Orlando’s Magic Offense

As everyone knows by now, Dwight Howard is staying in Orlando for another year. During the whole trade debacle this year, Dwight made some interesting “suggestions” which included asking Otis Smith to trade for Nash and Monta. I decided to watch a few games to see if either of these players would make sense on the Magic and while I’m sure the offense could be changed to fit their skill sets, neither fit in perfectly. So why would Dwight ask for these two players, aside from their status as great offensive weapons? Was he just making random requests or does he have a better understanding of the Magic’s offensive woes (ranked 21st in the NBA this year at 94.3 ppg) than people think?

Whenever I watched an Orlando game, even those in previous seasons, I always had a weird nagging feeling that the offense just isn’t living up to its potential. Their offense [somewhat] works as Dwight’s dominance allows for all of the 3 point shooters to get open looks. Meanwhile, all of the 3 point threats should theoretically make it easier for Dwight to score. However, that rarely seems to be the case and I think I finally know why – they have no wing player that can create their own shot.

Right now the offense is designed so Dwight elevates the offensive abilities of all of his teammates. This is very evident when looking the ridiculous 3 point % of their entire team. Everyone is shooting lights out from behind the arc relative to other teams. So why has Dwight’s scoring output stayed the same for much of his career and why have his shot attempts stayed so low for someone so dominant? Most would point to his FT shooting woes or lack of variety in post moves as the main culprits and yes, this is part of the problem. But a bigger factor is that the Magic offensive sets are not designed to help get Dwight easy shots.

Both Nelson and Turkoglu are supposed to be the creators that help get Dwight easier shots either through pick and rolls or via their penetration & passing. Whenever either player is “on”, the Magic tend to win because they end up making the defense pay for focusing so much on Dwight. The problem – neither player is able to do this consistently. Jameer was close in his All-Star caliber year but after getting injured, he was never able to reach the same level of consistency. Dwight’s presence is the only reason either can even contribute well regularly. Heck, he is the only reason anyone on that team can contribute regularly. So the result is that the Magic end up being a very streaky team offensively that relies a LOT on 3 point shooting.

Once we understand the manner in which the Magic offense is designed, it becomes very clear why Dwight wants another star who can create their own shot (or in Nash’s case, create for everyone else on the team – create something other than 3s). If the Magic had one other consistent offensive threat that can create their own shot, Dwight’s offensive numbers and efficiency would shoot up. This would make the Magic a very dangerous team. Sadly, they have Otis Smith as their GM. A dude who doesn’t seem to understand how to put together a great team; right now, they are just a good team and will stay that way for the foreseeable future unless they make a change.

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David Stern Loves Money, Doesn’t Care About Fans or Competitive Balance

It’s official, David Stern doesn’t give two shits about the NBA or it’s fans.

“We’re going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is,” Stern said. “The next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are piling up now.”
Source

If the negotiations were about anything other than money, then the losses incurred due to additional delays should mean nothing to the owners. Instead, the focus should be on just getting a deal done that reflects the state of the NBA at the time the CBA ended. To pile on additional “make-up” costs due to delays means the owners and David Stern are only concerned about turning a profit. The whole “competitive balance” argument is just a ruse. The owners realize they don’t have as much leeway with the public eye vs the players because fans aren’t falling for all the PR speak now (not after the players made another drop to 52.5%). So here is the definitive proof that David Stern (and the owners) is just putting up a front and only cares about money.

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NBA Lockout and Yao Ming’s Retirement

First off, a shout out to Yao Ming for all of the good he’s done for basketball. I will miss him for his play on court, his admirable conduct off the court, and all of the good he’s done in bridging America and China via basketball. His retirement will be a great loss for the sport and the timing could not be worse with the lockout.

