Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘basketball’

Stat(s) of the Day: NBA Performance of Top Draft Picks

Posted by Fred on June 26, 2008

The 2008 NBA draft is tonight, in which Memphis’ Derrick Rose and Kansas State’s Michael Beasley are widely expected to go 1-2 to the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.  Although it remains anybody’s guess whether Chicago will go with local point guard Rose or take forward Beasley instead (the current rumor predicts Rose to Chicago and Miami to trade down and take a guard later), both are considered “can’t miss” prospects that will make whatever team they play for better.  So I decided to take a look at the last 25 NBA drafts to see how the top pick performed.  I used points per game as a metric – a more robust look would account for assists and/or rebounds as well, but the assumption is that the overall #1 pick is going to be a scorer.

Top NBA Draft Picks 1983-2007
Year #1 Pick Team #2 Pick Team Top PPG
2007 Greg Oden Portland Kevin Durant Seattle Kevin Durant
2006 Andrea Bargnani Toronto LaMarcus Aldridge Chicago Brandon Roy (6, Minnesota)
2005 Andrew Bogut Milwaukee Marvin Williams Atlanta Chris Paul (4, New Orleans)
2004 Dwight Howard Orlando Emeka Okafor Charlotte Ben Gordon (3, Chicago)
2003 LeBron James Cleveland Darko Milicic Detroit LeBron James
2002 Yao Ming Houston Jay Williams Chicago Amare Stoudamire (9, Phoenix)
2001 Kwame Brown Washington Tyson Chandler LA Clippers Gilbert Arenas (30, Golden State)
2000 Kenyon Martin New Jersey Stromile Swift Vancouver Michael Redd (43, Milwaukee)
1999 Elton Brand Chicago Steve Francis Vancouver Elton Brand
1998 Michael Olowokandi LA Clippers Mike Bibby Vancouver Vince Carter (5, Golden State)
1997 Tim Duncan San Antonio Keith Van Horn Philadelphia Tracy McGrady (9, Toronto)
1996 Allen Iverson Philadelphia Marcus Camby Toronto Allen Iverson
1995 Joe Smith Golden State Antonio McDyess LA Clippers Kevin Garnett (5, Minnesota)
1994 Glenn Robinson Milwaukee Jason Kidd Dallas Glenn Robinson
1993 Chris Webber Orlando Shawn Bradley Philadelphia Chris Webber
1992 Shaquille O’Neal Orlando Alonzo Mourning Charlotte Shaquille O’Neal
1991 Larry Johnson Charlotte Kenny Anderson New Jersey Larry Johnson
1990 Derrick Coleman New Jersey Gary Payton Seattle Derrick Coleman
1989 Pervis Ellison Sacramento Danny Ferry LA Clippers Glen Rice (4, Miami)
1988 Danny Manning LA Clippers Rik Smits Indiana Mitch Richmond (5, Golden State)
1987 David Robinson San Antonio Armon Gilliam Phoenix David Robinson
1986 Brad Daugherty Cleveland Len Bias Boston Brad Daugherty
1985 Patrick Ewing New York Wayman Tisdale Indiana Karl Malone (13, Utah)
1984 Hakeem Olajuwon Houston Sam Bowie Portland Michael Jordan (3, Chicago)
1983 Ralph Sampson Houston Steve Stipanovich Indiana Clyde Drexler (14, Portland)

Of these 25 drafts, the top pick became the top scorer only 40% of the time. Since 1995, when Kevin Garnett was drafted 5th straight out of high school and which can be considered the start of the Skip College Era, only three of thirteen (23%) top picks topped the scoring chart (although most teams would still take Duncan over McGrady, PPG be damned).  So don’t be so sure that either Rose or Beasley will lead their team to the promised land.  In many ways, the NBA draft has taken on some of the characteristics of the MLB amateur draft, which also features prospects who have dominated against high school kids more likely to be in the beer line than the starting lineup at your local arena.

