Patterico's Pontifications

10/3/2007

Sports Talk: Pro Basketball

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 7:35 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

My basketball knowledge is, shall we say, limited. I have no excuse since two members of my immediate family are avid basketball fans and players, including varsity ball through high school. Plus, I’ve warmed the spectator bench at many games.

Nevertheless, I love college ball and I’m a fan of several pro players and a couple of pro teams. One of my favorite players was Clyde the Glide so it’s interesting to read what new coach Rick Adelman plans for the Houston Rockets and Tracy McGrady:

“From the day Rockets coach Rick Adelman was hired, he said he wanted to find ways to make scoring easier for McGrady, twice the NBA scoring champion.

Adelman also has expressed the idea that McGrady could play better but score less, citing Clyde Drexler (whom Adelman coached with the Portland Trail Blazers) in the 1989-90 season. Drexler’s scoring average dropped by almost four points that season, but to Adelman, he was just as valuable.

“You get a lot more credit for doing less on a winning team,” Adelman said. “That guy (Drexler) is the guy I always tell people about. One year he averaged almost 27 points per game and six assists and seven rebounds. The next year, he averages less, we win 50 (games) and get to the Finals. He did less stat-wise, but he was still the guy we went to and leaned on.”

It’s got to be hard to convince today’s pro players to accept lower stats but I like Adelman’s focus on more ball movement. I’m a fan of teams that pass the ball but, given today’s focus on individual talent, you don’t see that as much anymore.

— DRJ

21 Responses to “Sports Talk: Pro Basketball”

  1. DRJ – Though my local Pacers hold themselves out to be a professional basketball team, I have not seen evidence of that in a couple of years. NBA hoops has to be the largest collection of selfish athletes in the marketplace today. I wish that some of the younger players, that have better attitudes, would be pushed rather than the ones that are. There is a wealth of apparently good people with freakish skills, but they do not have that thuggish appeal that others do. NBA hoops have long since fallen behind football and baseball around here, and we do not even have a pro baseball team.

    JD (7da151)

  2. Back when the Kings were in the playoffs all the time with the Vlade-CWebb-led squads, they were actually starting to influence the rest of the league with their unselfish, high-energy style of play. The utterly boring style of clearing out one side so the hip-hop thug du jour could go one-on-one was becoming passe. I have no idea if things have gone back to the way they were, since I stopped watching after the Kings finally squandered their last chance to win it a few years ago.

    CraigC (c4ea17)

  3. […] wrote an interesting post today on Sports Talk: Pro BasketballHere’s a quick […]

    Eftpamrune.Com » Sports Talk: Pro Basketball (e94d9f)

  4. CraigC – I still love to watch Bibby play.

    JD (7da151)

  5. This runs counter to my post by I loved to see Spud Webb dunk.

    DRJ (d48e2d)

  6. […] Hodge wrote an interesting post today on Comment on Sports Talk: Pro Basketball by JDHere’s a quick […]

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  7. Sacrificing scoring to win a championship is very common; even Wilt “100 Point Game” Chamberlain didn’t win one until he cut back. It’s rare to see the NBA champion feature the league scoring champion. In fact, it’s only happened seven times. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1971. The other six belong to some guy named Michael Jordan (one of my arguments for why Jordan was the best ever.)

    Paul (8dc031)

  8. Though my local Pacers hold themselves out to be a professional basketball team, I have not seen evidence of that in a couple of years.

    JD, if you are unfamiliar with the Pacers’ history before the NBA-ABA merger, you have no idea what greatness you missed.

    Paul (8dc031)

  9. I have no idea if things have gone back to the way they were, since I stopped watching after the Kings finally squandered their last chance to win it a few years ago.