As for this lockout, it’s hard for NBA fans, especially casual ones, to know who is right and who is wrong in the debate. From my point of view, there are some important things to remember no matter whose side you are on:

  1. The owners are running teams as a business. If they lose money, that is because of their poor decision making since some teams are clearly making money. As someone who has watched their parents build a small business from the ground up, do not have any power to negotiate with their union workers, and are dying because of outside forces (changes in US law regarding trade, 9/11 crushing NYC economy, and finally the recession), I have no sympathy for these owners who seem to make bone-headed moves every year (who the fuck signs Arenas to such a huge contract?). An agreement with a union isn’t meant to guarantee profit – it’s supposed to prevent owners from low balling employees. If the owner decides to shell out a ton of money and overpay, that is their problem. Not the union’s.
  2. Many NBA players are overpaid but the majority are not. There is a clear power shift occurring and that is due to the players getting better agents. For some reason, many of the NBA teams do not have the business savvy to negotiate fair contracts. So do not blame the players for simply out-negotiating their boss. I wouldn’t blame myself if I convinced my boss to overpay me an extra 10k a year. Would you?
  3. David Stern deserves some blame for the poor perception of owners in the NBA. The owners are grouped with the league side and in that group are the referees, many of whom are viewed quite poorly at the moment. Over the past decade and a half, the rules have slowly changed to make play more dynamic (read: guards become more valuable) and many fans have failed to keep up with the ever changing rules (hand checking, defensive rules, what constitutes a flagrant/technical foul, and finally the “respect the game” rule). In addition to these changes, the quality of calls made has gone down (one of the basketball statistic sites has analyzed some sample games and has shown this to be true) leading fans to dislike the league and by connection, the owners. So Stern’s moves to “control” the NBA has indirectly screwed the owners.
  4. The insistence on keeping the books private between the owners and the union has left all of us in the dark. So complaining about losses means jack shit to the casual NBA fan because everything we know about the numbers is speculative. If you want any sympathy from us (especially since many franchises have stupidly high ticket prices), show us the numbers. Until then, don’t even try to use such a weak sauce argument to convince people that the owners are “hurting.”

The NBA has been undergoing a transformation in the past decade that is diametrically opposed to the financial plight of the middle class American. We have slowly been losing money relative to inflation while the NBA has been trying to make the game more appealing to the upper class (NBA Cares == a more family oriented sport which attracts more upper class people – remember the lower class already liked the NBA) and in turn, ticket prices have slowly pushed out the more loyal fans (which tends to be those with less money). So the NBA and the owners really shouldn’t be surprised, or even expect, any sympathy from most fans when they are trying to argue financials. This is not a good PR strategy.

 

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LeBron James: Already Backtracking

Oh LeBron, when will you learn to watch what you say during interviews? It took a grand total of two days before LeBron tries to do his usual backtracking.

Tuesday, James backed down from those statements and said they were misinterpreted.

“Basically I was saying at the end of the day this season is over and — with all hatred — everyone else has to move on with their lives, good or bad. I do too,” James said.

“It wasn’t saying I’m superior or better than anyone else, any man or woman on this planet, I’m not. I would never every look at myself bigger than anyone who watched our game. It may have come off wrong but that wasn’t my intent.”

Source

Having been put under the microscope for a good chunk of this past season, I’ve read and listened to more interviews with LeBron than in all of his previous seasons combined and have noticed an interesting trend. His words are misinterpreted A LOT (well according to LBJ). So either he is either a complete dumbass (hence, he should have gone to college and took from courses in writing and public speaking), or he is flat out lying when he says, “that wasn’t my intent.”

As for me, I stand by everything I’ve posted. I believe my interpretation is spot on because LBJ didn’t apologize for offending anyone. Listen to his response and ask yourself, “Is he trying to do damage control, or is he actually sorry for what he said?” LeBron is not a child anymore and at his age, he should understand how blessed he is and the responsibility he has as a role model (yes, when you have millions of children watching you and trying to mimic you, you are a role model). For him to say something so irresponsible, even without “intent”, warrants a proper apology. So fuck you LeBron – you get no sympathy from me.

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LeBron James: Money Maker, Fan Hater

The Mavs won it all last night in a great game to finish off one of the most exciting series I’ve seen in a long time. Congrats to Dirk, Kidd, Cuban (awesome owner – he’s even paying for the Dallas parade out of his pocket), and all of the Dallas players and fans. This was a well deserved win.

With that said, did anyone watch the post game coverage? Specifically the podium interviews with the players after the game. One of the journalists asked LeBron about the haters (of LBJ and the Heat) and what he thought and he gave an answer I did not expect:

All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy that not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they’ll have to get back to the real world at some point.

Source

Wow… The way he said this and his body language at the podium completely changed my impression of him as a person.