The 1984 draft, in which Portland took Kentucky’s Sam Bowie over North Carolina’s Michael Jordan, is probably the most infamous draft of all time. However, for my money, nothing beats the 2000 and 2001 drafts for futility, which led to the NBA’s current effort to force kids to college, at least for a year:

  2000 2001
Pick Player PPG Player PPG
1 Kenyon Martin 14.5 Kwame Brown 7.5
2 Stromile Swift 8.6 Tyson Chandler 8.2
3 Darius Miles 10.6 Pau Gasol 18.8
4 Marcus Fizer 9.6 Eddy Curry 13.5
5 Mike Miller 14.4 Jason Richardson 18.8
6 DerMarr Johnson 6.2 Shane Battier 10.3
7 Chris Mihm 7.7 Eddie Griffin 7.2
8 Jamal Crawford 14.6 DeSagana Diop 2.1
9 Joel Przybilla 4.0 Rodney White 7.1
10 Keyon Dooling 6.8 Joe Johnson 16.6
11 Jerome Moiso 2.7 Kedrick Brown 3.6
12 Etan Thomas 6.2 Vladimir Radmanovic 9.5

[All data via the invaluable Basketball Reference site]


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Steve Nash, Shattered

Posted by Fred on April 23, 2008

This Nike video is pretty cool, and was made by a production company led by Steve Nash.  It’s a good look for Amare Stoudamire, too.

via True Hoop

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Self to stay at KU – Hooray!

Posted by Fred on April 11, 2008

Good news – Bill Self has turned down Oklahoma State to sign a “lucrative” contract extension with the Jayhawks:

Three days after winning the NCAA championship, Kansas coach Bill Self said no thanks to Oklahoma State, his alma mater, and agreed to a lucrative contract extension that could keep him at Kansas for the rest of his career.

“Home called,” Self said. “And we love home. But this is home now.”

Apparently, OSU never put an actual offer on the table, so the only ones talking about money were the media.  Better news – he plans to stick around for a while:

Self said he now has no thoughts of ever leaving Kansas.

“The way I feel today and the way my family feels today, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know how long my career’s going to last. I don’t see the finish line at all, but I see the finishing line being here.”

He said the fact that Kansas will probably lose many key players off this championship team to graduation and the NBA draft did not factor into his decision one way or another….

“I couldn’t see leaving this place,” Self said. “This is where we want to be.”

The best news is that Self seems determined to put his political capital to use in improving the basketball facilities, similar to the $31 million the university is putting into facilities for Mangino’s football squad:

Self’s new deal is likely to make him one of college basketball’s highest-paid coaches. Florida coach Billy Donovan is believed to be the highest among coaches at public universities, after he signed a six-year contract worth $3.5 million per year in 2007. Texas’ Rick Barnes is the highest-paid coach in the Big 12 at $2 million a year.

But Self had made it clear all along that he wanted to upgrade the facilities to keep up with what he called “the arms race” in big-time collegiate athletics. The Jayhawks are completing a $31 million project renovating and modernizing their football facilities.

“We need a practice facility, improved locker rooms, videos and cardio rooms,” Self said. “We need a place to eat meals. We need a place for [the media] to do your job, a work room. We need extra locker rooms. We need the Hall of Fame to extend. That’s just all part of it. We’re working on housing.”

If there is one area in which KU faces a sizable deficit, it is in facilities.  KU certainly has tradition, with James Naismith, Phog Allen, Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp.  It has success, with 1,943 wins over 110 seasons.  Only Kentucky (1,966) and North Carolina (1,950) have more wins.  Since 1990, KU has the best overall record at 541-121.  KU has “only” three championships, but only UCLA (11), Kentucky (7), North Carolina (5) and Indiana (5) have more.  In the last 20 years, KU has two titles – only Duke (3) has more.  So if you’re going to list the top five programs in all of college basketball, you probably end up with Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Duke.  What KU doesn’t have is first-class facilities, other than Allen Fieldhouse itself.  If Self can improve that situation, he’ll have done more for the legacy of KU basketball than a handful of new banners in the Fieldhouse would do.

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KU Title Game Wallpaper

Posted by Fred on April 10, 2008

KU Wallpaper 1600x1200

Because I just can’t let the moment go, here is some wallpaper I made. Click for the full 1600×1200 image.  Here are a few more sizes (again, click for the big version):


KU_640x480640×480   KU_800x600800×600   KU_1024x768 1024×768

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Final Thoughts on KU-Memphis: On The Shot and The Steal

Posted by Fred on April 9, 2008

ESPN Classic reran the 2008 NCAA Championship Game again last night as one of their Instant Classics (one that actually fit the moniker this time), and watching the last 2:12 over and over on the DVR, I became even more convinced that the key sequence isn’t at 0:10.8, although Super Mario’s three-pointer will live on in KU lore forever as The Shot.  It was the sequence from 2:12 to 1:54 that made The Shot possible.