    Ironically, it was Rick Adelman that cost them their best chance to win a championship by not making some adjustments in a Western Conference Final Game Seven against the Lakers…

    Paul (8dc031)

  10. As a former college player: the pro game is much, MUCH, different than college & saying “he’s going to be more unselfish” is a bit misleading. The coach – in this case, Adelman – calls the plays that the offense will run. If 60% of the plays are run so that Tracy McGrady will be the #1 option, then chances are that McGrady will have a good share of the scoring burden. Basic mathematics. The reason Bird got so many assists is because about 80% of the plays that the Celtics ran went THRU HIM, with he being able to decide whether to shoot or dish for an assist or, in the case of a double-team swing the ball around for the open man.

    In the case of Drexler, the Trailblazers added Buck Williams as a low-post option & Clifford Robinson was added as the #3 option off the bench, so fewer plays were designed for Drexler. Prior to those additions, most of the plays were called for Drexler or the #2 option, Kevin Duckworth, with Jerome Kersey or Terry Porter or Kiki Vandeweghe being the outside options after swing passes from double-teams. With the addition of an extra post-up player in Buck Williams & another threat from Robinson (who could create his own shot instead of relying on swing passes from double teams, as someone like Terry Porter excelled in doing) the team *COULD* afford to run fewer plays through Drexler. The previous year, Clyde was pretty much the only option sans-Duckworth postup, as the other folks were more of the open jump-shooting option.

    An example from today’s game: Kobe Bryant’s scoring has skyrocketed since Shaq left LA. That would stand to reason since most of the plays went to Shaq while he was there (for good reason). Once he left, Bryant was the #1 option and an overwhelming percentage of the plays were designed for him to take the shot.

    There are no more ‘motion offenses’ in the NBA, folks. The players really don’t dictate who’ll end up getting the shot unless there’s a double-team. That’s why the NBA is little more than a two man game, in the case of the Rockets with Yao Ming being in the post of a certain percentage of plays or Tracy McGrady taking care of the rest. Once Yao is on the bench, pretty much every play goes to him. If the team picks up another scoring threat who can do something other than shoot a stand-still jumper off a swing pass, they can then run plays for them. Looking at least season’s roster (Raefor Alston, Shane Battier, Luther Head) it should be no surprise that Mcgrady was heavily relied upon; the other guys aren’t as adept in creating a shot. This is the NBA, the defensive prowess simply won’t allow someone like Luther Head to drive to the hoop with the ease of someone like McGrady.

    Don’t be too hard on the players for taking the shots: the coach is the one who designs & calls the plays. Allen Iverson chucked up so many shots because his coach ran plays for him. There’s no such thing as running a ‘flex offense’ or ‘wheel offense’ in the pros; it’s become either the two-man game or the pick & roll. Zone defenses are heavinly regulated and rarely played & even then result in mainly, you guessed it: an open three pointer.

    It’s got to be hard to convince today’s pro players to accept lower stats but I like Adelman’s focus on more ball movement

    I’ll wait & see what kind of plays Adelman calls if the Rockets get off to a 4-6 start. My guess will be the same as always: clear out for McGrady or play the two man game & dump it into Yao.

    That is, after all, what the NBA has become.

    rjwest21 (8f8726)

  11. Ironically, it was Rick Adelman that cost them their best chance to win a championship by not making some adjustments in a Western Conference Final Game Seven against the Lakers…

    Two things cost them that series: the refs were totally in the tank for the Lakers. Games 5 & 6 were a joke, the highlight being Kobe Bryant hitting someone (Christie?) in the face in order to get open, with slo-mo replays showing the ref looking right at the incident & swallowing his whistle. I abhor conspiracy thories but anyone watching those two games had to conclude that something was up. NBA officiating is erratic at best, but the Lakers were getting away with murder & the Kings were being called for fouls because they were caught standing dead-still in Shaq’s way as he bowled over them (elbows to their chins) on the way to a dunk & a three point play.

