Facebook can legitimately destroy friendships? The same could’ve been said when ranking someone too low on one’s Myspace Top Friends list, better known as the Top 8. Ranking them too high quite possibly could’ve had a similar effect, like whoever did that would come off as clingy instead of nice.

Along with the Top 8, everyone–yes, everyone–posted self-fulfilling surveys on the bulletin board, and Myspace’s versions of subtweets. (This happened on Facebook too.) I took way too many hours out of each day to read surveys from girls I liked, hoping when they answered a question that involved naming their crush that it would be me. It never happened, at least until I was in a relationship. Then it had the opposite feeling I hoped for when I was single. Typical high school dramas.

Coincidentally, the site declined as soon as I went off to college. Since then, a sense of creepiness became associated with Myspace. I can’t explain this any better way than a brief conversation a year ago with a blonde lady similar to my age at a college bar called The Press. She was tall, sounded intelligent, and best of all I didn’t have to do anything to get her attention. She just walked right up to me. We talked about photography, which was cool since I had to take a photojournalism class in the fall and it gets tiring always talking about the shitty music played at the bar. I kept thinking to myself why she even came up to me until she asked if I had a Myspace, because that’s where her modeling pictures were. It explained everything, I thought. She had nowhere else to go but to me. It happened more often than I’d like.

Nobody I knew went on Myspace past 2009. Since then, all the news I heard associated with the site had to do with sex offenders. (Seriously, check out that link.) The fact that this girl I met at the bar was on Myspace in 2012 gave me the feeling she was bad news. I was probably going to be abducted that night, either by her or some middle-aged creep she probably knew, who knows.

I left and went to Jimmy John’s.

slocum ap

Yeah, I compared Gilbert Arenas’ career to Myspace. I went there and I’m never coming back. (Slocum/AP)

Myspace had an arc similar to the career of Gilbert Arenas. When Arenas was on his game he was one of the most prolific scorers in the mid-2000s, just like how Myspace was one of my favorite websites during the same time frame. Arenas became more of a problem though after 2007, only instead of a Myspace-like creepiness he was involved in a gun-related incident with teammate Javaris Crittenton.

Orlando traded for him later the same year. Why they would want anything to do with him? It was just like when I asked myself why Myspace Girl, as I now call her, ever talked to me.

YouTube

Like Facebook, YouTube was just starting to catch on in 2007. My friends and I spent way too much time in our college dorms talking about all the cool videos we watched. Basically, it was our alternative to talking about the best porn videos. I soon became an aspiring vlogger, only I didn’t have a camera of my own. When I came home on the weekends I took my dad’s video camera and recorded my acne-ridden face over films my dad taped from the 80s. This really happened. I vented about my roommate and the shitty job I worked at over the past summer, but nothing ever happened with those videos. Five years later, I’m very thankful for that.

Instead, I have this: A blog where I try to write about what life was like back when the Spurs last made it to the NBA Finals. The core of their team back then is the same as it is now, making their last title feel like it was only yesterday. When they meet LeBron James with the Heat or Paul George and the Pacers, it will feel like forever ago.

Also, I’ve gained like 30 pounds since then.

For a shorter, similar post related to 1997, check this out.

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