2:12 — KU implements the Whack-A-Tiger strategy by fouling CDR out near half court.  Douglas-Roberts sinks both free throws, making the game 60-51.

2:12-1:54 — On the ensuing possession, Memphis extends the defense aggressively, and KU has clear trouble finding a shot.  Sherron Collins, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers all get touches and Self’s offense runs a series of ball screens, to no avail.  Finally, Darrell Arthur hits a jumper just inside the arc to make it 60-53.  Arthur was, to little fanfare outside Lawrence, the Hawks’ second-leading scorer at 12.8 PPG.  Billy Packer called the shot the worst shot in basketball at that moment, given that it was a foot away from a three-pointer.  Packer’s wrong, as usual – Arthur only tried 12 three-pointers all year and made but 2.  At that point, you need a hoop, not necessarily a 3.  A busted KU possession, and it may have been 62-51, moving the game essentially out of reach.

1:54 — in what I still maintain was the cornerstone of the entire comeback, Sherron Collins steals the inbound pass and, three passes later, drains a 3 from the deep corner, making the game 60-56.  The steal and J completely changed the complexion of the game, putting significantly more pressure on the Tigers.  With that 3, the game was suddenly a two-possession game even without three-pointers.

The rest of the game has been told and retold incessantly. Collins and CDR both missed layups following a block and foul, respectively.  Memphis made the next two free throws, but then CDR and Rose combined to go 1-for-5 from the line.  Meanwhile, Arthur made another basket, Joey Dorsey committed a stupid foul, leading to his disqualification and two points for KU, all setting up Collins and Chalmers for their 8 seconds of fame.

So Chalmers has The Shot, but I’m going to make it my personal mission to get people to refer to The Steal.

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Super Mario!

Posted by Fred on April 8, 2008

I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet from Mario Chalmers and the boys storming back from 9 points down with two minutes to go, in what was the best national championship game I’ve ever seen.  So, given that, here’s some stream of consciousness thoughts a day later:

  • The story lines are, as expected, the Chalmers three-pointer and CDR/Rose’s inability to make free throws. But don’t overlook the major role played by Sherron Collins. If Collins doesn’t steal an an-bounds pass and sink a three-pointer of his own, the ball game is over.  If Collins doesn’t hand the ball off to Chalmers, if he doesn’t avoid the foul Calipari desperately wanted his team to give, the ball game is over.  If Collins doesn’t shut down Rose for the first 28 minutes, Memphis wins in a romp.
  • KU’s depth was equally important. CDR played virtually the entire game. Rose actually did play the entire game. Neither had much gas in the tank in OT. Joey Dorsey’s fifth foul was the inevitable result of a tired big man playing against fresher legs.  So when Chalmers made the shot to send it to OT, the game was over, as Memphis looked lost playing without Dorsey.
  • I can’t believe we are doing it again, talking about the possible departure of a coach when the debris on Mass Ave hasn’t even been swept up yet.  In 2003, it was Roy Williams.  In 2008, it’s Bill Self, rumored to be on his way to Stillwater.  A lot of people got mad at Williams, but at least UNC is of equal caliber to KU.  OSU isn’t, even if it does have two championship banners from the 1940s.
  • When did we get to a place that big-time college coaches are expected to return to their alma mater at the first opportunity? Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp never returned to KU. Bob Knight never coached at Ohio State, nor Lefty Driesell at Duke.  Those are four of the five all-time winningest coaches.  Only Eddie Sutton ever coached at his alma mater.  Of the top 10 active coaches, only Bob Huggins can be said to have gone home again (Krzyzewski’s first job was at Army, and Jim Boeheim and Gary Williams’ sole coaching experience has been at their alma maters). But now we’re expected to “understand” if Roy Williams goes to UNC or Bill Self goes to OSU.  No. Be a man and build a program; don’t go running home to Mommy.
  • If Self does go, I won’t hate him, however.  He did win a championship.  For that matter, I never hated Williams for going to UNC.  For waiting until he left KU to finally win something, yes, but not for leaving.  If Self does go, maybe KU should protect against this in the future, by hiring an alum of their own.  Danny Manning is already on the staff, but is probably not ready.  Manning’s colleague Mark Turgeon turned the Wichita State program around, taking them to the Sweet Sixteen. His Texas A&M squad very nearly beat UCLA in this year’s tourney.
  • But in the end, this isn’t about coaches, even if they are the rock stars of the new one-and-done NCAA.  It’s about Mario Chalmers and the greatest jump shot in the history of KU basketball.  It’s about Brandon Rush coming back from a torn ACL to be the defensive force his brothers never were.  It’s about Darrell Arthur and Sasha Kaun throwing down dunks on lob passes. It’s about little Sherron Collins standing stealing the game away, about Cole Aldridge throttling Psycho-T, about Russell Robinson and all the rest.