    Second, they threw away game 7 with horrendous free-throw shooting. I’m not even going to take the time to look up the box score, because I remember it well; they choked at the line. The game was theirs and they blew it because they couldn’t make a free throw. Not just down the stretch, the entire game. Divac missed several & even Mike Bibby, generally automatic, couldn’t come through. They were screwed in LA but they tossed the game away by not being able to shoot FTs….had they been able to perform like middle-school girls from the line in that game, they win.

    Adelman couldn’t do anything about missed free throws.

    rjwest21 (8f8726)

  12. How can Dr. J be ignorant of basketball?

    ROA (8d9fdd)

  13. Heh. I wish.

    DRJ (d48e2d)

  14. […] Loessberg wrote an interesting post today on Comment on Sports Talk: Pro Basketball by DRJHere’s a quick […]

    Eftpamrune.Com » Comment on Sports Talk: Pro Basketball by DRJ (e94d9f)

  15. rjwest21, it was worse than that. The ref called the foul on the King (I think it was Bibby). Presumably for hitting Kobe’s fist with his face.

    CraigC (c4ea17)

  16. […] wrote an interesting post today on Comment on Sports Talk: Pro Basketball by rjwest21Here’s a quick […]

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  17. I still have a yellowed cut-out of a Mallard Fillmore strip from the next year on my refrigerator. In it, he says:

    The NBA draft is over, and the champion Lakers have made very few changes…

    …apparently intending next year to rely on the same key personnel: Shaq…Kobe…

    …and those guys who refereed game six against Sacramento.

    CraigC (c4ea17)

  18. Okay, I looked it up just to see if the gray cells are still in working order. They are. The Kings were 16-30 from the line.
    Not a typo: 16-30.

    Divac 5-10.
    Turkoglu 1-4.

    They outplayed the Lakers in five of the seven games & still lost 4 of them.

    Personally, I consider the Kings the champs from that season due to the crooked refs (and I’m not a Kings fan…..at all. Can’t stand Chris Webber….and like Shaq, so I’m not being a ‘homer’. They were jobbed and it was blatant).

    rjwest21 (8f8726)

  19. Personally, I consider the Kings the champs from that season due to the crooked refs (and I’m not a Kings fan…..at all. Can’t stand Chris Webber….and like Shaq, so I’m not being a ‘homer’. They were jobbed and it was blatant).

    I also believe the Kings were jobbed in that series, but remember that they only battled the Lakers for the Western Conference title. They would have still had to beat the Nets. Yeah, it’s unlikely they could have lost even with the refs against them, but I’m a Warrior fan. AFter last year, I know what’s possible.

    L.N. Smithee (5b909c)

  20. In team sports, the outcome of all close games is influenced and/or outright determined by the referees.
    I gave up following team sports 30+ years ago when USC beat Notre Dame on a late touchdown where the football went into the end zone without being attached to a player.
    IMHO, its only gotten worse. Don’t get me wrong, I lived within walking distance of the Chicago Stadium during the Jordan years and loved to watch him play.
    But when the game was over, win or lose, I knew it was just entertainment and a way for lots of people to make a lot of money.
    BTW, never bet on team sports. Y’all will sleep better at night.

    KobeClan (cba13e)

  21. Adelman couldn’t do anything about missed free throws.

    rjwest21, I agree. You are correct in that Adelman couldn’t do anything the missed free throws. He couldn’t do anything about the missed field goals in the 4th quarter either (to the Kings credit, they [mostly] didn’t panic and crack in their shot selection at any point of the collapse; they kept on running their offense and took good shots. And missed them.)

    What Adelman could control was who played in the game, and it was obvious to me that Doug Christie didn’t have it that night, and wasn’t ready to play, especially during the 4th quarter collapse. His backup (whose name escapes me) was effective on both ends while he was in the game against the Laker starters.

    While the “dance with the one that brung ya” argument can be made (and has been), I’ve long thought Adelman should have recognized who was ready to play…and who wasn’t.

    Paul (8dc031)


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