His view of NBA fans can be summed up as, “These people are just serfs with shitty lives (relative to LBJ’s) and I’ll do them a favor and let them be happy for a few moments before they go back to reality.” Real classy LeBron. I guess it isn’t a mystery why he left Cleveland – he didn’t give a rats ass about the fan base over there. Making money and living a comfy lifestyle seems to be his #1 priority. Can’t say it’s a bad choice, but I personally believe that life is more than making money.

Then there’s the idea that us fans have shitty lives and watching the NBA is some sort of escape for us. Hate to tell you this LBJ, but not everyone is as delusional as you. Most of us are well aware that the NBA is just a hobby and like most hobbies, it is only a small part of our lives. The NBA is just another [reality] TV show we get to watch for entertainment. We don’t use this as an escape from “the real world.” Perhaps going to college, meeting different people, and learning to grow up might have done some good for you because your cognitive abilities are lacking.

I wasn’t a LeBron or Miami hater before the interview and am still not after. However, I no longer have any sympathy for LeBron.

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The NBA – Where Blown Calls Happen

m4s0n501

The NBA is rigged or perhaps the referees simply suck. I’m keeping track of the crap calls (and no-calls) in the 2011 playoffs for the games I have time to watch:

  1. Denver @ Thunder, Game 1: The offensive goaltending in the last 2 or so min that didn’t get called screwed over an otherwise exciting game. This has even been reviewed by the NBA and they admitted they blew the call (source).
  2. Knicks @ Boston, Game 1: Controversial offensive foul call on Melo in the last few min and the no-call on Garnett’s illegal screen on Douglas leading to the go ahead three by Allen. The no-call was admitted to be a screw up after review by the NBA. (video and explanation and source at bottom of article)
  3. Pacers @ Bulls, Game 2: Flat out wrong and terrible call on the missed jumper in the last few min. Had it not been called, the putback+foul would have potentially cut the Bulls’s lead down to 2. Then on the very next possession by the Bulls, Rose airballs a well defended shot and no looseball foul is called on Boozer who pushed Foster into the airball. This gives the Bulls the ball back and with less then a minute remaining, seals the game.
  4. Knicks @ Boston, Game 2: 3 missed, ovbious no-calls during the game (one of them in the fourth) all during critical momentum swinging moments for the Knicks that could have let them build some sort of momentum in a game where they only had Melo. The worst was the blatant foul on Melo along the baseline that would have put him at the line for 2 shots that did not get called.

For the games I haven’t had time to watch, it seems that the officiating was just as bad (source). If what people have been saying on the internet is true (rarely the case, but hey I’m writing about this so why not), then these games were also badly officiated:

  1. Portland @ Dallas, Game 1
  2. Philly @ Miami, Game 1
  3. Indiana @ Chicago, Game 1

The NBA knows that this first round has had some terrible officiating as the announcers for all of the above possessions have been dumbfounded by the calls live on television. No matter how bad previous playoff reffing has been, I’ve never seen a string of such obvious bad calls happen right at the start of the playoffs. What’s worse is that these calls are all happening towards the end of games and could have allowed the losing teams to win. Bad calls/no-calls are part of the game and they tend to balance out, but rarely do so many occur at the end of games. Worse is that all of these calls happen during critical junctures and end up swing the momentum towards the eventual winning team (I wonder why…).

To counter this, Stern has assigned Danny Crawford to officiate Game 2 of the Mavs/Portland series. The Mavs have a well known 2-16 record in playoff games officiated by Crawford, and this seems to have drawn attention away from the recent terrible officiating. It’s a shrewd win-win move for Stern. If the Mavs win, Stern can point out that the referees are not biased and that Crawford does fairly officiate Mavs games. If the Mavs lose, then controversy will shift to Crawford, and everyone will forget about the above three games.

For the fans, we all lose since attention is being drawn away from this circus that is NBA officiating. Curious to see the outcome of the Portland @ Dallas game, I watched it from start to finish looking for particularly bad calls. While there were some iffy calls during the game (in particular, the ticky tack calls on Mathews), none were as egregious as what I saw in the games listed above. Looking at the news the following day, I see very little attention on the bad games and more focus on how the Mavs were able to win game 2. So Dictator Stern won this round and has successfully drawn attention away from the shitty state of the playoffs. Too bad for all of us fans as this just means the NBA will continue moving towards being the worst officiated professional sport in the world.

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