As Dickie V would say, Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Baby.

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Rock Chalk Jayhawk

Posted by Fred on April 7, 2008

To get the blood flowing before tonight’s National Championship game, here’s a song, courtesy of the Kansas City Star and BicMedia:

And here’s the real thing, including the KU Alma Mater and Rock Chalk chant:

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KU Blasts UNC, Anti-Roy Closure Follows

Posted by Fred on April 7, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit it.  As satisfying as it was to watch the Jayhawks run out to a 42-10 lead over UNC, as relieving as it was to watch them withstand the inevitable UNC comeback, as thrilling as it was to watch the late-game run to turn the national semifinal back into a blowout, at least a part of me was happy to see Roy Williams on the other sideline, looking dejected (does any coach look more dejected when losing than Williams?):

This KU fan has more-or-less gotten over Roy’s abrupt departure following the 2003 title game loss.  I don’t hate him for leaving; that’s what big-time college coaches do.  I don’t even hate him for being disingenuous about his intentions. That’s also what big-time college coaches do.  I do wish he had learned to coach in big games before leaving town – that’s what burned about the 2005 UNC title.  So it was particularly satisfying for the road to KU’s first title in twenty years ran right through Ol’ Roy.  Not only that, but Bill Self totally schooled Roy Williams.  KU was better prepared and better coached. When UNC was mounting its comeback, Self used timeouts in a way Williams always refused to.  UNC never had an answer for Cole Aldrich, of all people, who scored on Tyler Hansborough and kept him off the glass when it counted.

I said Friday that the KU family needed some closure so it could move on.  Saturday’s beat-down provided it.  Maybe KU will beat Memphis tonight, maybe not.  I suspect Memphis has a distinct advantage, given the speed of their backcourt and the presence of Dorsey inside. But even if KU doesn’t win, Bill Self got a monkey off his back in making it this far (he clearly was tight in the Davidson game and loose in the Final Four game), and KU fans can now move on from hating Roy Williams and get back to hating Mizzou and K-State and UT, the way things were meant to be.

For what it’s worth, here’s a prediction: Memphis 84, Kansas 76. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

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Jayhawk Nation, like a (dysfunctional) family

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

In a previous post, I referred to Roy Williams as Benedict Williams, mostly in jest. many non-Jayhawks, however, wonder why the KU faithful won’t Let It Go. One of the Mikes (the short, skinny one, I think) made that point on ESPN Radio this morning.  ESPN’s Pat Forde is bemused by the whole thing:

But not this time. And there are plenty of Kansas fans who stopped cheering for Ol’ Roy five years ago.

In 2003, when he left the job he said three years earlier he’d never leave, the flak flew. Kansas fans have a rather lofty image of themselves — except where Carolina is involved. Dean Smith was a Kansas native and graduate who went to Carolina, became a legend and never went back. Roy was supposed to be their Dean, in reverse.

And then he dumped them.

The Times-Dispatch’s Bob Lipper manages to both chastise Kansans for not Letting It Go and condescendingly call the whole state a bunch of clueless hicks, all in the course of a single paragraph:

Got all that? Think it’s the stuff of recrimination and melodrama? Because there are folks in the land of Dorothy and Toto who somehow feel forever jilted because their guy became another school’s guy. Said folks choose to make a dust storm out of a prairie wind. And there’s usually someone with a note pad or minicam to keep fanning it.

I don’t bear Coach Williams any particular animus, but there is a bit of (perverted) logic to the way KU faithful feel toward the man.  Jayhawk Nation functions in a way like a really big, not particularly well-behaved, family.  There are a whole lot of reasons for this, some of which even make sense. Lawrence is a liberal island in a conservative sea, a place that steadfastly resists change in its own particularly uniform view of non-conformity.  That’s true of a lot of college towns, particularly ones in red states, and Kansas’ governor notwithstanding, it is a red state.

In addition, KU basketball fans feel a bit beleaguered. Despite having played basketball for over a century, despite having employed the inventor of basketball as its first coach, the team has but two NCAA titles to show for it, and one of those was the sixth-seeded Danny and the Miracles team of 1988.  This feeling is compounded by the historic pitifulness of the football team, although that may be changing under the current regime (or 2007 may just have been a quirk of Big 12 scheduling). For whatever reason, the team and its supporters have a family-like dynamic.

As everyone knows, being a part of a family can be good (warm hugs and turkey dinners) or bad (think the flying food scene in American Beauty). When Larry Brown hightailed it out of town just ahead of the NCAA sheriff, it was bad times.  Roy came in and acted like a good dad, making it good times.  Then he skipped town with the floozy in the Carolina Blue dress from the bar, and it was bad times again.

There are really two dysfunctional family dynamics going on here, depending on which of Roy’s sins offends you more:

1. The Jilted Lover

For some, it was Roy’s lying and skipping town that offend.  Williams and UNC flirted in 2000, but he expressed a commitment to the program and his players in telling Dean Smith no.  He said he wanted to stay at KU until he retired.  He said he felt an obligation to the kids.  Jayhawk Nation understood the draw UNC had for him, and respected his decision.  Had he left then, most would have been disappointed but supportive.  After all, he built a nice program and certainly stayed longer than Coach Brown did.

But only three years later, he ran out of town anyway.  He did so weeks after expressing his devotion to the program yet again. He did so days after cussing out a reporter for asking him about it, even though he had almost certainly accepted the offer at that point.  For some fans, this was his mortal sin — not that he went to UNC, but that he was dishonest about his plans.  This is what all coaches do, of course, but this is a family, not a basketball team, remember?  These fans are like lovers who had begun to think Roy was different, only do discover he was just like every other cheating cad.  And like jilted lovers, they won’t forgive him until they find another.  they’re working on their trust issues with Bill Self, but they’re not there yet.

2. The Bitter First Wife

For other fans, it’s not the lying or the leaving. It’s that in fifteen years, Williams built a great regular season basketball team that underachieved in March.  He could get the Jayhawks to the promised land, but couldn’t open the pearly gates. They were the first wives, supporting the husband while he went to college, waiting tables at night while he got his MBA, watching the kids while he ran a series of almost successful businesses.  Then the cheating cad dumped the first wife for his bottled blonde trophy wife from Chapel Hill and…

Almost immediately won a title at UNC in 2005.  Now he’s in prime position to win another one in 2008.  He underachieved in Lawrence for a decade and a half, dumped the first wife for an airhead with a boob job, then won two titles in five years.  The bitter ex-wife has two choices — revenge or acceptance.  Beating the Heels tomorrow night would take care of the former.  Moving on with Coach Self is harder, but would fit the latter.

Once a family starts down the spiral of dysfunction, most emerge one of three ways — counseling, closure or a material change in circumstances.  Family therapy seems unlikely.  Beating UNC or watching Roy fall on his face would provide closure. A successful program under Bill Self that doesn’t underachieve would provide a change in circumstances.  It makes KU fans sound crazy, but there it is – dysfunctional families very rarely just get over it.

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BSG, UNC and KU. Oh My.

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

This is going to be a great weekend of television.  If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then here are 3,000 words explaining why it’s going to be great. Tonight, we get this:


The geeks, of course, love Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck, and now that there’s the whole is she alive, is she dead, is she the final Cylon thing going on, we get more Starbuck than there are Starbucks.  But she’s never been my favorite – I prefer one who we’ve known is a Cylon since Season 1:

If you don’t agree this is a big deal, then go watch What The Frak Is Going On With BSG (“Starbuck and Apollo like each other, so they beat each other up.” “Bad Boomer.”).  Like, right now.

Then, as if that weren’t enough excitement, on Saturday night we get this:

Unfortunately, much as I’d like it to be otherwise, I suspect Benedict Williams will drive a stake through the hearts of the Jayhawk faithful again (let’s call it UNC 84, KU 76).  Still, a great weekend of television.

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